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We have a great discussion about how to keep on writing. Many authors find it difficult to move on to the second book and Diane has some advice to help with that.
Since we write for kids, we include some discussion about working with kids and getting their imaginations going to write some great stories.
Stephen: All right, so let’s talk author stuff. Now we’re gonna talk about, the work part of it, not just the fun reading part. Okay. Before we get onto our topic, which I think is a great topic what are some things that you’ve learned that with your writing that you’re doing different now than you did at the beginning?
[00:26:25] Diane: That’s a, that’s really a good question. Before I didn’t really give a lot of thought to things. I just sat down and started writing, which is good. And I would just write anywhere, which is fine. It works with a lot of authors, but I find like I’ve really been studying this craft, learning from other authors, joined author groups, and in this I decided I needed to.
Have a room that was just a holy space for inspiration to come. And actually you’re sitting in the room right now. Over to the right is a desk that I have, and that’s where I just have a little meditation and. Just start riding and see what happens. And that didn’t happen before. Other things I do is I have I really resonate to smell and so forth.
I love oils and things, and I’ll get the ones like, Oh, I really need to have this kind of thought. And so maybe I’ll inhale some really lovely perfume that has a lot of wood in it and so forth. See where my mind takes me. Depending on, like, when I was writing the Rise book, I was in some chapters that I really needed to listen to music from the 1920s and that, I think that’s what one of the major differences is setting the environment and maybe the mood for that particular book.
A message that I wanna get across. Sorry for being so longwinded.
[00:27:50] Stephen: No, that’s great. That’s I, the whole purpose of the podcast initially was to help authors who are getting started and, aren’t USA Today bestsellers, because we hear a lot about the authors. Break out and start doing good and then everyone hears about ’em.
So the whole purpose to start with was focusing on authors that are getting discovered that need to get out there, that no one ever talks to. And I expanded with the second half here for the author part because I realized a lot of authors to these podcasts and they hear about, they hear authors on the podcast talking about their book.
But then they also look at how that person’s so successful and I’ll never be like that, et cetera. So I added the second author part partly to show, hey, we’re all in the same boat. I’ve had authors their laundry dings in the middle of talking to ’em, because authors think, Oh, every other author but me is working.
Fulltime in a nice office and blah blah. And that’s not the case. They like to hear from authors. It makes ’em feel, Hey I’m just like them. And that was the whole focus here of this podcast. So You’re fine. Yeah. Your stories are great. They, it comes across really well and they love that.
[00:29:03] Diane: you. It’s wonderful what you’re doing and what I’ve discovered about authors compared to some of the other things I’ve done in my life professionally is that, Authors are kind to each other, and authors love to help one another, and it’s not a competition. It’s okay, share ideas.
And you’re not like, Oh, I share my idea, you’re gonna steal it. And it’s no. It’s just, let’s go explore. And I just love that energy.
[00:29:32] Stephen: Yeah. I agree. Absolutely. So when you’re writing, you mentioned you listen to music and you’ve got oils and things like that. So the, you have an interesting process to help you get in that mood, get the inspiration.
Do you have anything else that you use, particularly any special software or services?
[00:29:50] Diane: No, not really. . A lot of times I do the old fashioned way. I love to just write on with paper, pen and paper, actually pencil and paper and just see what comes to my brain. And I try to carry with me a notepad because something might.
Come to me while I’m driving, and then I’m gonna have to pull over and write it down. . And I know I could quickly do it on my phone, but it’s just so much faster just to do old technology, paper and pencil. Yeah. Yeah.
[00:30:20] Stephen: I don’t write down much because by the third word, it starts becoming hard to read.
And by the second sentence it’s like illegible. So I’m not I think I I always say, If God wanted us to write, he wouldn’t have invented Word processors. And, so I’m glad for that. But I do have a voice activated recorder, and if I just have things churning in my mind, I can grab that when I’m driving or out with a dog or something and talk and try.
That’s very difficult. For some reason, I think it’s just my mindset. When I sit and I’m typing and writing it flows. But when I’m trying to just talk without typing, I stumble a lot more, so I think it’s something I need to work on a little more. That’s what I’m trying to get more of when I’m out and don’t have the computer in front of me.
[00:31:09] Diane: Yeah, so I think you’re lucky that you can just pull up the voice recorder and do that. I should do that. I think it’s great. Everyone has their own style. I think what’s lovely about the voice doing it, it almost puts you in the mood immediately because your brain, I think has that memory muscle.
