The Never-Ending Revision Process

My part time day job is tutoring children in reading. I teach the mechanics and phonics of reading, along with comprehension. We encourage our students to bring in books to read for fun for the last ten minutes of each session. A few of my students requested to read the first Zelda book, and we read a chapter every couple of days. As an author, I love that kids read and enjoy my books. With the Zelda books, I'm thrilled to receive an email that their son or daughter begged to keep reading Zelda each night before bed. But, when I read my own books again, I want to throw them out the window and start over.

Let me explain. Even when a book is "finished" or published, I find more sentences to change or chapters to revise. It's a never-ending process for me. I haven't read The Photograph since publication for that reason.

One of the benefits of being an independent author is the freedom to revise after publication. That's what I am doing right now. I am revising the first Zelda book. I'm not changing content, but sentence structure and word choice. I wrote the first Zelda book a few years ago now, and since then, my writing has improved.

I don't envision doing this for my other books, but it makes sense for the Zelda series. The Adventures of Zelda: A Pug Tale is my best selling book. I travel to schools and events with this book, and with plans for a fourth and fifth book, the first needs to be strong so readers come back.

The revised version of The Adventures of Zelda: A Pug Tale will be available in a week or two. I'll post when it is available, so pick up a copy (it's free in ebook form right now) and let me know what you think!

Authors - Do you want to revise after your novels are published? Why or why not?

Author Spotlight with Kate Sparkes

Today I am excited to feature author Kate Sparkes. Her debut novel, Boundreleased on June 23, 2014 and has been on the top of the young adult fantasy charts since it released. I read and reviewed Bound last month. It was a joy to read, and I am excited about her success.

Tell us a little about yourself and your novel Bound.

I’m a writer and a mom, wife to a Mountie, comfortable seating for three cats and regular walker for a Boxer named Jack. And actually… all of that pretty much sums up my daily life. I was born in Ontario, but I now live in Newfoundland, which I think is one of the most beautiful places on Earth. I’ve been writing stories since I was in Kindergarten, but only started working toward it as a career in 2010. That’s when I started writing Bound.

Bound is the first book in a YA Fantasy trilogy. It’s the story of two characters: Rowan, a young woman who comes from a country where magic is considered a sin (but who has always been fascinated with the fairy tales she’s not supposed to be reading), and Aren, an enemy Sorcerer whose life she accidentally saves. Secrets are revealed, loyalties tested, adventures had… it’s good fun.

What are your favorite and most challenging parts of writing a novel?

My favourite part is when things click into place, when a plot problem or character motivation issue that I’ve been struggling with finally yields, and everything seems like it was just meant to be. My least favourite part would be the struggles leading up to that. Also, trying to write sales/cover copy. I didn’t think I was going to survive that with my sanity intact.

I love reading fantasy because of the creative, immersive worlds of the genre, but as a writer, I am intimidated by that world building aspect. What was your process to create the fantasy world of Bound?

The world had been gradually forming in my mind for years before I came up with the story and characters that fit into it. I’ve always loved fairy tales and myths, so it seemed natural that mythical creatures from our world would find their way in there, but I try to put my own spin on them. The land itself is frequently based on Newfoundland. Its rugged beauty, worn-down mountains, and glacier-carved landscapes seem like they’re already full of magic, especially on foggy days. The hardest part of the world for me was creating the magic system, finding a balance between possibilities and limitations, setting the rules, and making sure it didn’t make things too easy for my characters. I was tweaking that right up to the last minute, and I’m glad my editor regularly works in Fantasy and was willing to give my hands a slap when I messed up.

The challenge now is pushing the boundaries that I’ve set, and also exploring other aspects of magic that were mentioned in Bound but that we haven’t really explored.

Bound is a bestseller on Amazon in the YA Fantasy Sword & Sorcery and Coming of Age categories with almost 50 reviews posted on Amazon since its June 23rd launch. Can you share your launch and release strategy?

