5 Tips to Switching Genres Seamlessly

by Kristina Ludwig
Sep 22
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: September 22, 2014 at 10:59 am

As much as I’ve loved writing my Amish books, I’ve decided to take a hiatus from the YA Amish Romance genre, mostly because my imagination called me in another direction. I’ve always been intrigued by mermaids, and even dressed up as one last Halloween! During a trip up the coast of California a few months ago, I admired the deep blue waters and the jagged rocks of Monterey, and thought, “Wow, this place looks like there should be mermaids.” Add in the appeal of Monterey’s history as a vacation and fishing town starting in the 1880s, and I had all the inspiration I needed to create a series about generations of mermaids with a peculiar curse, starting in Victorian times!

Me as a mermaid, partying with friends dressed as other mythical creatures, last Halloween.

Me as a mermaid, partying with friends dressed as other mythical creatures, last Halloween.

One reason that many authors find themselves pigeon-holed into one genre (besides sales and fan base, of course) is because it’s difficult to transition from one genre to another. I’ve taken several steps to prepare myself to write YA Mermaid fiction–mindset really is everything. And guess what? I’m already eight chapters into my new mermaid book!

Here are 5 tips to switching genre.

  1. Read at least 20 books in the new genre - Market research not only helps you to generate ideas, it’s essential in order to create a book that fits into the overall market, yet still has enough individuality to stand out. During your market research, pay close attention to the length of the books, the pricing, the covers, and the descriptions. Finally, checking out the reviews will show you what your new target audience likes and dislikes.
  2. Watch TV shows and movies about your new genre - This can be anything from documentaries to movies to TV series. I happened to stumble upon a Netflix original series called Mako Mermaids, geared toward tweens, and Antonio and I started watching it. Although it appeals to a younger audience, watching the series has spurred my creativity and exposed me to mermaid myths. It’s so important to really saturate yourself in your new genre, during your work and play hours! Which leads me to my next tip…
  3. Quest for inspiration constantly - Do activities that bring you closer to your characters. For example, take “educational field trips,” like I did when I was writing my Amish series. Lately, I have been doing mermaid-like activities–not difficult for me, because I tend to do these things anyway. For example, I’ll take a break from writing to swim in the  pool–great exercise, and I’m often inspired during this time. I also go to the beach with Antonio at least twice a week, usually around sunset, and some of my greatest ideas come to me there. And inspiration can strike when you least expect it. This weekend, after lunch in Old Town, I saw a store called Mermaid’s Cove, which is full of mermaid memorabilia, books, and other curiosities.
  4. Do your research - Check out non-fiction sources on your new topic. I’ve learned a lot about mermaid mythology just by Googling the subject–isn’t the information age great?! However, I’ve also read some books about mermaid legends and lore, such as “Among the Mermaids: Facts, Myths, and Enchantments from the Sirens of the Sea” by Varla Ventura.
  5. Follow blogs - These are one of the most often overlooked resources when writing in a new genre. While writing Amish fiction, I followed various blogs written by ex-Amish, and lately, I’ve begun following blogs by fans of mermaids. Not only are blogs an awesome place to find facts, opinions, and discussions about your subject, they also bring you closer to your target audience!
A golden-hour beach picture  from yesterday. Getting inspired for a new series has never been so much fun.;)

A golden-hour beach picture from yesterday. Getting inspired for a new series has never been so much fun.;)

Authors out there, do you write in more than one genre? If so, what tips do you have for a smooth transition? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Productive Writing: 5 Tips to Write 1 Novella per Month

by Kristina Ludwig
Sep 15
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: September 15, 2014 at 12:46 pm

Woohoo! Last Friday, I finished writing my last Amish ebook (for a while, anyway), Amish Awakening (The Finale): Rebekah and Braeden’s Book. With a word count hovering around 23,000, this novella is approaching novel territory, in keeping with my trend toward longer ebooks as I’ve advanced through my three Amish series. The Amish Hearts books were short novellas (60-70 pages on Amazon) as I introduced the twins at the beginning of their Rumspringa. In the Amish in College series, the twins and their friends Hannah and Samuel explored deeper growing-up issues, and the length of the novellas grew accordingly–up to 80-90 pages on Amazon. And finally, the books of the Amish Couples series range from 102-121 pages on Amazon.

