Take Six: with YOU

photo by fensterbme

Therese here. This is Donald Maass’s usual posting day, but because he is still contending with the aftereffects of Hurricane Sandy, he asked to use this time for recovery and catch-up at home and work. (I told him we’d forgive him, and sent our collective best!)

Before I introduce today’s spin, I thought I’d point to a few posts you may have missed during the height of Sandy preparations:

So because this is essentially a free day here at WU, I’d like to do something we’ve only done once before in our nearly seven online years: turn the floor over to you by asking you a few questions. Are you game? Here goes:


  1. What do you write and how long have you been working on your current project?
  2. What keeps you going on a bad writing day? OR How do you combat or prevent writer’s block?
  3. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received or read about the writing life?
  4. Do you have a blog or website? [link share] What sets it apart from other sites? What is your angle?
  5. Twitter and Facebook: are you there? [ID share] How do you use each of these sites? (Me, I am much more professional on Twitter, much more personal on Facebook.)
  6. What do you wish you better understood about any aspect of the craft or business of writing? OR What do you wish you’d see more of here on WU?

As I tell my interviewees, please pick and choose what you’d like to answer and leave the rest. You can answer by numbers in comments. Looking forward to reading through what you all have been up to! Write on.



Writer Unboxed began as a collaboration between aspiring novelists Therese Walsh and Kathleen Bolton in January, 2006. Since then the site has grown to include ~40 regular contributors--including bestselling authors and industry leaders--and frequent guests. You can follow Writer Unboxed on Twitter, or join our thriving Facebook community.


  1. says

    1. I write fantasy//science-fiction novels with a primary focus on fantasy. I’ve been working on my current project for approximately six months.

    3. The best advice I’ve ever received on writing is this, “Write as much as possible and read more than you write.”

    4. http://lmsherwin.com // My website is a place to showcase my novels, but it is also a blog focused on writing and reading. I review books, showcase other bloggers when I can, and participate in events.

    5. @LM_Sherwin (Twitter), https://www.facebook.com/L.M.SherwinBooks (Facebook). I use both to connect with readers and fellow writers. I’m fairly professional on both, but I like to have bits of fun every now and then. ;-)

    6. I LOVE Writer Unboxed!!! I do love all of the posts about editing, polishing, and rewriting, though. I am most challenged by those aspects of the writing craft.

  2. says

    1) I write Women’s and YA fiction. I’ve been writing my current project for about 2 months.

    2) Just keep writing. I try to write new material for at least 15 minutes a day. So on a bad day, I’ll get at least that much writing time.

    3) Develop a daily writing and reading practice. Write, write, write. Read, read, read.

    4) Yes – The Author-In-Training (http://www.miekezmackay.com) – Every Sunday, I put up photos that I encourage people to use for inspiration for writing prompts. Occassionally, I do author interviews focused in the inspiration and creative process.

    5) Twitter – MZMackay– for my creative pursuits. I keep my Facebook private as it’s mostly family and friends from home.

    6) While I’m not yet ready for this phase of the process, I wish I understood better the business aspect of publishing.

  3. says

    What a fun and unusual day at WU! I like it. :)

    1. What do you write and how long have you been working on your current project?

    Fiction, mostly. Been working on my current (YA) manuscript for about 2 years.

    2. What keeps you going on a bad writing day? OR How do you combat or prevent writer’s block?

    I don’t think I’m usually *blocked* so much as just … unfocused. “Butt in chair” tends to be the best remedy. Also, a small dose of guilt (but too much is positively toxic!).

    3. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received or read about the writing life?

    Honestly? It’s all good, AND it’s all bad. Lol. You have to take it all in, let it settle around you, and then figure out what works and toss the rest.

    4. Do you have a blog or website? [link share] What sets it apart from other sites? What is your angle?

    http://kristanhoffman.com/ – What sets it apart? That it’s my life, my journey, my words, my lens. I’m not trying to reinvent any wheels, but to me, the best thing about *community* is that we share our individual perspectives of our *common ground*.

    5. Twitter and Facebook: are you there? [ID share] How do you use each of these sites? (Me, I am much more professional on Twitter, much more personal on Facebook.)

    Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Kristan-Hoffman/106872616014743
    Twitter: http://twitter.com/kristanhoffman

    I use Twitter more “breezily,” but I try to connect in a genuine way via both.

    6. What do you wish you better understood about any aspect of the craft or business of writing? OR What do you wish you’d see more of here on WU?

    Ack, I don’t have any answers for this one! I’m pretty content, I guess. :P

  4. says

    Fun idea– I look forward to read everyone’s response!

    1. My current WIP is women’s fiction. I’ve been working on it, off and on, for almost a year.

    2. After banging my head on the computer or trying wine, I usually just begin with a sentence. Just one, then another– even if they’re horrible.

    3. Best advice: “Writers write; posers talk about writing.” – Jason and Lefcowitz

    4. blog: athoughtgrows.blogpost.com
    twitter @JulieLuek
    FB Julie Luek

    5. WU is my favorite blog and one I make sure I never miss. I love the variety of writers and input that is offered.

    All the best to Mr. Maass and others struggling in the horrible aftermath of the storm.

  5. says

    1.) I write science-fiction and historical-science-fiction. I finished my first novel two months ago, having started it about 18 months ago. Another project I’ve had with me (six years!) is historical fiction with time-travel, so you can see how I jump genres quite a bit.

    2.) What helps me keep writing is sitting down first thing in the morning when the brain is still fresh and committing myself to my characters before the day explodes around me.

    3.) I’m not the first and won’t be last to say that reading ravenously is the best advice I’ve received. I consider it part of my “homework” to read a lot, absorb language, and even read books that stink (as Stephen King has said) to learn what works and what doesn’t.

    4.) http://daedalusnotes.blogspot.com/ A friend and I started this blog 4 years ago to dialogue about writing. Lately, I’ve been using it to share my collection of whimsical words.

    5.) I’m new to Twitter, but am there! (@sureysewn) I’m slowly learning to use it to gather readership for the blog. Slowly.

    6.) WU is great! I stumbled on it at exactly the right time as I’m about to search for an agent. I find WU a supportive and nurturing creative environment. Thanks so much!

