Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Guest Article: Are you a Plotter or a Pantser?

We’re Plotters Out of Necessity 

by Jim and Stephanie Kroepfl, authors of Merged

There’s an outgoing debate between Plotters and Pantsers. Plotters outline their manuscript prior to touching the keyboard. Pantsers write by the seat of their pants, meaning they rely on stream of consciousness to create the story. J.K. Rowling is a Plotter and Stephen King is the penultimate Pantser.

After comparing notes at writers conferences, it seems that most writers who are working on their first manuscript are Pantsers. We were, and we believe it’s an important part of the writer’s journey. A new writer needs to discover the joy of watching the characters come to life, and be astounded at the unexpected flashes of brilliance. The thought of first plotting every chapter would intimidate many new writers to the point where they’d give up before even starting.

As Pantsers, we threw away months of work because the story took interesting turns, but not ones which necessarily drove the story forward. But, this writing helped hone our craft. In Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell discovered that what the best-of-the-best have in common is they’ve achieved ten thousand hours of experience. We consider all those deleted pages as our path toward ten thousand hours of writing.

Now, we’re Plotters. We have a large corkboard hanging on the wall, and we use index cards. One card per chapter or scene. We start out with white cards, and after we’ve written the first draft for that chapter, we change the card to a color. It tracks our progress, and provides a sense of accomplishment. Most of our cards only contain ten to fifteen words, just enough to jog our memory about what is supposed to happen in that scene. This method keeps our story on track, but isn’t so binding that we lose the inspiration. It also helps in pacing and recognizing a sagging middle.

Also, since we write together, being Plotters is a necessity. Since we divide the work, we have to be in agreement as to what needs to happen when, and importantly, how the story is supposed to end. It also keeps the dreaded writer’s block at bay. We grab a card, lay it by our computers, and that’s our homework for the day.

Our young adult science fiction novel Merged is being released on September 17, 2019 by Month9Books. Visit us at www.jimandstephbooks.com.

About Merged:

Seven of our country’s most gifted teens will become Nobels, hosts for the implantation of brilliant Mentor minds, in an effort to accelerate human progress. But as the line between what’s possible and what’s right, draws ever blurrier, the teens discover everything has a cost.

Scientists have created an evolved form of living known as Merged Consciousness, and 16-year-old Lake finds herself unable to merge with her Mentor. Lake, the Nobel for Chemistry and Orfyn, the Nobel for Art, are two from among the inaugural class of Nobels, and with the best intent and motivation.

But when Stryker, the Nobel for Peace, makes them question the motivation of the scientists behind the program, their world begins to unravel. As the Nobels work to uncover the dark secrets of the program’s origins, everyone's a suspect and no one can be trusted, not even the other Nobels. As the Mentors begin to take over the bodies and minds of the Nobels, Lake and Orfyn must find a way to regain control before they lose all semblance or memory of their former selves.

Click here to order your copy!

Monday, July 15, 2019

Interview with Hope Bolinger, author of BLAZE

You might remember Hope from this interview back in 2016, about her poem "Her Eyes Breathe Life" that was published in Dancing With The Pen II. I was thrilled when Hope contacted me to share news about the publication of her debut novel, BLAZE, this summer (IlluminateYA, an imprint of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas). Wow!

In the years since Dancing With The Pen II was published, Hope graduated from the professional writing program of Taylor University and become a literary agent at C.Y.L.E. More than 300 of her works have been featured in various publications ranging from Writer's Digest to Keys for Kids. She has worked for various publishing companies, magazines, newspapers, and literary agencies and has edited the work of authors such as Jerry B. Jenkins and Michelle Medlock Adams. Her column "Hopes' Hacks," tips and tricks to avoid writer's block, reaches 2,700+ readers weekly.

I asked Hope if she would come on the blog to share her journey to publication and answer a few questions, and she generously agreed to do so.

Here is a summary of her debut novel:

If you can't stand the heat, don't walk into the fire.

Danny knew his sophomore year would be stressful . . . but he didn’t expect his school to burn down on the first day.

To make matters worse, he — and his three best friends —receive an email in their inboxes from the principal of their rival, King’s Academy, offering full-rides to attend the town's prestigious boarding school. Danny wants nothing to do with King’s Academy and says no. Of course his mother says yes. So off he goes to be bullied and picked on for not being part of the popular and rich "in crowd."