The funny thing is, I’ve stuck to my one book a month release quota for an entire year, but the books have grown in length. Much of this might be due to practice and increased efficiency as I’ve transitioned from my life of pharmacist to full-time writer, and I’m excited to share my experiences with you!

books

Here are 5 foolproof tips to writing 1 novella per month, brought to you by someone who knows ;)

  1. Practice, Practice, Practice - The best way to increase your efficiency as a writer is by practicing every day. As we become acclimated to the routine of writing regularly, the words just seem to flow more easily.
  2. Have a Standing Appointment With Your Editor -As soon as I submit my manuscript to my editor, I schedule the date to submit my next one–in exactly one month. This deadline keeps me on track and creates a sense of accountability. Regardless of how busy my month is with travel and other engagements, I’ve never missed a deadline, and sometimes I even finish early. The key is piecing the writing into your month as a whole, and if you must skip a few of your normal work days, you must create the time to make them up later.
  3. Know Your Best Writing Time - Are you a morning, afternoon, evening, or late-night writer? This is one of the most important questions to ask yourself, because your writing “golden hour” (or hours) will be the time at which you’re most productive and inspired. I happen to write best in the mid to late morning and early afternoon, and this is the time when I write the bulk of my novellas.
  4. Set Up Daily and Weekly Writing Quotas - I find it helpful to target a number of chapters that I would like to complete per day and per week. My minimum quota is 10 chapters per week, but when I’m feeling really creative or in the zone, I’ll sometimes write 4 or 5 chapters per day. Bonus!
  5. Take Break Days - Mental health breaks are crucial to stay productive on your on-days and to find inspiration. Make sure you fit them in!

Writers out there, what tips help you to be more productive? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

5 Tips to Write Awesome Romantic Conflict Scenes

by Kristina Ludwig
Aug 7
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: August 7, 2014 at 10:59 am

Conflict is the essence of fiction–it drives stories forward and keeps readers turning the pages and coming back for more. When I took an advanced level writing course a few years ago, I was told to really torture my characters by using internal and external conflict; to this day, I torture my characters as much as possible, infusing my books with tension and drama. Of course, conflict is a balance like anything else, and no author wants his or her book to read like one big brawl…but some artfully-placed conflict interspersed with moments of calmness is a good thing.

Romantic conflict is my favorite kind to write. When passions are high, discussions become heated. Romantic conflict is especially fun in YA fiction, since the emotions and thoughts of teens are so amplified and volatile anyway. I usually write romantic conflict from the point of view of one character, but in my new series, “Amish Couples,” I’ve been showing both sides of the argument as I alternate chapters between the male and female point of view. This has been an amazing exercise, and I’d highly recommend it if you haven’t tried it yet!

Romantic conflict is so much fun to write! Image courtesy of changeagentcareers.com

Romantic conflict is so much fun to write! Image courtesy of changeagentcareers.com

Here are some tips to write scintillating romantic conflict. I hope they help you next time you need to write an awesome scene!

  1. Know the stakes - In order to create believable romantic conflict, you must be aware of what’s at stake for each character. Why is this conflict so important to each character, and what does he or she have to lose that makes the cause worth fighting for?
  2. Understand what motivates each character - Character motivation goes hand-in-hand with knowing the stakes. In order to write a believable argument scene, you need to know the driving force behind a character’s (strongly held) opinion. Is the character motivated by ambition, pride, love, fear, or money? Ask yourself these questions about each character involved in the dispute, and the scene will flow smoothly and believably.
  3. Use dialogue - Dialogue is the perfect literary device to convey romantic conflict, since there’s just so much you can do with it. For example, if a character is agitated, increase the tempo of his or her speech. Dialogue is also a great way to convey each character’s personality quirks. Does a character morph back into the accent of his / her homeland when angry? Does a character stutter and stammer? Or does a character seem to turn to ice, shutting down his / her emotions and using cool or even sarcastic retorts? Infuse these elements into your dialogue, and you’ll have a sizzling “fight scene” that seems to jump off the page.
  4. Body language says so much - Just like dialogue, body language and physical description can bring a romantic conflict scene to life. How does each character physically respond to the conflict? Strive to exceed the usual red face or crossed arms and go a step further. Oddly enough, I found myself inspired to incorporate more animated body language into my romantic conflict scenes after I read a pop-psychology book about analyzing people’s body language in the workplace and at networking events.
  5. Lighten it up with humor - One thing you don’t want is for your romantic conflict scene to morph into pure emo, becoming dark and even hateful. To prevent this, sprinkle in some humor. One of my favorite characters to include in fight scenes is Mercy, because she’s often so selfish that it’s funny. Create a character like that, and romantic conflict scenes will never get so heavy that they weigh down your book, dragging it into a pit of despair. Readers should always have hope that everything will pan out in the end. :)

Writers out there, how do you write awesome romantic conflict scenes? I’d love to hear your techniques and feedback!

