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Season One - Episode Two

Wed, 7/22 8:29PM • 54:56


writing, authors, books, people, words, writer, nanowrimo, excited, podcast, fantasy, read, world, story, marybeth, scenes, bit, helps, generally, anxiety, talk

[00:00:00] Voice Over: [00:00:00] You're listening to Sword and silk, a podcast about writing publishing and other bookish ramblings. And now here's your host. Laynie Bynum and MB Dalto.

[00:00:17] Laynie: [00:00:17] Hi, and welcome to the second episode of the sword and Silk podcast I'm Laynie Bynum and I'm here with the woman of many names.  MB M Dalto MaryBeth Dalto McCarthy, whatever you want to call her -

[00:00:29] MB: [00:00:29] Hi

[00:00:29] Laynie: [00:00:29] We're here today to talk about how to stop talking about it and actually write your darn book. So we have noticed that it has been increasingly difficult for both ourselves and other authors to write lately. And we need this conversation about as bad as you guys do.

[00:00:47] MB: [00:00:47] I can definitely say that. You know, despite everything going on and, and, and the, the climate of the world and the situation that we're in, you know, not to get too dismal, but I definitely am struggling when it comes to [00:01:00] writing and thinking about writing and needing to write and wanting to write.  And I, for one have definitely fallen, not so much a victim, but it's just, it's hard. It's been very hard for me to just sit down and write anything new.

[00:01:15] Laynie: [00:01:15] So we've come up with a couple of different solutions and a couple of different ways to identify the problem, because one of the first things you need to do to get yourself writing is to figure out why it is that you're not wanting to sit down in that chair and get words on a page. And we've been calling it blank page anxiety because when you're staring at that blank page, a lot of feelings come through, it can get overwhelming. It can get scary. And a lot of times it keeps people from even starting from even beginning their story, even though they're excited, they have ideas, they want to do it maybe they have a deadline, which is the case in me and MB's career.

[00:01:53] MB: [00:01:53] Quite often .

[00:01:56] Laynie: [00:01:56] And they need to get words on the page for one reason or another. But [00:02:00] something is stopping them. And I think that the first thing that people need to do is identify what is stopping them from, from getting those words out. And so we've come up with a couple of different things to look at, a couple of different solutions.

[00:02:14] We reached out to both our authors, our staff at Sword and Silk, to find out what their suggestions are. So we'll be including those in the podcast as well. And I think the first thing that comes to mind when I go to sit down, is that blank page anxiety, keeping me from starting and MB talks about she, she experiences that often.

[00:02:39] MB: [00:02:39] I'll write chapter one and it stays like that for a month.

[00:02:45] Laynie: [00:02:45] And she's been quite vocal on Twitter and different places about how she needs to write. She wants to write she's excited, but she just can't stand the thought of actually opening the page and doing it because it can be a lot of [00:03:00] emotions sometimes.

[00:03:00] MB: [00:03:00] And I think a lot of it is just with the way of the world lately.

[00:03:04] And, I've mentioned this in my social media before, and I have no problem sharing it here now. I have general anxiety disorder. And so the anxiety, not only of writing, but like of everything else going on. It just it's been horribly impacting me, these last few months and, you know, creatively it's, it's, it's been detrimental. So I have tried a lot to write. And I want to write. I've even gone back and looked at beginnings of projects to try to get myself back into that, that motivation to start continuing on.

[00:03:37]I've started taking notes and, something I never do, but, planning a story and it's still has become increasingly difficult for me to continue. And you know, like, like Laynie said, you know, a lot of the stuff that we want to talk about is, you know, figuring out what it is that's keeping you from writing, you know, what it is that that's holding you back from proceeding and, [00:04:00] hopefully give you our personal anecdotes and that of our staff and our authors and, you know, stuff that we've seen to, to help get beyond it.

[00:04:07]Because nothing is worse for a writer. When they can't write it, makes you feel like, you know, almost questioning what its worth anymore. Not that we want anyone to be questioning that, but it's a real talk.  So that's just what we hope we can bring to the surface here because we know. I've seen it. Laynie has seen it,  I'm sure everyone else listening has seen. I know a lot of authors right now are really struggling to get their words out because there's just so much else going on around us and we don't want to minimize what's going on. We, we, we are. Fully aware of the situation of the world.

[00:04:37]And we know that there are priorities and there are things that should be focused on and stuff. But at the end of the day, you know, also some look to writing as self care. I definitely do. You know, you want to have that escape. You want to have that transition from the realities of the real world and into these words that we create.

[00:04:54] And when you don't have that, that's when you gotta step back and realize, okay, what can I do to at least get that back for [00:05:00] myself?

[00:05:00] Laynie: [00:05:00] I think you touched on a good point.  A lot of times when I go to look at a blank page, the most scary thing about it is not knowing where I'm going, which can also be one of the most thrilling things.

