15 Stages of Writing a Novel {DONE}

1. Getting a genius idea for a novel

anigif_enhanced-21780-1412910809-13You’re so happy about it and you want to tell everyone.

2. The first few thousand words are a breeze.

anigif_enhanced-buzz-3360-1387916722-9This is so great! I’m writing a novel. My idea, characters are so perfect. No one has ever thought of this! Since I have an idea I’m so passionate about, writing this novel is not going to be so hard…

3. You hit a stump and decide to just think about the novel for a while


I’ll just wait for some inspiration to write. It will come to me.

4. You don’t have any inspiration and can’t figure out what to write

anigif_enhanced-29877-1413046081-45. You finally get back into the writing groove

anigif_enhanced-32428-1413045238-11You got this. The idea is still there. Things are coming along. Getting the novel finished will be easy.

6. When friends and family ask “So what’s your novel about?”

anigif_enhanced-buzz-14584-1412898231-237. You’re trying, really trying, to finish the thing but new book ideas keep popping into your head

anigif_enhanced-buzz-23249-1412914210-16This idea is genius…and this idea…and this one too. The only problem? You.still.have.to.finish.your.WIP.

8. Getting so frustrated, you wish you could just be Kendall and Kylie Jenner and have someone else write “your” book and you put your name on it

Kendall-and-Kylie-Jenner-How-Much-of-Their-Book-Did-They-Write-650x471I mean it counts as your book even though a “co-writer” did all the work, right?

9. You find other quirky writer friends along the way

anigif_enhanced-buzz-1946-1412920766-24They read entire novels in five hours like you. They are struggling to finish a novel just like you. They’re perfect.

10. Although youre still struggling to finish writing

anigif_enhanced-2377-1410976180-911. Various people and obligations start to creep into your writing time

anigif_enhanced-buzz-15997-1387916979-5 Friends want to hang out, and hang out some more. You’re boyfriend/girlfriend wants to spend more time with you. You need to pick something up for someone, have work obligations, etc. etc. etc. RIP writing time.

12. After a while though, you finally get to finishing the first draft


13. You celebrate

anigif_enhanced-29745-1413050393-2All of those people that said you couldn’t write a novel? Yeah, they can keep quiet now.

14. Coming back and reading over the first draft is cringe-inducing


It reads like something from the horror genre with the amount of cliché sentences, descriptions, and plot holes.

15. And you realize you now have to revise…and get it proofread…and formatted…and write a book blurb…and get a cover designed…and get ISBN’s and copyrights…and have people read and review the ARC’s…


The Waiting Room: Book review


Who knew a media law professor could provide me with book recommendations? A few months ago, I mentioned how I was writing a novel to my media law professor. He referenced a past student of his, Alysha Kaye. She was in the process of marketing her debut novel The Waiting Room and it was a few months before publication.

I thought, “Okay, this woman went to Texas State University just like me, so I’m automatically even more interested in her book.”

Then I read the book blurb. Afterlife, reincarnation, waiting for someone after death? It sounded really freaking cool and something I haven’t seen done a lot.

The book starts off in an interesting way: the main character dies. The story explores themes of what happens after we die. Where do we go? Is there an afterlife. 30-year-old Jude dies and wakes up in a waiting room. It’s a place where people wait to be reincarnated into their new lives. They usually are not in the waiting room for any longer than an hour yet for some reason Jude has been in the waiting room for a lot longer than everyone else.

In the waiting room there is a large window people can look out of to see their loved ones who are still living. Jude uses the window to watch his wife Nina. He watches her through the window for decades (that’s some dedication!). He watches her as she copes with his loss and starts to move on with her life.

There are so many reasons why The Waiting Room is so freaking amazing. The concept of deceased people in a waiting room, waiting to be transferring into their new life is really interesting. The book explores a lot of time periods, places, and personalities so every chapter and anecdote always feels fresh and unique.

The author has mentioned how the book morphed out of a cheesy poem she wrote to her then boyfriend. When I was first going into reading this book, I kept thinking how exactly she would navigate Jude and Nina’s relationship. Safe to say, I was blown away at the way she explored the characters relationship while keeping the book interesting and without getting overtly sappy and cliche. Bonus points on that.

My only qualm with the writing was the supporting characters. Kaye did a good job of describing the people that worked in the waiting room but not about the many people that passed through the waiting room. Given how she wanted to show the many different lives people live, it would have been fun to hear more about some of the people in the waiting room. More than just the handful of sentences she used to talk about them.

Also, the author mentioned how some people thought The Waiting Room was the first in a planned book series. I can see how this would be thought. The writing yields themes that could be explored in further books, maybe with different characters, buts still tied in somehow. It reminds me of The Giver by Lois Lowry and how that book spawned three more books in a loose quartet.

