Sunday, January 13, 2019

2019 Reading Resolution

Last year, instead of setting my typical Goodreads goal of 52 or 100 books, I decided to read types of books. For example, I chose categories I enjoy but might not necessarily pick up on a whim, like classics or rereads. And I had so much fun! It was a challenge, with a bit of the pressure I felt when I studied for my undergrad but with the freedom to stop reading a particular book or read more in a certain category as I saw fit.

This year, I’ll be taking a similar approach, with some changes of course, as I learned a lot from 2018. The books listed are just a few I want to read, though it’s not guaranteed that I will read those ones specifically. Without further ado, here are the types of books I plan on reading!


1 Book 700+ Pages


1,000 pages feels like too much right now, and I totally didn’t read a 1,000-page book in 2018 like I had planned. Whoops…

What are some books on my TBR that fit the criteria?

Middlemarch by George Elliot—an American classic. I’ve had this one on my shelf for a while now, since I bought a George Elliot collection during my undergrad. I enjoyed Silas Marner, and I’m curious about this one.

The Betrothed by Allesandro Manzoni—an Italian classic. Can’t remember what it’s about, but it’s on my list. I’m so good at this…

2 Novels that were Adapted into Movies


I may be from a family of avid movie fans, but I lean more toward the books. Though I will watch movies to spend time with my family members, have something to talk about, and see characters brought to life on screen (see Why This Bookworm Gets Excited about Book-to-Movie Adaptations). Why wouldn’t I want to read more books adapted into films?

What am I most looking forward to reading?

Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery—Does this one need an explanation? Anne of Green Gables is an excellent book, film, and audio drama. I’m a little skeptical about the latest Netflix series having heard mixed reviews, but I look forward to the next book!

The Curse of Capistrano by Johnston McCulley—The original story of Zorro. Apparently, it’s a collection of short stories!

3 Classics


Once again, contemporary books are great, but so are classics. I need to read more of them than I do.

What’s on my list?

1984 by George Orwell—This one has been on my list forever. Okay, not forever. Since 2015.

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank—How have I not read this yet? Yep, I’m still living under a rock.

5 Books I Own


I will probably read more, but five seems like a good place to start. I’m also not going to limit myself to books I haven’t read. Rereads are perfectly fine and deserve attention too (see The Joys of Rereading).

What’s on my shelf?

The Best of Jack London—As I kid, I was obsessed with the audiobook of White Fang, so it’s no surprise I bought a collection later on. I just haven’t read them all yet.

5 Books Published in 2019


As a reader, I’m constantly distracted by all the shiny new books. As a writer, I call it a strategy to find out what’s been released recently, how it affects the reading collective, and whether or not I like it. That and I like the pretty new covers.

What am I most looking forward to this year?

An Anatomy of Beasts (Faloiv, book 2) by Olivia A. Cole—Have I not ranted enough about how much I enjoyed A Conspiracy of Stars? (See book review). I can’t wait to read the next book. I’d pre-order it, but I have no idea where I’ll be living when it comes out.

The Boy Who Steals Houses by C. G. Drews—From one of my favorite bloggers comes yet another contemporary YA novel! I thoroughly enjoyed A Thousand Perfect Notes (see book review), and I’m eager to see what Drews has written in her next book.

The Clockwork Ghost (York, book 2) by Laura Ruby—I was so curious when I saw The Shadow Cipher (York, book 1) at my library that I just scooped it up. But I’m still waiting for a release date for book 2. I sure hope it comes out before I move…

 1 Book Published Before 1800


Out with the new and in with the old. Wait…

There is a plethora of books published before 1800 that I have yet to read.
What’s on my list?

The Faerie Queene, Book 2 by Edmund Spenser—Again, I haven’t read this one yet. I wrote my dissertation on Book 1, but why haven’t I picked up Book 2? Okay, I have technically picked it up. My copy’s an anthology.

3 Nonfiction Books


I’m going to broaden this one to include collections of poems, even though poetry can sometimes be fictional. I also learned that I tend to shy away from longer books when it comes to nonfiction, probably because I’m still learning what I like in the genre.

What am I most interested in reading?

God in the Dock by C. S. Lewis—When I visited Oxford on the C. S. Lewis trip, we read one of the essays, and I want to read more.

Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass—This is a book I own and have read sections of before, but I’d like to delve into the whole thing.

