Go Write Your Novel!

Well this has been a crazy transition into December. I won NaNoWriMo for the first time ever. During a power outage. (Thank God for laptops with long battery life.) Is it a novel? Well, it’s 50,000 words of something. It might be more like three novellas than one novel. I need to edit it to see what I got.

Maybe today’s featured book will be able to help me do that?

Today is the release day for Stephanie Morrill, Jill Williamson, and Shannon Dittemore’s book Go Teen Writers: Write Your Novel. This is a writing book for the beginner writer. It’s filled with advice and encouragement for new writers. Learn more at https://goteenwriters.com/writeyournovel

Keep reading for an interview with the authors.

This book cover is so neat. It brings me so much joy seeing this stack of notebooks on the cover of a book about writing.
It’s so meta.

You have a story to tell, don’t you? Or maybe you simply want to try your hand at fiction writing. Perhaps you’ve given it your best effort, but simply didn’t have enough tools in your tool box to finish that first draft. Wherever you’re at with this novel-writing thing, popular bloggers Stephanie Morrill, Jill Williamson, and Shannon Dittemore totally understand.

They know it’s hard to finish a first draft. To stay motivated until the end. To feel like a “real” writer. They know because they’ve been there too.

In Go Teen Writers: Write Your Novel, you’ll learn: 

  • There is no such thing as one right way to write a novel.
  • How to take an idea and give it a beginning, middle, and end.
  • What story structure means and how it strengthens a book.
  • Different approaches to plotting a novel.
  • How to develop characters worth reading about.
  • Strategies for creating memorable storyworlds and settings.
  • What theme is and how to use it to enrich your story.
  • What to do when your first draft is finished.                                                                                   

There’s no doubt about it. Learning to write a novel from beginning to end is a challenge. But with this book as your guide, you’ll see that when you’re in possession of the right tools, you’re capable of finishing what you start. You’ll be empowered and encouraged—as if you had a writing coach (or three!) sitting alongside you.

A glamor shot of Go Teen Writers: Write your novel, sitting on a spread of opened books.

AN INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHORS OF
GO TEEN WRITERS: WRITE YOUR NOVEL


When you were a teenager, did you consider yourself a storyteller?

Stephanie: I considered myself to be a writer from first grade on and always thought I would
write novels.

Shan: I think I did, yes. I don’t know that I would have pulled that word out of the air, but I was
part of a performing arts group (drama, puppetry, and dance), and I dabbled in poetry and the
like. To me, everything revolved around story, and I knew I had a knack for telling them. A few
teachers had encouraged me in that, and I embraced the idea. I didn’t really know what to do
with it, and I don’t know that I envisioned it as a full time career, but I liked the idea that I
excelled at something cerebral.

Jill: Not really. I was a daydreamer. And I wanted to be famous. So, there were days when I
daydreamed about being a screenwriter or a novelists. Most days, however, I dreamed about
being a fashion designer. That was what I went to college to study.

You’re each respected novelists. Why do you invest time and energy blogging for and encouraging young writers?


Stephanie: I was a teen writer, and I longed to be connected to other writers. I wanted to learn,
to talk about writing, and to figure out how to get published. Because the internet wasn’t a very
social place yet (I graduated high school in 2001) I didn’t know how to connect. So years later
when my first series was published and I began receiving emails from teen writers, I decided it
would be fun to create a place where I could pass on what I know as well as connect them to
each other. Basically, I wanted to create what I wish I’d had as a teen writer!

Jill: I love teaching and helping others. Since I was writing for teens, it made sense for me to
teach teen writers and encourage them any way that I could. Also, back when I started writing,
my husband and I worked as youth pastors at our church, so we spent almost all our free time
with teens. Our life just kind of revolved around teenagers and stories, so it felt natural for me to
blog for teen writers too.

Shan: I love young people! I remember, vividly, how hard and wonderful those years were. So
many things change between the ages of 12 and 18, both internally and externally. For me, that
was when writing shifted from school assignment to hobby for me. I began to process the world
through the words I put down on the page, and I would have given anything at all for someone
to help me along there. It’s both exciting and fulfilling to contribute to a young writers toolbox.

What is the most challenging part of the writing craft for you?

Jill: Getting the first draft complete. I like writing first drafts for about two days, then I’m dying to
be done. It sometimes just feels like I’ll never finish. And sometimes it’s just really hard work
because I’m still trying to discover my characters and my story. It’s so much more fun for me
when I’m done with all that and I can focus on making the story the very best it can be. Once I
know all my characters deeply and understand their motivation, that’s the fun part for me.

Shan: Moving in and out of my story. Like you, I have many roles to play: Mom. Wife. Daughter.
Sister. Friend. Every day requires something different from me. If I had my preference, I’d focus
on one thing at a time–a storyteller until the book is done, and then a mom–but life isn’t like
that. I have to be a storyteller alongside all these other roles, and that takes its toll on me. It can
make staying in my story difficult, and it can make being present with my friends and family a
challenge. I work on it constantly.

