How Not to be Boring: 8 Tips for Writers

Be honest. Don’t pretend you know something you don’t, feel something you don’t feel, or are something you’re not. Just be heart-exposingly honest and readers will appreciate it. Honesty is never boring.

Write your passion

write with passion

Write what you love. Write what you are committed to. Write about the topics, stories, people, issues that get your heart aflutter or make your pulse race. When you write your passion it comes straight from your heart. Passion is never boring. Continue reading “How Not to be Boring: 8 Tips for Writers”

Writing Without a Net

It’s a bit of gamble, this writing thing.

I write and write and write and write.

And then I edit and edit and edit and edit.

writing

And then I edit even more.

And when my latest masterpiece is all shined up and ready, I send it out into the world.

Sometimes (okay, many times) it comes back to me with words of rejection.

It feels like judgment. Probably because it is judgment.

And I say – Continue reading “Writing Without a Net”

Write.

It’s summer.

The kids are underfoot.

The house is a mess; it’s noisy, too.

The garden is a tangle of weeds and the blueberry bushes are so full, the berries are bending the branches low enough for the mice to feast.

I drank too much wine last night; I can’t think clearly.

I’m not feeling it.

I’m tired.

I’m sick of this story.

I’ll just take today off.

What’s the point?

That’s just a small sampling of my excuses. What are yours?

There’s never a good time to write, but if you’re a writer that really doesn’t matter—write.

Some days the words circle your head like invisible gnats, and while you can hear them buzzing, you can’t catch them—write.

Other times the grocery list and the thank you notes are nagging around the edges of your brain; they can wait another day—write.

Even when you have nothing to say and what you do want to say is everything you wish you’d said to someone who belittled your belief yesterday – write.

Maybe the only coherent thought you have is, I hate this. Write.

As Elmore Leonard, arguably one of the most successful, working class writers, puts it—

“I don’t believe in writer’s block or waiting for inspiration. If you’re a writer, you sit down and write.”

What are you waiting for?

Sit down and write.

Inner Supreme Court

I read a post recently by another writer I much admire and in it she used the phrase, “Inner Supreme Court.”

I recently received an opinion that brought that clever phrase to life. And I’ve realized that the decision to accept or reject it is mine to make. If only it were that simple.

When it comes to any decision — about writing or life — you have to trust your Inner Supreme Court. You can get lots of opinions and recommendations. You can listen to other people’s experiences and warnings. You can indulge possibilities and dreams, but ultimately when it’s time to decide you have to trust that only your Inner Supreme Court knows what is best for you.

I’ve been trying this particular case in my court all week. The case involves a huge re-write of a novel I’ve been polishing for over five years. I’m anxious to bring this story to light. I think it is ready. I think it has an important and timely message, but my agent wants me to gut out yet another re-write.

So, I’ve been gathering opinions, reading genre definitions (since this is the reason for the re-write), and taking long walks with my foster dog who is recovering from a broken jaw (thanks to a misunderstanding with one of my horses).

Sometimes I’m indignant.

My beta readers love this story! I’ve already put more than a thousand hours into it. These characters are my friends. I know them inside and out. What if she’s wrong?

Sometimes I’m self-flagellating.

I suck at this. I cannot write. I should shelve it and take a class and learn to write. I should plant blueberries all over the pasture, kick the horses out, and start a pick-and-pay business.

Sometimes I present evidence.

So-and-so read it, and says this will be the book. The one that makes the NYT bestseller list. I’ve mapped this book, edited it within an inch of its life. I’ve probably cut as many words as I’ve written. I’ve changed names, settings, killed my darlings, and read it out loud. It’s good. It’s really good.

And sometimes I try to see the side of the prosecution.

Maybe she has a point. Maybe there’s more story buried here underneath the overly polished surface. Maybe I just need to dig deeper. Maybe I need to set my ego and impatience aside.

For now, the justices are still hearing testimony. No decision has been made. And the court just might recess for the fourth of July holiday and spend some much needed downtime with the latest batch of foster puppies driving me to distraction.

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But soon enough, it will be time to make that decision. I’ll stop asking for advice and sympathy and more time.

As a writer it’s much too easy to see all the sides. But deep down, when I finally close the door of my courtroom, I do trust that my own Inner Supreme Court has been listening and taking all the testimony into account, and while they might not be in complete agreement, they will make the right decision.

And I’ve gotta trust that.

And maybe trust is the hardest part. As usual.

Sigh.

Thanks for reading!

If you’d like to know more about my writing and books, check out CaraWrites.com

If you’d like to know more about life with foster puppies, visit my blog Another Good Dog.

Have a wonderful holiday and trust your Inner Supreme Court!