  6. says

    Best wishes to Donald and everyone else coping with Sandy.

    1. I write family sagas and i am currently revising last year’s NaNo entry, Bonus Baby. I’ve been working on it the past four months.

    2. What keeps me going is my passion for writing. When I get writer’s block I try to identify the root cause and work on that.

    3. Two pieces of advice stick with me: learn the craft and keep writing.

    4. My blog, A New Fiction Writers Forum, is at http://www.cgblake.wordpress.com. My original focus was to help novice writers, but I am trying to develop more content to attract readers (book reviews, author spotlights).

    I really enjoy WU. It is a warm and welcoming online community. Keep up the great work.

    • says

      Ha! Bonus baby is what I call my second son! We didn’t think we’d have the first, and so the second was definitely a bonus! Now I’m curious as to what your story is about. :)

  7. says

    1. I write women’s fiction and suspense. Just starting a new project now, and trying to improve on the six to nine months it apparently takes me to write a respectable first draft.

    2. Writing is my job. If it’s a work day (i.e. kid is at school), I just do it.

    3. Read a lot.

    4. http://thelittlegrape.blogspot.com (blog)
    http://maripassanantibooks.com (site)

    5. Writer Unboxed and Beyond the Margins

    6. I feel like my understanding of distribution (how those decisions gets made, timing, the window for success) is awfully rudimentary.

  8. says

    I’m writing a contemporary fantasy/action-adventure novel. I’ve been working on my current novel Miasma for several years.

    Dealing with writer’s block: Though a lot is made out to write everyday, I think it’s just as important to take breaks and recharge the creative batteries. Many years ago, I managed to burn myself out because I didn’t do that. It took two years before I was able to write again.

    My blog link is below. My “angle” is Soldier, Storyteller. I was a female soldier during the first Persian Gulf War, when it was new and strange for women to deploy. Few vets talk about their experiences, and even fewer enlisted, and even fewer women. My novel has the first female soldier in her country, and two stories being published in the coming months also have female soldiers.

    Twitter: I’m at LindaAdamsVA. I’m still trying to figure out what to do with Twitter.

    What do you wish you better understood about any aspect of the craft or business of writing? OR What do you wish you’d see more of here on WU?

    Omniscient viewpoint. It’s neglected viewpoint, and most of what I’ve seen tends to be written by people who doesn’t understand what it is or how it works. It’s also often followed by, “It’s hard! Don’t use it!” — something that makes the former soldier in me angry. We would never tell our squad leader we can’t accomplish the mission — we’d find a way.

  9. says

    What do you write and how long have you been working on your current project?

    I write YA fiction. My current WIP is a southern gothic with elements of magical realism, and I’ve been working on it for about eight months.

    What keeps you going on a bad writing day? OR How do you combat or prevent writer’s block?

    I try to write every day. Even if I don’t want to. Even if it’s just notes about what I’m going to write or revise. Thinking is writing, but only if it is targeted. When I’m stuck, I like to use a trick I learned from fantasy writer Bruce Coville–make a list of twenty what if’s. The first five or six are likely to be the ideas that almost everyone could think of, and using them would make your story unlikely to be original enough for publication. As you get deeper into the list, the more creative stuff starts to happen. And one last tip, never underestimate the power of the subconscious! I force myself to stay in bed an extra fifteen minutes every morning and just think about my story, where I am and what needs to happen. When I get up, I’m energized.

    What’s the best advice you’ve ever received or read about the writing life?

    You can’t force things to happen. Publishing today isn’t about you. It’s about writing the right book and the right time and getting it to the right person — and also about being ready to take advantage of the opportunities when they present themselves. That’s where the craft and the learning fit in. The wonderful support you can get online is a huge part of surviving the process.

    Do you have a blog or website? [link share] What sets it apart from other sites? What is your angle?

    I run Adventures in YA Publishing, which features a lot of YA books and authors sharing information about craft and the advice that most helped them make the transition from writer to author. We do a lot of book giveaways, publish craft posts that are targeted to ALL writers, not just children’s writers, and do a monthly month-long free First Five Pages Workshop guest mentored by a different published author, anyone from award winning Sarah Ockler, to debut sensation Kat Zhang, to NYTimes Bestselling Nancy Holder. Stop by! We’d love to see you!

    Twitter and Facebook: are you there? [ID share] How do you use each of these sites? (Me, I am much more professional on Twitter, much more personal on Facebook.)

    I don’t Facebook as much, but I tweet a lot of blog posts on craft, inspiration, industry news, writing tips, pub tips, agent wants, etc — for all writers, not just YA, as it turns out.


    What do you wish you better understood about any aspect of the craft or business of writing? OR What do you wish you’d see more of here on WU?

    I love WU! The posts are always professional, always informative and actionable. And I never have a wish list for what I want to read about craft. A lot of learning happens when you are ready to learn something. Before that, you can read it twenty times and think you understand without really getting it. I read as many craft books and blog posts as I can find time to squeeze in.

  10. says

    I’m with Chris, wanting to send well-wishes to Donald and all who were affected by Sandy. I encourage everyone to donate generously to the Red Cross or your favorite related charity.

    1. I write epic historical fantasy. I’m seeking publication for a trilogy and a stand-alone ms in the same world. I think I’ve got everyone here beat (so far) as I have been working on the series for nine years (this month, in fact).

    2. Community keeps me going on bad days (and my community is rooted right here at WU). Knowing others struggle, commiserating with my fellows, feeling their support and faith in me, has sustained me through many a rough patch.

    3. One of the only writing books I read before I finished my first draft of book one was The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield. After many years of mulling over writing (and no small amount of hand-wringing over the viability of it, or whether I would be taken seriously, or whether I was nuts to even think I was qualified to try), reading Pressfield gave me the kick in the pants to do it. On the last page of WoA, he writes: “Are you a born writer?… In the end the question can only be answered by action… Do it or don’t do it.” I decided to do it.

    4. Website and blog, both fairly new. I try to keep the blog posts relating to writing and epic fantasy, but I’m still finding my way.

