Tag Archives: dreams

Interview with a Writer: Kelsey Atkins

Are you interested in getting to know more of the writers who are part of our amazing community? As part of my blog series, I’ve interviewed some of the writers in an effort to get to know them better, as well as share their stories!

Today, I’m introducing Kelsey Atkins onto the blog! Kelsey is one of my CP’s, and her feedback on my work has been so helpful! I’m excited to share Kelsey’s story!


#1. What got you into writing? How and when did you first start?

I started to enjoy writing at a very young age. I’ve always kept a journal and even wrote a few short stories when I was in middle school, but I didn’t start seriously writing until I was out of college. Writing was never something I thought about doing until I had a story to write. As soon as that first story planted itself in my brain and demanded to be written, I began my official writing journey and have been at it ever since.

#2: Where do you usually get your ideas?

As cliché as it sounds, I get my best ideas from dreams. Occasionally an idea will randomly pop into my head or develop from something I saw or heard, but the best ideas come from my subconscious.

#3: What current project are you working on right now? What was the inspiration for this project?

My current project is a dystopian novel set in a fantasy world. This is my first dystopian, but I stayed near my comfort zone by adding a fantasy element. I can’t remember where the idea originally came from, but I do remember it started out more as a feeling than an overall idea. I tried to write a different story before I chose to work on this one, but it kept tugging at the back of my mind, begging to be written, so that’s where my focus currently lies.

#4: Traditional, Self-Publish, Small Press? What path to publishing are you pursuing/have pursued and why?

My first book was traditionally published and I will continue to seek that route for my future novels. This is such a personal choice for each writer and for me it came down to needing to have someone in the industry believe in my work. I also wanted the support a traditional publisher provides as well as help navigating my way through marketing and book signings. The financial support is a huge bonus too!

#5: What’s the best writing tip you’ve ever received?

“There are no rules for writing. Find what works for you and stick with it!”

I really struggled to complete my first book because I thought I had to write it linearly from beginning to end. I thought I had to have an outline and do my best to stick to it. When I finally let go of all that, writing came so much easier. It took me five years to write my first book, but after I developed a process that worked for me, it only took me four months to write my second novel and eight weeks to write my third (thanks to Camp Nano and awesome cabin mates).

#6: When are you most creative?

My creativity hits whenever it’s inconvenient such as in the shower or while I’m driving. One of these days I’ll need to invest in a voice recorder and waterproof notepad, but until then I’ll continue jumping out of the shower with soapy hair, pulling over on the side of the road, or trying to convince myself I can remember whatever great idea popped into my mind.

#7: What authors inspire you the most?

Honestly, the authors who inspire me the most are those in the writing community who have yet to be published or have just started their publishing journey. The journey is LONG and hard and exhausting. It would be so much easier to give up after the first ten rejection letters and even easier to give up after the next twenty, thirty, or however many may come. It is so inspiring to see the writers who believe in themselves and their work keep fighting every day to make their dreams a reality. Persevering through the criticism and the let downs is so hard and takes an immeasurable amount of strength. Those who fight the good fight every day inspire me the most!

#8: What’s your most anticipated read in the next few months?

I don’t often read new releases so I couldn’t even tell you what’s coming out in the next few months, but I can tell you I am really looking forward to Sarah J. Maas’s new book!

#9: What are you currently reading?

Right now I’m working my way through several beta reads but am also reading Tower of Dawn which is taking me much longer to get through than the other books in the series.

#10: What’s your favorite book or book series?

This question is almost impossible. One of my all-time favorite series is The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare, but there are several close seconds including A Court of Thorns and Roses, The Tiger’s Curse, and of course Harry Potter!

#11: Favorite childhood book?

The first book I remember really enjoying growing up was The Golden Compass by Philip Paullman. In high school, my favorite series was Harry Potter!

#12: Biggest book pet peeve?

Love triangles are geometric romances from hell! I never have and never will enjoy them. Reading one is the equivalent to nails on a chalkboard for me which is funny because several of my favorite books have at least one written into the story somewhere.

#13: What book has made you cry?