From day one at King’s, Danny encounters hazing, mocking insults from girls at the "popular and pretty" table, and cafeteria food that, for such a prestigious school, tastes as if it were purchased from a military surplus supply warehouse. If he survives, Danny will have to overcome his fears of failure, rejection, and loneliness—all while standing strong in his beliefs and walking into the fire.

What would you like readers to know about you as an introduction? 

Hi, everyone! I'm a 22-year-old literary agent and a soon-to-be-published novelist. More than 300 of my works have been featured in various publications from Writer's Digest to Crosswalk. I'm fresh out of college and am a bit of a pyromaniac and chocoholic.

Take us through your writing process when you were drafting your novel. 

Blaze was honestly a bit of a blur. That summer I was working four jobs and taking two college classes, was the maid of honor in my sister's wedding, and I was dealing with my parent's divorce that summer, but I wanted to get this book done in time to pitch it at the for the Maranatha Conference. You can't pitch a fiction project unless it's all complete. I wrote it in about 45 days. I tried to outline the book in 3 acts, 27 chapters (so 9 per act), and had a basic chapter outline. But, as usual, the characters had a little mind of their own and fought me the whole way through the writing process.

What do you enjoy most about writing? 

Everything. Some days are harder than others. Sometimes you just sit and 5,000 words flow from your fingertips, and others, you struggle to get 500. But I absolutely love all of it. You feel some sort of ecstasy. I've never been in love, but I have an inkling the sensation is familiar.

What was the journey to publication like for you? 

Oh, wow. What a question. I'll try to set up a timeline from when I started writing to now.

  • 2013 - I began writing novels around the age of 16. 
  • 2014 - I picked up a job at a magazine and tried to query to agents and publishers. 
  • 2015 - Frustrated with no results, I self-published my novel "Unmasked" my senior year of high school and joined the professional writing major at Taylor University to learn all about publishing. 
  • 2016 - I picked up a job at a newspaper and pitched to an agent at a conference. Although interested, he turned me down. I co-wrote a WWII Veteran's memoir, published by Taylor University Press. 
  • 2017 - I picked up jobs at publishing houses and working for that literary agent who turned me down. He referred me to another agent, and she picked me up. That summer, I wrote Blaze and pitched it at a conference in September. The publisher told me to send along my materials. 
  • Late 2017-Early 2018 - The book went through multiple rounds at pub board. They liked the concept but wanted a number of edits before they'd proceed with it. 
  • May 2018 - The publishing company offered a book contract. I started working as a literary agent. 
  • February 2019 - I graduated Taylor University summa cum laude. 
  •  June 2019 - My first traditionally published book, Blaze, came out. 
It's been a wild journey. I know 2013-2019 from just starting to getting published may or may not sound like a lot of time. I promise I was hard at work all those years, penning dozens of books. It just takes a long time. The industry is glacial.

What surprised you the most about the publishing process? 

I think platform surprised me. More and more publishers want you to have a social media presence. I grew my platform from 2K to almost 18K in a year for this book launch alone. Publishers want you to pick up most of the marketing work. You can't just get by with an excellent book nowadays. They just have too many authors submitting them manuscripts, so they can be a little picky and choose the ones they know will bring in business.

In addition to being an author yourself, you are also a successful literary agent. Do you have any advice for other writers who dream of being published? 

Of course. Do not ever give up. Almost every point on that timeline, I wanted to throw in the towel. My family and friends wouldn't let me. This industry is cutthroat, tough, and any author is an underdog, even if they've sold millions of copies. Keep writing anyway. You have something important to say, and the world needs to hear it.

Can you share a few of your favorite books or authors? 

Sure! Good ol' JK Rowling, C.S. Lewis, Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde, and F. Scott Fitzgerald top my lists. I love the Classics.

What inspires you? 

So many things. As for book ideas, I usually think, "What situation would I never want to end up in?" And then I toss a character in it. I think a great deal of injustice and topics people don't want to address ignite a fire in my bones. The Blaze trilogy addresses anything from corrupt administrations, mental health, school shootings, and loads of other hard topics that we don't want to confront. I want us to tackle them head-on. If we don't, how can we ever formulate a solution to these problems?

What are you working on now? What’s next for you? 

Oh goodness, a dangerous question. So many things: I already have Book Two done, and as soon as my publisher gives me the green light, I'll start Book Three (already outlined). My agent also has three of my YA books, a couple of children's books, and a few other projects on query. I'm always working on something. On the non-author front, I need a job. I'm working seven part-time positions at the moment and have about six years of industry experience. Fun as that sounds, I'd love something a bit more consistent. I've applied to 150+ jobs, but no luck yet.

