Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Guest Blogger: Amy Atwell

Today I want to welcome Amy Atwell to the Tiki Hut. I've known Amy for about a year, when I joined her goals group. She's unstoppable. And she has more than enough energy to keep up with Alex J. Cavanaugh. I keep hoping some of Amy's energy will rub off on me, but so far that's only a dream. She's here to tell you about her new endeavor.

Take it away, Amy....

Thank you so much, Carol, for inviting me to the Tiki Hut! I’ve really needed a getaway. I’ve been pretty busy lately.

The Creative Process

As a writer, I’m still working through my creative process. It took me ten years to write half of my first manuscript and then, once I made the firm commitment to finishing the draft, it only took six months to write the other half.

My most recent completed book was an idea I started and wrote about 30 pages on. Those pages sat for probably two years. And then, suddenly, I wrote the rest of the book in about five months.

For me, once the book takes shape, it takes on a life of its own. I can’t hold it back. I finish off that book and prepare myself to start the next.

But last year, while I was between books, an idea crossed my path that caught my attention and wouldn’t let go.

I had this vision of an online resource website for authors, and it would be all about the business of getting published, being published, managing your career. I had sold my first book, LYING EYES to Carina Press and gone through the debut book launch process, and I wished more than anything that there could have been a single resource I could have gone to that would have at least pointed me to the answers.

This idea was my new bright, shiny. Have you experienced one of those? You’re working diligently away on a story, and this other idea dashes across your consciousness and totally steals your focus. Suddenly, the current story is a waste. What you really want is to chase the new bright, shiny.

But is that a good idea? I always wrestle with that. Am I possibly sabotaging myself by abandoning the current project to chase this new one? Not to be cliché, but the bird in the hand IS worth two in the….

Being a gambler, I pushed the current story project aside. Bring on the bright, shiny!

My first hurdle was trying to describe what I wanted to accomplish. Thank heavens for Kelsey Browning! She’s a writer who shares my business perspective, and she immediately understood my “pitch” and helped shape the vision of what is now Author E.M.S. (Entrepreneur.Management.Solutions.)

For nearly a year, I’ve been writing content and building this website. It sounds simple, but it has kicked my butt as much as any story has. It’s not plot, but there is a structure to the website and the content needs a certain flow. And, oh, the research! I made great progress for the first two months, and then I started to drag. The bright, shiny started to lose its luster. There were a couple times last fall when I wished that another idea would cross my path. But I’d made the commitment, and I wanted to see this idea “in print.”

By the holidays, I was in the homestretch. Oh, not that the site is finished—there’s still plenty of building to be done! But I could see the structure holding its shape, no longer sagging in the middle. I could see the “plot” points—in this case, a searchable database of online reviewers and library-like sections on Self-Publishing, Promotion, Websites & Blogs and more.

I suffered a mini-meltdown around Christmas. My husband’s computer lost its hard-drive. Our backup device wasn’t working properly. Our site softwares all needed upgrades, so I upgraded (and, er, crashed…) the site. Thankfully, I’ve got wonderful tech support people who rescued me. But this process was similar to submitting—you’re ready to be published, but you have to send your work out there and wait! <G>

By February, I had a thumbs up, and I could see my dream about to become a reality. Except…there were still a few minor things that needed to be tweaked, edited, revised. I remember being so sick of this website a few weeks ago, I was convinced it was stupid, no one would like it, and I had wasted all my time.

Sabotaging thoughts. Ones I’ve learned to move past. Author E.M.S., my dream site, is up and running. Instead of a book to entertain readers, I hope I’ve started to build something lasting that will help authors.

Are you susceptible to the bright, shiny? Do you have a solid process that works for every story?

