Please welcome the two grand prize winners of The First Ever Write It Sideways Blogging Contest. Erika Liodice (Use Your 5 Senses to Gauge Your Book’s Potential) and Ashley Prince (4 Places to Get Your Creative Juices Flowing), are here to share a bit about themselves and some tips they’ve learned along the way.
Q. Can you tell us a bit about what you like to write?
I’m best known for my inspirational blog, Beyond the Gray, where I share my journey to publication and encourage others to follow their dreams. I started Beyond the Gray during a time when I was feeling lost professionally; it was my way of coming out of the literary closet and admitting my writing aspirations to the world. To my surprise, people flocked to the site, shared their struggles and opened up about dreams that they too had been keeping secret.
Beyond the Gray has not only enabled me to connect with like-minded readers and offer encouragement, it’s helped me stay motivated towards my fiction writing dream. I’m currently finishing my first novel, Empty Arms, about a woman who had a baby out of wedlock when she was sixteen and was forced to give her up for adoption, only to later learn that she can’t have any more children. While Empty Arms is a work of fiction, it was inspired by true stories of millions of unwed mothers who faced similar hardships and silently endured a backlash of guilt and grief in the years that followed. Empty Arms has been my labor of love for the last two years and I’m excited for its debut this summer.
I really like writing non-fiction pieces, specifically my blog posts. I have so many ideas, advice, and opinions that I want to write and my blog provides that opportunity. I do really enjoy writing fiction as well, but unfortunately I have yet to complete a short story or a novel.
Q. What are some of your short-term and long-term writing goals?
My short-term goal right now is to write every day, no matter what it is. Whether it is a post or two on my blogs, 500 words on my novel, or a note on Facebook, I am determined to write something with substance every day.
Some long-term goals for me are establishing myself in the blogging community, in the writing community, and the publishing world. I am still working on a novel called Pearl that I started last November for NaNoWriMo. My goal is to have it done by the end of the year and then try to get it published. After that, I really just want to continue to write whatever I feel will be inspirational. That’s really my biggest goal with my writing: inspiring others.
Beyond that, I’m eager to begin working on my next book. I have an idea that I’m really excited about and it’s been waiting patiently for me to give it some time and attention. I look forward to diving into the research and starting the writing process all over again.
Q. What is the most difficult part of writing for you?
The most difficult part of writing is picking one topic and sticking with it. I have too many ideas in my head and I try to incorporate them all, resulting in a big jumble of words that make no sense.
Finding the time. Like many writers, I have a day job that monopolizes most of my time and energy. I’m also a wife, co-owner of a small business and a volunteer. This leaves very little time for writing, so I have to squeeze it in whenever I can. Most days, I wake up early to write before work and I often to return to it afterwards. I’ve sacrificed more weekends and holidays than I care to admit. I bring my writing in the car, on vacation and even to bed. Living like this often makes me feel like a selfish writer, but I also know that my dream isn’t going to accomplish itself.
Q. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received on writing?
“Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.”
This advice from H. Jackson Brown, Jr., author of Life’s Little Instruction Book, shifted my attitude from I don’t have enough time to write to How can I make the time?
“Just write!” So simple, and the best advice anyone can receive. I always have a habit of talking myself out of things, especially with my writing. During NaNoWriMo and when I was under deadlines for papers, my roommate would randomly shout out, “Girl, just write.” It always made my day and I did just what she told me.
Q. Who are some of your favourite authors or nonfiction writers?
Ted Dekker, John Grisham, Dan Brown, Elizabeth Kostova, Terry Brooks, Rob Thurman, Dean Koontz, P.C. and Kristen Cast, Oscar Wilde, Agatha Christie, and those are just the ones that I can think of. Non-fiction writers I’m a little bit pickier, but off the top of my head, I really enjoy Malcolm Gladwell’s books.
Q. Where do you see yourself ten years from now?
Hunched over my keyboard, writing. Only, by then I hope writing will be the priority around which I have to squeeze in everything else.
I see myself out of Texas, ideally out of the US, writing about the places my husband and I have been, cultures we’ve experienced, and maybe even about motherhood. But overall, I see myself happy no matter what I’m doing. And no matter what my career may be writing will always be in my life. It’s part of me and I don’t see it ever going away.
Ashley Prince is a wife, a student, and a lover of life. Currently living in San Antonio, Texas with her husband, she spends most of her time writing. She has two blogs—Byron’s Curse, and Open Eyes and Open Minds. Writing is more than her hobby, it’s her passion.