Sunday, August 11, 2019

Elana K. Arnold and Brandy Colbert: Survival Skills for Novelists

Photo of Brandy Colbert by Jesse Weinberg
Veteran, award-winning authors Elana K. Arnold and Brandy Colbert have a number of wonderful books between them (see the partial lists below).

Their session, intended to the published pros in the audience, contained a wealth of information about how to manage their time, creativity, and relationships at this stage of the publishing game.

Community becomes an important part of the process.

There are the bookstores where we do events—here, Brandy likes to send a thank you note every time.

And then there's social media and online communities. Here, a key thing to keep in mind, especially when you're committing stuff to print (even digitally): Remember that your work lives forever. So be careful in what you say, that you don't complain needlessly or without being aware of your audience.

Elana said social media isn't mandatory for writers. There are other ways you can connect with the world. "But if you like it, then great!"
Photo of Elana Arnold by Davis Arnold

Remember why you write

Elana said it can be scary to write when you're thinking about what someone else thinks. Instead, remind yourself why you write. These are her reasons:

  • To explore the things that thrill, terrify and discomfit me
  • To remind myself that I am a human being
  • To remind myself that I am not alone

Challenge yourself

Brandy likes to write books that scare her. Her first MG scared her. Writing from two POVs scared her. But now she knows she can do it!

  • Don't be afraid to start or take on projects that scare you
  • Try something you haven't done before, or retry something you've failed to accomplish
  • Write a book that you don't know how to write
  • Stretch during revision into a new shape

Remember that publishing is an unpredictable business

We don't have control over a lot of things:

  • If agents or editors will move or quit
  • If our book will win awards
  • If our book will "sell well"
  • If people will "like" or "read" our book
  • Almost everything else

Some of Brandy's books
Little & Lion
The Revolution of Birdie Randolph
Finding Yvonne

Some of Elana's books
What Girls Are Made of
A Boy Called Bat
The Red Hood
What Riley Wore

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