Tag Archives: writer

Imagine If We Could Rewrite Life

What Would You ChangeEvery author will tell you that characters don’t always do what we had planned for them. And stories don’t always stick to the plot points in our outlines. (The nerve of them! Right?)

But that’s fiction. In real life, we can plan better. Prepare. Have each and every minute step mapped out in fine detail, and . . .

Dream on, fellow control freaks.

You don’t need to be an author to know none of that matters. No degree of obsessive organization will stop reality from crashing the party, making everything spin out of control and sending you down a different path.

Yep, I’ve been there . . . and I bet you have too.

It’s hard to believe we’re coming up on the one-year anniversary of my debut novel release. The launch wasn’t perfect—as expected, I’d made some typical newbie mistakes. But I was figuring things out as I went along. And I was excited to be hard at work writing my second novel.

My dreams were coming true, and I was loving life. Ahhh . . .

**takes a deep breath to enjoy the moment**

Now, if life were a novel, this is the part where you’d expect a dubious plot twist. You know, that point where the author messes things up so the characters have to fight to find their “happily ever after.”

And you’d be right.

A few weeks after releasing my book, fate delivered the worst kind of plot twist—a family tragedy. (Read more on that here.)

As a result, so much of the past year has been a numb blur for me. Working a full-time day job, caring for my home and family, taking care of my brother and his house, and later handling his estate exhausted all of my time and energy—both physical and emotional.

There was no other option, I had to add another painful loss and put my writing career aside.

As much as I wish I could delete the past year and replace it with a better chapter, I can’t rewrite life. I can’t undo the events that took my brother or change the hand I’ve been dealt.

But I can revise parts of it—take what I have, learn, grow, make adjustments, and put my journey through life back on the path I’d envisioned—similar to revising an awful first draft. (And let’s face it . . . all first drafts are crap.)

I’ll admit getting back into the flow of writing has been far more difficult than I’d imagined it would be, and it’s quite a struggle at times. In many ways I feel like I’m starting over.

But . . . starting over is SO much better than giving up!

I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, and no matter how hard, I always try to find something positive in every situation. In this case, it’s allowed me to assess my priorities and decide what’s important to me, both as a person and an author.

At times I feel lost in this journey through life, but I’m stronger on the inside having weathered this storm. And I’m finding my way back to my chosen path.

My goals have shifted—along with my plans on how to achieve them—like I’m creating an exciting new version of my life: Awesome Author Career of CJ Andrews v.2.0

And, of course, that means I have some exciting new things in the works . . . which I’d really love to tell you about right now . . . BUT I can’t . . . not yet. Stick around! (Or, even better, click on that little follow button along the side so you don’t miss a thing.) ~CJ

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Who’s Afraid of the Big Blank Page

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We’ve all been there before. Whether writing a novel, a report, a blog post, or a menu for the week when you don’t feel like cooking. You find yourself staring at the dreaded blank page. The one that’s supposed to capture your brilliant thoughts and ideas as they flow from your fingertips.

The curser sits there, waiting impatiently . . . blinking  . . . blinking . . . still freakin’ blinking. You’re sure it’s laughing at you. Mocking you.

~ Okay, maybe that’s just me. ~

My point is, sometimes the words don’t come. At all. And you begin to wonder if you’ll ever finish your project. Reach your goal.

When that happens, you have two options:

1-You can give up and tell yourself you just don’t have what it takes—which can be a very tempting option at times.

2-Or, you can dig deep and push through, doing whatever it takes to make it to the end.

If you’re wondering which path I chose, you need to get to know me better . . . and I look forward to that.

Failure is my greatest fear, and it’s never an acceptable option. So I’m fortunate to have people around me who won’t let me settle for being less than I can be. Won’t let me give up on my dreams.

I’ve been quiet for a while—too long—but that’s what it took for me to focus solely on my goal and accomplish what I set out to do when I began this crazy journey as a writer. With the amazing support and encouragement of my family, I’ve been able to chase down my dream and turn it into a reality.

Which means, I have exciting news to share! 

I am very thrilled and proud to announce that my debut novel, Two Hearts: Beyond Control, is (finally) with my editor and is planned for release in October.

So what’s next? Plenty of hard work!

While my editor performs her magic, helping me put the last coat of polish on my manuscript, I’m tackling two very important aspects of my book—the cover and the blurb. Sounds easy enough, right?

*sigh* Wrong.

After a week of wrestling with these two beasts, I’ve decided that writing my book may have been the easy part. At least it’s all fun, no matter how big the challenge, because I’m doing what I LOVE to do!

I have a lot to learn about publishing and marketing. And I’ll continue to share my adventure with you right here, so stick around. Our journey together isn’t over yet!

And, of course, I’m still writing and have several exciting projects under way!

  • The second book in my trilogy, Two Hearts: One True Love, is coming along nicely with an anticipated release in Spring of 2017.
  • I’m in the early stages of writing and developing a novella series that will debut next year.
  • And I’m working on a web-based series that will run on this website … watch for that in the very near future.

So far this has been an amazing journey for me, and I’m so happy to have you along for the ride! Hold on tight . . . We’re just getting started!  ~CJ

 

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© CJ Andrews, Daydreamer Press, 2016. All rights reserved.

Still in the Race . . . A Brief Update for All You Inquiring Minds

FullSizeRender 11I know I’ve been quiet for a few weeks, but I’m still here.