--

Amy Atwell worked in professional theater management for 15 years before turning from the stage to the page to write fiction. She now gives her imagination free rein in both contemporary and historical stories that combine adventure and romance. Her historical romance AMBERSLEY hit the Top 100 on both Kindle and Nook and has sold over 30,000 copies. When not writing, Amy runs the WritingGIAM online community for goal-oriented writers and has recently launched Author E.M.S., the online business resource library for authors. An Ohio native, Amy now resides on a barrier island in Florida with her husband, two Russian Blues and a demon kitten. Visit her online at her website, Magical Musings, Facebook, Twitter and/or GoodReads.

33 comments:

Joanne said...

What a nice idea, especially in this time of self-publishing. Indie authors will genuinely appreciate this type of guidance, all in one place ... Best wishes to you!

Linda G. said...

Wow, Amy, you are a busy lady! Author, E,M.S. looks like a great site -- best of luck with it! :)

Liza said...

What a fantastic and helpful idea! This is one more example of authors helping authors that makes me realize how caring most writers are. Thank you in advance for developing such a wonderful tool.

Amy Atwell said...

Thank you so much for the kudos and cheers. This website has been an inspiration to create. I keep asking myself, "What do I wish I had known?" The list seems to be endless!

Heading out for a beach walk now. Back in an hour or two to check in and answer any questions!

Cynthia D'Alba said...

Good luck with AEMS. Pimped it again this morning.

The book reviewer's searchable database should be getting a work out

Linda Kage said...

Congrats on all your success! Sometimes I have to sit on a story (not literally, of course) and let the ideas stew in my head a while before the rest of the story forms too!

Talli Roland said...

Oh, the bright shiny idea! So alluring!

I try to always finish what I'm working on before succumbing, but that's just me!

Congrats to Amy on all her success.

Johanna Garth said...

The website sounds fabulous and yes, I'm way too susceptible to the bright and shiny. I allow myself time to work on those ideas so long as they don't interfere with the WIP but somedays...it's really, really hard!

Amy Atwell said...

Thanks for spreading the love, Cynthia! And Linda, I'm totally with you. I've realized that letting a story "percolate" is part of my mix. Talli--kudos to you for sticking with the current project. I try to, but this one just hit me as something I had to right here and now. I see Johanna has hit it--schedule some free time for yourself to play with the bright shiny that's separate from wip work time. Right now, I'm doing my fiction writing first thing in the morning before I get sidetracked by AEMS stuff. Thanks, all!

Shirley Wells said...

I try to stick to the current project but, oh, the bright shiny is so tempting. :)

As a fellow Carina Press author who's had to ask all sorts of dumb questions, I can vouch for Amy's knowledge and generosity. She's amazing!

Amy Atwell said...

Aww, Shirley--that's so sweet of you to say. I've been horribly absent over on the Carina authors loop because I've been so dang busy organizing and researching. I just spent the last 90 minutes going through my Twitter notes to see what's current and what's out of date.

I really do love to help people and answer questions (my snarky sister would point out that I've always been a know-it-all!). It just seemed logical to take all my notes and find a way to make them accessible to others.

Theresa Milstein said...

Nice to meet you, Amy. Ooo, bright and shiny is hard to ignore. My remedy is to open up a document, write some notes, and close it. Then I can go back to it. In fact, the manuscript I'm about to complete is from about two years ago. I wrote down a prologue (which I'm not using) and kept it tucked in the back of my brain.

Good luck!

Emily R. King said...

I love a success story!
When something bright and shiny is waved in front of me, I can't resist. I get sidetracked very easily. Then again, I'm a mom of four, so I have four good excuses to delay my work. : )
Nice to meet you, Amy!

Thanks for the intro, Carol.

welcome to my world of poetry said...

I have self published twice, the first time I sailed through it , and the sells were good.
The second time it was a nightmare and the sells not so forthcoming but am working on it.

Yvonne.

Elspeth Antonelli said...

It takes real discipline to ignore that bright and shiny idea. The longer I write, the better I'm getting at ignoring it. All in due time.

Clarissa Draper said...

I went to EMS and it looks like a wonderful resource. I'm going to go back and look at it further.

Carol Kilgore said...

Great to see all your faces here today. I just want to extend a warm welcome to Amy, who should back around on Thursday to respond.

