Start Your Own Literary Magazine with Helen Scheuerer

Welcome to #FriendFriday, an interview-style guest post series every 1st and 3rd Friday of the month. Want to be the next interviewee? Send me an email!

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Happy #FriendFriday! Today I'm hosting one of my favorite people in the book biz, Helen Scheuerer! She's a cool Aussie who started her own literary magazine and published my short story in her anthology, Kindling.

Round of applause for Helen!

Here's your intro question. Tell me about yourself in less than 70 words.

Here goes: My name is Helen Scheuerer, I’m a novelist and editor from Sydney, Australia. I’m the Founding Editor of Writer’s Edit – the Online Literary Magazine (http://www.writersedit.com/), and the Editor of our creative writing anthology Kindling (now onto it’s second volume). I freelance for a number of other creative websites and document my own writing process at http://helenscheuerer.com/

You're a blogger, writer, freelancer and Founding Editor of Writer's Edit. Tell us how you got started.

Growing up, I wrote (terrible) novels throughout high school and when it came to university, there was nothing else I could see myself doing. I went about completing a Bachelor of Creative Arts, majoring in Creative Writing and started working as a copywriter for an e-commerce site.

I worked as a writer/editor for two of the biggest Internet start-ups in Australia before I realised that this wasn’t the kind of writing that I had imagined for myself. Realising I needed to run my own show in order to be happy and creative, I quit the copywriting business and while I was traveling in the UK, the idea for Writer’s Edit was born.

Writer’s Edit started as a Tumblr blog – I wanted to test my commitment before launching a fully formed online literary magazine. Turns out, I have plenty of commitment. Because of my work for Writer’s Edit, I’ve also been able to pick up a range of freelance clients that support me while I work on the site and my own fiction.

Let's put you to the test. How did you organize and publish the Kindling anthology? What were the hardest and most rewarding parts?

Wow, that’s a hard one for sure! It was always my dream that Writer’s Edit become a small press. While I love the opportunities that the online world brings (like meeting you for instance!), there’s just something magical about print! Kindling started as a pipe dream that I voiced to our Deputy Editor, Kyra.

It seems like such a long time ago now, but we went about publishing a call-out for short stories, poems and essays and recruiting editors for each category. We edited our shortlisted pieces, compiled the manuscript and got our talented designer, Alissa to create the interior and cover designs. We crowdfunded in order to cover our printing and launch costs.

The hardest (and scariest) part was probably hitting ‘publish’ on the crowdfunding campaign. Sharing your ideas with the whole world and asking for help is no easy task. You open yourself up to judgement and critique, but off the back of that – it’s also the most rewarding part; seeing an influx of incredible support, and usually from a range of people you just don’t expect. It’s such a heart-warming experience. That, and the moment the first box of books arrived at my studio were the most rewarding parts. Seeing the finished product really took my breath away.

If you could be the author of any novel in history, which novel would that be and why? (Stumped you, didn't I?)

Actually, no. :)  This is by far, the easiest of your questions! Cormac McCarthy’s The Road wins this one by a long shot. The one, all-encompassing feeling I have when it comes to McCarthy and this book is awe. Pure awe. I wish I could inspire that same feeling in others.

And finally, before we let you go, what's the best advice you've received and how did it get you here today?

Oh there’s so much I could rattle off here, but what it ultimately comes down to is this: Find out what you love doing, and do that.

Doing what I love has meant putting in more effort, more time and more commitment than I have for any other job. It’s that passion, and commitment to my own goals that’s helped me get where I am today.

***

Thanks so much for having me, Jenny!

How Traveling Impacts Your Writing with Colin Ashby

Welcome to #FriendFriday, an interview-style guest post series every 1st and 3rd Friday of the month. Want to be the next interviewee? Send me an email!

Good morning, friends! Today we're here with Colin Ashby, traveling writer, blogger and Twitter friend. I'm so happy to have him here to talk to you about his writing journey.

Thank you, Colin!

Here's your intro question. Tell me about yourself in less than 70 words.

Anything Parks and Recreation is great in my mind. I have a little piece of the Internet over at colinashby.org. In the years leading up to now I’ve done everything from starring in a theatre production as a lonely scientist, news reporting, media monitoring at a PR agency and more. Now I’ve settled into a day job while writing my novel Life Outside the Ramen on nights and weekends.

You're a blogger, writer, and adventurer. Tell us how you got started.

I was forced into blogging. Haha. In Fall 2013 I had a digital media class and the professor made it a class requirement for all the students to keep a Wordpress blog. At first I thought blogging was just something people did for fanfiction or personal reasons. Boy, was I wrong. Within a few months I had started to enjoy it and connected with other bloggers through Twitter.