[00:05:11] But if you're going on a road trip with no destination in mind, it can get-

[00:05:15] MB: [00:05:15] You have enough gas literally and figuratively,

[00:05:18] Laynie: [00:05:18] Yeah, you need to know generally  an idea of where you're going. And I think that plotting as much as MaryBeth hates it. And as bad as I am doing it, knowing where you're going, takes a little bit of that anxiety out.

[00:05:32] So even if it's just the most basic outline, just a skeleton of what you want this story to look like.

[00:05:39]And of course, once you start writing and wants to juices start going, it's okay to step away from the outline and let your characters and let your storyline shape on its own. But knowing where you're going and what that scene that you're writing is going to be takes away some of that anxiety of the unknown.

[00:05:56]And can help get you there, excited for the words that are coming [00:06:00] next. So I definitely think that having some sort of. Idea or plot, being able to plot it out just a little bit can help aleive that anxiety some and as much as the MB likes to proclaim herself a 100% pantser I have watched her lately get into the habit of, "Okay. Well, we generally need to know. an idea."

[00:06:20] MB: [00:06:20] I mean, I will admit. As much as I do love pantsing and I can pants with the best of them. Recently I found myself having to write out where I want things to go, because like when he mentioned it definitely does help try to motivate you and drive you forward.  But that also being said, when Laynie sees me doing this we are generally also writing together.

[00:06:42]And that's different story altogether, but you know, if you're writing with somebody else, you want to make sure you have an outline, but that's a different conversation for another podcast.

[00:06:51] Laynie: [00:06:51] One day we will do an episode on co-writing Once we figure it out.

[00:06:56] MB: [00:06:56] To, you know, come around full circle. I, despite [00:07:00] the pantser that I am, I will say that one of the things that is at least pointing me in the right direction to attempt to begin to think about writing again, is starting to write down notes, starting to write down plans, write down ideas about the story I want to work on and hope that something sparks that creativity that, that I know I need to keep writing on.

[00:07:20] Laynie: [00:07:20] And when we reached out to our staff, and asked them what gets them writing, what helps alleviate some of this anxiety? Our submissions intern, Nicole, who writes faster than probably had ever seen anyone. She can turn out a book just crazy fast. She said that she allows herself imperfections, that she has to make sure that she's reminding herself that this is a first draft.

[00:07:45] It's going to be revised. It's going to be edited. You're going to rewrite some of these, scenes some of the stuff isn't gonna stick. It's okay to go in and do what you need to do. Just get the words on the page, which is. Sometimes what MaryBeth yells at me when [00:08:00] we're two days from deadline.

[00:08:03] MB: [00:08:03] But no, but no, don't delete anything.

[00:08:05] Just write it.

[00:08:08] Laynie: [00:08:08] We'll figure it out later.

[00:08:09] Just get the words. there So I think that definitely helps just allowing yourself that ability to, make mistakes and not expect novel quality on your first draft. It's just not gonna happen. Even the cleanest writers, I know their work needs to be revised for cohesiveness.

[00:08:30] You know, they may have great prose. They may be wonderful writers. But in order to keep everything cohesive and keep everything flowing as it should, it's still going to be revised. So it definitely helps to let yourself make those imperfections. And that ties into something that we've talked about before, which is writing out of order and me and MB do this quite often.  We'll get excited about a scene and go ahead and start it. And, our first author, author of Never Say Never, [00:09:00] Justine Mansano, said when we asked her, she allows herself to get excited about scenes and write those scenes out of order. She skips around as need be to get the words out. Now, eventually you'll have to go back and can connect all those scenes.

[00:09:13]MB: [00:09:13] That's actually - I - That's my favorite part of writing too. So I fully support this endeavor.

[00:09:18]I have a lot of what I call shower dialogue, where for some reason, whenever, I'm in the shower and whenever I'm drafting a book, bits and pieces of dialogue and scenes, they come to me. So I have to hold my thoughts.

[00:09:31] Well, until I get out. And then myself, my phone is just riddled with these notes and there's pieces in piecemeal until I can get them down to the document. And this is what happens to me too, is that I'll write out pieces of scenes and bits of dialogue that. I want to use, and then I get to go back later and fit them in and connect the dots.  And, a lot of the times I also will have my ending done well before I'm there. Which is also a great task cause like how do you get there? Yay pantsing!

[00:10:01] [00:10:00] Laynie: [00:10:01] Which that's always fun until you're writing with a co-writer and you message them "she was blue when I found her, she wasn't breathing". And they don't realize that you're sending bits and pieces of the co-written novel And they have a heartattack when driving home from work

[00:10:21] MB: [00:10:21] You did that to me. Didn't you?

