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Being a new writer, Erica can relate to getting advice and being overwhelmed with what to follow. We discuss various advice but also what we’ve chosen to follow.
Of course, we give some advice ourselves.
Let’s talk a little bit of author stuff and find out about some of your writing styles in that. So first of all, what type of software and services do you like to use when you’re.
Erica: I just have, usually what I just use is word.
And I, sometimes I use it on my phone. A lot of times what I do is I write in a notebook and then retype it on the computer and that kind of helps to get a second. It’s almost like a second draft going in cuz you’re, words that you’re like, oh, I used that word too many times, or I, whatever.
So like seeing it back and then putting it on a computer, that kind of helps. , make sure that it looks the way I wanted it to. So a lot of times that’s what I’ll do. I usually write in like actually on paper and then
Stephen: interesting paper. Okay. And you wrote a bunch of short stories. You’ve written a novel.
Are there some things you learned writing, the short stories that you did differently when you wrote the novel then you might have done, or some things you’ve changed about your writing? There’s, I’ve, so since I’ve been writing short stories and sending ’em out to publishers, I’ll get they have an editor, you editor usually looking at them and they’ll send it back with suggestions.
Erica: Hey, we wanna print this, but can you change this? Whatever this, and this. So throughout that feedback I’ve learned one of the, one of the first feedbacks I got was try to make. your characters sound like different people. So like these two characters sound very similar when they’re talking obviously, cuz they’re both from my brain, so I have to think, okay, I really have to get in the secondary character and they can’t sound the exact same as the main character.
And a lot of places don’t want you to use like too much slang or like right mispronunciation. So that was of difficult for. was to make myself, make my writing sound like two fully developed different people. So that was something that I definitely tried to work on. And I think with this novel, it’s from the perspective of the main character.
So that made it a little bit easier because I could say what she was thinking and what she said, and then have the other characters reacting to that and really trying to develop them as best they could outside of her perspective. I think that’s one thing that I really try to do in this,
Stephen: in this book.
Have you you said you learned from feedback from others, feedback from the editor. Do you listen to a podcast? Do you have any books you’ve read, any websites you like to go to? Anything like that?
Erica: I don’t, I, when I was first writing I did, I would go to different websites or I would listen and I think it is helpful to listen to people’s.
But I think if you do that too much or rely too heavily on that, it becomes overwhelming because I feel like sometimes you almost get conflicting advice. I saw something.
Stephen: We’re gonna talk more about that in a moment. Yeah. I’m sorry, go ahead. Yeah, .
Erica: No, that’s okay. I saw something where just for example, like I’ve seen things where it says starting off with dialogue is, can pull the reader in.
know, That’s an intriguing way to start. And then I’ve seen people like, please don’t start with dialogue. We don’t like to that we’d rather start with anything but a quote. So it’s, yeah. I don’t know. You hear so many different things that sometimes it’s it’s so overwhelming that you’re almost like, I just don’t wanna, I just don’t wanna do it.
Because it seems like I said it doesn’t seem like there’s any right way. It’s like everybody has an opinion against, you’re doing
Stephen: in some way. A and that kinda leads right into what we were gonna talk about is advice from other people writing advice and how to figure out what works, what doesn’t, what you should listen to, what you shouldn’t.
So one of the things I’ve told people, and this is my general rule of thumb advice, if I was going to go back and talk to my young, my slightly younger self start writing, I would. Say, don’t focus on getting a book written to publish, to focus on writing and writing and not writing something, and then editing and rewriting it 500 times.
Writing something, putting it aside, writing something else, putting it aside and writing some short stories, writing 2, 3, 4, even five books, different series even. Because I realize now in h. That a lot of the advice, like you said, that I was getting it, would, I’d get conflicted and should I do this, should I do this?
And I was learning it, getting advice about publishing, but I hadn’t even written my book yet, so who cares? But you
Erica: know, so it just, then it becomes more overwhelming cuz you’re like, I don’t, yeah.
Stephen: So I think. Getting a lot of writing under your belt. Then when you hear the advice, it makes more sense and you can apply it more.
That’s my general rule of advice is ignore it all until you can understand and comprehend it. . So what’s some advice you’ve you mentioned some advice you maybe ignored and then found out later that you shouldn’t have or he was like, oh, now I understand that it makes more sense. Anything like that?
Erica: I think that I’ve gotten advice more than once that my intros in a nice way that, that the introduction to the book are when I start writing that the background’s too much. That it’s we don’t need to know everything about this person’s life story. Just get us, but we need to know and get us into the story.