    5. I have a presence on Twitter, but I agree with Therese, tend to keep it more professional. I’m not there as much as perhaps I should be. Most of my close writing contacts are on facebook. I think I spend more time there because of the WU fb group (for those who don’t know, I’m a moderator, and I love hanging with our tribe there).

    6. Can’t think of a single thing I would change about WU. This is not just my writing home-base–it’s my writerly home. Thanks to Therese and Kath for making it so.

  11. says

    I’m a full-time writer publishing under a half a dozen names in both fiction & non-fiction, I write plays, articles, short stories, and provide a wide variety of business writing and editing services for an international client base.

    I just sent in the second book of my Jain Lazarus series to my editor for a final going-over, and am working to finish and submit the third book in the next couple of weeks. Books 4-7 are in outline, and I’m juggling two other novel projects, a play, and a series of articles.

    I don’t have the luxury of writer’s block. If I don’t show up at the page every day and meet my deadlines, I can’t pay the bills and keep a roof over my head. On the bad days, I either take a break and take a walk (Cape Cod hast lots of inspiration), or I simply push through. Often, the best work comes through on the worst days, when you just persevere.

    Best advice: No excuses. Put your butt in the chair and write.

    Blog/websites: My main blog is INK IN MY COFFEE (http://devonellington.wordpress.com). It focuses on the ups and downs of the freelance writing life. I have some sister blogs, including one where a supporting character in the Jain Lazarus series, a fan favorite, blogs. My main website is http://www.devonellingtonwork.com, my freelance site (undergoing re-design) is http://www.fearlessink.com, and my tarot/esoteric site (also undergoing a freshening) is http://www.cerridwenscottage.com.

    I’m not a fan of Facebook; it doesn’t really work for me, and I don’t use it much. On Twitter, I’m @DevonEllington. I love the conversations and the answers to questions I get there. I’ve also landed some of my highest-paying gigs from people who found me on Twitter.

    I’d like to see more on integrative marketing — not just “platform”, but how to integrate positive marketing techniques into gentle networking, so one doesn’t come across as only trying to sell something or as desperate. I don’t know if there’s such a thing as “organic marketing”, but something that doesn’t feel like a hard sales pitch OR an underhanded tactic.



  12. says

    Thanks for this opportunity.

    1) I’m currently editing my women’s fiction WIP. I’ve been working on it off and on for two years.

    2) When I’m dealing with writer’s block, I usually immerse myself in a book. It’s amazing how reading can spark ideas. I use a blank sheet of paper as a bookmark so I can jot down any flashes of brilliance as they strike.

    3) The quote taped to my computer now: “Decide that you want it more than you’re afraid of it.” ~Bill Cosby. Works for writing and life.

    4) Blog: http://vinobaby.blogspot.com Vinobaby’s Voice—writer, wino, soccer mom, smarty pants. My blog does not target other writers, but speaks more to my target audience (if, no when, I am published). I cover everything from book reviews to recipes and write about whatever works me up or brings me joy.

    5) Twitter: https://twitter.com/Vinobaby1
    Facebook: Kerry Morgan and http://www.facebook.com/pages/Vinobabys-Voice/161003207282858

    I’ve been known to get lippy on twitter, but I have far more writing connections there.

    6) LOVE WU. What I’d like to learn more about is how to make real connections with other writers, how to find real beta readers who read and write in my genre (women’s fiction), and how to connect with an honest critique group.

    I’m reading Donald Maass’s Breakout Novelist now. My heart and thoughts go out to him and everyone dealing with Sandy.

  13. says

    Enjoying all these so far.
    I’m working on a middle grade book series on the biblical story of David and Saul. I finished book 1 in March (after 14 months) and am working on #2. I’ve been writing with the desire for publication for 10 years, but it was romance before.

    If I’m not writing as much as I could/know I should, I analyze the living daylights out of it until I hit on my problem, and then move ahead. If I’m discouraged, I whine on the WU FB page and the lovely people there get me going again :-)

    Best writing advice? Almost anything Barbara O’Neal, Donald Maass, and Stephen Pressfield say. But generally, along the lines of “just do it,” “the only way to guarantee failure is to never try.”

    My blog is called “wonder,” because it’s about things I think are wonder, or that I wonder about. At the moment, it’s hosting the November writing project I’m doing instead of NaNoWriMo this year: turning an imaginative eye on biblical stories suggested to me by friends. http://nataliehart.com

    I love FB, but it’s a friend zone, not a professional zone for me. I have a Twitter handle, but I haven’t yet figured out how I want to be/what I want to use it for.

    I also love this site and the accompanying FB group. Keep going and growing and I’ll keep reading.

  14. says

    Sending good thought to Donald and his family, and all those still dealing with Sandy and now this new storm. Ugh.

    I’m enjoying reading everyone’s comments!

    1) What do you write and how long have you been working on your current project?

    I write fiction – mostly horror and/or sad, dark stuff – in all its forms, from micro to flash to novels.

    3) What’s the best advice you’ve ever received or read about the writing life?

    This quote from Stephen King: Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.

    4) Do you have a blog or website? [link share] What sets it apart from other sites? What is your angle?

    I have a blog – link below! – where I talk about reading, writing, and…tortoises. :) I also do a Motivational Monday post every week which I hope inspires others. (I know it helps me!)

    6) What do you wish you better understood about any aspect of the craft or business of writing? OR What do you wish you’d see more of here on WU?

    I am just so glad I found WU when I did. The variety of the posts and the information and inspiration presented here is phenomenal. Thank you!

  15. says

    I’m absolutely loving reading about everyone whose name I recognize here. This is such a fun idea – thank you!

    My own answers are:
    1. I call what I write urban fantasy, but always feel like I’m lying a little, because it doesn’t have the whole Laurell K. Hamilton thing going on. It’s a dual-world witch story and I’m in the process of final editing before self-publishing. It’s taken me about 2.5 years.

    2. My real life keeps me coming back to writing. It’s helpful to disappear into a creative world when I’m dealing with icky stuff in real life. Also, I combat writers block with lists. They seem to get my brain organized and clicking.

    3. Best advice: not for everyone, but write everyday has been a life-saver.

    4. My blog is called Motivation for Creation because I try to write posts about motivation/goal creation/optimistism/success most of the time. I sometimes write about writerly issues, too.

