Category Archives: Uncategorized

Don’t Break the Chain

Checked notebook with empty squares

Photo by Pexels

I know I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s kinda difficult to balance writing with a full time job. It can be done, but it’s not easy. You’re tired when you get home from work. You might not feel like writing. If you could only convince yourself to sit down in the chair. To show up. Then you’d get some writing done. You’d make progress. You’d succeed.

The hardest part of writing, and the key, is showing up. If you can get yourself to show up, you guarantee productivity. Even if all you do is sit down and think about writing, you’re still doing something to further your craft. Most of the time sitting down is all it takes. You put your butt in the chair and the words start flowing. Stranger things have happened.

I was looking for a new way to motivate myself when I came across Jerry Seinfeld’s method. You get a wall calendar and a big marker and put an “X” through all the days you write. Don’t break the chain. Keep the “X”s going for as long as you can. “Don’t break the chain,” Seinfeld says again. You won’t want to. The chain is gorgeous.

I’ve started using this technique to get myself to write every day. Although I usually prefer pen and paper, you can also track your “chain” using the app WriteChain for iOS. It not only builds chains for you but also keeps track of your word count. The best part is that it’s free.

Have you tried the “Don’t Break the Chain” method before? How do you get yourself to write when you don’t feel like it?

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MUD EYES Excerpt, Draft 2

I was inspired to post this excerpt after seeing that Ksenia Anske had some on her blog. I didn’t want to put the first draft up for obvious reasons. I’m not entirely comfortable posting this one, either, but at least it’s been edited a little. Let me know what you think!

brown eye

Photo by Ian Hughes

MUD EYES

A novel by Briana Morgan, Draft 2 

Chapter One. Empty

Two weeks after my birthday, my brother was murdered.

The people came and took his body away in a black bag. When they zipped it up and hid his face, I felt like they erased him from existence. That was impossible. He was already gone.

I stood on the front steps because I didn’t know what else to do. I didn’t feel like doing anything. One of the policemen told me they were looking into it. He had green eyes. I knew better. My brother had had brown eyes, so he would be forgotten. No one but me cared what happened to him. That was the way it had always been.

It started to rain.

I swallowed a laugh. In the movies, it rained when somebody died. If only I were living in a movie—directed by God and playing the role of the heartbroken sibling, alone in the world. Only I wasn’t playing. I had lost my parents and now I had lost Rory.

A police officer laid a hand on my shoulder. His face was kind but his eyes were green. He didn’t care about me.

“Is there somewhere you can go?”

I was seventeen years old. I had to live with someone for another year at least. Some kind of legal guardian. The officer was asking if I had other family.

“No,” I said, “there’s nowhere.”

“The officer frowned. “We can put you up in a hotel for the night. Then tomorrow morning we can make arrangements. How is that?”

It sounded awful. I didn’t want to leave my house. Rory and I had built a life there together. Some of my best memories were created in that house. At the same time, it felt empty without him. So empty. And there was still blood and broken glass everywhere. It was hard for me to see.

“Sounds okay,” I lied.

“Perfect,” he said, “why don’t you come along with me?”

He kept his hand on my shoulder and steered me in the direction of his cruiser.

I turned over my shoulder to look at the gurney being wheeled into the ambulance. I didn’t recognize it as a part of my brother. My brother wasn’t in that bag. He was somewhere else.

The officer opened the door and held it for me. I slid into the seat. The leather was cool against my skin.

“Did you want to get your belongings?” he asked.

I hadn’t thought about it. Earlier when I’d tried to go into my bedroom, the police had told me not to touch anything. How was I supposed to pack my suitcase without touching things?

“I didn’t think I could.”

“I could go get some things for you. Do you know what you want?”

I wanted Rory back. “No.”

“Okay, do you want to wing it for a night and swing by here in the morning?”

I had no idea. I didn’t want anything. There was a hollow place inside of me getting bigger every second. I was numb.