I wish there was some huge secret I could share, but I think I’m as surprised as anyone. Pleasantly surprised, of course, and incredibly grateful to the readers who have made it happen. My launch strategy for publication involved releasing on multiple platforms so that my Nook and Kobo loving friends could get the book. Sales have been far better on Amazon than anywhere else, but I’m still glad it’s available to everyone. On Amazon, I got the book into as many appropriate sub-categories as I could, which meant it showed up in Best Seller lists and Hot New Release lists sooner than it would have in larger categories. I launched the book at an introductory sale price of $2.99 as a “thank you” to everyone who was already supporting me, and I hoped it would make it easier for people to decide to try the book.

In terms of publicity, there’s my blog, where I had been posting weekly teaser snippets as part of WIPpet Wednesday. I have a nice little community of writers I follow on Wordpress, and many of them helped spread the word on cover reveal and release day, and a few hosted interviews. I had a launch party on Facebook. That was really just for fun, but it did get people I already knew talking about the book. Some of them read it and loved it, and recommended it to their friends.

Most of the book’s success has been thanks to word of mouth promotion. People who read advance copies loved the story, and when they learned how important their enthusiasm was to the book’s success, they were more than happy to tell their friends. I put a few sentences in my note to readers about how they can help spread the word about books they love, and that encouraged people to leave reviews. Eventually the book started showing up on sub-category Best Seller lists, and Amazon’s recommendations took over.

I learned later that I had accidentally followed most of the advice in David Gaughran’s book “Let’s Get Visible,” which I have now read and recommend to everyone who asks. Fantastic advice on getting the word out on Amazon.

Finally, what is on the horizon for your fans? What books are next to be released?

The next book that I’ll be releasing is Torn, which is book two of the Bound trilogy. I think some people would be rather upset if I released anything unrelated before I did that! I have a short story in the works that’s a prequel to Bound, but it still needs editing and a cover, so that has to wait. After that we’ll see book three of the trilogy… and I do have a fun urban fantasy novella in the works that’s gotten excellent reviews from beta readers, but again, that has to wait for its turn.

And then, who knows? There are a ton of characters in the Bound trilogy who are begging to have their stories told. If readers want them, we might see a few spin-off stories, or even full-length novels.

Thanks for having me!

Thanks again to Kate for her thoughtful responses. You can purchase Kate's novel Bound using the links below. Also, I encourage you to follow her on social media. She's funny. :)



Barnes & Noble (Nook)




Disregard the Prologue (blog)

Sparrowcat Press

Author newsletter (releases, giveaways, news, and other fun stuff)

The Importance of Book Reviews

[youtube] Hello Friends!

I have a video post for you today. I talk a little bit about my current writing projects before explaining why book reviews are so important to authors.

If you want to write a book review for any of my books, please follow the links below to write a review at the listed sites. Thanks so much.

The Adventures of Zelda: A Pug Tale - Amazon, Nook, Goodreads

The Adventures of Zelda: The Second Saga - Amazon, Nook, Goodreads

The Final Hour (Short Story) - Amazon

February 2014 Book Reviews

This month I enjoyed three great Young Adult books. All three were sitting on my kindle for a few months and in between packing, moving, and unpacking I managed to read these three. I am excited for next month with a wide open calendar to read lots of books!

Matt Archer: Monster Hunter by Kendra C. Highley - I reviewed Sidelined, a contemporary YA novel by Kendra a couple months ago. I enjoyed it, so I picked up the start of her Matt Archer series, a horror/urban fantasy series.  Matt Archer is an ordinary boy who gets picked by a magic wielding knife to hunt monsters in the middle of Montana. The concept sounds a little crazy, but if you are willing to suspend disbelief with the magic and fantasy in the backdrop of a modern society, this is a great book. The book is written so well- perfect for the younger teenagers which is the target audience. But even adults can enjoy the fun of this book. I can't wait to continue the series! 5 out of 7 stars.