    5. I love twitter, but haven’t been on it as much since summer (@LASbauer) and I love facebook, but only have my personal page. I like new writer friends there, too, though! Twitter is all professional, where I share writerly posts, and science, sci/fi and fantasy information that interests me.

    6. I think WU does a great job with sharing diverse information. I can’t think of anything that’s missing. You guys are great!!

  16. says

    1) I write novels–my first one, The Memory Thief, was released by Ballantine in August 2012, so I’m pretty new at this game! Before coming to the world of novel-writing, though, I’ve edited for small presses & magazines, written articles for magazines, newsletters and websites, and written all kinds of marketing copy and grants for the nonprofit where I work, DREAMS of Wilmington (we provide free, multidisciplinary arts programming for youth in need).

    Right now I’m hard at work on Book 2, tentatively entitled The Future Behind Me. I feel about it exactly the way Therese described in yesterday’s post–and am so glad to have her perspective! I feel like I’ve been working on it forever, mostly because when I wrote The Memory Thief, even though I was busy freelancing and going to graduate school, I was working from home–so my time was my own. I could write when I felt the most creative and shoehorn everything else in accordingly, and so I finished the first draft of the book in 9 months. Now that I am back at work full-time, it’s taken me twice that to finish the first draft of Book 2…and I don’t feel like it’s nearly as cohesive as the first book, since I’ve been interrupted so frequently during the short snatches of time I get to write.

    2) Because of my full-time job, my writerly time is very limited–so I don’t really allow myself to have a bad writing day, if that makes sense. I’m so grateful for the 20 minutes or so that I have available to write each day that I can’t afford to think too much about writer’s block when I’m actually sitting down at the computer. My sense of doubt comes later, when I revisit the story and feel like it’s not where it needs to be–or, like Therese, when I think I’ve written something magical and it turns out not to resonate with the readers whose perspective I value the most. To unstick myself, I seek fresh eyes–and I put the manuscript down for a while, listen to music, read books by other authors, and generally let my subconscious find inspiration where it will.

    4) I do have a website and a blog: http://www.emilycolin.com. Right now, I am still establishing my identity as a writer and figuring out what I want to include on my blog–do I want it to be more personal? Professional? A blend of both? Right now I am in the midst of a blog tour, so I have lots of links to giveaways, interviews, reviews, etc. But after that’s over…well, I guess we’ll see.

    5) I am on Twitter: @emilyacolin — and on Facebook: emily.colin.79.

    I know that I should have an author page and not just a personal page, but somehow I haven’t gotten around to it yet! As for how I use them, I am fairly new to Twitter and sometimes struggle with what I want to post–what would be interesting to others and worth sharing. Facebook’s easier, since I already have a community there. I am building up a group of Twitter followers though, and am trying my best to utilize it as a forum to gain professional knowledge and build community. A good example–I found Therese’s post there yesterday, via a Tweet from fellow WU member Erika Robuck–and that’s how I came to be a part of the WU group.

    6) Right now, I am all about trying to surround myself with supportive fellow writers who can better help me understand how to navigate the craft and business of writing–how to deal with plotlines that don’t quite come to fruition, how to build an audience as a debut author, how to best utilize my time and energy so I don’t get overwhelmed and discouraged. I’m so glad I found WU–it seems like the perfect place to do just that!

  17. says

    I joined this community last spring, after attending Don’s Breakout Novel Intensive workshop (operative word: intense!) last spring. BONI changed my writing life. WU has helped continue much of that growth, and I’m delighted to be a part. All best wishes to Don and his family, and the agents and staff at his firm, as well as others in the WU community post-storm.

    I write cozy mysteries. Death al Dente, first in my Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries, will debut from Berkley Prime Crime in August 2013. They’re set in a small town in NW Montana, on the way to Glacier Park, and feature Erin Murphy–a young woman with a passion for pasta, retail, and huckleberry chocolates, and an unexpected talent for investigating murder. My focus now is on book two, One Foot in the Gravy.

    I’m also a practicing lawyer and author of Books, Crooks & Counselors: How to Write Accurately About Criminal Law & Courtroom Procedure (Quill Driver Books, 2011). The biggest thrill of my writing career so far was when it won the 2011 Agatha Award for Best Nonfiction.

    My website and blog are at http://www.LawandFiction.com and http://www.LawandFiction.com/blog. Read a book excerpt or other articles for writers. Once a week, I blog on a legal topic writers can use in their work–jury service, Miranda warnings, a case with story potential.

    No website for the mysteries yet, but I blog in the voice of my characters as part of a group, on http://www.KillerCharacters.com — “where the cozy characters speak.” (My day is the 27th.) We’ll be celebrating the December holidays with book give-aways and other fun, so please drop in.

    Facebook: http://www.Facebook.com/LeslieBudewitzAuthor

    I deeply appreciate the mix of craft and business blogs here, and the amazing variety of contributors–of posts and comments. It could easily be called “Wisdom Unboxed.” :) Thanks to Therese and Kath, and all who participate.

  18. says

    I write a blog about life on the eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay, in rural Maryland. I find our region fascinating – as the crow flies, I’m only 20 minutes from our nation’s capital, yet in my rural county, I can see the milky way at night high over the Bay. My blog is about community, local, food, environment, neighbors – stories. It’s been exactly three years and I can think of ten thousand + more new entries to make. Want to add audio.

    I think we should do what we feel compelled to do, and if we’re stuck, we should move on to some other place where we’re not stuck. Life should be a flow, with ease. I’m not into beating up on self. When I’m inspired, wild horses couldn’t keep me away from the keyboard. I’m willing to hang around nearby, knowing that when that urge hits, I’m all over it. Until then, chill and do something else. No big deal. (I can say this because I’ve given up struggling and worrying. I’m over 50. It gets easier.)

    http://www.chesapeakejournal.com – I think it’s different because it’s broad about life and yet super hyper-local as well. I love it because it’s about all of my friends and the places and things I love. (#cheapdate)

    Twitter and facebook YES – @kathybosin, Kathy Bosin. Friend me. I heard on twitter just yesterday that social media is the big new superhighway that millions are walking on and that rings true. Even my 83 year old father said, when packing up to go home after evacuating to our house during Hurricane Sandy, “wow. Who knew the best and fastest hurricane news would come over facebook?” Indeed – who knew? This will only grow. It’s super cool.

