Mar 25, 2013

Go Teen Writers Blog Stop: Cowriting (plus a giveaway)

Today I'm happy to announce that I'm hosting authors, Stephanie Morrill and Jill Williamson, for the blog tour of their new release, Go Teen Writers: How To Turn Your First Draft Into A Published Book! Stay tuned at the end for a free giveaway!

Without further ado, here is Mrs. Morrill's guest post on cowriting:

by Stephanie Morrill

Before writing Go Teen Writers: How To Turn Your First Draft Into A Published Book neither of us had ever co-written a book. We were fortunate in that our skillsets complement each other, and the process wasn’t just painless, but rewarding. We were able to produce a book we love and believe in, and we’re closer friends because of our time on the book. Here’s what we did well that made co-writing so fun:

We made sure we were at the same place

We had a heart-check about the book. Because we work on the blog together, we already knew we had the same heart for teen writers, and we wanted the same principles we use in the blog to go into the book as well. So for a while, we just traded occasional emails about ideas for the book until we landed on a vision we could both get behind.

This step is vital because everything will build on it, so if you’re thinking about co-writing, we encourage you both to allow a little time pass while you brainstorm so you can be sure you’re going to work well together.

We sought the opinions of others about our partnership

We talked to our agents about the wisdom of the project. We had a couple of small presses who were interested in the book, so we also talked to them about if we should go small press or publish independently.

Even if you don’t have an agent, it’s a good idea to talk to others and see what they think about your partnership. Do they have concerns? They might see problems you can’t.

We tried to make it even

After receiving the blessing from our agents, we got on the phone for a couple hours and hashed out a table of contents. Then we went through and decided who would write what. We worked hard to make sure the content was split fairly between us.

We also talked about how the editing and publishing process would go. Jill has more knowledgeable about independent publishing, so she volunteered to do the formatting and bookstore stuff. Because of that, I took over as much of the editing process as I could, though of course we both had to be involved in everything.

There a few ways to co-write a book. You can each be involved in every word that goes on the page or you can trade off who is writing. For us, it made sense to decide who would write what and then weave it all together at the end.

It’s very important that you and your co-writer  talk honestly about what skills you bring to the table and that you communicate concerns up front. Be sure your working styles and expectations line up well.

We regularly communicated about where we were in the process

After we had figured out the table of contents, the next step was to write the thing.

Cue contracts and deadlines for both of us.

Jill found herself with two looming deadlines, so she had to set the Go Teen Writers book aside while she met those. Because she was clear with me about what was going on, and let me know that she would have to write her sections after she turned in her fiction manuscripts, we were able to coordinate it all so it worked with minimal frustration.

We respected our deadlines and motivated each other

If one of us said, “I’ll have this to you by Friday,” we made sure it happened. And when we were feeling tired or overwhelmed, we were able to strengthen each other. This trust and encouragement is what made us thrive during the co-writing process.

It doesn’t end when you’ve written the book

This is a really important thing to keep in mind. You’re not just writing the book together—you’re publishing and promoting it together. For us that meant agreeing on a season of promotion, planning what we were going to do and what we were going to spend, and then executing our plan.

It also means you’ll be splitting money, which as we all know can make people weird. Make sure you talk through how the money will work and that you’re both comfortable with the plan.

Have you ever co-written a book? What worked for you and what didn’t? If you haven’t, is it something you’re interested in, or are you strictly a solo writer?

Stephanie Morrill and Jill Williamson have written a combined two dozen speculative and comtemporary novels for teens. They also blog obsessively at When not writing or blogging, they can be found at the teen table at writer's conferences or wherever chocolate is being given away. Come hang out with Stephanie at and Jill at
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Mar 12, 2013

Release Your Inhibitions

      I suppose you all noticed my absence of post-writing that happened a few weeks back. That was partially to everything going crazy in my life and my being busy, but there was more to it than that. I didn't have anything to post.

I haven't really said much to anyone about it, but I haven't been able to write for about a month and a half. I've been at war against my book for much longer. Now, if you've ever seen a writer fish taken out of his or her own pond, you'll get that it wasn't very pretty. I thought the world was ending or something. Such overdramatic, little fishies.