I shrugged.

He nodded, closed the door, and climbed into the driver’s seat.

I put on my seatbelt. Rory would have made me. He’d cracked down on seatbelts since our parents’ accident, which was understandable, so I tried not to let it bother me. I knew he meant well. No one could ever love me as much as he had. Not even our parents had loved me that much. We didn’t pass judgment—that was simply a fact.

The policeman didn’t check to make sure I was wearing my seatbelt. In the rearview mirror, I saw he wasn’t wearing his. He hadn’t reached for it. He made no attempt to fasten it. That was also a fact, though there was some judgment. I knew what Rory would have to say about that man.

When the officer revved the engine, the interior fell silent. He didn’t turn on the radio. Neither of us talked.

#

The Innisbrook Motel wasn’t far from where I lived. We got there in less than ten minutes. I was relieved. I wanted to get away from the policeman as soon as possible. It wasn’t anything against him—I was worn out from answering questions and sharing my feelings with strangers. I wanted to be alone. I craved peace and quiet.

The motel was cramped and a little disheveled. It wasn’t disgusting or run-down but had seen better days. It wasn’t the cheapest option in town, but it might have been the runner-up. I didn’t care. The sooner I got inside and locked the door the better.

The police officer waited to leave after I was checked in. He asked me if I need anything. I needed everything and nothing all at the same time.

“I’ll swing by to get you in the morning,” he said. “You’ll probably need to answer a couple more questions.”

After the interrogation I’d had earlier, I couldn’t imagine what questions there were left to ask. Did your brother have enemies? I didn’t know. I didn’t think so. He was a good man. Was there anything to be gained from his death? He didn’t have life insurance and we were pretty poor. Do you have any idea who might have killed him? If I did, I wouldn’t have been answering questions. I’d be tracking down the killer and getting revenge.

“Okay,” I said.

He left me standing in front of the stairs. He got into the car and drove away without so much as a wave.

I climbed the stairs to the second floor. My room was 210. The motel was pretty empty. Either people were out for the day or there weren’t many guests. I passed one room with the curtains drawn—light filtered out from a crack in the fabric. Every other room I passed was dark. Room 209 was also dark, but I heard voices. A man and a woman were talking.

I stuck my card key into the lock. I could hear every word that the couple was saying.

“It would be easier with colored contacts,” the man said.

The light on the lock flashed red. I tried again.

“Don’t say that here,” said the woman.

“He won’t hear us.”

“Walls can talk.”

The light flashed green. I froze with my hand on the handle of the door. They were talking about colored contacts. The only thing I knew about them was that they were illegal. They’d been outlawed under the Ocular Codes. Everyone knew that. Why bring them up?

Curiosity got the best of me. I hovered outside.

“It’s not the safest course of action,” the man said. “I’d feel much better if we could wait a few days.”

“You know that’s impossible.”

“I know, I know. I just wish things were different.”

“Don’t we all?”

The man coughed. No one said anything for a minute. I thought they were finished with their conversation. I twisted the doorknob and went inside. Right before the door closed, I heard their door open.

I froze again. Someone had left the room. I pressed my ear against the door and heard murmuring. I recognized the man’s voice.

“You want anything else besides ice?”

“No thanks,” the woman called.

I pulled back from the door. I knew he couldn’t see me, but I felt safer anyway. I knew I wasn’t supposed to have heard that conversation. I couldn’t get the words out of my head. They were plotting something illegal. What could it be? Why did they need colored contacts?

I heard their door open again. It must have been the woman. I leaned against the door again but this time leaned too hard. The door wasn’t closed all the way.

I fell through the crack and against the woman. She wasn’t much taller than me, but she was strong enough to catch me before I fell. Somehow I still hit my head on the railing. That’s the last thing I remembered.

#

I came to in my hotel room. At least, it looked like my hotel room.