    I like learning and thinking about things like creativity and inspiration. And on that topic, I’ll plug a very cool weekly email called “brain pickings weekly” – it comes out on Sundays and I munch on every single word. Go ahead, google it and sign up!

    Thank you for asking us to share. Keep up the great content!

  19. says

    Therese, thanks for giving us a chance to “be interviewed” :-) Also, sending positive thoughts to East-Coasters still dealing with Sandy; hang in there!

    (1) My muse seems to enjoy metaphysical Love stories, but isn’t afraid to scary it up a bit! UNBOUND, based loosely around Shelley’s poem, turned out to be an allegorical novel full of elements of horror, sensuality, and (traditional) Gothic sensibilities, with non-dogmatic religious overtones. It’s impossible to describe concisely; this has been a problem! But she made my First Readers very happy (if shaken LOL), and that’s been my primary objective. I worked 10-18 hours a day on it from 2001-2006 but only made a few queries, being pretty put-off by the whole process. Preparing to go Kindle, at this point, just to ensure that I get the story out. Life’s too uncertain to wait any longer.

    (2) I refuse to acknowledge writer’s block, and never have had to deal with it. I’ve always kept a shoe-box full of scribbled ideas and notes and dive into it whenever I don’t know what to do. I never became blocked writing UNBOUND, as I kept the lines of communication open, always. If you sit there, it will come xD

    (3-a) Stephen King’s On Writing was the best “advice” book I read on the craft. Not only did it help, but portrayed the adversity and willingness to pursue it in a way that really resonated with me, and has helped me through these very difficult times. I was also happy to read that I’d been following his suggestions during the course of my own writing, and that was very encouraging. Sol Stein’s books (On Writing/Grow a Novel) were also invaluable.

    (3-b) Not exactly on writing, but for writers, who famously are such solitary creatures, who need help in convincing friends and family that we aren’t so weird after all, is Anneli Rufus’ wonderful “Party of One; A Loner’s Manifesto”. It will shore you up, and better, help THEM understand US :-)

    (4) My website http://unbound.org/ exists to explain myself and my novel to Visitors, neither of which I like to do very much, but it’s so necessary these days. Especially with me, as I’m a natural Romantic, a non-conformist, and an unapologetic idealist, and so difficult to “get”. So I explain with a vengeance, you might say, in an effort to make it easier. To be honest, most of my traffic comes from its anime-focused Blog, Alastor’s Reflection. But *everything* exists for the Story and its promotional purposes, and finding a way through the barriers. This is essentially bare-knuckles brawling ;-)

    (5) I’m on both Twitter (@UnboundAngel) and Facebook, fairly casually. I don’t like posing or pretending to be “professional” when I’m clearly not (yet), so I’m me. At all times. I feel I’m living life more honestly that way, and you get the real deal xD And I’m very happy with the recent writerly friends on both services that I’ve gained, and finally feel connected with a like-minded community.

    (6) I’m happy with what I know about writing (I’ve been doing so since 11) and especially the nurturing and kindly community here at WU, but the “industry”… don’t get me started! Too much anger, resentment and hostility regarding all the hoops, obstacles, and endless negativity and doubt; the odds against. So I (try to) keep my mouth shut, and observe, listen and learn. I’d say I wish I understood more about it but now I’m just waiting for the fallout to settle to see what I need to understand next! I just want to publish my Story, and have my Readers read it. That should be all we need to understand, and all we need to do :-)

    Best wishes to everyone and good luck in your endeavors!

  20. says

    Yes! He must take all the time he needs to recover. That’s way more important than blogging!

    Free-for-alls are fun. Here is my contribution!

    1. I write science fiction and fantasy (mostly the former). I like to incorporate religious elements into my work because the interplay between science and faith really fascinates me. I’m recently started a rewrite of a book I finished a year and a half ago, so it seems like I’ve been working on it for a long time. However, I wrote two drafts of a different novel and wrote/revised several shorter things in that time, so it hasn’t been continuous work on this project.

    2. Determination to get it done gets me through the bad/writer’s block days. Sometimes I want to power through just so I can get to a scene I want to write. If the day is bad enough, I will revise my outline (which is usually pretty extensive) or a prior scene, or work on a different story.

    3. The best advice I’ve ever received about writing was that you have to do it in a regular and disciplined fashion, not just when you feel “inspired”. Learning to write regularly makes you more productive in the long run and helps you combat mental and emotional blocks.

    4. I do have a blog! (Linked below) Still working on that angle thing. I’m not published, so I feel like another fish in the sea of amateurs. I do write about libraries a lot, since I work in one, and would love to answer questions about doing research for writing, etc.

    5. I do plan to get a Twitter (besides my personal account for a few friends). I’d feel silly with a Facebook fan page of any kind just because I have nothing to sell yet.

    6. I think I understand worldbuilding OK, but I still want to learn to better incorporate it into early drafts without infodumping. A lot of my world gets added or clarified in the rewrites.

  21. says

    Urban fantasy and science fiction is where I’ve made my bed, and I’ve been slam dancing with my current project for about 26 months.

    I haven’t experienced writer’s block since 1993; instead, I have horrific editing days, because when the pen constipation tries to attack I pop an ex-lax and let the crap flow. Unfortunately it leads to editing out of the anus, which is not my forte, but I’m learning.

    Write first; polish later has been the best advice I’ve received.

    I’m new to the world of writing and blogging


    so I stuck a huge eye on the front page and coupled it with a subtle phrase “Bringing the Mind’s Eye to Life.” Did I just verb the noun?

    https://twitter.com/BKnovelist page and http://www.facebook.com/BKnovelist page

    is used to build my internet presence.

    For now, I desire to understand the craft more than the business, because I am so new to this world. Grammar is definitely an area I want to fuse to my cerebellum, but most of all, I want to grip the minds of readers, and steer their thoughts and emotions to wherever my sick cognition fancies. But I’m not quite there yet.

