Calling all aspiring writers!

Recently, I have been putting a lot of energy into my NA Historical Fiction/Time Travel book.  Its story is very near and dear to my heart, and I have been polishing it like crazy in the hopes of it catching the eye of someone in the publishing world.  This has made me think a lot about my own path to becoming published.

On this blog, I interview a lot of published and soon-to-be-published writers, as well as those fortunate souls who have recently been represented by agents.  Today, though, I would like to focus my post on those of us who are not there yet.  We are in the beginning trenches of this process.  Every one of us has a different beginning, and once we start on our paths, I am fairly certain that we all have different twists and turns to navigate as we travel toward becoming published.

As my blog and Twitter followers know, I am a Music Educator.  I have been a band director for the last twenty years, and I have always loved it.  My goal to become a published author came about seventeen years into my teaching career, when a scene came to me and wouldn’t let go until the entire story played itself out.  The idea had been with me for so long, I swear I heard crickets when I typed “The End”, and it was finally out!

I tend to be inspired by travel and the arts.  My stories are set in real world places, either modern day (or near future), as well as the past.  I draw from my own experiences when I write.  My current NA draws on topics and places I experienced while in college and abroad.

I like to read the types of books I write:  Speculative Fiction, settings in Europe, mysteries and thrillers.

Here is where you come in!  If you are an aspiring author, I’d love to hear from you!  You can respond to the following in the comments if you like, or just comment however you wish:

1.  Did you always know you wanted to be an author, or did the idea of writing occur to you later on?  Describe the circumstances which led to that choice.

2.  What are the things that inspire your work as a writer?  Music, art, people, travel, life in general?

3.  What types of books are you drawn to reading?  What types of books are you drawn to write?

Thanks in advance!

29 comments on “Calling all aspiring writers!

  1. schriscoe says:

    Okay, I am a recently published author. Just signed a contract with Arbordale Publishing (formerly Sylvan Dell) for my first PB! But these questions are right up my alley so I couldn’t resist:) I hope that is okay.

    1) No, I had no idea years ago. I found the love of writing about 9 years ago. Long story short, my hubby and kids thought I should write a story about a stray cat that landed on our back porch and had kittens. I thought Hmmm…now that sounds fun! An idea sparked and I fell in love with writing and have been ever since.

    2) I am a PB writer, so I look for inspiration everywhere. My last inspiration came from one of the blow-up holiday decorations that go out on your lawn. As PB writer you just never know:)

    3) I love to read what I write. Picture books, mainly. Also chapter books are a new obsession and hence I am now writing on my very first one!

    Thanks Susan! This was a lot of fun!:)


  2. smnystoriak says:

    I am so glad you popped over to my blog! And I am thrilled to have your comment! Tell me: is it Hot Tub Santa that was published??? I remember it from Sun vs. Snow!


  3. schriscoe says:

    Nope, still working on that one:) It is The Sparrow and The Trees. It’s based on the Native American folklore of why the trees lose their leaves in the winter. It has a great message about giving.


  4. Kathy Palm says:

    Hi! I am still waiting for my moment to see one of my mss become a book!

    1) I studied art in college to be an illustrator. I always made up characters, but the idea of writing was absurd … that was for cool people. The desire to write hit about ten years ago when I was the stay-at-home mom of a 2 and 3 year old. Crazy! Why then? All the stories in my head … all the worlds and characters started not only talking, but making sense. Write for kids, for teens, they said. Bingo!

    2) Life inspires me. Something as simple as a tree … or an idea. Then I wait to see if the idea grows into something bigger.

    3) I write YA, but would love to get into MG. And I have a couple of PB ideas, but those sadly exist at the bottom of the list. I read a lot of YA … will read MG … and dabble in adult. In order to get me the book almost always has to have an element of fantasy, science fiction, paranormal, or horror. That’s where my mind likes to live … in the weird, strangeness of what we can’t see.

    Everyone keep writing! Keep living! Never give up!


  5. aldreaalien says:

    Okay, I -am- published, but I can’t resist questions…

    1. Since the age of 12, yes (before then, I wanted to be a palaeontologist). It sort of hit when I was designing a backstory for my characters (my insanely dark characters) and well… I realised I could make a book out of it. It took me seventeen years off and on as I wrote out other works, but there you go.