Recently, I finally figured out what was wrong with my book and have gotten back to writing. But I learned something:

I'd lost the love for writing.

Yes, and no, actually. I still loved stories and my characters and the feeling of my fingers banging out words that'll appear on my computer screen. But I didn't love what I was writing. Every word was awful and not good enough.

But that's the thing. Nothing's good enough. I'm writing a book that's going to be flawed and messed up, and that's okay. There are more drafts to be made. There are more chances to fix it later. Right now all I need to do is write. I don't need anything clouding up my mind. I need to release my inhibitions, say farewell to the nagging little editor voice in my head, and just write. That's all that matters. To quote Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield, "We've been conditioned to not make mistakes, but I can't live that way."

Writing is the opposite of most jobs and hobbies. In most areas of life, we don't get second tries. We have to get it right the first time. Like, the medical field, for example. Let's say you're going to get a test done and they have to inject you with some drug you've never heard of before. Let's see. We both know it probably isn't good if the doctor misses the vein and has to inject you again. Woah, woah, woah, wait. What just happened to the rest of the drug that was injected in me? It's still there?!

Maybe not the greatest example, but in most areas of life, you only get one try.

Writing is not one of those areas.

It's all about mistakes and flaws and potholes. But we go back and fix those later. You don't get anywhere if you try to make every little spot perfect before moving on. You can't fix what you don't know. You have to finish writing it. You have to know what you're writing.

I don't know what I'm writing. I feel like I've had to mostly start over. Which is not beautiful news to my ears after I've been working over a year and a half on this. But I'm going to find out what I'm writing this time. I'm going to actually listen to what others have been telling me for the longest time, and turn on that inner editor. I"ll pull him out down the road when I need him again. For now, I just need my keyboard and my digital paper. Right now I just need to bleed the words onto my screen.


Mar 7, 2013

Finding The Core of Your Story Giveaway

So, over on Verbosity Book Reviews we've got a giveaway running! Finding The Core of Your Story by Jordan Smith. My review of it is over there if you'd like to see that, but I figured I'd also post the giveaway here so that you all would know about it. Free to enter! Enjoy!

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Mar 5, 2013

Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow

Don't stop thinking about tomorrow,
Don't stop, it'll soon be here
It'll be better than before,
Yesterday's gone, yesterday's gone.

-Don't Stop by Fleetwood Mac

So, I'll admit. My titles were sort of based off this song. Except I really thought there was a line about thinking about today. . . Turns out that line was "Don't stop, it'll soon be here." How do I miss-hear something like that?

Today is my last post for the time being on past, present, and future orientation. As you could probably guess from the title if you haven't been following, today's post is on future orientation.

The future oriented can get really out there. I tend to be future oriented. Just last night I was going on about how I wanted to start a literary agency . . . right now. But also that I knew better and that I should wait till I'm 18. So I went to sleep plotting out my world domination, erm, entry into the publishing world and all that I must do to get there.

I'm not so good at the doing, though. To be honest, I decided I wanted to blog in February of 2011. It didn't get very far, considering that I really only started blogging seriously in October. Of 2012. Mostly because I had no clue what to do. So, instead I just dreamed. I finally did something, but this isn't usually the case.

If others of the future oriented class are like me, they're dreamers. We're not always the doers. Some of us are, and some aren't. Me? I'm not usually a doer. If I was younger, I would be telling you all about how by now I'd be a trading card artist and how I would have auditioned for American Idol and made it to Hollywood (still don't know why I thought I could do that. I'm awful at singing. And my art is not trading card worthy. . .).

There's nothing wrong with dreaming, of course, but my type focuses on the future so much that we tend to forget today. Math? Oh, that's so insignificant seeming compared to my plans of world domination. . . I tend to like to dream and forget to do the things I have to do--some of them things I have to do if I ever want to accomplish my dreams.

Usually, the future and our dreams keeps us happy. I mean, we're thinking of awesome stuff like winning a nationwide contest! However, we can be made distressed and anxious really easily too.

I like thinking about good future outcomes. I'm pretty black and white, though. I know that there's bad out there too. Getting older, thinking about life choices and such? I start to freak out. Especially if I find that things aren't going the way I want or that I haven't met any of the majorly important goals I set when I was eleven. I start to think I'm behind. Honestly, it's stuff like this that is most likely to bog me down.