    Right now, I love Writer Unboxed as is. WU kicks assets. There are so many well-known people here. I’m feeling giddy just thinking about it.

  22. says

    My best advice always seems to be changing. What has taken me through my most recent manuscript was something a friend heard from author Elizabeth Bear: Learn to write THIS book.

    It’s a very freeing reminder that there are no specific rules in approaching our work (something this rule follower needs to hear from time to time).

  23. says

    Fun, fun! Thanks for this opportunity, Therese, and I am sending nothing but good wishes for Donald Maass.

    1. I write historical fiction set during World War II – I’m currently working on my fifth novel. I started it in April. I also write history articles for AMERICA IN WWII magazine.

    2. Pure grit keeps me going on the bad writing days. I just had one the other day and I told myself, JUST PUSH THROUGH. It worked.

    3. Best advice comes in the form of a quote: “The beautiful part of writing is that you don’t have to get it right the first time, unlike, say, a brain surgeon.” –Robert Cormier

    4. I blog at http://www.melissamarsh.net and it’s a hodgepodge of how my writing life and personal life collide.

    5. I am on Twitter (@amateisgal) , though not sure I like it yet. FB isn’t as “public” as my blog, though I adore the Writer Unboxed community there!

    6. I wish I understood publishing contracts better, but since I am nowhere near one yet, I figure I’ll learn more about that WHEN (not if) the time comes.

  24. says

    First, thanks for asking! This is awfully kind of you. I’ll try to keep things interesting.

    1. What do you write and how long have you been working on your current project?

    I write urban fantasy and high fantasy novels. My first novel, The Black Parade, is still unpublished but I only started it in 2009 and finished it in 2010. I then revisited the manuscript and finished that in 2011. My second novel, The Starlight Contingency, was written for NaNoWriMo, and was finished in 2011. It was my first time ever writing science fiction and while it was hectic, it was definitely worth the journey. My third novel, Aeria Gloriam (working title, it will be changed), began life in May 2012 and is about 5-7 chapters away from being finished. My fourth novel, Rainbow Veins, also started in May 2012, is about 2/3rds of the way finished. So, while I’ve been writing since I was a kid, I’ve only been writing professionally since 2009.

    2. What keeps you going on a bad writing day? OR How do you combat or prevent writer’s block?

    I usually do one of two things: (1) turn on some really great music. I play the power hits that get me inspired, most prominently Golden Brown by the Stranglers, Falling Down by Oasis, Forks and Knives by Beirut, and a massive array of Blink 182. (2) Watch one of my favorite movies/cartoons that has some really great writing that’ll snap me into a good writing mood. The best way for me to break Writer’s Block is to watch/read good writing and remember why I write in the first place. That, and asking other writers for advice. It always helps to get a second pair of eyes on a problem.

    3. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received or read about the writing life?

    Michael Uslan, the producer of all of the Batman films, once gave a lecture at my university that I’ll never forget. For those who don’t know, it took nearly 20 years to greenlight the 1989 Batman film and he said to “Knock until your knuckles bleed and eventually, someone will open the door.” I use that advice when I query my novels and when I write. I know if I keep at it, eventually, I’ll get published.

    4. Do you have a blog or website? [link share] What sets it apart from other sites? What is your angle?

    Um…yes and no? I have a Tumblr (minamino.kyoko.tumblr.com) but I’m not established enough to have a professional website yet. Working on it.

    5. Twitter and Facebook: are you there? [ID share] How do you use each of these sites?

    Yes. My Twitter is @minaminokyoko and I have two Facebook pages–one for me and one for my novel (seen here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Black-Parade/161227150647087#) I tweet about personal things and writing things roughly the same amount and I made the Facebook page for my novel because eventually, it’ll be useful. Right now, it’s just for my own amusement. No one really pays much attention to it but I hope to change that one day.

    6. What do you wish you better understood about any aspect of the craft or business of writing? OR What do you wish you’d see more of here on WU?

    I really cannot find a consistent writing forum or writing community. I don’t know where to look. I’ve been trying for ages to find a new critique group since I moved and lost my last one, but I can’t find anyone to help me edit my work. None of the forums I’ve joined pay attention to me and it’s actually rather disheartening for me. I need to find a site where there is consistent help from other authors who are willing to help and contribute.

    I’d also like to be able to write a query letter that gets manuscript requests. So far, I’m still getting nothing but rejections. Yet another reason why I need to find a site that actually works.

    Thanks for asking. I hope I didn’t go on too long. Great article!

  25. says

    Thanks for the opportunity to share!

    I’m Laura Drake, and I write WF and Romance. Debut author, sold 4 novels so far – first out in May!

    I’m working on my last of a three book series – started a long time ago, but edits on other books got in the way!

    I don’t have Writer’s Block. If I’m stuck, there’s a reason. I get on my bicycle (where I do all my plotting) and it just comes to me. Magic, I’m telling you, pure magic.

    Best advice – Butt in chair. Repeat.

    Website: http:/LauraDrakeBooks
    I’m a member of Writers in the Storm, a group blog about writing craft and inspiration – check us out!

    I heart Twitter. #PBRWriter But I do hand out on FB too:

    I never miss a post here. I’d love more about the black hole you step in to, once you sell!

  26. Ben says

    1 – I write fiction, mostly character-based stuff. I’ve been working on my current book for about six years. Our son coincided with me starting it and he, combined with work, have ensured it’s taken that long. Oh and my decision to change from first-person to third-person.

    2 – Two things keep me writing on a bad day. The first is ‘what else am I going to do?’ Whether anyone deems me worthy of publishing or not, writing is the thing I love to do the most, so I have to keep going. The other is the quote from AL Kennedy about ‘unnecessary beauties’ I have on my desk. I can’t remember it all now, but will type it out when I get home.

    3 – Don’t wait for the perfect hour or moment to write. Forget about the ‘writer’s lifestyle’ – the old desk, surrounded by books etc etc. Just sit down and write.

    4 – No blog or website. Well, I do have one for another project, but it’s in cold storage while I concentrate on writing.

    5 – My twitter handle is @seldomseenben – it’s a personal account I have started to get to know other writers.

