PublishHER Podcast Episode 113: The Writing Journey with Leslie Rasmussan

PublishHER Podcast Episode 113: The Writing Journey with Leslie Rasmussan

Alexa Bigwarfe and Leslie Rasmussen talk about the challenges involved in the novel writing journey, including how to get started. They also discuss themes in writing, empowering the characters, and more!

Leslie A. Rasmussen is the award-winning author of the novel, After Happily Ever After. She was born and raised in Los Angeles and graduated from UCLA. She went on to write television comedies for Gerald McRaney, Burt Reynolds, Roseanne Barr, Norm McDonald, Drew Carey, as well as The Wild Thornberrys and Sweet Valley High. After leaving the business to raise her boys, she attained a master's degree in nutrition and ran her own business for ten years. Recently, she’s written over twenty essays for Huffington Post, and Maria Shriver, and spoken on panels discussing empowering women in midlife. Leslie is a member of The Writers Guild of America, as well as Women In Film and the Women’s Fiction Writers Association. In her free time, Leslie loves to read, exercise, and hang out with friends. She lives in Los Angeles and is married and has two sons.

“It's funny because sometimes people say, from the cover, is it romance? I'm like, no, the only romance in it really…it's mostly that she is sort of falling in love with herself. I love that romance. She's on a journey to find herself and she's learning how to find her voice and fall in love with herself.”
Leslie on her newest book, After Happily Ever After.

In this episode, we discuss:

  • Explore how the work challenges genre expectations and the impact this might have on reader perceptions.
  • Consider how readers might relate to the protagonist's journey.
  • Universal themes of self-discovery and the quest for self-love that can resonate with a broad audience.
  • Delve into the significance of self-love as a central theme in story.
  • Explore the importance of finding one's voice as a central theme in the narrative.
  • Explore strategies for overcoming self-critique and gaining confidence in one's creative work.

 

Key Takeaways

  • The Art of Writing Dialogue: Dialogue is important for character development, something Leslie learned working on television scripts.
  • Learning from Mistakes:  All writing has a learning curve where mistakes are made, Leslie's first novel took 4.5 years.
  • Role of a Developmental Editor: Working with a developmental editor from the early stages of the writing journey to streamline the process is important.
  • Multi-Perspective Storytelling: Experiment with different narrative perspectives, providing readers with a more rounded understanding of the characters.

Memorable Moments:

00:06:26 – The Process of Writing a Novel
Leslie and Alexa delve into the challenges of writing a novel, including the importance of creating a detailed outline to guide the story and the value of working with a developmental editor to streamline the writing process.

00:18:11 – Challenges of Descriptive Writing
The conversation delves into the challenges of transitioning from technical writing to descriptive storytelling. Leslie discusses the struggle of “showing, not telling” and the use of emotional thesaurus to enhance descriptive writing. Both hosts share their experiences with acting out scenes to improve their writing.

00:23:11 – Writing from a Single Perspective
Leslie discusses the challenges of writing in first person and the need to bring forth other characters' perspectives. She shares her approach of including chapters from other characters' points of view to provide a more comprehensive understanding of the storyline.

00:25:43 – Trend of Multiple Points of View
The conversation shifts to the trend of writing from multiple points of view in current literature. Both hosts discuss the growing acceptance and preference for books with multiple perspectives, highlighting the evolving nature of writing and reader preferences.

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PublishHER Podcast Episode 98: Travel Writing Retreats with Lisa and Cami

PublishHER Podcast Episode 98: Travel Writing Retreats with Lisa and Cami

Have you ever wondered about travel writing retreats? Lisa Daily and Cami Ostman take authors on travel retreats for writing and are loving the results.

Trying to force creativity can be frustrating and often leads to disappointment. Instead of waiting for inspiration to strike, consider using travel as a tool for enhancing your writing. Immersing yourself in new cultures, environments, and experiences can open up new perspectives and ideas for your writing. From exploring the streets of a new city to experiencing the natural beauty of a different landscape, travel can offer unique opportunities for observation and reflection, ultimately fueling your creativity and improving your writing skills.

Traveling opens you up to newer possibilities, newer things, newer creativity, newer ways to think about things that you may have never thought about before. – Cami Ostman

Lisa Daily and Cami Ostman's love for travel led them to create Wayfaring Writers, a unique program combining exploration and writing retreats.