In Your Dreams by Amy Martin is a solid YA debut. I love the character of Zip (although that may be just because of my love of basketball). She is a strong young teenage girl. When she meets Kieran, a new kid for the first time, she is intrigued by him, his story, and his narcolepsy. They quickly become friends and Amy discovers Kieran's secret- his dreams predict the future. I enjoyed how the author took this concept of dreams and put a fresh spin on it. I enjoyed the character development and interaction, along with the mystery and intrigue of the story. It's a great debut and worth the read if you are a sucker for good YA books. (Like me!) 5 out of 7 stars and it's free on Amazon Kindle.


Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson - I absolutely loved this book. It was action packed, yet full of great themes to make you think. The characters were authentic and the world building was intriguing. The YA novel is set in a near future where ordinary people have gained super powers (think the TV show Heroes). These people are called Epics, but the Epics are terrible power hungry killers. The novel is centered on David, a seventeen year old boy, eager for revenge against an Epic named Steelheart, who killed his father. He joins up with the Reckoners, the only group of humans who fights against the Epics and they attempt to take Steelheart down. Like I said, the book is great- superbly written with a great plot. It's worth reading! 6 out of 7 stars (maybe deserves 7 stars, I'm still debating it.)

Rating System Guide

7 stars = Phenomenal book – one of the  best book’s I’ve read

6 stars = Great book – worth your time to read

5 stars = Solid book, if you like the genre pick it up

4 stars = Okay book, maybe lacking something in the way of language, character development, story

3 stars = I probably should have stopped reading this book.

1 or 2 stars = Serious issues with plot, structure, language, or not a book for me.

Author Interview with the Addled Alchemist

I really enjoyed this month's author interview. Becca Andre is the author of The Final Formula. After reading and reviewing The Final Formula in January, I knew she would be a  great author to interview. I was right! I love her honesty and transparency. The-Final-Formula 800 Cover reveal and Promotional

Tell us a little about yourself and your writing.

I was born and raised in southern Ohio, married my high school sweetheart, and have two cool kids who keep life interesting.  I’m a fellow dog lover, though of the Jack Russell variety.  We used to spend a lot of time at Jack Russell Terrier trials around the country.  But my dog will be sixteen this month, so those days are behind us.  Now I spend my free time focused on writing.

I’ve always been a writer, even before I started to write my stories down.  In grade school, I often got into trouble for daydreaming.  It was annoying.  Just when I got to the good part of my imaginary tale, the teacher would interrupt and make me pay attention.  Eventually, I learned to stare at the chalkboard instead of the window.  The teacher didn’t interrupt nearly as much then.

I started writing down my stories when I was in high school, and though I enjoyed it immensely, I didn’t even consider pursing a career as a writer.  Instead, I followed my interest in science and became a chemist.  It wasn’t until four years ago that I decided to do something with my writing hobby.  I independently published my first novel at the end of September last year.  It’ been a positive experience so far, and I’m looking forward to getting more of my work out there.

As a chemist, do you have a fun story of blowing something up accidentally (or on purpose)?

The exploding crucible in the opening scene of The Final Formula is based on a real event.  It wasn’t quite as dramatic, nor did it happen to me (I just witnessed it), but I’m pretty sure the stain is still on the ceiling.

On a personal note, I blew up a water sample once.  Blasted the bottom right out of the beaker.  I was rather proud of that one—until I had to clean up the mess.  Explosions are a lot more fun on paper.

What is your favorite part about writing a novel? And the toughest?

I love when a character takes me somewhere I hadn’t planned on going.  That moment when they seem to take on a life of their own and suddenly, I’m just there to record what happens.  Some of my favorite scenes arise from those moments.  In the process, I stumble across aspects of the story I didn’t even know were there.

The toughest part is when I bump up against a scene that isn’t working and I have no clue why.  This seems to happen in the middle.  I’ve got the beginning, I know the end, but I just can’t seem to find my way.  Eventually, it’ll hit me and it’s often the simplest thing.  I’m left feeling like an idiot for wasting so much time.

The subconscious mind is a crazy place.  Or at least, mine is.