After a minute I noticed the smell—stale cigarette smoke. I sat up and propped myself against the pillows. The woman from earlier sat in a chair at the end of the bed, smoking a cigarette and staring at me. Her dark hair fell over part of her face. The room wasn’t well-lit, but I knew she was beautiful. It emanated from her like an aura. I felt it.

“How long have I been out?” I asked.

She took a drag on her cigarette. “A couple of hours. You must have hit harder than I thought you did.”

“A couple of hours?”

“Or you were exhausted.”

She looked at me as though expecting an answer. I wanted to give her one more than I’d wanted anything in my entire life. I was taken aback. Why was I so captivated by her? What was the allure?

“Exhausted,” I said. “My brother just died.”

She lowered the cigarette. “I’m so sorry.”

Even though I barely knew her, I could tell she was sincere. Her eyes radiated warmth and sympathy—and they were brown like mine, which was a huge bonus. No matter how pretty she was, we were on equal ground in society.

I relaxed a little. “Thank you.”

“Was it sudden?”

“He was murdered last night.” The words fell out of my mouth before I could stop them. I was sure that was more than she’d wanted to hear. When I saw her eyes widen, I wished I could take it back. She didn’t need to know my tragic back story.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “I don’t know what came over me.”

“Don’t apologize,” she said. “Never. Not for that.”  She tamped out the cigarette in the ashtray in her lap. I hadn’t noticed it before. Smoke hung around her face. She waved it away. “I had a brother who died a long time ago. Sometimes it still hurts.”

“How long ago?” I asked.

“Decades,” she said.

I didn’t push her for details. The idea that I’d still be living with grief years down the road terrified me. The ache was intense. I thought I’d never feel the way I felt when Rory and I lost our parents. Losing my brother was so much worse. I couldn’t remember what it felt like not to grieve. It hadn’t even been a full day since I’d lost him. I couldn’t imagine how this woman felt.

“What’s your name?” I asked.

“What’s yours?”

“Damita.”

“Hebrew,” she said, “isn’t it?”

I nodded. “I’m Jewish.”

“I’m Atalanta,” she said.

“What is that?”

She laughed and it was music. “That’s my name. Atalanta Silvestrov.” When I didn’t comment, she smiled. “My first name is Greek. My last is Russian. It throws people off.”

“Where’s the man who was with you?” I asked. I hated myself for speaking. The only way I knew that she was traveling with a man was because I’d eavesdropped on their conversation.

Her brow furrowed. “Who?”

I wondered if I should try to backpedal. I wasn’t sure if she’d heard me correctly and was just giving me a second chance or if she honestly hadn’t heard me. I didn’t want to repeat myself. I wanted to crawl under a rock.

“What man are you talking about?” she asked again.

I tried to come up with something that sounded halfway coherent. Then he came out of the bathroom wearing only a towel.

“Give it up,” he said. “We’re going to have to tell her.”

The Importance of Building a Writing Community

I received a request to do a blog post detailing all the reasons why you should make friends with other writers. This post will definitely go into those reasons, but I want to focus more on ways to build that community based on my personal experience. The bottom line is as follows: if you are a writer, you should join with other writers. They are the only people in the world who truly understand you. The right writing community will laugh with you, cry with you, and scream into the night with you (not too loudly; you’ll wake the neighbors). A good group can mean the difference between success and failure. Community for writers is invaluable.

You might not yet be sold on the idea of coming together with other writers. “It’s a solitary craft,” I hear you whine, “why in the world should I talk to anybody?” Here are some benefits to joining a community of writers:

  • Mentorship
  • Critique
  • Promotion
  • Inspiration
  • Motivation
  • Support
  • Discipline…

… and many, many more. I could go on for days about how becoming a member of a writing community has helped me, but it’s better if you can see it firsthand. Let’s say you’re psyched. You want to meet with other writers to discuss issues of plot and elements of style. So how can you create or join a community?

