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

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

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

Nothing

 

I spin my webs and draw them in, a gift they cannot see. They wear the cobwebs like nebulous bonnets of silken fluff and air.

 

My hands are a pyramid and my fingers tap, like a menacing villain without a face. Everyone knows but no one sees. I have a taste for it now.

 

Ignore the feeling, it’s just the wind that raises hairs upon your neck. For I am soft-spoken and golden crowned. Harmless, vapid thing.

 

Drink my water squeezed from stones and rest your weary head. Your brilliant mind is just too full and you are too very kind.

 

I did nothing at all.

 

In my previous post: What It Isn’t , I discuss constructive criticism and how important it is in many fields, particularly in creative fields. This poem was inspired by the people best known for giving destructive crits. You know the type… The one always taking credit for others good work, the one issuing blame and never taking responsibility…

You are better than that. Relish in it.

Cheers, Amy

 

Amy on writing

Write on, Writer…

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One for my homies…

I’d like to take a moment to commemorate the fallen warriors on my quest to publish my first novel Capture the Tide.

 Photos are captioned. 

And the ones that keep on keepin on through kids, life, fire and ineptitude, and kids.. Did I mention that one?

Cheers! Amy

Amy on writing

Enemy Mine

 

I close my eyes to reclaim my peace. But in the darkness I come at you swinging with the force of a thousand wrongs.

 

Always swinging, never connecting.

 

I bat at you with kitten paws but you never even flinch. I kick and scream at your impenetrable walls, but you’re a fortress. I am lost.

 

I break the glass with banshee cries and chew the shards to sand. I taste the blood and spit it out, a bitter pool for your reflection.

 

I hope you drown.

 

I grab your hair and lick your face to mark you as my own. You belong to me I say when I Holyfield your ear.

 

And when I think I’ve won again, again you slip away. The light of day has won this one. It always is the same.

 

Enemy of my enemy, enemy mine.

 

In my angsty, community raised, couch surfing, teen years I wrote a lot of poetry. In lieu of a heart dotted i diary, I would sit with my Mazzy Star, The Doors or Alice In Chains and write all the wrongs of my little world. When I was done, I would smile and frolic off on my merry California way, refreshed and ready to do what teenagers do.

 

I miss that feeling of renewal.

 

I love poetry, and have mentioned how cathartic I find it. However, I seldom write it just for me anymore let alone share it. Especially since I get to read wonderful poetry everyday here on WP. But lately, in my self possessed, collected adulthood, my old outlet found me in a time of need.

 

So in honor of candor and stress relief I decided to share.😅😳

 

Cheers, Amy

 

Self portrait in sepia pencils on canvas by me.