4 Tips to Write from Multiple Viewpoints

by Kristina Ludwig
Jul 14
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: July 14, 2014 at 9:00 am

I’m currently immersed in writing Book 5 of the Amish in College series, “Amish Baby: Jakob and Hannah’s Book.” As the name implies, this novella will be told from the viewpoints of both Hannah and her husband Jakob.

I chose to write this book from multiple viewpoints for several reasons. First of all, I figured that it would be a fun challenge to examine a pregnancy–and many of the dramas that can go along with it–through the eyes of both members of a couple. Additionally, I’ve never written an Amish Hearts or Amish in College novella from Jakob’s perspective, and only one other book is told from a male perspective (Amish Scholar: Samuel’s Book). So, I was definitely ready for another male protagonist. However, Jakob is not a super popular character, so I decided to combine his viewpoint with Hannah’s to keep readers interested and allow Jakob’s personality room to reveal itself and shine throughout the course of the book.

Telling a story from multiple viewpoints can be an awesome literary device, opening the reader’s mind to the thoughts of two main characters. It’s often used in romances to show the falling in love process through both characters’ eyes. However, if done sloppily, multiple viewpoints can spell out disaster. Not only might the reader lose track of the narrator, he or she might also become frustrated by constantly hopping from one character’s head to another.

With that in mind, here are 4 quick tips to write your next story from multiple viewpoints.

  1. Use No More than Two Viewpoints - If  you’re jumping into too many different heads, your story can easily become disjointed and convoluted. It’s possible for very experienced authors to pull off storytelling with more than two viewpoints–just look at Mary Higgins Clark. However, it you’re just beginning to experiment with this technique, start with 2 viewpoints and hone your skills before attempting more.
  2. Alternate Chapters - Telling one chapter from one character’s viewpoint and the next from the other character’s is the perfect way to keep your story fresh and hold readers’ attention. To make the readers’ lives even easier, you can tell them which character will be narrating at the beginning of each chapter. For example, in “Amish Baby,” I labeled the chapters “Chapter One: Hannah,” “Chapter Two: Jakob,” etc.
  3. Watch for Point of View Slips - The trap of POV slips is easy enough to fall into any time, but especially when you’re telling a story from multiple viewpoints. As you write, self-edit every few chapters to watch for POV slips, and make sure to have your manuscript professionally edited after you’ve completed it. Sometimes, writing from multiple viewpoints can be confusing to the writer as well as the reader.
  4. Read Examples - Reading often is one of the best ways to become a better writer. Now that you’ve thought of writing from multiple viewpoints, revisit your favorite books and note which ones are written from multiple viewpoints. Read critically, and learn as much as you can from the examples of the masters.

Writers, have you ever told a story from more than one viewpoint? If so, what techniques did you find helpful during the writing process. I’d love to hear your ideas!

Writing on Vacay: 5 Tips to Write on the Run

by Kristina Ludwig
Jun 2
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: June 2, 2014 at 9:00 am

It’s that time again…summer vacation season. As we writers jet-set across the globe (or maybe just road-trip to the next city over), inspiration often strikes. I don’t know about you, but as soon as I come up with a new idea for a book or blog post, I want to get it down right away before the Muse goes out to lunch.

But how do you write when you’ve already got a packed day of sight-seeing, visiting, and–oh yeah–some much-needed R & R? Here are 5 tips for writing on vacay. Follow them, and you’ll write inspired prose on the run. Plus, you won’t feel behind on your writing projects as soon as you’ve unpacked your suitcases. Win-win!

Next time you're flying, do some writing as well! Photo courtesy of Flickr.

Next time you’re flying, do some writing as well! Photo courtesy of Flickr.