The Final Formula is set in an urban fantasy world with magic, alchemy, necromancers, grims, and more. If you could have any magical power similar to a character in your book, what would it be and why?

A necromancer.  Ha!  Just kidding.  Hmm.  There are a lot of cool powers, but what fascinates me most is the alchemy.  How awesome would it be to take some mundane ingredients, and with the right attitude and skill, bottle magic?

I based my alchemy more on modern chemistry than the bubbling cauldrons of old, keeping the story rooted in our world and making alchemy accessible to people without magic.  That’s one of my favorite aspects of this series: Addie, my alchemist, can go toe-to-toe with the magical heavy hitters even though she has no inborn ability herself.

One of my favorite aspects of the Final Formula was the character development and interaction. The characters were playful and smart. Did you create this characters with anybody specifically in mind? 

Not really.  Everyone in my story is a figment of my imagination, with one exception: Addie is a lot like me.  Of course, she’s smarter, and wittier, but the inspiration for her character hit close to home.  The idea for this series came from a writing prompt to write what you know with a fantasy twist.  I took it literally.  I added magic to my modern world and went from chemist to alchemist.

The rest of the characters rose organically from that idea.  In the past, alchemists worked with the elements (fire, water, earth and air), so I made the elements into actual people.  Although in my modern world, the elemental powers stem from the states of matter: solid, liquid, gas, and plasma.  The Elements are the top dogs in Addie’s magical world and are often an obstacle to her plans.  Addie’s greatest asset—and flaw—is her confidence.  So Rowan, my Fire Element, had to have an arrogance to match.  Writing their dialogue is a blast.

Then there is the alchemist’s age old quest for the Elixir of Life.  That brought out the themes of life and death, and immortality.  Enter the necromancers and all the fun they add to a story (zombies!).  And, of course, James.  I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t read the story, but James was one of those surprises I didn’t see coming.  He’s a wonderfully conflicted character who is so much fun to write.

Finally, what is on the horizon for your fans? What books are next to be released?  

My novella, The Element of Death, should be out in February.  It’s a short work from James’s point of view that adds to the events of The Final Formula.

Then Addie is back in the driver’s seat for the second novel in the series (no title yet).  I hope to release it later this spring.

Thanks again to Becca for taking the time to answer these questions. You can find Becca at her website, twitter, or facebook. You can buy her novel The Final Formula at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Smashwords. I definitely recommend it!

Author Spotlight with Randy Shaffer


Today's author spotlight is with horror author and friend Randy Shaffer. His short story, The Horror, has been holding steady in the top 100 horror kindle books in January. Besides his horror short stories, he also writes nonfiction and has a background in film. His interview is fascinating and worth the read, even if you aren't a horror fan.

Tell us a little about yourself. What do you do outside of writing? What are your hobbies and favorite things to do outside of writing?

I was born and raised in Mentor, a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. I am married to a lovely woman who serves as the president of the Burning River Roller Girls in Cleveland (she's also a marketing guru for a jeweler). We have no kids, but we do have one mean-spirited cat we dearly love and adore (she just tolerates us).

I went to Wright State University for a year where I studied film production. Alas, the professors weren't particularly keen on crafting cinema people would actually want to watch (or care about), so I transferred to Kent State University and studied writing and film theory instead.

I basically live and breathe writing. I'm paraphrasing, but Stephen King once said that writing was easy, life is hard. I couldn't agree more. I'm always working on stories, screenplays, books and other ideas. I even shoot skits and video blogs every so often. I don't sleep very well, only a few hours a night. My brain is always running wild, so I am continually looking for ways to keep my mind occupied.

I love movies, though I'm not a fan of going to the theater, unless that theater is a drive-in, in which case I would gladly go to the theater. I have a pretty slick setup in my house, with a terrific 1080p projector, Blu-ray and theater-quality 7.1 surround sound. There's basically no reason to leave the house with a home theater this nice. And with ticket prices the way they are, it's cheaper just buying the film when it hits video. I also really love sharing and discussing movies with people, especially films they have never seen.

