Writing Advice and Other Answers

This is an interview I did for Maria Anderson, one of my Street Team members, for her Instargram fan account. Since I’ve been getting quite a few fan emails lately asking some of these same question, I thought I’d run the interview here.

1.  After Shadow Falls and Shadow Falls: After Dark will you be writing any other teen novels?

Yup. I’ve already sold another series.  I’m really excited about it, too.  It’s tentatively titled Glimmers.  It’s a story about descendants of grim reapers.  It will be spooky, and sassy just like my Shadow Falls books.

2.  Did any of the Shadow Falls characters have different names before the ones they have now?

Funny you would ask that.  Miranda was Isabella.  And it was as if when writing her dialogue, she turned and told me, “I hate that name.  You have to change it!”  So I listened to her and gave her Miranda.  And Lucas was named Hunter. But then I had one of the duh moments and realized that his first name would be the same as my pen name.  So Hunter became Lucas.  I think I like Lucas best, too.

3.  Do you have a music playlist you write to or that inspires you? What are some of the songs?

I get asked this a lot, and sometimes I want to lie because my answer is so boring.  But the truth is that I can’t write to music.  Well, I can’t write to music with lyrics.  If I do, I stop listening to the words in my head and start listening to the words in the song.  But I do have a song/video that almost seems as if it was written and filmed to be about Shadow Falls. It is called Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield. Here’s the video.

 4. Do you have any advice for future writers?

I have three pieces of advice for new writers.  First, remain positive and focused on your goal.  What works for me is to do something each and every day to achieve that goal.  It can be a little thing, such as researching something you need to know before you write a scene, or it can be something bigger, such as writing X number of pages.  One thing I really believe in is that keeping a positive outlook is vital to building a career as a writer.  Surround yourself with people who share your positive outlook, and try to limit your contact with those who spread negativity.

My second piece of advice goes along with my first, and that is to work hard to become a better writer every day.  Take a writing class or workshop or read a how-to book.  Expand your horizons and read widely.  Become a sponge and soak up as much about the writing process as you can.

Last, and perhaps most important of all, accept that rejection will happen, no matter if it’s your first book or your 20th, and it’s never personal.  I worked hard to get published and believe me, I had my share of rejections before I published my first novel with Silhouette Romance in 1993.  And I’ll admit—I thought all my worries were over once I signed that first contract.  I thought I’d made it and the days of getting rejections were over but I was wrong.  The rejections kept coming.  When I wasn’t having any success selling a second novel, I decided to focus on my freelance non-fiction.  I did well with that.  I’ve had over 3,000 national credits and my non-fiction writing assignments have taken me all over the world, but along with that success came a lot more rejections.  And when I switched back to writing my adult romance novels, I racked up more rejections and even after I broke back into the market (I sold four novels in a single day), I still got my share of rejections.  But I never, ever let those rejections stop me from pursuing my dream.  And neither should anyone else.

I hope my writing advice helped those of you that aspire to be writers. If you do want to be a writer, what sort of books do you want to write?

California Dreamin’

Embassy-Suites-pool-2I’m in sunny Southern California for the California Dreamin’ Conference in Brea, California. I’m staying at the Embassy Suites by Hilton, and look at the view that greeted me. I can’t wait to sit by the pool with a tall cold drink!

I love attending these writers conferences because it gives me a chance to connect with some of my old friends and to also make some new ones.

I’ll be presenting two workshops. The first, “The Balancing Act of First Chapters,” is a fun-filled workshop, in which I explain why the balance of characterization and plot is crucial to first chapters.  “Torn Between Two Lovers – The Challenges of a Hybrid Author,” is the second workshop I’ll present along with Christie Ridgeway. We’ll share our insights regarding juggling loyalties between publishers, scheduling, and the advantages and disadvantages of this type of writing career.

If you aren’t registered for the conference, you can still participate by attending the Multi-Author Book Signing on Saturday, March 26th , 2:00 to 4:00 PM at the hotel. It is FREE and open to the public. So, if you live in the LA area, I hope you’ll come by and say hello. I’d love to meet you.

But right now, the pool is calling my name…

Della’s Dilemma

for blogI saw this on a new friend’s blog and for some reason it reminded me of Della.  Problem is, Della has two boys in her life and she’s only going to end up with one.  Who will it be?  Who will she choose?  Who is that boy sitting in that tree with her?

I’ll be honest, both are great boys.  And it’s gonna break my heart when one of them doesn’t get the girl.  But in life, we run into a lot of people who only stay in our lives for a short while.  It doesn’t mean they weren’t important.  Or that they didn’t make a difference in our lives.

So, here’s to all the people who come into our world, even those that are only there for a short time.  Meanwhile, I’m asking you, who do  you think is in the picture?  Is this Steve or Chase?  Who do you think Della will choose?

 Winners!

The winners from last week’s giveaway are Isabella Witte and Jordan Finnegan. Congratulations! Email your mailing address to cc@cchunterbooks.com, and I’ll send you a signed copy of Chosen at Nightfall.

Book Signings and a Giveaway!