[00:10:22] Laynie: [00:10:22] I did, That's the opening of Escaping the Grey

[00:10:26] MB: [00:10:26] We're writing Escaping the Grey, I'm driving home from work. And all of a sudden I see I see "she was blue" and I'm like, "who's blue". I think I even almost swerved and almost hit a car. I don't look at my phone generally when I'm driving. Cause it's against the law in Massachusetts. But when I saw that, I was like "what the heck"

[00:10:49] Anecdote - Don't send your co-author bits and pieces of your thoughts of writing, while they're driving home from work

[00:10:56] Laynie: [00:10:56] Especially if they include finding dead bodies.

[00:11:00] [00:10:59] MB: [00:10:59] But yes, writing out of order. I fully support that. I condone that. It doesn't work for everybody I think actually the first time I'd ever heard that, which I initially thought was, was crazy, was, Diana Gabaldon of the Outlander series. When she writes a book, she says she writes scenes and chapters and then worries about fitting them in after the fact.

[00:11:20] And it blows my mind because if anyone has read any of the Outlander books, Outlander series, those books are huge and. cohesive and the continuity and, to just write like that, it blew my mind. I'm like, how do you keep it straight? How do you keep it? You know, in check, how, how do you manage that?

[00:11:35] Laynie: [00:11:35] That's how I feel about Cassie Clare

[00:11:35] MB: [00:11:35] I don't even want to talk about Cassie Claire right now Yeah. So, so, I mean, whatever helps you get the words down. I mean, I think that's, definitely. such great advice because nothing says you have to write linearly. I mean, it works better for some people, it doesn't work for others.

[00:11:55] I mean, everyone has their own way of writing and so whatever it takes, whatever you need to do to get the words [00:12:00] down, I just, do it.

[00:12:01] Laynie: [00:12:01] I'm right there with you. Especially which kind of leads us into the, the second problem. We see people have a lot, other than the anxiety is finding the time to write.

[00:12:10] And what I did, the only way my first book was ever written was I used my Google docs app on my phone, and hid from my children and then bathroom at times, or, or wrote while I was cooking supper but it was just about getting the words out when I had the opportunity to do so.

[00:12:27]And I think writing, whenever you can find that moment and taking away the stigma, of I need to have a particular writing time where I sit down and I have to have my writing routine and that works for some people.

[00:12:41] It doesn't work for me. And I'm sure that there's other authors that it doesn't work for. But when I feel inspired and need to get words down, I need to get words down right then. And right when I have a moment, because my life is so busy, I have a full time job. I co-own a publishing company, I have my own writing.

[00:12:58]I have my [00:13:00] children. I have my family. My life is generally crazy on most days. So when I find a moment where everyone is quiet, I have to capitalize on it or nothing will ever get done. And I don't have time for, okay. I need to make my particular cup of coffee with my particular creamer. And I need to sit down in my particular writing chair with my particular writing software.

[00:13:20] I don't have enough time for all that. So I write when I, when I can find it  but that doesn't work for everyone

[00:13:26] MB: [00:13:26] And I on the other hand am extremely particular. So I used to be able to, and I just can't anymore. I don't know if it's because of just life is just so busy or whatever, but I would, I would have a Google docs, a document up, you know, at work all the time.

[00:13:40] I would have my phone with me and I would write notes. I remember writing one of my manuscripts and I remember. Talking to Siri and trying to, you know, translate it. You know all these things,

[00:13:53] Laynie: [00:13:53] I'm southern, Siri hates me.

[00:13:54] MB: [00:13:54] Oh Siri, but that's one of the unfortunate things is that as things get busier and as life, [00:14:00] you know, continues to go on, I'm finding that I am having a harder time going on a whim I'm like, I need to schedule myself to write from this time, this time.

[00:14:10] I need to be at my computer. I need to be in my chair. I need to have a drink, whether it's coffee or wine or something else, I need to have that time to decompress. And generally, also I am a full time working mother, you know, I have my husband's stuff going on, we have our daughter and, it's generally after she goes to bed.

[00:14:30] So I am one of the late hour people, you know, once 8:30 nine o'clock hits I'm at my computer. And that's what I'm trying to catch up on all, whether it's Sword and silk stuff, whether it's me trying to get my writing done my edits done, you know, just trying to catch up on life. That's where you'll get me. I've got to say that, Laynie I, I admire your ability to type on your phone because I have never been able to manage this. I can't even get texts out without typos. I can't even begin to draft, you know, not even necessarily typos aren't [00:15:00] even it, but like just trying to translate my typos by the time I'm done. And I know people who can write predominantly only on their phones and it, I wish I had, I wish I could do it. I really wish I could, because I know how much easier my life would be if I could.

[00:15:11] Laynie: [00:15:11] Definitely. If I get stuck on a scene, I'll stop writing on my computer and I will go outside and pace while I write on my phone. And for some reason, the scene starts flowing a little bit easier. I think it's just the change of perspective, the change of scenery.

