Advice To Aspiring Writers By Published Author Kristine Wyllys

Kristine-Wyllys-Header

Today’s guest post is by Kristine Wyllys.  Her first book ‘Wild Ones’ is a New Adult Contemporary Romance, published by Carina Press, with it’s sequel, ‘Losing Streak’ following in September.

There’s no question that a little enthusiasm goes a long way, which is one of the reasons I’m running this guest post; Kristine overflows with it!  

It will be interesting to hear your opinion on the issues she identifies, so please do leave a comment after the post.  Here’s what Kristine had to say about her deal, her books, and about the writing process.  

“Since I first announced that I had a book deal, I’ve found myself being asked for advice more and more often.

Publishing contractSometimes, I’m able to distract the advice-seekers with pizza. I usually try. Because I’m not always convinced my brand of organized chaos is the best advice for someone to seek.

“HEY LOOK OVER THERE AT THAT LARGE PEPPERONI PIZZA FROM THE PLACE OF YOUR CHOOSING.”

Still here?

Awesome. You fall into that other group then. Which is cool. You’ve just passed the most important writing test of all: you’re impervious to distractions.

And if you want to be a published writer you need to be able to ignore distractions. Otherwise those deadlines go sailing right past you and you’re too busy studying that cloud shaped like a turtle to realize.

Fire BookSo since you’re serious about this, or at least not hungry at the moment, here’s the rest of my SO YOU WANT TO BE A WRITER list.

Have a child? A pet? An action figure you love more than most people? Perfect.  Look at that thing.  Imagine how much you love it and want to protect it.

Now imagine handing it over to someone and that person takes one look at it, throws it on the ground, then lights it on fire while screaming that your face makes them wanna puke shards of their pelvis.

Painful, right?  Nearly unbearable?  This is what putting a book out in the world is like.

You’re giving your baby to someone to light on fire and puke pelvis shards on.  Most people will not.  Most people will be so wonderful it’ll make you want to cry.  But every once in a while, someone will have matches in their pocket.  Make peace with that.

Writing is weird.

writing

You spend your time battling a blank screen and talking to characters in your head. It takes weird people to do it. Embrace that weirdness. Love your weirdness. Don’t bother fighting it. Know that the process is mad and you’re mad for it and worlds are born from that madness so it’s beautiful.

Listen to me. This is important. You’re gonna find yourself in a closet one day screaming at whoever passes by it that you’re a burrito. It’s fine. It’s cool. It’s part of the package.

Bloggers are wonderful, magical, lovely people.  Appreciate them.  Appreciate them hard.

Don’t be a jerk.  This doubles as life advice.

Remember that people are watching or they will be.  So don’t leave the windows open while you get plastered with your skirt tucked into the back of your pantyhose.  Keep it classy.  Or, at least, have on nice underwear.

Write for you first.

Write for everyone else second.  If you’re not in love with what you’re doing, you can’t expect anyone else to be.

You are not an island.  Find your people.  It doesn’t matter who they are.  Find your people and keep them close.  You’re gonna need them.

This is a subjective game.

I’m sure you’ve heard that before and it’s the truth. What one person loves, another will hate. Don’t get discouraged by it. You’re not gonna ever, ever please everybody and that’s okay. Because you’ll please some people and that’s awesome.

Don’t get caught up in the daydreams that you’re going to be the Next Big Thing.  It’s okay to dream it.  It’s okay to have that tiny spark of hope inside of you that you will be. But at the end of the day, laugh, shuck your pants, and know that even if you never, ever see a best-sellers list, your words are out there for others to read.  You’re living a dream.

Okay. Got all that? Splendid.

So, how about that pizza now?

Guest article by Kristine Wyllys. New Adult, Contemporary Romance Author

Kristine Wyllys Portrait
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Many thanks also to book blogger Gillian Felix for permission to republish this post, which first appeared on her Pain Talk Book Marketing blog.   

Jonathan Gunson  

Do you procrastinate or suffer from distractions while writing?  Do you have any questions for Kristine Wyllys?  Please do leave a comment.  