    2. Of what I can remember: dreams, music, video games and few old tales have all played a part in inspiring me.

    3. I read a lot of speculative fiction with a little bit of historical (generally about ancient Egypt) and contemporary thrown in at times.
    When it comes to writing, I tend to stay within the wide spectrum of speculative fiction. So far, I have: Gothic/Dark Fantasy Romance (the published one), Science Fantasy, Paranormal, 2 Fantasy Stories, Science Fiction & a weird blend I call “Paranormal Romance with Historical Fantasy elements”.


  6. We know each other from Twitter. Here’s my story:
    I started writing poetry when I was very young. I published my first poem when I was 15 and wrote my first novel at 17. I wrote and published poems and short stories off and on. I wanted to be a writer but was encouraged by family to “get a real job.” I got a real job and HATED it. I worked for a time but always wrote in the evenings. When I had my kids I wrote my first publishable novel, WITCH HUNTER and worked on it with a YA author as my mentor. I self-pubbed it in 2006 and haven’t stopped. I have self-pubbed and pubbed with small presses. I really want an agent though and have been querying since 2006 various books. Some I shelved, others I revised and reworked. Right now I am querying a horror (submitted to #pitchmadness) inspired by Phantom of the Opera. I never know where or when inspiration will hit. My WIP is based on a comment I overheard. You just never know but should be open to ideas. I forgot who said that if you write a thousand words, a few may be noteworthy.
    I write YA, UF, F, soft SF, upper MG, A, paranormal, mystery, horror, historical fiction.


    • smnystoriak says:

      Thanks for stopping by to comment, Kathleen! I love hearing these stories. Good luck to you in Pitchmadness, and with all of your writing. We are all in this together!


  7. nikolavukoja says:

    These are great questions but I don’t know how to answer them ?

    Qu.1- I want to be everything, and that’s why I have shed my skin so often, that’s why I have more letters behind my name then in my name & have lived in several country’s, re-invented myself numerous times and will likely continue that path.
    My parents tell me I was making up stories and songs by the tender age of 18months.
    I wrote my first published poem when I was 13, it was in French Class and was in French. Had my first short story published at 15 and have been writing off/on ever since.
    I also wanted to be an accountant, an artist/painter, a farmer, a restaurateur,a business person (etc.) & have done all these things.
    I guess, I wanted to live in new worlds constantly and that’s why I’m drawn to literature & art. Does that make me a writer or something else? Only time will tell.

    QU.2. I have not idea what WILL inspire me or why all I know is that when inspiration comes, it’s clear and specific, the entire story playing out in my head, start, middle and end.

    QU.3 I will erady pretty much anything except real horror (sooky-la-la here) and erotica, it just doesn’t do it for me.


  8. U.C. Kalu says:

    1. Did you always know you wanted to be an author, or did the idea of writing occur to you later on? Describe the circumstances which led to that choice.

    I had always tinkered with writing growing up, and as much as I liked to read, I was always excited for creative writing projects. The thought of writing a novel was too daunting for the longest time, but I always wanted to see if I could do it. Around 14-15, I started writing fan fction (call me a nerd). But one of the ideas I liked so much that I wanted to expand on it as a real story, so last summer I wrote my first full length novel, a YA contemp remnant of She’s the Man. I queried that for a while, but inspired by another idea, a YA sci-fi. I finished the manuscript for that in December, and now I’m in the query trenches. So it’s weird, I’ve always known I wanted to write, but I really had to force myself to do it. I remember sitting down one day and saying, “Just start it, see where it goes.” And I’ve been a writer ever since.

    2. What are the things that inspire your work as a writer? Music, art, people, travel, life in general?

    Too many things (un)forunately. I know that I am a lover of stories, and I am always interested in whatever tells a good story in any art or medium. My parents had always told me stories of their childhoods which I’ve always found inspiring, and since I’m a slight otaku (lover of japanese culture), there are often times my friends tell me my ideas are slightly “anime”. But I love eccentric, usually out there ideas that are still refined.

    3. What types of books are you drawn to reading? What types of books are you drawn to write?

    As I mentioned a bit earlier, I like essentric/high concept books that don’t feel forced or contrived. The two books that I’ve read that I’ve really liked in a long time were The Hunger Games and The Maze Runner. Yet, I really enjoy a good contemporary, and I have all the feels for The Fault in Our Stars. Generally I’m open for anything except high fantasy. But I’m pretty open to writing anything. I wrote a contemp and ascience fiction. Since I am a biology student, I do like my stories to have a bit of a scientific flare, but my current WIP is paranomal/urban fantasy (if that’s a thing. 🙂 I realize this industry is almost dangerously subjective, and I’m afraid I am too. 😉


    • smnystoriak says:

      I really appreciate you addition to this post! So many writers, like yourself, are so diverse. I tend to gravitate toward reading and writing similar things, common tones, I guess, but as a musician, my interests are insanely varied! (My iTunes library is unbelievably diverse!)