All of the bloggers I interacted with through social media were so passionate about what they did. It was contagious! It helped me focus more on the goals I had.

Let's put you to the test. As a travel fan, what's the importance of travel on your writing?

Writing is all about the depth of characters. Traveling is something that forces you to interact with people from a different way of life.  It gives you experience to draw from than you may not have gotten from everyday life.

The novel I’m writing now centers on a weekly support group filled with people from different walks of life. So much was learned about the people I met while traveling.  While on a cruise ship to Mexico, I met a lady who was lawyer but hated it. Visiting San Francisco, the motel clerk named Maddie, was super upbeat and wanted to tell me about all the cool clubs to go to. Once, while crossing the street in Los Angeles, I met a girl who was from Australia and worked at Pandora.

Traveling exposed me to the different ambitions, daily lives, and struggles of people from all across the country. I’ve been putting the things I encountered into some of the characters in my writing.

If you could be the author of any novel in history, which novel would that be and why?

Er, this is tricky. You’re probably expecting me to say some classic novel, right? I’ll go on the opposite end with something different.

Mosquitoland by David Arnold is a novel I would have loved to be the author of. It’s a character driven road trip novel centering on a 16-year-old girl going to find her mother. (typical, right? So not!) The writing is so good. It’s quirky yet philosophical, coming of age yet not cliché.

There’s a lot of road trip and coming of age novels but Mosquitoland really feels like something you’ve never read before.

And finally, before we let you go, what's the best advice you've received and how did it get you here today?

This is a hard question! I’ve gotten a lot of great advice. It’s like asking a parent to choose their favorite child, haha. One piece of advice that resonated with me was something a professor from college told me. He said:

There’s something you need to know about adulthood. Things are bad and it don’t always get easier but you develop the confidence in yourself to realize it’s fine and you’ll be okay regardless of what life throws at you.

I love the quote and it perfectly sums up the uneasy nature of growing up and having a hard time adulting.

Getting to Know Your Readers with Sara Letourneau

Welcome to #FriendFriday, an interview-style guest post series every 1st and 3rd Friday of the month. Want to be the next interviewee? Send me an email!

Happy Friday, my friends! This week, I'm happy to welcome Sara Letourneau, a writer, blogger and poet. She's one of my Twitter friends, and I'm so thrilled that she carved out some time in her busy schedule to talk about getting to know your readers today.

Let's get acquainted, shall we?

HERE’S YOUR INTRO QUESTION. TELL ME ABOUT YOURSELF IN LESS THAN 70 WORDS.

Eek! Well, currently I'm revising a YA fantasy novel called The Keeper's Curse. I also review tea at A Bibliophile's Reverie (http://bibliophilesreverie.com/) and lead the Theme: A Story's Soul column at DIY MFA (http://diymfa.com/). I'm also a published poet, a former music journalist, and a blogger who hops between all of those topics. It sounds scatter-brained, but I love exploring and sharing what I learn, and what I do reflects that "philosophy."

You're a blogger, writer and poet. Tell us how you got started.

The writing came first. I've been writing ever since I was 7 years old. I remember sitting at the kitchen table with crayons and lined paper, making up stories about talking animals and strange places, and drawing pictures to go with them. Writing has stuck with me ever since then, and in many different ways. But novel writing has always been the one constant I've come back to.

Poetry was a way of expressing emotions and ideas I struggled to express verbally. The inspirations have come from everywhere: nature, relationships, current events, even the impact that creativity has had on my life. I haven't written as much poetry lately because I've been focusing on my novel, but I'm sure I'll return to it one day and I still enjoy reading it. As for blogging, it's a fun way to reach out to other like-minded people who you might not otherwise meet offline.

Let's put you to the test. What would you tell future writers about how to connect with their future readers?

When you're just starting out, take the time to get to know your audience.

Reply to your readers' comments on your articles, then visit their blogs and comment on one of their pieces. End your posts with questions in bold that grab the reader's attention and get the wheels turning in their heads. Your audience will appreciate the effort - and they'll keep coming back. This is also a good way of developing relationships with other bloggers who share your interests.

Also, don't feel obligated to be on every social media outlet. I'm only on Facebook and Twitter in addition to my blog, and I'm fine with that. It's all I can do, since I also have a full-time job and don't want to cut into my writing time too much. So, my advice here would be to do only what you have the time and energy for. Your readers will understand.

If you could be the author of any novel in history, which novel would that be and why?