Notice:  This article is  copyrighted material.  Reproduction of brief snippets of this article with a link to this site are permitted, but it may not be reproduced in full anywhere without the written permission of Jonathan Gunson at BestsellerLabs.com

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Comments

  • Jonathan Gunson says:
    April 24, 2014 at 6:47am

    I forgot to say congratulations on your book deal Kristine.
    I also have an admission: I frequently fail to settle down to work, the very thing you’ve identified. Within minutes of starting, I feel the strongest temptation to check my email or Twitter, or Facebook. So I shall take this post as a smack to the side of the head and stick to the schedule. (Does anyone else have similar trouble staying focused, or is it just me?)
    ~ Jonathan

    • Glenn says:
      April 24, 2014 at 11:47am

      I know we’re not alone on this! Me? All the ideas and options are liking having a huge pizza menu in front on me, and I can’t resist reading all the choices even though I know I’m going to choose pepperoni with extra oregano.

    • April 28, 2014 at 10:43am

      Do I ever! But you know what I’ve found to be the best remedy for that? Take a nap. Seriously, I’m not kidding. Take a nap and as soon as you wake up start writing. Your brain is so confused, and still in the ‘I’m half asleep’ fog that it forgets distraction and gets into the ‘zone’ without you realising it. And once your in the zone, it’s good. It’s just getting there that can be tricky…

      • Jonathan Gunson says:
        April 30, 2014 at 1:31am

        Emily
        What ever works for you. (I might try it.)
        ~ Jonathan

  • Tracia says:
    April 24, 2014 at 9:55am

    I would just like to say thank you for allowing this to be shared!
    As I often have found myself trying to please others
    Without even thinking,Hey do you even like what you have written?

  • April 24, 2014 at 9:55am

    Congratulations Kristine. Sounds like you’ve got your head in the right place to go far. Best of luck to you.

    Jonathan: Distractions? Like reading inspiring articles by newly-published authors when I should be working on my book’s cover? :-) You caught me.
    Back to the drawing board I go. Literally, since I’ll be, well, drawing.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      April 24, 2014 at 11:05am

      Mark
      Thanks for taking the time Sir.
      ~ Jonathan

  • Maria says:
    April 24, 2014 at 10:04am

    Love your style Kristine. Still smiling,
    And Jonathan yes, I do check those blessed emails and Facebook. Such time wasters! I managed for three weeks to stay away from FB and when I went back I’d missed out on zilch! Back to work!

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      April 24, 2014 at 5:18pm

      Shoulder to the wheel Maria.
      ~ Jonathan

  • April 24, 2014 at 10:04am

    Hi
    Congratulations to you. I wish you much success with your career.
    I just have one question or two. Did you look for a publisher or did they find you?

    Did you submit your books or were they just found by a streak of lightening that led to your door?
    Everyone is talking about marketing, promotion, and all the other social media nightmares that inevitably takes your sights and focus off the most important thing – writing. I am like Jonathan; afraid to miss anything on FB or Twitter. Afraid I’ll be left behind. As I’m talking now, my manuscript is waiting for its second draft. Thanks for giving us hope. It is great to hear that authors are still getting publishing deals!

    • April 24, 2014 at 4:28pm

      Hi, Jana! Thank you! And congrats on that first draft, because that is huge!

      I actually searched out my publisher, submitted, then lucked out a month later while waiting for a response when they hosted a Twitter pitch. I was able to pitch it straight to the editors and crawl out of the slush pile. Writers are definitely, definitely still getting deals and social media can play a role in that, absolutely, so I understand the need to want to stay active so you don’t miss anything!

      I found having a writer friend or two helps immensely when limiting my personal time online. We all kinda keep each other in the loop as to what’s going on when the others aren’t on and it takes away some of the temptation to mosey over to Twitter when we should be working. :)

  • Saad says:
    April 24, 2014 at 10:15am

    When writing a young adult book, is it better to write it in first peso perspective or third? Also, how long should it approximately be and should the language be simple so everyone understands it or complicated? Thank you.

    • April 24, 2014 at 4:35pm

      Ah, this is a hard one to answer. Editors and agents seem to be requesting more and more YA (and NA) be in first, but every once in a while a third person pov will get a deal. My best advice is to try both ways for a chapter or two, see what feels right for your characters, then go for it.

