A Writer’s Christmas Wish List

We writers live in a fantasy world much of the time, and a large portion of us spend a lot of time inside behind a computer so it can be difficult to find the perfect gift. I thought I’d throw out some suggestions to help in all of your gift giving adventures. (This post is not sponsored and I am not benefitting by the mention of any of the products)

 

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the smell of a book. Hand me a new one and I’ll open it up and stick my nose right in. The scent is pure heaven. This Old Books soy candle by Frostbeard Studio looks divine! If I don’t get one, or twelve for Christmas I will be gifting it to myself.

Autocrit. I don’t have it. But I want it. This website allows you to upload your manuscript (or chapters) and it will edit them and give you tons of amazing feedback. The goal, get it ready to send to editors/agents/etc. You want your words to stand out for the right reasons, not because your editing is horrible. I’ve heard amazing things about this service and can’t wait to put it to use… once someone gifts me a subscription. P.S. You can even get a free first pass at your work.

Let’s face it. Writers write. On anything and everything. I have notes on receipts, napkins, a torn up aspirin bottle box… I could go on and on. Give the writer in your life a place to writer down their more casual thoughts or brainstorming. I can’t get enough of Rifle Paper Co. They have so many options that you can’t help but be inspired to scribe.

I don’t have the best posture, so after a long stint of writing, my back and neck are aching. I know I’m not alone. This amazing neck and shoulders heat wrap is perfect for a writer. They can easily wear it while at work, or while relaxing on the sofa. And doesn’t it look comfy?

Every writer has their own process. I’m one who loves to brainstorm on paper and I use many different colors while I do it. The different colors may represent a character, or a location or even scene. Gel pens are so smooth on the pen that they help keep the ideas flowing – just what a writer needs. This is a little gift. Perfect for a stocking stuffer, but it will be greatly appreciated and prove that you get them and all of their writer quirkiness.

 

When you’re planning complicated and layered characters, or mystical and far-off worlds, the last thing you want to also plan, is dinner. I have been using Plated for several months now and I love it. And when I say love, I mean that I’m obsessed. It’s a life saver and the meals are incredible. A subscription to this amazing service would be the gift of legends.

I hope this list helps give you some simple gift ideas. These are great for Christmas or any time of year that you’d like that writer in your life to know that you’re thinking of them. You never know, they’ll love it so much they may just write a character based on you… and not kill you off at the end. 🙂

 

And don’t forget, my new novel, Losing Brave (BlinkYA/Harper Collins) releases on January 30th. If you pre-order, you get a great swag pack – and there’s even a great Christmas Swag Pack. Check it out!

The Struggle Is Real

Things have been crazy busy in my world, which is everything I ever hoped for – when it comes to my writing journey.

Losing Brave is set to release on January 30th. Annabelle Hooper and the Ghosts of Nantucket continues to do well. I’m co-writing my first non-fiction book with an extraordinary teen and it will be ready to query in the next month. I just finished the first draft of a brand new for-hire film script. I am contracted to write another and I have one that I’ve been playing around with for a while that’s tumbling around in my head and eventually gets a bit of work done on it.

Trust me – all of that is heaven for me! So encouraging, and it gets my creative juices flowing. But, just as in everything else, there are always road bumps and disappointments.

  • I’ve been working on a trilogy for going on five years. FIVE YEARS! I work on it here and there, and have completed the first two books but a recent conversation with an acquisitions editor has left me putting that one on the back burner. The genre isn’t selling right now, so publishers aren’t taking submissions from the genre. BUMMER! It’s difficult to put your heart and soul into something you truly believe in and realize that it won’t have a life – at least not any time soon.
  • My three indie-published books (Salvaged, Rise, Collision) have been pulled from the market due to the publishing company’s alleged fraud.
  • Two film scripts that I rewrote (for-hire) are sitting on the shelf. Great projects, but the film industry is a tough one.
  • A television project that I’ve been working on, and was moving full steam ahead, seems to have stalled a bit. Or a lot. I can’t tell. My hopes were high and the disappointment is real.

The creative part of me loves working on all kinds of different projects. The business part of me despises being dependent on others to help bring those projects to life. But isn’t that how it always is? Birth requires just the right timing and environment and I’ve learned (the painful way) to trust the process even when it doesn’t seem to look so good.

As writers, all we can do is keep writing. Keep telling stories. Keep giving birth to those characters that like to wake us up in the middle of the night and ask us to come out and play. And I’m often reminding myself to go back to that place where there wasn’t any pressure. I was just telling stories. It was fun and the process was an escape.

So – I’m pouring my free time into a novel that I’ve been wanting to write for a while but it just hadn’t fully developed in my mind – until last week.

