Tag Archives: publishing

Writing Advice I Wish I’d Learned Sooner

I’ve been writing almost consistently for fifteen years now. Once I realized I could put my ideas down on paper, I’ve never been able to stop. The last fifteen years of my writing journey have been a whirlwind of learning my process, learning the writing craft, getting involved in the writing community, and so much more. But in all that time, there are three things I wish I’d known before I ever started on my writing and publishing journey. If I could go back in time and tell my younger self these three pieces of writing advice, I absolutely would.

So, what three pieces of advice do I wish I’d learned?

1.) Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket
2.) Read – and Read a Lot
3.) Writing is Rewriting

I’m sure you’ve heard these pieces of writing advice before. But when I first started writing, we didn’t have the internet to look up common writing advice, or search Youtube for “newbie author mistakes”, and so on. Through trial and error, I made huge writing mistakes, but had I known these three tips beforehand, I’m sure I could’ve avoided them – and I want to help you avoid them, too!

1.) Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket

This tip isn’t just limited to writing. You’ve probably heard it in regards to many different areas of life. But for me, it really means one thing: Don’t put all your hopes and dreams into one story idea.

I wrote my first novel when I was twelve, and fell head over heels in love with the idea. So much so that it took over my entire writing life. I rewrote that first novel – from scratch – about eleven times. I queried it endlessly. I even wrote the sequels. And as you can imagine, my journey through the query trenches resulted in…nothing. No response, no literary agent.

I finally had to trunk it.

But this led me down a path of wondering what to write next. Sure, I had other ideas in my head, but for the last almost ten years of my life, I had only pursued that one novel. I’d never branched out, never written another idea. I didn’t even know if I was capable of writing another novel.

But I was.

It was a very long and hard journey in teaching myself how to write another book. While I don’t regret rewriting that novel over and over again – it definitely helped me develop my own process and a writing habit – the anxiety, depression, and overwhelming sense of failure of not knowing if I was capable of writing another book is something I wouldn’t want to wish on any writer out there.

Remember: just because you have to put your project aside and work on something else, it doesn’t mean you’re giving up. Put all of your heart and soul into the book you’re writing, but don’t limit yourself to that one idea. You do have other ideas inside of you, and you are capable of writing them.

2.) Read – and Read a Lot

If you haven’t read my “How Reading Made Me a Better Writer” blog post, I’ll link it here, as it goes more in-depth on what I want to touch on for this tip.

I’d been an avid reader most of my life. It wasn’t until I hit my late teens and early twenties that I suddenly lost my love of reading. I wanted to read, but nothing on the shelf caught my interest. I wasn’t interested in fantasy either, which had become widely popular. I was only reading – maybe – a couple of books a year.

It wasn’t until one day that I realized I wasn’t “leveling up” as a writer. My writing reached a level where it wasn’t improving. I didn’t know the popular tropes and clichés, or why some books were bestsellers and others weren’t. I realized that if I wanted to be a professional writer, and have a life in this business, that I needed to bust my butt and actually pick up reading again.

So I did.

And I vastly improved in so many ways. From my writing craft, to my knowledge of the interest – everything about me and my writing improved. Since then, I’ve become an avid reader once again, and I read several books a month now. Reading can do so much for you, not as just a wonderful hobby, but

As Stephen King says, “If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time or the tools to write.”

3.) Writing is Rewriting

For the longest time I never understood this concept:

“What do you mean I have to rewrite the book?”
“I just finished the first draft. You mean I have to write everything all over again?”

Those – and other misconceptions – wracked my brain whenever I heard this piece of writing advice. But guess what? It’s true.

Now, this doesn’t mean you have to write your entire book from scratch, like I’d been led to believe. What this really means is that the first draft of anything you write will be crap. It will have awkward phrasing and prose, character motivations might not be clear, the dialogue might be stilted and awkward, crucial descriptions might be missing…and the only way to fix these issues to rewrite what you’d already written.

But having all of that in your first draft doesn’t make you a bad writer. Every writer in the history of writers has had to revise their books. It’s just part of the process.
When I first started writing, I didn’t understand this. I thought my first drafts were fine after a little reread and some editing – but I was very wrong.

Every novel needs time to sit after you’ve finished writing it. Every writer needs to come back to their project with a clear mind, so they can see what is and isn’t working within the manuscript, and that’s why getting feedback from outside sources is so important, too.

This is a concept I wish I’d understood years ago. If I’d known this sooner and given my earlier manuscripts time to sit and get feedback on them – and then give them the revisions they deserve – I wonder how much of a better chance I’d have had at hooking a literary agent. This is one piece of advice I’ve had to learn the hard way, but I’m so glad I understand it now.

Learning these three pieces of writing advice have helped me tremendously, and I hope they help you too!


Have any other pieces of writing advice you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments!