      Also for word count, YA has a lot of room to play with. 55k-90k are the usual quoted lengths by agents and editors.

  • April 24, 2014 at 10:16am

    Bravo, great piece, thank you for reminding me to be me…. x

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      April 24, 2014 at 5:19pm

      Siobhan
      I always look out for your smiley photo / bubbly words. :)
      ~ Jonathan

  • Saad says:
    April 24, 2014 at 10:17am

    Oh and congratulations to hear on your book deal. Great to know novice authors like me have someone to look up to. ;)

  • April 24, 2014 at 10:18am

    Awesome advice! And it is so true… especially the don’t be a jerk part! Write for yourself, love what you write, and immerse yourself in your own wacky world. And, for the record, pizza heals all wounds!

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      April 24, 2014 at 5:21pm

      DR R.
      Last night went to an Italian restaurant to die for. ‘Non Solo Pizza’.
      ~ Jonathan

  • April 24, 2014 at 10:25am

    What an excellent post, and congratulations on the book deal Kristine!

    I especially like the advice regarding being ok with being weird. It’s completely true – take it from me, a writer/actor/stand up comedian, there’s nothing wrong with being weird! Some people are naturally good at math and have a ‘head for figures’, other people are good at creating believable characters in their heads and writing stories about them. It’s all good. If we were all the same we’d all be bored of each other, so it’s good to embrace the specific way that we’re ‘wired’ and go with it. (Within reason obviously, you may have an inherent need to rob banks but that probably wouldn’t be the best thing to embrace…)

    One thing I’d like to add to this post is the importance of actually getting down to it and writing. A lot of people – myself included, by the way – spend time talking about projects rather than working on them. If anybody is interested, I actually wrote my own post about this recently too – http://angelomarcos.wordpress.com/2014/04/10/stop-talking-about-it/

    Thanks again for sharing this Kristine, it’s really helpful.

    Oh, and is it wrong that I now feel incredibly hungry…?
    ;-)

    • April 24, 2014 at 4:38pm

      This is excellent, excellent advice! The bit about diluting rings especially true for me. I’ve found if I talk too much too early I lose that drive to actually sit down and write it. I’ve already told the story, so what’s the point?

      And thank you! Also, I’m always hungry, so I’m gonna vote for not wrong. ;)

      • April 24, 2014 at 8:11pm

        Haha!

        Oh, and sorry Jonathan, I forgot to say thanks for sharing this post with us too!

  • April 24, 2014 at 10:57am

    Yes, most definitely: “Write for you first”.

    After all, who will be the very first person to read what you write?

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      April 24, 2014 at 5:22pm

      Ellis
      Right with you on this point.
      ~ Jonathan

  • April 24, 2014 at 10:59am

    Hi, Kristine! You seem so young, bright, and unblemished by society. Good for you and your spunk! Thanks for the great insight. Now, I just need to find the people who need my books on grief healing. I know they’re out there. Silently sad. I wish you the best.

    • April 24, 2014 at 4:40pm

      There are definitely those out there in need of your books! You will find them, they’ll find you, and be so appreciative for what you’re doing. And as someone who’s been silently sad in the past, thank you for writing them.

  • John Tyce says:
    April 24, 2014 at 11:00am

    Bless you Kristine, very sweet.
    My friend who was a court journalist ask me to write my life story. I had major surgery on my leg so I started to write. It took me 16 weeks to write the first 2 parts as I ended up doing it in 3 parts how I found peace of mind after 41 years of alcohol and drug use and abuse.
    I would be awake all night typing and I was isolated, so a pizza would not distract me. I also had 3 deaths, 2 close family members and a very close friend in one week, and the next week I had another close friend die.
    So I was back and forth to London to attend funerals and be there for my family, and I would come back to my computer and carry on writing. I self-published and wrote 3 books in 6 months. I have parts 1 and 2 in paperback and I am just completing part 3.
    I have been advised to get a literary agent, any suggestions please.
    Thanks
    John
    P.S. And well done.

    • April 24, 2014 at 4:46pm

      Hi, John!