About Lisa & Cami:

Lisa Dailey is an avid traveler and writer. In 2015, she traveled around the world with her husband and two teenage sons visiting 14 countries and nearly 100 locations. In her time abroad, she unearthed new ways of looking at her life through her discoveries in remote corners of the world and she continues to enrich her life through travel. Lisa is a voracious reader and writer, and has published more than 20 titles and 200 authors at her company, Sidekick Press, including her own travel memoir, Square Up. A native Montanan, Lisa now makes her home by the ocean in Bellingham, Washington, but returns to her roots every summer for a healthy dose of mountains and Big Sky.

Cami Ostman has traveled to all seven continents and to twenty-four countries. She’s run 25 marathons and zillions of races of other distances, always at the back of the pack. She is the author of Second Wind: One Woman’s Midlife Quest to Run Seven Marathons on Seven Continents and co-editor of Beyond Belief: The Secret Lives of Women in Extreme Religion (Seal Press). Cami holds a Bachelor’s of Education in English and Theater from Western Washington University and a Master’s of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy from Seattle Pacific University. She has a special interest in helping women live more authentically and freely. She is also a dog lover, a wine connoisseur, a runner, and a blogger. She runs a program for writers called The Narrative Project and has a passion for changing unhelpful narratives so people can be in charge of her own stories. She coaches people into their truest expression of themselves. Cami lives in Seattle, Washington.

In this episode, we covered:

  • Adventure Writing – Why Travel is THE Way Hone Your Craft
  • Travel is the best thing we know to spark an adventurous spirit and inspire creativity
  • Travel WRITING offers opportunities to be inspired by PLACE and CHARACTER like nothing else.
  • The Wayfaring Writer Retreats –  a rare opportunity for a small group of writers to immerse themselves in their craft while experiencing the food, drink, art, and history of foreign places
  • Writers to step out of their comfort zones and into using all their senses.
  • Together Cami and Lisa have visited nearly 50 countries and know first-hand the impact that travel has had on their writing

 

The Wayfaring Writers Experience

Wayfaring Writers takes a group of writers to a particular location and goes on adventures from there. The group includes an agent who consults with writers, and mastermind sessions with Lisa, Cami, and an expert on the craft of writing. The writers are given specific coaching and lessons to help them build their skills in observation and incorporating their experiences into their writing.

Key Takeaways

  • Unlock the creative potential of travel for boosting your writing prowess.
  • Delve into off-the-beaten-track adventures for a truly immersive cultural experience.
  • Grasp essential tips for women to make their travel escapades safer and more enjoyable.
  • Immerse yourself in specialized writing guidance crafted to address your unique needs.
  • Embrace the rewards of moving beyond your comfort zone to elevate your horizons.

Memorable Moments:

00:02:43 – Philosophy of Adventure Writing,
Travel is about challenging assumptions and opening writers up to new experiences, sights, smells, and sounds. It helps writers hone their observational skills and become better at incorporating those experiences into their writing.

00:14:23 – Favorite Wayfaring Writers Experience,
Lisa and Cami share their favorite experiences, including a doctor who was able to finish her book and get published with Cambridge University Press after coming on a Wayfaring Writers trip. The trips are designed to challenge assumptions and open writers up to

00:16:01 – The Importance of Travel in Writing,
The hosts and guests discuss the benefits of traveling for writers. They believe that experiencing different cultures and perspectives can help writers become better contributors to the collective consciousness.

00:17:09 – Eating Tarantulas in Cambodia,
Lisa shares a story about taking her family to a restaurant in Cambodia that served tarantulas. The restaurant was also a non-profit that helped children from the street find a career in the food industry. The group believes in off-the-beaten-path experiences to expand their sense of the world.

00:27:10 – Setting Travel Intentions,
Alexa shares her intention to travel more and write about her experiences. She believes that travel is important for personal growth and to capture unique perspectives in writing. The guests encourage her to join their travel group and explore new destinations.

PublishHER Podcast Episode 87: Writing Tips for First Time Writers

PublishHER Podcast Episode 87: Writing Tips for First Time Writers

Episode 87 Writing Tips for First Time Writers & StoryBilder with Tanya Gough

Tanya Gough, a multifaceted talent with experience in a range of fields, including ESL teaching, retail store ownership, and digital marketing, has now established herself as the founder of Story Builder, a creative writing platform designed for new and aspiring writers. With a passion for middle-grade fantasy fiction and science-infused fantasy short stories for adults, Tanya's diverse background showcases her expertise in various industries. As a guest on the PublishHer Podcast, she shares invaluable writing tips for first-time fiction writers, encouraging them to embrace the importance of play in the writing process and to accept that the first draft will not be perfect.

