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.

Liebster Award Nomination

liebster-award I hadn’t heard of the Liebster Award before the lovely Jess at Like Star Filled Skies nominated me. Here’s the lowdown:

1) Post the Liebster Award graphic on your site.
2) Thank the blogger who nominated your blog.
3) Answer the 10 questions from the post of the person who nominated them.
4) The nominee will nominate 10 other blogs who have less than 200 followers.
5) The nominee will then create 10 questions of their own for their nominated bloggers to answer in their Liebster post.

Here are the questions from Jess:

1) What is your favorite fruit?

Strawberries, without a doubt.

2) If you could be any superhero you wanted, who would it be?

Black Widow because she’s a baller.

3) What one book could you read over and over again?

The Great Gatsby. And trust me, I have.

4) If you could own any exotic animal you wanted, what would it be?

A tiger!

5) Favorite sport to watch on television?

I can only tolerate sports when the Olympics are on. With that being said, I don’t mind watching soccer.

6) How would you describe your style?

Bohemian with edgy touches.

7) What 3 things would you like to do before you die?

Publish a novel, travel all throughout Europe, have children.

8) If you could move anywhere other than where you live now, where would that place be?

London.

9) Favorite book? Why?

Ohhh this is going to be a tough one. I’m caught between Gatsby and Nineteen Eighty-Four because both are timeless and I also find something new no matter how many times I read them.

10) As a kid, what did you always want to be when you grew up?

A dolphin trainer or an artist. SURPRISE, PAST ME.

Now, part of the challenge involves me tagging other people. but I’m not sure who to tag. If you want to participate, you can answer these questions and link back to my post:

1) What’s your favorite season? Why?

2) How many languages do you know?

3) What’s your earliest memory?

4) Who are your favorite authors?

5) What’s your favorite quote and where does it come from?

6) What’s your most irrational fear?

7) How do you feel about rain?

8) Tell me one short-term goal and one long-term goal.

9) If you could invite any three people to dinner, living or dead, who would they be?

10) Favorite time of day?

Feel free to answer these!

Tweet tweet:

Writer @thecollegenov answers questions for the Liebster Award. Want to join in? Click the link for your chance! (Click to tweet)

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.

Taking Stock 02

Peter Capaldi as the new Doctor in Doctor Who

City of Atlanta skyline

parakeets kissing

galaxy print leggings

So much for making this a weekly feature. Maybe I’ll aim for biweekly instead. We’ll see what happens. Is anybody reading these posts, anyway?

Here’s what’s going on in my life these days.

Writing : MUD EYES (revision – neverending revision)
Listening : To coffitivity
Drinking : Iced coffee with nondairy caramel macchiato creamer (mmmmm)
Reading: On Writing by Stephen King
Wanting: A plan for the future
Looking: For a place to throw this gum away
Playing: The Sims (I wish)
Deciding: Whether I should take a shower yet or not
Wishing: I could play The Sims
Enjoying: The revision process, although it’s difficult
Waiting: For my novel to turn out perfect (WHEN DOES THAT HAPPEN)
Liking: The fact that my cat likes to hang out in my bedroom while I draft blog posts
Wondering: Why Starbucks released its Pumpkin Spice Latte so early
Loving: The fact that Starbucks released its Pumpkin Spice Latte so early
Pondering: the future
Considering: Peter Capaldi
Watching: DOCTOR WHO
Hoping: To one day master a Scottish accent
Marvelling: At the richness of dark chocolate
Needing: Another homemade cookie
Smelling: Clean clothes
Wearing: A dress from Forever 21
Following: My own path
Noticing: The way my eyes crinkle at the corners when I smile
Knowing: I can do anything
Thinking: About Halloween
Feeling: Limitless
Admiring: Myself, inside and out
Sorting: Through my many options
Buying: Lots of books lately
Getting: Anxious and excited
Bookmarking: All the dairy-free recipes I can find
Disliking: The radio station that plays in Office Max (still)
Opening: My mind to unfamiliar ideas
Giggling: Do I need a reason?
Feeling: Hopeful

What do you think of this feature? Do you want to take stock, too?

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?

Harry Potter and the Name Game (Guest Post for The Brazen Bibliophile)

I was lucky enough to have the chance to participate in the Brazen Bibliophile’s Potter Week! My post is all about the symbolism and inspiration behind some of the names in Harry Potter. Want to hear more? Check out the post here, and while you’re at it, subscribe to Marissa’s blog because she is THE BEST.

Love Harry Potter? Read this post to learn more about your favorite characters,

I enjoy guest posting so if you’d like to feature my writing on your blog, let’s get in touch and work something out! 🙂 I’d love to return the favor in any way I can. Maybe we could do a swap. It’s a win-win situation.

You can contact me using the form on my blog or by shooting me a message on Facebook or Twitter.

Are you a Potterhead? Who are your favorite characters?