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

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

Piece of Cake

Happy November my turkey pot pies!

I haven’t been very writerly lately. Been so busy with life, you know how that goes. But it was a kind of a throwback week for me. I made two cakes!

It’s been a while since I’ve had back to back cakes and honestly I felt a bit rusty. They turned out well but I second guessed myself the whole way.

At the end of the day I’m happy being creative. Hope you enjoy!

Cheers, Amy

Amy on writing

Is It Worth It?

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Capture the Tide cover art by Amy Westphal

Lets research it…

Paid book reviews and the independent or emerging author.

Is it worth the cost or the effort? Good question. Here’s my take.

I entered the Readers Choice Awards Contest the last day of the deadline. My book wasn’t finished by my editor yet but I really wanted to find some literary street cred and based on my research, this contest is the real deal. Not only do they judge completed works, they also judge unpublished works. Exactly what I needed. For more info go to http://www.readersfavorite.com

Needless to say. I did not win the contest. If you’ve followed my blog for some time, you’ll know I’ve had my fair share of rewrites since I started my journey and my book is a different book today. However… I did submit an updated manuscript to be reviewed and got a really nice 5 star review for my novel CAPTURE THE TIDE. I will post the review below. I’m pretty pleased with it.

Now, some people might think that a paid review is meaningless. You’ve probably seen them on Amazon or something, but it doesn’t mean that all paid reviews are equal and that they don’t have value. As an emerging writer, I see no reason not to take opportunities that give you legitimacy. Everyone knows that a strong platform pays. Agents love a platform, and even better? A platform with a healthy following. And I’m working on that here. I don’t have staggering numbers like some literary bloggers, but I am pleased with the growth of my website and blog. But up until now I have mostly talked about my writing process and managing mom life with entrepreneuring, I haven’t actually discussed my book itself with much detail. And I think its time to change that.  So for the first time on http://www.amy-westphal.com I’d like to use my professional review to share a taste of what CAPTURE THE TIDE is all about.

Readers Favorite Book review for CAPTURE THE TIDE by Amy Westphal

Reviewed By Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers’ Favorite

“Life is ugly, gritty, complicated, glorious, and beautiful. But not pretty. Stories are pretty, saccharin tales of black and white and no gray.” It takes Lauren a remarkable journey of discovery to learn those simple truths about life and about humanity as a whole. There will always be the good and the bad, the glorious and the evil, the happy and the sad. Even with a fresh start, a cleansing if you will, humanity will always recover with the same mix and make the same mistakes. When an asteroid hits Lauren’s world, it takes away her home, her family, her life. She has to start again. But she is not alone. And once she discovers that simple fact, she is able to fit together again the pieces of the puzzle that disrupted her life and will create her new life. 

Amy Westphal’s novel, Capture the Tide, is more than an Armageddon story of total destruction and the survival of the few in the aftermath of disaster. It’s a powerful story about the human tenacity to recover and to try again, to survive in the best possible way under unknown, uncertain circumstances. The plot develops from Lauren’s entrapment in a bomb shelter, securely locked away for two years with no connection to the outside world. She has no idea what will await her when the clock finally ticks down and the lock on the door disengages. She finds a world totally different from the one she remembered, but also a world not so different. There are the good, the bad and the ugly, as well as the glorious and beautiful everywhere she wanders. Until she finds her family again and a way to create a new life for herself. A powerful plot that outlines the many faces of humanity. The description invites the reader right into the story and the characters are so real that the reader feels they know them intimately.

So honestly my darlings, what do you think? Does this sound like a book you would like to read? Inquiring minds (mine) want to know..

Post up in the comments.

Cheers, Amy

And for more information about paid reviews I recommend checking out http://www.janefriedman.com  she is an incredible resource for writers.

Image- My cover design for CAPTURE THE TIDE

Amy on writing, on writing and kids

Amy’s Bad Advice 6

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New advice, new season, new hair, new uncanny bitmoji. It’s still worth what you paid for it.

When you say Yes! I say No! Yes!…

No. Hells no.

Why I’m saying no to the “Yes” day and why I would advise you to do the same.

The “Yes” day, ever heard of it?  This post might seem more geared for parents with younger kids, but maybe you’re a grandparent or have other family or friends to bestow this bit of controversial advise on.

So, the “Yes” day. What is it? It’s a an idea based on a book aptly named, you guessed it:

YES DAY

And frankly, I’m not sure the “Yes” day de jour that has hit celebrity parents and their Insta accounts by storm has anything to do with this jolly little book but essentially, the purpose is to have one scheduled day a year when you say yes to every request your child makes.

“Can I have ice cream for dinner? ”

“Yes.”

“Can I stay up late and eat more ice cream?”

“Yes.”

Now most parents do put some restrictions on requests prior to the day. These restrictions are usually a price cap on activities and/or a cap on how far one can travel.  Otherwise, everything else is on the table.