Through her journey with writing, Tanya Gough has not only developed a platform to help emerging writers, but has also uncovered a powerful approach to storytelling – one that encourages play, exploration, and breaking the rules. Little did she know, this new approach would revolutionize her writing process, transforming her stories and spurring her to inspire a new generation of authors.

 

Lean into your first draft not being great. Use it as an opportunity to play and experiment, and figure out what your story actually is. – Tanya Gough

This is Tanya Gough's story:

Tanya Gough's journey with storytelling began at a young age when she discovered her passion for writing. She quickly learned that the process of writing fiction was vastly different from nonfiction, and that it required a unique approach to structure and character development. Her determination to understand the art of storytelling led her to create StoryBilder, a platform designed to help emerging writers embark on their creative journey. By focusing on structure and embracing the freedom to break things and experiment, Tanya found a way to connect with her stories on a personal level, allowing her to enjoy the process and truly engage with her characters.

 

In this episode, you will learn how to:

1. Establish solid foundations by generating clear ideas and direction for your stories.

2. Infuse an element of playfulness into your creative writing process.

3. Tackle the anxiety of producing imperfect first drafts and focus on progress.

4. Optimize StoryBilder for a well-structured story development.

5. Leverage the power of short stories to sharpen your writing abilities.

 

Starting Your Novel

When beginning a novel, first-time writers should focus on having a clear vision of the story's main idea. This serves as a foundation for the plot, character development, and overall structure of the novel, helping the writer stay on track and avoid getting lost in the creative process. Knowing the direction of the story also allows the writer to maintain consistency and create a coherent narrative that engages readers. In the conversation with Tanya Gough, she emphasized that a strong concept is essential when starting to write a novel. Tanya suggested that writers should have a clear sense of the story's big picture, whether it's the plot, a character, or a particular theme. Having a guiding idea not only helps with story development but also keeps the writer focused and motivated during the writing process.

Key Takeaways

  • Check out StoryBilder, a creative writing platform for new and aspiring writers, founded by Tanya Gough.
  • Embrace the fact that your first draft will be terrible and use it as an opportunity to experiment and play with your story.
  • Use a working outline or structure to guide your writing process and keep you on track.
  • Be open to changing and breaking things in your story to see what happens and to find interesting narrative details.
  • Consider using specific software tools, such as Scrivener, to help you organize and manage your writing process.
  • Join writing groups or communities to connect with other writers and gain support and feedback on your writing.
  • Attend writing conferences or workshops to learn new skills and network with industry professionals.
  • Use social media and other online platforms to promote your writing and connect with readers.
  • Don't be afraid to ask for reviews, feedback, or support from friends, family, or other writers in your network.
  • Always include specific CTAs, such as links to your book, website, or social media profiles, in your writing and marketing materials.

Memorable Moments:

00:14:16 – About StoryBilder, Tanya Gough introduces StoryBilder, a writing platform she built for newer and emerging writers. It includes a story engine for world-building, character building, and a writing area for creating the story from start to finish. There's also a toolbox, education pieces, and a public library full of characters and maps from classic literature that writers can borrow and adapt.

00:19:03 – How Short Stories Help Writers, Tanya Gough discusses the importance of writing short stories for novelists. She explains that writing a tight short story helps writers hone their skills in story arc and language. Writing short stories also helps writers develop story ideas that they can expand into novels later.

00:22:51 – Short Story Contest, Tanya Gough announces a short story contest hosted by StoryBilder with over $4,000 in cash prizes. The theme is fear, and writers are encouraged to submit stories about spooky or scary experiences or stories about overcoming fear. There are three age groups and a grand prize of $1,000 for adult writers.

00:25:48 – Free Trial Offer, Tanya Gough offers a free one-month trial to writers who want to try out StoryBilder. Interested writers can go to Storybilder.com and use the coupon code WIP to start their free trial.

