My journey into freelance writing & making dreams come true

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Hi there! It has been a really, really, really long time since I’ve blogged. That’s because life has been absolutely hectic and chaotic and a lovely mess of dreams coming true. And the reason for that is some hard work happening behind the scenes.

Back in March, I experienced a setback that crushed me. It was something I’d built up in my mind, something I was sure I would get. It was huge. And when I received news that it had just slipped from my grasp, I was crushed. I even left work early because mentally I felt so defeated. I cried the entire thirty minutes home, repeating over and over again: “I thought I had it.”

My gut said yes. My gut said big things were happening, and this was it. So when reality hit that wasn’t the case, I felt so incredibly low. I felt like I couldn’t trust even my own intuition anymore, because I always found my gut to be right – about people, about choices I had to make, and even about what song would come next on shuffle. Well, that last one wasn’t always 100% accurate.

I allowed myself to feel defeat and sadness and discouragement. I wasn’t going to suppress those emotions, because what had happened was truly disappointing and I had to deal with how I was feeling. But once I woke up the next morning, I had a thought.

“I’m going to be a freelance writer.”

I had been toying with this idea for years. I wanted a way to further hone my writing skills and also build something of my own. I have my fiction writing, yes, but I wanted something that would materialize more quickly. I wanted to do any and all kinds of writing – whether it was blog posts, podcast notes, resumes, or website copy.

So, that next day, I set a goal: I would begin freelance writing on April 1 and would manifest two projects in that first month. That’s all I set out to do. Two writing projects in the first month.

I’m happy to say I had four projects in that first month, and it’s only been growing since then. I still work full time in PR and love it, but this really gives me a chance to strengthen my skills even more.

My point in writing this is that good – actually, freaking great – things can come from bitter disappointments and let-downs. If I can offer some unsolicited advice (hypocritical, because I hate when people give me unsolicited advice), take those hard times and grow. And no matter what, chase your dreams. Put the hard work in, and I promise it will be worth it.

And, I could write a whole different post on this, do not let anyone try to talk down your dreams or make you feel like you can’t do it. Chances are, they’re projecting their own feelings of self doubt on you. And you don’t need that. Show them the door.

Thanks so much for reading, and I’m hoping to make this a regular thing once again. I’m really on about happiness, inspiration, and growth lately, so you might see more of that.

XO,
Elizabeth

 

 

Staying motivated in writing – when it seems impossible

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I have a confession to make: I don’t want to work on my book. It’s not that I don’t want to write – I love writing. It’s my absolute passion and calling. And it’s not that I don’t like my book idea and my current work in progress. But, I’m in the dreaded I-could-write-and-it’s-not-writer’s-block-but-I-can’t-bring-myself-to-do-anything.

So what do you do when you hit this wall? I’m still trying to work it out. But, hopefully, the first step to moving past it is recognizing it!

Here are some steps I’m taking to get back into the groove.

  1. Recognize your feelings. Acknowledge that you’re in a slump, that it’s going to be okay, and that you will move past it.
  2. Don’t beat yourself up. While writing every day would be fantastic, unfortunately it’s not always realistic. Sometimes, it just doesn’t flow. It’s okay.
  3. Try to pinpoint why it’s happening. Are you struggling with a plot point? Querying another project and feeling discouraged? Or, maybe you’re just dealing with a lot of other stuff in your life. Don’t fret about it – prioritize and find where you can make time to write. If you’re struggling with the book itself, take some time away to brainstorm.
  4. Start small. Ease yourself back into your WIP. For me, I always strive to hit 1,000 words per session. Sometimes, I think this very goal gets in my own way. If you inch back into your story – even if it’s only 100 words – it’ll help get you back in the swing of things. Plus, you’ll be writing again!
  5. Understand that it happens to everyone. Remembering that you aren’t alone, and that everyone feels unmotivated and discouraged at times, can really help you get past your dry spell.

