The Best Writing Advice Ever

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My guest today is Lillian Duncan, a bestselling author and finalist in the Carol Awards. Please see more about her latest release, Trapped, after her post. And don’t miss her two giveaways. See details below.

 

Lillian: I love being able to say, “I’m a writer!” I used to say it but wasn’t sure if I believed it myself. After more than twenty books and being on the Amazon bestseller list, I believe it!

Best Advice

The first and best advice I got on becoming a writer was …. drumroll, please … write every day! I know some writers live by that advice and others don’t. As for me, I don’t believe my latest book, TRAPPED, would exist if I hadn’t lived by that advice.

That may sound melodramatic, but I think it’s true.        

For many years, I wrote every day—no matter what happened. OK—I didn’t write when I took vacations but that was about it. The result of that is that it became a habit. A very good habit!

The Habit

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Writing every day keeps my creative juices flowing.

Writing every day keeps me sane—even when insane things are happening.

Writing every day deepens my commitment to writing.

Writing every day keeps the story moving forward.

Habits During Struggles

In 2011, I finally got my first traditional book contract. In 2012, I was diagnosed with bilateral brain tumors. I won’t go into all the gory details, but life got rocky for me. Very rocky. 

But a habit is a habit and so I kept on writing, not every day but certainly every other day.  It wasn’t easy. Some days I could only write for ten minutes, other days maybe thirty. But each of those ten-minute sessions added to the story … until the story was finished.

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I submitted to my publisher. While I waited to hear if it was accepted, I kept writing. Because after all, a habit is a habit. By the time I knew that story had been accepted, I was well into writing another story.

Success

And because a habit is a habit, I kept writing story after story after story. And they kept getting accepted and published. 

I really believe that if writing every day hadn’t become a habit, I really would have given up when I was struggling so much because of the brain tumors. During that time, I invented what I call The Twenty-Five Word Club.

I made a commitment to write twenty-five words every day toward a new story. Anybody has time to write twenty-five words, no matter how busy you are. Even when you don’t feel good, you can muster up enough energy to write twenty-five words.

Some days, twenty-five words were about all I could do. But then, there were the other days when I might write a hundred or even a thousand.

Anybody want to join The Twenty-Five Word Club?

Lillian’s Giveaways

To celebrate the release of TRAPPED, I’m having a giveaway! One lucky winner will receive a $25 Amazon Gift Card as well as a choice of one of my books (e-book only). To enter CLICK HERE.

One more lucky winners will win A $25 Amazon Gift Card on my website. To enter, go to www.lillian-duncan.com and leave a comment under the TRAPPED Giveaway Post. 

Angelina Matthews has everything—rich, famous and beautiful—until the day she’s kidnapped and trapped in a basement with a madman, wearing only a T-shirt. The dirt is his—the blood is hers. Tormented and tortured, she cries out to God. 

Help comes in the form of Nate Goodman.

When their paths cross months later, Nate discovers Angelina is still trapped—not in a basement but in the memories she can’t escape. Nate knows all about being trapped—and getting un-trapped. 

As an ex-Chicago cop he’s had his own demons to wrestle, but his faith helped him to move forward. He reaches out to Angelina whose paranoid delusions have her trapped still.

But are they delusions?

Lillian Duncan… turning faith into fiction.

Lillian is a multi-published author who lives in the middle of Ohio Amish country with her husband and a menagerie of pets. After more than 30 years working as a speech pathologist for children, she believes in the power of words to transform lives, especially God’s Word. Her goals is to write stories that entertain but also demonstrate God’s love for all of us. To learn more about her, visit www.lillian-duncan.com as well as her devotional blog at www.PowerUpWithGod.com.

How Much Time in a Week Does an Author Write?

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When I started writing, I couldn’t have imagined what my weeks would look like after my books published. For the last seven years, I’ve been a full-time writer. Let me rephrase that, a full-time author. I’ve learned there’s a difference, as I’ll show.