Anything else you’d like to add? 

If you like boarding school dramas and lots of fire, I'd love if you'd give Blaze a look. And please don't ever give up. The world can always use a little of you and your writing. It takes a lot of hard work and sleepless nights, but you'll get there. I promise.

Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us, Hope!

Connect with Hope at the following links:

Blaze Extras:

Monday, September 24, 2018

Guest Post from Descript

How to Overcome Writer’s Block with Automatic Transcription

a guest post from Descript

If you’re a writer — of books, essays, scripts, blog posts, whatever — you’re familiar with the phenomenon: the blank screen, a looming deadline, and a sinking feeling in your gut that pairs poorly with the jug of coffee you drank earlier.
If you know that rumble all too well: this post is for you. Maybe it’ll help you get out of a rut; at the very least, it’s good for a few minutes of procrastination.
Here’s the core idea: thinking out loud is often less arduous than writing. And it’s now easier than ever to combine the two, thanks to recent advances in speech recognition technology.
Of course, dictation is nothing new — and plenty of writers have taken advantage of it. Carl Sagan’s voluminous output was facilitated by his process of speaking into an audio recorder, to be transcribed later by an assistant (you can listen to some of his dictations in the Library of Congress!) And software like Dragon’s Naturally Speaking has offered automated transcription for people with the patience and budget to pursue it.
But it’s only in the last couple of years that automated transcription has reached a sweet spot — of convenience, affordability and accuracy—that makes it practical to use it more casually. And I’ve found it increasingly useful for generating a sort of proto-first draft: an alternative approach to the painful process of converting the nebulous wisps inside your head into something you can actually work with.
I call this process idea extraction (though these ideas may be more accurately dubbed brain droppings).
Part I: Extraction
Here’s how my process works. Borrow what works for you and forget the rest — and let me know how it goes!

  • Pick a voice recorder. Start talking. Try it with a topic you’ve been chewing on for weeks — or when an idea flits your head. Don’t overthink it. Just start blabbing.
  • The goal is to tug on as many threads as you come across, and to follow them as far as they go. These threads may lead to meandering tangents— and you may discover new ideas along the way.
  • A lot of those new ideas will probably be embarrassingly bad. That’s fine. You’re already talking about the next thing! And unlike with text, your bad ideas aren’t staring you in the face.
  • Consider leaving comments to yourself as you go — e.g. “Maybe that’d work for the intro”. These will come in handy later.
  • For me, these recordings run anywhere from 20–80 minutes. Sometimes they’re much shorter, in quick succession. Whatever works.
Part II: Transcription
Once I’ve finished recording, it’s time to harness ⚡️The Power of Technology⚡️
A little background: over the last couple of years there’s been an explosion of tools related to automatic speech recognition (ASR) thanks to huge steps forward in the underlying technologies.
Here’s how ASR works: you import your audio into the software, the software uses state-of-the-art machine learning to spit back a text transcript a few minutes later. That transcript won’t be perfect—the robots are currently in the ‘Write drunk’ phase of their careers. But for our purposes that’s fine: you just need it to be accurate enough that you can recognize your ideas.
Once you have your text transcript, your next step is up to you: maybe you’re exporting your transcript as a Word doc and revising from there. Maybe you’re firing up your voice recorder again to dictate a more polished take. Maybe only a few words in your audio journey are worth keeping — but that’s fine too. It probably didn’t cost you much (and good news: the price for this tech will continue to fall in the years ahead).
A few more tips:
  • Use a recorder/app that you trust. Losing a recording is painful — and the anxiety of losing another can derail your most exciting creative moments (“I hope this recorder is working. Good, it is... @#*! where was I?”)
  • Audio quality matters when it comes to automatic transcription. If your recording has a lot of background noise or you’re speaking far away from the mic, the accuracy is going to drop. Consider using earbuds (better yet: Airpods) so you can worry less about where you’re holding the recorder.
  • Find a comfortable space. Eventually you may get used to having people overhear your musings, but it’s a lot easier to let your mind “go for a walk” when you’re comfortable in your environment.
  • Speaking of walking: why not go for a stroll? The pains of writing can have just as much to do with being stationary and hunched over. Walking gets your blood flowing — and your ideas too.
  • I have a lot of ideas, good and bad, while I’m thinking out loud and playing music at the same time (in my case, guitar — but I suspect it applies more broadly). There’s something about playing the same four-chord song on auto pilot for the thousandth time that keeps my hands busy and leaves my mind free to wander.
The old ways of doing things — whether it’s with a keyboard or pen — still have their advantages. Putting words to a page can force a sort of linear thinking that is otherwise difficult to maintain. And when it comes to editing, it’s no contest: QWERTY or bust.
But for getting those first crucial paragraphs down (and maybe a few keystone ideas to build towards)? Consider talking to yourself. Even if you wind up with a transcript full of nothing but profanity — well, have you ever seen a transcript full of profanity? You could do a lot worse.