The Pilgrimage by Paulo Coelho—My mom and I are planning on hiking the El Camino trail across Spain this spring. What better way to prepare than to read a book about it?

Total goal: 20 Types of Books


I’ll probably read more, but hey, this’ll be fun!

***

Let’s chat! What are you planning on reading in 2019? Do you set goals for yourself? What new releases are you looking forward to?

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Poem: The First Snow (Audio)

Welcome to the new face of Word Storm!

After I finished my MBA, I did some tweaking, and I commissioned a lovely graphic artist to design a new cover photo because dragons and tea, travel and thunderstorms. ISN’T IT PRETTY!? Thanks again, Rowa!

But I don’t just have a new cover photo for you. I also spent a good deal of time in December recording the published poems and the Reader’s Choice from 2018, and I’ll be doing some more recordings this year as well. Poetry isn’t just meant to be read on a computer screen, but it’s also meant to be read and shared aloud.


The First Snow

The first snow is fleeting,
fluttering one moment and
                                                melted the next—
but to the driver going to work, she is a blinding sleet,
cascading, bottling up your light and tossing it back—
to the biker heading home, she is the needles,
while the flesh is the pincushion and throw.

The second snow is silent,
drifting down in spurts
                                                taking turns with the sun—
but to the magpie fighting the wind, she is a rip current,
a tether caught on feathers, holding back branches—
to the red rooftops sloping here, she is but a coat,
taken off and folded up indoors.

The third snow is loud,
crackling thunder
                                                howling wind—
but to the mother waiting for a call, she is but a sound
of wailing, complaining, she’s heard it all before—
to the child waiting for a taste of dusted sugar,
she is a touch of dreams, sleigh bells, and numb fingertips.

***

For more audio poetry, check out my Poetry page and don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel!

Let’s chat! What do you think of the new design? Enjoy the audio additions? What did you think of this poem?

Similar poems: Biking to Work, Snowfell, and In Season

Sunday, December 30, 2018

2018 Books in Review

This year, I set out to read 17 types of books, the main goal being quality over quantity. As far as numbers go, I read 100. As for how many of those books actually met my reading goal, you’ll just have to read and find out!

Don’t worry, I’m not going to be talking about books I didn’t enjoy unless they happened to be a part of my goal. Books that earned a five-star rating are marked.




1) At least one poetry collection. (Not a novel in verse.)


A Boy’s Will, North of Boston, and Mountain Interval by Robert Frost.

Turns out I like selected poems from Robert Frost. There’s maybe one or two of the poems in these books that I remember aside from the famous “The Road Not Taken.” I prefer “Stopping By the Woods on a Snowy Evening” from his New Hampshire collection, but I didn’t make it that far in the complete works.


2) Two rereads.


Yes, I own several books with movie covers, and yes, I like them. Judge me.

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson (5/5 stars), A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle, The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater (5/5 stars), Methuselah’s Gift by Mary Elizabeth Edgren (5/5 stars), Stardust by Neil Gaiman, and The Silver Chair by C. S. Lewis (5/5 stars).

I think I like rereading books! Maybe I can calm down now? What is this “calm” I write of?

3) Three nonfiction books.


Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson, A Philosophy of Walking by Frédéric Gros, The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration Into the Wonder of Consciousness by Sy Montgomery, Walking Home: A Poet’s Journey by Simon Armitage, The House at Sugar Beach by Helene Cooper (5/5 stars), and the Bad*** Librarians of Timbuktu by Joshua Hammer.

Since when do I enjoy philosophy books? 2018 apparently.

Also, I have very eclectic taste in nonfiction. I thought I’d read more serious stuff (like astronomy and art) and ended up reading about octopuses. Yep, it’s octopuses not octopi.

The House on Sugar Beach, A Philosophy of Walking, and The Bad*** Librarians are pretty serious though.

4) Four classics.


The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway (American classic), Kindred by Octavia A. Butler (sci-fi classic; totally counts), The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling (children’s classic), Every Man Dies Alone by Hans Fallada (German classic), and Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs (American classic).


There I go with the sea creatures again! The Old Man and the Sea explores the joys and trials of fishing, and The Jungle Book even features a story about a sea lion.


5) Five indie-published books.