Recently, I’ve heard a lot of authors, some wildly successful, say that the hardest part of writing a book is actually finishing the story. Following their advice, last month I changed my normal writing process and set out to finish writing my story without “tidying it up as I go” . . . just dumping the words on the page to get to the end.

In order to eliminate distractions and focus on writing my book, I put myself in a “timeout.” That meant no blogging, no chatting with friends and fellow authors, and no playing on social media.

It’s been lonely, but the results are proof that the sacrifice was well worth it.

Did I meet my goal and finish my first draft by the end of January?

No.

Did I finish it by the middle of February?

Still, no.

Am I discouraged about not finishing my book? Definitely not! I managed to write more in five weeks than I wrote in the previous eight months.

I have two scenes left to write—two stubborn scenes that I can’t seem to figure out. But I’m not worried. I know what needs to happen, and I know the right words will come to me . . . eventually.

Giving up now would be like running a marathon and lying down two feet before the finish line. I can’t imagine any runner would work so hard, only to give up and do something so foolish; and neither will I.

I’m almost there . . . so incredibly close.

But, you know what? As excited as I am about the progress of my book, the most important thing I’ve accomplished the past six weeks is remembering why I wanted to write in the first place. And that’s because I love it.

I write every day. 

Not because it’s a habit. Not because it’s what I’m expected to do.

I stopped putting unnecessary stress on myself with unrealistic expectations and self-imposed deadlines that took the fun out of writing. Because that’s what writing is to me. Fun. Creative. Making up people and stories, writing them down, then reshaping them until I create something I’m proud of and want to share with the world.

I write, because it’s what I want to do. It makes me happy.

So, while my last two scenes get into shape, I’m working on my favorite part of the creative process—revising the chapters I wrote so far this year. The last chapters of my debut novel.

I’m still here. I’m still in the race, and I have no doubts that I’ll cross the finish line. Very soon. —CJ

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© CJ Andrews, 2016. All rights reserved.

A New Year, New Goals, and a New Plan of Attack

IMG_1423Happy New Year! . . . and good riddance to 2015. Yeah, I know I’m a week late. I have a really good excuse though!

I’ve been busy writing.

I never make New Year resolutions—those things most people toss around casually with no real intention of following through on.

Anyone can throw out a general statement: This year I’m going to eat healthier. This year I’m going to exercise more. This year I’m going to . . . well, you get the idea. They’re great ideas—great resolutions, but they don’t have a plan to support them. As a result, they’re often a distant memory by noon on January 1.

Instead, I prefer to set goals and make plans.

If I say,  “I want to eat healthier, so I’m going to cut out processed foods and have one vegetarian day each week.” Now I have a goal and a plan, so I’m more likely to follow through. Right?

The same principles apply to writing. Last year, my goal was to finish my book. Period. Did it happen? Um, that would be a big, fat NOPE! Instead chaos, disorder, and distractions reined.

NOT this year. I have a list of solid goals for 2016, and plans on how to achieve them. First up is my goal to finish the first draft of my novel by January 31. IMG_1425

That’s right, you’re not seeing things . . . I’ve attached a date for finally finishing.

The last few chapters will still need polishing before I run them through my critique group, and then there’s the whole revisions and editing phase; but those things will all fall into place once I have a finished story to work with.

This is a huge goal for me, a personal challenge. I need to nail this one to prove to myself that I really am a writer.

I know what needs to happen yet in my story and how many chapters are left to write. I can estimate about how many words it will take to write each of those scenes. Breaking it down, I know how many words I need to get on the page each day in order to reach my goal . . . and it’s a lot more than I’m used to writing.

That means I need to make a few changes in my life. The biggest change: writing my story is now a top priority in my day . . . EVERY day. To make sure that happens, I began getting up early to write first thing in the morning.

Keep in mind that I am not a morning person. The sight of me dragging myself out of bed at four am . . . well, let’s just say it’s not pretty. It’s a price I’m willing to pay though, and the results have been good so far—I am on target to meet my goal.

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January is off to an exciting start, and I’m racing toward the finish line. I can see “The End” in sight. —CJ

Finding My Way

hawaii-240191_640I’m really bad with directions and get lost almost every time I go somewhere new. So it only makes sense that I’d make a few wrong turns on my journey as an author.

Okay, it was more than a few . . . and they were major detours.

I could sit here and make up all kinds of excuses for my recent absence, some probably valid—family vacation, a new job, holidays, misunderstandings—but the bottom line is that I dropped the ball. I lost focus on my goals and nearly allowed my dream to fade away.

Writers write, right? Or at least we’re supposed to. We talked about that before. (click here if you missed it) But so many things, real and imagined, can mess with a writer’s head. Suddenly, the writing stops, and the downward spiral of self deprecation and fading confidence ensues.

I’ve been lost for several weeks, wandering around the great abyss of a blank page and feeling totally disconnected from anything writing-related. It’s a personal hell that I’m ready to escape.

Over the course of several long conversations, a friend helped me realize where I went off course and dragged me back . . . making sure to bang my head on every rock along the path in an attempt to knock some sense into me.

It worked.

So what’s next? It’s time to get back to work and finish writing my novel, of course! That means committing to set aside designated writing time every day . . . No excuses! And it means finally getting serious about building a strong platform to support my novel when it’s ready to release.

With a new plan in place and a renewed energy, it’s time to put the pedal to the metal—or my fingers to the keyboard—and resume my journey. I’m off to embrace the return of my passion for writing I’d temporarily lost along the way. —CJ