I am a bit of a gamer. I feel that gaming is the next big storytelling industry. This latest console generation (PS3 and Xbox 360) really pushed the envelope in this regard. I can't wait to see what the next generation has in store.

And naturally, I love reading. I try and read at least 50 books a year. Last year I read more than double that.

How long have you been writing? What books have you published?

I've been writing stories since I was about 10 years old and I wrote a piece of (hilarious and embarassing) Planet of the Apes fan fiction. But the storytelling bug first bit me when I was 6. I was bullied by this kid named Jake and, in order to comprehend his actions, I created a story (in my head) about who he was when he wasn't bullying me at school. It was a sympathetic tale that had him dealing with cruel parents, jealousy over siblings and bullying of his own. In my story, he was a victim, too. And that's why he picked on me. A few years later, I discovered that I wasn't far off. He was abused by his parents and ridiculed by his siblings, and this drove him to dark places. Once I made that discovery, I was hooked on storytelling.

At current, I have four books published, with a fifth on the way at the end of January. And several more short stories and novellas coming in the next year. I've also got three full-length novels being prepped for sale to publishers.

Right now, I'm focusing on short stories, novellas and shorter novels, primarily because I believe there's an untapped market of readers (with e-readers on their smartphones and tablets) who simply don't have the time for longer books. We live in a very busy world, with hundreds of daily distractions. An 800-page book simply isn't going to appeal to those on the go. But something shorter might just whet their appetite. I'm trying to find that audience, and see where they take me. But I'm also seeking that core base of readers. It might sound dumb, but if I could be the guy you read in the bathroom, I would be a very happy man. That writer gets to share their stories with the world all the time. In lesser words, that person is always working.

What books or authors influenced your writing and why?

That's a tough question – one I could probably spend thousands of words discussing. I'll try and be brief and highlight just a few authors.

Stephen King. He is a master writer, and his stories have shaped who I am. Any self respecting horror writer should aspire to churn out the kind of work he does … with books that are maybe not as long as his, though.

J.K. Rowling. Her Harry Potter series is an absolute game changer. It shifted the entire landscape of young adult fiction. And even better, the books are remarkably well written, with a terrific amount of plot and a perfect balance of character.

Michael Crichton. His books are so immeasurably fun, nerdy and awesome. You learn something about science while exploring a great thrill ride of a plot. I am devastated that he's gone and I won't get to read another one of his new books (outside of those ghost-written books that keep coming out).

And finally, F. Scott Fitzgerald. If ever there was an author who nailed society in just one book, it was this man. The Great Gatsby is my all-time favorite novel. It speaks to our culture in such brutally honest ways, and it's still relevant to this day. I suspect it will stay relevant forever. I read his work, which is usually very lean and concise (Gatsby comes in at under 200 pages), and I can't help but smile, cry, loath and love. So awesome and so completely unforgettable.

What draws you to write horror?

I absolutely love writing about what scares me, though what scares me is not necessarily limited to just the horror genre. But even when I was a kid, I would write horror short stories.

I've always been fascinated with that crossroads between fiction and reality, and my mind is always conjuring new stories that explore that realm. The horror genre is a particularly potent field for that kind of storytelling.

My novelette, The Horror, for example, is about a young couple being stalked by an unnamed killer, all while isolated in a haunted house maze. On the surface, it's a tense thriller, built upon anxiety and dread. But metaphorically, The Horror is about how fear can sometimes drive us to irrational places. It questions whether or not you – the reader – would ever go to a haunted house after reading this story, despite the fact that what I wrote is purely fictional. My thesis was to spark an inner-debate. And my hope is that readers can apply what they learned about fear to other aspects in their life. Should we let fear drive us, or should we focus on the more joyful aspects of our admittedly brief existence? And can we really prevent such fears from infecting our being?

But I'm not just limited to horror. I've also written Does She Smile at Home?, which is a character drama about a man suffering from an existential crisis. Also in 2013, I completed a nonfiction manuscript about swing culture and alternative sexual lifestyles. My idea with these books was to explore the nature of human beings, from their darkest, most hidden corners, in order to discover something deeper about our ever-evolving, yet curiously ever-consistent culture.