[00:15:27] That definitely helps get me writing. You say you're a late night writer. I have seen them before a  Marines life coach who has said he wakes up at four o'clock every morning, whether he has to or not, because he gets a lot of his day out of the way before most people are even awake. And there's a 5:00 AM writer's club on Twitter.

[00:15:48] Where they wake up at five in the morning and they go ahead and get words out before their kids wake up before they have to go to work before the rest of the world is awake and wanting them to do things before they have those responsibilities of daily [00:16:00] life. So whether you're writing in the morning or you're writing at night or you're writing, just whenever you find the time, it's important, just to make sure that you're getting words down at some point during the day, And make yourself, if you have to make yourself a word count for each and every day, allow yourself breaks for weekends or holidays or days that you know that you're going to be busy.

[00:16:21] So just knowing that you need to get words down, holding yourself accountable, knowing that those words don't have to be perfect. They May not even stick. You may not even use them in the long run, but writing a little bit each day. As best you can to try to keep yourself in that habit. I think that definitely would help,

[00:16:38]Haleigh our second author author of a feeling like home said that she likes to set herself 15 minute windows and do sprints, which during NaNo- which just something we'll talk about later, we often do writing sprints, whether it's on Twitter or it's on Facebook, we  join up with a group of authors and we say, okay, we're going to start [00:17:00] writing at this time for 10 minutes, 15 minutes, however long it is. And then we're going to stop writing and we're going to report our word count. And that holds you accountable for trying to get some words done, but it also makes it more manageable because if you look at a room.

[00:17:15] And it is filthy and cluttered and you have to clean it and you just kind of stare at it and you say, there's no way I can ever do this. There's so much to be done. You just get yourself overwhelmed before you even start. This breaks it down into pieces. This is just like saying, okay, I'm going to clean this corner.

[00:17:31] And then I'm going to take a break or I'm going to reward myself with a peanut butter cup or a cup of coffee.

[00:17:37]It helps break it down. You're not running a marathon at that point. You're just getting that one sprint out of the way. And those sprints eventually add up to a full novel.

[00:17:47] MB: [00:17:47] Eventually it might take a few.

[00:17:49] Laynie: [00:17:49] But, MaryBeth, what do we do when we have our roadmap? We know where we're going. We're excited. We're going to write. We found the time [00:18:00] we were sitting in our computer and nothing's coming

[00:18:02] MB: [00:18:02] what do

[00:18:02] What do we do? We do nothing!

[00:18:04] Laynie: [00:18:04] That's not the correct answer

[00:18:05] MB: [00:18:05] Ok its not the correct answer but it is definitely a good place to start. So writer's block is the worst and anybody who's a writer has had it. Anyone who tells you - in the words of Princess Bride- anyone who tells you differently, is selling something. Because its legitimate and it's true. And it happens. So what can you do to get away from writer's block? And when I say nothing, I mean it, so one of the things to do, if it's a good sign to step back to stop writing forced under duress, however you want to say it, it is not fun.  If you're like me. I write from the heart. I write because I want to write, if I am trying to force myself to write as an obligation, it is going to make it so much more difficult, so much more torturous. So when I know that I'm getting to that point, I stop It doesn't mean I stop doing everything I just stop writing. One of the things I have actually been doing lately to [00:19:00] help me try to get back into writing again- in addition to everything else- that we've already talked about is I've been trying to read again.

[00:19:06]I do love reading. I love to just escape and again, so I'm a fantasy writer.

[00:19:12] I write predominantly fantasy predominately romantic fantasy. And so fantasy genre has always appealed to me personally, you know, that's where I started reading and then everything kind of fell from there. So go read, read your genere, read something, read something you're not used to reading, you know, go, just do something to try to get your mind on something else.

[00:19:33]Laynie: [00:19:33] I agree. I'm the same way. If I'm supposed to be writing contemporary romance, which my first series my debut series was contemporary romance and I write it often, but I also dabble in fantasy because I met MaryBeth and well, she converted me.

[00:19:47]MB: [00:19:47] Your welcome

[00:19:47] Laynie: [00:19:47] So if I'm supposed to be writing fantasy I read fantasy. If I'm supposed to be writing contemporary romance, I read contemporary romance. And even further on that point, if I'm supposed to be writing fairytale, [00:20:00] retelling, I go read a fairytale retelling. It's not because I want to copy from those authors. But it's because when I'm listening to it, I start getting ideas of my own for my own series or for my own book.

[00:20:12] And it helps kind of jar things loose a little bit.

[00:20:15] MB: [00:20:15] I mean, and I can definitely attest that. I never really started wanting to write, if not for reading. I've always loved reading, especially as a child, probably books that were much older than I should have been reading as a kid. But it always made me want to create worlds.

