My Favorite Stephen King Quotes About Writing (And What We Can Learn from Them)

My Favorite Stephen King Quotes About Writing (And What We Can Learn from Them)

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It should come as no surprise that I love Stephen King. The Master of Horror is the master for a reason–when it comes to writing, he knows what he’s talking about. Whether you enjoy his work, you can’t deny that the man does work. In fact, he’s one of the hardest-working writers I’ve come to respect–especially because he, like me, heralds the importance of “doing the work” in order to achieve writing success.

Writer of all experience levels can learn something from Stephen King. (While we’re at it, if you haven’t read On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft yet, what are you waiting for?) With that in mind, here’s a list of my favorite Stephen King quotes about writing, as well as what we can learn from them.

“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”

Like I’ve mentioned, King is a writer who wholeheartedly advocates working hard, putting pen to paper or fingers to keys, and getting serious about your writing. He also believes that no amount of courses, seminars, or special training can make up for not sitting down and writing. This philosophy is encouraging–with hard work, almost anyone can become successful as a writer. Additionally, if you want to become a better writer, King recommends writing and reading as much as you can. That’s it. (It’s not exactly that easy, but that’s about the gist.)

“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.”

See my previous point. (Have I mentioned that King is a dedicated worker?) In King’s opinion–and in mine–true writers don’t just write when they’re feeling inspired. Instead, they come to the blank page ready to do the work, regardless of whether any inspiration shows up.

“tHE SCARIEST MOMENT IS ALWAYS JUST BEFORE YOU START. AFTER THAT, THINGS CAN ONLY GET BETTER.”

Having written hundreds of novels, King understands that the hardest challenge for writers to overcome is often just getting started. Once you can overcome the mental hurdle and the anxiety that comes from staring at a blank Word document, a lot of writing is downhill from there. If you’re still having trouble getting started, check out my post about writing for just a little bit at a time.

“To write is human, to edit is divine.”

You must edit. No matter how good you think your first draft is (and who does that, anyway?), you won’t be able to put out a good book without editing it. This quote also insinuates that it’s okay to feel like your first draft is garbage. After all, you can always edit once you finish the draft!

“i have spent a good many years since–too many, i think–being ashamed about what i write.”

This issue is one I used to run into all the time. I’ve had people look down on me for writing YA or for writing darker subject matter than some of my contemporaries. With Reflections, I’ve already had some people express concerns that it’s something I shouldn’t be writing–but you know what? I don’t feel that way. And like Stephen King, I don’t think it does a writer any good to feel ashamed about what they’re writing. If you’re writing what you love, and you’re writing for yourself–both of which you should be–there’s no reason to feel anything less than happy with what you’re putting out there.

What are your favorite quotes about writing?

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How the AlphaSmart Neo Changed My Writing

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A couple weeks ago, I saw that the wonderful Cheyanne Young had posted a photo on Instagram. It was of an old-school word processor, the kind that only holds text and doesn’t connect to the Internet (settle down, now). She went on about how it had improved her writing productivity and was one of the best purchases she’d made in her life. I was thoroughly intrigued. I had to get one for myself.

After minimal searching on eBay, I found an AlphaSmart Neo2 with USB cable for only $29.99 and free shipping. Now, before you go all, “But you can turn off the Internet on your computer or shut off the modem for free”—yes, I’m aware. I know I can do that. I know HOW to do that. And I know that a lot of writers find success with this method, but you know what? I’m weak. Sometimes, I am LAZY. And on those days when I want to do anything but write, it’s too easy for me to toggle the switch back on. I have to make it as hard for me to procrastinate as possible.

Enter the AlphaSmart Neo2. When I’m using it, I can’t do anything on it but write. I’m forced to be productive. No matter where I am (it’s portable and battery-powered), once I get it out, I’ve committed to getting things done. In fact, I wrote all of the blog posts for this week on it in about half an hour’s time, just because I wasn’t distracted. How awesome is that?

For those of you worried about losing text, you’ll be relieved to hear that the Neo2 saves everything locally in individual files. If you want to transfer the writing over to your computer, all you have to do is connect it via the included USB cable. It’s that easy.

I never imagined that something like this could make such a difference in my writing life, but I swear, my productivity has grown in leaps and bounds since purchasing it. Now that it’s almost summer, I especially love that I can take this thing almost anywhere. So far, I’ve written on my back porch, in the waiting room of the dentist’s office, lying in bed, leaning over the edge of the bathtub (I walk on the wild side), in a parked car (not that wild), and under a tree.

