Saturday, January 27, 2018

How To Spot A Writer

Going hand in hand with my last post (do you have what it takes to be a writer?), this is going to be trying to list the giveaways for "real writers."

I promise you that labeling people isn't really my thing, but because I'm a fairly organized person, I do notice patterns and categorize things. That's just to say that my intention in diving deep into "real" writing versus the frauds of this world is not to point fingers at the phonies or to judge people, but to provide some order to my scattered thoughts and observations.

Why am I doing that here? Often when I share a certain way I look at things, other people find it helpful or even share my observations. And I, for one, find that really neat. xD

So tell me: Have you noticed that there are literally a gazillion and one people who call themselves "writers" or at least say they "write"? This almost always comes up in the context of you having done something hard and amazing like self-publishing. And as this stranger is looking down their nose at your newly published child, they mention offhandedly that they write, too. Like it's no big deal. Or it is a big deal and they're part of the cool crowd. (It's really hard to tell which approach people take sometimes, but they're either downplaying it (and you) or putting it on a pedestal in envy.)

My point is that there is often a big difference between those who write and actually publish quality books and those who casually write for fun.

Here's how I spot a writer (as opposed to someone who plays with words):

  • They have questions. Anyone serious about the craft will naturally want to learn from the greats. *cough*
  • They're friendly instead of skeptical. As in "someday I'll do that too" instead of "why are you wasting your life?" Anyone who actually writes is intending to go somewhere with their writing and should be excited about that.
  • They have a plan. You can't get anywhere without a plan. That's part of what finally set me into motion with Martin Hospitality. I finally had a vision for it which means I took the writing more seriously.
  • They're excited. I've talked to a lot of people who claim to be writers, but they have a very nonchalant, meh attitude about it. I mean, I get tired of the writing process, but I don't get tired of the vision's end goal.
  • Their mom brings it all up. Okay, so I'm not sure this a requirement xD Yet the fact remains that almost every "real" writer I've spotted hasn't brought it up to me. Their mom or their grandkid or whoever mentions that they like to write, and that's where the conversation begins. :) 
Those are all some things I can pick up on in person from people who are actively pursuing their writing with a purpose and could end up somewhere. There are also some giveaways that won't be obvious without probing an individual, but they're fodder to ask yourself if you're serious:
  • Is it a priority? Before I was truly serious about my writing, I liked doing it, but if I wrote very spontaneously and if I hit a rough patch I'd stop. Or worse, skip the rest of the scene and writing something else in my head. *gasp* If you're already prioritizing writing over basically anything (Netflix, lunch, sleep, Instagram), that's a good sign! Although that doesn't mean shoving life to the side is always healthy ;)
  • Does it make you happy? To a certain level, you should enjoy writing. You can stink at grammar or easily get writer's block, but the idea of writing and seeing things come together should still be enjoyable to you.
  • Does it make you insecure, frustrated, or stressed? Just because you enjoy writing doesn't mean it's always going to be easy or happy. Honestly some "negative" emotions and feelings about it can be just as strong as sign that you're taking it seriously, I would think. If you're insecure, it's because you want it to be good enough. Frustrated because you're pretty sure it's not good enough. Stressed because you're taking it seriously and not getting where you want to. Don't worry! This is normal.
  • How determined are you? The real question is how do you respond to the sometimes not-so-glorious part of writing? If you're determined and patient enough, you can get there. It could take months, or it could take years. If you're determined enough to find a way around (or through) your problems, then congratulations. You're a real writer.
My last question is will the real writer become an author? First, please realize that you can be a writer without being an author. Absolutely. But to me there really is no greater tragedy than to be a real writer and not publish.

I cannot stand when people explain their writing and everything tells me they're the dedicated, real deal. And then they say something like "Oh, but I could never show anyone." ... o_o It's the insecurity again, which I totally understand! Don't get me wrong; that's not fun. But why on earth would you put in all that energy and love, only to hoard the finished product? It's one thing if the writing is personal and not something to impact other people, but it's another thing to sit on the power of the Holy Spirit out of fear.