[00:20:29] It always made me want to be that person to write a story that someone could get lost in. So yeah, definitely highly suggest going to read, read, get lost in someone else's world. And then remember that your world will still be there when you come back.

[00:20:44]Laynie: [00:20:44] I have authors that I love as a reader, and I have authors that I love as a writer.

[00:20:48] And when I'm having writer's block, finding those authors that I love as a writer paying attention to the way they put words together, to the way their plot flows, to the way their particular writing [00:21:00] skill shows through helps me. Become a better writer. I think reading definitely helps people become a better writer and there are people who say, Oh, I write, but I don't read.

[00:21:09] And I honestly just, just me, just my opinion- don't know how

[00:21:14] MB: [00:21:14] I can't understand it And again I know to each their own, not judging anybody, but I cannot connect the dots of how you can be a writer, but not be a reader. I always, in my mind, at least in my head and in me and my world, like they have to come hand in hand.

[00:21:29] I mean, you can be a reader and you don't have to write, but I feel as a writer, you should read something. We're totally going on a tangent here. And this is could be another topic for another podcast But thats just my, thought of it, like, cause like I said, it's that whole escapism thing. Like I escaped into books, not mine. I mean. I write my books, but I escape it to other people's books. And I feel like they come hand in hand and maybe this is just me and I'm delusional. I just, I feel like if not, if a writer isn't reading, they should be.

[00:21:57] Laynie: [00:21:57] Yeah. And I think if it wasn't [00:22:00] for Neil Gaiman, John Green, Sarah Dessen - authors that I love, I would have never went I want to do that to someone. I want to make somebody feel like they just made me feel, I want somebody to cry into their book, I want somebody to wish that world was real, you know, and one of the things that I love, so we always talk about boyfriends and, and MaryBeth and her Rysand

[00:22:24] MB: [00:22:24] Yes!

[00:22:25] Laynie: [00:22:25] I like figuring out why I'm attracted or in love or whatever with that character, what makes that character - because they were created from scratch. I hate to break it to you guys, but these characters don't actually exist in the real world, but somebody created them.

[00:22:43] Someone gave them characteristics. Someone gave them dialogue and, and my analytical writer's mind likes to go. Okay, but what particular puzzle pieces did they put in to make that final effect of? I wish that person was real so that I could marry them.

[00:23:04] [00:23:00] MB: [00:23:04] And this is why you should read.

[00:23:11] I think we're, we're coming up with new podcast topics as we go, and that's fantastic. I hope someone's taking notes. So yeah, writer's block. Read, read in your genre, read outside your genre. Read something. That's, that's an idea. You don't want to read? Okay. But definitely step away from the computer or the notebook or the phone or whatever it is that you're using.

[00:23:32] Change your scenery. I know it's hard nowadays though, getting easier, but I know that in the state that we're all in social distancing is ideal. We don't get to go as many places as freely as we used to, or we shouldn't be going to places as we want to. But even just step outside, sit on the back steps, go for a walk, clear your head, go somewhere safe, go somewhere quiet, go somewhere.

[00:23:57] You can detach yourself from [00:24:00] the thought of having to sit at your laptop and write for another few hours, just change it up

[00:24:04] Laynie: [00:24:04] Or play a video game. Watch a movie, just something that keeps you away from your computer and out of your character world for a little while

[00:24:12] MB: [00:24:12] Anybody wants to come visit my animal crossing Island, I will give you my friend code

[00:24:18] Laynie: [00:24:18] great plug there

[00:24:19] MB: [00:24:19] So that has been. My personal escape. And we keep talking about, you know, going back and writing and not being able to write. So again, been very hard these last few months, and crossing came out at the perfect time. I don't know if it's for better or for worse. It has honestly been my best way to desteress.

[00:24:38]So I'm a huge proponent of video games go animal crossing, But step away. That's been my, personal, escape

[00:24:44] Laynie: [00:24:44] And for me, I'm a very visual person. So, and there's two different ways that I can break writer's block using visual clues.

[00:24:52]I can either write down my scenes. On index card. And, I got this from a craft book that I've read, but you write [00:25:00] down your ideas, your scenes on note cards, and then you lay them out how they go in your story, like your outline and, and if you really want to go deep into it, you can do, a second line of note cards for your subplot, things like that. And then try to figure out if you need to move those scenes around, or if they make sense in the order that they're in, how those note cards, which, then symbolize parts of your story best play with each other.

[00:25:29]Taking it to that kind of visual level helps me a little bit figure out where I'm going and what I'm having trouble with because there may be something actually wrong with my book. That's keeping me from writing

[00:25:40] MB: [00:25:40] And I definitely applaud people who that too. I have seen people do this on, actual physical note cards. I know Scrivener has something very similar in their program as well, That's a lot of planning, but I know that it would work. I know that it would definitely be a way, you know, as opposed to just [00:26:00] opening up my notebook and writing my lines out, you know, be like, okay, so this is how it's going to go and you can see it and they can actually move instead of crossing off lines and drawing arrows to like three pages away.

