Sunday, September 15, 2019

A Writer's Guide to Job Interviews

Welcome back to my 2-part miniseries! Last month, I wrote about A Writer’s Guide to Job Applications, and today I’m here to post about the interview portion. Points one and two are all about preparation while the third is about the interview itself.

While actual interviews may come more often than manuscript requests, they’re still going to be fewer than the number of applications you send out. So when you finally make it to the interview stage, it can be exciting and nerve-wracking all at once. Here are a few tips I’ve employed for interview preparation.

1) Do Your Research

Come on, writers. You know you like this step. Or even if you don’t, it has to be done. But unlike writing a story, you can’t stop the middle of an interview to look up information on the company you’re applying to. You have to do that beforehand. And it helps a lot!

When I had my first ever job interview, I had no idea what I was doing. Even though I researched the company I was applying for, I failed to research confidence. So when the questions came up, I froze.
Some key information to know:

  • The company’s name and mission
  • The job position and salary estimate
  • Your mission

2) Have a Motivational Theme Song

You know how some writers like to pick certain songs for scenes or for their books? I know I do. I wrote Last of the Memory Keepers to the first How to Train Your Dragon soundtrack. Origami Swan shared the Doctor Strange soundtrack and Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. You get the picture.

When it comes to interview prep, you too can have a theme song (sung in your head during the interview, not aloud). I personally like “This is Me” from The Greatest Showman and this Marvel-themed adaptation of “We Will Rock You”:

Credit: Trailer Blend

3) Don’t Fall Your Face

Most how-to’s in of this type will teach you to have a firm handshake (important!) or proper posture (also important!), but I’m here to tell you that you can go into an interview without faceplanting. In all honesty, this is an actual concern I’ve had when trying something new. Fencing? Didn’t fall on my face. Job interviews? I’ve got this. Walking the dog on snow? Okay, that time I did faceplant, but that one’s on the dog.

Some tips to achieve proper upright position:

  •  Get a good night’s sleep the night before.
  • Exercise and stretch beforehand. Or if you don’t want to or don’t have time to shower, just stretch. It’s easier to have a clearer mind when you have a body that feels good.
  • Take a deep breath. Or two. Or three. Whatever it takes.
  • Stand tall. You made it this far. You deserve this interview. Remember, you are a writer! You are a (insert job position you’re interviewing for)!

It’s okay to make mistakes. If you do end up tripping, get back up again. If you forget which way you came from when you walk out of the office and walk down the wrong hallway, let your interviewer take the lead. (Yes, this happened to me. Yes, I still got the job.) If you stutter, don’t apologize. Just keep going.


Let’s chat! What are some of your tips for job interviews? Any fellow writers out there with a separate day job? Anybody have any tips for balancing work and writing? Tell me all!

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Book Hangovers

Terms in the book industry are weird. We’ve got cinnamon rolls that we ship—neither of which have anything to do with breakfast or the high seas. Writers experience writer’s block—though we still haven’t received a block of wood, thank you very much. And readers get book hangovers—who comes up with these terms? I don’t drink, so I don’t care for this last one, though I’ve certainly experienced it before.

Book Hangover: noun, 1) Being so engrossed with the last book you finished that you can’t get into a new book. 2) Having nothing to read, not necessarily the absence of reading material; synonymous without having nothing to wear or having nothing to do.

I wish I could say I’ve never had a book hangover, but it simply wouldn’t be true. Right before we moved, I set aside all the books I wanted bring while I didn’t have access to a library, and I slowly returned all my library books and forced myself not to check out any more.

Unfortunately, there happened to be several days in-between my setting aside the books and not having any library books, so I had no idea what to read. I tried asking my sister, and she kept pointing to books to which I said, “No… No… Just read that one… No… No… I HAVE NOTHING TO READ!”

Eventually, she just gave up on me. After a day of reading boredom, I finally settled on Esperanza Rising. Sure, I’m still learning, but overall, I’ve come up with some methods that have helped keep me from getting a book hangover.