This was tough. I love so many books for so many reasons that I'd probably pick a different book each time I answer this question. ;)

Today I'll pick 

Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder. It's an upper-end YA fantasy about a girl who trains to become a poison taster and then becomes entangled in a plot to overthrown her country's government. I love character-driven stories where the protagonist changes and grows from their experience, and

Poison Study is a perfect example. Yelena has to learn to overcome a brutal, terrifying past in order to save the people she cares about - and herself. I was so absorbed by her story that I read it in three days, and I still find myself re-reading certain scenes from time to time. If the stories I write can have the same impact on my readers, my heart would sing.

And finally, before we let you go, what's the best advice you've received and how did it get you here today?

This was more or less encouragement than advice... But during the last week of my senior year of college, one of my favorite professors - who taught writing and literature, of course - told me, "You need to get your work published!" I was already considering submitting my poetry to literary journals anyways, but his enthusiasm was like a match to kerosene. It took 5 years of writing, editing, waiting, and going back to square one before my work was finally published somewhere. But it taught me persistence, patience, and the power of positive thinking in the face of disappointment.

Thanks to Sara for spending some time with us! If you’re interested in being interviewed for the next #FriendFriday, send me an email

Psychology and Creative Writing with Faye Kirwin

Psychology and Creative Writing with Faye Kirwin

There are incredible resources out there to get you writing, but psychology? Well, Faye Kirwin's got you covered. Today, I'm happy to have Faye Kirwin of Writerology. Last week, she invited me to write a post for her about writing fiction from real life. And today, she's here to talk about psychology and creative writing.

From her Writember Workshop to her Write Chain Challenge, Faye creates amazing opportunities for writers who need a place to learn and connect. Continue on to read my interview with her!

Writing Tips for Students with Pema Donyo

Are you a student trying to balance it all? Introducing my friend Pema Donyo, a published writer, blogger and college sophomore. She’s an amazing inspiration for writers and provides great writing tips for students like herself. I'm so happy that she's here to spend some time with us.

You're on, Pema!

Are you a student with a dream of writing a novel? Pema Donyo prioritizes writing every day and has a post full of writing tips for you. #writeanovel #writingtips

photo via unsplash

Here's your intro question. Tell me about yourself in less than 70 words. 

I'm Pema Donyo, a current college sophomore. I'm also the author of One Last Letter, Revolutionary Hearts, and The Innocent Assassins - and more to come! Cheesy Hallmark movies, peanut butter, great romance novels, and learning more about business and the publishing industry keep me going. I post about my latest writing struggles, gush about my favorite reads, and recommend helpful articles on my blog.

Goal for next year? Write more.

You're a blogger, published writer and a college student. Tell us how you got started writing.

My love for writing began with a major love of reading. THE SCHOOL STORY by Andrew Clements was a huge source of inspiration for me. It's a middle-grade novel that chronicles a twelve-year-old girl publishing her first book. After I finished reading that story, I realized age wasn't an impediment to being published - nothing was. If you can dream it, you can do it. And if you can write it, you can share it with the world.

Let's put you to the test. What's your best advice for young writers trying to keep it all balanced?

Prioritize what matters most to you at different times in your life. Short version? There's a time for everything.

I'm a firm believer in writing every day. Instead of checking FB for five minutes, set up a writing sprint for yourself. Or wake up ten minutes earlier to jot down a few plot points. Writing is therapeutic, and it can counter some of the stress you may experience from all the other crazy events in life.

Lots of writers/bloggers still in high school and college take a hiatus during the school year. If that works for you, take a break. It's better to focus on a few things at a time than spread yourself too thin. School and homework should be the number one priority during the school year - there will be lots of time for writing during vacations and school breaks!

If you could be the author of any novel in history, which novel would that be and why?

Can I pick a series of novels? Lucy Maud Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables series. I love the character development of each of the protagonists as we follow them along their lives. One of my dreams is to write a series about a set of characters with the same longitudinal time span. A girl with a burning desire to write and a large scope for imagination? There aren't many other characters out there like Anne Shirley.

And finally, before we let you go, what's the best advice you've received and how did it get you here today?

Keep writing. Promotion can wait. Gaining more followers can wait. The writing can't! Write the material you want to read; write the plots that you're dying to flesh out. These are going to be the stories that will manifest themselves into the best versions of your work.

I used to be caught up in the promotion aspect, but then I realized my true source of happiness comes from producing stories. And that's the only way readers can find your work - if you're writing stories and putting them out there for people to enjoy.

Another piece of writing advice: finish your stories. It can be discouraging to start a great edge-of-your-seat idea, become super excited about it... and then the first chapter isn't up to your expectations. As I said above: keep writing! Perseverance will improve prose. After all, edits only happen after words are already on the page. Stick with your story and see it through.

Discussion Time: Are you a student with dreams of writing a novel? Where do you struggle the most? Tell us in the comments!