We all have created a box for our writing, whether we know it or not. It’s our map, so to speak. And detours can either help or hinder our writing journey. So how big is your writing box? And how do you adjust when potential opportunities or detours appear?
We all have a game plan when we first start writing. We sort of need to in order to reach our goals. But is your writing anything like you originally planned out when you first started?
I get asked a lot by friends who know I’m writing a book “When will your book be published?” “Have you finished that book yet?” Well, I can understand their questions, since I’ve been working on my book for over eight years now. (I’ll be honest, I’m not focused on it full time, since I’ve had other commitments, including jobs & volunteer positions for my kids schools).
I still plan to publish, but after some amazing side journeys, I now wonder if my book(s) are not the entire piece of my writing journey?
My experience has been awesome, overall. Sure, there have been high points (winning a contest, learning, making friends) and low points (getting hard feedback from a contest, not figuring out a scene, everything taking too long), All of it has helped me learn so much about myself. From putting my work out there, to learning from so many fantastic workshops I feel like I’ve gained a second degree, to making great friends and joining some amazing writing groups.
But I’m finding as I complete this latest round of edits and share my MS with a few additional people, I’m curious to see what will come next. And I’m willing to step out of my original writing box to see where it can go. Which is very different than having the focused expectation of how the next step will happen.
See, In the beginning, my book was the main goal. Now I’m not so sure.
We all have to start somewhere. But, if we are too rigid with our plans, we may miss opportunities that help us with the bigger picture. For me, I needed to explore other areas of writing to help me figure out what I could and couldn’t do. Some of these side journeys have helped me continue on this writing journey.
I wrote magazine articles, which took time away from my book, but I found the deadlines, working with an editor, and seeing my writing in print, helped to keep me motivated, and help me be a stronger writer.
Blog posts and being a part of this blog has helped me gain confidence in putting my work “out there” and learn that the sky won’t cave in, I do have something to share, and how to respond to comments (and experience the thrill of connecting with a reader). Some of my first blog posts covered topics of hard-learned lessons (Let Me Tell You Something, Face Your Fear) and sharing what I was doing and testing out theories (What is Alt Text and How To Use It), which lent to the next step…
When I made connections between my day job (Marketing) and this author thing and realized I had expertise to share. I felt a nudging to teach (at writing conferences, and in blog posts, and a training course in the works) and establish my Marketing for Authors newsletter. Now I find I love teaching and helping other authors figure out their brand and creating additional content and how this all ties together.
With all that, I really don’t know if my book is the end all goal now. Or it may still be and all of this will support it in ways I can’t explain yet.
Am I going to finish it and publish it? Yes. Do I have more stories in the works? Yes. But by allowing my writing box to get bigger, I’m seeing infinitely more ways to connect and be a part of this publishing world.
What do I want my brand to be?
Our Author Brand is our Author Name and pieces of who we are (and who we decide to share with the world). How we explore and expand as our writing grows and expands. It takes time to develop what our voice is going to be about. And it should continue to evolve.
I have found that by being flexible with my writing box I see a bigger picture. And I’ve learned to trust my instincts and take some side journeys.
I know I’ve talked about this in snippets in my classes, but here’s a deeper dive into how this came about and became an aha moment for me. And why I believe my branding brainstorm I teach in my classes can help you figure out your brand and new and different ways, which can in turn help you to connect with your readers.
I love journaling. Whether it’s a prayer journal, or a travel journal, or what I’ve now started as my Word of the Year Journal, capturing thoughts and writing them out help me process things.
When I started writing my novel, I wanted to have an element of a journal in my story. I didn’t know how I would do it, but wanted my heroine to have a diary that turned into prayer journal. Something which helped show her journey throughout the story.
I wasn’t even completed with my first round of edits when I had a nudge to create a website page about starting a prayer journal. And I argued with myself for taking away precious time to work on my book, etc… But in the end I decided doing so would be good practice for putting something “out there” on my website. So I created the page 7 Steps to Creating a Prayer Journal.
And by flushing this page out, it helped me see more clearly how to implement what I wanted to do. This little detour actually has helped me write my book. And I think it is something I can tie into when my book is published.
Side note: Something else that has come out of all this is the desire to design a line of journals as well. Who would’ve thought that something I love and hold dear, would become a large part of my story and brand?
