I’m wrapping up the week with an interview with A.J. Flowers about her book, A Guide to Writing Your First Novel.
A.J. Flowers is a book blogger and fantasy author. Originally from an island about a mile and a half wide named Sugarloaf key, A.J. discovered new lands and culture through books. Life has drastically changed since her childhood, and she currently resides in Detroit, Michigan as an Automotive Body Designer, which has given her the opportunity to travel the world and experience regions and cultures that she incorporates into her work. During her free time, she saves the world from annihilation on her favorite video games side-by-side with her Dutch husband and princess Blue Russian kitty named Mina.
Please tell us about your current release.
This book release is the culmination of five years of work. I’ve been on a journey to discover how to write a book people will want to read. Eventually I started a blog to share what I’d learned. Once I realized I had enough material to make a book, I got to work and took the best tidbits I’d uncovered into one easy guide. Because of my blog’s feedback, it was easy to judge what information was the most useful to aspiring writers.
What inspired you to write this book?
I had no intention of creating a writing guide, especially before I even published my own novels, which are still in my obsessive-editing mode. But through my love of literature and desire to learn, it was natural to end up with a mountain of data just waiting to be shared. Putting it into an organized book format was fun and I got to pick out the best of what I’ve learned over the years.
Excerpts from A Guide to Writing Your First Novel:
Put your manuscript down, I'd recommend at least two months. Six would be ideal. You really need to get away from it long enough to change your mindset. Unless you have a photographic memory, this technique will work. You'll transform into the one thing you crave feedback from: a reader.
When you were born, did your parents shove a book of world history in your face? No, absolutely not. They gave you what you could handle, and that's exactly how you need to treat the reader.
While every chapter should have goals to further the plot and delve our readers deeper into our world, there must be one goal above all else: Emotional Impact.
What exciting story are you working on next?
I’ve written five novels and more flash fiction and short stories than I can count. I’ll be published in a literary magazine called Bards and Sages Quarterly for flash fiction come July 2016 and I’m stoked for the professional credit! (Writers need constant validation to convince ourselves we’re not frauds.)
While I wait for publishers to respond about their interest in my ‘angels aren’t as pure as you thought’ novel titled “Fallen to Grace,” I’m currently rewriting a ‘soul-parasite fantasy’ titled “Sanctuary.” I’m hoping to be query-ready in about six months!
Unfortunately, I have no future writing guides planned, but who knows. If I find I have a second mountain of delightful data just sitting around waiting to be shared in another five years, I’ll be sure to share it with the world.
When did you first consider yourself a writer? I considered myself a writer when I was six and wrote a poem about the loss of my beloved pet. It was the first time I used words to express what I was feeling, and I realized how great that felt.
Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I write during any downtime I get. My day job is an automotive design engineer. Quite the stark difference, I know. But most writers have day jobs. That’s just how it goes! Writing isn’t as profitable as you’d wish it to be, and honestly I love my day job. It’d be hard to give up too.
That said, I write 7,000 words a week. That means at least 1,000 words a day. It sounds tough unless you know where to squirrel away time. It takes about an hour to write 1,000 words if you aren’t dilly-dallying. We all can find an hour in our day if we try hard enough.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I will honestly fit writing in wherever I can. So my writing quirk is that I have no qualms about driving to a parking lot during my lunch break and writing for 45 minutes. If I tried to write at my desk people would stop by, apologize profusely, and then ask me to do something work related. Gotta do what you gotta do!
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A veterinarian, until I found out unicorns weren’t real. :(
Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
If you’re an aspiring writer, I encourage you to pursue your dreams. Writing is a lifestyle, a marathon; it’s not a sprint. It’s something that’s a part of you and you do it because you can’t imagine life without it. I feel that writers forget that and rush into their work. Even though I’ve written so many books, I am not publishing until I feel ready to publish. That’s why the first book I technically published was a writing guide of all things, but that’s because I knew exactly what needed to be said and how to say it. When you feel that way about your work, you know you’re ready.