Sandra Stiles's Blog

April 21, 2012

This week we had state tests at school. One of my former student's asked how my new book was coming along. I replied that I'd done little writing this year because of all of the effort I had put in on lesson plans, etc. My principal was standing there and assured her I would get back into it. This kind of lit a fire under me.

Today I opened the book Hooked by Les Edgerton
I mention this because as a new writer I need to constantly work at learning more. I have never taken any college courses to teach me how to write a book. I decided one day I had to ignore what others told me and just do it. I am proud of my first book, "Steps to Courage". However, I am constantly reading things and seeing how I did things wrong. I have always felt the beginning of my book just wasn't right. By the time I published it I felt it was as good as "I" could make it. It has been through HONEST critiques and reviews of my book that I have slowly begun the process of learning to improve my writing. Several people have told me that I did more telling than showing. I also know I have a problem with being a passive writer. I keep trying to write like I was taught in school, and like I've been trained to teach kids to write. I want to change this. I must begin by reading and analyzing books like Hooked. I began by looking at a copy of my book and marking it up. My hope is that as I deconstruct my first book I will be able to avoid those mistakes in the future.

I would love to be able to give someone my book and say, "Mark it up. Be brutally honest and tell me what is wrong so I can fix it and not make the same mistakes in the future".

There are two main reasons I need to do this. If I ever decide to traditionally publish, it must be good enough to get the attention of a publisher and editor.
The second reason is if I decide to self-publish again, I need to make sure it is better than my first book.

I will say this much though, it sure has felt good to be back doing what I really enjoy, writing. Yes, the writing process includes reading and learning about writing and practicing what you have learned.

So what are you waiting for?
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Published on April 21, 2012 10:10 • 323 views • Tags: improving, writing

January 15, 2012

Well here we are fifteen days into the new year. What goals did you set. Did you make any resolutions? I chose not to make any resolutions. I did set down some goals. As much as I like to read I have cut down on the number of books I am accepting for review. I have also slowed down on my purchase of books. I will continue to purchase books specifically for my shelves at school. I currently have 300+ unread books on my shelves at home. My Kindle app currently has 200+ books. If left alone I can read 4 - 5 books a day. I want to continue my writing. I have a book that is three quarters finished and one that is half finished. No I'm not writing them at the same time. I had started one book while taking a writing class and then put it aside to finish my first book, "Steps to Courage". I had started a second one due to a writing assignment at school.
I have started clearing out the books I have committed to review. I have set up a schedule so that I get some reading and writing in each day. I have decided to leave my work at school for the most part. My time away from my job is just that, my time. So tell me, what resolutions or goals have you set for this new year?
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Published on January 15, 2012 17:19 • 131 views • Tags: new-year-goals

June 24, 2011

Everyone thinks writing is easy. Parts of it are. We all have areas that come easy to us. What they don't tell you is what happens after you've written the book and you manage to get it published. My husband claims that the reason it took me so long to get the book published was because I knew I would have to talk to people to promote my book. I am excited about my book. But talking to people is difficult for me. My students don't understand this. I have always been shy. Over the years I've learned to take small steps to take me out of my comfort zone. Sometimes it meant peforming on stage, because I told my students at the performing arts school where I taught they needed to step out of their comfort zone and audition, and they asked me when I was going to do the same.
So now we come to the thing that is so difficult for me. Today I called book stores and libraries to promote my book. I went downtown and handed over my book to the store manager and he looked at it, read the back and schedule my very first book signing. My husband and I left, walked two doors down, and saw another book store and entered. The man liked my book but wanted to read it first. He took me around the store and showed me the section for local authors, then promised to contact me this next week. My next stop was lunch at a wonderful cafe. We sat outside. As we were leaving my husband handed out some of my bookmarks. We headed up to our next stop, Books-A-Million to pick up the author promotion packet and I met a wonderful young lady. She wanted to know what type of book I wrote. I told her it was a young adult book and pulled one from my purse. She read the back and proceeded to tell me she wanted to read it. I gave it to her. She was so cute when she said, "I know it sounds stupid but would you sign it?" I assured her it wasn't stupid and signed it to her. She excitedly showed it to the other people at the desk and said she would start it during her break.

What is the point of all of my ramblings? The point is, no matter how scared we are and how far out of our comfort zone some things are, if the dream is big enough you will find a way to reach that dream. I want to sell my book. That means I have to talk to people.
What are your dreams and goals? What are you willing to do to reach them? How far out of your comfort zone will you step?
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Published on June 24, 2011 16:28 • 315 views • Tags: comfort-zone, goals