Blessings,

Cara

p.s. Great thanks to Kathryn Craft for the phrase that inspired this post. (Check out her wonderful books!)

World Tour!

Today is Practicing Normal’s book birthday!

Practicing Normal Cover

The long wait is over and it is officially published! Shew!

Now it’s time for the book tour! I’ll be on tour with Practicing Normal for the next two months!

Really? Continue reading “World Tour!”

Genre Bending

Third time’s the charm. That’s what they say.

Practicing Normal is my third novel, and while my debut novel, I’m Not Her, will always have my heart and my second novel, Girls’ Weekend, touched a nerve in moms from all walks of life, this third one is good. Really good.

I think it perfectly merges the audiences of my first and second novel like a neat Venn diagram. Plenty of crossover between the genres of women’s fiction, young adult, mommy lit, and new adult.

Genres can be confining. Having to label my work has always been a struggle for me. I write stories. Generally about women, but a few men, and usually a teenager or two.

Are they women’s fiction? Sure.

Would a man read them? Yes. Some of my biggest fans are male.

How about teenagers? Yup. They like my books, too.

How about romance? Do they fit into that genre? Depends on how you define romance.

Coming of age story? Definitely. Everyone is coming of age.

There’s even a splash of mystery tossed in for good measure. As I said, genres can be confining.

Still, genres help us sort through the plethora of books on the shelves. The fiction section can be overwhelming. Women’s fiction has yet to claim its own shelf space in many libraries or bookstores, but it’s a strong genre that is specific to women, taking you on an emotional journey. I hold out hope that it will one day claim its own shelf.

But if women’s fiction gets its own shelf, does that mean we also offer a rack of men’s fiction?

Although it’s unlabeled as such, men’s fiction quite definitely exists. I’ve read a couple of them lately. I would call The Life We Bury by Allen Eskins and The Secret Wisdom of the Earth by Christopher Scotton men’s fiction, along with most of what is written by Jonathon Tropper or Tom Perotta. The protagonists are generally male and there is normally sex and/or action aplenty, but there’s also themes that men struggle with—like competition, masculinity, and dominance examined through internal struggles, dialogue, and relationships. I’ve enjoyed those books, but then I’ve always passed them on to my husband, rather than girlfriends.

Many thrillers and action books crossover into men’s fiction, but sometimes women’s fiction can be thrilling and action-packed. It’s tricky, I suppose. Given the opportunity, I might rearrange the entire store.

Book genres, much like our world, are evolving and becoming more and more niche. Maybe it isn’t necessary to so specifically label fiction genres. It’s all nonfiction and fiction, right? Or is it? Even those lines are blurring these days.

It comes down to what a winery owner told me once when I was tasting wine at a small vineyard in Virginia. He said, “There are really only two types of wine. Wine-you-like and wine-you-don’t.”

Perhaps, it’s the same for books.

My third novel, Practicing Normal, is released today in ebook form (the paperback officially releases June 6 and I haven’t been given a date for the audiobook yet).

Here’s hoping it’s a book-you-like.

Practicing Normal Cover

Inching Closer

 

“So, you’re doing this for real? It’s not just something you had to get out of your system?”

I ran into a friend today and she was asking about my writing. When I told her I had a new book coming out in two weeks and two more that my agent will be shopping to publishers this year, she was surprised. “Wow,” she said.

Yeah. Wow.

I thought about her question when I got home as I walked my overly excitable foster dog who had spent too much time in her crate and needed several laps of the pasture to be manageable indoors. Round and round we went, me lost in memories of days gone by and her chasing every butterfly and shadow. I suppose back when my children were younger and that friend was a weekly part of my life, she didn’t know me as a writer. She knew me as a mom, a PTO president, a volunteer, a customer, and a pretty horrible Mary Kay consultant.

normal people

That’s the thing about us writers—many times we’re disguised as normal people. It takes some of us a long time to take our own writing seriously enough to share it with others. Meanwhile, we write and write and dream and dream and then write some more. And once we begin to put our souls out there on the page for all to see, we spend a great deal more time editing.

My friend has a very successful business that I’ve watched grow over the years. I’ve always been impressed by her energy, determination and drive. She is a smart, passionate business woman who works incredibly hard.

“You know how it is,” I told her, “You just keep doing one more thing, every day.” She nodded.

And that’s just what successful writing is. It’s doing one more thing. Every day.

Another successful artist and businesswoman I know told me when I was first beginning my publishing journey, “Do one thing every day to move your dream forward. Even if it’s a small thing. You’ll see,” she said. “It’ll happen.”

And she’s right. I’m not where I want to be yet in terms of writing success, but every day I inch closer. I don’t know how long it will take. But one thing I do know, I sure haven’t ‘gotten it out of my system’ yet.

There are too many stories left to tell.

inching closer