      First, congrats on your accomplishments! Both the books and overcoming! And I’m so, so sorry for your losses.

      Finding an agent can be a journey, but you’ve already proven you’re a man who’s a traveler. My best advice is to check out the forums over at absolutewrite. There is so so much info over there, who’s acquiring what, how to go about querying them, and what to look for for your particular genre. It’s a really awesome community all around and a great resource. Best of luck!

  • D A says:
    April 24, 2014 at 11:06am

    Bizarre – all this talk of marketing yourself and advice on how to build a multi platform brand is proven to be a nothing more than a time-suck. Which is what I’ve predicted/expected. So many of my author friends have expressed absolute frustration with trying to conform to being a brand of something vaguely like the writing they believe to be what readers want to read. Kristine is just kind of a cute goofball on twitter – in a good way – and it works!
    Just be yourselves people.

    Congratulations Kristine!
    Thanks for sharing Jonathan!

    I’ll have a slice of roni.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      April 24, 2014 at 11:08am

      DA B.
      I feel that Kristine is somewhat more than cute goof ball on Twitter! There’s also no question that marketing yourself the wrong way most certainly would be a time suck, so also check out the story of Rebecca Skloot, an author genius who did it the right way: (Enjoy!) http://bestsellerlabs.com/the-best-book-trailer-ive-seen-in-years/
      ~ Jonathan

      • D A says:
        April 24, 2014 at 11:42am

        That’s another fantastic post. Ur really a gold mine Jonathan.

    • April 24, 2014 at 4:56pm

      I’ll have you know you inspired my new header on Twitter, D! And for calling me cute, I’ll probably stop tormenting you with supervolcano talk. ;)

      Branding has been my own personal Everest (or should I say Yellowstone Caldera? Heee!) and so many preach its all-importance. I reckon if I’m pouring myself into my books, it makes sense to be myself online?

      ….Actually that’s a lie. I’m just incapable of not being a goofball! Haha

      Also that is a brilliant post, Jonathan! I agree that you really are a gold mine of info. I’m still taking notes!

      • Jonathan Gunson says:
        April 24, 2014 at 5:16pm

        Pleasure’s mine Kristine. (We’re all in this boat together.)
        ~ Jonathan

  • Jim says:
    April 24, 2014 at 11:26am

    Congrats Kristine! Thanks so much for sharing with us and Jonathan of course. I’ll take a head slap too….focusing on that blank page is difficult at times AND seems even harder for the second book! I especially enjoyed the ‘subjective’ advise….we all know it’s true….but the guys with the matches usually bring GAS! :o) Best of luck with your books and please do continue to share….by the way, can I get that in pizza in a supreme?

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      April 24, 2014 at 5:23pm

      Jim
      There’s nothing like a supportive author community. Looks like Kristine can attract it in truckloads.
      ~ Jonathan

  • April 24, 2014 at 11:42am

    Hi Kristine
    Loved what you had to say and reminds me alot of myself. When you have the chance could you email me. I would love to talk to you more about the double book deal. Although there are other issues I need advice on. I am also a Potter fan and my book was written and inspired by Harry Potter. I am also from North Carolina. So please eamil me when you get the chance. God bless, Ed Kemp

    • April 24, 2014 at 11:49am

      Hi Kristine
      Not sure if you can get my email from here or not. So here is my email ekemplinda2@aol.com You can also find me at facebook @ Woodards Crest or find me on twitter @WoodardsCrest

      and thank you Jonathan for allowing Kristine to share her input with us all. :D

    • April 24, 2014 at 5:00pm

      I emailed you, Ed! I can’t resist talking shop, especially with a fellow Potter fan who’s from my neck of the woods!

  • April 24, 2014 at 12:20pm

    Congrats on your book deal, Kristine!

    I laughed at your description of what it’s like putting your book out in the world. Sounds like my critique partner. She brutal, but I love her. LOL!

    Loved when you said ‘write for you first’. Keeping true to your stories and voice is challenging as a new writer when advice is coming from all directions, especially from professional avenues.

    All the best with your books and your career, Kristine!