I know there are plenty that have made me cry, but the only ones I can think of off the top of my head are The Shack and Where the Red Fern Grows. I try to stay away from books that will make me cry, but it doesn’t take much to elicit an emotion response from me, so I tend to cry at some point in most of the stories I read.

#14: Favorite writing snack or drink?

I’m not a huge snack eater when I’m writing because I don’t like to stop writing to take bites. I do enjoy having coffee or iced tea while writing and I usually reward myself with chocolate or a milkshake after a good writing spree.

#15: What’s your biggest fear? Writing related or otherwise – or both!

My biggest fear has always been drowning! I don’t have a lot of fears associated with writing because it’s something I truly love and enjoy doing, but I do get nervous when I share my work with others.

#16: What other hobbies do you have outside of writing?

Most of my time is taken up by a rambunctious five-year-old, but when I have some free time to myself, I like to read, listen to music, color, crochet, and play Final Fantasy (my guilty pleasure).

#17: Biggest real-life pet peeve?

Mean people! I can’t stand it when people treat others with anything other than kindness. We all have bad days and rough lives; it doesn’t give anyone the excuse to take it out on someone else. Mean people are especially frustrating in the writing world. I’ve seen far too many unfair negative reviews of books simply because someone was upset about something that had nothing to do with the story.

#18: Any final words to aspiring writers out there?

Keep doing what you love and never give up! The best part about writing your own story is that it can be anything you want it to be. Take the critiques, listen to advice from those you trust, but never compromise who you are or the heart of your story!


All About Kelsey

WSYOawJN.jpgKelsey Atkins is an elementary and middle school teacher who loves to write. Her work with young adults in the classroom inspired her to write the Finding the Light series. Kelsey grew up in a small town in Idaho where she grew to love the outdoors. She currently lives in Boise, Idaho with her husband, son, and fluffy Samoyed. When she isn’t teaching or writing, she enjoys spending time with her family, cooking, hiking, and volunteering at church.

Follow Kelsey!

Twitter: @AtkinsAuthor

 

 

Interview with a Writer: Tauri Cox

Are you interested in getting to know more of the writers who are part of our amazing community? As part of my new blog series, I’ve interviewed some of the writers in an effort to get to know them better, as well as share their stories!

So today, I’m introducing Tauri Cox onto the blog! Tauri and I met last year and become fast friends and critique partners. I am so excited to share what she has to say about her life as a writer, the advice she has to new writers, and what her publishing goals are!


#1. What got you into writing? How and when did you first start?

I’ve been experimenting with writing for as long as I can remember: short stories, creative writing classes, etc. But I didn’t pursue it – or even consider it – seriously until my senior year of college. I had gone in as a pre-med student. Then quickly learned I sucked at math and science. But my professors always complimented me on my writing. So I switched over and immediately fell in love.

#2: Where do you usually get your ideas?

My ideas come from a variety of places. My first two novels were fictionalized retellings of real life events. But my third and current project was inspired by the city of New Orleans. It’s one of my favorite places in the world, and I just knew I wanted my next story to be based there. Luckily there’s plenty of interesting subject matter to go with NOLA!

#3: What current project are you working on right now? What was the inspiration for this project?

Like I said above, New Orleans was the inspiration for my current project. Once I dug into the past and culture of the city, I found a story about Marie Laveau – the infamous voodoo queen – and the pieces fell into place.

My second inspiration was Damon Salvatore from The Vampire Diaries. I really wanted to write a female version of his character: a morally grey, reluctant, sassy but lovable antihero. My main character Jessa stemmed naturally from there, popping into my head fully-formed.

So my WIP is a NA contemporary fantasy revolving around a young woman who discovers she’s the missing heir to the voodoo queen but doesn’t really want anything to do with it.

#4: Traditional, Self-Publish, Small Press? What path to publishing are you pursuing/have pursued and why?

I am currently pursuing traditional publishing. I dream of seeing my book on the shelves of Barnes & Noble, and I believe traditional is the best way of going about accomplishing that dream thanks to bigger distribution and the backing of a big house and editorial/marketing team.

