Monday, 18 February 2013

Guest Post by Liz DeJesus

Today we have a guest post by author Liz DeJesus. She's got a great post for us with her top ten bits of advice for new authors.


I want to take a moment and thank Dorothy for having me on her blog today. I really appreciate the time she has taken to be a part of my mini blog tour.

Anyway, today I’m going to talk about writing advice for new authors. Hopefully you can learn some of the tricks I use to help me with my writing.

Top ten bits of advice for New Authors.

  1. One of the things I get asked the most is where I get my ideas from. That’s easy. Everywhere. Everything. Anything. Dreams. A song on the radio. A commercial on the television (which is where I got the idea for First Frost). A poem.

But my favorite way to get inspiration is from my dreams. It’s a treasure trove for me. Sometimes I get the most strange and random dreams that sometimes I wonder where they came from.

  1. Another question I get asked a lot is how I overcome writer’s block. Normally when the weather allows I go to a nearby park and walk. I tend to let my mind wander and more often than not I’ll either get a new idea for a story or I’ll find a way out a certain plot hole. Another thing I do (when it’s too cold for a walk in the park) I’ll doodle on my notebook or write silly sentences like ‘The black cat sat on the mat’ anything to get my hand moving. Anything to have a pen in my hand. Or I listen to music. My favorite singer is Imogen Heap and she has a way of getting my mind to a dreamlike state. I’ll latch onto a certain lyric and just write a story based on that. Anything to get me back to what I love…writing.

  1. A challenge I face on a regular basis is time. I’m a stay at home mom to two little boys (a four year old and a 1 ½ year old), I also take care of my two nephews three days a week. So it’s safe to say that time is an issue for me. What do I do? I carry my notebook and a pen with me everywhere I go. I’m never without it. I write while I’m in the kitchen cooking. I write while I’m waiting in the parking lot for my son to get out of preschool (ditto for when I’m picking up my nephews). I write while I’m folding laundry (a lot of character development happens that way). While I’m washing dishes (my characters have a lot of snarky comebacks and are often hilarious). I even write while I’m driving.

And after I’m done writing on my notebook I transfer it all to my computer when my husband comes home from work. I usually take an hour after dinner to get this done. I try to make sense out of my crazy handwriting. Somehow it turns into an entire novel.

What I’m trying to get to is that if you love something enough, if you’re passionate about the actual craft of writing, you make time for it. You do anything you can to carve out time for it no matter how busy your schedule is.

  1. Once you have a short story or your novel written don’t just send your first draft to agents and publishers. Your first draft is exactly that…a first draft. You need to revise it. There is no such thing as a completed novel, trust me even after it’s in print you will always want to go back to it because you will never ever be able to let your novel go. Best thing you can do is go over it a few more times and have a beta reader look over it. Not your friend because they’ll just pat you on the back and tell you how great you are. You need someone who will be honest with you. You might want to try joining a writing or critique group. I joined one once and that’s where I met my best friend (who is awesome by the way) but I also came across this really mean person who basically hated everything I wrote and had no useful critiques for me. There is a difference between pointing a few things out and being criticized. So be sure you find a group that works well for you.

  1. Read. Read. Read…and oh yeah…read some more. I spend most of my time in the reference section at Barnes and Noble. I buy books on how to become a better author because I’m always learning. I read books on how to write dialogue, description, setting, and character development. I’m subscribed to The Writer and Writer’s Digest magazines. Why? Because I want to learn as much as possible. I want to be a better story teller. I want to entertain my readers. I want their full attention and more importantly I want them to have fun while reading one of my stories.

  1. Before you submit your work, be sure to read the agent’s or publisher’s submission guidelines. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT. Take your time and work on your query letter and/or synopsis (if one is required) you don’t want your work to be rejected because you couldn’t follow a few simple rules.