  1. Use travel time wisely - If you’re flying, don’t waste the whole flight watching movies or sleeping. Get out your laptop and write a little! The same goes with road-trips; take turns driving, and when you’re not the one behind the wheel, do some journaling or write on your laptop.
  2. Carry an inspiration notebook - They’re little, they’re cute, and they can fit easily into your handbag. No I’m not talking about baby chihuahuas…I’m talking about inspiration notebooks! New story ideas often strike at odd times, and since our senses are so much more acute during travel, we’re likely to be more open-minded and creative than usual. Don’t forget those awesome ideas–write them down right away!
  3. Journal – Journaling about our reflections on the vacation, the places we’ve seen, and the people we meet is a great way to amp up creativity and keep in practice with our writing. You may not have time to journal every day of your vacation–and probably shouldn’t if you’re living it up. But journaling during your downtime just feels amazing!
  4. Talk to locals - This may not be a writing tip, but talking to new people on vacation is the perfect way to learn about new cultures and get ideas for characters in your books.
  5. Try something new. Then write about it. Use your inspiration notebook. Try to write about your new experience in a very descriptive, story-like way, and who knows–it might end up in your new book.

Writers out there, do you write on vacation? What are some of your best tips? I’d love to hear your opinions!

 

The Challenging World of Writing About Characters of the Opposite Sex

by Kristina Ludwig
Apr 17
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: April 17, 2014 at 11:11 am

I’ve just completed final edits of my eleventh eBook, Amish Wedding: Hannah’s Book, which will be released soon! Writing about an Amish wedding was a dream come true for me. I got married last September, and my wedding was so much fun to plan, and the happiest day of my life. For that reason, I had an easy time channeling Amish bride-to-be Hannah, even though her wedding planning process was much more dramatic than mine. :)

I guess I’m just hopelessly romantic, because I loooove all weddings, and am intrigued by various cultural wedding customs. Amish weddings are so different from those of us Englischers–they’re much more simple, as befits the plain, pure Amish lifestyle. There are no white dresses, bouquets, caterers, or splashy full-bar receptions. But there is an atmosphere of love, family, and community. The bride’s parents’ house is full of food, homemade decorations (especially centerpieces made of celery stalks), and happiness. I was sucked into my research on Amish weddings, and this made it very easy to channel Hannah.

Now, however, I’ve just started a much more difficult project–I’m writing Amish Scholar: Samuel’s Book, which will be Book 3 of the Amish in College series. Samuel loves his family’s farm more than anything. He receives a scholarship to study agriculture and business at a local university, and plans to bring these skills home to the farm that has been in his family for generations. The only problem: farming is not as popular in the Amish communities as it once was. Up until the 1960s, most Amish were farmers. Today, however, only 10% of Amish are farmers.

Add in the drama of college classes, an English girl who’s totally into him, and Mercy’s pressure to start thinking about their own wedding, and you’ve got one stressed-out Amish scholar! I’m still developing the plotline, and I love to think up new twists and turns as I go, so I think Samuel’s Book should be pretty interesting.

Channeling an Amish farmer is not easy, but it's necessary for Samuel's character to come to life! Image courtesy of http://pabook.libraries.psu.edu/

Channeling an Amish farmer is not easy, but it’s necessary for Samuel’s character to come to life! Image courtesy of http://pabook.libraries.psu.edu/

But how to channel Samuel, a nineteen year-old Amish guy? Channeling Amish is not super-easy to begin with–when I first started writing the Amish Hearts series, my editor told me that many of the words and phrases I used were too English, poetic, and “literate” to be used by the Amish, who speak much more simply than the average college-educated Englischer. Since the books are told in the first person, plainer language is a must. But all the other books of Amish Hearts and Amish in College were told from the female perspective. In fact, I’ve only ever written from the female perspective. How do I write like a guy?

I realized that, in order to do this, I’d have to think like a guy, specifically Samuel. I know Samuel very well from the other six books in which he appears, at least in some small capacity. Before I even began writing Chapter One, I reviewed everything I knew about Samuel and filled in any character gaps that I hadn’t yet created. What are his hopes and dreams? What does he love more than anything in the world, and what is his greatest fear? By knowing Samuel inside and out–and creating more dimension to his character inside my mind–I was able to pinpoint not only a skeleton of the storyline, but some conflicts I will throw Samuel’s way, and how he’ll react to them.