If I hadn’t take then the time to flush it out and do it, I would’ve limited the potential of offering more than just my story.
So am I the only one to experience this?
Do you have a side journey that has helped your writing career?
I’d love to hear about it.
I read ‘A Night to Remember’ a million times, imaging myself on the ship of dreams wearing an elegant gown and long white gloves, dancing in first class with a handsome gentleman. Then reality would set in and I realized I’d more likely be in steerage since my family came over from Ireland.
The place dreams are made of…
When I was a little girl, I lived with my Irish grandmother for a while and I remember sitting at the big, wooden table with her as she added flour, milk, and herbs to leftover mashed spuds for potato cakes, or wound her blue rosary beads around her gnarled fingers while she spun tales about life in Ireland. Grand times they were, and a lovely thread woven through the quilt of my childhood.
Books were my companions back then and I’d read anywhere, anytime. I read tons of romances, but I’d often end up in the history section of the library looking for more stories about the Titanic. Imagining sneaking into first class and pretending I belonged there. Something I found hard to do growing up since we moved a lot and I was always the ‘new kid’ (I went to fifteen schools before college). I yearned to be among the popular kids at the beach, but somewhere in my heart, I knew the way to better myself was reading and the rest would come later.
Reading was my world.
That became the basis of my heroine, Ava O’Reilly, in THE RUNAWAY GIRL, a girl who wants to better herself by reading books but it’s forbidden to the servants in the grand house in Ireland where she’s in service.
Then when she’s wrongly accused of stealing a diamond bracelet, she escapes.
To the Titanic.
And every tale I’d heard at my grandmother’s knee, every book I’d read, every film about the ship of dreams I’d watched over and over again became the fodder for telling my own story about the Titanic.
Based on my girlhood and love of books.
And the sea.
And yes, romance, too.
And how an Irish girl makes a daring choice on that fateful night when the Titanic hits an iceberg at 11:40 p.m. that changes her life forever…
And mine, too.
Spotify has a wonderful platform for AUTHORS and their novels!
Two women hold the keys to his heart. Only one will survive that fateful night…
When Ava O’Reilly is wrongly accused of stealing from her employer, she has no option but to flee Ireland. The law is after her, and she has only one chance at escape – the Titanic.
Aboard the ship of dreams, she runs straight into the arms of Captain ‘Buck’ Blackthorn, a dashing gentleman gambler who promises to be her protector. He is intrigued by her Irish beauty and manages to disguise her as the maid of his good friend, the lovely Countess of Marbury. Little does he realise, that the Countess is also in love with him.
As the fateful night approaches, tragedy strikes further when Ava is separated from Buck, and must make a daring choice that will change her life forever…
A sweeping historical romance set aboard the Titanic, from the author of Her Lost Love (Christmas Once Again).
Praise for Jina Bacarr:
‘A delightful holiday romance that has all the charm of a classic Christmas movie. Christmas Once Again is perfect for anyone who loves a holiday romance brimming with mistletoe, hope, and what ifs.’ Andie Newton, author of The Girl I Left Behind
‘A breathtaking holiday romance that is sure to stay with you long after reading’
‘A mesmerizing holiday romance that is sure to sweep you off your feet and take you away to another place, another time.’
‘A fabulous book you won’t want to miss’
THE RUNAWAY GIRL e-book, print and audio book:
The Chronicles of Granny Witch (Book 1)
Paranormal Romance, Historical Fantasy,
Magical Realism, Visionary Fiction
Date Published: December 27, 2020
Once upon a winter’s night, a lost cowboy finds himself in Purgatory Bend.
Patrick Doolin is plagued by a wound that won’t heal, but winter is the
season of miracles. As Patrick wanders through Wyoming, he meets Fawna
Darling, the mysterious granny witch, who channels the folk magic of her
With nowhere to go and a secret Patrick doesn’t yet understand, he seeks
shelter with Fawna in the snowswept prairie. Forbidden to fall in love, they
form an eternal bond in the dreamscape, but when the bluebirds sing of
summer and threaten their empire of dreams, they are faced with an
impossible decision. Will Patrick stay in the land of the living, or will he
cross over the prairie?