This article was originally published by Descript.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Interview with Acclaimed Author & Motivational Speaker Amberly Lago

I am so thrilled to welcome Amberly Lago to the blog today! I read Amberly's book TRUE GRIT & GRACE in a matter of days and was so inspired and moved by her story. This is a book that will change the way you see yourself and the world -- it will open your eyes to the possibilities before you, and will help you tap into the grit and grace inside yourself. 

Amberly was kind enough to stop by the blog today (in the midst of her busy schedule and book tour!) to answer some questions about not just writing and publishing, but also strength and resilience. Grab a mug of tea, turn off your cell phone, and sink into her insights and words of wisdom. 

It is such a pleasure to present to you... Amberly Lago!

Can you tell us about you that you’d like the readers to know?

I was an athlete and professional dancer turned fitness trainer when a horrific motorcycle accident severed my femoral artery and shattered my right leg almost beyond repair. Months in the hospital and 34 surgeries—along with plates, pins, and sheer will—eventually spared my leg, despite the initial recommendation to amputate. As a result of the trauma, I was diagnosed with an incurable nerve disease called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, dubbed “the suicide disease” because it is ranked highest on the pain scale. But giving up was never in my wheel house. By embracing gratitude, acceptance, and self care, I found the ability to thrive despite living in constant, chronic pain.

I started sharing my story of hope and inspiration to small assembled crowds and then before I knew it, I was being asked to speak at conferences, schools, and institutions. My heart was instantly filled with joy the more I shared my story and made connections with others. Although I had never written a book before, I was passionate about writing my story in hopes of giving others a shift in their perspective and to leave them believing in themselves a little bit more. I wrote True Grit and Grace: Turning Tragedy Into Triumph and it was published earlier this year by Morgan James Publishing and launched on the Megyn Kelly TODAY Show.

Take us through your writing and publishing process. 

The thought of writing a book was a little overwhelming and I knew I needed help. Although I always did well in school, I didn’t even have a college education. I started asking around if anyone knew of a writing teacher. Three different people told me about an incredible teacher named Jack Grapes. I looked him up and enrolled in his Method Writing class. Method Writing is an organic approach to the creative process, a way of finding your deep, authentic voice. The Method does not take the traditional approach, which emphasizes structure and form; instead it focuses on truth and organic process. Method Writing deals with the inner voice and how it can be used to create unique works of art, true to your own voice and style, true to your own vision and point view, and true to your own life experience—whether writing a book, poem, recipe, Instagram post, or ransom note.

So along with writing every day in my journal, I made an outline for my book, and used Jack Grapes Method Writing class as a way to start writing. I wrote every day, even if it was just a page, and it took two years. I had to find the time to write between working, being a mom, being a wife, and trying to have any kind of social life. There were a lot of days I just wanted to keep pushing the snooze button, but I would wake up at 4:30 every morning to get my writing in before my day officially started.

It took a total of two years to finish my book, and then came time to find a publisher. I attended a conference called “Author 101” where I learned about everything from publishing to marketing and literary agents. Although I left there feeling even more overwhelmed, it’s also where I ended up finding my publisher.

What is your favorite thing about writing? 

My favorite thing about writing is getting things out of my head and onto the paper. When I was in the hospital and stuck in the hospital bed, writing was a way of coping with my situation.

I opened my journal and immediately began a gratitude list—that is, all the things for which I was grateful. So instead of staring into darkness, I focused on what was light in my life, and as the list grew longer, the less depressed I became. This was my medicine and it worked. Psychological depression, as opposed to biochemical depression, doesn’t occur in a vacuum. It occurs in negativity, when “what I don’t have” seems greater than “what I want to have.” We human beings rarely know how to value what we have until we lose it. And I was determined to beat those odds by listing and acknowledging all my blessings. Gratitude turns denial into acceptance, makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates hope for tomorrow. Writing a gratitude list keeps me in a place of gratitude, and when you are grateful you don’t have room for self-pity. Writing down all my emotions is healing and takes me out of my head and keeps me in my heart.