The Waiting Room exceeded my expectations of the romance genre and self-publishing. It doesn’t succumb to typical cliches and stays fresh and unique in it’s themes and how it approaches things. Good Read 5/5

Connect with Alysha Kaye:

Website | Blog | Twitter | The Waiting Room on Amazon

Book promotion: Stop trying so hard


Writing a book…is hard. You go through the happy, yet incredibly draining, experience of churning out the work. Then you manage to round up an editor, go through edits, get a cover designed, formatted, and (ah ha!) finally published.

Then it sort of goes nowhere.

Okay, maybe not nowhere. A good pile of reviews come in, book bloggers review the book, you do a blog tour, family and friends buy the book. After a few weeks or months of the promotion, where do you go?

You didn’t write the book for the money, although you would very much appreciate if people bought the book because then you could cover all the costs you went through to get editing, design, and formatting done.

Marketing your novel doesn’t have to be a draining experience. Sometimes, just maybe, the thing you need to do most of all is…very little at all.

I take it you have never heard of the web series High MaitenanceThe show revolves around the people a weed dealer interacts with as he delivers weed to customers around New York City (interesting, right?).

Well, there is insight to be learned from the makers behind High Maintenance. They did hardly any promotion at all for the series.

They sent out the first few episodes of the series to friends, family, and acquaintances…and that was it. They didn’t constantly pester bloggers to review their series, pitch to places, and so forth. The end result of their minimalist promotion? High Maintenance developed a cult following.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Not all people that do little to zero promotion for their products end up hitting it big. In fact, doing little promotion can be super risky.

Investing tons of your time to marketing your novel (when you should be writing) is another risk you take.

Well, there are some things you can do to help cut down on the time-consuming task of marketing your book and spend it on writing your next book.

Get people to sign up for your author newsletter

People who are subscribed to your author newsletter are around 25X more likely to buy your book than some random blogger you encountered or a Twitter follower you got.

If you don’t have an author newsletter, get one. Services like MailChimp help deliver the newsletter to potential subscribers.

Reach out to other people

Ksenia Anske, author of Siren Suicides, posts her word count for the day on Twitter. She responds to things people ask her. Best yet, she compliments other people on their work.

Talk about your writing process (no, really)

Okay seriously, don’t be another one of those people that posts pictures of your perfectly placed laptop along with a Starbucks cup. Show the actual process of your writing (and include visuals!).

Ksenia Anske posts on her blog about her writing process, how she is coming along, and so forth. She shows her writing process even when it is not so glamourous. People like a raw human element to things. 

When people see you at your rawest self, they have the ability to empathize and connect with you more. These are the types of people that buy your books.

Think of cool, subtle promotional techniques you can do for your book

You know that author newsletter you send out to people? What if had first few chapters of your work in progress in one of the newsletters. Send the first few chapters of your novel out, one by one, for free. Hugh Howey, author of the Wool series, did this at first. His books took off in popularity, partly due to it.

Ksenia Anske gives her books away for free, letting readers download files from the drafts of her novels. This in turn, gets her readers pumped up for the final version of the book.


Marketing a novel is hard work. Don’t let it consume your time and keep you from writing more. The purpose of your marketing should be on building a community around your books rather than just getting people to buy it.



  • This can be risky considering most self-published authors make less than $500 per year.


Would you rather one novel or several?

one great novel or several okay ones


photo by Andre Freitas


There are a lot of crappy novels with even crapper cover designs

This is what I was thinking as I scrolled through different selections of self-published novels on Amazon. As a soon to be self-published author, I always try to look through self-published books on Amazon to buy so I can support my fellow indie authors.

I interact with authors and book bloggers on Twitter and started to notice something. Many self-published writers followed a very strict, militant-style writing routine where they would write for several hours every night of the week and anywhere from 5-12 hours on Saturdays and Sundays. Some people, who had the luxury of not having to do a full-time 9 to 5 job, said they wrote even more than that. Over and over, I kept hearing about how self-published authors apparently need to write between 2-4 novels a year in order to stay relevant and keep people from forgetting about them.

So there comes to be writers who quick draft their manuscripts and complete the journey of word one to publication in 3 to 6 months. They skimp a bit on editing by either getting a not as experienced editor or by only doing certain editing like developmental editing and then opting to skip proofreading editing and just doing it themselves.

Sometimes this works. A lot of times it doesn’t. Authors get so wrapped up in releasing as many books as possible, they forget that if they built a platform where readers could interact and regularly engage with them, the readers wouldn’t suddenly “forget” them if they didn’t release several books every year.

So many authors put out a bunch of books that are less than stellar but could be a lot better if they took the time to do an extra draft, get good quality editing, and have a good book cover design.