I’ll admit – I find this feeling even more sinking than writer’s block. So while I did come up with the above, I also asked my Twitter followers for their advice. Here’s what some of them said:

Sometimes I’ll work on another WIP, or a side project related to the WIP, like a scene that helps me understand a character or is just for fun even if I have no intention of including it in the WIP. – @ashleydhansen12

What I do is sometimes I just need to force myself to write, so I’ll write a couple sentences and see how I feel or I reread the last chapter to get back into it. Or, I go to the last spot I enjoyed writing and work from there. – @ImBrittanyEvans

I change it up. Write somewhere new, like a lunch spot. Write longhand. Brainstorm with a friend even if they don’t have a clue about your book. Just explaining stuff kick-starts the ole brain. – @AbbeyKirberger

But the most consistent piece of advice I received? Don’t give up, and keep working on your book anyway.

I would have to agree.

Do you have go-to practices to spark your motivation? Drop them in the comments!

XO,
Elizabeth

WHAT I READ THIS MONTH: One of Us is Lying

unnamedHi everyone! Wow, it’s been an absolutely insane month. I’ll admit I haven’t been making writing a top priority, but I’m chalking it up to a lot of personal stuff that went on the past few weeks. However, I’ve still kept up my reading! February’s book is ONE OF US IS LYING by Karen M. McManus, and I have to say, I LOVED IT. Before I get into specifics, here’s the official overview from McManus’ website:

Pay close attention and you might solve this:

On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention:
 

  • Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule

  • Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess

  • Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing

  • Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher

  • And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s
    notorious gossip app

 
Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom alive. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. He died on a Monday. But that Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates. Now, all four of them are suspects in his murder. Are they guilty? Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?
 
They all have a motive. They all have something to hide. They all have a history with Simon. And one of them is definitely lying.

Whoa. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a huge fan of young adult fiction. Not saying I don’t like it – it’s just usually not my first choice. But, a lot of people who know me know that I love Gossip Girl, so naturally this premise clicked with me from the start and I had to pick it up. Many people have described it as GG or Pretty Little Liars meets The Breakfast Club, which in and of itself makes it a must-read. So, grab your backpack and cell phone – we’re going back to school.

First, let’s talk about how seamlessly McManus executes the multiple point-of-view writing. We get glances into the minds of the four remaining students – Bronwyn, Cooper, Addy and Nate – but it never feels confusing. This is a super difficult thing to pull off, but McManus does it. She writes them differently enough so that you can tell which character’s mind you’re in, but not too much so that it become distracting from the plot. Well done. I enjoyed getting to view the story unfold through the different perspectives.

I also loved her voice. Her writing style was rich in detail, but also kept the story moving and didn’t ever feel stifling or self-indulgent. Like I’ve mentioned before, I’m a plot girl, so I like when writers keep things moving with a strong premise. I also love mystery and thrillers, and I’ll admit, even with my lofty consumption of thrillers and determination to solve it for myself, I didn’t see this ending coming. Without giving too much away, it was an interesting concept, and the motivation behind the killer was timely in a dark and painfully real way.

In addition to an unforeseen ending, we also learn deep secrets about the four main characters themselves. As each one unfolds, we realize the murderer could be any of them – and that’s what makes it so gripping. I kept going back and forth on who could’ve done it – but when I ultimately learned the truth, and why the killer did it, I was pretty shocked.

All in all, if you love mystery, suspense, dark secrets and high school drama, pick up ONE OF US IS LYING. You won’t regret it.

Buy the book here:

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Indie Bound

Know a book that I should read next? Let me know in the comments!

 

WHAT I READ THIS MONTH: Hunting Annabelle

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Hi everyone! Thanks for bearing with me – it’s been a busy last few weeks, but I’m back on the blog. This week, I’ve got the January edition of WHAT I READ THIS MONTH! My January book was adult psych thriller HUNTING ANNABELLE by debut author Wendy Heard. I’m so excited to dive into this with you, because I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

Also, if you haven’t seen – I’m now on YouTube! Catch me here in a video review of the book and subscribe for future book/writing/life content.

All right, here’s an overview of HUNTING ANNABELLE from Heard’s website:

Sean Suh is done with killing. After serving three years in a psychiatric prison, he’s determined to stay away from temptation. But he can’t resist Annabelle—beautiful, confident, incandescent Annabelle—who alone can see past the monster to the man inside. The man he’s desperately trying to be.

