Writers on Writing: Tamara Woods

author-pic-headshotTamara Woods is a poet, writer, and now a podcaster.

Tamara grew up in the poorest state of the Union as a laid-off coal miner’s daughter. She learned from this that money isn’t the root of all happiness, but it sure makes it easier. One fateful summer at a youth workshop she learned both the art of stolen kisses and being open in her poetry: lessons she’s never forgotten.

She didn’t wear the coolest clothes. She listened to alternative rock when everyone else was into hip hop. She was a staunch reader and an avid dreamer. She’d be the first to greet “the new kid” at school so they wouldn’t feel lonely. That little weird girl has grown to be an adult, who still cultivates friendships along a broad spectrum of personalities and interests. She still doesn’t want people to feel alone.

All of these aspects of her life have culminated into her writing that’s accessible to people. Her poetry is spoken word with a heavy emphasis on things that we all know and do. Her fiction hits on darker, uncomfortable subjects, because she’s a firm believer that stories can be beautiful without being pretty.

She’s living on an island now, still a misfit, but now there’s palm trees. Life feels differently in a world filled with palm trees. She geeks out on books, Doctor Who, Star Trek TNG (aka the best generation), and social media.the-shaping-cover

What is the most important thing you’ve learned about writing?

When I was much younger, I thought the writing had to come out perfectly. That editing would somehow change the integrity of the work. Oh how naïve I was! Editing is the backbone of the writing process. In order to have one, you have to have the other.

How has this helped you as a writer?

It’s improved my writing immensely. When my work goes in front of people, I want it to be as close to perfect as possible.

Mac or PC?

I’m a PC.

Do you use Word or Scrivener?

Both, but I’m leaning more for Scrivener for novels and Word for short stories, poetry etc…

Do you write or take notes with an iPad or tablet?

No, I take notes with a notepad and a pen. I can’t shake the habit and I just don’t see a need to update it. Writing by hand is much more natural to me.

Do you have any writing rituals?

Right now, I’m developing a habit that I’ll share with you. I’m following “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron. It’s a book that’s supposed to help you unleash your creativity. One thing she advises is for you to write three pages every morning for about 30 mins. I’ve been doing these morning pages on my couch at between 7am and 8am. Then I go over to my desk for the rest of my writing day. I burn incense and play music in the background, usually something without any words. Beverages are key. Either frozen or hot coffee and a mason jar with ice water. (When I write it out, it seems a lot more complicated than it actually is.)

Do you start by writing or researching first?

I start by writing first. I like to get the idea down and then work backward to see what blanks I need to fill. Basically in order to find out what I don’t know, I need to start writing.

Favorite spot to write in the winter?

I’m in Hawai’i, so it’s all the same. Somewhere cool preferable in AC or in front of a fan. If I’m visiting my family in West Virginia, then I prefer to have hot cocoa.

Favorite spot to write in the summer?

When it’s too hot in my apartment, then I like to go hangout in a library. It’s cool and usually quiet. I’m not a big write on the beach person, but it does happen occasionally.

Visit Tamara’s website for the latest news. You can find her YouTube videos where she posts a weekly writing vlog and geeks out about books. She also has co-edits a poetry journal: The Reverie Journal. She’s been published and you can find her work on Amazon.

Follow her on Twitter: @penpaperpad

Like her Facebook page

Copyright © 2016 by Diane Morasco. All Rights Reserved.

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Author Fun: 13 Questions About Alessandra Torre!

at-headshot-blueAlessandra Torre is an award-winning New York Times bestselling author of thirteen novels. Her books focus on romance and suspense, all with a strong undercurrent of sexuality. Torre has been featured in such publications as Elle and Elle UK, Dirty Sexy Funny with Jenny McCarthy, as well as guest blogged for the Huffington Post and RT Book Reviews. She is also the Bedroom Blogger for Cosmopolitan.com.