Be Active on Social Media

ESPECIALLY TWITTER. Seriously, people. Twitter changed my life. I’ve made so many writing friends on there that I almost can’t believe it. Feel free to follow me and we can live it up. If you have social media accounts, make sure you use them! And often! No one likes an inactive user. Tweet, reply, mention, direct, message, or whatever it takes to keep up with the Kardashians (kidding, of course, because none of them are writers).

Ask for Nothing

I mean it. Don’t tweet at people asking them to read your stuff over and over again, especially if you’ve never had a normal conversation. Don’t ask people to buy everything you put out. Don’t obsess over self-promotion. That’s a massive turn-off. Just be you. Focus on building relationships and you’ll find that plenty of people will be interested in your work.

Do Nice Things for Other People

This tip goes hand in hand with not asking for anything. When it comes to flourishing in a community, you need to give more than you receive. Help people out. Be a good human being. Remember the Golden Rule? Yeah, it’s time you use it. The nicer you are to other writers, the more likely it is that they’ll return the favor.

Reach Out

If you’ve got a question or need advice about something, don’t be afraid to ask! Sometimes all you need is some encouragement. That’s where community comes in. I’ve had so many questions answered by my friends on Twitter, and I’m eternally grateful for their help. Don’t feel embarrassed to reach out for help! Everyone’s been there at one point or another.

It’s not that hard to meet and interact with other writers. As long as you follow my tips, focus on being genuine, and use your manners, you’ll be just fine.

What do you think of these tips? How has joining a community helped you and your writing?

On Facing Fear

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while now, but I haven’t had the courage. This post is honest, frank, and uncomfortable. I’m going to reveal something about myself that I’m not proud of. In doing so, I hope I can inspire someone else who might be struggling with similar issues.

What am I talking about?

I’m talking about fear.

A year or so ago, I finished the first draft of my manuscript. I put it away. I let it breathe. I wanted to put some distance between the novel and me so I could view it objectively the next time we saw each other.

I had planned to start revisions this past May, but you know what?

My fear and apprehension had other plans.

As of writing this post, the only step I’ve taken in the revision process is the read-through. I’ve made some notes, but I haven’t gone through with any changes. Why?

Because I’m terrified.

I’m afraid once I start cutting, there will be nothing left. I’m afraid I’ll never make this novel concept work. I’m afraid it won’t be good—no, more than that, I’m afraid it will suck.

When it comes right down to it, I’m afraid of failure.

Let me tell you something—it’s okay to be afraid. In fact, it’s normal. The issue with fear is that it can keep you from achieving your goals if you don’t rise up to challenge it. I realized recently that I’ll never accomplish the very thing I’ve been dreaming of (publication) if I don’t, for lack of a better phrase, suck it up and move on. If I want to finish this novel, I have to face my fears.

And you know what? Moving forward scares me more than I can say, but I’m doing it anyway. I’m pushing ahead.

In writing this blog post, I’m hoping you all will hold me accountable. That means more to me than you can know.

I’m facing my fear. Why don’t you face yours?

Go on. Write something.

Turn Off the Television!

I have a confession to make.

I’m addicted to television.

I’m a die-hard follower and fan of several shows current and ended. When I get home from work, I go straight to Netflix or cable TV. I even have a DVR set to record certain shows so I don’t miss them when they air.

With that being said, I dedicate time to daily writing. It can be hard to sit down and get to work after a full day on the job, but I make it happen. It gets easier once I’ve started.

Unless I turn on the TV.

I cannot focus if I turn on the TV. Sometimes I trick myself into thinking that the background noise will help me; that it won’t be overwhelming. “I’ll turn the volume down,” I tell myself. “I won’t even watch. I’ll just have it on.” You know what? It never works. I don’t get as much done when I have the television on–even if it’s tuned into something I don’t care about.

Some writers can work with the television on. The problem comes happens when you come home from work or school, turn on Netflix, and spend two hours or more binge-watching something instead of writing. We’re writers, after all, and writers write.