All in all, I love this thing, and that’s why I’m sharing it with you guys. I believe in it. It WORKS.

And for less than fifty dollars, I’m ecstatic about that.

What do you think of using an old-school word processor to write? How do you avoid distractions while writing?

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My Upcoming Writing Projects

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I think almost everyone knows by now that I’m waist-deep in the first draft of my YA urban fantasy novel Reflections. I’m over halfway through it now, which means I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. With that being said, once I finish this draft, I have no plans of slowing down. You all know me better than that.

No, once I finish Reflections, I have some other writing business I’d like to attend to. There are several projects rolling around in my head right now, and I’d like to get them finished sometime in the next year.

Someone on Twitter the other day asked me what my upcoming writing projects were. I realized I hadn’t shared them. I’m fixing that now.

Here’s a (very) tentative timeline of everything I’m hoping to get done in the next twelve months and ahead into next summer:

  1. Reflections—first draft done by June, second done by August, out in August or September. It’s been a long time coming. I just hope it’s worth the wait.
  2. The Palest of Pinks—first draft done by September, second done by November, out in December. A lot of you know about this book already, but I think it will be fun. Definitely lighter fare than Blood and Water and Touch.
  3. Blood and Water #2—first draft done by February or March, second by May, out in June. I have only the vaguest idea about this book, but I am excited.
  4. Blood and Water #3—first draft done by August or September, second by November, out in December. I still can’t believe I’m doing a series and I am so scared but also thrilled to be writing it.

Now that I look at all of that, it’s quite an ambitious timeline. Then again, I’m quite an ambitious woman, too, so maybe that works out. Of course, this is my ideal writing timeline, not accounting for real-world things such as work and travel and things of that nature. Still, it gives me something to shoot for, which helps me stay motivated.

What are your writing goals for the next year? How do you feel about these upcoming projects?

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Snapchat for Writers

Snapchat for Writers

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I’ve been using Snapchat almost since it came out. The app lets you take selfies or pictures of the world around you and send them to another user for a predetermined period of time, say seven seconds, after which the photos will disappear. Of course, you can screenshot the photo if you want to save it—just know that the other user gets a notification when you do that! So if you screenshot too many photos, you may come across as a bit of a creep. Also, instead of sending your photo to just a few people, you can post it to “My Story,” which is basically a news feed with visual status updates.

The cool thing about My Story is that anyone who’s following you can see it, even if you don’t add them back. So if you want fans, readers, and followers to gain some insight into your life without having them send you pictures of their own, the My Story feature is a great way to do that.

Now, people can respond to your story with chat messages, but that’s it, as far as I know. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong!

Anyway, I started trying to incorporate more of my writing life in my snaps when I started writing and editing full-time. It was important to me that everyone see what I was doing, encourage me, and hold me accountable. Since then, my use of Snapchat has definitely evolved, but I still love using it.

Snapchat is another excellent way for writers to enhance their author platform and build connections with fans. It gives them a peek into your life and makes you feel, in a sense, more “real.” I love using Snapchat, and if you haven’t tried it, I recommend downloading the app and giving it a shot. Who knows? You might even fall in love with it.

If you want to add me on Snapchat, here’s my user ID and all that below. Also, if you use Snapchat, leave a comment with your username!

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How do you feel about Snapchat? What writers do you follow there?

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Five New Podcasts That Inspire Me

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I’ve always loved podcasts, but recently, I’ve discovered a few that really get my creative juices flowing. Now that I work from home, I listen to a lot of podcasts. I was thrilled to have discovered some that trigger my brain to get busy.

For one reason or another, these are the podcasts that ignite my creative processes and end up inspiring my writing. As a result, they’re podcasts that I’m grateful for and podcasts that I feel like everyone should listen to. Regardless of your writing and creative pursuits, these podcasts should be of great use to anyone who needs a little inspiration from time to time–even if it comes from some unconventional places. Whether you’re into podcasts or not, I hope you’ll at least give these beauties a listen.

Here are five new-to-me podcasts that have primed my writing pump.

Limetown

Oh my God. I don’t know why it took me so long to find this podcast. It’s my latest favorite. Basically, Limetown is a serial docudrama that follows a fictionalized disappearance of an entire town. There’s only one season out so far, but every second of it will leave you wanting more. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. If you love suspense, you should definitely check out this one.