Then Annabelle disappears.

Sean is sure she’s been kidnapped—he witnessed her being taken firsthand—but the police are convinced that Sean himself is at the center of this crime. And he must admit, his illness has caused him to “lose time” before. What if there’s more to what happened than he’s able to remember?

Though haunted by the fear that it might be better for Annabelle if he never finds her, Sean can’t bring himself to let go of her without a fight. To save her, he’ll have to do more than confront his own demons… He’ll have to let them loose.

First off – wow. Personally, thrillers are my favorite genre of literature, particularly psych thrillers. This premise struck me as so original, while at the same time masterfully tying in inspiration from real-life serial killers. Not only that, but the twist at the end had me yelping. Sean, our narrator, is unreliable to say in the least and certainly serves as a red herring in himself. I thought, like the police and basically every other character in the book, that Sean would end up being responsible for Annabelle’s disappearance. Without spoiling anything, I’ll just say this – don’t be so sure of whatever you’re thinking. Heard has a big trick up her sleeve with this one.

If you’re like me, you enjoy a more plot-driven story that has you gripped from the first page. Not only does Heard accomplish this, but she also develops rich characters with whom a reader can make a connection. At times, I felt sympathetic toward Sean, even though he’s a troubled man with a murderous past. Heard wonderfully shows his complicated relationship with an overbearing mother, and that dynamic in and of itself made the book fascinating to consume. At times you feel bad for Sean – he’s in love and desperately trying to find this woman with whom he found a real connection. But his honest confessions of feeling violent toward women pull you back into reality. And that truth is that Sean can’t be trusted.

And even he knows that. Several times, he questions if in fact he is responsible. And isn’t that the scariest part of all? Feeling like your reality may not be real at all? Whoa.

On top of this, Heard’s beautiful use of language makes her debut novel a triple threat. Not only is her plot strong and her characters developed and complex, but her voice is compelling. She writes in tight, succinct sentences that pack a punch. She doesn’t bore you with useless detail – everything she writes and describes has a reason. As someone with a journalism background, I always appreciate encountering that in literature.

All in all, I highly recommend you pick up a copy of HUNTING ANNABELLE. It’ll take you on a roller coaster you’ll never want to get off.

Buy HUNTING ANNABELLE:

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Apple Books

Looking back & ahead: New Year’s resolutions

 

I love the idea of a fresh start. The notion of reinvention and rebirth is fascinating and inspiring, and it’s something I think about often. That’s one of the reasons I love this time of year. Like most people, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting as the year draws to a close. Things I accomplished, things I learned, things I’m proud of, and things I could do better in the new year.

Here, I want to explore some of those and share what I’m aspiring to do in 2019.

2018 in review

What I’m proud of…

  • Finished writing my first book
  • Had my manuscript requested by agents
  • Launched my blog (woohoo!)
  • Transitioned my Instagram to a business account, focusing on Disney content
  • Completely revamped my mindset
  • Found joy in simple things
  • Started writing my second book

Lessons…

  • Happiness starts with the internal – not external. It’s on you.
  • Don’t let negative opinions dim your shine.
  • It’s scary to put yourself out there, but it’s so worth it.
  • Toxicity and negativity have no place here anymore.

Looking to 2019 

Goals…

  • Maintain a healthier lifestyle
  • Finish and revise my second book
  • Read two books a month
  • Buy more pink clothes
  • Keep a positive mindset

In short, my rule for 2019 can be summed up in three words: Good. Vibes. Only. As great as those external resolutions are (being healthy, financial responsibility, etc.), for me, the most important goals have to do with cultivating a good attitude. It’s not always easy, but it is always worth it. For me, it’s been life-changing.

And lastly, I want to say Happy New Year to those who follow and read my blog. I really appreciate it, and I look forward to awesome things coming in 2019!

Have your own goals and resolutions for the new year? Drop them in the comments below!

Happy New Year!

Elizabeth

 

 

What happens after you’ve written a book

C0DAB403-AF1F-4A58-B55E-8E3D1A490012It’s both a satisfying and sad feeling. You’ve been at it for months, spending nights and weekends in front of tiny laptop screen passionately punching out the words to your story.