 

IMG_4148What a great time I had visiting with Foy H. Moody High School and the Teen Bookfest by the Bay in Corpus Christi, Texas last week.  It was a rainy weekend, but you couldn’t tell from the turnout. The students had wonderful questions and were so attentive.  Thank you so much, guys!  I had a great time chatting with Melissa, the school librarian, over lunch.  And I loved getting to know several of the students who have plans to write their own stories.

 

IMG_4136Then, the Bookfest by the Bay on Saturday was great as well.  What a time we had visiting with authors and librarians.  Thanks to everyone who put on the book festival and to everyone who took the time to come out.

So, I thought I’d share some of the great photos from both. A special thanks to Melissa Yanez for sending me so many photos. And the next time I’m at an event, I hope you’ll come out to see me, because we have a blast.

Maybe . ..   If I came to your school, or you came to a book festival that I was attending, what question would you ask me?  I may answer a few in upcoming blogs?

Giveaway!!!

This week, I’m giving away two signed copies of Chosen at Nightfall, the final book in my Shadow Falls series, to two lucky people who leave a comment or question below. (Sorry, but I need to limit this giveaway to US residents only.)

 

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RebornThis Week’s Deal

Now for the deal. Kobo has a special on Reborn, Della’s first book. The ebook is only $2.99 for a limited time. So, grab your copy today at Kobo.

How to Slay a Gremlin

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There’s a monster hiding under my desk.  He lurks there, waiting for the right moment to attack. He’s an ugly little bastard, too.  I have a lot of names for him, but for the sake of not overusing profanity in this blog, I’ll call him by his real name, Self-Doubt.

Most of you might think that after two decades in the business, after hitting list that I only dreamed about hitting, I’d have managed to kill the gremlin.  But you’d be wrong.  That sneaky little devil won’t die.  He keeps popping back up.

I think self doubt is something most writers face throughout their careers.  And by careers, I don’t mean from the point that you become a published author, I mean, from the point you start writing.  I think the inability to fight the gremlin is one of the biggest things that prevent a writer from becoming published.  And it’s probably one of the reasons published writers stop writing.  That’s right, this monster doesn’t care what you’ve accomplished.  All he wants is a big bite out of your confidence.

He’ll tell you that whatever you’ve got on that computer screen is crap.  That you just need to delete it.

He’ll convince you that no matter how good of an idea you may have, it’s probably already been done.

He’ll whisper in your ear that you’re wasting your time, that cleaning out your grout in your kitchen tile with a toothbrush is much more important.  Sometimes he possesses your family and friends and they’ll say things like, “How long are you going to put yourself though all this pain before you find something else to do with your time?”  He’ll stare you right in the eyes and tell you that your dreams are silly and you’ll never reach them.  He’ll make you believe that the one negative review out of twenty good ones is the one you should listen to.  If you let him, he not only can slow you down, he’ll rob you of the joy and passion you feel for writing.

Now, that gremlin is always close by, nipping at your toes, giving you moments of doubt.  I think that’s somewhat normal.  But let that creature scramble up your leg, hang out in your lap, or even worse, let him climb up on your shoulder, where you can listen to him all day long, and you’ll soon be playing Russian Roulette with your passion for writing.  Because writing with a self-doubt gremlin sitting on your shoulder is about as easy as brushing your teeth with a brownie in your mouth.

So how do we slay the gremlin or at least keep him at bay?  Below are five tips for overcoming and preventing self-doubt from chewing on your sanity.

1.) Be Aware of Peer Pressure.

We preach this to our kids but so often we forget that the bad habits of the people we hang out with are as contagious as a stomach virus.  If you’re hanging out with negative people, people who have lost their ability to chase their dreams, you’re at risk of becoming just like them.  Find positive people who validate your dreams and work ethics to share your life and support your journey.

2.)  Ward off the message that you don’t know what you’re doing by continually growing at a writer. Read how-to books, take classes, attend those writer meetings and listen to what other writers offer as advice.

3.)  Mentor someone else. Nothing can inspire you more than helping and encouraging another person.  Telling others that they have to believe in themselves is a sure fire way or rekindling your own self-confidence.  It also creates karma.

4.)  Be leery of ruts. If you’re not feeling the passion for your writing, try spicing things up by doing something different.  Try writing something in a new genre, or try writing something in a different point of view.  Nothing can get you out of a rut quicker than feeling challenged.

5.)  Accept that sometimes you are going to fail. That you’re going to make mistakes. That you’re going to get rejections—that it might take you years to accomplish what you want to accomplish. Understand that you aren’t the first person to get fifty rejections, or a hundred, or even a thousand. The truth is, the number of rejections you receive doesn’t matter.  You are not defeated until you let yourself be defeated.

Writing isn’t for wimps.  Chances are, you’ll face those gremlins, not once but many times, so just be armed with good friends, knowledge, Karma, a sense of adventure, and perseverance.  And never, ever lose your sense of humor.  And now that I’ve shared with you my tips for slaying gremlins, I’d like to hear some of yours.  How do you tackle self doubt?

(This article originally appeared in Writer’s Digest, October 4, 2012. )