Carmen's passion for writing comes from her genuine love for storytelling. She wants to equip future storytellers with what she has learned over the years - this is what this page is for.
Click below to hear more of her heart and tips on writing.
This is what I call my writing notebooks - it's where all my story ideas reside.
When I began writing, I only did it for myself and presenting my work to the world was very scary. I was nervous about the work not being good enough, if people would like what I had to say. I worried about my work being lost in the marketplace, which can feel like a dark hole. The marketplace is so saturated, why would anyone care about what I have to say? “Aren’t we all talking about the same topics, life, love, food, villains and heroes?”I mean, you have to have some sort of nerve or bravery to think that someone would pay for what you have to write about.
I mustered up the courage even though I was going up against best-selling writers. I was determined to conquer my fears. You have to do that in every risk you take – be courageous! I realized that there will always be at least one who will appreciate my work. Others may not - that's okay.
Lately I have been answering questions about tips on writing a book. My greatest writing tip is to start. THAT’S IT! Just put your pen to paper and start. That's how you will find your voice. Write. Write. Write. There isn't just one rule that works for everyone and there are no secret tricks because we are all different. Find your own version of a “THINK TANK”.
WRITING FROM THE INSIDE
Writing is internal. I sit still every morning so that I can hear my voice.
It gets louder when I am relaxed.
I label all of my “think tanks” by year and what’s inside. It is easy for me to find everything that way.
On style, the title usually comes first, then I start to pull the layers away from it. I throw words all over the pages, write out ideas (it’s a mess at first!), then I start listening for rhythm.
Being a former singer, I want my books to sound like a song. I always imagine myself as an orchestra conductor as I am putting words together. I read aloud again and again. When I think it is ok to share, I give it to others to read aloud. I wonder if their sound will be like mine.
Most times it’s not, but if it still sounds like a song,
I’m okay with that.
My work is easy, but very thoughtful, having a ton of messages inside. I like my readers to get more than one thing out of it.
I typically have met my characters somewhere, in life or even in a dream. When I start to write, I feel like I am friends with the characters. If you are connected to your characters, then so will the people who read about them. The characters are like friends that I share with the world. Also, I am inspired by people in my family - especially the elderly ones. Their stories are so incredible. You have to sit with them and listen to find out – or buy one of my books! (*wink wink)
WRITING & REWRITING
The first rule of writing is BIC (butt in chair). The second, JGID (just get it down). Every time you write you will get better. You'll learn more about yourself as you write. Your voice is developing and it's pretty cool to see who will hear it. You will develop your own style. No one can teach you because each person approaches writing differently. Each writer has their own method. Mine is all about layering and process. Some days I just have to get away from my writing, other days I spend pulling from my ideas. If you silence the voices of doubt that live in your head, you will get far.
Read your work aloud so that you can hear how the story flows. Listening is key. It tells you how much is unnecessary and what can be cut. Don’t expect your work to be its best the first time. We all have to rewrite. Believe that you can be a great writer and you will!
With traditional publishing (a publishing house) you submit your work and wait for them to say yes or no to your story idea. For all genres you must research the literary marketplace and writers’ market.
It’s good to have an agent but make sure you find one that is a good fit for you. If you are self-publishing all of the expenses are yours. That includes illustrating, marketing, printing – everything! Keep in mind, the income is yours, too!
If you are a very young author and want to self-publish a book, write for yourself and show your family. Some schools/programs publish young authors' work in newsletters and magazines. Some classes are even writing and illustrating their own books. Or you can ask your librarian to help you find out which magazines accept original work from children.
I was rejected many times and offered a publishing deal that did not work for me. I threw all of my rejection letters away. In hindsight I should’ve kept them so that I could give you the amount. I don't like to be told no, so I published my own books.
Never let anyone keep you from doing what you love but put it out in the world and see what happens! Rejection hurts and you must get used to it. Even when you are published, you'll have to deal with people who reject your work. There isn't a writer who hasn't dealt with this. Acceptance feels so good, but it won't happen all of the time.
Starting is the hardest part of writing. I sit on ideas for a very long time and put them in the "think tank”. For me, I start with a title, then work backwards. It gives me an idea of what I want to write about.
When I am on a roll, I sit in one spot for hours until my body is in pain. Sometimes I forget to eat. Sometimes I have to get up to stretch then get back to the work. There are days when nothing comes and I do other things that make me feel creative - like cooking, practicing my guitar, reading, listening to music while I put my bare feet on grass and relax.
I feel so excited about writing - producing books is like seeing a new baby for the first time. That is what I feel. I enjoy that for a moment, then I move on to the next idea.
Some days it feels hard to write because you have to spend a lot of time with yourself. But I like it. I like the challenge of asking myself, “is this what you really want to do with your time?” The answer is always, yes!
Every writer feels this way.