If you want the future oriented to be happy, you have to keep them dreaming about the good. However, I believe it's good that I think on the bad because it reminds me that just dreaming doesn't get things done. I have to dream then do. Difficult for my procrastinating self to manage, but I'll survive.

Y'all have anything else to add?


Mar 4, 2013

Don't Stop Thinking About Today

So, I promised y'all posts on past, present, and future oriented people awhile back and never got beyond the  past oriented. I'm so sorry about that. Life got crazy for awhile and it seemed like the last thing I could do was figure out how to write a post on the present oriented.

I don't see myself as very present oriented. While I'm the most oriented in the future, I get past oriented sometimes. Rarely is my orientation revolving around the present. My mind lives in possibilities or in what could have been. Pros and cons, my friends. . . Pros and cons, I tell you.

I don't fully know how to describe the present oriented for that reason. I'll try my best, though.

These people live in today. Right here and right now. They don't always think about the consequences that might come of their actions. Right now it seems good, so that's what they'll do. They don't always think about what's come of similar actions in the past. As we all know, history repeats itself. If something ended badly once, there's a high chance of it ending bad again. When you're in a present oriented state of mind, it's easy to overlook that little fact. It seems good now, so they'll do it.

But, like the other types, there are really good aspects of it, as well as the not-so-good. You might not be as worried when you're living right now and enjoying right now. Today is a good day and that's what matters. Tomorrow might not be good, but today is a day to smile and be free! Sure, they can be in a really depressed mood if the day isn't going good, but when life seems good, the present oriented will be just as happy as their day, making them quite enjoyable to be around. The future oriented might not be content with today if they can imagine an even better future. They might not live in and enjoy this moment here because they're always chasing after their dreams. Same with the past oriented, except they look at how certain times in the past were "their golden age." "The time of their life that was actually perfect." Of course it wasn't all perfect, but when you're thinking about the past, you have a tendency to get nostalgic and want things to be the same again. Oh, that was when life was easy. Everything made sense then. . .it doesn't anymore. . .

The present oriented could probably be some of the most fun to be around. If they're having a good day, they'll be happy and really fun to be around. If you brighten their day, you brighten their mood.

Do any of you have anything more to say on this type? I'm probably not too accurate because I'm just having to make a bunch of guesses here. This is either so me that I don't realize it's me, or I'm not very much of a present person.

Mar 3, 2013



It's a powerful word. It's a sense of classification.  It can make your hopes rise or make them plummet to the ground. When I hear the word significance, I tend to relate it to myself. Am I of any significance? What is my significance in life and to others? Do I mean anything?

Okay, so maybe I'm an oddball who thinks weird things like that. Honestly, I do that everywhere. I'm the kind of person who will try to figure out why vampires hang upside down (A. No, I have never watched or read Twilight. B. Yes, I have come up with a theory for this.). But I've been thinking about significance today. And as with all things, I thought about it from a writing perspective.

What is the significance of our writing? What's the point? Why are we reading this side of the story? I mean, after all, I'm sure there were a billion other things going on in The Lord of The Rings even though we followed a select group of people. Why is our selection of characters significant? Why is the story that we see the significant one? What is the significance of the set period of time? We could follow your main character's life and age eight. Why is age sixteen more significant?

Take Divergent for example. This is a popular series right about now that I recently got around to reading book one of. Why do we follow Beatrice? Why is her part of the story significant? We could've followed her brother. He learned about the things going on that Beatrice did (excluding a few things. I'm sure he learned some stuff she didn't, too), but in a different way. He was in a different place. He had a different story.

What makes the character cast we choose more significant than others?

That's what I'm pondering today. Is my selection of characters the right cast for my story? Are they the most significant? Even if they aren't, why is their level of significance important to my readers?

Namely, why am I following them? Why am I following this section of this story? Why any of this?

I don't have a quick fix or an answer to any of this for you. But really, if it's not significant to the reader, what's the point of reading it? Why waste our time?

Are we writing what we should be writing? Is our significance level the right one?

And better yet: How do we make our stories more significant?