1. Where is your favorite place to write?

On the back porch of our home. It’s right on the beach, and I love seeing all of the activity on the sand, and listening to the waves. It’s a nice backdrop, though it is really tempting at times. 🙂

2. Coffee or Tea?

Neither. I hate them both. Dr Pepper 🙂

3. Favorite book of all-time?

On Writing by Stephen King. It is what gave me the confidence to write my own book. As far as a fiction book … it’s impossible to pick. I just … I can’t.

4. NaNoWriMo yes or no?

YESSSS! I’ll be participating this November!

5. Genre that you would write if you had no restrictions?

I’ve always wanted to write a pirate romance and a time-travel book. Both are on my bucket list.

6. If you could have any superpower what would it be?

Reading minds.

7. Favorite author?

Gillian Flynn. Lisa Gardner. Liane Moriatry.

8. What kind of music do you listen to when you write?

It depends on the book. When I wrote Hollywood Dirt, I listened to a lot of 90s Country. Right now I’m writing a pretty dark novel, and listening to a lot of depressing ballads.

9. If you could live anywhere in the world where will it be?

I’d spend half the year in Great Exuma, and half in Destin, Florida. I live in Destin now and love it, but I’d love to escape to a quiet island sometimes.

10. What do you do when you get writer’s block?

Read. Watch movies. Take my dogs on long walks. Travel. I don’t suffer from a lot of writer’s block. Procrastination and Distractions are my worst enemies.

11. Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Pantser. 100%. I don’t suggest it to anyone. Rewrites are hell. But it’s how my creative process works.

12. Do you have a playlist for your characters?

Yep – I have a lot of playlists on Spotify for my books. I love Spotify.

13. Do you write every day?

I try to, but normally only get 5 days in a week. And I try to write 2,000 words on those days.

Visit Alessandra’s website for the latest news or you can find her on Twitter or her Facebook fan page.

Copyright © 2016 by Diane Morasco. All Rights Reserved.

Writers on Writing: Anna Hub

anna-hub-author-photoWhen Anna Hub was a child, she wanted to be an author. It seemed like a perfectly attainable dream to Hub then, but of course, she grew up and realized writing was not the best way to make a future for herself. So she discarded the idea and decided to do something normal.

When Hub studied nursing, she thought she’d found a place for herself, but within six months of working in that field, Hub knew she needed more. So in July 2007, Hub bought herself a laptop and started writing in her spare time. It took Hub two years to complete her first book and by the time it was finished she felt as though she’d learnt enough to pursue the dream.

Hub’s love for writing has grown rapidly since then and now she knows it’s something she can’t live without. It’s a place where there is no limit, no exact destination and her mind is free to exist in many worlds

It’s a beautiful sanctuary.anna-hub-writing-space

What is the most important thing you’ve learned about writing?

To accept criticism. It’s such a tough thing to deal with, especially when you’re first starting out (and we writers are a sensitive bunch). But after a few years, the bad reviews don’t sting quite as much. You start to notice that the thing one person complained about is exactly the same thing that someone else loved.
Once you shove your ego aside, you realize a lot of those negative reviews made really good points. You begin to separate yourself from your work and you become a better writer.

How has this helped you as a writer?

It has set me free. Truly. It’s allowed me to let go of the fear that my writing won’t be perfect. Because in reality, no piece of writing has ever been perfect, and no piece of writing ever will be. Art is subjective, but that’s the beauty of it.the-ninth-hunter-ebook-cover

Mac or PC?

PC. I don’t like the way Apple will only allow you to use other Apple products, because ultimately I want the freedom to buy whatever gadget suits me rather than having to stick with one brand. But if I’m honest, it’s probably a matter of principle for me rather than practicality. Take that Apple!

Do you use Word or Scrivener?

I’m pretty happy with Word at this stage. I do like to plot quite extensively before I get started though, and I’ve heard Scrivener is a great aid for plotters, so I definitely won’t rule it out in the future.beyond-the-shadows-cover

Do you write or take notes with an iPad or tablet?