Your writing is so authentic, honest and vulnerable. How do you push past fears, doubts, or self-criticism that is inherent for so many of us in the creative process?  

I try to write like I speak—straight from the heart. Sometimes I will read a post I have written for social media and I think to myself, what was I thinking writing that?? But it is how I was feeling at the time. I have found when you own your story and accept where you are on your journey it strengthens your resilience and allows you to make meaningful connections with others. Plus, it’s much easier to write when you are just keeping it real and letting the words flow.

Do you have any advice for other writers, or for anyone going after their dreams? 

Write from you heart and write vividly, using all your senses. Keep it real. I think readers can smell when you aren’t authentic. I started writing my memoir like I was telling a story and it was less intimidating for me to get started. The secret is to just get started. This is your perspective on life and events, and if you can share what you think, feel, and have gone through, others gather the wisdom and benefit of your experiences. No matter what, keep writing every day.

Can you share a few of your favorite books or authors? 

One of my favorite authors is Brene Brown and I love her book The Gifts of Imperfection. I start my day by reading several of my favorite spiritual books to center me before my day gets crazy. Some of those books include Each Day a New Beginning: Daily Mediations for Women, published by Hazelden; I’ve Been Thinking: Reflections, Prayers, and Meditations for a Meaningful Life by Maria Shriver, and The Wisdom of Sundays by Oprah Winfrey.

What inspires you? 

My two daughters inspire me to be my best and my biggest motivator is anyone who tells me I can’t do something.

 What are you working on now? What’s next for you? 

I am still on my book tour and have one last stop in Charlotte, North Carolina at Barnes & Noble. Next I will be delivering a keynote “Claiming Your Resilience When Living In Chronic Pain” at the annual RSDSA conference and also leading a 5K fundraising walk “Fight the Flame” to benefit those diagnosed with CRPS. I am launching an online inspirational fitness course soon, and my dream is to do SuperSoul Podcast with Oprah AND a TED Talk—Hey! I always say if your dreams don’t scare you, then they aren’t big enough!

Anything else you would like to add?

What I have learned is that life is a series of choices we make regardless of our circumstances. I could either make the choice to give up and let my life be determined by my circumstances, or fight to create something positive out of my situation. My choice is to notice the gifts life offers, which are particularly plentiful when you look for them. I believe in seeing the good in every situation and learning form it.

I believe we can have the life we always imagined, even if our circumstances have narrowed our possibilities. My sincere wish is that my book will help each reader claim their own power and belief in themselves and their dreams, and find their own resilience to move forward and choose a life filled with laughter and love, even when things don’t go as planned. We can’t choose what life throws our way, but we can choose to be happy and live a full life, despite our circumstances. Through our trials, we can embrace our challenges, connect to our innermost resilience, and change our perspective on life. We are strong, but together we are unstoppable.

Connect with Amberly:

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Interview with Young Author Macy Li

I am delighted to feature an interview today with talented young author Macy Li. I have known Macy since publishing her short story "Teaching Helen Keller" on Word Smorgasbord two years ago. She was a superb writer then, and I have been amazed at how her writing continues to grow and evolve ever since!

Macy just recently published her first book, a fabulous collection of poems, stories, essays and plays titled Shards. (Order your copy on Amazon here!) Macy has won many writing contests, including: Gold and Silver Keys in the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, Honorable Mentions from Stone Soup magazine, the Best in Class Award for the Growing Up Asian in America Contest, first place in the Art Tales Writing Contest, and prizes in the Palo Alto Writing Contest. Next week, she will be featured on the Palo Alto Podcast. She was kind enough to stop by the blog today to answer some questions about her writing process, finding inspiration, creativity, and more!

Hi Macy! What would you like readers to know about you as an introduction? 

My name is Macy Li, I’m thirteen years old, and I grew up in Sacramento, California. Other than writing, I enjoy playing piano, dancing, and reading. I’m also interested in biology and Latin. My favorite genre to write is poetry, because of the amount of emotion and meaning that’s able to be expressed in every line.

Take us through your writing process when you were creating Shards. 