XOXO – Devon

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 Ways to Refill Your Creative Well

Back in April, I finished writing my YA Thriller, Little Lost Girls. While I was proud of my accomplishments, I was pretty burned out. It felt like all of my creativity had been run dry. No new ideas were running through my head, and I felt a little bit like a failure. Where did all my ideas go? What was I going to write next? Why can’t I think of anything to write about?

After a while of feeling that way, I knew it was time to take a step back from writing in general. I needed to refill my creative well. The well had run dry, and the only way to get back into a creative mindset was to give myself ample time to rest, recover, and refill the well. Here’s seven tips that helped me get there!


1.) Take a Shower or Bath

I think all of us writers swear by getting some of our best ideas when we’re in the shower, but it’s not a lie! Immersed in all that hot water, and feeling relaxed, does wonders. I’ve recently started taking bubble baths as a nightly routine, and it’s been amazing in helping me relax.

2.) Read – and Read a Lot

Reading has seriously helped get me back into a creative mindset. Just being able to absorb the words instead of worry about my own novel that’s waiting to be written, has really allowed me to just sit back and enjoy reading.

3.) Binge TV

I admit, I’ve been doing this quite a bit the last couple weeks. I’ve been loving Switched at Birth, and I admit, I may be spending a little too much time in front of the TV. But when I’m writing, I hardly do anything else, so it’s nice to catch up on all the things I’ve missed otherwise.

4.) Take a break

No, but really. Take a break. By that I mean don’t do anything that involves writing. Unplug from the internet, don’t think about writing or editing. Step away from anything – like Twitter or Instagram – that may make you feel guilty for not writing.

5.) Go For a Walk

I never use to go for walks. But due to some changes in my life, I’ve been able to take walks, and when the weather’s nice, they’ve become a frequent, evening routine (and Pokémon Go is a good excuse to take them). There’s something about stepping away from the inside world, and being immersed in nature, that feels so refreshing.

6.) Make an Aesthetic

Since joining the Writing Community on Twitter, I’ve come to love making aesthetics. I find all my pictures on Pinterest and use Canva to edit them. The simple acting of creating an aesthetic, and just browsing Pinterest for story inspiration, has helped me come up with entire scenes and ideas.

7.) Listen to Music

I’ve been an avid music lover all my life, and it’s always been a huge source of story inspiration for me. Lately, I’ve learned that I need total silence while editing, and while writing my recent WIP, I didn’t listen to any music. Being able to put my headphones back in and listen to my favorite songs and artists – and find some new ones – has helped tremendously in discovering new ideas and inspiration.


What do you do to refill your creative well? Let me know, and I hope these seven tips help you!

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

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

The Best Books I Read in 2018

Last year, I read around 40 books and was so proud of myself. I made it a goal to read a book a week – which I didn’t quite hit considering the size of some of the books – but nonetheless, I read a lot. But out of those books, I have those that I loved and those that I didn’t.

Of course, my favorite books of 2018 might not be yours, and that’s okay! But I’ve found it really takes a lot to make me keep thinking of a book once I’ve put it down, and really want to reread it again. So here’s some books that do just that!


#1: Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian

Yep, this one makes my list again. I just love this book. You can click here to read more on my thoughts about why I love this book so dang much. I plan on rereading it this month so I can refresh my memory before reading the sequel!
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#2: The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw

This is another repeat that makes my list! I seriously loved the writing and the story of this book. It was so compelling, and I loved every minute of it.
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#3: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

This was actually my first Holly Black novel I ever picked up, and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked this book! It isn’t my favorite book of all time, but Black’s writing and descriptions are gorgeous, and her world is intricate and fascinating. I plan on rereading this before reading The Wicked King!
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#5: Hate List by Jennifer Brown

I don’t normally read books like this, but something about the initial blurb really gripped me. A story about the aftermath of a schooling shooting, that takes place between the past and present, I really was sucked into this novel. I connected so much with the main character, Valerie, and couldn’t help but feel and understand her pain. This is a must read for me!
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#6: The Throne of Glass and A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J. Maas

I loved every book in the ACOTAR series, but it took me a little while to warm up to the story and characters of Throne of Glass. I think Maas has a nice writing style, and her characters, romance, and plotlines are so interesting. Both of these series are displayed front and center on my bookshelf!

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While these may not be your personal favorites, they were definitely mine for 2018!

XOXO – Devon

10 Books I Wish I’d Written

There’s a lot of books out there. Some are good, some are bad, and some fall into the “meh” category. But once in a while there’s a book, or a book series, that we can’t help but finish reading and wonder, “Why didn’t I write that?”

There’s no rhyme or reason to how we get our ideas the way we do, or why they develop a certain way in our minds. At least for me, that is! But every story idea is unique to every author, and it’s part of what makes the writing process so fun. That said, it still doesn’t change the fact that sometimes we look at a book and wish we’d gotten that idea first!