Usually I take notes when I’m first starting out or when I’m stuck on a plot hole. Somehow writing with pen and paper makes that process more organic. Almost as though having a screen in front of me puts the pressure on to produce a result. With pen and paper, I feel like I can just let thoughts flow in their own time.

Do you have any writing rituals?

At the moment I’m doing all my drafting with dictation. I was having trouble with productivity because I was fed up with sitting at a desk. I’d get headaches and sore shoulders, and I’d heard good things about dictation. I started about two months ago and I’m completely hooked! It’s so liberating and it stops me from self editing while I draft which is a huge time saver. After all, a draft is meant to be rubbish haha
So, my ritual is to dictate in the car on the way home from work, or to and from social events on the weekend. Driving is a great for my imagination too. It’s amazing being able to combine the two!

Do you start by writing or researching first?

I like to research at the beginning. Often to help with plot inspiration. Once I know where my story is going, I write the draft and research again at the end to fill in the blanks. But I also love to create my own mythology so I’m not bound by someone else’s rules.shadowhunters_ebook-2

Favorite spot to write in the winter?

Probably in bed! It seems so indulgent, but what other job allows you to stay in bed in your PJs all the day and call it work? A-mazing!

Favorite spot to write in the summer?

I live in Australia and it gets ridiculously hot here in summer. So pretty much anywhere with an air conditioning vent nearby! Or by the pool. That’s always a great setting. Again, what other job allows you the freedom to do that and call it work 😉

For the latest news, visit Anna’s website.

Copyright © 2016 by Diane Morasco

Writers on Writing: Jenny Hale

img_0380When Jenny Hale graduated college, one of her friends said, “Look out for this one; she’s going to be an author one day.” Despite being an avid reader and a natural storyteller, it wasn’t until that very moment that the idea of writing novels occurred to her.

Sometimes our friends can see the things that we can’t.

While she didn’t start straight away, that comment sowed a seed and several years, two children, and hundreds of thousands of words later, she completed a novel that she felt was worthy of publication. The result was Coming Home for Christmas, a heart-warming story about friends, family, and the magic of love at Christmas.

The rest is history.

When she’s not writing, she’s a mother of two boys and a wife to a very supportive husband.img_0333

What is the most important thing you’ve learned about writing?

I think it’s that every book is different. Every plot structure, every edit—it’s all unique to the book I’m writing at that time. I often try to create some sort of mental template to make the next book “easier” to write, but there isn’t one. Each book has its own complexities.

How has this helped you as a writer?

It’s taught me that it’s okay to just start at a blank page with no expectations. Just write.

Mac or PC?

Mac

Do you use Word or Scrivener?

When I switched from PC to Mac, I didn’t have time between books to learn anything new, so I put Word on my Mac and kept rolling! Still using Word.all-i-want_rgb-1

Do you write or take notes with an iPad or tablet?

I do everything on my Mac or on quick, handwritten sticky-notes and things.

Do you have any writing rituals?

Lately, I’ve put instrumental music on very quietly in the background, and that has really helped me to focus. I might also light a candle. And I always have to have a very tidy workspace.

Do you start by writing or researching first?

I just write and research as I go.summer-at-oyster-bay_final-1

Favorite spot to write in the winter?

My office.

Favorite spot to write in the summer?

Also my office, but sometimes I’ll go outside on a nice day and sit on my front porch or my back deck.

Visit Jenny’s website for the latest news.

Copyright © 2016 by Diane Morasco

Writers on Writing: Jamie Raintree

Jamie Raintree Book Cover PhotoJamie Raintree is an author, a writing business teacher and the creator of the Writing & Revision Tracker. She is also a mother of two, a wife, a businesswoman, a nature-lover, and a wannabe yogi. Her debut women’s fiction novel, Letting Go of You, will be released in Fall 2017.

What is the most important thing you’ve learned about writing?