Stephanie: I always run into trouble after the 50% mark in my first draft. Endings are tough for
me, so I often get a bit panicky after the midpoint.

What are your strengths and weaknesses as an author?

Stephanie: Talking about my books has often been a struggle for me. I would much rather be
writing or editing books than marketing them! For my strength, I’m pretty disciplined with my
writing time. If it’s time to write, that’s what I’m doing. (Mostly.)

Jill: I struggle with literary prose. With making things sound beautiful and profound. I’m just not
that kind of writer, and some days it bothers me. I’ll spend an hour trying to rewrite one section
that is bothering me. I think one of my strengths is dialogue. Natural dialogue has always come
easily to me, but once I know my characters, I really know what they’d say and what they
wouldn’t’ say. This is another reason why I enjoy the editing stage so much. I really enjoy
tweaking dialogue to make it just right.

Shan: This question is always tricky. We don’t always see ourselves objectively, but the things
that come most naturally to me are voice, worldbuilding, and character development. I have to
work harder at things like plot and structure. Part of this is because I discovery write so much,
but I’m always looking for ways to improve.

What craft issue was your greatest roadblock early on, and how did you overcome it?

Shan: My process is always evolving. As a discovery writer, plot is something that develops
organically for me, but it was a very messy part of my writing early on. It’s still messy, to be
honest, but I’m better at controlling the chaos these days. I’ve tried my hand at various tools and
I know what works for me and what doesn’t. While I’m loathe to fully plot out a story, I’ve learned
to give myself landmarks to shoot for, and that helps me move through a manuscript much more
directly.

Stephanie: Figuring out what ideas could sustain an entire novel and what couldn’t. The best
thing I did to overcome that was FINISH BOOKS. Once I pushed myself to write beyond the first
few chapters and make it through to the end, I began to understand what kind of ideas were big
enough for a novel.

Jill: Showing vs. Telling. I just did not know what people meant by that! It took me a very long
time to understand the difference. And even once I could understand it finally, learning not to
write that way was another hurdle. I just needed hours and hours of practice, but I wanted it to
happen much faster than the time I was putting in working on my craft. Overcoming it, however,
simply took time. I had to write and write and rewrite and rewrite until I started to figure it out.
Until it started to become natural.

Image text is an endorsement from author Nadine Brandes, The text of which is typed out at the end of the blog post.

If you could go back to the beginning of your writing journey and give yourself advice, what would say?

Stephanie: Write what you want to write. When I first started pursuing publication, I wanted to
write impressive novels that you would study in English class. Literary fiction. But I had zero
ideas for literary fiction, and I don’t really enjoy reading it that much either! I wanted to write that
because it seemed impressive, which isn’t a great reason. I wanted to write young adult fiction
just out of love for the stories themselves.

Jill: Trust your gut. There were several times when I didn’t think something was a good idea for
my career, but I trusted other people instead. Turned out that I was right. I knew my market. I
knew my audience. And I knew how my stories would be received. I wish I would have trusted
my instincts and not given in to pressure from others. Once you’ve been in publishing a while,
you need to trust your gut. Not every opportunity needs to be pursued. Think carefully about
your own goals and make careful choices.

Shan: My answer to this question changes frequently, but one thing I’d want rookie writer
Shannon to know is that writing stories is, in itself, a reward. Writers do this job for all sorts of
reasons. I began to pursue writing as a career because I wanted a work-from-home job that
satisfied my creative itch. And while it hasn’t made me rich financially just yet, storytelling has
met some financial needs, but more than that, it has been the catalyst for growth in my own life.
As I try and fail alongside my characters, I learn and I change and I am so grateful for that
experience.

If you had the opportunity to talk with three writers, who would you choose and why?

Jill: Hmm… I’m going to say Brandon Sanderson because I love his worldbuilding, magic
systems, and plotting. I seriously just want to be the man’s writing friend. But I’d love to ask him
about how he decides what to write and where he finds the time. I’d also like to talk with Jennifer
A. Nielsen about writing different genres for different audiences. And it might also be fun to talk
with John Grisham, who was one of my favorite authors before I started writing. I’d like to ask
his advice about the business side of things and see if he has any tips for my least favorite side
of being a writer.

Shan: Ooo! First off, Tana French. She’s a mystery writer who is all voice all the time and I’d
love to pick her brain. Second, maybe Tasha Alexander. She’s a historical fiction writer who
travels a lot, and often writes her books in the location she’s featuring. I so wish I could do that!
And third, let’s go with Jennifer Donnelly. She’s been able to cross genres and age groups and
continues to create beautiful stories for each audience. Talk about career goals.

Stephanie: Sarah Dessen, because she was the first YA author that I “discovered.” (She was
already on the NYT list, so I hardly discovered her!) J. K. Rowling, obviously. And I’m going to
cheat and say James S. A. Corey, author of The Expanse series. (James S. A. Corey is a pen
name for two writers.) I’m regularly blown away by the size of that storyworld and the
characterization, so I’d love to talk with them about their process and how the story has evolved.

Any last words of wisdom or encouragement for new writers?