The Beast of Talesend, The Tomb of the Sea Witch, and The Stroke of Eleven by Kyle Robert Shultz; Colors of Fear and Flames of Courage by Hannah Heath; Embassy by S. Alex Martin; The Crystal Tree by Imogen Elvis; and The Lake of Living Water: A The Firstborn’s Legacy Short Story by Beth Wrangler; Antiheroes by by Kyle Robert Shultz, E.V. Dawson, Hannah Heath, Beth Wangler, Nate Philbrick, J.E. Purrazzi, and K.L. + Pierce; and Masters and Beginners by Daley Downing.

I didn’t mean to pick such short books: the shortest being 19 pages, the longest 356. It just sorta happened. I also think it’s a trend for the indie authors whom I follow to write compact books and short stories. *shrugs*

6) One book published before 1800.


Paradise Regained by John Milton.

Yes, only one. I started it near the end of November, so can you blame me? Having read and wrote on its predecessor, Paradise Lost, for my dissertation, I thought it appropriate to finally pick up this one. Though I wasn’t as drawn to the story as I was in Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained certainly has some excellent principles.

7) One book over 1,000 pages long.


Soooo… I didn’t quite make this one.

Perhaps the longest book I read was Obsidio at 615 pages. The book that felt the longest was probably The Final Empire at 541 pages, and those pages were long. I know neither are thousand-page books, but I did read a total of 29,400 pages this year. In 2019, I’ll start my bigger goals a little earlier, like I did in 2017 with Moby-Dick (Jan. 1 through Aug. 24) and Les Miserables (Oct. 6 through Dec. 12).

Considering how many of my challenges I actually met, I’m pretty proud of myself. Next year maybe I’ll fully meet each goal.

Bonus: Novels in Verse


Audacity by Melanie Crowder, Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough, Somewhere Among by Annie Donwerth-Chikamatsu.


I read my first novel in verse back in 2016, and I’ve been hooked ever since. This one wasn’t an initial goal, but I wrote a whole post on why I like this type of poetry, and I eventually want to write a novel in verse. So I had to read more of them! 




Other Books I Enjoyed

The Bird and the Blade by Megan Bannen (5/5 stars; see book review)
Ender’s Saga by Orson Scott Card (especially Xenocide; bought the series)
A Conspiracy of Stars by Olivia A. Cole (see book review; bought it)
A Thousand Perfect Notes by C. G. Drews (see book review; pre-ordered)
The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey (see book review)
The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X. R. Pan (see book review; want to buy)
The Art of Feeling by Laura Tims
The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson
Beren and Lúthien by J. R. R. Tolkien (bought it)

Looks like I read 16 out of 17 target books. Maybe next year I’ll challenge myself to read more books I actually own. Seriously, not checking out books from the library and forcing myself to read books on my own shelves was hard. Rewarding, but hard all the same.

Let’s chat! What kind of books did you read in 2018? Do we share any books read? What are your reading goals for 2019?

***

Sunday, December 16, 2018

3 Tips for Writing Seasonal Stories

Now before anybody starts freaking out about or praising my “politically correct” title, allow me to clarify: I will not just be talking about Christmas stories but also about stories set in specific seasons whether it be Christmas or All Saints Day (Nov. 1, DE), the Fourth of July (US) or Guy Fawkes Day (Nov. 5, UK). However, I will be focusing a lot on Christmas stories for my examples because the holiday is nearly upon us, but these tips can apply to various holidays.


1) Consider the Literature Written about that Season


Research. Research. Research.

Ask yourself what are the themes that are usually connected with this season? What do the settings look like? What makes the literature worthwhile? How can I write something unique?

When it comes to Christmas stories, I don’t necessarily enjoy ones filled with white Christmases (I’ve never had one) and mistletoe (not a romance fan either), but I do enjoy narratives with realistic characters and great themes.

2) Please No More Stereotypes


A Christmas Carol and It’s a Wonderful Life are among my favorite Christmas movies because they’re not your typical everything-is-perfect Christmas stories. I wonder what Charles Dickens was thinking when he wrote his famous book. “You know what Christmas stories really need? How about a stuffy businessman, ghosts, and death?” It’s a Wonderful Life, on the other hand, hardly takes place during Christmastime at all. Not really. And it’s a story about a man contemplating suicide. Merry Christmas—here’s more death (potentially).

Yet both stories have been considered classics for years. Why? Because in light of darkness, they offer hope.