Watching TV isn’t writing. Commit to putting in some work before turning on the television. That way, you’ll accomplish something and have the rest of the evening to relax, free of guilt.

Go on now. Write something.

Nicole McArdle: Pubslushin’ It Up

Pubslush is one of the best online resources for up-and-coming writers. I had never heard of it before I met Nicole, which is a tragedy. If you’re a writer, you definitely need to know what this website is about. Interested? Keep reading.

Nicole McArdle: Pubslushin' it up

How did you get involved with Pubslush?

I studied advertising and marketing at SUNY FIT, which of course is best know for their amazing fashion majors. I knew almost immediately that I wanted nothing to do with the fashion industry, but wanted to utilize all that I was learning in my major in an industry I loved- publishing. That being said, as a transfer student, I found myself almost at graduation with only one internship under my belt, so I began a frantic search for internships within the publishing industry, which is how I found Pubslush  Once hired, I was in charge of running social media accounts for a Pubslush author, and was given the freedom to execute a lot of my ideas (perks of interning at a startup). I instantly fell in love with what the company was doing and became good friends with my co-workers, so when they offered me a full time position a year later, I didn’t even think twice about accepting.

What makes your organization unique?

Pubslush is a pre-publication platform that allows authors and publishers to raise funds and/or collect pre-orders while implementing strategic marketing before publication. We are niche, allowing us to cater to authors and publishers while providing them with a hands on experience. We’re unique in that there really is no one else doing what we do for authors.

How do you decide if you want to follow someone on Twitter?

Love this question, and this can actually help authors, or any business owner for that matter when working on their own twitter accounts. The minute I see automated, generic tweets, I know not to follow someone. To me, Twitter is one of the best tools to connect with people, and while scheduling tweets is a great idea, having disingenuous tweets going out every hour a day screams spam. I like to follow people who have similar interests, specifically authors, writers, publishers etc. because I always like to build connections within the industry. For me, a twitter account that manages to find a balance between having personality and being professional, is one that I want to follow.

What’s your favorite candy?

On the sweet side, gummy bears. On the chocolate side Maltesers.

Talk to me about your Women on Wednesday feature. Where did it come from? How important do you think it is to have a feature like that? Why?

Women on Wednesday is one of my favorite segments on the blog because it aims to highlight female authors while inspiring the authors reading the interview, who may be struggling to get published. Every writer has a story, and the journey to getting published always tends to be an interesting one, and a great reminder to first time authors to not give up!

Nicole McArdle

You recently interviewed me for Project Blogger (which I LOVED). What’s that all about? How can other bloggers get involved?

Project Blogger is a fairly new segment, that allows me to feature people who are outside of the publishing industry. I started this segment because so many of my favorite bloggers began to write books about their blogging experiences, so I wanted to have the opportunity to not only feature them but to let them know Pubslush was there to help when the time came to publish.

What do you write? What types of stories are you drawn toward?

I love creative writing, I minored in it college and found that while most of my classmates were complaining about the length of their senior thesis, I was complaining that I couldn’t write more. For me, creative writing has always been therapeutic it’s amazing how much better you can feel after getting your thoughts on paper. That being said, I tend to love memoir more than any other genre. Knowing that events I’m reading about actually occurred, just brings a whole new level of depth to a book.

Who are your favorite authors? What about favorite books? 

I always feel like picking a favorite author is like picking a favorite child! If I had to choose I would probably say Wally Lamb because his stories are so beautifully crafted, David Sedaris because he always gets me to laugh out loud with his hilarious essays and Jaimie McGuire, not only because her books are the perfect light and steamy read but because I’ve been following her journey since she was an essentially unknown author selling her books for 99 cents on Nook. Since then she has gained a cult following and was picked up by Simon and Schuster. She is the perfect example of a self-published author persevering.

As far as favorite books, I’d have to say White Oleander, Catcher In The Rye, Middle Sex and Beautiful Disaster. I’ve read all of these multiple times and always manage to get something new out of them each time.