What is your favorite part of being an indie author?

It's tough being an indie author. Sometimes it's frustrating. Sometimes it's upsetting. You sort of live and die by reviews, guerrilla marketing and the thoughts of others, which can be very challenging to your wallet, your emotions, and your ego (which is crucial for a writer to have, mind you). You have to make sure you find the right person for your book, otherwise they might not like your story, or connect with it in the right way, or the way you hoped.

But when you do connect with a reader … that's downright magical. I love discovering new readers. I find myself reading the books they are reading and sharing with them so much more than just my stories. Connecting with another human being is a rich, wonderful experience, and I sincerely welcome the opportunity to uncover new readers and friends. There are challenges that indie authors must face, and they can be quite grueling, but the end results are deeply rewarding.

What is on the horizon for you in 2014? What books are next to be released?

I'm working on a slew of short stories and novellas, which should be rolling out this summer. I've also got the remaining four issues coming of my five-issue series, Wicked Neighborhood, which readers have described as a "Goosebumps for adults" horror series. I'll be publishing the second issue, The Foot, on January 25 (my birthday), with further issues in the months following. Once that series is completed, I'll be publishing a full-length version of the complete series in both ebook and print formats. After that, I'll be taking my work to comic cons to garner an even larger audience.

I'm also hard at work editing three full-length books, two fiction and one nonfiction. I am hoping to get one of those books in the hands of a publisher in 2014.

And lastly, I'm crafting an audiobook of The Horror. I'm hoping to release it sometime this summer, or early fall, well ahead of the Halloween season … my busy season, so to speak.

Thanks again to Randy for coming on the blog and sharing his story with us. You can connect with him at the links below.


Author Page:


Official Twitter:

Facebook Page:

Books by Randy Shaffer


Indie Author Spotlight with Kendra C. Highley

Kendra Pic 2010 I'm excited for today's post- an indie author spotlight with Kendra C. Highley. It's been too long since I've highlighted an indie author on the blog.  When I read Sidelined last month, I thought she would be a great fit for the indie author spotlight. I contacted her and she promptly said yes.  Along with Sidelined, Kendra is the author of the Matt Archer series.

Tell us a little about yourself. How long have you been writing? What books have you published?

I've been writing since I was in third grade, short stories and such, and I've always loved to, uh, "stretch the truth" to make a story more exciting. Good trait for a writer, right? :) But I didn't get serious about my craft, with an eye toward publication, until about five years ago.

My books include my self-published Matt Archer series, an urban fantasy YA series about a teen who fights monsters, and Sidelined (Entangled Ember), an upper contemporary YA about a female basketball star who gets injured and has to rebuild her life.

What is your favorite part of writing a novel?

When my characters take a detour I wasn't expecting. I'm getting better at plotting, but I'm really more of a pantser, and I love it when I'm writing along and suddenly the story turns in a place I never expected. More often than not, it turns out to be better for the story, too.

What draws you to write young adult fiction?

I love the wonder, the excitement, the "newness" of experiences that teen characters face. I also think some of the most daring, edgy modern books are being written in the YA space.

What are a few of your favorite young adult books and/or series?

Wow, narrowing it down to a few is hard. I'm writing a four-part series on my blog on my favorite YA books right now! I'd have to say Daughter of Smoke and Bone and The Girl of Fire and Thorns series have been my favorites of the last few years.

Sidelined-cover-900px(1)I recently read your novel Sidelined. I was drawn to the book as a former athlete and current basketball coach. I think the book deals with issues many teens face as they struggle with addiction, identity, and relationships. Did you have any specific moments in your life that inspired the writing of this book?