So here’s a list of books I find so good, I just can’t help but wish I’d written them myself.


A13t6dMpJuL.jpg#1: Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian

If you’ve been following me for a while now, you’ll know I’ve mentioned this book quite a bit and how it reignited my passion for reading. I owe a lot to this book. Not only is it well-written, but the world building is great and I love the characters. Sebastian’s debut novel is one that has continued to be a favorite on my list. And I really think it stands out amongst a lot of other YA fantasies on the shelves.

 

 

 

 

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#2: A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J. Maas

Okay, I know, I know. This one shouldn’t be a surprise. I started reading A Court of Thorns and Roses before reading Throne of Glass, and I fell in love with Maas’s writing. Her writing style is beautiful, and she really knows how to craft a story. She also has a knack for creating really interesting side characters. The entire series was a blast to read, and I really enjoyed it.

 

513L6oG8e6L._SY445_QL70_.jpg#3: The Rift: Uprising by Amy S. Foster

Alternate universes – they’re a thing I don’t feel is mentioned a lot in fiction books. You definitely see them when it comes to comic books, but in terms of science fiction novels? I haven’t seen many. I think the concept of explaining alternate universes, and an entire multiverse, is really hard to explain, but Foster does an amazing job of summarizing it in this book. Her world-building is so well thought out and captivating, and the concept is one I’d never seen before.

 

 

 

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#4: The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

No one should be surprised by this one! Like so many others, I grew up reading and watching everything Harry Potter. Rowling created a literal world of magic, one that to this day still has readers in love with her work and her wizarding world. Her level of imagination is seriously something to strive for!

 

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#5: The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw

This was the last book I read in 2018, and I loved it. The writing and story were both gorgeous. The storyline was so unique. It takes a lot to make me cry because of a book – and this one really got the water works going. Ernshaw’s ability to spin her witchy tale was so captivating that I just couldn’t put this book down.

 

 

 

 

9160KvYYLIL#6: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

This is a recent read for me. But man, as much as I love thrillers, I’m usually a little disappointed by them. This one? It blew me away. While I wasn’t a fan of Lockhart’s writing style in the beginning, by page fifty, I was hooked. Her writing is superb and beautifully written. The mystery constantly kept me on my toes, and I was always wondering what would happen next. I read a lot of thrillers, and by far this has been one of the best.

 

 

 

9780316556781_p0_v3_s550x406#7: Hate List by Jennifer Brown

Like The Wicked Deep, this one had me crying by the final couple of pages. The characters are what sucked me in. I could relate so much to the MC, Valerie, and what went on months before the plot of this book. The emotions the characters felt were so raw and real, that I couldn’t help but feel for them at every turn.

 

 

 

 

yas-5_zps097038fc#8: The Watersong quartet by Amanda Hocking

Mermaids and sirens. They’re something you don’t see a lot of on the shelves. The Watersong series was Hocking’s first traditionally published works. She spins a unique tale of mermaids and sirens and Greek mythology, blending together interesting characters with the beach side tourist town that always sucks me in. This series doesn’t get nearly the recognition it deserves.

 

51OMI4Jez3L._SX260_.jpg#9: Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

This shouldn’t be a surprise either. Martin’s series has become a worldwide phenomenon. While his writing isn’t quite as lyrical as I normally like, his ability to craft characters and give them each unique backgrounds, plotlines, and histories is such a talent. His world is so immersive, and it’s no wonder his series has gained the recognition it deserves.

 

 

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#9: The Fear Street series by R.L. Stine.

Okay, okay. Technically not all the Fear Street books are a series. And technically R.L. Stine has written over 100 Fear Street books, not including the news ones that have been released in the past couple of years. I picked up my first Fear Street book in the school library and fell in love with the books, which took me on a quest to read every single Fear Street book he’s ever written. (I think I’ve read 90% of them). But Stine’s ability to write unique, interesting horror stories in such short word-counts, and build an entire world around his town of Shadyside, has always captivated me. The books don’t necessarily live up to some of the horror books nowadays, but they’re still a major piece of nostalgia for me.

 

41K99+cInvL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg#10: Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

This one might come as a shock. Twilight is certainly not the most well-written book, or even the most imaginative, or well…it definitely has a lot of bad things about it. But forget about the writing for a second. Think about the aftermath of Twilight. I remember when the books came out and I was in middle school. A friend recommended the books to me, and of course at that age, I was hooked. But I remember what happened after: kids all over my school were reading Twilight. Classmates I’d never seen hold a book suddenly had their noses buried in library copies (which were frequently checked out and hard to get). My entire school was Twilight crazy. Say what you will about the bad quality, but you can’t deny that Twilight had a serious positive impact on encouraging kids to read.


-XOXO Devon