Samuel uses simple language as well, and is motivated by different factors than the girls in the stories. True, his love for Mercy drives him, but he is also motivated by duty to his family and appreciation of the age-old Amish tradition of farming. He’s also forward-thinking enough to know that, although he wants to maintain his family’s proud farming history, he must be well-versed enough in the current agricultural and business doctrines to make it viable in today’s world. Being clear on Samuel’s motivations has made it easier for me to get inside his head while writing.

Another great technique I’ve employed to channel Samuel is–surprise, surprise–reading. I’ve been checking out books written by men about male characters, and books written by females about both male and female characters. I’m observing different writing styles, and taking home some ideas of my own in the process.

The last thing that has helped me channel Samuel is researching particular elements of the storyline. Looking into the Amish farming industry, for example, has helped me to better understand male Amish farmers. Just as I saturated myself in Amish wedding research for my last book, I’m immersing myself in Amish farming info while I write this book, and I think it’s helping a lot.

Do you write stories from an opposite-sex point of view? If so, how did you channel your characters while writing? I’d love to hear what you think!

Writing Fitness: 4 Easy Ways to Flex Your Creative Muscles Today

by Kristina Ludwig
Apr 14
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: April 14, 2014 at 9:56 am

I am a huge advocate of physical fitness. I adore yoga, cardio, and targeted weight-lifting and toning exercises. I also love being outside and doing “active” activities like biking, swimming, and shooting hoops. And of course, I live to dance crazily, and have a penchant for randomly launching into gymnastics on the beach.

It’s a known fact that being physically fit not only allows your body to perform optimally, decreasing the risk of common health problems (hypertension, diabetes mellitus, and hypercholesterolemia being only a few), it also makes you feel better. There’s even a scientific basis behind it. (Hello, feel-good endorphins!)

Your body is not the only thing you need to keep fit, however. If you’re a writer questing after ever-evolving creativity and awesome story craft, you also need to keep your mind fit, and the only way you can do that is by exercising it.

Writing fitness is as important as physical fitness! Image courtesy of gimnasia

Writing fitness is as important as physical fitness! Image courtesy of gimnasia

With that in mind, I have compiled a handful of tips to enhance your writing fitness. Our writing muscles will atrophy if we don’t use them, after all!

  1. Warm up your writing muscles  – Just as we wouldn’t exercise without stretching first, we shouldn’t launch into a full-on writing session without warming up first. Warming up can take a variety of forms. It can involve working on your blog, or taking a time out for journaling. You can even write a short story using a story prompt. Once you warm up, you will find that the main event of your writing session (i.e. working on your novel, etc) will flow more easily and smoothly.
  2. Read a lot – Many times, I learn new exercises from reading the blogs of fitness experts. Then, I just can’t wait to try them out at the gym or even at home. You can apply the same concept to your writing. Learn new literary techniques from reading the works of great writers of the past and present. If there’s some part of the creative process that’s perplexing you, read a how-to book. Reading gives us fascinating new ideas, opening doors for our own creativity.
  3. Fight boredom - One of the worst enemies of an exercise routine is boredom. Not only does it decrease your motivation to work out, the benefit to your muscle groups actually diminishes if you get stuck in a rut. That’s why it’s so important to shake up your fitness routine and evolve constantly. The same concept applies to your writing. If you do the same routine in the same location day in, day out, your creativity will be drained over time. Instead, work from various locations and split your writing day up differently throughout the week, incorporating other activities (ex. reading, playing a musical instrument, working out) into your day. Keep yourself stimulated, and the new ideas will flow.
  4. Keep it colorful - How psyched are you to go to the gym when you have a brand-new, brightly colored workout ensemble? I don’t know about you, but in my case, the answer is very. Psych yourself out to write by keeping it colorful! I’m not telling you to paint your office in neon colors (although hey, whatever works), but I am saying you should make your writing life figuratively colorful, if not literally. This means embracing new experiences, different cultures, and unusual locales. Even new writing equipment (i.e journal, pens, or computer) can make you feel more colorful–and enable you to infuse color into your writing!