This American Life

Disclaimer: I’ve been listening to this podcast since 2010. I also realize it’s not “new” by any stretch of the imagination. With that being said, it’s the podcast that got me started on podcasts, and it remains one of my favorites. The storytelling methods and the stories themselves are superb, and I’ve gotten story ideas from several different episodes. If you like hearing about people who may be living differently than you, download a few episodes of This American Life.

Criminal

I write thrillers, which means I also read a lot of thrillers. In fact, I’m a huge fan of thrillers of all shapes and sizes, including true crime dramas. Criminal hits my sweet spot. The episodes are short, stand-alone narratives that cover a single crime in a way that engages you until the conclusion. If you like true crime as much as I do, I can’t recommend this podcast enough.

Note to Self

I love technology. I love podcasts about technology. In Note to Self, each episode explores a different way that technology is impacting our lives. This podcast makes me want to write more science fiction. If you like fascinating stories about cool people and the future, you’re going to want to download this podcast right away.

The Truth

This is another great storytelling podcast I found only recently. Like Limetown, everything presented by the podcast is fictional. Rather than presenting a serialized story, however, The Truth offers several short radio dramas per episode—some spooky, some heartfelt—but all unforgettable. Some of them even remind me of the TV show Black Mirror. Definitely go ahead and give this one a listen.

Of course, there are more podcasts I could recommend. I thought about including the few podcasts about writing that I listen to, but that doesn’t fit the nature of this post. Instead, I wanted to share with you some podcasts you might not have heard of that yield unexpected inspiration dividends.

How do you feel about podcasts? What other shows should I be listening to?

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Announcing Audiobook Auditions for BLOOD AND WATER

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If you’ve been keeping up with my on Twitter, you know that an audiobook version of Touch: A One-Act Play is currently in production through ACX. I couldn’t be more thrilled. I’m even more excited to share the final product with you guys once it’s all recorded.

With that being said, I’ve also had a lot of people ask me about the audiobook version of Blood and Water. Since it’s my debut novel, it’s near and dear to my heart. When it comes to selecting an audiobook narrator, I’m going to be picky. Still, I want an audiobook version as much as anyone, if not even more so. I’m officially opening auditions for the audiobook production now.

If you’re interested in auditioning, or if you know someone who might be interested, here’s a list of criteria the ideal candidate will meet:

  1. Voice has a smooth, even tone
  2. Doesn’t read melodramatically
  3. Can differentiate character voices
  4. Can do an Irish accent (Sean and Melanie)
  5. Can do a French accent (Fleur)

Looking at that list now, it’s not as intimidating as I thought it might be. And it’s definitely attainable! If you want to audition, you should go for it. Remember: if you never try out, there’s no way you’ll get chosen! And I love hearing your auditions, even if you don’t think they’re any good. They warm my heart.

You can follow this link to record an audition. I’d like to make a decision by my birthday, June 17, so please apply as soon as possible!

Also, if I haven’t mentioned it, I adore you all. That’s everything.

Are you excited for an audiobook version of BLOOD AND WATER? Will you be trying out?

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How Using Stickers Saved My Writing Productivity

How Using Stickers Saved My Writing ProductivityI love following other writers on Twitter. It’s great to get to see other authors’ processes and methods for writing productivity. I’ve mentioned how Twitter can be useful for writers before, but in case you’re still not sold on the idea, let me share a more concrete example.

I’m not sure where exactly the idea came from—whose tweet sparked my inspiration—but a year or two ago, I discovered a unique method for increasing writing productivity. Various authors were posting pictures of paper calendars covered with stickers. Often, there were multiple stickers on different days, or different colors with different meanings. The authors using this method usually posted some kind of key with their pictures, revealing what the number and color of stickers stood for. Most of them even used this method for editing.

It seemed so simple that I was convinced it wouldn’t work. I shoved the idea to the back of my mind. I would find another way.

Flash forward to last month. I happened upon a pack of cute summer-themed stickers in Target’s Dollar Spot, and grabbed them up right away. I was in the middle of a writing slump and had tried almost everything. What could the sticker method hurt?

When I got home, I decided on a simple system—one sticker each day I made some progress in my WIP. Even if I only wrote a sentence, that would translate to a sticker. And you know what? It worked.