Okay, yeah, I was right there. I know exactly what you’re. And reading a writing can take you that way, but there’s something about that audio that just puts your brain straight into your imagination, I think. Yeah, absolutely. Probably sounds silly,
[00:31:43] Stephen: but . So Diane, what are some things you’re doing to market the book?
You mentioned visiting schools and zoom in that how do you get those and what do you talk about at.
[00:31:53] Diane: I wished that somebody would’ve told me about this. I didn’t know authors could have publicists. I thought it was just movie stars. And when someone finally, goes, Diane, you need a publicist.
I’m like, What? And yeah, that would be something I would do so differently was immediately get a publicist and to tell your listeners that you don’t have to wait to get two books, to get one book do and I had the most amazing, incredible publisher making milk of sand. I hope that’s okay to say.
Yeah. And he is so down to earth and. I learned from him all the time and I just feel very blessed to have him. And now I don’t have to, I still market, but I don’t have to. I rely on him and it’s so nice cuz I can spend my time to, What do I love? Imagination.
[00:32:50] Stephen: I like that. Do you remember Disney World?
Figment the dragon?
[00:32:55] Diane: No. Oh, I remember Fantasia , the movement movie,
[00:32:58] Stephen: but there was, they had this whole thing about using your imagination, one of the rides, and they had this little purple dragon called Figment cuz he was a figment of your imagination. Oh, cute. Back in high school, I, we went for a band trip and I got one of those.
I still have my figment and they don’t have ’em too much anymore. I miss that. I wish they would. It was, I loved it. It was very Willie Wonka and what’s her name? , the maid that comes down on the umbrella. Mary Poppin, Mary Poppins and Peter Pin. It was all of that wrapped into one.
It was just, Imagination and trying to be a little crazy in that. So wish Figment was still around. . I am.
[00:33:37] Diane: Maybe you should write them. It sounds incredible and I love the name and you just mentioned two of my favorite things, Mary Poppins. I remember seeing it while you were probably still an angel in heaven.
Because it came out in fifth grade and. I had to see it twice. And back in those days, mom and daddy just didn’t give you your allowance. She had to earn it. So I was doing anything and everything to earn it to go back and watch it again. Cuz obviously you didn’t have Netflix yet, right?
[00:34:06] Stephen: Oh, dang. I was gonna ask something now I forgot. I’ll probably remember . That’s ok. I was did you like the the sequel that Mary Poppin’s returns that came out a couple years?
[00:34:16] Diane: Yeah, I thought it was really good. But, sometimes you just can’t, you just can’t remake some of the magic that happened with the originals,
[00:34:25] Stephen: agreed. Agreed. Yeah. Okay, so you suggested, we talk about why it’s important to keep writing as an author. Why did you choose that topic?
[00:34:35] Diane: I chose it because a lot of people start writing and then they think, Oh, I’m terrible. Nothing’s ever gonna happen. And they talked themselves out of it, and yet they had a beautiful message.
The one thing I’ve learned from many authors that are much more established than me, because I’m still learning this craft, is that just right. And so you get your first one out and you get published and it feels great, but by the time you’ve written your eighth book or your ninth book, you look back and go, My gosh, I’ve improved so much.
And it’s just it’s a learning process, right? If you have this message that you really feel like will resonate in the world and the people need to read it, write it, and get it out there, and there’s so many ways to do it, you don’t, as we mentioned earlier, hybrid, indie, and even if you just wanna write something that’s for your family, then you know, there’s blurb and I love blurb and we do some private things for our family only, and.
How lovely is that? Right?
[00:35:44] Stephen: And I agree with you. I think we mentioned, earlier, sometimes we lose our imagination as we become adults. It’s almost like you’re not allowed to have an imagination and enjoy some of that, like when you were a kid. . So I think more authors need to embrace that, but I think it’s also important for, no, excuse me, any teachers and parents that are listening.
Kids are natural storytellers. They are full of imagination. And I think sometimes they get that stifled. Parents are like, Oh, that’s stupid or that’s silly, and they don’t wanna encourage it. And they really. That hurts our world. It hurts the kids growing up. Then they feel like, Oh I can’t write because I’m no good at it.
And that’s just not true. I think kids could really, could use some encouragement sometime cuz we could have some amazing writers from that.
[00:36:33] Diane: Ab, Absolutely. You have hit a strong button with me where , I’m sure many people have stories growing up where the classroom teacher has done something.
And so I as a young teacher, I even wrote an article and had it published about, I called those teachers mushers. Where they smushed the imagination out of you. And there are parents that smush it too, because some parents wanna live through their kids and so they’re like, I want you to be in this direction.
But the kids like, but I really wanna go this direction. That’s not what our family does, but I really do this, because Every child is different. So maybe you don’t realize it as a parent, but maybe that child has a gift that came from the great Grandpa needs to have it brought out.