Learn more at:

https://storybilder.com
https://twitter.com/storybilder
https://instagram.com/storybilderapp

Writing Tip: Word Gathering

Writing Tip: Word Gathering

word gathering

ColorJoy Stock, Christina Jones Photography

The Writer as Word Gatherer

A Guest Post by Renay Intisar Jihad

Teaching students how to write well involved sharing incremental and manageable micro-steps or risk seeing them sink into a vast bin of hopelessness while staring at a blank sheet of paper clutching a sweaty pencil. I had to trick them into thinking writing was fun and easy. The writing process began with a fun and engaging activity – gathering words. Now retired, and a published author, this pre-write method is still a useful tool.

Every piece of writing inhabits a linguistic atmosphere. Knowing the word environment or content-area words associated with a subject keeps me focused on the big idea. Subject-matter triggers help me decide what to include or exclude in the final product. The quality and quantity of my word bank dictates its usefulness. An excellent word environment naturally produces parameters in which to write, edit, and revise a poem, story, or news article. For me, the word bank supports a formidable liaison between content and delivery.

GATHERING WORDS

To prepare for writing Mini Solja Stands on the Shoulders of Giants, I read, skimmed, and scanned black history books to gather words and terms from each decade dating back to 1619. Documentaries, speakers, primary source documents, and museums added to what I already knew about the subject. It was essential to include famous and noteworthy black Americans of distinction. My list of people, places, things, dates, times, and colloquial expressions influenced the outline. Taking stock of the manuscript’s goal through creating a word bank supplied a self-assessment: What did I know, want to know, and learned? What did this subject look like, feel like, sound like, smell like, and taste like? I compared this activity to setting the stage for a play, fertilizing a garden, eating an appetizer before dinner, or warming up before a yoga class. See it this way:

You are creating a reservoir of ideas from an ocean of suggestions related to your subject, theme, title, content-area, or focus. 

THE IMPACT OF WORD GATHERING

Because Mini Solja Stands on the Shoulders of Giants was a poetry book with informational and literary elements, the word environment that I created during this pre-write process came in handy when collaborating with my editor. Every printed word dictated a promise to deliver a message of hope, remembrance, and homage to book lovers reading on multiple grade levels. Achieving suitable readability was an ambitious task. Bottom line, were the words generated from my word bank during the pre-write process dynamic, specific, timely, useful, effective, and historically relevant enough to convey the message I would later generate during the writing process? In this sense, the list was not static. It ebbed and flowed as new information became critical to the final product. I organized my words, knowing that the economy of words and ideas was crucial to the quality of the final product. I often swapped, threw out, re-purposed, recycled, or retired certain words depending on how my project progressed.

In short, spending time creating a word bank saved me time, supplied a world of ideas and possibilities from which to draw on, and served in helping to refine my focus.

 

word gatheringRemember Yesterday's Giants Cherish Today's Giants Honor the Giant Within You.  A teenage boy named Mini T. Solja learns an important lesson about his rich heritage from his grandfather. MINI SOLJA STANDS ON THE SHOULDERS OF GIANTS is a lyrical coming-of-age conversation. This poetic snapshot highlights the stellar history of Black Americans and pays homage to our ancestral struggle and triumphs. Enjoy this timely, engaging, and enlightening book. Additional resources include a list of famous Black Americans and a directory of Black museums.

 

 

 

Renay Intisar Jihad was born in New Haven, Connecticut, where exposure to the arts was as natural as breathing. Serving as a literacy coach for eight, of the thirty years in teaching allowed her to support new teachers, write curriculum, and share resources. Scarves and Bandanas and The Day Josef Found His Pride were short-run publications tailored to the needs and interests of her students. Renay is the recipient of the Global Educator of the Year and a Teaching Tolerance Award. After she earned her National Board Certification, the National Alliance of Black School Educators (NABSE) recognized her as one of twenty NBCTs at that time. A Fulbright-Hays scholarship enabled her to travel to Kenya and Tanzania. Other education-related travel opportunities to China, Egypt, Morocco, the Caribbean, and Thailand helped enhance her teaching and writing curriculum. A Michael Jordan Fundamentals grant enabled Mrs. Jihad to produce a book of children’s poems entitled The Many Faces of Poetry. Her sixth-grade students authored original poems, art, and short stories inspired by personal experiences. In the Many Faces of Love, Jihad penned a poem for each of her one-hundred and ten students to honor their unique gifts. Now she contributes to the AF-Am POV (African American Point of View) and the Muslim Journal. Learn more at https://www.renayspace.com/