Background

I work five days a week. Often, I work a half-day on Saturdays to make up for non-writing half days I allow each month for

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  • teaching a weekly Bible study,
  • attending a women’s church meeting,
  • hosting a prayer shawl ministry,
  • meeting with a writers group, and
  • fulfilling doctor and hair appointments.

 

My normal workday is from nine to six. Besides trying to keep up with emails, here’s what my writing week looked like last week:

Monday

  • Reported last week’s progress and this week’s goals to my writing accountability group.
  • Polished the writing-craft blog post I drafted last week, downloaded photos from Pixabay, and put the post on WordPress.
  • Worked on my book cover for CreateSpace. I have an e-book that was published in a collection on Amazon. I’m putting my book into a print version on Amazon. The cover and manuscript must be reformatted for print. (This took my husband and me hours more than I’d scheduled.)

Tuesday

  • Drafted a post for the Seriously Write Blog. I’m a regular contributor.
  • Practiced reading Chapter 1 of one of my other books. The publisher asked for an audio copy for promotions.
  • Sent e-book copies of yet another book to two winners for last week’s Author Cross Promotion Giveaway.
  • Worked again on the book going into print. Researched how to test for embedded fonts, etc.

Wednesday

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Published a Facebook Author Page post.
Recorded practice sessions of Chapter 1 on QuickTimePlayer.
Worked to get the print book’s cover and manuscript into a PDF-acceptable format for CreateSpace.

 

 

 

Thursday (only a half day available)

  • Published my writing-craft blog post, promoted it, and replied to comments.
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    Reworked the back cover and manuscript PDFs and submitted the cover and manuscript to CreateSpace.
  • Recorded Chapter 1 on editable GarageBand (learning curve).

Friday

  • Drafted a post for my next week’s blog post.
  • Contacted upcoming conference’s bookstore. Asked for the procedure for putting my books on consignment.
  • Ordered a test copy of the print book from CreateSpace.
  • Edited the Chapter 1 audio on GarageBand and saved as an MP3.

Hopefully, you noticed I spent no time this week writing my new book. Many weeks are like this one.

The Solution

For the last several months, my husband has taken on additional tasks in supporting my writing career. To vacuuming, laundry, and shopping, he has added several book-marketing jobs, editing tasks, and learning to use CreateSpace and GarageBand. I’m so thankful God called my husband to team up with me. I hope to spend more time writing.

Other than when authors are on tight book deadlines, just how much writing time do they fit into their schedules in a week? Click to tweet.

Who in your cache of family and friends could you recruit to take over a non-writing task or two?

COOKING UP KISSES – has earned an Amazon #1 bestseller ribbon in two categories!

Five scrumptious e-book romance novellas, all for $0.99 or free on KindleUnlimited. Here’s the link.  Here are the blurbs:

 

 

 

THE INVISIBLE WOMAN IN A RED DRESS BY ZOE M. McCARTHY

Candace Parks lives a passionless life in Richmond. The computer programmer returns to the empty family home in the Blue Ridge Mountains solely to evaluate her job, faith, and boyfriend. Her high school crush, Trigg Alderman, who barely remembers her, visits his Gram next door. Sorting her life out? How about nothing of the sort!

 

LOVE ON A DARE BY MARY MANNERS

Alana Mulvaney’s life is in a holding pattern. Consumed by day-to-day operations of the family business, Alana has no time for fun or romance. But a little fun and a whole lot of romance is just what Alana’s sisters have in mind when they learn childhood friend Donovan O’Reilly has returned to town.
Donovan O’Reilly has loved Alana Mulvaney since he moved in next door to her at the age of five. But he broke her heart when he was forced to leave town, and now that he’s returned home to Winding Ridge he has a second chance to prove himself. But is it too late to earn her trust…and her love…again?

HUMMINGBIRD KISSES BY DELIA LATHAM

Toni Littlebird believes that when she meets the man God created for her, she’ll know—and she’ll love him in that very moment.
But then Dax Hendrick roars into Hummingbird Hollow on a noisy, crippled Harley, stinking up the air and chasing away her beloved hummingbirds. One look into the intruder’s eyes and her heart sinks. He’s “The One.” She’d been right about knowing, but wrong about something far more important: She will never love this man!