One in particular stands out. While I was friends with a couple of varsity women's basketball players (which influenced my decision to make Genna a basketball star), the first seed for this story was planted by a football player when I was a freshman. He was a senior, with three scholarships on the table, and in my church youth group. He was injured late in his last season and lost all his scholarship opportunities. I remember how angry he was, how this life-changing event threw him into despair. But I also got to see, over the course of that year, how he eventually discovered other pursuits and slowly found his balance again. It was inspiring, frankly, and the experience stuck with me.

What are your current writing projects? What is on the horizon for your fans?

I'm working on the fourth Matt Archer book. It's in final edits and will be released in January 2014. The fifth and final book will release summer 2014. I'm also working on a new contemporary YA that has me pretty excited, about a high school reporter.

Finally, I'm always looking for recommendations of great self-published books and indie authors. Do you have any recommendations for self-published fiction books or indie authors to check out?

Wow, two come to mind immediately. They aren't YA, but they have teen characters and are safe for readers 14+. The first is the Emperor's Edge series by Lindsay Buroker. The sixth book in the series, Forged in Blood I, has made it all the way to the finals for Best Fantasy in the 2013 GoodReads Book awards. The second is The Final Formula by Becca Andre. It's an urban fantasy about an alchemist who has's very unique and a ton of fun. I also really enjoyed Red, by Kait Nolan. It's an urban fantasy (YA) based on Red Riding Hood.

Thanks so much to Kendra for her thoughtful responses. I recently picked up the first Matt Archer book and look forward to reading and reviewing it soon.

You can find Kendra at: (MA series site)
Her contemporary YA novel, Sidelined, is available for purchase at Amazon, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.

Measuring Growth as a Writer

'Chilli Growth' photo (c) 2009, Sam_Catch - license: Last fall, I decided to start writing a short story series inspired by the life of my pug Zelda. I had so much fun writing the stories that I turned the collection into a chapter book for kids. After I released The Adventures of Zelda: A Pug Tale, I received many positive reviews and reactions from children and adults, so I started working on the second Zelda book in October. A month later, the first draft of my second Zelda book is written with a publication date set for late December. The first Zelda book took me 9 months from start to publication. The second will be about 3 months from start to publication and I’m thrilled with the much quicker process.

So what changed?

First, the writing process was much quicker on my end. I had a general outline for the book from the start and I was able to write chapters quickly. When I knew the plan for a chapter, I wrote it within about an hour’s time.

Second, I hired an editor and cover designer before completion of the first draft. Therefore, my project was on their schedule ahead of time. For the first Zelda book, I took the process one step at a time and ended up spending a few weeks at each stage waiting.

Finally, the timespan to write, edit, and publish the first Zelda book was hindered by life complications this past spring. With the illness and passing of my stepfather, I lost many hours of writing time (which is okay, I wanted to be with him and family during this time). Maybe without these life complications the first Zelda book would have been finished in 6 months from start to finish.

When I think about the difference between the two books, I am very happy. I am especially ecstatic about the writing time. I can write faster than last year without losing quality. This gives me even more encouragement for the future as I want to produce more books quicker. Similar to many other aspects of life, you only get better at writing with more practice.

I’m happy that I’m learning more about the business side of writing. I understand the need to arrange editors and designers ahead of time and when to schedule. Some of these aspects will be key when I transition into full time writing some day in the future.

Most importantly, I’m really excited about the second Zelda book. I think it’s better than the first. I created it with a story arc in mind and it came together beautifully. I can’t wait to share it with you soon. More details will be coming on release date and storyline in the coming weeks!

All of this tells me that I am growing as a writer. It may not be in leaps and bounds, but I’m moving forward. I’m making progress.

How do you measure growth as a writer?

From One Writer to Another - Busting through the Tough Moments of the Writing Life

The path to a "successful" writing career is tough. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying or one of the very lucky few. (and I mean few). Reaching your goals as an author takes time and hard work. And many times, in the middle of working your way to those goals, you want to give up. You want to throw in the towel and try something else. But, it is the authors who make it through those rough moments and keep writing who are successful. Today's post is to highlight those rough moments in a writing career and encourage you through them. I press through the tough times and when I do, I catch glimpses of light. And I know if I keep writing and working, the light will grow.

