4 Things My Writing Career Has Taught Me


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So, an awesome thing happened. TheLadders.com are currently running a project where they seek out specific career advice, and they asked me to share my own advice for people looking into writing as their career. I thought, sure why the heck not?!

I’m still pretty new to my writing career, even though I’ve been blogging for four years and writing fiction for over ten; I have SO MUCH to learn! However, here are a few big things I have learned.

1. Helpful criticism is your best friend.

Everybody thinks they know this, but it’s another thing to have your work returned to you with more than just a few glowing remarks on your genius. Generally, unless they’re anonymous internet trolls, people simply want to be honest. If you’ve asked specific people for their feedback, trust that they’re wanting to help you. Even if you don’t change or do every single thing people suggest, it is smart to hear a reader’s perspective on your work.

I learned several years ago that my writing improved when I swallowed my pride and listened to the feedback people had to give. If you can take helpful criticism, you and your writing will improve quicker than if you didn’t.

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2. Go out of your way to learn more about writing.

I’ve exhausted my library’s creative writing section for a couple of months now, looking for books that talk about building characters, plots, worlds, grammar, story flow, ect. On can learn so much from doing this, especially if you’re going out of your way to find. Finding online articles about writing strong and better is even more convenient! Find anything that could expand my knowledge as a writer and give it a try.

I’m currently reading six different books on writing at the moment and they’ve already changed the way I view my craft. I strongly suggest all writers should learn from others shared mistakes and success to see what might help your individual needs and weaknesses as a writer.

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3. Unless you dare to try or to take risks, nothing will happen.

To be a writer is to take risks, to move forward when you want to move backward, to be open, to be insecure, to have gnawed finger nails. I hit these crossroads a couple of years ago myself. I discovered a platform for self-publishing but became scared people wouldn’t like what I wanted to publish; that it stunk; even worse, that people wouldn’t be interested to even try reading it. I saw two choices: keep rewriting till the story turned to mush out of fear that my work wasn’t good enough… OR take a risk to move past my insecurities and publish despite my inner voice of doom.

I realized that if I didn’t at least try I would never know either way if my work was good or bad. So in the end I hit publish and the response to my first short story was encouraging and kind: And people wanted more of it! I’m always thankfully I took that jump because it has led some wonderful success!

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4. WRITE. Everybody says this, but that’s because it’s important.

I don’t care what you write, but the more you write the better you get. This is the simplest piece of advice I’ve learned yet and hopefully most of you seriously considering writing already know and do this as often as possible.

These some the most valuable lessons that I’ve learned the past four or five years. If a writer’s career is the life for you, well, welcome aboard. Tighten your seat belts since the goings usually rough…just remember that the view is worth it.

~Jamie

The Authorly Bucket List


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Well, I’m going to list a few authorly things I’m not that good at doing, and then I’m going to list a few things I’d like to try in the future. I’m suppose to keep it to about three to seven things each. 😀

Things I’m Not Very Good At:

1. PACING. This is my number one problem as far as I’m concerned–my last book was meant to span years, and it ended up spanning a week and a half. For 60,000 words. *headdesk.* I promise I’m working on it.

2. Romance. A decent romance is hard for me to write. I’ve tried and it’s always come out extremely obvious and annoying. Although I’m picking up some stuff from anime, I don’t know if I could imitate it in my writing very well yet. (This is why I’m avoiding using  romance in any of my current books.)

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3. First person POV. I’ve almost always written in third person, where I can jump into any character’s head for a second before moving to someone else… I’m not sure what you call that in authorly terms. So, I need more practice in writing from the view-point of one sole character. (Thankfully, I have some practice from all this blogging, so it’s not a completely foreign feeling. 😀 )

4. Plot threads. I’m always dropping plot threads, and that’s because I don’t “plot” very well. *headdesk*

5. Complete Endings. I’ve completed books, but I’m not often happy with how they end. I need to learn how to wrap everything together and create a cohesive ending that doesn’t rely on a sequel soon to follow.

Things I Want to Try:

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A. A memoir/self-help book. Not to be written now, but some day.

B. I’d like to tell a story from an animal’s perspective. I read several stories from this perspective when I was twelve and it’s stuck with me ever since (and why aren’t there more stories like Black Beauty?!)