On Location: 5 Writing Locations to Stimulate Creativity

by Kristina Ludwig
Apr 9
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: April 9, 2014 at 10:15 am

As writers, we all have goals–writing quotas, so to speak. We want to write x number of words by y timeframe, or x number of chapters in said timeframe. I’m no different. When I’m writing my Amish novellas, my goal is a hard and fast two chapters per day. This gives me enough time to work on my other projects, social media, and promotions, and it also ensures that I’ll finish one Amish novella per month. It’s especially important when I’m writing the Amish in College series, because these novellas have a good twenty pages on the Amish Hearts books.

Last week, however, I crushed this goal–but it wasn’t by accident. One of my birthday presents from Antonio was a membership to Hera Hub, an organization for female entrepreneurs who usually work from home. Hera Hub is a physical location where business owners in various industries can network with each other and attend events such as writing workshops and business boosters. The work space is open and inviting, decorated like a spa, and encourages community and productivity.

I went to Hera Hub three times last week, and each time, I got a ton of writing done. I wrote one extra chapter per day on my Hera Hub days. True, I was exhausted by Friday–I’d basically tired out my brain. But even taking the entire day Friday off from writing, I’d still written an extra chapter above and beyond my weekly goals.

This got me thinking…first of all about how great of a work environment Hera Hub is, but also about how writing from other locations besides the home office can stimulate creativity. Don’t get me wrong, it’s possible to be super creative from the home office, and that’s still where I do the majority of my work. But it’s also ah-mazing to work from different locations, since newness makes you more innovative.

So many ways to increase creativity...so little time! Picture courtesy of ljsilentg.com

So many ways to increase creativity…so little time! Picture courtesy of ljsilentg.com

Here are 5 away-from-home writing environments that have sparked my creativity. I hope they work for you!

  1. Local workspaces – Office-style workspaces, such as Hera Hub, are the perfect places to get out of your writing doldrums. The environment, the people, and events such as writing workshops jack up creativity and productivity. Being surrounded by other entrepreneurs, some of them writers, fuels your spirit and your writing. So far, Hera Hub is found in the San Diego area, but there is talk of expanding and franchising. Check out your area for similar workspaces–you’ll be glad you did.
  2. Libraries – They’re free, and they’re full of books–what could be better?! Libraries are the perfect place to write. Any resource you can imagine is right there at your fingertips. Plus, if writer’s block strikes, you can exercise your mind and get back on track by picking a book from the seemingly infinite wall of books and reading it. Another awesome thing about the library is that it’s the perfect place to meet other authors in your neighborhood. Antonio and I went to the library on a random Saturday afternoon, and stumbled upon a writer’s organization that holds meetings there once a month! Needless to say, we’ll be attending the next meeting, and have found a whole new group of writers to network with!
  3. Coffee shops – It may sound cliche, but I’ve gotten some good writing done at Starbuck’s over a tall blonde roast. Not only does the coffee wake up brain cells, cafes are prime people-watching havens. Need to find a character for your next story? Just listen in on some convos at a coffee shop, study some patrons and their mannerisms, and you’re halfway there.
  4. Airplanes – Flights, especially moderately lengthy ones, are the optimal places to do some serious writing. Looking out at the clouds does wonders for creativity. So does the fact that you’re locked into an enclosed space, so you’re almost forced to work. Bonus points if you spend part of your flight reading, too.
  5. Parks – When I was in elementary school, having class outside in the courtyard was a special treat. I felt like I learned so much more in the fresh, open air than I did in the stuffy, old classroom. Writing outside at a park can work much the same way. Like the coffee shop, there’s plenty of people-watching (and therefore, character inspiration). Go there on a nice day, and there’s also sunshine, which increases your creativity through its actions on your brain neurotransmitters. (More about that in this recent blog post.) There’s something magical about sitting on the grass in the breeze crafting a story. Try it this spring, and you’ll be a believer!

What other locations do you enjoy writing from? I’d love to hear what works for you.

Creative Multi-Tasking: 5 Tips to Write Two Books at Once

by Kristina Ludwig
Feb 27
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: February 27, 2014 at 10:55 am

I am currently in the midst of writing two books at the same time, something I have not attempted since I was a kid. Back then, I would write and illustrate several “books” simultaneously because the story ideas just wouldn’t stop popping into my fertile young imagination. Now, I’m working on two books at once for much the same reason: I had two very different story premises that I just couldn’t ignore, and both begged to be written so stridently that it was impossible to neglect one in favor of the other.