I don’t want to be a self-published author who churns out several okay books per year rather than one great one. I don’t want to be one of those self-published authors that has an abundance of typos/grammatical errors and plot holes in their book. I don’t want to be one of those authors who has a shoddy cover design that doesn’t follow certain design guidelines. I don’t want to be one of those self-published authors that gives a bad name to self-publishing by fueling the stereotype that it’s inferior to traditional publishing.

Self-publishing a book can be expensive, but I’d put the money in to creating one great book rather than spreading my money thin by releasing several books a year and not being able to afford professional high-quality editing and book cover design.

There should be a diligent pace in place when writing a novel but you shouldn’t write it so fast you glaze past making it the best it can possibly be.

Jenny Bravo, founder of the blog Blots and Plots and author of the forthcoming novel These are the Moments, posed a question on Twitter about novel writing:

one great novel or several okay ones

I was conflicted about it. Writing several books helps a writer hone his/her craft. In contrast to that, there are also a lot of great authors who have only written one novel.

Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind


J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye 


Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird*


*To Kill a Mockingbird was Lee’s only novel for over 50 years before it was announced early this year that she was publishing a second novel 

There are a lot of other famous authors who have written only one novel. I’ve been working on my first novel for a while now and felt conflicted about the one novel vs. several novels idea. It didn’t take long before I came to an appropriate response to the idea after another writer on Twitter gave her answer on the question.

Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 7.24.15 AM


I will continue to write several novels since I want to get better at writing. Will those future novels ever see the light of day/get published? Probably not. I don’t mind it though. As long as I’m working on my craft I’m fine. Many “one novel authors” have most likely written several stories but that one novel was the only one published.

There is a happy medium. Writers can publish several great novels. The idea is to only publish novel you (and beta readers and editors) have faith in.

What do you think? Would you rather write one great novel that touches lots of people and gets several accolades or write several okay novels? 

Image credit

Never Settle, Keep Moving Forward

nQZcA7PRTyuduZPSZQ88_wanderlustWith New Year’s resolutions crossing people’s minds, and the everyday grind of work, it can be easy to feel stifled, unmotivated and wanting to be lazy. Don’t fret. Below you’ll find some awesome things to read and to use. Keep churning on!

Praytell Strategy: Never Settle 

Earlier this year, I got in contact with a startup “new school” public relations agency, Praytell Strategy. Aside from them having a freaking amazing site (I thought it was Squarespace, I thought wrong) they also have a great company blog.

One of the blog posts from earlier in the year could be super relatable to writers everywhere (even though it wasn’t even about writers). The agency’s founder, Andy Pray, goes through a rough time while drafting content for a social contest.

The post reminds me of when I was working on the first draft of my novel. Filled with doubt and an extreme critical eye, I would always not last more than thirty minutes or so of continuous writing time before getting frustrated and going on the internet, getting food, and so forth.

So what should you do as you’re trudging through writing and your self-critic won’t shut up as you try to reach your word count?

Keep going

Many times you have to go through the clutter to get the prize. If your writing isn’t working and you feel like throwing in the towel, don’t. Habits take time to build.Sometimes the grand idea is right around the corner.

Go on and read Praytell’s blog post on never settling. It’s short, to the point, and will get you thinking and ready to move.

Weekend Reading List: Dec. 18

photo-1416862291207-4ca732144d83 (1)

There is a lot that goes on in the week. Christmas shopping is reaching the final countdown and the new Annie movie is coming out on Friday (anyone seeing it?).

In the weekend immediately following my college graduation, I read several articles online. I’ve rounded them up and provide some commentary on why they’re great. Behold the weekend reading list:

  1. 5 ways to motivate yourself to do anything (The Daily Muse): I really like reading The Muse’s career advice articles. Many people have a grand idea or goal they want to accomplish but have trouble actually completing it. The article’s first way to get more motivated (get clear on the end goal) is my favorite. When you get stuck and/or feeling down on your pursuit, you can always look towards the end goal you have set for yourself.
  2. 4 habits of people who follow their dreams (Fast Company): This article mentions the crucial soft skill of being able to not take rejection/criticism personally and having the ability to judge your work. It has a handful of anecdotal examples of people who faked it till they made it, created their own opportunities in response to rejection, and used naysayers as mindset rocket fuel.
  3. Six secrets to effective job hunting (Primer Magazine): Go directly to company websites, something so obvious but often so overlooked.
  4. How to choose a direction when you have a million ideas (XO Sarah):  This is for all the bloggers/creative consultants/designers/self-published authors/entrepreneurs/insert job title here’s everywhere.
  5.  Resume Speak (Resume Speak): This is a humorous one. Funny read considering the countless times I’ve been told as a soon (and now recent) college graduate being advised on “fitting my resume with buzzwords”.