Christmas is a time about love and hope, certainly. But that doesn’t mean the day is exempt from tragedy. During WWI, troops on both the German and British ceased fighting to celebrate Christmas Day only to resume fighting the next. When I was a kid, my dad was deployed in Afghanistan, and we got to meet up with him for Christmas, only to have him go back after a week. Another time, when I was a teenager, my dad was the on-call duty chaplain, meaning he had to carry a government cell phone with him and be ready to respond to any emergencies regarding the military—and he had to go counsel the wife of a service member who committed suicide on Christmas morning.

Even Mary and Joseph fled with young Jesus because King Herod was trying to kill him and massacring the toddlers and infants in Bethlehem.

Ignoring tragedies won’t make them go away—they only feed taboos. That’s not hope. That’s fear.

“Since it is so likely that (children) will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage. Otherwise you are making their destiny not brighter but darker.”—C. S. Lewis

3) Get Ready to Write Outside the Season


Perhaps one of my favorite facts about It’s a Wonderful Life is that the film was shot during the summer and that the actors were sweating wearing winter coats.

Writing is similar. If you can write, edit, pitch, edit again and again and again and publish and market a Christmas story before the Eve, HOW? Marketing itself is a long process, and even the fastest writers and editors are dependent on an attentive audience. While you can write a certain story during its set season, it’s not practical to only write then.

When I started writing “The List”, I was listening to Christmas music for inspiration in July 2014. Submissions for Splickety ran from August to September, and most of my edits took place during October/November. Though the magazine released December 5, I didn’t receive my author copies until January 2015. All that for a 1,000-word story.

If you’re going to write about a particular season, prepare to be focused on it for a while, even longer than the season itself lasts.

There you have it. And because I’m not politically correct…


Let’s chat! What are some of your favorite Christmas stories? Do you have any tips for writing stories about certain seasons?

***


Film & Literary references: Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, It’s a Wonderful Life, and the Holy Bible

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Poem: Pine Trees

I had a hard time picking a poem for this month. I haven’t been doing a lot of creative writing lately and nearly ran out of original poetry. Then I remembered some of my favorite poems from my undergrad writing class.

This one in particular is loosely inspired by some of my childhood memories of Washington, aka the evergreen state. I spent seven years of my life there, a pretty long time for a military brat. Of course, when I say loosely inspired, I mean loose. My dad did deploy to Afghanistan, but the rest of the family and I were living in North Carolina at the time. After a year, my dad came home.

Here’s to the soldiers deployed this Christmas season. Here’s to the spouses and children waiting for their return. Here’s to the families living overseas.

You are not alone.



Pine Trees


In green they mock fall’s bright red-orange décor
to show off leaves where small squirrels abide
with naught but cones for life on forest floor.
My friends and I, we’d build small forts to hide
pretending tales were life with every stride.
Like sweets, the sap did cling to child’s small hands
and time blew through the trees with open fronds.

The evergreens wore their cold cloak of snow
among the dead bushes from which we picked
berries until he left. Would that I knew
safety was guaranteed, but stars were pricked
by tall toothpicks. For pines, the world’s not strict.
For one long year where trees upward did press,
I stood beneath the boughs now fatherless.

Then pines sang songs of lights and frailty—
One snap. One ax for Christmas time all ‘round.
Soft smell, strong hearts for God and our country,
like stumps uprooted from their ground,
he left a hole. Still there, old wound,
the pines, they stand in mist shrouded from sight,
empty patches sinking into the night.

***

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Let’s chat! What are your thoughts on the poem? Any fellow military brats out there? What’s the longest you’ve lived in one place?

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Book Review: Antiheroes

I received an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review. I want to thank the Phoenix Fiction Writers for their anthology and for helping me practice how to properly spell the word “antiheroes.” (Nailed it!) All opinions are my own.

As this book is not a traditional novel but rather a short story anthology, I found myself confronted with the unique pursuit that was writing a review. With so many different authors and stories, it hardly seems adequate to evaluate one story based on another. So, I thought I’d break up my review in a similar fashion to the short stories with mini reviews and a precursor review of the book as a whole.



Book: Antiheroes by Kyle Robert Shultz, E.B. Dawson, Hannah Heath, Beth Wangler, Nate Philbrick, J.E. Purrazzi, and K.L. + Pierce
Genre: Fantasy, Science Fiction, Short Stories
My rating: 4/5 stars
Awards: None (yet!)
Year published: 2018
Seven-word description: A story a day keeps boredom away.