Shards is my collection of poems, stories, and plays, consisting of pieces from a year ago until recently. Each piece started out as a spark, an idea, a message that I wanted to share. I laced my thoughts and feelings into tales, hoping to express them in abstract ways that I loved. And so sometimes my words flowed into poems, stories, and plays. Other times, my pieces just didn’t work out. But through these experiences, I came out with a collection of my writing that I felt expressed the most of my emotions. Each word is like a shard, a hint to something bigger, completing my collection.

What do you like most about writing? 

My favorite thing about writing is that I can do anything with it. In the real world, there are people I can’t stand up to, things that I can’t do, and lives that I can’t have. But when I write, anything is possible for me. When I write, I finally feel free -- I feel happy. When I write, I escape from reality and drown in my own world. The bottled up emotions spill out, and I can paint worlds from my imagination. Sometimes, I feel weak and lost in reality, but writing gives me a power: a power to create. Writing is something I love.
You write in a variety of different genres -- poetry, short stories, drama, nonfiction. When you get an idea, how do you decide what form it will take? 

When I get an idea, I think about which way it would be most powerful when presented. Some ideas are stronger as plays, others as poems, others as stories. I like to use poetry to communicate more abstract ideas and feelings, and I like to write plays to create closer connections between the characters and readers. I use stories to tell more vivid tales, ones which I like to pack a lot of description and emotion in.
Do you have any advice for other writers, or for other young people going after their dreams? 

I want anyone who’s interested in writing to know that in every piece of writing, there is always something special and beautiful about it, because reading someone’s writing is like hearing someone’s words from his or her heart. These words are special and amazing. My advice is to just let go when writing. Just relax and let whatever’s on your mind spill into a story. In order for your words to come out, they have to come from the heart. Never be afraid to write out your feelings into tales.

Can you share a few of your favorite books or authors? 

Some of my favorite books are The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, and Mapping the Bones by Jane Yolen. I like to read historical fiction, realistic fiction, and a little bit of science fiction.

What inspires you? 

I’m inspired by happiness, laughter, and love. I’m inspired by failure, rejection, and hurt. I’m inspired by mean people, by nice people, by people who make me cry, by people who give me hope. I’m inspired by the words people say, the feelings people feel. I’m inspired by anything that fills me with emotions, thoughts, and ideas.

What are you working on now? What’s next for you? 

I’m continuing to write poems, stories, and plays of all kinds, and simply enjoying the art of writing. I hope to be able to compile another collection soon.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Never give up, because there is always hope until you give up. This is the most important thing I’ve learned. If you want to do something, you can do it. There is always a chance.

Thank you so much, Macy!

Dear readers: you can purchase your own copy of Shards on Amazon here!

Monday, August 13, 2018

Interview with E.K. Baer about her New Collection!

Talented young writer E.K. Baer has recently published a new collection of poems titled Down the Road (which is available on Amazon here -- there's even a Czech edition!) This is a stunning collection that showcases her continued evolution as a poet, and her fresh insights and wisdom about the world will blow you away. And, in a testament to her compassionate soul, E.K. is donating all proceeds from book sales to charity. Buy one for yourself, and buy a copy for a friend, too! 

E.K. was kind enough to stop by the blog today to answer questions about her writing process, how this second collection differs from her first, and where she finds inspiration. You can also read the interview she did with us after publishing her first collection of poems here

Congrats on this beautiful book, E.K.! I am so proud of you. 

Take us through your writing process when you were creating Down the Road. Was this a different experience from writing your first book, A Collection of Poems

When creating Down the Road, it felt as if I was suddenly ready to address all of the difficult and sad situations that I have been through over the years. When I was writing the poems of A Collection of Poems, I wasn’t really ready to go there. So, writing Down the Road was a very cathartic experience.

To you, what is the hardest part about writing? Do you have any advice for other writers who might struggle with this? 

The hardest part for me is the time when I am inspired, but am not quite able to find the right words to weave into a poem. What helps me is to write down the thought, get up, walk away, and come back to the poem later. Personally, if I push myself to come up with something when it doesn’t flow naturally, I’m not happy with it in the end.

What is the most fun or magical part of writing, for you? 

I love being able to weave my dreams into a sort of reality in front of me. Also, when I write I strive to make all the difficult times in my life relatable, and I feel better, in a way.

How do you think you have grown as a writer since your last book was published? 

