How Being A Writer Is Like Snorkeling

CocoPlumThis summer, I had the opportunity to go snorkeling for the first time. I loved the idea of observing marine life in it’s natural habitat…coral patches, colorful fish, maybe even a sea turtle. Then, it was time to get in the water and put the snorkel mask on. This was the moment of truth, a moment that taught me something about myself that I didn’t know. Like many writers, I took my fear and shaped it into something useful. I hope anyone considering a writing career will find the following tips helpful.

  • The unknown can be scary. As a newbie snorkeler, I had a lot of questions. How am I supposed to breathe? What if a current throws me into the corral? Should I be concerned about manta rays, sharks, barracuda? There were many things I didn’t know, but taking the time to do a little research and talking to people who’ve been there done that, helped calm my worry. Starting out as a writer can be scary, too. Tip: Reach out to other more experienced writers who are willing to offer guidance. These days, it’s easy to connect with other writers online. If you’re more comfortable with face to face conversations, check your local library for writers’ groups.
  • Be sure you have the right equipment. For snorkeling, this means a mask and fins. At it’s very basic level, this means paper and pen/pencil for a writer. Tip: Don’t let lack of access to a computer stop you from making progress. It’s too easy to make excuses for not writing. Write everyday. No excuses. Chances are you won’t be able to use everything, but that’s not the point. Practice makes perfect, or in the case of a writer, words on the page that can be revised and tweaked into something brilliant.
  • There are times when you will feel uncomfortable with what’s expected. When snorkeling, you have to put on a mask that blocks airflow to your nose and forces you to breathe with your mouth using a tube. Sounds easy enough, but it’s not. It feels like suffocation, which for some people is how attending conferences, doing book signings, self-promotion may feel. Tip: Remember everything will be okay. It’s important to network with writers, readers, bloggers. This goes beyond creating a fan base for your work. It’s about connecting with other like minded people who share your passion for books. It’s weaving together a net of people whom you can cheer on and who will uplift you during the ups and downs of a writing career.
  • You might not get it right the first time. After jumping in the water and moving away from the boat, it was time to snorkel up. While struggling to stay afloat, I put on the mask and tried to breathe through the mouthpiece. For whatever reason, I couldn’t manage such a simple task. Self-doubt consumed me: “I’ve made a huge mistake.” “I have no business snorkeling.” “This is too hard.” I seriously thought about doggie paddling back to the boat, but I’m not a quitter. I forced myself to calm down, took it one breath at a time. Then, it was time for the last step. Tip: Writing a novel is hard. You’re not gonna get it right the first, second, third time… Don’t let that make you think you have no business being a writer. It just means you need more practice. Write more. Read more. Write more. You’ll eventually get it right.
  • You have to commit 100%. I’m not gonna lie, when it came time to stick my face in the water, I panicked. Like I said, the idea of snorkeling sounded fun. Putting it into practice was harder than I expected. I was floating in the ocean all decked out in my gear. This close to the goal, I refused to give up. I took a deep breath, and stuck my face in the ocean. When I exhaled, the sound reminded me of Darth Vader saying, “Luke, I am your father,” which made me laugh and promptly choke. But I’d stumbled upon a way to cope with my fear. By calling upon my inner Vader, I was able to snorkel. Tip: If you want to write as a career, not a hobby, you have to commit to it. You have to put in the time with your keyboard (or pencil/paper), you should connect with other writers/beta readers who can provide feedback/critiques on your work before you seek publication or an agent, you have to be willing to keep pushing forward no matter what.

What tips do you have for people looking to take writing from a hobby to a profession?

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4 Ways to Beat the Sequel Slump by Teri Harman

*** Black_Moon_CoverGuest Post for BLACK MOON Blog Tour ***

I’ve read a lot of sequels, a lot of book number twos. Most are disappointing, some as good as the first, and a rare few better than the first. Those rare few are the ones we all hope for when we start a series.