C. I’d love to write a good old-fashioned chick flick–you know, girl friends, gossip, coffee houses, scandal, musician boyfriends, tears, secrets, the works! I’ve never written one before so I think it would be great fun. XD

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D. I want to write a historical supernatural mystery set in gas lamp England. I actually already have a plot: it will follow a band of professional crooks who become indebted to a mysterious foreign upperclassman–not telling other details yet. 😛 However, this story feels very vivid to me, so I can’t wait to write it!

E. Pirates. Oceans. Maps. Gold. Sword fights … Pirates.

F. I want to write something in the Slipstream genre. Weird is my middle name, after all… or at least I desperately want it to be. I think it’d be a great challenge to master on day.

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Other genres I’d love to attempt flexing my muscles in include Gothic Romance, a Cozy Mystery (makes me think of Miss Marple!) lots and lots more horror (happy to say I’ve already written a Zombie novel,) Steampunk combined with another genre still un-chosen, and Urban Fantasy among many other genres.

If you’d like to explore different genres and subgenres, check out this genre map I discovered while creating this post. It’s super cool–I spent an hour perusing and looking up book recommendations!

This writer’s tag was happily stolen with zero regret for the sheer fun of doing it. If you would like do this tag on your own blog, please help yourself immediately! 🙂

~Jamie

The Art of Characters (a link up)


So, today I’m linking up with Victoria at Stori Tori’s Blog and her link up The Art of Characters. TheArtofCharactersButtonWithText2“This link-up focuses on your characters from the outside and how your character’s description can tell a lot about your character. I’m hoping this will not only help pure writers, but also writers/artists to draw their characters more.”

This is a fantastic idea and something I should ponder on more (this month’s focus was supposed to be on couples because of Valentine’s but I failed to see how to make that work, so I’m not doing that part.) I’ll be using my new main character (still going with the temporary name Zoe) to fill this out; I’m curious to my own answers. XD

(I do not have any images my character.)

1.) What does your character’s eye, skin, and hair color tell about him/her? Within the world of Immersed, a Multi-Player Fantasy Role-Playing Virtual Reality Game, my main character, after nearly choosing the human race, chooses to play in the avatar of a demon. (Demons have purple skin with unique black patterned splotches and black hair, along with a tail and cloven feet. No horns.) Zoe think she’s being unique by choosing an avatar that’s not human, but she’s not as original as she thinks she is.  I have not really decided on Zoe’s features outside the game–she is only described as her avatar.

2.) What does your character’s hairstyle tell about him/her? Zoe’s female demon avatar has black full hair that reaches past her shoulders. When she first enters the game, she wears it loose but as she becomes serious about dungeon crawling, she pulls it back (or will wear it under a helmet.) I haven’t put too much thought into anything beyond that.

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3.) What does your character’s default outfit tell about him/her? I actually haven’t created Zoe’s default outfit yet, she’s still in the basic garb of a new player. However, since she can and will be able to buy herself armor, charms, and an identifying outfit, I’ll be able to bring out her personality more. What I currently know about her is that while she’s not a genius, she does know common sense and that will show with the clothing she chooses.

4.) Does he/she have an object(s) he/she carries around a lot? She has a trademark tiny dagger that delivers more harm against monsters than it’s meant to and she carries a small trinket with her as a good luck charm, even though it’s not technically a “charm” from the game’s data base. It was given to her by a merchant on her first day within Immersed.

5.) Does he/she have any particular scars or birthmarks? Generally, once healed, avatars don’t keep scars from previous battles. However, on Zoe’s real body, she has a small scar on her thumb where a rose thorn stabbed her when she was 14.

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6.) Does he/she have any piercings or tattoos? In both reality and virtual reality, she has pierced ears. You can get tattoos in the game, but she does not have any.

7.) How does he/she carry themselves? Shoulders back? Eye contact? Eyes down? Slumped shoulders? Zoe is about eighteen (Can you believe I have not pegged down an official age and name for a main character yet?!) so she sees herself at prime of her youth; she has bright eyes, straight shoulders and a quirk of curiosity to her step.

8.) What is his/her default expression? Smiling? Frowning? Solemn? She has an inquisitive, curious facial expression. She’s not completely trusting of everyone she meets or sees, but she’s intrigued about virtual reality, and her curiosity comes across through her face.

9.) Does he/she wear make-up or face paint? She does not wear either in virtual reality, but in her real life she sometimes wears mascara and lip gloss.