#5: What’s the best writing tip you’ve ever received?

Hmmm. That’s tough because I’ve been lucky enough to receive a lot of great feedback. But I think the best was a reminder to take breaks. Burnout is a very real thing, and it can happen fast. So pacing yourself, refilling your creative well and taking a break between drafts has really helped my process.

The other is to give yourself a little grace – especially with first drafts. I am a perfectionist and the first draft is paralyzing to me because it never comes out the way I want it to. But that’s okay. That’s what revisions are for. So just get it down on paper and fix it later.

#6: When are you most creative?

After a glass of wine 🙂 but seriously it’s true. It goes along with the above, loosens my control freak-ness a little so I can just write. I typically am most creative in the evenings – right after work and before dinner. I can crank out a couple of hours then.

#7: What authors inspire you the most?

I am sure everyone says this, but JK Rowling has been a huge source of inspiration to me. Her journey is just fantastic. Sarah J Maas is the same way. She was published so young and has created this incredible platform from scratch.

But I’ve also been really inspired by a lot of the writers I’ve met along the way. Writers who have been working for years and never given up, writers who have consistently published books – books that didn’t make it big – but slowly built a strong following, writers who advocate for each other. It’s really a phenomenal community.

#8: What’s your most anticipated read in the next few months?

Well, my TBR pile is so gigantic that it’s actually overwhelming. But there are some great books in there! One of my most anticipated books of the year just came out a couple weeks ago and that was Finale by Stephanie Garber. It was fantastic. I am also really excited to finally start reading V.E. Schwab’s Darker Shade of Magic series.

#9: What are you currently reading?

I am currently reading The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman. It’s fabulous – dark and atmospheric with well-crafted characters. I love seeing more and more “fantasies” set in the real world – especially since that’s what I am writing!

#10: What’s your favorite book or book series?

That’s a toss up. Favorite series are Harry Potter and both of Sarah J Maas’ series. Favorite stand alone is The Great Gatsby!

#11: Favorite childhood book?

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler – a classic! The Witch Family is a close tie.

#12: Biggest book pet peeve?

Insta-love. It drives me CRAZY! Insta-lust is fine. But I am a firm believe that you can’t really love someone until you know them and know them well. Plus slow burn romance is the BEST.

#13: What book has made you cry?

A lot. I am a big crier. But The Shack by William P. Young absolutely wrecked me in the best way possible.

#14: Favorite writing snack or drink?

Red wine and Goldfish.

#15: What’s your biggest fear? Writing related or otherwise – or both!

Snakes and failure.

#16: What other hobbies do you have outside of writing?

Reading obviously. I love puzzles and crafts and cooking. The rest of my life pretty much revolves around my dog and my family.

#17: Biggest real life pet peeve?

Slow walkers and people who don’t pay attention to where they are going in the grocery store. MOVE, GET OUT THE WAY!

#18: Any final words to aspiring writers out there?

Don’t lose faith if your first book doesn’t get you an agent. Don’t lose faith if your first book doesn’t get picked up by a publisher. It’s rare, and it’s all about the right book at the right time with the right person. And eventually the right combination will arise.


All About Taurisweater-headshot.jpg

Growing up, Tauri wanted to be a variety of things: marine biologist, veterinarian, equine chiropractor, neonatal surgeon. All biological, all scientific.

Until she arrived at college and quickly discovered… she was horrifically bad at science.
But she also learned that she had a knack for writing, and a passion was ignited.

Since then, Tauri has graduated from the University of Texas where she studied creative writing and psychology under Elizabeth McCracken, five-time author and James A. Michener Chair in Fiction. Immediately afterward, she joined the Writer’s Path at Southern Methodist University where she honed her skills under the tutelage of authors Suzanne Frank and Kay Honeyman.

She now lives in Austin, TX in a one-bedroom apartment with her eighty pound German Shepherd mix, her satanic cat, and a small shred of intact sanity.

You can follow Tauri on her blog and on Twitter!

 

9 Tips to Make Writing a Habit

Writing is a special gift. But why do so many writers struggle to actually find time to put words on the page? Well, it might be because they haven’t developed a writing habit.