Shan: Read. A lot. And widely. There’s pushback against classics these days, but I say dive in.
Read everything you can. Read old books and new books. Read what interests you and give
those big scary books a try too. If you have other bookish friends, talk about the stories you
read, or journal about them. Pull the story apart in your head, consider why certain characters
did what they did. Ask yourself how the setting contributed to the tale, and how failure played a
role in the growth of the characters. Consider why certain books resonated with you and why
others didn’t. Be thoughtful about literature. It’s a choice that will serve you well.

Stephanie: Build strong writing habits. Writing a little every day or every couple days is better
than writing once a month or writing 50k once month out of the year. Having strong writing
habits will make a big difference in your writing life.

Jill: I’m with Shannon on the reading part, but I’d say: read and write a lot. Read books in the
genre you’re hoping to write. Study how the authors tell those stories. But also, read fiction
widely. And write every day, if you can, or at least regularly. You will not become a better writer
if you don’t practice a lot. So sit down and type some words. Over and over and over again. And
try to have fun doing it too.

COLLECTIVE BIO:

Stephanie Morrill, Jill Williamson, and Shannon Dittemore have written a combined 30+speculative, contemporary, and historical novels for young adults. Since 2010 their critically acclaimed website, GoTeenWriters.com, has offered honesty, community, and encouragement to teens (and not-so-teen) writers working to improve their craft. When not writing, blogging, or mom-ing, they can be found hanging out with young writers at conferences or wherever chocolate is being given away. 

Book Order Incentive

The authors are offering a signed book plate and a book mark to the first 100 readers who order and submit their receipt, before the end of the year, for Go Teen Writer: Write Your Novel. Those who submit a receipt will also be entered into a drawing for one of ten spots in a virtual “Ask me anything” session with all three authors. Go here for purchase links and the form to submit your receipts: https://goteenwriters.com/writeyournovel

WHAT OTHER AUTHORS ARE SAYING:

“This is it. A go-to writing craft book I can recommend to ANY writer! Go Teen Writers: Write Your Novel is easy to read, but rich and thorough with content. Even as a multi-published author I found myself jotting down notes, quotes, and coming away inspired to go write! From writing craft to author doubts this book covers writing from head to heart. There’s no doubt I’ll be rereading this one. An absolute must-have for all writers young, old, beginner, advanced, human or cyborg. —Nadine Brandes, award-winning author of RomanovFawkes, and the Out of Time series

“Whether you’re looking for encouragement or practical advice to get you writing or editing, Go Teen Writers is the place for teens who want to connect and grow. The ladies behind the blog and the books have years of experience honing their craft and figuring out what works and what doesn’t. If you’re a young writer searching for that missing piece to help propel you forward, look no further than the resources Go Teen Writers provides.” — Sara Ella, award-winning YA author of the Unblemished trilogy and Coral

“I love goteenwriters.com! The site offers insightful instruction on the craft of writing a novel, excellent tools to help new writers learn the ropes, and a valuable sense of community. Highly recommend!” – C.J. Redwine, New York Times bestselling author of The Shadow Queen

Cover Reveal: Write Your Novel

This is an odd day to do a post. I know I try to keep the posting to Mondays but the covers must be shown when they must be shown. No changing.

So I come to you on this Thursday. To show you a book, that I probably need in my life. It’s called Go Teen Writer: Write Your Novel.

I’m not a teen, but I do need a kick in the pants to get my novel written.

Book Description:

You have a story to tell, don’t you? Or maybe you simply want to try your hand at fiction writing. Perhaps you’ve given it your best effort, but simply didn’t have enough tools in your tool box to finish that first draft. Wherever you’re at with this novel-writing thing, popular bloggers Stephanie Morrill, Jill Williamson, and Shannon Dittemore totally understand.
They know it’s hard to finish a first draft. To stay motivated until the end. To feel like a “real” writer. They know because they’ve been there too.
In Go Teen Writers: Write Your Novel, you’ll learn: 

  • There is no such thing as one right way to write a novel.
  • How to take an idea and give it a beginning, middle, and end.
  • What story structure means and how it strengthens a book.
  • Different approaches to plotting a novel.
  • How to develop characters worth reading about.
  • Strategies for creating memorable storyworlds and settings.
  • What theme is and how to use it to enrich your story.
  • What to do when your first draft is finished.

There’s no doubt about it. Learning to write a novel from beginning to end is a challenge. But with this book as your guide, you’ll see that when you’re in possession of the right tools, you’re capable of finishing what you start. You’ll be empowered and encouraged—as if you had a writing coach (or three!) sitting alongside you.

Go Teen Writers: Write Your Novel by Stephanie Morrill, Jill Williamson, and Shannon Dittemore.

To learn more or preorder, go to: GoTeenWriters.com/WriteYourNovel

And now the cover!

After a little more suspense.

. . . . . .down

V

V

V

almost there

v

v

I love it, it’s like inception with notebooks. Note-ception. It’s so meta, the feel of reaching for a blank notebook but instead you get a book full of notes on writing.

Anyway I love it. To learn more go to the Go Teen Writers site,

Pre-order it direct from Amazon

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