I couldn’t believe it. Halfway through the month of April, I realized I’d written almost every single day utilizing this method. And now into May, as you can see from the picture, I’m still going strong. I’ve even bought some more stickers to use once these are gone!

Am I crazy? Maybe. Is this childish? Probably. But guess what—it does challenge me to keep writing each day. Every single day, in order to earn a sticker, I have to get words down. And that keeps me going.

The next time you’re stuck, consider trying something as silly as the sticker method. Don’t be too surprised if it ends up working out.

What are your tips for writing productivity? How do you stay motivated to keep your writing schedule?

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Get to Know the Characters of My WIP Reflections

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It’s been ages since I’ve done a blog tag, and I’ve recently gotten back into the habit of working on my novel Reflections, so I’m glad the lovely Brianna da Silva tagged me in this game!

Here’s the gist of it: you take six questions and answer them for each main character in your WIP. I think you’re supposed to use six characters, but I didn’t because I was afraid the blog post would run too long. Oh well. I have all of the key players here, and maybe sometime down the road, I’ll do another post like this with the minor folks. We’ll see what happens.

I’ve altered some of the questions to suit my novel, of course, but I’m using the same six questions for each character. At the end, I’ll be tagging six more people to take part in this challenge as well. If you’re not tagged, feel free to participate anyway. I had a lot of fun with this, and it was a great deal more helpful than I thought it would be.

Enjoy!

Note: If you’re not sure how to determine your characters’ Myers-Briggs types, you can take the fairly short inventory here. That’s what I did!

1. RAMACHANDRA

Contradiction: Doesn’t feel comfortable around people; hates being alone with her thoughts.

Myers-Briggs: ISFJ.

Favorite color(s): Green and brown. Earth tones.

Crystal (if applicable): Rose quartz.

Favorite scent: Any kind of incense, but mostly sandalwood and vanilla. Her mother burns a lot of incense when she isn’t working in the restaurant.

Where does she see herself in 10 years? She isn’t sure, but she wants to go to WVU in Morgantown, maybe major in pre-med. At one point, she wanted to help her parents with the restaurant, but now she’s determined to get as far away from Aldale (and her problems) as she can.

Image via Pinterest

2. LEDA

Contradiction: She’d be an ideal tribe leader but isn’t keen on a leadership role.

Myers-Briggs: ENFJ.

Favorite color(s): Purple, blue, and green.

Crystal (if applicable): Aquamarine.

Favorite scent: Lilacs. She has several lilac candles in her bedroom and she burns them as often as she can.

Where does she see herself in 10 years? Still married to Nathaniel, of course, and hopefully a mother in some capacity. Like her husband, she doesn’t expect to stay with the tribe for the rest of her life. She’d be content finding another tribe to join, maybe somewhere out west. If that doesn’t work out, she has no problem giving up her abilities and perhaps trying to have children again–if such a thing is possible.

3. VINCENT

Contradiction: Dislikes lies and deception; relies to lies and deception to succeed as a Shifter. He’ll also cover up dishonesty for the sake of protecting his tribe.

Myers-Briggs: ESTJ.

Favorite color(s): Orange, gold, and black.

Crystal: Citrine.

Favorite scent: Wood, especially dark wood like mahogany.

Where does he see himself in 10 years? Dead, unfortunately. Running a tribe is stressful enough in and of itself, and tribe leaders don’t live very long as a rule. Usually it’s a combination of stress, exhaustion, and sapped power that does them in. If he gives too much power away, after all, his crystal will start feeding off his personal life energy. Since he’s often too busy to remember to top the crystal off with outside energy, he needs to be careful if he doesn’t want to be dead in a decade or less.

Image via Pinterest

4. NATHANIEL

Contradiction: He’s Vincent’s second-in-command, but he doesn’t really want to be a Shifter anymore.

Myers-Briggs: INFJ.

Favorite color(s): Blue and green.

Crystal: Aventurine.

Favorite scent: His wife’s hair, especially when it’s wet from rain or the shower.

Where does he see himself in 10 years? In another tribe somewhere out west, maybe even out of the life altogether. It’s not an ideal environment in which to raise kids, and he wants to have a family with Leda someday.

5. CARTER

Contradiction: Despite his arrogant personality and status in the tribe, he often feels powerless.

Myers-Briggs: ENTJ.

Favorite color(s): Purple, black, and silver.

Crystal: Amethyst.

Favorite scent: Smoke.