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I like the snake-ish helmet here…

10.) Does his/her physical appearance change at any time? For example: If they have a power do their eyes glow or hair turn blue? When she executes magic that is only used by the demon race, her eyes flash a soft blue gleam. However, her body doesn’t really react to other magical powers or skills–at least, not that I have developed, but this is something I should come up for other characters.

Bonus: Does the character change his/her appearance to impress the love interest? Currently, I’m not planning on giving Zoe a love interest. I choose this because I think fantasy and sci-fi books use the “in love” symptom between the female lead and a male presence too often as motivation or tension, and I want to try something completely different!

I really appreciated this link up, it’s definitely given me a better idea of my character and different aspects of her two lives that I can use throughout the story! Thanks for reading! 🙂

~Jamie

To-Read: Part 1 || Topic: Creative Writing


I haven’t done a list in a while, so I thought I might as well blog this year’s To-Read lists. XD Currently, I have each of these books borrowed from the library and am peeking into each of them–so this list is something of an impressions post. I think it would be handy to record my thoughts on them, since I won’t be able to read them all at once.

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Bullies Bast#rds & B#tches: How to Write the Bad Guys of Fiction by Jessica Page Morrell. This looks like a good read, with certain chapters covering the different types of villains. While I think I need more help writing compelling, realistic heroes (more practice, is more like it,) it never hurts to learn more on the baddie topic. They can also be tougher to write.

Crafting Novels & Short Stories from the editors of the Writer’s Digest. THIS book looks like one I might personally buy just so I can underline and dog tag pages. Just from the Getting Started intro I wanted to mark up a dozen different lines. It looks sharp, smart, and to-the-point. Definitely high at the top of the list to read!

Pep Talks, Warnings & Screeds: Indispensable Wisdom and Cautionary Advice for Writers by George Singleton. This one looks awesome. Everything is in short paragraphs which are quick to read and to-the-point. Some of them are like fortune cookies–I like honest writing advice in this format. There are also cute pictures dashed in too. I wouldn’t be surprised if this one became a “want-to-buy” as well.

The Daily Writer: 366 Meditations to Cultivate a Productive and Meaningful Writing Life by Fred White. I’ve actually borrowed this about four years ago so it feels pretty new to me, lol. There’s a page for each day with a prompt at the bottom. I love the cover and the layout and the diverse topics for reading. Another possible “must buy”.

The Pocket Muse and The Pocket Muse: Endless Inspiration by Monica Wood. I LOVE. THESE. BOOKS. Their pretty small but are bursting with inspiration. Between each cover they’re filled with images and prompts set up in unique ways to inspire a creative spark! I own “Endless Inspiration” but I think I’ll need to get the rest of the series too! (Not pictured.)

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Writing: A User Manual by David Hewson. Already sent this one back, but I think once I get through some of the others I’ll come back to it…looked a little like dull reading, but who knows for sure. XD

Word Hero: A Fiendishly Clever Guide to Crafting the Lines that get Laughs, go Viral and Live Forever by Jay Heinrichs. Full of colorful words that aren’t too ridiculous, this book is exactly as it says it is: how to use words in a memorable way! I look forward to reading through this one to widen my vocabulary and use those words well! I have high hopes for this one!

Writing Monsters: How to Craft Believably Terrifying Creatures to Enhance Your Horror, Fantasy, and Science Fiction by Philip Athans. I’ve read the foreword, intro, and the first chapter, and the author seems to have a great perspective of what exactly a monster is or can be, so I have very high hopes for this book. I love that in the beginning there’s a section for filling out details for your monster, immediately equipping me as a writer! This book looks fantastic, and I’ll be reading through this one first as I need monster ideas and tips for my video game novel.

Write Starts: Prompts, Quotes and Exercises to Jumpstart Your Creativity by Hal Zina Bennett. I actually own this one already, I ordered it on Amazon to reach the free shipping level, lol. More short chapters with neat exercises and prompts! I hope to get some good creativity spurts out of this one!

Writing 21st Century Fiction: High Impact Techniques For exceptional Storytelling by Donald Maass. The title itself made me pull it off the shelf. Sometimes certain how-to-write/publish books are becoming dated as the style of storytelling changes, so I like to find a book that’s aware of the times. Hopefully it will be worth the time to peruse through the pages.