Some of the stories work well as stand alone narratives, referencing but not depending on other novels, other stories are a little harder for me to grasp. Overall, the fantasy stories made more sense, not that the science fiction ones were bad. I’m just saying that, as independent stories with unique world building and character development, the fantasy ones worked better for me.


Fantasy


“The Wolf at the Door” by Kyle Robert Shultz


Don’t read this. Don’t look at a single word past this introduction.

I’m sorry to say I followed the advice, at least for a few minutes. I was sitting at my computer when I first downloaded the e-book, then moved to my bed for more comfortable reading. Author of the Beaumont and Beasley series, Shultz is brilliant at writing fairy tale retellings. Though this story references characters from the series, it can be understood and read on its own.

Reminiscent of the tale of Red Riding Hood, the story follows one Wilhelmina Grimm to a village in the woods. And that ending, though! I definitely didn’t expect that.

Overall Thoughts: Best Plot Twist

“Vengeance Hunter” by Hannah Heath


“Quila turned away. ‘I would rather starve than live on the blood of innocents.’”

I don’t usually read stories about vampires, but wow! That one was good.

I was first introduced to Heath’s writing by her short story Skies of Dripping Gold, and I’ve been hooked on her stories ever since. Her themes are amazing. Yes, even in a story told from the perspective of an antihero who harvests blood for her people. Creepy. *shudders*

My only question: is it plausible to harvest blood from a person after they’re dead without compromising the blood? I mean, sure, it’s a story about vampires, but still.

Overall Thoughts: Best Themes

“The Word Thrower” by Beth Wangler


“Words are sharp; wield them kindly.”

Several of Wangler’s books are on my TBR list, but I haven’t read much more than her short stories. While I may not have much to compare Wangler’s work to (yet), I still enjoyed this story and the way it explores how words have power and how they might have even more power if certain people have the ability to speak and have their words become reality.

I’m still not sure whether or not Dax counts as an antihero, though. I mean, I’m pretty sure I get what the author is going for, but still. *shrugs*

Overall Thoughts: Most Thought Provoking

“The Astounding Mortal Peril of Denna Dorwen” by Nate Philbrick


“When six o’clock tea-time settled over the Dragon Tooth Curiosity Shop, Denna Dorwen found herself suspended by the blouse from a peg on the wall, contemplating her own imminent doom.”

Well that was entertaining! I was first introduced to Philbrick’s work when I read his novel Where the Woods Grow Wild, a light-hearted fantasy adventure with great characters. Philbrick doesn’t disappoint with this short story, either. His writing style is witty and entrancing, and the plot twists took me by surprise. Seriously, I should have seen that coming!

The only thing is that I’m not sure whether to root for Denna or not. I’m leaning toward not. Antiheroes are so complicated.

Overall Thoughts: Best Antihero


Science Fiction


“Stealing Freedom” by J.E. Purrazzi


I’m sorry to say I don’t remember this one very much. I like the idea that Koya seems to be some sort of cyborg with some pretty cool abilities, but nobody seems to view his physical appearance in a positive light. That and he doesn’t seem to take a very active role in his own story. The story ended on a sort of cliffhanger, though, so perhaps there’s more to be told.

Overall Thoughts: Most International

“Gynoid” by K.L.+Pierce


This story is about a balance between logic and emotion, human and artificial intelligence. I liked the uniqueness of the writing style. Though it threw me off at first, I came to appreciate it more as the story went on. And the narrative introduced me to some terms I hadn’t understood before.

I’m not sure I fully understand this story. There were organizations I’m quite sure what their purpose was, much less what their acronyms stand for. Perhaps it’s meant to be a part of another novel I haven’t read?

Overall Thoughts: Most Scientific

“Striker” by E.B. Dawson

“I may not be religious, but I think my mother would have said that no scientific procedure can remove a man’s soul; he has to give it up willingly. And I’m not gonna do that.”

I had read one of Dawson’s novels before and didn’t care for it, but her short story in this anthology had to be my favorite in the sci-fi category. The plot follows Danny, a government agent with enhanced abilities known as a Striker, as he goes rouge and embarks on a self-imposed mission of vengeance. With stellar world building (pun intended), well-developed characters, and thought-provoking themes, this story is everything I enjoy about sci-fi.