But for the writer, sequels are hard. So when I sat down to write my own, I had one goal: Make it a rare few kind of sequel.

I started writing. I had a general outline in mind, certain things that had to happen – especially the ending – but exactly how I would get there was unknown. I got 45,000 words down, a little over half a standard book.

It was crap.

I threw it all in the trash – all except a few scenes, anyway. And started over.

That was a hard day. But here’s what I learned about sequels.

1. Make the HARD Decisions
I knew things weren’t right as I wrote that first draft, but I kept going because it would be harder to start over. Sequels have to push the limits of the first book, so it requires making bigger and better choices about the story and the characters. Don’t be afraid to work harder.

2. Stay True to YOUR Story
I talked with a lot of readers about my first book while writing the second. This was good and bad. It’s hard not to be overwhelmed by the expectations of readers. It’s easy to let their opinions of what book two should be cloud your opinion. Sift through the expectations, use what is valuable, and always stay true to your ideas.

3. Go For the UNEXPECTED
The best sequels feel fresh and offer lots of surprises. When working with the same characters and basic story components it’s easy to get stale or stagnant. If you feel your story is going that way, expand your imagination. What could happen that would be crazy, difficult, unexpected? Do it.

4. Get Yourself Some EXCELLENT Beta Readers
Find one or two people who know you, your work, and your story. Good beta readers see things that authors miss. They help tighten plots and perfect characters. When you hit problems they can help hash things over until you get it right.

BLACK MOON was difficult to write, but when it was finished and right – man, that felt good. I’m proud of it and hope readers enjoy it.

Thank you so much for having me as a guest on your blog today!

Teri Harman 2013 pic4For more about Teri Harman and her books, including BLACK MOON, the sequel to BLOOD MOON, which Kirkus Reviews calls ‘unusual and absorbing,’ check out the links below…

Blog     •     Goodreads     •     Facebook     •     Twitter

 Instagram: @teriharman


Follow Fest 2014

FollowFest 2014

Blog button designed by Carrie Butler

I participated in the first Follow Fest event last year and had the opportunity to meet a wonderful group of writers. I’d like to thank Melissa Maygrove for all her hard work organizing this awesome cyber networking event. Be sure to hop over to her blog and follow her, if you don’t already. She’s organized, educational, fun, and witty!

Thank you, Melissa, for all you do!!

Purpose: A platform building opportunity for writers of all kinds.
(Think, ‘cyber meet-and-greet with social media links for business cards.’)

When: September 22nd thru 26th, 2014.

How: Create a blog post using the guide provided and sign up on the Linky list any day during FollowFest week, after your post goes live. (To make things easier, there will be only one Linky list this year.)

All week long, visit other blogs and connect with as many writers as you wish. You can follow the progress by checking Melissa’s blog and / or following the Twitter hashtag #FollowFest14.

There’s still time to sign up. Find details here.

Here we go…

Natasha Hanova

Fiction or nonfiction?
Fiction all the way

What genres do you write?
Adult and Young Adult – Dystopian, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Horror all with Romance

Are you published?
My debut novel EDGE OF TRUTH, a YA dystopian paranormal romance, released in June 2013. Add it to your Goodreads shelf here… Edge of Truth

Do you do anything in addition to writing?
Does juggling count? Tennis balls, Leggos, kids with crazy schedules… Seriously, though, I beta read for a few writers. I’m also the Conference Chair for the Oklahoma Writer’s Federation Inc, which is putting on another writer’s conference in May 2015.

Tell us a little about yourself.
Sherlock2In addition to knowing how to juggle, I love to cook. I like to start with a recipe base, and then make the dish my own. My hobbies include reading (obviously), crocheting, and baking because I have a massive sweet tooth. Right now, I’m trying to perfect sweet and spicy chocolate chip cookies because the main character in my Out On Query manuscript likes to bake Pyro Kiss cookies for loved ones.