And imagination allows that. So I say to people, in your other podcast I mentioned how the Little Girl in the Moon was the first book that I painted when I was in sixth grade, my art teacher she made fun of me. And you can, I can feel the pain already. And I never took art after that because of the different things that she said.
And then one day when I was trying to figure out how to illustrate this book had started, I started taking painting classes and I thought, I don’t have to illustrate like everyone else. I’m gonna illustrate my way. And that teacher. I need to un hypnotize what she’s done to me. And now I do this whole thing with with adult teachers and parents and so forth.
When I give inspirational classes or speeches, let’s get un hypnotized. Let’s remove the smush that happened to you. We are going embrace imagination. I love that. Yeah. Thanks. And we’re all storytell. And that’s one thing I love to go and teach with adults is have them realize that they’re storytellers and we’ve always been storytellers.
[00:38:34] Stephen: Absolutely. And no kid grabs some Lego or dumps out Play-Doh or a box of crayons and says I better do this absolutely perfect, and I must plan it, and blah, blah, blah. They just wanna experiment and play and enjoy and have fun. It’s only when the adults step in that the kids start going, Oh, maybe I’m not doing this right, or Maybe this isn’t as good as I thought.
They just enjoy it and then we stamp it out of them like you. And I think that’s writer’s block right there. For adults, you get stuck because you just let it out, let the imagination out. So what if it’s not perfect? Sometimes a story that comes out is better than one that’s been fine tuned and tweaked in all, there’s some emotion to it.
This happens in music a lot. You can go to a hear two different cover bands play the exact same cover song. One of them’s on fire and it sounds good and gets you moving. And the other one you’re kinda like, Yeah, okay. You can’t define that feeling, but they know how to embrace it or they don’t. Same, with the
[00:39:35] Diane: writing, That was a great analogy.
Absolutely. You’re absolutely right. And I think the other we get naturally there’s something about peer pressure in kids and. And I can clearly remember thinking, Oh, that popular little girl there, she’s so popular. And look at her. She’s just away and
[00:39:54] Stephen: and I. You go to conferences or you’re on a panel or podcast with a q and a session or something like that, you always get that author going what do you do to write so many words every day? Or, I get stuck and I don’t write for a week. What do you do to get over that?
And I’m always thinking to myself just go You gotta stop thinking so much about it. Just get something out. And I’ve heard others say, too, so what if you erase it later or change it, or, That’s fine. But sometimes you get some of the best stuff. You get that feeling and that emotion into it. When you’re not worried about the grammar, that, okay, your teacher, what drives me crazy with stories and I’m not saying anything negative and bad about teachers or schools or curriculum or anything except that.
There is sometimes way too much focus on the craft diagramming stories and the grammar and the punctuation and the spelling, and, they wanna focus on the spelling so the kids get out of their own heads. Is that spelled right? Did I, And they lose the whole momentum of writing. I think especially the younger grades.
Just let ’em write, Worry about all. Other stuff later, they can fix all that. But until they get to writing and the joy and the feel of it, all they’re going to be doing is writing well written sentences that nobody wants to read.
[00:41:11] Diane: You hit something else with me completely. I agree with you because I I really wanted to take journalism in high school, but I couldn’t because I made a B in freshman English on diagramming sentences.
If you made a B in that section, you weren’t allowed to take journalism. You couldn’t be on the newspaper. Nothing. Wow. I know. Isn’t that sad? And so I had it in my head. I wasn’t a writer because of what had happened. And then when we would have creative writing and I would just, I was one of these people that my ideas would just start flowing.
And so I just and then when the paper came back for the first edit, I was in shock cuz it was covered in red, move this paragraph here and why did you think like this and why didn’t you use an exclamation point? And I. And everyone else is Oh, this is so good.
At least I felt that way, as I looked at the popular kids and I had long hair and so I would just take it and drap it over and then I would just hide my eyes because I’d just be crying, . And so it is kind funny. Now I wanna find my English teachers and tell that I’m a writer. ? Yes. Nice.
I know. I’m so sad. So are you out there? Don’t worry about that. Just put it down. You’ve heard how there’s two kind of writers. Have you heard that? There’s special words. There’s the person who sits and just writes everything that comes down and doesn’t worry about it. Cause you’re gonna mesh it all around.
So that’s me. And then you have the person who has to map it all out and know how the story line’s gonna go. And that’s great too because you know they have great stories. But for me, I just, the idea comes and I just wanna let it flow and then I end up. Meshing it all around and moving. It’s like taking clay and then shaping it so you’re happy.
