Lessons From An Aspiring Author · Uncategorized

Lesson From An Aspiring Author: Always Write


This week at my SCBWI meeting in the Central South Ohio Regional Chapter we had an author visit from Jennifer Maschari, author of The Remarkable Journey of Charlie Price.

Throughout her presentation, Jen focused a lot on publishing. It was really helpful to hear from someone who has gone through the process before and who is actively working through the publishing of another book. There is so much about the industry that I have yet to learn.

The photo from above is from her presentation and discusses the process of traditional publishing. As you can see, it is a daunting process, but her advice is to always be writing something new. Publishing takes a really long time and if you are only working on that piece you may go years without writing something new. Exercise your mind and creativity and always always always work on that next big story. It will also help pass the time between stages in the publishing process.

I’ve found that setting routines for writing have helped me to always write. I have several projects I’m working on. I have revisions of my first book, short stories, a book I am beta reading for a fellow SCBWI member, articles for my church magazine, and I’m plowing my way through the first draft of a new story. I have to plan out how to get all these things done. If it seems like I’m blogging a little less than usual it is because I have been progressing in some of my projects. I’ve rearranged routines to fit the needs of my project list.

I can’t say I’ve mastered the routine yet. Right now I have days set aside for new writing, days for revision, and days for blogging. I am looking for new routine ideas to use my time efficiently. The writing life is a busy life especially when you tack on the fact that I also teach full-time and I have a family and friends that need my attention as well.

The most important thing, though, is that I’m writing. To be a writer isn’t to finish draft 1 and call it “done.” In fact, all of my first drafts have been pretty terrible. The journey is in revision and rewriting. We should always be working on the next big story.

The Ameri Brit Mom

Photos from: jenmaschari.com


Writing Conference: Yay or Nay?


My amazingly supportive and thoughtful husband bought me a year’s subscription to The Writer magazine for Christmas. It’s been a huge investment in my writing to take the time to read every article within each edition. I’ve been playing catch-up on the magazine reading as I was overseas for a month so I just recently finished the July publication. The whole magazine was centered on writing conferences. For the most part it was from a positive perspective. Today I would like to pose a question to all of the seasoned writer’s out there:

Is the experience of going to a writer’s conference worth the travel and expense?

I must admit that the idea of attending a conference is both exciting and scary. I would love to spend some time with people I can learn from and dialogue with about the art of writing, but at the same time the idea of traveling to a different city and spending so much time with complete strangers is a bit out of my comfort zone. It is also extremely expensive to enroll in the conference on top of all the travel expenses.

So what I want to know is whether it is worth it for me to pursue conferences. Let me know about your experience attending them and whether or not you recommend it.

The Ameri Brit Mom

fiction · Uncategorized

Switching Between Storylines: The Irresistible Novel

The thirteenth chapter in The Irresistible Novel by Jeff Gerke was succinct and to-the-point. As always, Gerke wrote about a “rule” and examined that rule from multiple perspectives.

**Disclaimer: The usual preferences he explores pertain to those opposed to the “rule”, those in favor of the “rule”, and The Gatekeepers, or publishers. All of this is done not to create prescriptive writing for his readers, but rather to help writers develop their own unique voice.

So here is a look at the very short chapter written about switching between storylines and viewpoint characters:


Switching Between Storylines

The “rule”- You shouldn’t introduce a lot of viewpoint characters and storylines very early on in a novel.

Before diving into this rule it is important to clarify that a viewpoint character is one through whose eyes or voice a story is told. It is expected in the writing industry that multiple characters will be introduced early in a novel, but the jumping from perspectives is the idea held in question. A storyline refers to the problems or situations unique to the viewpoint character.

Those who disagree with the “rule” generally argue that introducing multiple viewpoint characters within the first fifty pages of a novel builds reader engagement. Starting a story is oftentimes the hardest part  of the whole writing process. Engagement is the goal. And each author reaches the point of engagement in a different way. That’s what makes each book and author unique. If every book started the same way it would get pretty dull. If you ask me, whatever avenue you use to engage your reader (if done effectively) is never bound to any rule. Show off your unique voice and engage, engage, engage!