That’s the end of part 1 (yes, I have a second stack of books just from the creative writing section.) Have any of you read/used books on writing, prompts or publishing that were helpful? If you do/don’t read these types of books, why or why not?

~Jamie

Beautiful People: Author Edition


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One of the things I didn’t include on my bucket list but want to do, is to be more active on the blogosphere. This includes joining blog parties and link ups of interest; its such a great way to find more people with similar interests!

So, today I’m joining the Beautiful People: Author Edition by Cait and Sky!

How many years have you been writing? When did you officially consider yourself a ‘writer’?

I’m 20 years old, and I wrote my first story when I was 7! I considered myself a ‘writer’ a little after that, with my mom’s encouragement—so I’ve considered myself a ‘writer’ since the beginning!

How/why did you start writing?

I started writing stories because I was learning how to type properly at the same time, so it was good practice for my little hands. I loved writing fiction so much that I just kept doing it!

What’s your favorite part of writing?

The story-telling, the adventure of giving a character an exciting life. I didn’t do that many exciting things as a kid, so I’d compensate by making up ridiculous stories for my characters, and live through them. Now that I’m older, another favorite part is the challenge of writing because writing actually isn’t always a walk in the park! It takes diligence, self-control, and oftentimes hard work to write a good story. I like to look back at challenges and know that I was able to meet them!

What’s your biggest writing struggle?

Editing and plot flow. So hard. Must fix. Soon.

Do you write best at night or day?

Usually I do better during the evening and night… not sure why. I guess I’m a bit of a night owl. 😛

What does your writing space look like? (Feel free to show us pictures!)

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Here it is! I have a small desk in my room where I do most of my writing/blogging/online reading. I’m about to get a new computer chair but otherwise, this is how it usually looks! I like putting up fun things up on my white board–magnets, Disney trading cards, stuff from friends! I write reminders there, too, so I don’t forget things, Lol!

How long does it typically take you to write a complete draft?

Oh, honey, it totally depends on the project. It’s different every single time, so I can’t even give you a guess!

How many projects do you work on at once?

It depends; I’m usually spontaneous and random, so sometimes I can have three different stories started at once. Other times, I will zone in one particular project and only work on it for a year. It really depends on what type of story it is, what mood I’m in, and if the words are flowing or not.

Do you prefer writing happy endings, sad ones, or somewhere in between?

I can do ‘happy endings’ to ‘somewhere in between’. I’m a pretty chirpy person, so I like my stories and characters to have chirpy endings too. I think of all the books I’ve written, I’ve only ended one sadly, and it affected me so much that I dropped that series for four years! True story!

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List a few authors who’ve influenced your writing journey.

Donald J. Sobol, Arthur Conan Doyle, Roald Dahl, Robert Louis Stevenson. Thank you so much, sirs.

Do you let people read your writing? Why or why not?

I’ve almost always had my writings read by somebody; the past two years have been the first where I’ve kept my work pretty private. When I was younger, I would read my stories aloud to my sister, and she still reminisces them, which makes me so happy (and surprised, because I didn’t think they made that much of an impact on her, but she talks about my characters like they are old companions! *fuzzy feelings*) I need to get back to letting someone I trust read my work, though!

What’s your ultimate writing goal or dream?

That my published books be well-known and well-loved by many people!

If you didn’t write, what would you want to do?

This is actually a really scary question! I can’t imagine my life without my writing! What the heck would I be doing now???? I honestly have no answer to this question.

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Do you have a book you’d like to write one day but don’t feel you’re ready to attempt it yet? 

Yes; one day I want to write a self-help book that talks about recovering from spiritual and emotional abuse for fellow Christians. My life’s story has so far been about the struggle of leaving behind poisonous thinking masked as “Biblical” and “Godly”. I’d love to tell my family’s journey that hopefully could help others who trapped in spiritual abuse. I am not at all ready to write it though, I’m still learning myself, but maybe one day in the future I will be!

Which story has your heart and won’t let go?

Probably my Tiger Series I started when I was 12, which followed a group of teenagers’ wild adventures as detectives. After 8 years, I made a noble attempt of putting the story to rest during 2014 NaNoWriMo with an alternate fantasy ending; however, the characters and their symbolic Tiger name are so tattooed on my heart that I’m sure they’ll stay alive in my head for the rest of my life. They are my best friends and I’m so glad writing gave them to me. ❤

~Jamie