One of my projects is Book 1 of a new Amish series. It’s weird that I’ve now released five Amish books and am working on more, because my original intent was to only write a short series and move on to something totally different. But my Amish books have become best sellers on Amazon, and I’ve become fairly addicted to writing them!

My next Amish series will feature the characters of the Amish Hearts books as they face adult life. Rebekah and Samuel are in college, Jakob is contemplating marriage, and Mercy is straddling both worlds, preparing to start her own Amish bakery but still spending time with Rebekah and Samuel in the worldly “English” college scene. There will be four books in this series, one for each of the main characters, and right now I’m writing Rebekah’s Book: Amish Faith.

My other project is a contemporary teen fiction novel based on the characters of my teen novel Winner. Aubree’s bestie Quentyn becomes an overnight celebrity when she is mistaken for Gemma Haley, the hottest teen pop star out there. The ensuing fame and glamour is every girl’s dream–until it starts disrupting her relationships with her family, friends, and smoky Latino love-interest.

For the past two weeks, I’ve been writing two chapters of my Amish novella every day (target release date mid-March) and one chapter of my contemporary novel every day (target release date some time in May), and both projects are blossoming like spring flowers!

Literary multi-tasking is hard work! Photo courtesy of www.thejanedough.com

Literary multi-tasking is hard work! Image courtesy of www.thejanedough.com

 

Here are 5 tips for writing two books at once:

  1. Recharge Before You Start – Make sure you’re feeling like your most imaginative self before you attempt to write two books at once. It’s imperative that you’re feeling fresh and inspired before you start this literary marathon. I started both projects in depth after I returned from a long weekend in Mexico City, and found that I was refueled, energized, and raring to go.
  2. Be Passionate About Both Projects – If you’re more excited about one project than the other, it’s going to show up in your writing. This strategy will only work if you’re feeling equally fiery about both books. If you find that you’re favoring one project, put the other on temporary hiatus. In writing, as in relationships, absence can make the heart grow fonder; you will return to the project later with an undeniable spark.
  3. Know Your Direction – It’s easy to lose enthusiasm for your project(s) if you feel like you’re lost at sea without a compass. That’s why, before I even start writing a new book, I write a “description,” similar to the back cover synopsis of a print book, or the Amazon description of an eBook. Once I’ve written my description, the plot unfolds more easily. And as you write, feel free to draft periodic chapter outlines. Sometimes, the events of the stories will flow smoothly and organically, while other times you’ll appreciate the structure and direction an outline will provide.
  4. Have a Timeline – If you set goals, your projects will succeed–it’s as simple as that. After my first week of working on both projects, I was able to set editor deadlines and release dates. My timeline has allowed me to pace my writing, completing the chapters accordingly.
  5. Compartmentalize – Sometimes, despite our best efforts, working on two projects simultaneously can just get mind-boggling. That’s why I always compartmentalize my books. The schedule that works for me is writing the Amish book in the morning, breaking for lunch and / or workout, and writing my contemporary book in the afternoon. It’s all about setting a routine that works for you!

So, ambitious and prolific writers out there, have you ever worked on multiple projects at once? What worked best for you? Feel free to share your experiences!

Author Interview: 5 Things You Never Knew About JoAnne Myers

by Kristina Ludwig
Feb 18
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: February 18, 2014 at 12:00 pm

Today, I’m excited to post my first-ever author interview! One of the best things about the social media / eBook revolution is discovering new authors, and admiring their work and attitudes. Today, I share 5 things you never knew about author JoAnne Myers: a painter, novelist, and advocate for family values and following your dreams!

Author JoAnne Myers knows how to follow her dreams of writing and art.

Author JoAnne Myers knows how to follow her dreams of writing and art.

JoAnne Myers is a long-time resident of southeastern Ohio, and worked in the blue-collar industry most of her life. Besides having several novels under her belt, she canvas paints. Check out her paintings and books here: http://www.booksandpaintingsbyjoanne.com JoAnne enjoys spending her spare time with her relatives and her dogs Jasmine and Scooter. She also  volunteers within her community; she’s a member of Hocking Hill’s Arts and Craftsmen Association, The Hocking County Historical Society and Museum, and the Hocking Hills Regional Welcome Center.

JoAnne’s blog is full of inspirational posts on writing, art, and life. Check out her “Never Give Up” post, and feel instantly empowered!