But I really like thinking about their backgrounds and I really like coming up with this specific thing. , but not all of that needs to go in the story. It’s okay for you to have that in your head for your character, but you don’t need their whole life story at the beginning of your book because that does get boring for okay, who cares what’s gonna happen?
So I’ve got that feed. I’ve gotten that feedback more than once where the introduction’s good, but can you cut out this, and this. Just stick to what’s relevant to your story. And,
Stephen: and I, that’s important too because not all advice may apply to you, but it may apply to me something different.
Erica: You might not have that problem at all, but Right. . Yeah. So for me that was definitely, and it was, I was reluctant to do it after the first one. Cause I was like no, I think it really I really like it. think it’s fine. And then I got it again. I was like, okay, yeah, you’re probably.
Stephen: You, you gotta get that experience to really understand that. Even if you’ve read forever I’ve know several authors. Oh I’ve read. So I know I can write a good book. Totally different skills. Totally different . It is. And
Erica: I think you don’t realize, even like hearing if you’ve had any, like some of my writing is now audio hearing somebody read something that it took you maybe.
I don’t know, two months to write. And they read it in like less than an hour. And you’re like, oh. It so much more goes into it than it sounds like when it’s being read. I think about that with movies a lot, because you’ll see the budgets for movies, how big they are.
Stephen: And you’ll and you’ll see a scene where it’s three, four seconds and it shows a particular. Person with particular clothes on and dressed a certain way or whatever in a setting, but then you don’t ever see that person with those clothes or whatever. So it gives you that feel. You it immerses you in it, but the amount of time they spent on it is so much greater than what it was on screen.
But without even that little bit, sometimes it would draw you out. So that’s why writing you have, like you said, Put this stuff in. So I wanna go back to the one thing you said you put too much like background and things like that in, so how did you handle that? What, did you just pull things out or do you sprinkle it later?
What, how did you handle that? So
Erica: both if it was some things that I put in really weren’t relevant at all to the story and never it was a good thought I had in my head, and that’s fine. Just keep it in your head. And then some of it was they can reveal this about themselves in the middle of the book.
When this happens or after this happens, they can remember something like similar that happened. It doesn’t have to all go right here at the beginning. So both I, I took some out and then I. At took some out and replaced it later
Stephen: in the book, which again, I think is a difficult thing for authors and you gotta have the experience maturity of writing to do that.
That was really difficult. My first book, I wrote without any plan, any thought, didn’t know, and right. Rush through it a little. Because I wasn’t really sure what I, where I was going with, I didn’t have an end goal or anything and I sent it to an editor and came back and it was like just pages and pages of notes and not in a bad way.
Erica: was like no, it’s not. It’s never, I’ve never gotten something back where it was like this was just critic. This is just criticism to be criticizing. It’s always been with the goal of helping you, but it is still overwhelming. A lot of times when you see like pages
Stephen: of it, you’re, and I literally, it was like 70,000 words.
I literally ripped out 35,000 words. I was like, yeah, I get it. This what? What? It just jumps. It’s like there’s no flow. Yeah. So it took me doing that to start understanding, I think, Even the last couple things I’ve written have been better, but not as good as they could be. But the latest thing I’m working on, I’m like, oh man I totally am seeing the whole story.
I’ve got the beats, I’ve got the flow. And when I sit down, I know a lot of people are discovery panthers and a lot of people are plotters outliners, and that. I’m more logical thinking, so the outlining fits me very well. I just haven’t done the greatest job at it. I a few little things and I go from there, but I struggle a lot.
Where’s the story going and get it? , but this latest one, I literally got all the beats on Save the Cat, and they all fit. And the story made sense in my head. I moved some things from my original thoughts and now when I sit down to write, I’m like, oh man got 3,200 words today. And I didn’t even realize it cuz it, it took the burden of thinking about the story off of me and I.
Do all the creative stuff. The one part that’s here’s what happens here is a one line sentence of the major point, but it turned into a whole big scene that was fun. And had other things in it because I was able to relax and just write .
Erica: I think it’s like you said, I think if you hadn’t had the experience writing so much before, the more you do it, the, I think just like you said, the naturally better it’s gonna be, you’re.
Say okay, this worked, this didn’t work. And I think, yeah, just having the experience of writing, even if it’s not something you ever intend to publish I think that just writing really
Stephen: helps. And the hardest part for me is, Understanding. Yeah, this sentence is great, this chapter’s great or whatever, but it doesn’t fit with the rest.
It needs pulled out. That’s hard for me.
Erica: That’s really hard to, sometimes you’re like, I got this description. It’s so cool. It’s so immersive, but it doesn’t move the story along and it really doesn’t. It’s not as relevant as it should be, and that’s really hard. Cause sometimes you work on something for a really long time like that.
