Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Guest Blog: 7 Things I've Learned On Writing by Toby Neal (+ Giveaway)

7 things I’ve learned on writing by Toby Neal

1. Notice everything. The world is filled with sounds, smells, textures, and fabulous stories
unfolding all around you. Take the time to notice, and keep something handy to jot down new
thoughts/ways to describe that sensory input as it comes to you. Sometimes, when I really let
myself experience any given moment in time, I’m overwhelmed by all that’s going on. Life is a
series of amazing moments.

2. Write what interests you. I ended up writing “crime/suspense mysteries with a romantic twist”
which I never expected to do in my younger, more literary-ambitious days. I started no less than
5 novels before I finally finished one in a genre that kept my own interest long enough to write
350 pages of it. (I also LOVE reading these kinds of books, but honestly never thought I could
write them. Shows what I know!)

3. Write about themes that touch something deep inside. I became a therapist for a lot of reasons,
not least of which is my desire to help others heal—but there’s another side to me that wants to
kick some abuser ass, and it’s that part of me that Lei, my crime-fighting detective, “actualizes”
as we say in the biz. Course, it took me three books with her for me to really understand WHY I
was drawn to the themes I was, and to really own them, shucking off cognitive dissonance.

4. Write whatever interests you. I know I already said this, but this time I mean don’t try to write
something only for it to sell. Write poetry, essays, novellas, series, flashfiction, fanfiction,
bumper stickers… it’s all practice and part of the body of your work, and you never know what
piece will lead to something else.

5. Be brave when you write. Think of it as “touching universal themes”—write about pain,
pleasure, rage, and joy from the depth of your experience. FEEL the experience as you write
about it. There’s no getting away from exposing yourself when you’re a writer. Course it doesn’t
all have to be agony and ecstasy; a good description of that niggling, drafty suspicion that your
pants have burst a seam is also universal.

6. Persevere. I had no idea how really, truly difficult it is to get published. I could way more easily
have done a doctoral degree—that also requires a lot of study and writing, but at the end when
you’ve fulfilled all the requirements, they HAVE to give you the little paper with “doctor” on
it. At the end of every considerable, unpaid, and even paid-for-professional-editor effort you
can still get, “Thanks for letting me have a look at this. However, it’s not right for our list at this
time” (a nicely worded rejection. Many are less kindly worded.) What’s my advice? Cry. Rant
to friends about the obtuseness of everyone not getting your obvious genius. Then, get back
in front of the computer and revise, rewrite, and never stop learning how you can improve.
Humble out. You don’t know everything even when you think you do. Oh, and nothing is ever
actually finished until it’s in print.

7. Make room in your life for writing. Most people have at least toyed with the idea of writing a
book. If you’re going to be a “professional” writer (and don’t give up your day job just yet) you
need to have actual time behind the computer built into your life. Study what works for you to
produce words on the page—spurts of productivity with a deadline, daily goals, an outline, a
laptop at Starbucks—figure it out and plan it in. For me it’s setting goals for myself, scheduling
time (I work six days a week, so NOBODY gets to whine to me about not having time) and then

DO IT. I get most done on what I call “retreats”—stretches of time when I step out of my regular
life and into the world of my characters. A writing day for me is akin to a spa day—a wily tactic
for luring the muse out to play. On the other hand, the dearth of time I have creates an urgency
that people with more may not feel. If so, fake yourself out. No excuses, this is your life you’re

Now stop reading blogs and get out there and create!

 Blood Orchids by Toby Neal
Blood Orchids follows police woman Lei Texeira, whose life starts to unravel after discovering a gruesome murder scene on the shores of beautiful Hawaii. A scene that also begins to expose Texeira’s dark buried past. After an impulsive mistake she is sent to mandatory counseling to help deal with the escalating violence and how it triggers her. Meanwhile she gains the attention of a killer, and the lead detective on the case, Michael Stevens. Even deeper conspiracies develop the story, originating with her father, a convicted drug dealer. Haunted by a persistent stalker, the shadow of her past looms over the growing relationship with Stevens, Texeira, with the help of her loyal Rottweiler, battles the monsters of her past and present, reaching out toward a loving future.

BookSparks PR is offering 1 copy of Blood Orchids to a winner in the US.  Simply fill out the Rafflecopter below.  Only your email address is required for entry, and if you are signed in through Facebook, just simply hit the enter button.  Ends 2/28/2012.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Julie W said...

I really can't think of a single book I've read that has been set in Hawaii! I'm sure I have, but nothing is coming to mind right now!

Susan @ The Book Bag said...

I don't think I have. I had a friend who's family lived there and she always made it sound like an amazing place to be. This book would be a wonderful way to travel there, since I am sure I will never make it there in person.

Thanks for the giveaway!

Alex @ Is It Amazing? said...

I don't believe I've ever read a book set it Hawaii. I would love to visit Hawaii so maybe a book will be my only chance. :) I agree with Toby on write what you love not just what will get you published. Most of the time readers will notice and maybe the world doesn't need another vampire book (it probably doesn't) but your own unique brand of awesome! :)

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