Life can be extremely busy. Between full-time and part-time jobs, children, social commitments, or other day-to-day things, finding the time to sit down and let your creativity flow can be incredibly difficult for some people. And there’s nothing wrong with that; taking care of your children is obviously more important than writing. But if you find yourself really wanting to develop a writing habit, and are struggling to figure out how, here are eight tips that might help you out!

(Keep in mind: You don’t have to follow all of these tips. But implementing just one or two of them into your daily schedule might just improve your writing life!)


#1: Write at the Same Time Everyday

Whether it means getting up an hour before everyone else, or waiting until everyone else goes to bed, find a time that works for you. Find a slot in your day – morning, afternoon, evening – that will have no interruptions and no distractions.

Writing at the same time every day will not only train your mind that that time slot is the time to write, but also let your family and friends know that time is when you’re busy. Commit yourself to this every time you write. You don’t have to write every day to be a writer – but you have to be consistent.

#2: Use Triggers

Maybe it’s your favorite cup of coffee or tea in the morning. Or maybe the scent of your favorite candle or incense. Whatever it is, use it to your advantage. Before you sit down to write, implement this trigger into your writing schedule.

If you get up in the morning, make a cup of coffee the first thing before you write. The smell of the coffee, and the act of getting it, will tell you brain it’s time to write. Over time, these triggers will help get you in the mood for a writing session.
Whatever it is – coffee, tea, a scent, maybe meditating an hour beforehand – use whatever trigger will work best for you. It’s important to get yourself excited to sit down and write, and be in the right headspace.

#3: Eliminate Distractions

Turn off the TV. Keep your phone in the other room. Disconnect from the internet. Whatever you have to do to keep yourself distraction free, do it. If you sit down to write during your allotted writing time, but find yourself checking your phone, or browsing the internet, it’s time to eliminate any distractions.

Distractions will only keep you from getting your writing done. Your writing time has to be for you. The internet can wait. The TV can wait. They’re not going anywhere.

#4: Organize Your Writing Space

Wherever you write – at a desk, the kitchen table, the couch in the living room – make sure it’s clean and organized. Having a clean space free of distractions will keep your mind clear. Not only that, it will prevent you from wanting to get up and organize the space instead of write.

Your space should be clean and organized, but also allow you access to everything you need – a pen, notebook, etc. – so you don’t have to get up and go search for it. Keep your writing space creative. Fill it with motivational quotes or posters. Hang up posters from your favorite TV shows or movies. It’s important to keep your space neat, but to also make it a safe haven where you can sit, uninterrupted, and let your ideas flow.

#5: Set Small Goals First

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to aim high for bigger goals. But if you’re trying to develop your own writing a habit, shooting big might not always be the best.
It’s best to start small and pace yourself.

Start with a small word count or time frame. For example, tell yourself you’re going to write five-hundred words for the day. Or you’re going to write for twenty minutes straight with no distractions. Whatever it is, push yourself to meet these goals.

Once you’ve managed to meet these goals for a few days, or maybe a week straight, begin to raise them. Instead of writing five-hundred words, bump up your count to seven-hundred. Increase your time from twenty minutes to thirty. Gradually, you will begin to meet higher word count goals without burning yourself out.

The important thing to remember is to take it in strides. Writing is like a muscle, and you need to train it appropriately. An athlete wouldn’t push themselves to run a marathon when they’ve never run one before, or even trained for it, would they?

Writing might be a different kind of “sport”, but you need to train yourself all the same.

#6: Make Writing a Priority

If there’s one tip you should follow out of everything else, this should be number one.
To put words on the page, to make this a habit, to find any success as a writer, you have to make writing a priority. There will be times when you need to turn things down in order to write. There will be times when you just have to say “no”.

For example, let’s say Friday nights are the only free time you have to write. But every Friday night you go out with friends and get drinks the entire evening. Are you making writing a priority here? No.

There may be times when you have to put writing above all else. This doesn’t mean neglect your health, your children, your spouse, or your loved ones – but it may mean sacrificing fun social activities, or missing the newest episode of a show you love, because you’ve made writing a priority instead.