[00:26:11]Yeah, I wish I could do it. I do envy that, that visual, I think, I think that's the visual thing. I am not a very visual person. I like lines. I like words. I like things lists. I like lists.

[00:26:26]Laynie: [00:26:26] And where those visual cues kind of also come in and I get in trouble a lot with this. So you have to make sure you're doing it in moderation and not as an excuse not to. write but just getting on Pinterest or somewhere else, looking at images that you feel fits your book. So if you're writing fantasy, you know that has the nice ball gowns and things like that. Looking at those, looking at fantasy worlds, just kind of, kind of getting an idea Of what that world looks like. Even if it's contemporary, you know, [00:27:00] where's the setting, what are the people look like? Why don't you like the fan cast, your cast, you know, things like that. And as you're looking, it generates ideas because you're delving yourself in that world.

[00:27:14] But in a different way than expecting yourself to write the words down. But I, as I said, I get in trouble for that because I'll be supposed to be writing. And Mary Beth will be like, what are you doing? And I'll post a new aesthetic. And she's like, is that what you're supposed to be? doing

[00:27:29] MB: [00:27:29] Here's a book cover for a book I haven't even talked about before. It's like, Oh, Great. So we're gonna be writing this one too. I'm I'm bad at that though, too.

[00:27:39]I have so many ideas. I mean, if anyone follows me on Wattpad, not plugging, just saying, you'll see so many of my unfinished stories there because I will get a cover. And it's go time.

[00:27:54] I will get a title, I'll get a cover. And then I'm like, okay, let's do this.

[00:27:59] Laynie: [00:27:59] Wasn't Lady [00:28:00] Mutiny just based on the cover or was that Cut to the Bone

[00:28:03] No,

[00:28:03] MB: [00:28:03] That was Cut to the Bone I, like said, I'm a pantser. I was. I was actually bored once. I was bored. I'm like, I need something new. So I had asked an acquaintance at the time to give me a title with a cover, anything, make it whatever you want and I'll write the story on it.

[00:28:19] And so she sent me this cover red and black and white with antlers and dark and bloody. And I'm like, sweet. It's called Cut to the Bone. I can do this. And 80,000 words later, it's probably my favorite story I've written to date, but I can be visual too. So that's, that's the other thing, like I can be visual too, and sometimes that can help get the writer's block broken,

[00:28:42]An aesthetic, a new cover, some other form of social media, graphic or something, anything that you feel can creatively give you a jumpstart.

[00:28:52] Laynie: [00:28:52] Yeah, that's usually one of the first things we do before we even really have an outline when we go to co-write,  we usually have [00:29:00] some sort of aesthetic that we put together. We have one for stories we haven't even written yet. Stories that we joked about writing like Gay Gatsby.

[00:29:09] MB: [00:29:09] It will happen!

[00:29:12] Laynie: [00:29:12] And we generally usually have an aesthetic to go on before we even start writing.

[00:29:17] Or I like to do the thing where I get in Canva and make my own mockup book covers, which don't normally make it to the covers because we have professionals who do that for us.

[00:29:28] MB: [00:29:28] But its still fun!

[00:29:30] That's what it is. So, we're also, you know, working on a new story because we said we weren't going to do anymore. And here we are doing another one. And right now Laynie and I are both working on getting the cover done so that we can start writing. And I know it sounds bizarre, but that's also how I work as well.

[00:29:47] Do we have a cover? Great. Let's start, you know, if we can get a cover into a Google document. I think I can be ready to go because it's at least that one step closer than just talking about an idea. Yeah. It's actually doing the idea.

[00:29:59] Laynie: [00:29:59] There's [00:30:00] also, MaryBeth is getting excited because she knows what's coming. There's also something else that helps us actually get, get words on page that, locks us into, 30 days to write a 50,000 word novel. And it is the only way that MaryBeth's stories get written most of the time.

[00:30:18] MB: [00:30:18] It's the only way MaryBeth's stories ever get written! National novel writing month NaNoWriMo, November. So anybody who doesn't know NaNoWriMo. National novel writing month is run by a nonprofit and it is to get people writing. It is the best and worst thing for the writing community, but it's also, so the best thing and worst thing for me.

[00:30:44] So the golden, my mouth is you have 30 days. The whole month of November, November 1st to 30th, to write a novel and pertinent around those rules. It is 50,000 words. So the original rules of NaNoWriMo were that the project you were going to work on had to [00:31:00] be original brand new. They wanted to be a fresh project, 50,000 words. Start to finish in the month of November .  Recently in the last year or so they they've allowed us to be quote unquote rebels in that you can do whatever you want. Not so much not write 50,000 words, cause that is the end goal, but you can work on multiple projects. They actually are also, I take that back cause they're actually allowing people to start clocking their time instead of their words.