And actually the person who does the whole mapping out and then writes each chapter the way they want, eventually they become meshing it all around too. So each one shares each one, but Right. Just write. And if you only get five words that day, are you only write for five minutes. And before you know it, the next time you’re gonna write six minutes.
And the next, before you know it, you’re writing 10 minutes and it’s gonna grow. And I know that because that was my experience.
[00:43:45] Stephen: And I find it interesting because you were talking about telling your stories to the kids, talking to ’em, and when you were describing your story, you got into that mode,
But thinking about it, and if you just transcribe what you said there’s probably sentences that could be worded better. There’s s in between things and Yeah, there’s, you may have forgot a little part. Oh, you have to. So when we’re telling the story and talking, we don’t think about and worry about the gra the craft and the grammar and all that.
We just tell the story and people get into it and they miss all that. And I think we, our theme, just keep writing. We forget that sometimes I go, I think of two of my favorite authors, KOTs and King, that their first books KOTs had the vision and King had Carrie. And out of all of the stuff I’ve read by them, those are my absolute least favorite books out of both of them.
Their first book. So if they were so worried about how great this first book was and everything, they wouldn’t have wrote all the other great stories that I do love. And sometimes it’s the third or the fifth book that. Really gets into and that, think of your favorite musicians, favorite artists.
Let’s say the Eagles. The Eagles have had a ton of hits through their lives and careers, but we don’t think about all the songs on the albums that are duds and we really didn’t care for, We remember all the hits and we think of them as big and popular, famous. So sometimes you gotta write and tell the stories and maybe more people need to practice Duke being storytellers and talking and telling the.
Rather than so worried about writing with the grammar and craft and all of that.
[00:45:19] Diane: No, you’re absolutely right. And just write, it’ll come. And I loved how you talked about, the first, these incredible authors that you just mentioned and. How their first ones weren’t that great, but look what they’re doing now.
And you’re like, you can’t put their books down. They’re like, Oh my God is so scary. But it wasn’t, there, but again it’s learning the craft, learning what I call your toolkit with words. And and just have fun. Just let that imagination flow. Ask yourself, what is the message that you want to convey?
And once you know what that message is, and people get stuck on, Oh, my opening sentence has to be great. And I’m like, No, you’re opening sentence when you first write it isn’t gonna be the opening sentence by the time you finish that story just right. Yeah. And you might find that opening sentence is really your closing sentence.
And you just had fun and by the time you write it, and don’t be afraid if you are like going, okay, this is the third time through. Let me tell you my rise, a girls struggle for more way. It’s a historical fiction. So it took a lot of years just to study the history, but that edit, I must have had about 10 edits even with an editor.
By the time that one was finished, and that was a whole craft all in itself. But that gave me the strength and taught me that, wow, I really am in awe of people who write historical fiction or any kind of chapter book. It’s amazing, but it gave me the confidence to know that I could do it. But opening sentences.
Don’t sit there and go, It’s not a good opening sentence. I can’t write anymore. Oh, it’s not a good, And you’re just stuck on that opening sentence. Just write.
[00:47:15] Stephen: Yeah. And another aspect of that with the whole keep on writing thing is sometimes you gotta just stop editing and fusing around with the one you’ve been working on, Let it go and move on to the next one.
Keep writing that next in series over that next book idea. Because sometimes what you’ve got with. Book you’ve been working on for two and a half years is as good as it’s gonna get. Any changes are so minor, no one will notice. But you can invest all your new thoughts, ideas, and everything into the new book, the next one, and sometimes we have to keep writing and just move to the next one.
[00:47:51] Diane: I am so glad you said that, and that is so true. So even while I was working on Rise, I was writing children’s books and there were many times that I totally didn’t even touch rise. I needed to just get away from it. And just embrace back into my children’s head mode of imagination. And then again, in the middle of the night, bam, it came and I was ready for another chapter.
And it’s amazing how that can happen. But again, writers be open to when that inspiration comes and let it come and write. Yep.
[00:48:32] Stephen: Absolutely. And. That’s a great way to end our talk in the podcast. That’s good advice for everybody. Thank you . Diane. It’s been great chatting with you and talking about your books and about the writing craft and the imagination, especially with kids.
I I feel inspired now for the rest of my day. I appreciate it. You’re welcome. So I wish you luck on the book and I’ll let you know when this does go live. Thank you so much for chatting. Thank
[00:48:58] Diane: you for having me. What you’re doing is amazing and I’m gonna make sure lots of authors tune in to
[00:49:04] Stephen: you.
Good. Great. Thank you. Thank.