I really hope I'm not coming across judgmental! There's nothing wrong with being reluctant because everyone is to some degree at some point. I just think it's tragic not to ever move past that point. I guess it's important to me because of how sad it is for the world to be robbed of something beautiful that could change lives. Of course it takes hard work to get there, but the eternal significance may never be known this side of heaven. Don't you want to find out how far God can take you? 'Cause I can tell you just how many people your writing going to impact sitting in a forgotten notebook on your shelf.
Thoughts on this post? Based on what I provide here, how serious of a writer do you think you are? There's nothing wrong with being a hobby writer! I'm just curious ;)

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Talent vs Skill // {aka} Do You Have What It Takes to Be a Writer?

Back to a substantial post as promised! :) Thanks to everyone who participated in the survey from last week. It's still open! I think about this topic all the time, so I'm excited to finally share my thoughts.

If you pay attention in the writing world you'll notice that the talent vs skill debate is out there. People are constantly being told they have to do X to be a good writer. Some people are born with an actual talent for writing (ingrained, luck-of-the-draw aptitude). Some develop skills (intentionally learned and studied). 

First, let me argue that everyone, everyone should develop writing skills if they want to be a writer. It doesn't matter how good you are starting out, you can always improve. ALWAYS. That's part of it.

Because of that, many people advocate that anyone can be a writer with enough work. Skill. You learn the ropes, follow the rules, and voila. I don't disagree with this. Really I don't. But just because someone can do something doesn't mean he or she should (like Abi and paint). I mean, let's face it. It's really good news for every wannabe writer that with enough work they can get there. DO NOT let me discourage you. But now let's face the other hand: 

Everyone is born with certain talents which makes them stand out from the crowd. Is it fair? Well, everyone has talent; everyone's talent is not writing. *shrug* Fair or not, that's the truth of it.

The thing is, you don't have to have talent to have passion. And passion means dedication. Which will help you pursue skill.

It's not up to any particular person to determine who has what level of talent or skill. That's mainly based in perception. Some of the most well-known authors didn't live to see their own legacy. That's because perception is fallible. Big words, I know. ;) Broken down that means that just because you might not be appreciated doesn't mean you or your work is lame. Not at all. Don't let how people perceive you damage your vision. However, watch for useful nuggets of feedback because there is always room to keep moving forward. That was Disney's motto after all and look where it got him. ;)

So to sum all this up: How do you know if you have what it takes to be a writer?

I'm going to suggest it all comes down to commitment. It doesn't matter how much talent you're born with or without if you're just going to sit there. Talent is a great leg up for "success" by the world's standards. Not going to lie. But despite where you're starting from, no one goes anywhere without a commitment to improvement. Improvement is how you develop the skill set you'll need to reach your goal.

As an editor, I've seen it both ways (and I'm not talking about particular people here, so don't wrack your brain!). Consider these the two camps:

  • those with natural writing talent often lack skill, making the biggest and most basic mistakes
  • those with natural grammar skills often trod all over basic writing rules and lack the knack
That's because as an editor, I'm reading drafts. I'm helping people find what they're missing before their readers do. The goal is that a book never makes it to publishing missing an element that big. You have to find the balance. Notice that regardless of which camp you fall into, very few fall into both naturally. You're most likely going to have to "fake it till ya make it" on either talent (prose) or skill (grammar). In other words, be committed to improving your deficiencies. Which starts with someone like me pointing them out. Kindly, of course. ;)

I would suggest that then the sky is your limit.
Confession: I had the topic, but not the content of this article when I began writing it. And most of it was written very late at night. So I really want your thoughts on this one! I hope it made sense ;P

Which camp do you think you fall into? Writing talent without grammar skills or grammar skills without the writing knack?