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      April 24, 2014 at 5:27pm

      Elke
      re “Keeping true to your stories and voice”. Agree.
      So this post written a few weeks back will also strike a chord with you.
      The Key To Growing Readership: Your ‘Writer’s Voice’
      http://bestsellerlabs.com/the-key-to-growing-readership/
      ~ Jonathan

  • April 24, 2014 at 12:29pm

    Okay, I also have a focusing iss—SQUIRREL! But mine is a bit different. Yes, I have four kids 13 and under, a part-time job that wants to be full-time, and a busy life as a pastor’s wife, but my focusing issue is that I can’t stop rabbit-trailing to different projects. I have two books/novels on Amazon and a couple of short stories, and the short stories are in the middle grade area while the novels are adult fictional romance with a Christian inspiration. But I enjoy short stories, and I have an idea for a children’s book and I’m a couple of chapters in on my middle grade novel that my boys have been begging me to write. I’ve sent my first book off to about 6 agents and received gentle rejections. I can’t seem to focus. I hear that your best selling point is your next book, but if I don’t query agents they won’t even find my first book, right? But what about these other books/stories/ideas? Should I focus entirely on one thing until I’m finished, or spend the hour to 90 minutes a day I get to focus on my writing dividing it between self-promoting, writing, querying, etc.? Help!

    • April 24, 2014 at 5:17pm

      I can totally relate on the distraction aspect, Adrienne, though my plate is not nearly as full as yours! I only have a pair of boys. The thought of trying to do it with four has me bowing down in your direction!

      For me, personally, it’s absolutely crucial that I focus on one project at a time, otherwise I find that things start slipping through my fingers and I have a pile of unfinished projects heaped around me. I have a massive box of manuscripts in varying degrees of completion to prove it! That being said, I have writer friends who have to work on more than one thing at once, so I’m a firm believer it’s a dance of finding what works for you. Maybe try it different ways until you find that sweet spot? Spend a few days using your free time to focus on one thing, be that writing, querying, or promoting, then maybe try splitting that time evenly. I feel like it took me forever to find that groove that works for me, and, to be honest, I’m still learning the steps to it. Haha!

      Good luck!! :)

  • Elaine says:
    April 24, 2014 at 1:02pm

    Many thanks Jonathan for your encouraging words and sharing Kristine’s inspirational story.

    It gives a writer hope I am trying to find another agent and I must admit I am a little disheartened by the whole process but Kristine’s honest words of wisdom have spurned me on.

    All the best

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      April 24, 2014 at 5:41pm

      Elaine
      All the best with progress on the novel.
      ~ Jonathan

  • April 24, 2014 at 1:18pm

    Great post. I am finally able to accept that I am “different” and by golly, my friends and family are starting to accept it too. (They still like me.) I have five books published and sell a couple every month. No best sellers, but I tell myself I have achieved my dream and I’m happy with that.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      April 24, 2014 at 5:42pm

      Sandy
      Sounds like you finally wore them all down. Great to hear.
      ~ Jonathan

  • April 24, 2014 at 1:23pm

    Congratulations, Kristine! I will admit, I read your article with a degree of jealousy. My book has been thrown down and burned more times than I care to admit. It has taken the wind out of my sails to send book #2 out in the world for a round of the same treatment. But then, I must, right? Sigh. Thanks again for the encouragement.

    • April 24, 2014 at 5:42pm

      Thank you!

      And, trust me, I get it. Lord, do I get it. That bit are words I have to repeat to myself often. I read something once that talked about changing your perspective when you couldn’t change the reality, and it really hit home with me. So I take the Pollyanna stance about the times when my book has been burnt and puked on. I tell myself that they whether or not those readers liked it, they at least saw something worth picking up in the first place and then I focus on those good reviews. Those readers who liked it are the ones we write for. And who knows? Maybe the ones that didn’t dig the first go around will dig the second ride and if they don’t, they tried again so they musta thought we were worth coming back for!

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      April 24, 2014 at 5:43pm

      Cindy
      Yes, it rang a bell with me too. Onwards and upwards.
      ~ Jonathan

  • April 24, 2014 at 1:25pm

    Congrats on your book deal, Kristine.