However, there is something to be said about the “rule” above. Part of engaging your reader involves forging connections to your main character. If jumping around viewpoints creates an unclear view of who the protagonist is in your story then it is definitely hindering your reader’s engagement. It should be clear from the first several pages who your reader should support as the main character. You want them to feel like part of your character’s team. Readers need to know who to root for and what they want them to accomplish in order to feel like part of the story.

I would be extremely cautious with switching between storylines or viewpoint characters in the first quarter of your novel. It can be done, but it’s difficult. Be sure to align your reader with the protagonist and build that relationship before giving them a new vantage point.

My Current Project…

My book (which I hope to name very soon) is written with two viewpoint characters who happen to also be father and son. I alternate chapter perspectives, but in the beginning I make it clear the protagonist is the father by giving him longer chapters and more of a transparent voice. The son’s story is told in broken pieces and short chapters. From chapter one the reader is left rooting for the father despite his bad luck and poor judgment.

**Side note: My recent trip to Chicago was not only a trip planned for vacation purposes, but also served in furthering research for my novel. The novel is set in downtown Chicago in 2015. I spent much of my trip traveling to locations mentioned in the novel to create more vivid details and verifying other portions of the plot. I’m really excited to add to my original manuscript and to continue my progress of making my baby a real, published book. Stay tuned for more details in future!

The Ameri Brit Mom



fiction · Uncategorized

Description: The Irresistible Novel

Currently, I am reading my way through The Irresistible Novel by Jeff Gerke. This book inspires me to really look at my writing on a deeper level. I’ve been reading while also working my way through the editing process of the novel I wrote. This practice has caused me to be a better editor. Each week the chapters give me something new to think about and focus on in the editing process which in turn is making me a better writer. First drafts can be pretty terrible, but Gerke’s book is helping me polish my work. This week the focus is on description.



According to Gerke, description is, “text that portrays the appearance of characters, items, and locations.” (Gerke 25) At first glance a non-writer might look at the argument of description and think that any book without it cannot be worth reading. However there is a major distinction between narrative and description. Narrative portrays action while description describes the nouns of the story. Believe it or not many publishers are anti-description. Many authors are as well. They feel that overdoing the description can stifle a reader’s experience. By dictating how a reader should envision something the description can sometimes keep a reader from connecting with a book on a genuine level.

There are some authors who completely omit description while others spend page upon page laying out each scene fluffed with description. There has to be some middle ground, right!?!

What Do You Think?

If you are unsure how you feel about this argument, pull a couple of books you have read recently. Get a few books you absolutely loved and a few that you utterly hated (and maybe never finished.) Re-read a few pages from anywhere in the book. Tally up which books use description heavily, moderately, and not at all. If you are anything like me you may discover something about yourself as a reader.

When I looked at my stack of books I preferred books with the moderate level of description. The books I loathed all had either heavy levels of description or none at all. Those which came in heavy on the description are those I would refer to as slow and boring books. Those that contained none at all I would refer to as books with which I never made a true connection. The plot might have been fine, but I never felt like I became part of the world along with the characters. To figure this one out give it a try yourself! Grab some books off your shelf and explore.

My Current Project…

My preferences in description tend to be natural. As I wrote my first draft of my novel there was nothing going on in my mind except the plot. I didn’t focus on grammar, editing, and I definitely didn’t think twice about description. I wrote to get my ideas on a page. But as I go back and edit my earlier work I see that I stayed fairly consistent in my use of description. I am a moderate descriptionist meaning that I recognize the need for description in forging connections to characters, setting, and scene. However, I also know that for many readers (like myself) going overboard on the description can lead to reader boredom.

This is one reason why it is so imperative that writers are also readers. It’s hard to write a book if you don’t have the experiences of reading so many. Writing,for me, has been a natural process born of abilities and enjoyment for reading.

The more books you read the more clear your writing voice becomes.

The Ameri Brit Mom