Hint: I am definitely #2. Not because I can't get my act together, but because actually writing words, not the rules, is what stumps me.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

2017 Stats + Survey

Due to having company in this week as well, here's another quick post. I hope to be getting back to my more substantive ones soon! If I can ever catch up on this year xD

I realized I didn't put many 2017 stats in my new year post or my newsletter, so I hope you like them as much as I do xP


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Pageviews + Sources

I just barely hit a total of 50,000 pageviews, 40,000 of which were from the United States. Croatia (??) comes in as the second country with 1,980 all-time views, followed closely by Canada with 1,826. A bit of a head-scratcher, but it's nice to know xD My highest viewed month of all time was January 2017 with 3,694 views ... probably due to the fact that Martin Hospitality was *this close* to be released at that point. ;)



I published two books last year ( o_o ): Martin Hospitality and Andora's Folly. Kind of crazy to think about xD

As for general word written, I didn't track it religiously, but I'm thinking I wrote about 40,000 toward Martin Crossroads and 52,821 toward Behind the Act. So with my random little story tidbits I scratch down in a notebook and one short story I wrote, we'll say 100,000 words this year! :D

Blog Posts

A grand total of 81 which averages out to be 6.75 a month xD My biggest month was February due to the release of Martin Hospitality and the celebration of my blog turning one. I think my blog posts average around 600 words, so that's another easy 45,000. I ... had no idea it was that much. Maybe next NaNo I'll write a year's worth of blog posts ... just kidding that would probably be awful D:


If you would be so kind, I'd love to hear your feedback on the blog so I know where you would like me to take it. I mean, it wouldn't exist without you, so I might as well make you happy. ;)

Thanks, everyone! Did you track anything throughout 2017? I'd love to hear!

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Disowned by Sarah Addison-Fox // Blog Tour

I'm here with another blog tour today. You may remember that Sarah guest posted here several months ago about how she got started on her writing journey. And now she has a published book!! I've heard nothing but good things about this, and I can't wait to read it!

(Can we just take a moment to really appreciate that cover? o.o Purple and stars?! Yes please.)

Two countries, two choices, one life. 

When Kyraenean slave Celeste risks her life to reach the free nation of Etraea, a country filled with technology and wealth, she unknowingly sets off a chain of events that will change her life forever.

After escaping her new owner, Celeste awakens in the home of an Etraean soldier, sworn to
protect the fragile peace. 

For Corporal Mick Haynes, life is simple. Follow the rules, do your job and work your way up the ranks. Getting shot and finding a wanted slave at his family's farm wasn't part of the plan. 

When a Kyraenean bounty hunter locates Celeste, Mick's loyalty will be stretched to the limit. 

With war on the horizon, Celeste faces two impossible choices. Both securing her freedom, but
both at a cost she could never have imagined. 

Will Etraea provide the freedom she's longed for or shackle her to an entirely new master?

You can find Sarah's book on Amazon HERE
Sarah Addison-Fox is a New Zealand-born home-schooling mother of two who loves action-packed, clean, fantasy with strong heroines. She has an astonishing amount of nail polish, has all her creative writing credentials shoved in a drawer somewhere, and has a husband who, after 27 years, can still make her blush. When she’s not working on both her YA fantasy series' she can be found fangirling on Goodreads or sending GIFs on Twitter. 
Connect with her:
 I hope you all enjoyed learning a little bit more about Sarah and her book! You've already got it in your Amazon cart, right? At least on your wishlist??

If you have any interest in scheduling your own blog tour, Livy Jarmusch (author of The Coronation) did this one for Sarah. You can find more information HERE.

What are your thoughts on Sarah's cover?! ^.^

Saturday, January 6, 2018

2018 Goals

This week has been crazy, so I'm running a little behind. I think it's a good time to review my goals in 2017 and make some for this year before January gets away from me.


Memorize 36 Bible verses

Hehe ... if you count individual verses I memorized instead of passages, I may have reached 36. That wasn't quite what I set out to do, though. I memorized Psalm 19 and some individual

Read 50 books

I didn't make this one this year; I only read 40 books. I made it to 50 in 2016, but only by binge reading a few children's books. ;)

Make a 2017 playlist

I did this, but I ... didn't keep up with it throughout the whole year :P I love the idea of a song a week, though to look back on.