    I’m still working toward my first one. I’d love to see some details about how your deal happened. I do a great elevator pitch (but can’t afford to go to every writer’s conference under the sun), and my query letters (e-mails) for my first two novels are apparently falling flat.

    Anyway, great post, and I’m happy for you.

    Michael

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      April 24, 2014 at 5:45pm

      Michael
      Here’s a fantastic (free) resource:
      “How to Write A Great Query Letter” by Noah Lukeman
      http://www.lukeman.com/greatquery/
      ~ Jonathan

  • April 24, 2014 at 2:06pm

    Congratulations Kristine! May your future be as bright as your bright, insightful, and cute article!

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      April 24, 2014 at 5:46pm

      Samar
      I echo your sentiments.
      ~ Jonathan

  • April 24, 2014 at 3:29pm

    Yes. It is like doing housework too. Everything else distracts me from beginning it. Once I start it, then I usually get it done. (unless someone distracts me with a Pizza!). But I also noticed this when I used to study at home. My dishes had to be done and things picked up before I sat down and read that boring Insurance manual. But you just have to push it out of the way and focus. It is a decision EVERY day you make.
    It can be done. I have three wonderful boys and an insurance degree to prove it. Oh.. and a husband that stuck it out too!!

    • April 24, 2014 at 3:42pm

      Hi,Jon, thanks for that great article.
      Kristine, thank you too for all that great humor–loved the pizza! Yes, I’ve experienced the people who carry matches, but many, many, more of the others, and the good ones more than make up for the bad. But you’re right too, that a bad review is like seeing one’s baby lit on fire….
      Thanks again, Kristine, and many congratulations for your book deal!
      James W. Nelson

      • Jonathan Gunson says:
        April 24, 2014 at 5:34pm

        James
        Just checked out your website and discovered no less than 8 novels and other short stories as well. A sensational level of output. You must be proud.
        ~ Jonathan

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      April 24, 2014 at 5:47pm

      Danette
      3 wonderful boys? I wonder how you manage to squeeze in any writing at all! Congratulations.
      ~ Jonathan

  • April 24, 2014 at 3:45pm

    Thank you so much for sharing. Every word you said struck home. For the first time in ages I was reminded to just say screw em and let my words, and my crazy, flow. I’m a burrito! :)

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      April 25, 2014 at 12:53am

      Alaura
      That’s the spirit!
      ~ Jonathan

  • April 24, 2014 at 4:19pm

    Thank you so much, everyone! And thank you, Jonathan, for having me and letting me tempt everyone with pizza!

  • April 24, 2014 at 5:18pm

    So happy for you Kristine!!!! And Jonathan you are so awesome for this!

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      April 24, 2014 at 5:31pm

      Gillian
      Enchanted to have made this connection with an upcoming star. And appreciate your allowing this article to be published here.
      ~ Jonathan

  • April 24, 2014 at 5:48pm

    Thanks for this article, Kristine! It’s sparked off rather a chain reaction in me and made me think about my own sense of weirdness and how I’ve stifled it or tried to reshape it over the years just to fit in. It’s never ceased to amaze me how people’s attitudes and opinions on things differ so greatly. I’d have been useless in a debating society as I used to feel that I must be in the wrong if the views of others’ were in opposition to my own, but now I see it as a richness of variation. Of course, that’s all a part of life’s bigger tapestry, but the smaller details of that tableau can so easily get lost if we don’t take the care to nurture them amongst the scenery of the whole. I’m naturally a very upbeat person, meaning I don’t see the downside of things, only the benefits; but I used to be easily led into seeing things I didn’t necessarily agree with from my own positive angle, when I should have been discarding them as non sequiturs. That’s ok, I always have learned from my own mistakes.

    And one of the hardest lessons has been learning how to cope with the deflated remains of my balloon right after someone has come along and burst it with a bloody great needle of abject criticism just for the sake of it. That’s why I’ve never been ready for the publishing world in any shape or form until this point in my life. That and not having a clue how to go about it! What makes me so able to cope with it now, when I couldn’t before, is still a mystery to me – I suspect that, were I to discover this ingredient, distill it into its purest form and bottle it, you’d soon be calling me Ms Midas! As writers, our souls are laid bare, often on a daily basis, for we are vulnerable creatures who are constantly raising our heads and displaying that soft underbelly into which the sword of our doom should be plunged if we don’t select the appropriate armour in time.