[00:31:28] Laynie: [00:31:28] Which helps with editing

[00:31:29] MB: [00:31:29] Definitely helps with editing, camp NaNoWriMo, which is currently going on right now, actually is allowing, a session word count as opposed to an overall word count, which I can say has been helping. Cause my editing words have been towards my camp, you know, count this this month.

[00:31:44] But that's neither here nor there. Hey, so NaNoWriMo 50,000 words, 30 days, you want to talk about a deadline? Let me tell you about a deadline, because this is the biggest deadline nine of my year. And for some reason it works and I know it doesn't work for everybody, but it works for [00:32:00] me. And I think it's because I have a whole year.

[00:32:03] To psych myself up for it, knowing that for one month, 30 days, I have to write 1,667 words a day to stay on track. It's coming back as a alive, especially when you do miss your deadline, the daily deadlines. You're trying to catch up to stay on track. I think I have a record of writing over 7,000 words in one day, trying to catch up. I would never suggest it to anybody on a daily basis. But it's that motivation and it helps me, like I said, helps me get my drafts done. I am a fast drafter. I just like to get the words out, get the general idea of my stories, my dialogue, my characters, get that out on the paper, get that draft done and then go on from there. So that also goes back to what we were talking about earlier, where it's okay to make mistakes. It doesn't have to be perfect. If you're writing in WriMo, it shouldn't be perfect. One of the rules is that no, I shouldn't say rules, but one of the things that I say to anybody I talk to about [00:33:00] it, and a lot of other people say- is never edit in NaNoWriMo. Edit when you're done. Don't edit as you go. I think I can apply that to a lot of, you know, writing in general, but NaNoWriMo or downwards count, move forward. And like I said, for me, that is my motivation. That is my kick in the butt to draft something, new, something I had, we were working on before or something, or something I was thinking about. And finally get to, or in my case, a sequel to books that I have been writing for years.

[00:33:28]So my debut series, The Empire Saga, I can happily say all except- nope, even that one- all of those books were written during NaNoWriMo. So the only way I was able to get four full length books done in that much time was because of a 50,000 word, 30 day deadline limit.

[00:33:49] So not that I saying this works for everybody, but. It works for me and I will continue to do it.

[00:33:54]I will continue to rally anybody to join me in doing it.

[00:33:58]It is [00:34:00] refreshing, as masochistic as it sounds, because there's also a community to it.

[00:34:04]Like I said, it's only for a month. So if you have the time, the motivation, the drive.  You know, psych yourself up. I think, we generally take the whole month of October, they call it Plantober, so that we can plan it. We can set ourselves up, we can talk about it. And then once November hits it's go time.

[00:34:21]So as the year goes on, I'm sure Laynie and I will talk about it again.

[00:34:24] We'll be in touch. I'll be in touch. If anyone follows me on social media, I'm always talking about NaNoWriMo and getting groups together. So, I'll definitely keep people updated with what I'm doing this year is let me know what you're doing this year. And then together, we can tackle the beast of new writing new projects in 30 days.

[00:34:42] Laynie: [00:34:42] So, so camp allows you to make groups and you interact with, other people in your group to encourage each other, to hold each other accountable. NaNoWriMo, the actual big one in November, you have your regional groups that you can choose to join. And I've [00:35:00] actually, I went to write-ins and launches with my regional group here in Birmingham, Alabama, and they call themselves the Birmingham Wrimos', which is a very simple name. Um, and they will meet Tuesdays and Thursdays at, you know, a Panera Bread or a local library.

[00:35:18] And you come in, you play games, they have a box that has different, different plot things in it. And you pull it out and you make a story out of that plot or, or you come in and you write quietly and you report your word, count, things like that to encourage you to keep going. Because having that social aspect to it definitely helps keep you accountable.

[00:35:38] Cause even if you don't want to sit down and start writing, you don't want to let these other people down because your word count counts in NaNoWriMo towards the regional count at the end of the month. And all the regional counts are listed on the website and people that have the most get little stickers and, and that sort of thing.  So the community aspect of it is definitely what makes [00:36:00] NaNoWriMo appealing to me. To hold me accountable and, and, you know, get, get me around people who have the same goal in mind as I do and are going through the same things that I am. We have a couple of published writers in our regional group, as well as, a lot of times you'll get high school students who their English teacher told them about it or people who are, have been interested in writing, but they, they're not really sure how to begin and it's kind of all levels. And it reminds you, you know, if you're more advanced author, it reminds you where you came from and kind of starts a little fire in you. If you're a beginning writer, it puts you around people who, who have been in the industry a little bit longer. There's definitely a variety of people and it expands your horizons a little bit.