Don’t burn yourself out, however. Remember to take a step back and have fun. Remember to take care of yourself. But don’t constantly put writing to the side in pursuit of something else, because if you do, you may never find the time to write.

#7: Set Boundaries

Once you’ve decided to make writing a priority, you will have to set boundaries. This means being able to say “no” to friends, family, and loved ones. This means telling people that this time slot you have – maybe an hour on your lunch break at work – is now writing time, not time for socializing.

Your friends and family may be frustrated by this. But it’s important to set those boundaries with them. Your writing time and space needs to be respected.

Writing is like work. Your family wouldn’t just barge into your workplace, would they?

#8: Be Accountable and Consistent

If you’re trying to build a writing habit, keep yourself accountable. Make sure you’re following your goals and the schedule you’ve set yourself. If you need to, find an accountability partner who will cheer you on and motivate you to keep going.

If you don’t hold yourself accountable, it’s easier to slip up and lose consistency. The more you lose consistency, the harder it will be to form a writing habit.

#9: Reward Yourself

Maybe there’s a movie coming out that you’ve been waiting to see, or a book you’ve been eyeing on the shelf. Whatever it is, use it as a motivator to keep yourself going. For every five-thousand words you write, you can treat yourself to a fancy Starbucks drink, or a sweet treat. When you write ten-thousand words, treat yourself to a fancy dinner. You get the gist.

Keep a reward in the back of your mind. Something you can finally give into buying or doing. Writing should be fun, too. There’s nothing wrong with treating yourself when you hit a milestone.


No matter what tips and tricks you decide to implement here, the important thing to remember is that you need consistency to form a new habit. Research shows that it can take sixty-six days to form a habit. Writing is like everything else – you need to train yourself to sit down, show up, and do the work.

“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.”
— Louis L’Amour

XOXO – Devon

7 Steps to Choose Your Next Book Project

After finishing my YA Thriller, I couldn’t help but wonder what book project I was going to write next. Like so many writers, I have a million ideas floating around in my head. Some are small snippets of dialogue, others are entire scenes, or characters. But with so many ideas, it can be difficult to choose which book project to actually tackle next.

What if this one idea isn’t good enough?

What if I’m not a good enough writer to tackle this project?

What if one turns out to be a lot harder to write than I thought?

What if I hate everything I write?

What if I get bored halfway through and want to work on this other idea?

The self-doubt can be crippling, but there comes a point where you have to make a decision and stick to it. So how do you do it? How do you choose which project to work on next?


Step #1: Write Them All Down

Write down every idea, small or large. Seeing it written down can give you a clearer picture of what exactly you’re working with. You’ll be able to see what ideas are more fleshed out, versus the ones that still need time to marinate. Sometimes, an idea just needs a little while longer to sit in your brain and develop.

For me, when I’m ready to tackle a new project, this is the first thing I do. It gives me a clear view of every idea currently in my head, no matter how simple or complex it is.

A few examples of what I have right now:

1.) Beauty and the Beast Retelling – with a twist
2.) Vampire Huntress Idea
3.) Beauty Guru Thriller Idea
4.) YA Fantasy Thief Idea
5.) YA Secret Project Idea
6.) Adult Sci-Fi Idea

These are examples of exactly what I have written in the notes app on my phone. They might not say a lot, but to me, there’s a premise to each idea. I currently have nine story ideas written down, and each one has a different premise. But likewise, each one is in a different stage of development.

Step #2: Think About Them

Once you have your ideas written down, take a step back and just think on them. Which ones are you finding yourself more excited to write? Which ones do you have more ideas for? Which ones are you clearly seeing the characters, the world, the stakes, etc.?

The more you really sit back and look at each idea, the easier it’ll be to tell which ones are actually ready to be written. Like I said before, sometimes an idea needs more time to develop in your mind before it’s ready to be written. Really taking the time to step back and think about each idea, and how ready it is, is incredibly beneficial.