I’m also a HUGE fan of Walking Dead , Supernatural, Modern Family, and Sherlock Holmes.

What are you reading right now?
I know I’m coming into to this series a little late, but I’ve just started the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare. Up next, The Maze Runner by James Dasher.

Which authors influence you the most?
I’m a huge fan of L.A. Banks. Her characters are strong and down to earth. Even though my writing style is far from hers, I enjoy the Amy Tan’s ability to weave story lines together.

Where can people connect with you?
Follow me by clicking the “Follow My Blog” button on the right side of the page. Or find me in these places:

Twitter – @NatashaHanova or



Ah man…this place is so addictive!

AmazonNatasha Hanova or
Likes are more than welcomed and reciprocated (message me).

Do you have a newsletter?
Not yet. Working toward it.

Is there anything else you’d like us to know?
Yes! Feature Fridays was a hit on my blog last year and I’d like to give it another go round. I’m looking for volunteers. If you’re a reader, writer, blogger and are interested in being featured on my blog please let me know in the comments below or message me in Facebook.

You can either write a guest post, request an interview, sign up for a cover reveal/book release, etc…. Just let me know!

Be sure to visit the other authors and add your name to the list!

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Can’t Wait Until Friday To Post This

cupcakesIt’s time to celebrate!

I’m feeling like a proud big sister even though there’s no blood relation between me and my critique partner, Leatrice. SHE GOT AN AGENT!

Leatrice is such a talented writer with a rich imagination and her work is a joy to read. She’s active on Twitter (find her here) and is about to kick off the #PitchSlam contest for completed and polished manuscripts on her blog in October.

Hop over to her blog to read her official announcement.

The Island

Five days after I returned from the UTopYA Con in Nashville, TN, my husband took me  to the Coco Plum Island Resort in Belize to celebrate our 15 year anniversary. Just the two of us, no kids, no responsibilities. The weather was perfect, the water refreshing, the food (which I neither had toIsland1 cook or clean up afterward) was delicious. I want to go back. Today.

Though the island had wifi, I left my laptop at home, which I will admit was difficult and liberating at the same time. The first day, I felt like I was missing out on all kinds of social media stuff. By day two, I left the cyber world behind and embraced my environment.

The island staff was high-spirited and friendly. They played sand volley ball with guests everyday. It’d been a while since I played, but I’m proud to say I still got it. My husband and I met a number of interesting couples. I took notes on everything they told me. Don’t worry, I told them I was a writer, and then the really colorful stories came out. (*waves hello* to Brittany, Julie, Marcy, Summer and their husbands)

MayanI had the opportunity to mark something off my Bucket List: visit Mayan ruins. Our island tour guides took us to Xunantunich. The Mayans civilization is well-known for its art, architecture, as well as mathematical and astronomical systems. One of the things I’ve long been fascinated with is the disappearance of the Maya. There are tons of theories; I suspect aliens. The site was a twenty minute boat ride and an almost three-hour car drive from the island, but so worth it to visit a site so rich in history.

ZiplineI also forced myself past my fear to go zip lining through the tree tops of the Belize rainforest. A series of ladders and stairs took us well over fifty feet up before the guide attached us to a wire and told us to jump off the platform. After a slight pause and some strong self talk, I went for it. Exhilarating!

Cave tubing through crystal clear water in ancient limestone caves with nothing but an inner tube and a flashlight put me back in touch with the awe that is mother nature, the most talented artist of all. The cave was rife with stalactites, stalagmites, and rim stone dams. At one point, sunlight poured through a ceiling hole and into a hidden garden. Wish I had a chance to take a picture of it, but was afraid of dropping my camera in the water and ruining my vacay photos. Either way, the beauty of it reminded me of a scene in Edge of Truth.

IMG_6767The thing that taught me the most about myself was snorkeling, but I’m saving that story for a post on another day.

When was the last time you disconnected from cyber space on purpose? How was it? Do you have a fond vacation memory to share? What’s on your Bucket List?