Write 2 entire drafts

I updated Andora's Folly twice in 2017 (once for publication and once for the paperback release) so that gets me to my goal right there. ;) I also drafted about 40,000 words on the sequel to Martin Hospitality, but it's on hold for more planning. I was supposed to finish the first all of the Behind the Act before the year was over but ended up taking a break for my wrist. I'm guessing I'm around 50,000 words on that one. So two revision draft and two half-written first drafts is my total :P

Use my journals

I journaled my trip to Washington and Oregon this summer. I almost always try to journal my trips, but I'm so horrible at summing things up, that I rarely finish it out. This time I did finish! And I took notes from the OCW conference. In the same journal, I used a different section to journal dreams. That's turned into keeping a brief running list on my phone because again ... it takes me a long time, I'm longwinded, and my wrist is sensitive right now. Other than that, I don't think I started any new journals. I did collect a few more that need a purpose though :P

Attend a writer's conference

Check! I attended the Oregon Christian Writers summer conference in Portland. It was extremely good, so I encourage you to look into it, even if you have to travel like I did. (They have an under 23 discount!) The keynotes of 2017 were Frank Peretti and Tessa Afshar, both of whom were phenomenal. I'm unlikely to attend again in 2018, but I'm keeping it on my radar.

Publish 2 items

I actually did this ... but it feels like so long ago! Martin Hospitality was released February 4. Andora's Folly had a July 29 Kindle release date and a December 9 paperback release. So that's almost three publications since I went through the process that many times. ;)

Now for the 2018 goals!


Poems, passages ... I want to continue to spend more time on memorization. A handful of new things to recite at the end of the year would be a big accomplishment for me!
 I'm not sure what I'll have ready this year. A sequel to something, or maybe Behind the Act. Either way, it will be self-published. Publishing is a lot of work, but since I've got drafts in progress, it should be possible? We'll see. :)
2016 // 50 books ... with cheating :P
2017 // 40 books
2018 // 40 books
This year I want to focus on books I own and have never read. I don't want to have to read children's books to make my goal! Hopefully scaling it back a little, I can fit in some more serious books.
I didn't pay enough attention, but I want to make sure I rate and review everything I read this year on Goodreads and Amazon (at least if it's someone with few reviews or someone I know). I know I didn't use Amazon hardly at all this past year. Now I have my own account to review through, but I'll have to see if I can actually get it to let me. You can keep up with what I'm reading and my reviews here.
Okay. This is huge. xD I don't know how many books I've bought over the last two years. It will be good for my budget and my TBR if I don't buy any more for now. So one of my goals is to buy no more than five books this year. No. more. We'll see if I have the resolve to stick to that. Another thing to help me limit myself is that the books I do buy have to be on sale, bought with a gift card, etc. Even Kindle books count toward the five. Pray for my strength of will. This means I should make some good progress on the books I've bought and not read!
I haven't really researched writers conferences for this year or made any solid plans. But I'd like to go somewhere and do something again this year! I don't know if it will be for writing, though. I might take a road trip with the family or do something like that. We shall see!
I really want to play around with my writing some more. Try different POVs and tenses, new locations, and find some things that really work for me. I'm reading DIY MFA right now, and it has a good system for tracking iteration. Wish me luck with that. ;)
I have three sets of Great Courses on writing topics. They're video college lectures, more or less, and I've learned a lot from the one I've nearly finished. I'd like to keep up with them this year with some notetaking so that I can progress and keep up my education. Since I'm not having to do college or anything, I figure it's the least I can do.
Overall, 2017 was a very different year for me, but not a bad one. I'm looking forward to seeing what all 2018 holds. Thus far I'm guessing it will continue to surprise me. Thank goodness it's all in God's hands! What is one of your goals for 2018?