Where does he see himself in 10 years? Tribe leader. He wants to be bigger, better, and stronger than Vincent. He does respect Vincent, though, and doesn’t want to outright steal the position from him. His plan is to wait until Vincent either dies or steps down willingly–even though Nathaniel is the second-in-command, Carter knows he doesn’t really want to take Vincent’s place.

Thanks for reading this post! I hope you enjoyed learning some more about my characters–I know I did! And now, here are the six people I’m tagging to participate in this as well. Remember, you can change any of the questions to suit your WIP, too!

  1. Rae Oestreich
  2. Mariella Hunt
  3. Brett Michael Orr
  4. Kelly Sedinger
  5. Josh Cook
  6. Ava Jae

How do you get to know your characters? Are you excited for Reflections?

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TOUCH is Now Available in Paperback!

TOUCH is Now Available in Paperback!I can’t remember when I started writing this play, but I think the first draft of it popped up about a year ago. I feel like I’ve been working on it forever, but it’s only recently that I’ve revised it and polished it to make it a marketable product. After weeks and months of blood, sweat, tears, coffee, and wine, it’s finally here! All my hard work is paying off in a very tangible way. I can’t believe it.

Today, my book Touch: A One-Act Play is available in paperback! You can buy it on Amazon here, or for the same price, you can order a signed copy directly from me (I’ll be updating the book page on my blog soon, but if you want a copy that’s signed, all you have to do is comment below with your email, send me a message through this contact form, or get in touch on Twitter and we can discuss the details).

If you prefer an ebook version, that’s available for purchase here. You can also add it to your Goodreads TBR list here. Want a sample of the play? You can read that here.

If you read the play, I’d thoroughly appreciate it if you could leave me a review. Ratings and reviews keep indie authors like me alive. It doesn’t have to be anything major–even something as simple as “I liked this book” or “Plays are yucky so booo” would help me immensely (though, admittedly, the latter review isn’t all that useful to anyone).

I’m also working on getting this play produced as an audiobook, so stay tuned for updates on that. In the meantime, thanks to each and every one of you that buys the book and continues to support and encourage me with kind words, thoughts, and prayers. I appreciate all of you more than you know.

What do you think? Have you read Touch?

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Have you heard? @brianawrites’ TOUCH: A ONE-ACT PLAY is now available in paperback! (Click to tweet)

Book Review: DISSONANCE by Mariella Hunt

Book Review: DISSONANCE by Mariella Hunt

Photo Credit: Goodreads

Mariella Hunt is one of my dearest online friends. She and I met some time ago, but it’s only recently that we’ve begun talking and collaborating more often. When Hunt rereleased her debut YA urban fantasy novel Dissonance, she was kind enough to send me a paperback copy.

I was even more excited to dive into this book when she told me she’s been working on the sequel. I’m not big into series (I know, I know), but this is one I can definitely see myself reading more of.

Before I get to the review, here’s the Goodreads summary:

Fifteen-year-old Allie Grant lives crippled by her illness. Though kept in isolation, she’s never alone: A spirit named Song lurks in the silence of her bedroom.

When Song reveals its dark nature on the night of her recital, the show ends in tragedy. Verging on death, Allie’s taken in by an uncle she’s never met.

Julian claims to be a Muse with power over music and answers that’ll heal her. The cure she needs is rare, requiring of him a difficult sacrifice. Allie soon suspects her uncle has a secret that’ll turn her world around.

But with days left to live, she might fade without learning the truth…like the finishing chord of a song.

First off, Dissonance is urban fantasy, which isn’t a genre I’ve read much of–although my novel Reflections is urban fantasy, too, so maybe I should read more in that genre… Anyway, although the story is urban fantasy, it was fairly easy for me to navigate the events and setting of the novel. My only issue with regards to worldbuilding is that there were a few places I found it difficult to follow along with the mythology. Hunt has clearly invested a great deal of time, thought, and effort into developing a cohesive magical system and environment for this novel, and this degree of consideration definitely shows. However, at times, the terminology and social hierarchy confused me.

Nevertheless, I found the characters, plot, and the writing compelling. Dissonance is a strong debut, and as the first book in a series, promises some more exciting things from the author. As a bonus, this book also features a protagonist dealing with chronic illness, which is refreshing. If you’re looking for a good YA urban fantasy novel with likable characters, an engaging setting, and a memorable plot, I wholeheartedly recommend picking up a copy of Dissonance.

What did you think of Dissonance? What book should I read next?

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