Summer is the season of surprises, and Fawna’s childhood sweetheart, Dezi
Ketchum, longs to win her heart too. When winter melts across the gold-slick
prairie, Fawna searches for answers under the rose moon. Caught between fire
and water and flesh and fantasy, she follows her heart and ventures into
Praise for Snow Dust and Boneshine
“A warm and spellbinding tale…Soleil’s writing flows like a stream,
relaxing and exotic. Mixed with folk magic, simpler times and beliefs, this
is a wonderful escape.” ~ Tome Tender
“Soleil’s writing is riveting…It’s much more than a fantasy – it’s a
story of love and faith.” ~ Literary Titan
“Curl up under your blanket, grab a cup of tea, and let yourself wander
between magic and reality in Purgatory Bend…Snow Dust and Boneshine is one
of the sweetest, selfless, heartbreaking but also heartwarming love stories
I have ever read…The characters, the atmosphere, and the imagery are done
so beautifully. Every description made me sink my teeth into the story just
a little bit more.” ~ Snez at Book Lifey & A Quintillion Reads Book
“Snow Dust and Boneshine was incredible…There’s romance, intrigue and lots
of magic. It’s very well written, so much so, I could feel the cold and
bitter wind as I read about it. The characters are beautifully written, and
I could see it playing out as a movie as I read. I highly recommend picking
this one up. 5 stars all the way.” ~ Angela Scavone, Author of Celebrity
“This story was magical and fascinating with an element of surprise. It was
well-researched and beautifully thought out to bring us so many amazing
details. If witches and love stories set in a small town with a sprinkle of
magic interests you, I would urge you to read this.” ~ Kriti Dalmia at This
Grendolyn Peach Soleil was born in the Appalachian Mountains on a full
moon. She is an old soul and a folk magic fiend. Grendolyn loves twisted
fairy tales, all things vintage, tales of true love, and creature features.
Some of her fancies include pumpkins, black cats, mermaids, tea parties,
cowboys, dahlias, and sunsets. She is a member of the Visionary Fiction
Alliance and The Independent Author Network. Grendolyn is the author of
Limbo Jubilee, The Mermaids Melt at Dawn, and Snow Dust and Boneshine: The Chronicles of Granny Witch (Book 1).
Patrick Doolin hid behind a sunbaked boulder, his bare ribs sticking to the sagebrush. He grabbed the wet, mushy hole in his belly, his heart pounding, his ears ringing raw. Around the bend, there were howling beasts in the canyon, sniffing his blood trail. Trapped in the crossfire, he closed his eyes and pretended it was all a bad dream. He cloaked himself in a cloud of dust and prayed for invisibility. Patrick didn’t know whether to beg for his life or submit to death’s sting, but instinctively, his body forced him to gasp for air.
From the moment he boarded the ship last summer, he regretted leaving Ireland. He missed the sheep-strewn pastures and the soggy sea cliffs. He missed the rolling fog and the taste of coddle by firelight. By the grace of God, Patrick survived the great hunger, and despite its brutal aftermath, he still yearned for his motherland, for fairy trees and cloud cover. It was better to be hungry at home than stuffed to the gills with strangers.
Patrick’s father suffered the most during the great hunger, so when a fever ravaged him last February, he was too weak to recover. Although Patrick bowed his head and prayed every morning, his father was skin and bones by Easter. Worst of all, his father’s spirit was troubled by Patrick’s black-hearted brother, Liam, so Patrick made a deathbed promise to his father. He vowed to look after Liam come hell or high water.
As soon as their father rattled his last breath, Liam set his sights on California. After the wake, the Doolin brothers boarded a ship to Philadelphia. From there, they made the long trek to Dakota territory. It took them three months to reach their uncle’s homestead, and by the time they arrived, old man winter was already there. The Doolin brothers agreed to work for their uncle until the following summer and then make their way to California, but after Christmas, Liam didn’t want to wait any longer.
Patrick knew they were late to the gold rush. Their uncle showed them the newspapers and implored them to stay in Dakota. He said it was treacherous to travel in the dead of winter, but there was no reasoning with Liam, so the Doolin brothers saddled up and battled the pelting ice and blowing snow. They slept under giant fir trees, their fingers and toes tingling with frostbite. They hadn’t been on the trail for long when Liam started a gunfight with a goliath of a cowboy, then disappeared into thin air.
