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Amy on writing

That’s My Jam!

Finding inspiration through music.

“Where words fail, music speaks.” ― Hans Christian Andersen

I’ve hit a number of writer blocks in the years since I began writing Capture the Tide. And an interesting thing I noticed, about myself, is it wasn’t so much that I didn’t have an idea. But I couldn’t find the mood. I remember driving in my car and listening to the radio. And this song came on, I liked it so much I bought it for a buck 29 on iTunes! Anyway, why did I like it….. as I listened, an entire scene unfolded in my head, it was everything I needed. I simply needed to feel the feeling, hear it, away from the sterile blue light of a computer screen. The intense rawness of new love, of being young and totally impetuous. It’s so easy to forget those feelings when your day’s full of toddlers or you’re feverishly typing notes into your phone between ballet classes and lunch time.

I should note that if you find yourself having those wondrous feelings, enjoy them, please don’t stop to write them down for fucks sake!

Cheers!

Amy

Amy on writing

Pantser or Planner?

This question seems to pop up a lot, here’s my take:

What kind of writer are you? Do you stream consciousness, shoot first and ask questions later? Or are you an airtight, color coded, outliner with a calendar of to dos?

I’d like to say I’m something in between… but I’d be fuckin lie’n if I did. 😉

My first novel came to me as a vague dream and one sentence. I taught myself to write by editing and rewriting the first 10 chapters. What did I learn?

I learned that the voice that is passive sucks, and adverbs suckingly suck.

(I filtered paragraphs through free websites like Hemingway.com and pro writing aid to learn this.)

I came a long way writing those 10 chapters over and over. By the end of 7 years I finished the remaining 21 chapters with a pretty defined picture of where the arcs and ending would take me, a journal of hard to read notes and a hope for what the hell I’d do with this infernal book when I was done.

With all my hard work I decided to invest in a pro editor from skribendi. (Its worth it! And no one told me to say that.)

And now? Working on a query package that will slay em dead. Because if your query’s bla, agents and publishers won’t even turn the proverbial page. (I know this because the internet told me.)

Feel free to share what kind of writer you are through comments.

Cheers to your bestowal of wisdom!

Amy

Amy on writing

Authenticity

via Authenticity

Stay gold Ponyboy.” — Johnny, The Outsiders

When building an online presence, or platform, how do You maintain your authentic self while riding the bloggernaut through the blogosphere?

In art school (15 years ago) I took a class on branding. (Was blogging even a thing then). Anyway, what did I learn: You are your brand. Being your own brand before the internet made it famous was about presenting yourself in a manner that highlights your art. Easy, I thought, I have a great portfolio, education, unique personal style and excellent rapport with people in the know. I was unapologetically me. And like me or not, it worked.

But…… In today’s world. With the internet ready to hold your words and actions in infamy, how do you hold onto your authentic self without risking the empire you wish to build? I don’t know.

Until then, I suppose I’ll keep doing what I know best… Me.

…Because at the end of the day, if it doesn’t blow your skirt up, why fuckin write about it?

Cheers! Amy

Amy on writing

Who are you?

“Dear Mr. Vernon, we accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was we did wrong. But we think you’re crazy to make us write an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us – in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions.”

–The Brain, The Breakfast Club

Who am I? I’ve been asking my self this question a lot lately. Who am I. Why am I interesting…

My name is Amy Westphal and I’m an author…. amongst many others things. I am a wife, a mother, a painter, a cake designer, a Harry Potter enthusiast and now, after seven years of toil. I am ready to call myself a author.

Being a author sounds so simple but it’s not. It’s more than just editing a story you wrote a million times and telling yourself you suck until one day you decide hey, This doesn’t suck anymore.

As I come to completion of my first novel, I find my attention turning to the business of being a novelist. Like my time as a gallery artist and cake designer, as a novelist, you are your business. So I’m my own business and I need to promote my business.

And to be honest. It’s been a while since I’ve had to promote my art and I’m daunted. I’m 37 and I’m not tech savvy. Its embarrassing. I can paint you anything, design you a cake that doesn’t look like a cake. I can talk your ear off and make you laugh and I’d like to think I can write a compelling story. But I can hardly use my iPhone. I type with 3 fingers and I’m not on social media. Gasp why. I don’t get it, I don’t like it, I don’t have time for it. I do however love some well timed tweets that make their way into the news sites I read everyday, all day, as the time allows (bathroom). My world for the last few years as been my daughters. And the crazy world of family daycare. 6 cousins, 1 grandma, 2 aunties, and me. And a houseful of other wonderful butter beans and peanut butter cups fill my day.

Which brings me back to this quote. Who do you think you are. Who am I.

I’m a writer who needs a platform. An artist out of the game ready to make a valiant effort to join the digital world.

I’m Amy Westphal and welcome to my blog. I hope I don’t bore the shit out of you.

Amy on writing

Redux

Hey all!

With the kids out of school this week and the week prior due to hazardous air quality from the devastating Camp and Woolsey fires it’s been quite the circus here.

Without time to compose new posts or even edit ones in the queue I though this week would be an opportunity for new followers to get to know me. So I will be reposting my oldest posts here throughout the week.

I hope those of you who have been with me since the beginning don’t mind trippin’ down my memory lane. I’m over 50 posts in this thing now so it’s been a while.

Cheers, Amy

Amy on writing

Amy’s Bad Advice #8

It’s worth what you paid for it.

For this weeks bad advice let’s talk about that beautiful and glorious moment when you discover that a literary agent wants to read your manuscript…and what not to do about it…

First, do not include the draft number in your file name. No one wants to see that you’re on draft 897 or 1.

Do not include anything weird in your file name for that matter. Just your name and the title of your book. Unless the agent has specified something else.

Also, and this goes without needing saying really, but please send a clean draft. Make sure you are as free of error as possible. Every missed comma or typo takes the agent out of your story.

Next, don’t use weird formatting or fonts. It’s not precious. It looks stupid. You want your story to Stand out. That is all.

Lastly. Please double check you have followed the agents guidelines for submission and then….Don’t harass them before the time they have requested is done. A lot ask for 2-3 months. I know, that’s forever, but it’s worth your patience.

In the meantime. Feel free to twitter stalk the agent. You never know when they might talk about you. But, remember. They probably aren’t talking about you.

This concludes Amy’s Advice for Thanksgiving time. You’re welcome.

To learn more about literary agents and all this jumble I rant about all the time you can see my previous posts:

Query, Querying, Queried…

Know When to Hold them…

…Amongst several others.

Or check out agent extraordinaire:

Janet Reid, The Query Shark. Her blog is my go to for pretty much all things writing. She’s straightforward, insightful and hilarious.

Cheers, Amy

Amy on writing

The Wait

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What up WPs! I have some exciting news!

It’s funny, because I have been wondering all week what I was going to write about. I have nothing in the queue. Its terrible, not even a draft. Unless you want to hear about my plans to organize my closet? or laundry?… No? I don’t blame you.

Okay, so the news…

I got my first full request from a literary agent!!!

But what does that mean? An actual literary agent liked my query letter and sample pages. She wants to read my full manuscript!!!!

Isn’t that fucking spectacular!

Now, I really shouldn’t go to pieces here. I can still get rejected. She may decide it wasn’t compelling after all, or that it needs more work. It could be anything, but that still awesome because I’m in this thing.

So wish me luck everyone, I should hear back within 90 days, or an eternity.

Let the waiting begin!

Cheers, Amy

painting, oil on canvas by me