Step #3: Check the Market

Like everything in this world, trends in publishing come and go. Knowing the market – and what is selling and what isn’t – can help you decide which project to work on next. For example, vampires made their big splash with the release of Twilight, the House of Night series, and Vampire Academy over a decade ago. Since then, vampires and werewolves have had a hard time selling. Knowing this, my Vampire Huntress idea – as passionate as I am to work on it – isn’t the best project to pursue right now.

The same can be said for a lot of other ideas. YA Dystopia came and went with books like The Hunger Games and Divergent, and has been struggling to make a comeback. Knowing the market is incredibly beneficial to every author, and can really help you make certain choices on what to write next.

Step #4: Narrow it Down

After you’ve taken the time to reflect on all of your ideas, and pay attention to the market, it should become clear which ones are more developed than others. For some, everything will jump out at you: the characters, the conflict, the stakes, while other ideas may not jump out at all. This is where it’s time to narrow down your ideas into which ones are more ready.

Going back to my previous example above, I have six ideas I’ve pulled out to show you. Out of all of them, only three ideas are more developed, and some aren’t worth pursuing right now, due to market trends.

1.) YA Fantasy Thief Idea
2.) YA Secret Project Idea
3.) Adult Sci-Fi Idea

These three ideas have all had time to develop in my brain. The Adult sci-fi idea I actually got over a year ago and began actively working on, before I decided to tackle another project. The thief idea I’ve had in my brain for over six months. The secret project idea came to me out of the blue, and has been actively picking at my brain to be worked on. The point is – with all three of these ideas, I know the bare bones for the start of the story: The who, what, when, where, and why.

The other three ideas? I still have hardly any clue about the conflicts, stakes, or characters, and that lets me know that they still need time to rest and develop.

Step #5: Daydream

Once you’ve narrowed down your ideas, let your mind wander. Think about the ideas and your brain will do the rest. Over time, more ideas will begin to form. A more concrete plot will take shape. Subplots will begin to fill themselves in. Your characters will begin to take on lives of their own. And one idea will really begin to stand out amongst the rest.

This one idea – or maybe two or three – will start to call to you, to tell you it’s ready.

Step #6: Ask Yourself the Hard Questions

From the initial developing of an idea, to the writing, revising, and editing of a new project, we may be with it for months, or even years. As writers, we spend countless hours with our ideas, plots, and characters, and sometimes when choosing your next project, you’ll have to ask yourself the hard questions.

Do I feel confident in my writing abilities to tackle this project?

Do I feel passionate about this project?

Is this the novel I would want to debut with?

Am I willing to put the time and effort into this project?

Is there anything holding me back from writing this project?

Do I feel emotionally ready to tackle the themes of this project?

If you find yourself hesitating on any of these – you or your idea may not be ready yet. And that’s okay. Sometimes we need to be in the right headspace, or emotional state, to really tackle something we’re trying to say.

Step #7: Listen to your Heart – but Don’t Wait For Your Muse

Once you’ve completed the previous steps, one idea, or several, may be screaming at you that it’s time to be written. It’s time to sit down and plot that idea out, or just begin pantsing your way through it. I’m sure all of us writers have experienced this – when one idea is just screaming at you, and has its grip on your soul, and you know there’s nothing you can do but sit down and write it.

But the most important thing: Don’t wait for your muse.

I recently learned this the hard way. I was giving myself a break from writing, and actively thinking about my next projects, when I realized I had been sitting around waiting for ideas to spring into my head. I was waiting for plots to write themselves. I realized I had to get up and actively develop my plots and tackle my ideas. It can be fun for a while to sit around and daydream, and think of all your ideas, but there comes a point when you have to choose one, sit down, and work on it until it becomes a novel.

Whether it’s one project you’re working on, or three (like me!), the most important thing to do is start something and stick to it. Find an idea you’re passionate about, and keep working on it, no matter how hard it gets.


Choosing a new idea is never easy. But it’s important to choose a project you’ll feel passionate about working on. By finding that one idea and sticking to it, you’ll not only improve as a writer and creator, but you’ll fall in love with a brand new story you’ve created, and there’s nothing quite like it.

Do you have a different method for choosing your next book project? Let me know!