1. Starting - The hardest part about writing for me happens every day when I try to sit down and get words on the page. I must fool around for 20 minutes every day avoiding the inevitable: writing. I have a hard time starting, but I force myself to do it every day or hour I set aside to write. The funny part is once I get rolling, once I have a paragraph or two down, the words flow and I'm in the zone. But, sitting down every day is a struggle.

The good thing is I have acknowledged this problem and have tools in place to help get me rolling. First, I put Scrivener in Full Screen mode on my mac. That way, I can't see emails or notifications coming through on my computer. If I'm feeling super distracted, I will turn off the wi-fi on my computer. I also turn my iPhone over so the back is up. I can still hear it vibrate for texts and phone calls, but again don't see notifications coming through. Finally, I set a timer for 20-30 minutes with a word count deadline because I know deadlines help my productivity.

My encouragement comes every session I am able to exceed my word count goal and fight past my starting problem. I know every word I write is a step closer to another book being on the market.

2. Waiting - An author spends lots of time waiting. If you submit query letters or manuscripts to agents, you wait for weeks (or months) for responses. When you work with an editor, you wait for the edits to return to you. Or you wait for your designer to finish you book cover. Finally, you wait for your book to be published- with traditional publishers it could be a year or more. Even with self-publishing, you are at the hands of Amazon, Kobo, Smashwords, etc to put your book up for sale. It can be torture sitting around and waiting for the next step in the process.

My advice is to stop waiting and write something else. Every day you wait for your manuscript to be returned with edits is a day you could have worked on your next novel. Honestly, most of the time, I have too many projects I want to write and not enough time to write every day. Unless you are banking on your one book to be a bestseller (hint - not a good strategy), write while you wait.

3. Rejection - Somebody isn't going to like your book. Agents will reject your query. A bad review will pop up in the Amazon review. All of these will happen so prepare yourself for it and make a plan to counter the rejection. For the person who doesn't like you book, ask them why. Maybe you can learn something to help your next book better. For the rejected query, ask the agent what they are looking for or why your novel didn't fit their criteria. Or if you love your project, hire an editor and publish it anyways. Rejection is going to happen so don't let it discourage you. Instead, focus on what is working and the fans you have.

If you want to make writing a career, you need to survive those tough moments. Writing is a long-term strategy. You keep building up your catalog of books, improving your craft, and bringing in more fans of your work. Each book is another step in the direction of success- of making enough money from your writing to support yourself or your family. Keep reading, learning, and writing, even when you feel like you will never reach your goals. You can make it.

One Year of Blogging about Writing

I have been blogging on various subjects for the past five years (at least). But, last year, I decided to hone in my blogging to focus on writing and reading in support of my author platform. A year later, I'm still writing and blogging and enjoying it! I have found I enjoy sharing my writing journey and encouraging fellow writers on the path to publishing. The blog also serves as a landing page on the web for readers and from time to time I share short stories and chapters of my books, along with promotions for my books. However, I don't promote the blog much. But, over the past year, my readership is slowly growing which is exciting. I am nearing 100 followers on Wordpress along with over 60+ who subscribe to my monthly email updates. So thank you to who are spreading the word about this site and I hope the content helps you find a good book to read or helps you get your idea into words and on to a page.

For those who may be newer to my site, here are some of the top posts over the past year.

- Driving Home

- The End of One Chapter is the Start of a New Chapter

- Kristen's 12 Favorite Books of 2012

- The Adventures of Zelda Trailer & The Adventures of Zelda: A Pug Tale

- The Character Timeline

- Indie Author Spotlight - Joanna Penn

- Finding Redemption in Your Story

- March 2013 Book Reviews

- Indie Author Spotlight - Cole Crook

- Pug Love - 4 Life Lessons from Zelda the Pug

Thanks again for following this journey. I encourage you to pick up any of my books or follow me on twitter or facebook.

What have been your favorite posts? What topics would you like to see me write about?