I feel that, having read more of other people’s poetry, I have changed my style a little bit, and write a bit differently than I used to. I now feel more comfortable digging deep and letting the emotions tangled up inside of me come out.

Can you share a few of your favorite poems or poets? 

A few of my favorite poets and/or my favorite poems by them are:
  • Mary Oliver, "Angel" 
  • Robert Frost, "A Time to Talk" 
  • Emily Dickinson, "Because I Could not Stop for Death" 
What nourishes you and fills up your creative well? 

I am inspired by everything around me – the way the trees wave in the wind, the way the crickets chirp, all in all how beautiful the world can be. I come up with a lot of my poems just by looking out the window! Also, I try to turn my life experiences into a relatable form – poems.

Can you give us a peek into your writing routine? 

I really do not have a very strict writing routine – I write when I feel inspired, which is almost every day. Many days I write several poems/short stories in a day, and other days I just write one.

What are you working on now? What’s next for you? 

This summer, I was fortunate to travel a lot and see other cultures and places, which gave me a lot of inspiration. Currently, I am working on more new poems and a few short stories. I hope to create another book soon!

Anything else you’d like to add? 

When writing, I feel one needs to have people around who support you and your craft. For me, one of those people is Ms. Woodburn. She is always encouraging me and guiding me through my writing journey. Thank you, Ms. Woodburn!

Aww, it is my pleasure! Thank you E.K. for taking the time to join us today and to share your beautiful thoughts on poetry and writing. 


Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Interview with Young Author Daniel Williams

I met Daniel Williams years ago when he reached out to me as a curious young writer. Since then, we have become good email buddies and pen pals, and I am so proud of how his writing career continues to blossom. His work was featured in Dancing With The Pen and he self-published his own book Brothers Stand Strong a few years ago. Now, his new book titled This is Dan will be released soon. Daniel was kind enough to stop by the blog today to answer some questions about writing, publishing, and following your dreams. Welcome Daniel!

What would you like readers to know about you as an introduction?

My name is Daniel Williams and I am 25 years old. I was born and raised in Fort Wayne, Indiana. I graduated from North Side High School in June 2011 and attended Ivy Tech Community College back in January 2012, but left in May 2013 due to personal reasons. My hobbies are reading books and writing my own books. I like going to movies, walking in parks, going to festivals, and spending time with family and friends. What people don't know about me is that I can dance, I can cook and I can bowl as well.

How did you get your idea for This is Dan? Take us through your writing process. 

I just started writing out my ideas out on paper. All I needed to say about myself. I wanted to write my life story out on paper and let readers know who I am. Let them know who the real Dan is. I started writing the book in January 2016 and just kept writing it. It took me two years to write it, and I finished in January 2018. Now, I am in the process of editing and doing the finishing touches to the book.

What do you like most about writing? 

I like writing mostly because you get to tell a story about what you want to talk about. You are in control of what you write and you can give readers an insight to help them in their lives.

How was writing and publishing this book different from the writing and publishing experience of your first book? 

The last book I wrote, Brothers Stand Strong, was my very first book. I had little support and was just a learning experience from publishing the book. I had to learn about the writing and publishing business out on my own and it took time. Now, with this book, I have had time to really understand self-publishing and having control of my book without anyone taking that from me. I put a lot of time with my new book This is Dan and hope that the readers know how dedicated I was with writing the book and when it is published.

Do you have any advice for other writers, or for other young people going after their dreams? 

My advice for any aspiring writer or upcoming writer is know what you have passion for writing. Know what you want to write and study the craft of writing. Read as many writing self-help books as you can and take notes. For young people out there going after their dreams, do what you want and continue to believe in yourself.

Can you share a few of your favorite books or authors? 

Goodness, my favorite books and authors I love to read are I Say a Little Prayer by the late E. Lynn Harris and The Battle of Jericho by Sharon M. Draper. E. Lynn Harris and Sharon M. Draper are my favorite authors.

What inspires you? 

What inspires me most is myself for going after my dreams and doing what makes me happy. I can do anything once I put my mind to it.

What are you working on now? What’s next for you? 

Next for me, once my second book This is Dan is self-published this year, I want to do a documentary on my life about all the highs and lows of my life. I plan to continue writing another book and will write another memoir on my life when I get older.

Anything else you’d like to add? 

Anyone reading this, make sure you all follow my social media sites online and see what I am up to.

  • Add or follow me on Facebook: Daniel Ray Williams. 
  • Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @dan_delightful