Wow! Pulling no punches on that one! Honestly, there is SO much great writing advice out there that I can’t think of one single thing that’s the most important. In this moment, I will say that I’ve learned the hard way how necessary it is to foster the writing habit. I’m not one who subscribes to writing every single day—I learned a while ago that family commitments on weekends are too disrupting and only set me up to fail—but most every week day I write. Keeping that momentum going prevents me falling into a rut, which is honestly the worst thing a writer can do for their creativity and their souls.

How has this helped you as a writer?

This helps me because when I allow my writing to slip away from me and not be a consistent part of my day, I start to lose confidence in myself, the doubts creep in, and I fall into a very negative state of mind. A writer needs to be writing! It’s important for our mental health, even when it feels like crap or like we are throwing words into an abyss. The act of putting words on the page and accomplishing something—anything—keeps us connected to our purpose. No matter what else might happen during the day, if I put words to the page, I feel like I’ve succeeded, and that feeling of success brings me back to the page tomorrow.

Mac or PC?

I’m an all-Apple-all-the-time girl, and I’m never going back!

Do you use Word or Scrivener?

Neither, actually! I use this awesome program called Storyist, which is similar to Scrivener but, in my opinion, much more user friendly. Beware—right now it’s only available for Mac users. (I have a blog post comparing Storyist and Scrivener if you’d like to check it out.)

Do you write or take notes with an iPad or tablet?

Neither, generally. I still prefer to do it the old fashioned way, with a notebook and paper. My favorite notebook is the disc-bound notebook I got from the office supply store that has separators and moveable pages. It’s much more organized than the average notebook, and organization is a huge love of my life. (Yes, I know how weird this is.) (I also have a blog post on this. The notebook…not how weird I am.)

Do you have any writing rituals?

Forcing myself to get off Facebook? Also, I always have to have a drink on hand (coffee or Zevia usually) and music playing in the background. I make a playlist for each of my books filled with songs that capture the feeling of my story. It gets me into that emotional space instantly!

Do you start by writing or researching first?

Luckily, I don’t have to do a lot of research since I write contemporary women’s fiction. If I do have to research, it’s usually things about locations or details for my characters’ chosen career paths. I don’t know what I need to know about those things until I start writing. That said, if I do come across something I need to research, it’s very hard to keep writing until I find that information. Trying to gloss over the details instead of being able to accurately spell it out in a way that enriches my story trips me up.

Favorite spot to write in the winter?

Oh, by the fireplace for sure. The ambiance is so comforting. My living room has a gas fireplace but if I want to write in my office, I have an electric faux fireplace that does the trick.

Favorite spot to write in the summer?

At the park, on a blanket in the grass, under a shady tree, while my kids play. Literally all my favorite things at once. It’s heaven.

To find out more, visit her website. Subscribe to her newsletter for more blogs, workshops, and book news.

Copyright © 2016 by Diane Morasco

Writers on Writing: Kendra Elliot

Kendra Elliot  Kendra Elliot-4621-Color-Smhas sold nearly 3 million books and is a three-time winner of the Daphne du Maurier award for Romantic Suspense. She is also an International Thriller Writers’ finalist and a Romantic Times finalist. She grew up in the lush Pacific Northwest and still lives there with her husband, three daughters, two cats, and a Pomeranian. She’s always been fascinated with forensics, refuses to eat anything green, and loves a strong Mai Tai on the beach on Kauai.

What is the most important thing you’ve learned about writing?

I’ve learned that writing is hard work and unless I am extremely disciplined, a book will never get finished. I have to chart out my weekly word goals in relation to my deadline and know how many hours a day I need to be in my chair to hit those goals. If I don’t stay on top of it, I’ll find myself with a week to a deadline and an insane number of words to get through.

How has this helped you as a writer?

It’s helped me write two books a year to stay on top of the demand from my readers. Happy readers buy more books. More books mean I can make my kids’ college tuition payments.

Mac or PC?

PC. My husband writes software for PC. In this house, there is no choice.Targeted.temporary

Do you use Word or Scrivener?

I switched to Scrivener about five books ago. I’ll never go back. I love the ease of switching between scenes.

Do you write or take notes with an iPad or tablet?