Medeia Sharif said...

If I'm busy writing something, I write my shiny new idea down--every single detail--until I can get to it.

I'll check out the links.

It was great reading about Amy, her book and business.

I tagged you on my blog, Carol.

Lynda R Young said...

I can relate to the ten year hike for the first manuscript. It took me about that long to write my first one. Now it takes me about 2-3months to write a first draft.

Cherie Reich said...

Ah, the shiny idea. I try to write those down and ignore them for my other ideas, but they really are shiny.

Congrats on the book and getting Author E.M.S. up and running!

Misha Gericke said...

Oh I'm very susceptible, but I've learned to focus so that I can finish what I've started. :-)

creativewritingintheblackberrypatch said...

Sounds like a great 'bright shiny' idea! I've been taken off course before, too. Good luck on all your endeavors.

Empty Nest Insider said...

Your website sounds like the perfect guidebook for writers! Congratulations on all of your success! Carol, Thanks for inviting Amy over! Julie

Amy Atwell said...

Theresa Milstein said...
Nice to meet you, Amy. Ooo, bright and shiny is hard to ignore. My remedy is to open up a document, write some notes, and close it.

Theresa, I normally agree, that usually works for me. I have a Story Ideas file where I jot notes, and even a number of story openings drafted and stockpiled. With AEMS, I just couldn't ignore all the posts on my author loops of questions when I knew I had a long-term solution to providing answers. But it's nice to be getting back to writing fiction now!

Amy Atwell said...

Emily R. King said...
I love a success story!
When something bright and shiny is waved in front of me, I can't resist. I get sidetracked very easily.

Thanks, Emily! I don't know how anyone who is a mom manages to hold focus and write a book. We got a new kitten in December and I swear I lost the whole month! Nice meeting you, too!

Amy Atwell said...

Yvonne--congrats on the self-pubbing. It's amazing to have that ability now, isn't it? Be patient with the sales. My self-pubbed book ebbs and flows. I'm lucky, it's in the top 30 Historical Romances again on B&N this morning. But I've also had months where I'm very glad I'm not relying on my fiction for putting food on the table.

Amy Atwell said...

Elspeth Antonelli said...
It takes real discipline to ignore that bright and shiny idea.

Well said, Elspeth (I *love* your name!). Yes, learning to ignore the bright shiny is an acquired skill. Glad to hear you're perfecting it. Best wishes!

Amy Atwell said...

Thanks for swinging by and checking out the site, Clarissa! I'm trying to add more pages this weekend. There's SO MUCH I still have to cull through.

And Carol--apologies to all here. I got sidetracked with errands that took me to the big city (I live on an island), and I lost half of yesterday. I'll continue to check the blog today as well in case anyone comments back. So nice to meet so many new people!

Amy Atwell said...

Madela, that's a great trick. Jot down all the pertinent notes, then return to the wip. I have so many tidbits of dialogue tucked away, it isn't funny. Thanks so much for stopping in!

Amy Atwell said...

Lynda R Young said...
I can relate to the ten year hike for the first manuscript.

Thanks Lynda. Most of that time was spent saying things like, "What am I doing? I'm not a writer! It's not like I'm ever going to get a book published, so why should I even write this stuff down? This is a waste of my time." Then I'd close the Word file and ignore it for months, until the characters started talking again. They wouldn't let me rest until I finished the story!

Amy Atwell said...

Cherie and Misha--sounds like you've both battled and overcome the lure of the bright shiny. Congrats!

CreativeWritinginthe BlackberryPatch--glad to know I"m not the only one who has veered off course. I will say that occasionally, those detours take me interesting places. I always learn something!

Amy Atwell said...

Empty Nest Insider said...
Your website sounds like the perfect guidebook for writers!

Thank you! I'm trying to spread the word, but just like a new book release, it will take time for people to find the website. It's great that there are so many more resources for writers today.

Ciara said...

Wow, you are one busy lady. :) I'm off to check out your site. Nice to meet you.