As I laid in bed one night, the full story revealed itself. I pulled out my phone, opened my Scrivener app and had the major chapters outlined and summarized in a matter of minutes. This has never – and I mean, never – happened to me before. A story usually doesn’t reveal itself to me until I sit down and start typing. I never know what’s going to happen until the moment it appears on the computer screen. It’s been a fun difference, but I fully expect changes to come and new surprises around every corner.

Writing is such an odd, yet wonderful thing. With it come highs and lows – and life lessons galore. Lessons that we can turn around and teach our characters, because as you know – all life is story material!

My encouragement for all of you – hang in there. Keep writing. Don’t give up.

Believe.

Always believe.

 

Pre-order your copy of Losing Brave today and receive it on your doorstep release day!

The Process of Co-Writing ‘Losing Brave’

A FaceTime brainstorming chat.

“How did you two write together when you don’t live near one another?”

It’s a great question that we get asked all the time so I thought I’d dive into a bit of the behind-the-scenes for how Bailee and I co-wrote the book.

I suppose that we were lucky in that neither one of us had co-written a novel before so we didn’t really know if there was a “right” way to do it. We had to just wing it, and wing it we did!

The first step of any writing project is brainstorming concepts, characters, story lines and even scenes. Bailee and I were able to do a lot of that over the phone or via FaceTime. We would also text each other when we had an idea out of the blue and since Bailee works a lot of odd hours on set, my phone would go off at all hours of the day and night but I loved every second of it.

Bailee and I were blessed to have a few opportunities to spend time together face to face. First, we met back in Nantucket when Annabelle Hooper and the Ghosts of Nantucket was featured in the Nantucket Film Festival. We made the most of our few days together and brainstormed scenes, created characters and laid out a lot of great content that eventually found it’s way into the novel.

Stefne, Bailee and Patti in Nantucket for the Nantucket Film Festival

I also traveled to Toronto in December of 2016 and spent ten days with her while she was working on “Good Witch”.  When she wasn’t on set, we were in her trailer working on the story. Once we were home for the night, we’d order takeout, sit down and work some more.

In case you’re wondering – Toronto is freezing in December!

For the most part it involved a lot of e-mailing pages back and forth and giving and receiving input. Luckily, we were so much on the same page with what we wanted the story to be, there weren’t many disagreements. Or if one of us had an idea that we loved but just didn’t fit – we found another way to work it in. Or – we saved it. You never know, it might work for a different project. 🙂

The collaboration process was not only fun, but I think it was a learning opportunity for both us. We learned a lot about ourselves and about how to work as a team, fight for what you want and compromise. All great life lessons.

If you have a question that you would like answered, head over to my “Contact” page and fill out the form! I’d love to answer your questions – and maybe get Bailee to help!

 

Pre-order your copy of Losing Brave today and receive it on your doorstep release day!

Why Bailee Madison and I Wrote ‘Losing Brave’ Together

Our daily drive to the Annabelle Hooper set with Bailee, Patti (B’s mom), Stefne, Mavrick and Dawn (Mav’s mom)

One of the questions that Bailee and I are asked most often is how we came to a place of writing a novel together. So, I thought I’d take a moment to share the story with you.

Bailee and I started a friendship several years ago. She was reading a novel that I’d written and liked it enough to reach out to me on Twitter.  After a brief conversation over Twitter DM’s, we spoke for a few hours on the phone that evening and really hit it off. We had very similar ideas when it came to the types of projects we wanted to create and vowed to stay in contact. I even traveled to Florida to spend a few days with Bailee and her mother, Patti to discuss project ideas.

Bailee and Stefne first meet- March 2014

When the time came for Annabelle Hooper and the Ghosts of Nantucket to go into pre-production, as one of the producers for the project, Bailee suggested that they bring me on board to rewrite/age up the script. Excited for the chance to work on my first film project and to work alongside Bailee, I jumped at the opportunity. In a matter of only a few short months I’d reworked the script and was on my way to Nantucket for the shoot.

A typical morning drive to the Annabelle Hooper set with Bailee and Patti.

Although it was hectic and our time together was mostly in the car on the way to the next location or home for the night, Bailee and I continually talked about creating other projects together. During one of those chats, I floated the idea of co-writing a novel together and shared a general story idea that had been rolling through my mind for several years.

Bailee and Stefne in Toronto – 2016

Luckily, Bailee loved the idea and the starting story concepts for Losing Brave were born. Once we returned back to our very different “normal” lives, we continued the process and eventually Blink YA signed on to publish the story.

Bailee and I believe that everything happens for a reason and God brings people into your life for a purpose. Our friendship and love of story are proof that we were brought together for a reason and one of those reasons was to tell the story of Payton Brave.

We can’t wait for you to read it!

Pre-order your copy of Losing Brave today and receive it on your doorstep release day!