Neither one.

Do you have any writing rituals?

During my writing months, I go to a nearby coffee shop five mornings a week and write for three hours. My goal is to get in 2000 words. If the end of the week rolls around and I don’t have 10,000 words, it means Saturday morning is also spent at the coffee shop.

Do you start by writing or researching first?

Research first…and research all through the middle. I usually research the topic I’m thinking about writing until I have a good grasp of an idea and then try to plot the beginning of the book. After I start writing, I constantly have to stop and look things up. Sometimes I just put XXXXX in the manuscript and move on, making a note to fill it in later.

Favorite spot to write in the winter?

Next to my office heater while wearing my heated slippers my publisher sent me.

Favorite spot to write in the summer?

My coffee shop. It has a covered outdoor patio and overlooks a small lake.

Visit Kendra’s website for the latest news.

Writers on Writing: Blair Merrin

BMTBHM!Blair Merrin’s been a bit of a whirlwind since she learned how to walk! She’s always had a tremendous amount of energy, and is interested in experiencing everything that life has to offer, and then some. Merrin’s domineering and downright regal cat, Binx, is her constant companion, and thankfully, because she’s a writer, every day is “bring a pet to work” day. Binx often tries to copyedit for Merrin by pawing at, or laying on her keyboard at the most inopportune times. Quite obviously, she is the inspiration behind Cassie’s cat, Xerxes, in Merrin’s Bandit Hills series.
When Merrin’s not writing, drinking coffee, or watching Netflix with Binx, she takes dance lessons, because it’s way more fun than jogging, and Merrin loves anything that involves water. Merrin swims, boats, waterskies, surfs, and snorkels – yes, she is a bit of a fish…maybe that’s why Binx and Merrin get along so well.BMTBHM2

What is the most important thing you’ve learned about writing?

Practice makes perfect. I write every single day, even when I think I’m “too busy.” Writing is part of my routine and I get roughly 2000 words written every day – except Sundays, everybody needs a day off. Sometimes it doesn’t matter what I write as long as I’m writing. A rough first draft is better than no first draft.

How has this helped you as a writer?

I believe that making a habit out of writing has helped me tremendously. I am able to keep procrastination at bay and meet every deadline, without fail. It’s gotten to the point that if I finish a day ahead of schedule and don’t start on the next book, I feel guilty.

Mac or PC?

Oh, I am a Mac girl for sure. It easily syncs with all of my other devices, so when I am out and about, which is often, I can always be connected!

Do you use Word or Scrivener?
I use Word but I plan on looking into Scrivener.BMTBHM3

Do you write or take notes with an iPad or tablet?

I do enjoy my iPad. I currently have Word on my Mac and iPad so I am easily able to switch back and forth to get my writing done anytime, anywhere.

Do you have any writing rituals?

Coffee, coffee, coffee. I can’t get anything done without it! If I am writing, I always have a coffee in my hand, usually a soy caramel latte. There is a great little cafe not far from where I live and I make my way over there a few times a week to do some writing and get my caffeine fix. It’s a relatively harmless addiction. 😉

Do you start by writing or researching first?

I am a stickler for procedure when it comes to my writing. I always create an outline first, research anything that needs to be researched, and then begin my writing process. I keep my outline pulled up while I write so that I make sure that I stick to it. I very rarely allow myself the luxury of diverging from it, once I’ve determined the path that I’m going to take through a story.BMTBHM4

Favorite spot to write in the winter?

Well it gets pretty chilly here in Massachusetts in the winter, so I spend a lot of time in my reading and writing nook. It’s right by the fireplace, on my chaise and generally with my furry baby curled up at my feet.

Favorite spot to write in the summer?

The bookstore. I absolutely love going there on a nice hot day, grabbing my coffee, people watching and getting my stories down on paper. There is something about being near all of those books and hustle and bustle of readers – it gives me a bit of a thrill.BMTBHM5

Visit Summer Prescott Books for all the latest news.

Copyright © 2016 by Diane Morasco