Now, on to the interview…

KL: In your “Never Give Up” blog post, you state that you put art and writing on hold for years, then returned to them. What steps did you take to do this? What advice do you have for aspiring authors who want to “pick up” writing again?

JM: When I decided to go back to painting, I took lessons from an artist living in my area. I needed that help since it had been many years since I painted. He taught me the basic rules of painting; what size brushes to use with what images, mixing colors, and not to be afraid to experiment. With my writing, I began with poetry, then country songs, short stories, and then full length books. My advice would be to just start writing something. Taking a writing class never hurts either. I think many who want to write don’t, because they are afraid of failing. One must find a subject they are interested in. Write what you want to write, not what others want from you. Joining writing groups and book reading groups are good because members give support to one another. To write anything you must take the “plunge.” Nothing ventured nothing gained. Forget about failure, and what others will think of your writing. For some it takes years to complete a book, but they stayed with it. Sometimes when I got writers block, I stepped away from my computer for weeks until an idea came to me, and I went back and added it to the book. The secret to anything you want to do, is to never give up.

KL: You write many paranormal books and murder mysteries. Where do you find your inspiration?

JM: I watch a lot of television and read the papers. Two of my books, The Crime of the Century, and Twisted Love [upcoming release], are actual homicide cases from Ohio. To find that information I went to the courthouse for the case documents, and witness and police statements.

KL: I’m fascinated by mystery authors and their abilities to create suspense. When you’re writing a mystery, how do you sprinkle clues throughout the story without giving anything away? Do you outline your mysteries in advance, or let them evolve organically?

JM: I try to outline each paragraph and keep track of what clues and activities the main characters did in past chapters. You don’t want the same incident such as a shooting, happening several times. Mix up the killings a little. Throw in a fist fight, or poisoning, or an incident with cut brakes lines to put a character into danger.

KL: You not only write, you also paint. Do your paintings influence your books and vice versa? Have you ever created a painting for your own book cover?

JM: No. My paintings are of happy thoughts; sunsets, sunrises, ocean scenes, lighthouses, pretty things and pretty places. My book covers are mostly designed by others. I did though choose the cover for Wicked Intentions and The Crime of the Century, which was derived from a photograph I snapped of the Hocking River, where my two victims were discovered at.

KL: Tell us about your latest book. What is it about, and what inspired you to write it?

JM: The next book to go into print is Twisted Love, a biography true crime anthology due out this coming spring by Black Rose Writing. My influence came from my love of true stories. I find the forensic part of the crime interesting. Why the crime occurred. How the crime occurred. Was the culprit caught, or is the crime still unsolved. The crime that happened in The Crime of the Century, took nearly 30 years to solve. Originally the wrong man was prosecuted and convicted of the homicides. He spent 9 years in jail, 5 on death row before he was cleared and released thanks to DNA.

JoAnne has an exciting new book, Murder Most Foul, available in eBook and paperback versions. Check out the blurb here:

When two dismembered torsos wash up on the banks of the local river in the small industrial town of Pleasant Valley, residents are horrified. Between contradicting statements, police ineptitude, lust, lies, manipulation, incest, the motorcycle gang The Devil’s Disciples, crooked cops, and a botched crime scene, everyone becomes a suspect.

The young beautiful Jackie Reeves, a registered nurse, believes the killer is a man from her past. She contacts the dangerously handsome FBI Agent Walker Harmon. An arrest is made, but Harmon and Jackie believe an innocent man is being railroaded by local cops. Determined to find the truth, before anymore killings, Agent Harmon and Jackie are forced to run a gauntlet of deep trouble and turmoil, which marks them for death.

JoAnne's book, Murder Most Foul, contains fascinating characters questing for truth.

JoAnne’s book, Murder Most Foul, contains fascinating characters questing for truth.

Check out these other books by JoAnne on Smashwords: 

Wicked Intentions-a paranormal/mystery anthology

Loves, Myths, and Monsters-a fantasy anthology starring the Mothman, the Chupracabra, Mermaids, reincarnation, time travel, and etc.

Poems About Life, Love, and Everything in Between-a poetry collection written with love and respect for others.

And get pumped for her upcoming releases:

Twisted Love-a biography true crime anthology

Flagitious-a detective/mystery novella collection