That’s exactly what I wanted that to sound. , but it just doesn’t flow with the rest of the story. It’s just not right.
Stephen: Yeah, absolutely. So is there any other advice that you’ve gotten that you started to do and realized, no, that’s not the right advice for me? I’ve gotten, not specifically from an editor, but I’ve got, I’ve heard advice about perspective.
Erica: Like unless, and I feel like unless you’re, like some publishers, if you’re trying to write for the specific publisher will say, third person, pass, whatever only, and that’s fine. If you’re writing for that specific, if you want that specific publisher, then write like that. But I think in general perspective depends on the story and how you see it.
So I don’t think. I’ve written stories, like first person present, like I, I turn on the light and I see. But I’ve heard people I’ve heard publishers or just people in general with say that they don’t like that they don’t like that perspective. So I think for me it’s what feels the best for your story that you’re writing.
Cause I think that’s how it’s gonna come off the best. So
Stephen: I don’t really. That, that’s a rough thing for me too. I had, cause I, people kept telling me, you’re head hopping and you’re doing this, and I’m like, no I’m not.
Erica: Yeah. That hops another one. And it’s but, and I’ve done that in a story too where I’ve like head hopped between chapters or sometimes in the middle of a chapter or whatever, and.
Yeah, I don’t, and they’re like, that’s what, I dunno. That’s how I see it. That makes sense
Stephen: to me. Yeah. And it didn’t confuse me and I went back and looked, and a lot of the books I’ve read throughout my life had that because back more in like the eighties into the nineties, it was more common and Right.
Things like that. I even wrote a couple author. That of some books I really liked and said, Hey, I’m a new author. I’m learning this. I’ve always loved your books, but I got a question. It, it has this and it’s head hopping. Why did you choose to do that? How did you get away with it? Is there any advice you give?
And the one answer I got back a professional writer that’s I’ve been writing her whole life. She basically had, that was the times. It’s different now. That’s not how I write. Oh okay. , so that it, it was a little hit me over the head with a frying pan type moment. But it was good to know that.
That’s where I got it from. But I maybe need to learn to be modern. It’s really hard
balance. You it’s so do you have, okay. I’m. Come back to this in a moment. What are you doing to market your book? I, my publisher brought on a publicist, so that’s been really helpful for me cause he’s been setting up all, sorry, one second.
sorry. So he’s been really helpful with, he’s setting up a lot. He’s reaching out and getting podcasts and d. I was on a radio station and then sharing through he’s got it out to different reviewers to write reviews and we’ve sent out some advanced copies for those of reasons to come on Amazon and good reason, whatever.
But before a publicist, I would try to market, so I would join, like on Facebook for instance, I would join groups of who fans where it was okay for you. , like some groups don’t want you to post promotions for your things and some groups are fine with it. So I would do that. I would try to market two people who I thought might be interested in horror or the books that I was writing.
And a lot of times, like with the anthologies and things, the publisher would do a lot of the marketing. So it wasn’t really something that I had to do that much if I didn’t if they wanted me to do podcast or an interview or something, I would do it, but it wasn’t something that I had I had to reach out that, that much for.
But I did find that especially on Twitter, that the community there of authors and writers is really supportive. And usually if you reach out to people they’re very nice about it.
Stephen: Yeah. That’s one of the things I’ve said. I. Part of what spurred me to actually sit down and start writing was I met a professional author who’s been writing for 35 years and is a known author in his genre and in fact, After we met him, my son was just talking about it at his high school and several of his friends like dropped the books and went, oh my God, you know that person I’ve done all their books.
And that’s when we realized wow, this guy really is like a famous author. Just not. We read. But he didn’t give me any indication of, I, I’m a better author than you. I’ve, I’m more po. I think in general, authors are much more accommodating compared to like actors not so self-absorbed, and they’re willing to help and they can walk down the street without getting mobbed, except for JK Rowling and Stephen King
Erica: No, I do, I think that it is a really supportive, even if the answer is no. It’s in a really nice way. It’s never an unsupportive or critical way.
Stephen: Agreed. Agreed. All right. Erica we’ve talked a bit about advice. So before we sign off here, do you have any other advice that you would give to new authors listening to this podcast?
Erica: I would just say the best advice that I think I’ve gotten is write what you would wanna. and if you’re excited about what you’re writing, then people will probably be excited to read about it.
Stephen: Agreed. I like that. Nice. All right. Great, Erica, it was nice meeting you, talking to you. And we should have a chapter read when this goes live to add on so people can hear a little bit from your book.
And I think that’d be great.
Erica: Yeah. Yeah. I will get that ready for you.