XOXO – Devon

Camp Nano: How I Did (April 2019)

With Camp NanoWrimo over, it’s time to look back on how I did!

If you don’t know, NanoWrimo stands for National Novel Writing Month. In November, writers get together to join a “cabin”, and set a word count goal for themselves. The standard is 50k, but you can go higher if you want. You then try to write those 50k words in one month! There are different times of year Nano happens, like in April and July, where you can focus on not just word count, but if you want to edit a certain number of pages, too.

I did Camp Nano last July with several of my cabin mates Tauri, Kelsey, and Joy. This year we decided to do Nano again, and added Madeline to our cabin! Last year, I set a goal of 100k words for myself – which I surpassed and beat Nano with a few days to spare. That was the first draft of Forbidden.

This year, I sat down to write Little Lost Girls and set the goal of 70k words for myself. I went into Nano with 20k words down already, and was confident I could write another 50k…and, well, that didn’t quite happen. Since I was writing my thriller, the book was rather fast paced. I tend to write chapters between 8 – 10 pages long, but this time, my chapters were 4 – 6 pages. There were a ton of scenes involving police procedures, or other criminal investigations, that I flew through and made up because I didn’t actually know how those procedures went. It took me twenty days, but I finished writing Little Lost Girls halfway through Nano. It ended up being 54k.

That’s the shortest novel I’ve ever written. I’m definitely an over writer, and most of my revisions involve cutting or trimming down scenes, so I was shocked to see how short my novel actually turned out to be. While I did finish writing my book, I didn’t quite “win” Nano. Or did I? I don’t really know! Either way, I’m proud of myself for finishing writing another book!

It still needs a ton of work though. There’s a lot missing that needs to be expanded on, especially things like police procedures that I had no idea how to write. Luckily there are some people I can reach out to in hopes they’ll answer some questions I have.

Overall, I’m very happy with myself for using Nano as a tool to help propel myself into writing another book. And having cabin mates is a blast – we did writing sprints that really encouraged us all to write as much as we could and further our goals. If you’ve never done Nano before, I highly encourage giving it a try!

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XOXO – Devon

Life as a Full-Time Writer

It’s almost May, and that means I’ll have officially been a full time writer for four months. For four months, I’ve been pursuing my passion and goal of publication. To be clear: I haven’t made any money off this. I’m not published, and I don’t have an agent. But I’ve always wanted to take the leap into full-time writing.

Let’s take a trip down 2018, shall we?

In May 2018, my boyfriend of almost five years graduated law school. For the last three years, he’d been a full-time student. While he worked during the summer and did internships, I worked a part-time job in retail. I worked odd hours of the week, and never had a set schedule. When I was home, I worked on my writing, but I’m not going to lie: I was miserable.

I didn’t hate the retail job. I actually enjoyed it, and I loved all my coworkers. But I hated working in a retail setting, and working with customers became exhausting for my mental and emotional health. I dreaded going to work every day, and I was always anxious and nervous. On top of that, I had several health problems I was dealing with.

After graduation, my boyfriend got his first job and like me – he quickly became miserable. I won’t go into too much detail, but this prompted him to look for another job – and he got an offer. The job offer he received required us to move two hours away, to a new town neither of us had ever lived in. But after much discussion, we agreed that him accepting this job would be for the best.

By December, we both quit our jobs and moved two hours away. As miserable as I was at my retail job, I had been afraid to quit. The pay was okay, and I made commission. The commute was short. I loved my coworkers. Management was easy going and the job was fairly easy. When it was slow, I could read or write behind the counter. The pros far outweighed the cons in my mind.

But quitting the job was freeing, and it opened a door I’d been hoping for: full-time writing.

The boyfriend knew I’d always wanted this opportunity, and neither of us took it lightly. We had multiple discussion on finances, budgeting, saving, etc. you know, all the important things. But he was adamant that I take some time for myself. After all, I’d spent the last three years taking care of him while he was in school, and he was determined to do the same for me. (I am so lucky to have someone as supportive as him in my life, and I don’t know what I’d do without him.)