Now, Patrick was all by himself, stranded somewhere between Dakota and Wyoming. Utterly disoriented, he clutched his belly in agony and stumbled through the wilderness. He meditated on the pine trees as they swirled into a blur of whistling green. Patrick saw trains and ships in the shadows. He saw the sea cliffs of Ireland in his dreams. When he couldn’t take another step, he collapsed on the edge of Angel Creek, his wounded body glinting red with sunburn, his sticky blood mingling with the cold stream.
As he faded in and out of mortality, he saw a young woman with hair as black as a raven. A pack of wolves surrounded her and swaddled her porcelain skin with their ashen fur. Patrick couldn’t get a good look at her face, but he caught a glimpse of her scarlet lips. She was nothing more than a stranger to him, but he took comfort in watching her dance through the shimmering snowfields. As he stood there in the frozen prairie, held captive by the bone-chilling wind, he felt strangely warm as though a hearth was glowing inside him.
The next morning, an old cowboy named Charlie was fishing for salmon when he came across Patrick’s body floating belly-up in the creek. Charlie took Patrick for dead, but as he got closer, he witnessed pulse and breath. Charlie rubbed his eyes in disbelief. He figured there was a reason this poor man was still alive, so he slung Patrick over his shoulder and lugged him for half a mile, dabbing his sweaty face with a red bandana. When he got back to his wagon, he plopped Patrick down next to the salmon and gave him a ride to Purgatory Bend.
Linda O. Johnston enjoys writing, romance, puzzles, and dogs.
A former lawyer, Linda is now a full-time writer and has published 52 books so far, including mysteries and romantic novels. More than twenty-five of them are romances for Harlequin, including Harlequin Romantic Suspense and Harlequin Nocturne. Her latest release is Colton First Responder for Harlequin Romantic Suspense.
She has also written several mystery series including. The Kendra Ballantyne Pet-Sitter Mysteries, which was a spin-off of the Pet Rescue Mysteries and The Superstition Mysteries. Pets, especially dogs, frequently show up in Linda’s novels
She is currently writing a lot of books for Harlequin. Three new Harlequin Romantic Suspense books will soon be released. The first up is Her Undercover Refuge in July 2021.
Okay, writing books is my profession these days. My business. And I figure everyone reading this blog also enjoys books. That’s what A Slice of Orange is about.
I can always keep busy writing–yes, busyness. My mind keeps plotting away, even if it doesn’t need to. Ideas keep flashing into my brain and not letting go. Good thing my computer is usually nearby so I can at least start jotting down those ideas, and potentially flesh them out later. And I’ll also bet that a lot of the people reading A Slice of Orange can really identify with that, too.
Over the time of the pandemic I haven’t had many books published–just one so far, in February 2020. I’m used to more, but that’s okay. Things have changed a lot in many ways lately.
It’s especially okay since I will have two new books published later in 2021 and at least another two published in 2022! I always say I love to include dogs in my books, and I do that as much as I can, although sometimes I may think about dogs, and obey my own dogs while I’m writing, but not all of the books I’ve been writing lately can actually include dogs.
My upcoming books? Well, first will come Her Undercover Refuge, the first Harlequin Romantic Suspense book in my new Shelter of Secrets series–in August. And yes, it includes dogs.
Next will be Uncovering Colton’s Family Secret, the tenth in the Coltons of Grave Gulch series also for Harlequin Romantic Suspense, in October.
And then in February 2022, my next mystery, Bear Witness, an Alaska Untamed Mystery will be published by Crooked Lane… under a pseudonym. It does include a dog as well as Alaskan wildlife including–what else?–bears!
I’m working on another Colton book for HRS which will be published in 2022, and there may be more books as well… info to come.
So… Yay! Yes, I’ve used this blog post to talk a lot about myself and my work, and my business and busyness. It’s all about me–but not entirely. I hope it gives other writers inspiration to leap on ideas, and encourages them to stay busy as well. Assuming they’re not already, which they probably are.
And I certainly wouldn’t mind if any of you pick up one or more of my upcoming books when available, and read them.
By the way, I’m really thrilled that I’m A Slice of Orange’s featured author this month!
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