  1. Should you get an acceptance letter? Rejoice! Do a happy dance! Eat chocolate. Celebrate.

And once you get all that out of the way come back to reality, sit down and read your contract before you sign anything. Trust me. I lost a novel this way. Can’t get the rights back. The publisher won’t answer my emails. So please, take my advice and read the contract before you sign anything. And if you don’t understand what you’re reading, then have someone else sit down and explain it to you.

  1. Once you’ve signed your contract, it’s time for you to learn the ins and outs of marketing your book. Depending on the type of publisher you’ve signed with (especially true if it’s an indie publisher). This means printing out business cards, sending your book to be reviewed and building a platform for your book. Things you need to work on:

  1. Website. Keep it simple. No crazy colors that might give someone a seizure.
  2. Social media. What does that mean? It means getting on facebook, twitter, goodreads, livejournal, wordpress, etc. The point is to get your name out there.
  3. When you submit your book to reviewers, be sure to read their guidelines. Don’t send your nonfiction book to a reviewer that prefers young adult/fantasy.

  1. Help other authors and they will help you. I often invite other authors as guest bloggers on my livejournal blog (it’s the one that’s most active). If they have a book being released, I do the best I can to share their links on my facebook page and tweet about their book. Why? First of all, it’s the nice thing to do. You should help other authors out. And second? They always return the favor. Every week I’m on someone’s blog sharing my thoughts about writing or an excerpt of my book.

  1. Don’t give up. Never, ever give up. Trust me, I had days when I would wake up wondering if this was what really what I wanted to do with my life. But then I’d get a positive review for my book or a letter from a fan saying how much they enjoyed my book and that gave me the biggest burst of energy. Sometimes it’s exactly what I need to get me to pick up my pen and get back to what I love doing the most. Writing. It’s just what comes naturally to me. I couldn’t imagine what my life would be like if I couldn’t write.

Anyway thank you for taking the time to read this blog post. I hope you found some of this information helpful and if you have more questions please feel free to email me at

If you would like to find out more about Liz DeJesus please visit her website


Rita Monette, Writer said...

Great interview, Liz. Beautiful blog, Dorothy.

Eleni Konstantine said...

Great advice, Liz. I especially love no. 10.

Thanks for sharing.

Liz DeJesus said...

Thanks for stopping by and reading my little blog post. I hope other new authors will benefit from my advice. :)

JM Reinbold said...

Great post, Liz! And a great start for your mini blog tour! ~ Joanne

Sharon Ledwith said...

Love these tips, Liz. Especially the chocolate one! Wink. Shared and tweeted. Cheers!

S.A. Larsenッ said...

Great tips, Liz! Music is a big writing block smasher, for me. Music seems to take me to another place, frees my creative juices.

Liz DeJesus said...

Hi Joanne! Thanks for stopping by. :D
And Hi Sharon! Chocolate is awesome. Cures all things. :) Thanks for sharing and tweeting. *hugs*

Liz DeJesus said...

Hi SA! I completely agree. Music is one of the best ways to get me to write. :) And my tastes are all over the place. From classical music to rock.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Great advice. So true that there are ideas everywhere. And I love the tips on squeezing in the writing time. I'm super busy and can use the help getting in the time for writing.

Anonymous said...

Love the part about writing everywhere! I sooooo need to employ this technique because it is so hard to find time to write - especially one we get another foster kid(s)! Thanks for the tips!

Liz DeJesus said...

Hi Natalie and Dusty! Yeah, that's the best bit of advice I can give about time management. Even when I don't have a pen in my hand I'm writing something in my head while I'm washing dishes or folding laundry. I use every scrap of time available to me. :D

Cordelia Dinsmore said...

What a lovely blog! And a great post, Liz. I love most of your ideas. But I can't write with music - or talking - or birds singing - so I admire your ability to use your surroundings to motivate and inspire you.

contract financing said...

This is a very good post. Thanks a lot for sharing.

Tyler Jones said...

Good one! I really appreciate all the time and effort that you have put in. Well done!