Photo by: Bec Brown (Unsplash)

Writers & Social Media


Social media is kind of like this mysterious black hole. Besides seeing the constant #pretty or #blessed photos and posts, you aren’t exactly sure what you’re getting out of it. You can put things into it but you’re not exactly sure what you’re going to get out of it. Plus there is the bad habit of social media eating into your writing time.

We all know how important writing time is (especially with NaNoWriMo upon us). Never fear, there are measurable ways and tactics manage your social media.

Moving to the beat of those metrics

Gone are the days of just blindly posting updates/posts and never really knowing how much they were seen. There are ways to see how much exposure your Facebook update, tweet, or Instagram picture got. Facebook Insights, Inconosquare for Instagram, and Analytics for Twitter are great (and free) ways to measure the impact of your social media updates.

With these tools, you can see which weeks were better than some, days that had higher exposure than others, and so forth. No longer do you have to post a super excited tweet with your novel details on a blind eye!

Don’t stop till you hit the post

Posting only at certain times isn’t something you have to religiously follow but it is helpful to know. Whenever you have exciting details about your novel, revealing your cover, or just want to post an update, post during peak hours so as many people can see it as possible.

This helpful infographic from Hub Spot shows the best times to post and even what to include. Isn’t that nifty?

Hootsuite is your kinda sorta awesome best friend that tells you everything

I’m suprised at how many people still don’t know about Hootsuite. I use it all the time for my PRSSA organization and plan to use it even more once I start hardcore promotion for my novel next year.

With Hootsuite, you can schedule messages for future publish. You can also schedule things to post at the same time across all of your social media channels.

This feature is a hugely beneficial way of taking the constant thought of needing to update, logging into all of your channels and posting to each individually.

Once I start using this to post updates, I can set aside a designated time to craft posts. Then for the rest of my time, I can work on what really matters: finishing my novel!


Self-publishing is a lot of work…and a lot of money. You’re having to do nearly all of the marketing and engagement yourself. It takes a lot away from you. It takes a lot away from writing time. Using the right tools can make using social media a little bit more insightful so you know what you’re getting out of it.

I don’t want to promote my novel and engage with other authors without having a little insight into how much exposure I’m getting and how to maximize it. Or maybe I can just post saying I’m Colin Ashby, buy my novel!!! (note: probably wouldn’t work).

Go ahead and check the sources out and see what works for you. Happy writing!

Film Review: Happy Christmas (2014)

Do you ever watch one of those movies that deals with a person that’s down on their luck and makes bad life decisions? Happy Christmas is one of those.


The story involves Jenny (Anna Kendrick), a no so responsible 27-year-old who has recently broken up with her boyfriend. With many options and lacking direction, she arrives in Chicago to live with her older brother Jeff (Joe Swanberg, who also wrote and directed the film).

Life Choices: Passing out on a stranger's floor
Life Choices: Passing out on a stranger’s floor

Jeff makes and produces films for a living. He lives a relatively happy with his novelist wife, Kelly, and their two-year-old son. Once Jenny arrives, things start to get a bit hectic. Her first night of living at the house, Jenny goes to a party to meet up with her friend Carson (Lena Dunham). Getting a little to festive, she gets smokes pot, drinks and ends up passing out in a bedroom, requiring Jeff to come pick her up.

After the passing out incident, jenny starts to form a bond with Kelly at the house. She notices that Kelly feels overwhelmed and wants time to write her novel. Trying to get her creative juices up and flowing, Jenny suggests an idea for a book that Kelly can write. Throughout the days, free-spirited Jenny and Carson get Kelly to open up, prompting a evolution of relaxation in Kelly.

At a quick glance, many will wonder why the heck a “christmas” movie is being released in June/July. Despite its title, Happy Christmas features very little of actual Christmas. The Christmas theme is meant as an accessible way to bring family together and show their interactions. A quick Christmas day scene is all that is featured in the 78 minute movie.

Director-writer Joe Swanberg is known for having his films center on the ordinary, daily interactions of a group of people. Happy Christmas features fully improvised dialogue. No set script was used for the film. The actors received outlines for each scene.

Life Choices 2: Smoking pot
Life Choices 2: Spending hours mindlessly surfing the internet

Happy Christmas is a “slice-of-life” type film. The film appeals to the viewer that likes movies heavy with improvisation, realism, and the scenes with the interactions of everyday life. Despite its slow pacing and lack of clear resolution, Happy Christmas goes above with witty dialogue, quotable lines and examining the nature of family dynamics. Happy Christmas might even give new meaning to the term “Christmas in July.” A

Happy Christmas is currently on video on demand platforms (Amazon, iTunes and others) and is scheduled for a limited theatrical release on July 25, 2014.