1. Don’t ever plan to “master” the craft of writing. You’ll always have something to learn.
2. Take your time. You don’t have to be published tomorrow. You have time to learn and improve. I wrote a book six years ago that I thought was ready to be published. When I look at that manuscript now, I cringe at how much I didn’t know about writing. (It did get published eventually; it’s the book we’re featuring here today. But it took a LOT of work to get it there.)
3. Get to know other writers, both in your genre and in other genres. You never know who might be able to offer you advice, help you with editing, or even help you find a publisher or an agent.
4. When you finish your first draft, put it aside for a few weeks before you start revising. You might be surprised by what needs to be changed—and by what ends up sounding better than you thought it was when you wrote it.
5. Learn to edit. Punctuation, spelling, grammar, all of it. You still might need to change things depending on the house style of specific publishers, but at least you’ll have a fairly clean product to start with. Editors do not exist to fix basic errors.
6. Build up your armor. You’re going to get rejected; when you’re published, you’re going to get negative reviews. You can’t let it get to you.
7. Pay it forward. If another writer helps you along the way, acknowledge them, but also pass along your help to a newer writer.
8. Write what’s in your heart, not what’s “trendy”. Unless the trend is what’s in your heart, in which case go for it.
9. Writing is not a get-rich-quick scheme. It’s hard work, and the payoff often amounts to pennies per hour, if that. Write for the love of writing, not to become a millionaire.
10. Always remember the feeling you have when you get your first contract offer. Try to have that feeling every single time you get a contract. Be excited!
Wow, some awesome advice. I love it. Thank you for sharing.
How do you relax after a long day at work?
That depends; do you mean at my day job or at work on my books? After my day job, I relax by writing. I only work the day job three days a week; the other four, I spend writing and doing all the other stuff that goes along with being published. After a day of that, I relax by watching TV with my kids and listening to them tell me about their days and what’s on their minds.
What’s your favorite childhood memory?
One of my favorite memories is spending time with my three “uncles” (my dad’s best friend and his two partners) at their home just outside Boston. They took me to museums and concerts, cooked gourmet meals for me, and set me loose on the city with one of their transit passes.
Sounds like a fun time. Where is the most exotic place you’ve ever traveled to?
I’d have to say France, because that’s the only place outside North America that I’ve been to. I went there on a three-week mini student exchange program my senior year of high school.
Since age five, Topher James has lived beside the “Black Bridge,” an old iron railroad bridge with a history of unexplained disappearances. Topher’s psychic abilities tell him that something dark lurks around the bridge, but as long as it doesn’t bother him, he’s unwilling to do anything.
When Topher’s girlfriend Linnette begins talking about sharing power with the dark presence at the bridge, Topher realizes that both the presence and Linnette are dangerous. Topher realizes he must do something to stop them. But it’s too late! His best friend, Luke, dies, leaving his sister Callie in danger.
Topher and Callie are plunged into the universal war between darkness and light as they attempt to protect themselves and their friends. But can they win…and at what price?
Very intriguing. Sounds like a great book. Where can readers find it online?
Can you share an excerpt?
Topher, go back.
The thought came to me as I crossed the wooden footbridge, startling me momentarily into stillness. For a moment, I thought someone else had spoken and looked around to see who. No one appeared. The black steel frame of the Black Bridge rose menacingly against the cloudless sky; other than that, I saw nothing unusual.
Then again, the menace wasn’t unusual either. Darkness always surrounded the bridge, though no one else seemed to notice. It pressed in on me every time I went near the place. Usually, I ignored it, and I tried to this time as well. After satisfying myself that I’d heard only my own thoughts, I continued on my way.
As I crossed the bridge, the pressure increased, as though the bridge wanted to push me away. Topher, go back. Again I wondered whether the warning came from me or something else, and just for a moment I considered heeding it.Only for a moment, though. I wouldn’t go back. Just like every day since middle school, my friends waited for me on the other side.
It was a cold day for September. As I stepped off the end of the footbridge and joined the guys by the stone wall that hid the bridge from the road, I shivered in the breeze coming off the river. Topher, go back. Irritated, I wrapped my arms around myself and told the thought to shut up.
Luke laughed at me. “You cold or something?”
“Yeah.” Although the thought didn’t repeat itself, the darkness still pressed against me. No matter how hard I tried to shake off the feeling, it wouldn’t go away. I needed something to center me. “Give me a cigarette,” I commanded Luke. I didn’t often smoke, but there were times when it seemed necessary. I was only seventeen and couldn’t smoke legally. I’d started when I was fourteen and hadn’t been caught yet.
“Right, like that’ll warm you up,” he said sarcastically. He tossed me one.
After a few minutes we heard someone coming down the path that led from the road to the bridge. The Black Bridge constituted a major route across the river for pedestrians and bike riders, especially at this time of day when school had let out. Today, though, it would be a bad idea for anyone to come near the bridge. A new thought came to me, I shouldn’t be here. And neither should whoever walked along the path.
Jo, thank you so much for stopping by today. I enjoyed your writing advice and chatting with you. Thank you for sharing about your new book, The Black Bridge.
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