After we moved, we spent most of December getting the apartment in order and traveling for the holidays. It wasn’t until January that I finally sat down and began writing once again. At first, I was terrified. While I did love it, I was constantly worried about money. I found myself in a constant state of loving and hating my decision.

I loved not going to work. I loved that my “work” was getting up and writing every day. I loved having a lot of free time to myself. I loved getting to do whatever I wanted all day. I loved that I took this huge risk.

But I hated worrying about money. I hated checking my bank account every time I wanted to make a purchase, and try to justify if it was worth it or not. I hated feeling like I wasn’t earning or saving any money. I hated that people looked down on me for not working. For depending on my boyfriend. For taking a risk that might not pay off in the end.

It’s been four months, and I’ve learned to quiet those thoughts. While they do pop up frequently, it’s easy to silence them when I remember how much I love what I’m doing. Especially when I go to my boyfriend and double-check that everything is okay, that we’re still doing okay. I’m lucky that he assures me everything is fine. We love each other. We can pay the bills. I can keep doing what I love for now.

The most important thing for me is treating this like a full-time job, because in my mind, it is. I wake up the same time every day, sit down at my desk, and start working right away. I spend hours sitting in front of the computer. If I’m not writing my novels, I’m writing blog posts, or reading, or trying to keep myself in a creative mindset. I make sure to hit a word count goal every morning before I get up and do anything else with my day.

But not all days have been good. I’ve definitely had some days where all I’ve done is stay in bed and read, or play video games, or sleep the afternoon away. But I’ve tried my hardest to keep myself going, and to keep pushing towards my goal.

My Goals:

The first thing I wanted to do when we moved in was revise my novel, Forbidden, and I’m proud to say I accomplished that. I spent all of January and most of February revising it, and finishing what is now the third draft. It’s currently out with beta readers and I am awaiting their feedback. If all goes well, I’m planning to do one more round of revisions before sending it out to beta’s one last time, and then hopefully I’ll be able to begin to querying process.

The second thing I’ve wanted to accomplish is write at least three more books this year. I can proudly say I’ve written one more book – a YA Thriller. It needs a ton of work, but it’s a finished draft, at least. I have two more projects I want to work on that I’m outlining.

The third thing I wanted to do was start this blog, and I did that! Not only did I start it, but I’ve continued to post frequently and on a consistent schedule.

And as a non-writing related goal, since moving into a new place, I’ve really been taking the time to get organized and throw out/donate all sorts of things I didn’t need anymore. The move really has felt like a fresh start for myself and my boyfriend, and we’re both getting our lives in order.

Once I start querying Forbidden, I think I’ll be ready to go back to work. My ultimate goal right now is to really get that novel ready, so that while I’m querying I can use work to distract from the waiting.


I know this isn’t permanent. I will eventually go back to work, and I’m actually hoping to go back to school. But for now, I’m proud of myself for making this leap, and following my passions. I’m the happiest I’ve ever been, and I don’t regret taking this chance. Not one bit.

XOXO – Devon

My Top 10 Favorite Quotes About Writing

We all know that being a writer has its ups and downs, and sometimes we need a little motivation in our lives when things get tough. When I’m feeling down, I read some of my favorite writing quotes to pick myself back up. I hope these work for you too!


#1: “The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.”
― Terry Pratchett

#2: “You can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.”
― Jodi Picoult

#3: “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”
― Anton Chekhov

#4: “A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.”
— Richard Bach

#5: “People say, ‘What advice do you have for people who want to be writers?’ I say, they don’t really need advice, they know they want to be writers, and they’re gonna do it. Those people who know that they really want to do this and are cut out for it, they know it.”
— R.L. Stine

#6: “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”
― Stephen King

#7: “You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.”
― Ray Bradbury

#8: “This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until its done. It’s that easy, and that hard.”
― Neil Gaiman

#9: “I write for the same reason I breathe – because if I didn’t, I would die.”
― Isaac Asimov

#10: “The hard part about writing a novel is finishing it.”
― Ernest Hemingway


What are your favorite writing quotes? Let me know in the comments!

XOXO – Devon