I Want to Say These Things to Other Writers by Emma Cyrus – Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Emma Cyrus will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

I want to say these things, from my heart, to other writers

This is a most difficult path we’ve chosen to walk. It’s certainly more difficult for me than any of the projects I’ve worked on over several decades. Because it’s so challenging, above all it requires persistence. Persistence means different things to different people, but essentially it boils down to ‘suiting up and showing up,’ as a sports friend says.

‘Suiting up’ means calling yourself a writer and having your tools ready to go, every day. It also means thinking about your current project all the time, having it in the background while you’re showering or eating. ‘Showing up’ means being a writer every day, putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) for at least an hour, more when you can, with a clear set of goals you want to accomplish – number of words, by when, so you’re always measuring yourself against what you want.

When you acknowledge the challenge of the writer’s path, you give yourself to permission to have some suffering with it now and again. Not wallowing in it, as that would bog you down. But when good writers transition to great writers, I think it’s by going inside and pulling meaning out of that suffering.

Others have mentioned something that I think bears underscoring: you must be a fearless and ferocious self-editor. What you can let yourself get attached to is the most perfect version of your manuscript—but nothing short of that is worth being too fond of. Better to slash and burn while under your guidance than being slashed and burned by critics after you publish.

There are a number of courses, mentoring writers and editing software out there to support you in this ruthless task. I encourage you to avail yourself of them. You’ll be amazed how much better your work becomes as you keep paring, eliminating passives, explaining more clearly, strengthening a narrative. One particular program I use identifies ‘sticky’ words which tend to slow down the reading experience. It’s invaluable to have this kind of automated assessment.

Along the same lines, I encourage you to use BETA readers after you get a completed manuscript out. Their input will help you make it a better book. They’ll see things you can’t because you’re too close to it. You might not act on everything they say, but you’ll know about the concerns out there that might affect your future readers.

In addition to writing persistently every day, you can also make it a priority to read and study writing every day. Reading means both for enjoyment and for assessment and instruction, inside and outside your genre. Most important is studying the signature works of masters in your genre, as they’ve already set the bar for everyone coming after. In the world of mysteries, I try and keep up with greats like Elizabeth George, Michael Connelly, Ann Cleeves, Josephine Tey, and Tony Hillerman (my list of faves is actually much longer!).

Then, speaking of studying, making time to learn elements of your craft is most important. I’ve taken several courses at Gotham Writers Workshop and also take online writing courses. There’s never an end to what you want to keep polishing in terms of skills. You’re never done!

Even the masters will tell you what skill they’re working on currently, what they’re dissatisfied with, who they admire who does it better than they do. If you think you might not be up to snuff in character development, for example, look for writing guides and courses on that subject. Try different ones until you find your writing improving in this one area. I find that if I studt while I’m writing, I’m more aware and deliberate and the results are better.

And, finally, don’t get discouraged. Only other writers will understand what compels you, so be in touch with colleagues for feedback and support on a regular basis. This is a noble path, and you can allow yourself to be ennobled by it!

If you’d like to be in touch with me about all this, feel free to write me at emma@emmacyrus.com..

Thanks very much to Long and Short Reviews for hosting me and Life Without Shoes today.

In the great tradition of The Name of the Rose, the Brother Cadfael mysteries and Grantchester, Life Without Shoes confronts a modern-day monastic with a horrifying crime.

Father Ambrose has found a simple life leading a spiritual community in Northern California. He spends his days on guiding the farming and teaching meditation. Then, someone dumps a body in one of their orchards.

Now, the violence of the modern world has come crashing through the gates. He wants Sheriff Charlie Cormley to believe the body has nothing to do with them, but it’s not that easy. He must take on the role of sleuth to protect his community and find the truth. He finds himself moving out into the world in ways he never imagined, and life at New Life will never be the same.

Enjoy an Excerpt

He looked up to see Brother Jeremy leaning on the doorjamb, pale and shaking. The young monk clutched his sandals in one hand and wiped perspiration from his upper lip with the sleeve of his robe. “Father,” he gasped.

“Good Lord, what is it? Here, sit down.” Ambrose pulled a chair across the small office and urged Jeremy into it. He held up his hand to forestall the young man’s story until he’d poured out a glass of water and seen that the threat of fainting had passed.

Jeremy’s hand shook on the water glass. He rested his forehead on the other palm. “I…I…” he started, then, closing his eyes, “Oh, God, this is awful.”

Ambrose pulled his desk chair up close and looked intently at the young man’s face. “Just keep it simple, Jeremy, so I can understand what’s happened.”

“You asked me to pick up that trash bag someone dumped in the orchard, so I went out there with the Toyota this morning….” Here, he lowered his gaze, aware that too much time had elapsed between Ambrose’s request and his taking action. Regret and guilt played around his mouth.

“Yes, you should have been out there Saturday afternoon, but let’s forget that right now. What happened?”

“Some dogs had gotten to it, torn it open…” He gulped, then rushed on. “There was an arm sticking out of the bag.” He closed his eyes again and swallowed hard.

“An arm? Are you certain?”

About the Author: Emma was born in West Virginia and lived there until she was in high school, when her family moved to Pittsburgh. After high school, she went to Boston to go to college. She worked in different small and startup businesses until she moved into a yoga community in Pennsylvania. There, she’s worked on various projects and taught yoga.

She started the Father Ambrose series as a way of pulling together her love of good mystery stories with her deepening appreciation of the real-life magic and mystery of inner work. Father Ambrose has many characteristics in common with the leaders of her community, but his voice is probably hers, or at least what she thinks her voice would be, if she were living inside the parameters of his life.

She’s discovering the compelling nature of writing fiction and the surprises of working with what other writers have called their ‘muse.’ The creative process seems to have its own timetable and logic. The best results seem to come from stilling her own personal voice and allowing that ‘muse’ to speak.

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  1. Thanks for hosting!

  2. Audrey Stewart says

    I loved reading this post! Great job. I have added this book to holiday wish list. (jozywails@gmail.com)

  3. New author for me. Exciting.

  4. Sounds like a good read.

  5. Bernie Wallace says

    Who was your favorite author growing up? Congrats on the release.

  6. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Linda Romer says

    Looking forward to reading the first Father Ambrose Mystery. Thank you

  8. Thanks to Long and Short Reviews for hosting me today!

  9. Thanks, Audrey! Since you’ve provided your address, I hope you won’t mind if I put you on my newsletter list. Good stuff there, too. And some interesting blogs about writing at http://www.emmacyrus.com.

  10. Bea LaRocca says

    Congrats again on the new book and best of luck with all of your future endeavors. Happy Holidays to you and your family.

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