    Of the many things I like about your article, Kristine, the best is how you deal with this vulnerability: it says quite plainly, at least it does to me, that whilst we may be displaying our vulnerability for all to see, we are very well aware of this, and that we’ll continue to do it all the same, in spite of adverse reactions from the grumbly grimblies, because that’s just what we do. A dragon’s purpose is to breathe fire, and if people get in the way and get burned as a consequence, they can shout all they like, or just get out of the sodding way. I know, not everyone is a fire-breathing dragon like me, but you get the picture in the tapestry I’m trying to create here, I’m sure.

    What makes the difference is the way we look at the thousands of tiny little details that make up that tapestry of life, and I’ve never yet come across a faint heart that slayed the dragon and won the fair maiden. Thanks, Kristine, you’ve just reminded me of that, and, on the heels of St George’s Day and the birthday of the great bard, I wish you all the best of British luck with EVERY book deal you ever earn!

    Brightest of Blessings to you,
    Tally :-)

    PS: Sorry if my chain reactions went on a bit too long! If nothing else, they certainly did me a lot of good :-)

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      April 25, 2014 at 12:45am

      Tally
      As long as you continue to allow your story imagination to run riot, essays are more than welcome.
      ~ Jonathan

  • April 24, 2014 at 7:42pm

    Congratulations, Kristine! You seem wise beyond your years. So lovely in so many ways. Thanks for your advice. Also, thanks, Jonathan for sharing this story.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      April 25, 2014 at 12:45am

      Diana
      True / agree.
      ~ Jonathan

  • Claudette says:
    April 24, 2014 at 7:49pm

    Terrific piece, Kristine. And excellent advice. Distractions will never go away, and only we have the power to leave them alone to shrivel up and die rather than waste our time on them.

    I’m a research hog. I admit it. I love doing research, probably because I was in academics for so long. But finding a way to satisfy both the hoggish need to KNOW everything on a subject and getting only what I need to work with can be a BIG distraction and a fine line to walk, crawl, run, and stand on. It takes time to develop distraction avoidance skills.

    Glad to have seen someone else tackle organized chaos and the job of keeping beasties at bay.

    Had a fun read here. Thanks so much for posting. And Jonathan, thanks again for having another fine guest poster.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      April 25, 2014 at 12:46am

      Claudette
      Only the very best guest post here.
      Jonathan

  • April 24, 2014 at 11:16pm

    Congratulations Kristine with the pizza, and your writing success. Corned-beef and steaming vegies are my weak point, but I strongly question what following would be enticed with these lil morsels.

    Loved the advice and can relate to staring at a blank screen trying to entice exciting lines from meaningless pixels. The scary part comes when the fictitious characters all start vying for a mention at once, and my wife gives that sideways glance as I’m enthralled in a separate world and burst out laughing. So refreshing to hear it’s not just a boy thing:) Looking back those must be the times I have to raise the arm and acknowledge I’m of burrito heritage or something similar.

    Good work Jonathan for this enlightening piece as it has justified my distraction on Facebook and twitter, now back to the blank screen and those sideways glances. Burrito’s of the world unite! :)))

    ~ Dennis

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      April 25, 2014 at 12:51am

      DL W
      There lies an example of the conundrum central to this post: How much time on Twitter is productive? I wouldn’t decry social media, because it is extremely valuable for building connections – for example virtually the entire community of this blog was built through Twitter, including a mailing list of many thousands of authors.
      ~ Jonathan

  • April 25, 2014 at 9:59am

    Lovely to read about a success story, and by such a lovely person. I appreciate and agree with everything she says, but I still prefer writing to pizza!

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      April 26, 2014 at 1:07pm

      We’re of one mind Jaye.
      ~ Jonathan

  • April 26, 2014 at 1:45am

    Congratulations on the book deal, Kristine! I love hearing success stories, and your writing exhilarating. Thanks for sharing this, Jonathan.

