How I Became an Author?
In the ’90s, I collected quotes and made a perpetual calendar with garden quotes. My goal was to create beautiful books and stationery. I had sent my writings and ideas to companies through Writer’s Digest. I received a call in the fall of 1999, and I worked with an editor at Brownlow Publishing in Texas. I developed a small book entitled 75 Ways to Calm Your Soul, which was published in 2000.
I knew nothing of marketing and sold to friends and family. As a result, I was bit by the bug. I entered contests and continued to write, developing stories. I collected rejection letters and blistering comments from contest readers, but I took their advice and kept going.
I retired from teaching in the fall of 2014, and I wrote every day on the Redwood Series, producing four complete manuscripts. By 2019, I decided to self-publish Porcelain White. The next obstacle was to teach myself the technology needed to submit to Amazon.
In October of 2019, the first book in the Redwood Frontier Series, Porcelain White, was released. In October of 2020, the second book, Emerald Green, was released on Amazon. I am learning to market and navigate social media, but honestly, I would rather be writing.
4. Read. Read. Read.
If you want to be a writer, you need to read. When I took a class from the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, the professor told us to write what we like to read. Pick a genre and then read over one hundred books in that genre. Read the classics, the best sellers, your favorite authors, and different historical periods.
Be a curious reader. Read to understand how the plot structure works, Pay attention to the side characters and subplots. Take notes. Try to plot the rise and fall of the suspense. Read to unweave the mystery.
Be an observant reader. Look for the details that tie in later in the book. I am guilty of being a fast reader and sometimes missing minor clues. Drink in the storyline and watch for character nuances.
Be a reader who reads to learn. Gather information about the period you want to write and describe. Pick your favorite time and research topics which leads you to more reading. Knowledge is power.
Be a reader who escapes into the world of fiction and puts behind the worries of the day. Immerse yourself into these beautiful worlds that the author has created.
My best advice to new writers is to read, study, and learn about yourself as a reader. Develop consistent reading habits and goals. You will be a better writer in the long run. Now, I know you have a stack of books next to your bed marked unread. Select one. Find your favorite blanket and find a comfy space to curl up and read. Enjoy!
3. Capture the Feeling
I recently read an article suggesting new bloggers write at least ten blogs before sharing. Writing blogs is a different type of writing. I like the idea of pushing myself as a writer. Writing blogs helps the writer find their authentic voice. The voice that filled the journals of my past, but the fear of allowing others to read my writing was stronger.
I firmly believe that journaling can shape an authentic voice. When you write your thoughts down on paper, you need to be honest with yourself. Capture the feelings, dissect the problem, and get rid of the frustrations holding you back from creating.
Throughout my life, I have journaled. During the ’90s, I followed The Artist Way. This book on creativity suggested writing morning pages: three handwritten pages to clear your mind. I did this off and on for many years never allowing anyone to read so much as a sentence. I have since removed my office of old morning pages. I still enjoy a longhand writing session now and then.
I have also kept many writer’s notebooks and files. I collect ideas, newspaper articles, historical dresses, jewelry pictures. Quotes and character dialogue scatter the pages along with extended family pages of names, birth dates, and ages of all the characters in my novels.
I love my collections of quote books. Throughout the years, I would find various quotes of sayings and copy them down from the source. Sometimes, I would cut with a scissors and tape the actual printed quote into the book along with other memorabilia.
I have a love of new notebooks and Uni-Ball pens. I will buy blank books at TJ Maxx because of the cover or the feel of the journal in my hand. I often buy from the clearance shelves adding one more to my collection.
If you want to live the life of a writer, work every day to polish your writing style. Make an artist date to buy a new notebook and your choice of pens. Start capturing your words as you speak to the paper. The journal is your book of ideas and dreams. Fill it full of inspiration to motivate you towards your next item on your creative bucket list.
Julie M. Granger
Writing is like dieting. Every method does not work the same for every person. Each writer needs to forge their path and use the strategies that worked for them.
My insight into my process was enlightening. As a reader, I am fascinated by the plot, and I wonder, “How did they do that so smoothly?”.
I want my readers to get to know the interesting facts about my writing process. Here are ten things you didn’t know about me as a writer.
1. I write with music on in the background. It seems to set a peaceful ambiance to my office. I listen to the instrumental guitar, piano, cello, and violin. My current radio station on Pandora is Jim Brickman. I also enjoy instrumental folk music and gospel.
2. At night, I think through scenes and plan out what I want to write the next day. I see certain events and try to understand the scene from different points of view.
3. My characters are so real to me that I often feel their emotions. I confess that I have cried while writing certain scenes. I also laugh out loud at the antics of some of the characters.
4. I write in chronological order. I sometimes will flashback to a pivotal scene when I am telling the back story. The story works through the seasons and by the calendar as events unfold.
5. I write what I like to read. I love historical romance. I love the different periods and history. The relationships bring the past to life.
6. I enjoy the research for a historical period, especially fashion, jewelry, and inventions.
7. I am guilty of editing as I type. I have to work on getting the story down on paper or into the computer. Just write and then come back and edit. It is hard, but the next edit makes the story much stronger.
8. When it comes to my writing tools of choice, I chose legal pads, notebooks, and three-ring binders. My weapon of choice is Uni-Ball pens, fine or medium point in gel or ink. I write on a Mac desktop or laptop. I also love a good blank book for quotes.
9. Sometimes the story comes so fast that I can’t type fast enough. A writing binge is comparable to a runner’s high. The story seems to pour to the page, and you feel alive from your head to your toes with creativity. I love that feeling.
10. Goals. I have learned to set small goals, baby steps to complete every day to live my life as a writer. I have missed deadlines and finished some goals ahead of schedule. Every day, I work towards goals, big and small.
I hope by reading these insights into my writing process, you were able to find a nugget of an idea to try for yourself. Take the time to write about your writing process and learn something new about yourself as a writer. Insight brings wisdom.
Julie M. Granger
P.S. Leave me a comment. It is exciting to hear from readers, especially if they find one of your suggestions helpful. Look forward to hearing from my readers.
1. Take That First Step
This essay is my first blog post. Step One - Introduce yourself to your audience. For my readers to get to know me, I thought I would give them a glimpse into how the writing thread has woven through my life.
I am a recovering public school educator who lost her writing voice for many years. I was afraid to write what I thought, for fear of retribution. As an educator, your opinion had to reflect that of the district. I have old journals stacked throughout my office, filled with frustrations with policies.
Professionally, I also wrote newsletter and newspaper articles, press releases, curriculum, parent letters, and district reports. I wrote scripts for my speech team because we did not have the money for royalties. I created original works along with adaptations and parodies.
Secretly, I turned to fiction writing, where I could devise what I wanted and create characters in a whole new world. Writing historical romance stories made me happiest.
Four years later, I am in a great place. I have finished five novels with several in outline form. I have begun my website and blog, and I work every day to find my voice.
I spent a year recovering from neck and throat cancer and mentally was unable to write. I did not have the energy nor the desire. After taking a year off, I returned in January 2019 with a passion for writing again. I take steps every day to make my dream of being a published writer come true.
So, today, I encourage you to take a step and start writing. It can be anything from a journal entry, an essay, a story, a list of goals, or a page of dreams. The most crucial step is to start. Happy writing.
Julie M. Granger
P.S. Miraculously, you found this essay on-line and are reading it. Then, you will know that I took the second step and clicked on the button, Publish.
One step at a time.