  9. livibuglady says:

    Love this idea! Thanks so much for posting!

    Q1: I have always loved reading and writing. I majored in English and Education in college and became an English teacher. After my daughter was born (literally hours after) I got this idea for a pb series that kept nagging me, so I decided to write it all down. After that, the ideas kept coming and haunting me. The only relief came from writing them down. From there I moved on to a YA novel and now I am in the process of a NA and a MG manuscripts.

    Q2: This question is the hardest to answer because I think everything inspires me. I find topics or storylines in everything and at random times. I often find them in my students and my daughter though.

    Q3: I write about anything that grabs me and lights a fire. I love to read what my students are reading. YA is so complex and applicable to everyone. Anything I can connect to and fall in love with I will devour, when I have time.


  10. The responses to these questions are great to read, so I’ll go ahead and add mine. (what a fun project!). What I love so much is that there are so many kinds of writers. There are writers who woke up one day, and there are writers who have always wanted to do it.

    1. I guess I was one of those people who was born a writer. I wrote (and illustrated) my first picture book when I was 7 or 8. By the time I was 12 I’d started writing novel length work. Strangely, however, I had my heart set on other dreams, so despite actively writing novels, I wanted to be something else. I put my writing on hold to go to college, but while I was in college, I wrote another novel. I put a stop to that so I could focus on graduate work. Did that work? nope, another novel. I tried to quit one more time because I was going to have a kid, but when things got tough, I wrote novels. So I literally couldn’t stop if I needed to.

    2. I hate that my answer for what inspires me is “I don’t know.” Many of my ideas for novels cascade into my mind over the span of a breath. The whole novel. All of it. Those ideas blow me away, and I can’t stop thinking about them until I write them. For characters and settings, I usually pull from around me, but the initial inspiration, PFM.

    3. I tend to read fantasy and sci fi (the same as I write), but I read lots of contemporary, historical, and I’ve been working on building my education in classical literature (The Count of Monte Cristo pretty much changed my life).


  11. […] Calling all aspiring writers!. […]


  12. joylennick says:

    Hi Good luck with your second novel and congratulations for having ‘Identity Crisis’ turned into a screen-play. Such an exciting prospect! Although not a ‘beginner,’ and quite ancient in years (not mentally thankfully) – I realise that the more I learn and digest, the more I need to know and learn…’life’ is an on-going adventure to be sure! In answer to your questions 1) I’ve always loved forming words on paper since a child, and have written poetry, articles, short stories, two factual books, one biography and a memoir (all published). At present I belong to a wonderful group called ‘WordPlay’ who encourage writers and publish them.2) I’m inspired by ‘everything’::art, travel, music, nature, people – especially people..3) My taste in books is varied: mystery, murder, sagas, biographies and I love humorous writing too. Am working on a faction novel ‘The Catalyst’.
    I find people fascinating and get great pleasure interacting with other writers. We can all learn and help each other


  13. I’m also in the polishing stages and just now hit my first road-block of discouragement. Thanks for writing this post! I know I’ve wanted to write a book or two or more since I was in 4th grade. It’s even a life goal written at the back of my 5th grade journal. 🙂 Good luck to you!!


  14. Melanie ( @MelanieBruce ) says:

    Q1: Yes, I always knew I wanted to be a writer, from probably 3rd or 4th grade. It was always that thing I could do. My grade school made us write 200 words a day, original or copied from a book, and it was clear that it came pretty naturally to me. That doesn’t mean it’s not still work to write for real. It’s always work. I studied advertising in college as a compromise to my parents, who would often wave the want ads around and encouraged me to see how many jobs there were for “writer.” But I snuck in creative writing classes on the side.

    Q2: Everything inspires me. Lyrics from songs, news on the radio, a cut on someone’s face while I pretend to listen to them in a meeting. Anything.

    Q3: I usually read literary fiction and I’m currently writing contemporary romance that leans literary.


  15. Megan says:

    So, I started leaving a response, and then it got really long so I posted it to my blog instead. Was fun! Thanks for the inspiration.


  16. […] came across these questions for not-yet-published authors on this blog and thought I’d share my answers over here because they got way too long for a comment. Fun to […]


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