After weeks and weeks of outlining, drafting, revisions, character development, bouts of writer’s block, doubt, chocolate splurges and excitement beyond anything you’ve ever felt, you’ve reached those two words.

The End.

When I finished writing my first book, THE PANACEA, I cried. The ending was emotional in and of itself, but I couldn’t grasp that this project I’d spent a year of my life on was over. At least for now. The story was complete at 50,000 words, and I was proud of it.

I finished my book in July of this year, for real. I say that because I’d thought I’d finished it in December 2017. I’d reached the ending I’d always envisioned for this story, but it still felt lacking. It was only until a literary agent suggested I make it a little longer that I realized I had more work to do.

Now that I’ve finished my manuscript, people have asked me how publishing works, or what I’m going to do now. While I don’t have the expert’s grasp on the former part of that question, I can share how I approached it.

You can certainly self-publish, as a lot of writers do, however I’m trying for the traditional route. Check out what happens post-ending below.

Let it be

When I finished my book, I immediately wanted to head straight back to chapter one and begin editing. I don’t recommend this. Instead, step away from it. Let it sit for a month. Don’t look at it. Then, when you are ready to edit, you’ll have fresh eyes.

Proofread and poke holes

Now that you’ve let your book sit, you feel it’s time to start editing. It goes without saying that a writer should do a thorough job of proofreading and grammatical/spelling /mechanical editing. But there’s an entirely different kind of editing that’s crucial – developmental editing. This is the poke-holes editing. For me, I liked to interrogate my own writing.

Why did so-and-so do this? Didn’t you describe this differently a couple of chapters ago? How can x happen if y is happening?

It seems annoying at first to grill yourself with so many questions, but this will really help you spot inconsistencies and plot holes in your story. After all, if you don’t spot it, your readers will.

In short, revise.

Beta readers and critique partners

Once you’ve self-edited, it’s a good idea to find yourself some beta readers, or people who will give feedback on your book. These aren’t your friends, or family, or basically anyone who has an emotional connection with you. Why? They won’t be honest.

Finding good beta readers and critique partners is a fantastic step. They’ll help you improve your story and may spot things your eyes glazed over. I’d recommend anywhere between four and eight. Take their comments and feedback with a grain of salt, though. Remember that’s it’s your story. If they make a suggestion that doesn’t feel right, trust your gut.

Find a great editor

This step isn’t free, but having a great editor will help polish the manuscript and get it ready for my next step. Determine what you want to hire the editor for: is it grammar/spelling/mechanics? Or is it developmental editing? Or is it both? Both will be greatly beneficial.

Query literary agents

This step is the step I’ve been on for eight months now – and that’s not uncommon. Since I’m pursuing traditional publishing, I’m querying literary agents in the hopes that one will want to represent me. Having an agent is extremely advantageous to a writer, and they’re often referred to as “your first friend in the publishing world.” Nowadays, most publishers will not accept submissions unless they come from an agent.

A query is basically a short and sweet email pitch explaining the premise, conflict, and stakes of your book. Agents will often ask for a writing sample to accompany the pitch, which can be anything from the first ten pages to the first three chapters. Important note: A writer should not query an agent for a work of fiction unless the manuscript is finished and polished. Additionally, a genuine agent never asks for money up front. They only get paid if your book sells.

This is where getting cozy with rejection comes in. In the almost year of querying, I’ve received 50+ rejections, one full manuscript request (passed), and one partial (still out for submission). But I’m still going.

Start writing the next book

The truth of the matter is that it’s rare for a writer to get an agent on their first manuscript. Should that be discouraging? No. It means a writer should get to work on their next project – which I’m happy to say I’m doing right now, and it’s completely different from my first one. Not only will you have something to distract you from awaiting agent replies (which can be months after you’ve submitted), but you’ll keep honing your writing. If your first one doesn’t cut it, maybe this next one will.

And that’s all for now! If you want to check out what my next manuscript is all about, please visit the fiction page.

Thanks for reading!

XO,
Elizabeth