You get it right? So what’s so bad about a special day where you cater to every whim of your young child? A Lot in my opinion. Kids don’t know what they want, or what’s best for them, that’s why we make decisions for them and these “Yes” days really seem like an excuse to eat absolute garbage all day long. And if these kids are anything like my kids, they probably end up with a tummy ache from too much sugar. But aside from being an excuse to eat candy and sweets all day, there is something more fundamentally terrible about granting your childs every request one day a year…it’s another way for attention needing parents to grandstand on their social sites and to spoil children that more than likely are too privileged as it is. And the bragging they do after? Man. It would probably be brutal to friends whose families do not have the means to support frivolity.

So if appeasing the next generation of self-indulgent jerks isn’t a strong enough reason to say no to the “Yes”, consider this: Why do you feel that this day is necessary at all?

Being a parent is all about striking balance and raising humans with grace and humility. We want to create good people, I hope. Instead of granting one day to appease your childs every whim why not start now with something simple. Spend time with them. Kids are so simple in their needs. They just want you.  Play board games with them, read, play video games or ride bikes, and make sure that you do say yes sometimes, even when no would be so much easier.

The biggest thing for me as a parent is making sure that I never say no to something simply because it is inconvenient to me. “I don’t want to” is not a good reason to say no to your child. If something interferes with existing rules, boundaries, plans or ability then a no is totally acceptable.  Kids need to know that the world does not rise and set out of their ass. They need to know that their feelings are important but what they want must be earned. And its a lesson you can teach every day. Reward and acknowledge your childs good behavior, little things that perhaps stand out, just to you. My youngest daughter always shares her treats with everyone, without asking, without question. It’s the sweetest thing in the world to me, and I always let her know that I noticed and tell her she’s awesome.

So whats the point of all this? Yes day, No day, the point is that you don’t need to have a “Yes” day to create wonderful memories for your child, you just have to be there for them, don’t let any one elses shenanigans tell you what kind of parent you are. I know what kind I am.

This concludes Amy’s Bad Advice for the first week of October. Boo! See above quote for its value. But lets talk about it, I do love our repartee.

SO is it a yes or a no for you?

Cheers, Amy

Amy on writing

The Slow Burn

I had a sawdust bath the other day.

It sounds weird I know, but it was pretty amazing.

For my 10th wedding anniversary my Hubs and I went to this amazing day spa off the Northern California coast. Aside from being a relaxing and lovely full day of pampering and non-kiddy fun, it was this enzyme sawdust bath that got me thinking. A dangerous pastime? I know.

So this enzyme bath is done in a hot tub-sized box in a sauna with finely ground cedar sawdust and minerals. All steeping in its own natural fermentation. For 20 minutes, in our own natural state, I baked, sweltered and steamed in heavy, stinky-sweet wood and relaxed. Relaxed more than I ever do, at any point, in any day.

Every so often our personal attendant would come in the room and cool our sweaty brows with ice-cold wash cloths and give us sips from cool water from metal straws. I didn’t need to move a muscle, can you imagine. it was luxurious, until it wasn’t.

So whats the point? In this bath, I initially thought it was the peak of comfortable perfection. I love the heat. And in a zero gravity position I basked in the warm softness. I could have stayed like that forever…

But then it got hot, really hot, but I endured because I could feel the toxins and stress leaving my body. Its good I told myself.

Then it got hotter, the air thicker. I started wiggling around, releasing my hands and feet for just a little relief. Then my arms my legs, just a bit. Could someone open a window?

When it was almost done with, I could feel every fleck of dust weighted to me, the heat unbearable. I reminded myself that I wanted this, I signed up, I paid. This is my romantic weekend so I took in every minute of it. I closed my eyes and let it take me. The whole experience. And when I climbed out, I felt amazing. Really.

Now, what does this have to do with writing? Nothing really, but I learned something.

When I finished my book, I thought the hard part was over. But running a blog and trying to get published is so much more challenging. I came out of the gate like a wild horse ready to conquer this world but the rejection and the long wait times for even a hint of opinion have been excruciating. Sometimes I think letting go is the answer. But thats not me. In the hardest, darkest most disappointing times I endure, I make it work. Because I remind myself that things aren’t born from nothing. I control my destiny and my experiences. What I will get from this is what I put in. And I’m willing to let it burn.

Why? because at the end of the day I know it will be worth it, that I’ll have accomplished something incredible.

No matter how hard things get, endure, work. And you will get there.

It’s all about the journey.

Cheers, Amy

painting- oil on canvas by me

Amy on writing

Heyyyy….

Thank you WP fam for following me on my publishing journey. It’s been a pleasure to get to know and engage with so many interesting and talented people.

And if you missed anything, here are the latest posts that got me to this epic number…

Amy’s Bad Advice #5

Nothing

What It Isn’t

I hope you’ll stay tuned. I really look forward to telling you when I get to where I’m going. If you feel at any point you need to get off this ride, stuff it and take a Dramamine.

Cheers and thank you,

Amy