Genre Hopping

I’m not saying you should read two different genres at once, though if that works for you, go right ahead (see next point). What I mean by this point is switching genres each time you finish a book, unless you only like one genre (how?). For example, if you just finished a fantasy novel, try a contemporary or nonfiction.

Not only does this form of genre hopping help me get into a new story better, it also helps me enjoy it more. I’ve found myself leaving higher star ratings. That’s not to say that I haven’t had my fair share of books I haven’t enjoyed, but it’s been easier to get into the ones that I do.

Bribe Reward Yourself

Sometimes, I have a hard time getting through nonfiction and classics than I do historical fiction or YA. I’ve found that listening to audio versions of nonfiction helps me because I can be productive at the same time. While listening to a book, I’ll often clean or commute. I’ve also found that sometimes, I’ll read a YA book after a chapter or two of another book, especially for classics as dense as Moby-Dick or Les Miserables.

Of course, if you just can’t get into the book or you don’t want to read it, there’s no 
saying you must finish it. Unless it’s for class. Then, you poor unfortunate soul, bribe yourself. In my undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, I would study for 45 minutes, then read a chapter or two in a fiction novel. That’s actually how I finished all 1,000 pages of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell in a week. Everybody needs a study break. Why not enjoy it by reading?*

*Granted, you should take other study breaks too, like going outside, eating food, and hanging out with friends. As a former hermit, I can confirm that these are helpful methods too.

Know Your Reading Habits

On an average day, I focus best on writing in the morning and reading in the afternoon. If I try to read in the morning, my eyes start watering, even with reading glasses. If I try writing in the afternoon, I usually can’t focus. Of course, there are exceptions such as when I’m traveling or visiting with friends, but this schedule is generally the one I follow.

As such, when I start a book in the afternoon, I either try to finish it that evening or the next day. If I finish a book too earlyat say, two o’clock—I may not know what to do with myself the rest of the day. For some reason, I just can’t read two books in one day, unless it’s a series.

Likewise, I’ve found that if I’m in the mood for a certain genre, I should pick that one up, even if I’m in the middle of another book. While this can cause some plot confusion, it can also keep the forward momentum going. If I try to force myself to read a book I’m not interested in at the moment, I’m just going to find ways to avoid the book more and more. Lately, I’ve been struggling with getting into some graphic novels—which is weird because they’re generally quick, easy reads—so I picked up Sadie and quickly breezed through the novel.

It all depends on what you like. And of course, most of these tips have to do with the first definition of a book hangover: being so engrossed with the last book you finished that you can’t get into a new book. I still have yet to figure out what to do when I have nothing to read.

Let’s chat! When’s the last time you had a book hangover? What are some methods you use to avoid them?


Literary references: Pam Muñoz Ryan’s Esperanza Rising, Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick, Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, and Courtney Summers’ Sadie.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Poem: Origins

I’ve been having a hard time writing poetry lately, but I’ve managed to dig up one I wrote in England that fits my experiences lately. New places. New people. New questions. As I’m making the transition from a military community back to civilian culture, it can be hard to find people who understand what it means to move all the time.

At least I am finally out of a tiny hotel room and into a rental cabin while my family is house hunting. With a little bit of breathing room, I’m back to making audio poems! Let me know if you’d like audio for the previous two poems as well.


Is there anything particularly Canadian about a goose
who lives in Maine or the Carolinas, Mexico or England?
Honk a little, girls. Don’t be afraid to let them
hear your voice or see your black-striped faces.
You’re only as brave as your feathers.
Canadian Goose, Canada Goose, where are you from?
Not this dumb question again.
Currently: Mexico.


Let’s chat! How long have you lived where you’re currently living? What’s the farthest you’ve ever traveled?

Interested in an audio version of Fireflies and Concrete Forest, Paper Meadows? Let me know!