HEARTS ON THE HARBOR BY ROBIN BAYNE

Cara Peyton is content with her life, her trendy Baltimore bookshop is perfect for her. But when her ex turns up to remodel the store, asking for a second chance, she’s torn and unsure about risking her heart again. Can he convince her to trust him, and God, before the job is finished?

 

 

HIS VALENTINE PROMISE BY DORA HIERS

Another Valentine’s Day and Quinn Randolph prefers to spend it with her sweet rescue lab. Who needs men and their broken promises? Especially Pierce Karson’s! Years ago, his desertion shattered her. Now he’s trying to steal the property she targeted to expand her florist shop! Pierce only wants to belong…and for Quinn to choose him. His Valentine Promise…

It’s OK for a Writer to …

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As 2017 ended, I contemplated how I could make 2018 calmer for me as a writer. My word for 2017 was CALM. Focusing and praying on staying calm last year has blessed me. Since January, God has healed me of chronic insomnia and shown me how to receive the peace He offers. So as I leave my year of CALM, I wanted to list other things that will continue my calmness as I go forward.

It’s OK for a Writer to …

 

Platform, Promotion, and Marketing

 

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♥ Take off holidays from posting blogs. I faithfully blog once a week. This year I simply wished my readers well at Thanksgiving and Christmas. I was sincere in my wishes, and the break in blogging revitalized me. 

♥ Use the learning and research performed during writing, marketing, and platform building as topics for blogs. For me, this quickly produces blogging ideas, and the research is mostly done.

♥ Accept offered help. This may be from several people. After my husband retired, he took over the vacuuming, shopping, and laundry so I could write. Then, he read and offered input on my manuscripts. This year, he has revamped my spreadsheets that track my sales for tax reporting and my inventories. He does several marketing tasks, and he’s going with me to a writer’s conference. Hurray! He’s even learned to make memes! Relief for me.

♥ Say no to disliked promotion activities or those that experience or research has shown aren’t worth the work. For me, that’s TV or Radio interviews, blog tours, and non-reader-related fairs.

♥ Ask for information or help to make progress. I’m respectful of others’ time, but I’ve learned most publishing staff, other writers, and readers want to help. And many who can’t, wish they could.

Writing

♥ Write in the style and manner that personally works best. For me, I like to create a thought-out journey, then have the freedom to be creative along the way as I listen to my characters.

♥ Make mistakes in drafts. I was surprised at how many of the “mistakes” I write about in my blogs I did in my latest draft. For my draft, this is OK.

♥ Learn from mistakes. Now, as I write and edit, my critique partner sits on one shoulder, my editors sit on the other, and my writing blog posts perch atop my head. These kind people want my story to be the best it can be. I enjoy hearing them speak to me as I write.

<<>>

My word for 2018 is BOLD. If I’m truly bolder, I’ll be less anxious and that will contribute to my calmness. And I’ll take better care of myself in this demanding profession.

Writers, give yourselves permission to __. And enjoy the writing profession in 2018. Click to tweet.

If you have a word that represents what you’d like to work on this year, would you share it with us? And what will you give yourself permission to do or not do?

 

 

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Amanda Larrowe’s lack of trust sabotages her relationships. The English teacher and award-winning author of middle-grade adventure books for boys has shut off communication with friends and family to meet her January 2 book deadline. Now, in the deepest snow accumulation Richmond, Virginia has experienced in years, Camden Lancaster moves in across the street. After ten years, her heart still smarts from the humiliating aftermath of their perfect high school Valentine’s Day date. He may have transformed into a handsome, amiable man, but his likeability doesn’t instill trust in Amanda’s heart. When Cam doesn’t recognize her on their first two encounters, she thinks it’s safe to be his fair-weather neighbor. Boy is she wrong