    I loved everything you said.

    In today’s world, distractions are a huge problem for everyone, especially since we are writing on our computer and the wonderful world of the Net is a click away. I developed a little trick my first year of teaching. I love teaching and being in the classroom, but I hate grading. Procrastination was my first name–it doesn’t work so well when there are deadlines.

    A few all night grading secessions, and I developed a system. I divided the essays into groups–if I wanted to get all 140 essays grade in a week, I’d grade 20 a day. My next goal was to grade 10 essays and give myself a break. I could do anything–Twitter, Google+, FB just as long as it was distracting and fun.

    I’ve carried that system over into my writing life. I set daily goals, and then smaller goals. When I meet a smaller goal, I can play, and then back to work I go. It’s a mind game.

    Also, another lesson I learned while teaching: at first, I imagined all students would love me and that I would change lives. It was a nice fantasy that was soon blown apart. Some students loved me, a few hated me, most didn’t care one way or the other–they were taking a class they had to take to graduate and begin their life journey. I changed a few students’ lives. Other weren’t shy about about setting off grenades and landmines to let me know we were at war. Occasionally, a student I thought wasn’t listening would invite me to his/her graduation and introduce me as “my favorite professor”–who knew? not me.

    You’re right: writing for yourself and telling the stories that only you can tell is key to good writing, and not everyone will love your stories and your writing, but some will. Those are the keepers.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      April 26, 2014 at 1:06pm

      All the best with the ‘Dragon Speakers’ story Cora.
      ~ Jonathan

  • April 26, 2014 at 3:36am

    “You spend your time battling a blank screen and talking to characters in your head. It takes weird people to do it.”

    I connected with this quote particularly. I spend a great deal of time calling myself weird, and I am finally happy now that I have been able to embrace that I am “not normal.” Besides, “normal” is rather subjective, in my opinion. I also love that I’m not the only person that has conversations with my characters.

    All of the advice was wonderful! I have already found people that like the kind of works I write, and I simply cannot write something I don’t love. I’m going about things slightly different; I’m self-publishing my first book to build up a beginning fanbase and hoping to use that as a selling point for subsequent novels when submitting to publishers. (I don’t know if it actually helps, but I’ve heard publishers and agents like when authors are willing to put in the work and already have readers. I’ll see, I suppose.)

    And yes, just as soon as I sit down to write, my mind recalls a dozen things I need to do right then, from checking Twitter to doing the dishes. I have found that reading back the last bit of what I wrote helps me to gather enough excitement to resist those thoughts and actually write, even if I only get two paragraphs written before I have to grab a slice of pizza.

    Thank you, Kristine, for such an encouraging post! And Jonathan, thank you for sharing it!

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      April 26, 2014 at 1:04pm

      TR H
      ” I simply cannot write something I don’t love… ” Agree.
      ” I’m self-publishing my first book to build up a beginning fanbase and hoping to use that as a selling point for subsequent novels when submitting to publishers.” A solid strategy indeed that will work if your books have appeal.
      ~ Jonathan

  • April 28, 2014 at 8:46am

    Great advice and told from a POV that actually makes me want to sit down and eat pizza with her. Now before I was reading this, I was doing something else which was probably writing and I got distracted. Hummmm……

  • April 28, 2014 at 10:46am

    Congrats Kristine! Carina press is a great marketing machine, plus doing some pretty good digital first contracts for authors (or at least they were the last time I checked!).

    I was curious, you say your books are New Adult. I’ve had several people tell me my own fiction could be classified as New Adult (rather than YA) but I was under the impression New Adult was YA with sex. Is that a bad classification of the genre?

  • sarah ruth scott says:
    May 1, 2014 at 6:23pm

    Well I am impressed the advice on writing was brilliant

  • May 2, 2014 at 10:53pm

    Great advice, delivered in an open and honest way – thank you!

    I’m getting better at making time for my writing, and saying ‘no’ to people when I know I need to get my head down. Almost training people to respect my wishes for that time, and having to deal with those that begrudge it. Best thing I’ve done – productivity has gone through the roof!

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