I just discovered the Writer’s Corner section of Pubslush. What is it? How does it work?

Writers Corner is the newest addition to the blog. It’s basically a way for writers to share and promote their work for free. We’re always accepting submissions so if anyone’s interested let me know! 

 
How important is social media marketing to writers’ success? How can writers use this strategy without annoying people?

Social media marketing is vital to authors and when done correctly, can significantly impact the success of their book. My advice to authors is always this, pick one social media platform that you feel the most comfortable with and run with that. Don’t try to be a pro on every platform that’s out there because you’ll spread yourself thin. Second piece of advice, think of this process like dating. You have to take it slow and steady, and be genuine. Tweeting PLEASE BUY MY BOOK five times a day, is the best way to get people not to buy it!

Nicole McArdle is the Marketing Director at Pubslush, a pre-publication platform for authors and publishers. When she isn’t helping authors strategize their campaigns, or tweeting away, you can find her in a Starbucks reading, or on a plane traveling the world. She likes to make new friends and share publishing tips, so shoot her a quick hello at @nicolemmcardle or nicole@pubslush.com.

What do you think of Pubslush? What are your thoughts on social media for writers?

The Art of Writability (Interview with Ava Jae)

I’ve been following Ava Jae’s blog for less than a year, but it’s helped me as a writer more than I can say. What she lacks in age she makes up for in wisdom and experience. This woman is amazing. Want me to prove it? Read on for the interview.

The Art of Writability (Interview with Ava Jae)

 When and how did you start writing?

While I dabbled with some writing before this, I really got serious about writing a novel when I was 13. Finished it at 14, queried at 15 (it was terrible, but it’s what got me started). As for the how…I basically daydreamed an idea for a book and decided to write it. Then I realized just how much I love writing and didn’t stop.

Your blog Writability is one of my favorites. What are some things you wish you’d known when you first started blogging?

Awww, thank you! ^_^

So this may sound a bit like a cop-out, but I did crazy amounts of research before I started blogging, so I’m not sure I can think of anything that I wish I’d known before I started. That being said! Something that I think is important is to set out your goals before you start blogging. What do you want to achieve with your blog? What would you consider a success? That way, when you inevitably achieve that goal (and if you don’t quit, it is inevitable), you can celebrate and know that you achieved that goal.

For example, when I first set out blogging, I said if my blog helped one person, it would be worth it to continue. Now, three years later, I frequently remind myself of that goal when I start to lose sight of it—it’s easy to get caught up with oh, if I just get x many hits or x many comments… and sometimes I have to step back and remind myself of my original goal, which I’ve now achieved several times over. It definitely helps to keep it in perspective. 🙂

I know you’re pretty active on Twitter and you’ve even written posts about social media being a great tool for writers. How has Twitter helped you and your writing?

How hasn’t Twitter helped me and my writing? I’ve learned so much from the writing community there—from excellent writing tips and resources, to book recommendations that I’ve learned from, to finding several critique partners and beta readers. As a bonus, I also nabbed two internships just from Twitter.

What are your top five favorite books and why?

Ughhh you are not asking me to choose five favorites. Seriously an impossible question. I guess if I HAVE to…these are in no particular order:

The Harry Potter series (duh)—especially The Order of the Phoenix. To this day, I have never re-read a book as much as I re-read the first four books of the Harry Potter series (four times each! Which is probably not as much as some people, but still). (Also, I am aware of the irony that I re-read the first four books four times but not my favorite of the series, but I can only handle Sirius dying so many times, okay?). But I mean, what is there not to love about the Harry Potter series? Nothing will quench my love for the world of Harry Potter.

The Grisha trilogy by Leigh Bardugo. A sexy, badass antagonist, incredible secondary characters, amazing worldbuilding, awesome magic system, a quick pace that has you flipping through the pages…what’s not to love? This is one of my all-time favorite YA Fantasy series and I recommend it basically to anyone considering YA ever. As long as they like fantasy, that is.

