If you are thinking about writing a novel, it can be a daunting process.
What would people think of my writing?
Do I really write well enough to be published?
Do I have a great idea for a story?
Will my book sell?
Should I try to hire an agent?
And those are just a few of the thoughts that crossed my mind as I started the process.
But being a first time author has a lot more aspects than these. It’s a tough learning curve with no end in sight. Publishing takes a lot of work, but it doesn’t end with the writing process. From there, you have to edit it, design the pages and the cover, build your brand, market your book … the tasks create an endless supply on your to-do list.
I’m now deep into the writing phase of my second book, and if I could go back in time and give myself a little guidance before this whole process began, here are my words of wisdom.
Never skimp on the important stuff. If you’re a writer, writing is what you love most. I get it; that’s my first love too. But a potential reader won’t fall in love with your book and choose to read it if you don’t put just as much thought in the other things too. Never trust a cover design from a friend, or plug in your title and a photo into an online cover creator and get your cover for free. Your cover is what sells your book; make sure you invest in a quality cover design. With so many great options out there, to trust generic covers for your novel wouldn’t do your final book justice.
The same holds true with editing. When you write your novel, you are too close to the subject to look at the copy through critical eyes. A great editor can not only fix your grammatical mistakes, they can also provide you with guidance to tighten up the story line and make it even better. Bring them in early; they are well worth the investment.
Consider a mentor. Mentors come in all shapes and sizes. I have professional coaches to help improve what I do. The more you surround yourself with professional great people that understand your goal, the more you’ll start achieving your dreams of becoming a published author. I would never be working on a trilogy if I hadn’t selected the right people to place around me and help me stay on this path I’ve designed for myself.
Think long term from the beginning. Have you ever asked yourself why you want to write a book? Is it to say you’ve written one? Is it to hold it in your hands and check off that task from your bucket list? Or is it to become a paid writer and have people read and love what you have to say?
If you want to be a well respected author, you have to do more than write a book. You have to think of it like a business. When you look at it as a business, you’ll start to see your writing in a different way. Your characters will take on a different life – why not a trilogy instead of a single novel? You’ll start to pay attention to things like reviews. The reason most first time authors struggle is they think too narrow from the beginning.
Being a writer isn’t just about writing; it’s about the entire process. It’s about getting your words on paper, all the way to placing a copy of your book into the hands of fans that love what you do. If you think from that aspect first, you’ll find success as a writer.
A few days ago, my husband and I celebrated our wedding anniversary. Every year, my husband strives to make it special. This year, in addition to the regular white orchids he sent me, he reserved a table at Umi, a modern Japanese cuisine restaurant in Atlanta. I cannot overstate how delicious the food is at Umi’s. The restaurant, one of the top eateries in Atlanta’s Buckhead neighborhood, features Japanese flavors in a sophisticated, contemporary setting.
Chef Fuyuhiko, who began his culinary career at the age of 17, demonstrates what many restaurants don’t have--ravishing dishes prepared from the purest and freshest ingredients. The dishes you find at Umi are unique by their flavors and presentation. Yes, you probably can find raw tuna, but I would be amazed if you would tell me if you had elsewhere tuna carpaccio. I started my dinner with this delectable appetizer—thinly sliced tuna with paper-thin onion and avocado soy vinaigrette. My husband went his own way and ordered the Chutoro—three pieces of medium fatty tuna served in sashimi style. Still, he could not resist my appetizer and ordered that as well.
Among the splendid and flavorable dishes we shared, there were two to mention, the first the Lobster Toban-Yaki, which was delivered to our table on a small cast iron stand. The sizzling lobster was glazed with a soy butter sauce. The first bite took our breath away—a flavor like never before—moist, tender lobster tail that melted in our mouths.
The second dish to mention was a fun dessert—Chocolate Kyu (Q), made by the Chef Lisa Ito. This chocolate sphere creation is filled with fresh berries, red bean pastry cream and mascarpone cream, infused in Yamazaki 18 year whiskey sauce. This dessert comes with two challenges: One, you are given a wooden hammer to crack the sphere (this is the fun part—the sphere is totally edible), and your second challenge is to order it on time—there are only 12 servings available per day.
The bottom line: my husband and I shared a splendid meal in the dining room surrounded by dark walls, blond floors, and ambient lighting. The atmosphere and feel of the restaurant was trendy and modern—a great place to spend an evening. If you want to know just how trendy Umi is, I’ll tell you: We spotted Robert Downey Jr. across the restaurant. And the nice thing, nobody bothered him…I guess it must be very trendy if people like him feel comfortable to dine there.
At the end of the night, the food was phenomenal, customer service by the well-known manager, Amyn Bana, and his staff, was beyond expectations, and seeing Robert Downey Jr. was exciting. But, going home with my husband was the best part.