My only complaint is the cliffhanger. I need more!

Overall Thoughts: Best Suspense

In all, I gave the Antiheroes anthology 4/5 stars for some great stories and some confusing ones, some heroic actions and some less than heroic. But hey, we’re talking about antiheroes here. Whoever asked for perfection? I’d recommend this anthology to readers of science fiction and fantasy looking for some interesting and thought-provoking stories.

Interested in Antiheroes? Have you read it yet? You might also enjoy these books: Colors of Fear by Hannah Heath, The Beast of Talesend by Kyle Robert Shultz, and Where the Woods Grow Wild by Nate Philbrick.

Let’s chat! Has Antiheroes made it to your to-be-read list yet? Have you read it yet? Have any fantasy/sci-fi anthology recommendations?

***

Sunday, November 18, 2018

3 Types of Writers You Should Know

I’ve learned a lot studying for my MBA, from marketing techniques to filling out an Excel spreadsheet. Yeah, I’m still trying to figure out that second one. It’s a steep learning curve. But one of the things I’ve enjoyed so much about the course is the way the professors encouraged each student to study what they’re interested in—particularly the area of business they wanted to pursue.

My interest lies with publishing and book retail. I did projects on various companies, from Bloomsbury Children’s Publishing to Barnes & Noble to my own idea for an independent bookstore.

One particular piece of advice that I’ve taken from my studies has been concerning leadership and learning. If you want to improve your skill, you should know three different types of people. And I thought, “Hey! This can apply to writing as well.” So I’ve put the following categories into writer’s terms.


The Student: A Writer with Less Skill


When it comes to learning, one of the best teachers is experience. Another is teaching. I’ve heard it said that if you can’t explain a concept in simple terms, then you don’t really understand it.


Not only do students help me refresh my memory on a concept I’ve heard about a million times (e.g. what is POV?), but they also teach me things I may have forgotten or may have missed (e.g. new words!). When it comes to classes where I’ve taught writing, I like to review the material myself and do extra research so I really know what I’m talking about. The same goes for editing or beta reading. Just because I may have been writing for years doesn’t give me an excuse not to pick up my Chicago Style Handbook, Writing the Breakout Novel, or even the dictionary.

Yes, talking to a less-skilled writer may make you feel smart, but it’s also a great way to pass on knowledge.

The Ally: A Writer with the Same Skill Level


The allies are perhaps the most fun to hang out with. No offense to the mentors or the students, but it’s easiest to make references and jokes when you better understand where the person is coming from.


Writers with a similar skill level also make great critique partners. That’s not saying you shouldn’t have somebody with more skill look over your writing. You probably should. Writers whom you can easily relate with are pretty good at catching mistakes you may have missed and critiques are easier to receive when they come from your peers.

That and when you’re done talking about your stories—Haha! That’ll never happen—you can talk about the latest books you’re reading.

The Mentor: A Writer with More Skill


I like to think of myself as a humble writer, but if I’m going to be completely honest, sometimes I can be particularly arrogant. I’ve been writing since I was twelve; I earned an M.A. in English Literature; and I’ve self-published a novelette series. (See, I even know what novelette means!)

Recently, I was put in charge of the writing group at my local library, and I was super excited to kick off our get together for the fall. Two people aside from myself showed up, one of whom is a published author (with an agent and everything!). When we got around to talking about querying agents, the author switched into teacher-mode and went into some of the details I feel like I’d heard or read countless times before. I wanted to say I already knew what she was talking about, but I kept my mouth shut for the benefit of the other writer who hadn’t heard it.


I had to remind myself that sometimes it’s okay to listen to advice instead of show off what I already know. Even though the meeting didn’t go quite as I expected, I still walked away with some valuable advice on showing emotion in writing, something I’ve struggled with for a while.

Mentors help keep writers humble. At least they do for me. While they can also make me feel uncomfortable sometimes, what with my lack of skill or review of concepts I already know, they can still help me learn.

If you haven’t already, find a writing mentor. You don’t have to go and stalk the writer closest to you (actually, please don’t), but ask for advice. This mentor can be a teacher, an indie author, a traditionally published author—so long as they have more experience than you. You may just learn something.

Let’s chat! How many of the writer types do you know? When’s the last time you talked with a writing mentor? What are they like?

***