    6 – I’m relatively new to this site, but I like it so far and wouldn’t presume to tell you how to do it better yet!

    Thank you. Ben

  27. says

    I echo everyone’s good wishes for Donald Maass and others caught in the wake of Sandy.

    1. I write women’s fiction; I started my second novel back in April, and I’ve got a first draft… now I’m in serious revision/improvement mode.
    2. I agree with others that it’s not usually writer’s block but more a problem with being unfocused when I’m not getting enough writing done. My blog is called “Writing by the Numbers,” and it keeps me honest. When I was working on increasing word count, I made myself post word count updates… when they were dismal, it made me feel very guilty… and kept me honest.
    3. Best advice: My English teacher in high school was annoying but right: Be specific. Every time I feel myself speaking in the general, I narrow my scope and get down into the nitty, gritty details. I am a freelance writer, so I keep her advice in mind not only in my fiction writing but when I am working in nonfiction, too.
    4. My blog is at: http://annewoodman.wordpress.com. I blog about writing, running and life in general. Using humor keeps me on my toes: I believe a writer’s job is to entertain while telling the truth.
    5. I love WU! I think you do a great job of covering a wide range of topics. I love some of the honesty written about in recent posts… about the difficult act of waiting and what published writers do when a concept fails spectacularly. Thank you.

  28. says

    Great idea, Therese.
    1. I write women’s fiction under my “real” name, Malena Lott. My fourth novel, Something New, was just published. I also write young adult under the pen name, Lena Brown. Agent is trying to find a home for a YA series. But during NaNo I’m writing my first mystery/suspense novel, which I’m excited about. Trying to stretch myself.
    2. I don’t think I prevent writer’s block. I’ll usually give myself a break from that project and work on something else.
    3. Best advice was to keep working on the next thing. And still write while I’m promoting. I’ve found even getting a little word count in helps tremendously to my spirit. I’m sharing 5 tips for surviving the first draft today on the Girlfriends Book Club blog: http://girlfriendbooks.blogspot.com/
    4. Website is http://www.malenalott.com
    My angle for my blog on the site is creativity, zen and mojo, trying to post weekly on those topics and the latest story news.
    5. Twitter and Facebook: are you there? Twitter: (http://www.twitter.com/malenalott) I mostly RT others who are saying smart things I agree with, but also some commentary and pics from Instagram. For Facebook, I mostly use it to stay connected by commenting on others’ posts but also share links for guest blog appearances and use my author page (http://www.facebook.com/malenalottbooks) to engage with readers and share book stuff.
    6. Well, like everyone else I wish I had a magical formula for book sales that worked. And I’m a marketer by trade, so I don’t take that lightly. I try to read WU every day or as often as I can. Keep it comin’.
    Thank you!

  29. Denise Willson says

    Goodness, I’ve got to this a day late, sorry. Love reading these and getting to know everyone though!

    My name is Denise and I’m an alcoh- joking. I write Paranormal Romance. My books have spunk, bordering suspense, but they always lead with the LOVE. I’ve just finished polishing my query and sysnopsis for my latest ms, A Keeper’s Truth. I’ve been editing AKT for over three years, with a few breaks to write other novels, articles, and short stories. I’m anxious to get it ‘out there’ so I can dive into my next project, GOT: Gift of Travel.

    I must admit, my characters keep me in the chair. They won’t settle for a slacker. I’ve never experienced writer’s block, happy to say. I usually have more ideas than I have time to write, or notebooks to note them in.

    Best advice…hmm…so many to choose from…. I don’t remember who said it, but the idea was OWN IT. You’ve written a book, you’re a writer, period. Published, not, award winning, not, OWN IT. If you don’t mind I’ll also offer this: give yourself a break. We writers are hard workers and our own worse critic. Do your very best then let it be.

    I’d love to chat with you on twitter! I write short book reviews, but am generally just me.

    I wish there was a program that allowed one to filter through all the contradictory literary info and spit out true facts. Good luck with that one, Santa. :)

    WU, you’re perfect just the way you are. Oh, and Therese, thanks for your help getting my photo up!

    Denise Willson
    Author of A Keeper’s Truth

  30. Carmel says

    I have been writing a novel in the historical women’s fiction genre F.O.R.E.V.E.R.

    What keeps me going (more steadily these days) is the Kindle next to my laptop with books on writing at the ready for an encouraging piece of advice that inspires me and gets me back to work.

    Best advice is the last new thing I’ve learned. At the moment, the tips on showing emotion by Donald Maass in Writer In-boxed. May his life get back to normal very soon.

    I hope to have a website before long. I have a personal page on FB for friends and family, and hope to get an author one going at some time. I don’t *get* Twitter — maybe because I don’t have a smart phone.

    I love what I’m learning on WU and especially enjoy the posts on craft. Thanks so much for being here!

  31. says

    1. I write pictures books. I just finished 3 in the past year and am now recharging the idea bank via Picture Book Idea Month. So far, I have had 1-2 ideas each day in November. Wahoo!

    2. Thankfully, I don’t really suffer from writer’s block. Bad writing days are just days with too many interruptions and commitments. Those days, I do office activities and catch up on email.

    3. Read, read, read is great advice. Also, find and nurture professional critique partners (as opposed to friends and family). It has made my work much stronger.

    4. I write fiction – http://www.quinncole.com; http://quinncole.blogspot.com/ and non-fiction (mostly science) http://www.ldwilliams.com; http://williams-science.blogspot.com/

    5. Facebook fiction- https://www.facebook.com/quinncolechldrensauthor;
    Twitter @QuinnCole2

    Facebook non-fiction- http://www.facebook.com/ScienceWhisperer;
    Twitter @SciWhisperer

    6. Of course any tips on polishing a manuscript are helpful, but encouraging posts are timely too. Like many writers, I don’t enjoy marketing. Painless marketing tips would be awesome.

    Thanks for asking! -Q

  32. says

    I’ve been working on the same novel for about five years. During that time I’ve written and published three local histories and finished a memoir, Snakes in the kitchen, which is with an agent now.

    My critique group keeps me going. There are four of us in daily contact by email and we meet every other Saturday morning.