Oh, and did I mention the gift my husband gave me? How could I leave this out?—the exquisite piece of jewelry… now residing on my finger.
What a wonderful anniversary we shared—I can’t wait until next year.
We all have special people in our lives that made us who we are today. And it’s their advice, their encouragement, and their support that guides us along life’s path. It’s their stories that help shape us and inspire us to be all we can be.
Over one hundred years ago, one young woman heard the story of a brand new celebration taking place near her home town – Mother’s Day – and recognized that a celebration for mothers told only half the story. She quickly recognized all the struggles her own father must have faced while raising six children alone after his wife died during childbirth. If there could be a day to celebrate all that mothers offered this world, why not fathers too?
While many laughed at the idea, Sonora Louise Smart wouldn’t let the idea go. She began building a campaign to build support within the community. With the support of various local charity groups, the first Father’s Day was celebrated on June 19, 1910.
As the idea grew in popularity, even the US Presidents began noticing. President Woodrow Wilson approved the festival in 1916. President Calvin Coolidge supported it too. But it wasn’t until President Lyndon Johnson signed a Presidential Proclamation in 1966 that Father’s Day was officially made into a holiday on the third Sunday in June.
Across the world, other countries took notice too. Almost every nation celebrates Father’s Day at some point in the year. For a great majority of the countries – Canada, China Ecuador, France, India, Japan, Mexico, Pakistan, Peru – they have made their Father’s Day celebrations parallel to America. For others, they celebrate for different reasons at different points in time.
Australia celebrates Father’s Day on the first Sunday of September, which coincides with the first Sunday of Spring.
In Italy, Father’s Day is celebrated on Saint Joseph’s Day, commonly called Feast of Saint Joseph, on March 19th.
In Israel, Father’s Day is called “Yom ha-av” and is celebrated on May 1st together with the holiday Labour Day.
While Father’s Day was originally designed by a young woman to give thanks for all that her father had done for her, it’s also recognized that Father’s Day isn’t for fathers alone. It truly takes a village to raise a child, and for that reason Father’s Day is a time to reflect on all the male influences that have shaped a child’s life.
Kids need a father figure to emulate. A positive male role model to follow and learn from. A paternal figure that helps teach along the way. That can come in many shapes and sizes. From stepfathers, to big brothers, to teachers, or cousins, when you step up and take the challenge of being in a child’s life, the reward can be life-changing.
Happy Father’s Day
What’s the most important advice I can give to anyone wanting to become a writer?
I am not trained as a writer; I don’t have a degree in writing. Yet being able to combine words in such a way to have greater meaning has always meant a lot to me. I love being able to convey stories from what happens in my life. I love taking thoughts from my imagination and building a story around it. I’ve practiced. I’ve worked at it. I’ve kept with it over time.
As people, we all have a unique story to tell. We all live through different experiences, different transitions that make us who we are. Those experiences can guide us to think in a unique way. And when we apply that innate talent into our writing, magic occurs.
Writing is a personalized and individualized experience. My life is different than yours. What works for me might not work for you.
What I’ve done that most don’t is chosen to become a writer. I’ve taken the steps necessary to share my stories with the world.
Yet that doesn’t make me better equipped for writing. It doesn’t give me exclusive rights at being a storyteller.
If you want to write, write. Choose to listen to the stories that are deep within. Listen to the passion that rises from what makes you, you. Tell the story you are meant to tell.
You can get help with the editing.
You can get help with the publishing.
But if you never start the process – if you never write – your story will never be told.
What makes a work of fiction actually fiction?
According to its definition, a work of fiction is derived from imagination, in addition to, or rather than from history or fact. Fiction is assumed to not represent characters who are actual people, or descriptions that are factually true. Yet those lines are blurred all the time.
Take, for instance, a historical fiction novel. Historical fiction places imaginary characters into real life historical events. While much about the event is correct – times, dates, geography, specific details – the characters themselves didn’t actually exist. Yet from thorough research, a writer can imagine how a person would have felt, who they were, how they acted, what they may have done. Would they closely resemble a person that actually existed? Possibly so.
The same occurs all the time with modern day fiction.
As a writer, I am constantly researching locations, events, specific details that make an area unique. I am a woman. I am a nurse. I’ve served in the military. I live life on a daily basis.
When I write about love, it’s through the eyes of someone who has experienced love. When I write about travel, it’s through the eyes of someone who has traveled extensively through different countries and cultures.
While my characters may be products of my imagination, they take on a life based on who I am, what I know, what I’ve learned and what I’ve researched. They are an extension of what I know from experiencing life around me, without pinpointing the particulars of any one thing.
Is that fiction? Is that reality?
Is there really any other way?