Saint by Ted Dekker. Assassins + supernatural abilities + fabulous, dark voice = Saint. I love Ted Dekker (he’s one of my favorite authors of all time) and this is the second book of his I read (he’s written close to fifty now), and it still stands out to me as one of my favorites of his. Probably because I’m obsessed with assassins. And dark characters. And internal struggle. And all of that.

The Shatter Me series by Tahereh Mafi. Tahereh Mafi has one of the most incredible, distinctive, poetic voices I’ve ever read. I love her style, and even better, the Shatter Me series is an incredible example of amazing character development. My favorite of the series is tied between Unravel Me and Ignite Me but it’s an excellent YA series.

Half Bad by Sally Green. I just finished this one and it’s an insta-favorite. The voice is absolutely incredible (seriously can’t recommend it enough to YA writers), the plot is exciting, the characters are complicated and interesting and GAH. It’s amazing. I could not adore it more (and I raved about it here).

Tell me about your agent. How did you get her to represent you?

I’m represented by Louise Fury of The Bent Agency and she’s amazing (hell, the whole team she works with is amazing). I’ve had an absolutely wonderful experience working with her and Team Fury and I really couldn’t ask for anything else. I’m delighted to be part of the team.

As for the how, the short version is this: I wrote a lot of books, I received more rejections than I want to think about, I wrote more books, kept querying, entered contests, didn’t win and eventually got picked as a runner-up in Miss Snark’s October 2013 Mystery Agent blog contest. Louise was one of the mystery agents. She loved my book and many months later I was screaming on Twitter about my happy news.

Long version is here.

Author Ava Jae

What’s your favorite quote about writing?
“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” —Toni Morrison

Also:

“This sentence has five words. Here are five more words. Five-word sentences are fine. But several together become monotonous. Listen to what is happening. The writing is getting boring. The sound of it drones. It’s like a stuck record. The ear demands some variety. Now listen. I vary the sentence length, and I create music. Music. The writing sings. It has a pleasant rhythm, a lilt, a harmony. I use short sentences. And I use sentences of medium length. And sometimes, when I am certain the reader is rested, I will engage him with a sentence of considerable length, a sentence that burns with energy and builds with all the impetus of a crescendo, the roll of the drums, the crash of the cymbals–sounds that say listen to this, it is important.” —Gary Provost

You’ve defended YA along with several others on Twitter. What are some things you wish people understood about young adult literature?

SO MANY THINGS. That YA is a legitimate category. That YA novels aren’t any less powerful, emotional, exciting, beautiful and haunting than adult books. That YA is here to stay and while it’s not for everyone (no category or genre is), if you don’t at least give it a chance, you’re seriously missing out on some incredible stories. Also that YA isn’t written for teens, it’s written about teens—anyone can read them and there’s no shame in it.

What’s your writing routine like? Tips for being productive?

I get up around 5:30 AM, exercise (on weekdays), then write. I find that the later in the day it is, the harder it is for me to write (I guess my brain gets tired?), so I try to get it done nice and early in the day.

As for being productive, the key is to figure out what schedule works best for you. I’m most productive in the mornings, but some people work their best writing magic at 2 or 3 AM. Experiment to see what works for you, then stick with it the best you can.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received and who did it come from?

I like how you saved this question for last. I saved it for last while answering, too, because this is not an easy question. Hmm.

I’d say my two favorite (that I can think of that moment) bits of writing advice are to finish the book and write what you want to read (which came from the first quote I shared above). I’m pretty sure I saw the first bit of advice in one of the many writing craft books I’ve read. The second came from the good ol’ internet.

I told you, she’s fantastic. For more Ava Jae, check out her blog Writability or follow her on (@Ava_Jae), tumblrFacebook, or Youtube (bookishpixie). 

What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received?