    My blog, carolynpaulbranch.com, is mostly book reviews, with notes about writing, personal stories, and photos thrown in. Angle? Wish I had one!

    I LOVE WU! Don’t know what you could do that would suit me better because I find something inspiring or useful in every post.

  33. says

    1. Our forte is fantasy, though eventually our self-written bookshelf will include horror, mystery, humor, and a plethora of children’s fiction. Our current project—that of writing our second novel—had its origins way back even before we published our first novel in December of 2010. After much deliberation, we made a final decision on October 20th, 2012, about what exactly our second book should be.

    2. Having a writing buddy helps, since there are two of us here (sibling authors Deborah and Zachary Posca, hence the quick and easy “pseudonym” DZ Posca). We discovered, when writing our first book, if one of us couldn’t figure out what to write next, the other would come in and fix the problem. Writer’s block is only a problem when we are editing, something neither of us enjoy anymore. A writing buddy has another advantage: most of our laughing is done while we are writing together, and at times this works its way into our stories.

    3. Perhaps the best advice came from our father, Gene Posca: “Strike the iron while the metal is still hot.” Sure, he was talking about the marketing process for our first novel, but it can also be applied to writing: if you have an idea, it is always best to write it down before you forget it.

    4. We have a website and a blog, all in one go: http://dznovels.tateauthor.com/. We like to keep our website simple and to the point, which we guess you could say both sets it apart from other sites and represents our angle.

    5. Although we are normally reclusive, we maintain a Facebook page and a Facebook fanpage because it as an opportunity to share from our personal.

    6. Research is one thing we always seem to be doing, and never get enough of. Though such a thing would be hard to do on a blog, perhaps Writers Unboxed could write an inspirational post which could delve into little-known-but-fascinating facts of history, art, language, civilizations, plants, and animals. Who knows? A simple argument among two characters regarding knowledgeability, or a lack thereof, could have its origins in the author learning about the Mohorovicic discontinuity, as was the case in our novel!

  34. says

    1. I write 1920’s gothic ghost stories for NAL. I’m currently drafting my third contracted book and have spent about three months on it so far (my deadline is next year.)

    2. I can’t really afford bad writing days, but when things get tough, a long outdoor run usually loosens the screws. The benefits of exercise on writing are usually overlooked.

    3. Stephen King’s On Writing – all of it.

    4. I have an author website (www.simonestjames.com) but no blog. I’m terrible at blogging, so I write books instead and read blogs like this one by people who are much more skilled at it than I am.

    5. I’m on Twitter (simone_stjames) and FB (facebook.com/simonestjames). Twitter is where I chat mostly with fellow writers and publishing folks. FB is much reviled by authors, but I’ve found it to be a great, easy way to talk to my small readership directly. I usually post pictures of creepy houses and we all wonder whether they’re haunted.

    6. I love WU – I’ve been a dedicated lurker for years! I think you guys cover everything pretty evenly. Keep up the good work :)

  35. says

    1. I write upmarket women’s fiction. While project #2 (THE ART OF FALLING) is in production at Sourcebooks, I’m containing my excitement by returning to the lovely cast of characters from project #1, which I’d worked on for two years before abandoning it. Back at it for three months, applying all the shiny skills I didn’t yet have the first time around.
    2. On a bad writing day, if I get stuck in producing new material, I revise something. Making my writing more beautiful and meaningful creates an impulsion that can blast me through the toughest barriers.
    3. The best advice is from the school of hard knocks: Embrace the lows as well as the highs. It’s all necessary to make of your life a good story.
    4. Working on a website now for http://www.kathryncraft.com which right now is a blog, Healing Through Writing.
    5. Twitter: @kcraftwriter. Love the random people that pop into my world! Facebook: Love the added word count and visuals. https://www.facebook.com/KathrynCraftAuthor
    6. I wish there was a slam-dunk method of marketing books! Instead we’re all out there fighting on multiple fronts, hoping that something works.

  36. says

    Thanks for the opportunity to jump in!

    What do you write and how long have you been working on your current project?

    I’m a novelist who writes literary fiction. I’ve had two novels published by Putnam, and my third book is getting shopped around as we speak. (It was ten years in the making!)

    What keeps you going on a bad writing day? OR How do you combat or prevent writer’s block?

    I find that writing prompts and exercises are wonderful for keeping things loose and playful (especially when you’re slogging through a novel).

    What’s the best advice you’ve ever received or read about the writing life?

    Ann Lamott’s “Sh*tty First Drafts.” It’s a Godsend for perfectionists like me.

    Do you have a blog or website? Yes, you can find me at http://www.jenncrowell.com/blog.

    What sets it apart from other sites? What is your angle?

    I don’t see a whole lot of other literary/mainstream fiction authors in the blogosphere. Plus I also blog about mental health issues quite a bit.

    Twitter and Facebook: are you there? @jenncrowell on Twitter; http://www.facebook.com/jenncrowellwrites

    How do you use each of these sites?

    I’m much more active on Twitter than on my Facebook fan page, and I aim to keep both professional yet friendly. (I also have a personal Facebook account that I keep only for friends and family, and I like having the separation that way.)

    What do you wish you better understood about any aspect of the craft or business of writing? OR What do you wish you’d see more of here on WU?

    I love, love, love writing craft books, and it would be great to see some of those on here. (Your sneak preview of Don Maass’s newest book was fantastic.)

  37. says

    1. I write nonfiction articles at a rate of just under 30 a month. In terms of “writing projects” I’ve been on a nonfiction book for about a year, and started a new YA novel last month.

    2. I look at the combination of my bank balance and incoming bills. That keeps the nonfiction flowing. For the YA, it’s my 12-year-old clamoring for the next chapter.

    3. Write nonfiction if you want to be a professional writer.

    4. http://www.brickcommajason.com. I try to combine actionable advice with stuff that makes you laugh. The angle is me trying to make it as a writer, and sharing my mistakes and discoveries along the way.

    5. On Facebook, not so much with the tweeting.

    6. I wish I had a better handle on how to approach editors. Everybody who’s ever accepted an article from me asks for more…but it’s so hard to make that new connection.