[00:36:43] MB: [00:36:43] Yeah, no, we, locally we have a little group of us, you know, it's varies between three of us, five, six of us,

[00:36:51]that during the month of November NaNoWriMo, we meet at a Panera every Sunday. And I'm really actually curious to see what's going to happen this November, [00:37:00] because like you said, like it's a little sense of community for me.  I had that to look forward to every week we would meet on Sunday mornings. So every Sunday morning during the month of November, me and this group would meet at a local Panera and we'd be there for hours and we would write and we'd write together and we talk about writing or just catch up and just, you know, commiserate.

[00:37:19]So it will be interesting to see, you know, how the world looks, you know, in a few months, once NaNoWriMo comes along, you know, will we have that ability to, to go back out and, and, you know, have these writings like we used

[00:37:31] Laynie: [00:37:31] to.

[00:37:31] And, I know one of the things that my local did is they have a midnight kickoff at 12:00 AM, our local time on November 1st. And if you can stand to stay up til  midnight, which,most of the time I'm out by then.

[00:37:49] But they're excited and they're ready to go. And that energy is infectious and it gets you excited and ready to go. And it is online. It's virtual. We're not at each other's house at midnight, [00:38:00] but.

[00:38:00] MB: [00:38:00] You could be.

[00:38:03] Laynie: [00:38:03] Yeah, that's a story in itself, but, but we virtually, you know, chat room with other people who are doing the same thing as you and, and even virtually it gets you excited.

[00:38:13] And I predict that we'll see a lot more of those virtual write-ins. As we go forward. Another thing that promotes community. And if, if you're like me or in the, we really like video games, like MB was talking about her Animal Crossing  we've always been gamers as well as writers. And apparently we're not the only ones because a company came out and they created what's called 4theWords, the number four, and then the words, And it is a way to not only have a community with other authors, but also encourage you to actually get words down because it is a game in and of itself. You assigned missions, you can trade things for other things. You have an avatar that you. [00:39:00] Collect collect pieces of, of wardrobe or different hair, different facial modifications, and you get all of that stuff.

[00:39:07] And you're able to do all of that stuff because you select the monsters that you would like to fight. And then you have a word count and a time. And if you finish that word count by that time, you have slammed that monster and they can draw up random stuff that you can then trade or use or, or however you do it.

[00:39:25] And so that's been a way for me. During NaNoWriMo last year, they gave a free month. We both got the free month and we were like, we're going to try this out, but then.

[00:39:33] MB: [00:39:33] Mine has since expired.

[00:39:35] Laynie: [00:39:35] But then I kind of stuck with it because it helps me have more of a goal than just, okay. Yeah. I want to see a thousand words done today. Instead it goes, you know, I think I'd really want that t-shirt so I'm going to write this amount so that I can get that t-shirt or I can complete this objective or I can, you know, however you're looking at it. It definitely helps encourage you to get those words down. So it's [00:40:00] definitely something that, you know, I suggest if you're into that sort of thing you might want to check it out.

[00:40:05] So that being said, if you've tried everything that we have talked about in the last hour and still cannot write, maybe send us a message and let us know what you did to break it, because we are very curious.

[00:40:15] MB: [00:40:15] Yeah. and again, we do love, love hearing from you. So if, if one of these things worked for you, one of these things didn't, one of these things we mentioned, you think could be tweaked.  If one of these things that we mentioned you think we could, focus on a little bit more and maybe, think we may get a great topic-  always reach out to us and let us know, if you liked what we said, if you didn't like what we said. We love feedback.

[00:40:34] And we love to know what works for you. If you have found something else other than what we've mentioned here, because we know there are other things, this is just, you know, the, the broad overview of what works for us.

[00:40:45] Laynie: [00:40:45] Yep! So for some news about some authors who didn't have problems, getting their words on a page, we're going to move and give everybody an update on Sword and Silk. Because this podcast was originally generated, from our [00:41:00] Kickstarter, which helped us to make the opening of Sword and Silk books the  best it could possibly be. So of course, we want to mention that. And let our backers and our readers know what's coming at them. And we have a couple of updates right now.

[00:41:18] If you haven't listened to our first podcast, it would be a good time to do so.

[00:41:25] MB: [00:41:25] Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

[00:41:28] Laynie: [00:41:28] Because we did announce our first two authors on that podcast, which are Justine's, Never Say Never. And Haileigh's A Feeling Like Home, which will be the first two books that come out from Sword and Silk books.

[00:41:41] And they will be what's included in the Sword and Silk book boxes, which are our rewards for our Kickstarter.

[00:41:48]But we now have a third author, so we're, we're filling up. We're filling out quite well.

[00:41:55] MB: [00:41:55] Why thank you.

[00:42:00] [00:42:00] Laynie: [00:42:00] So MaryBeth do you want to tell them?

[00:42:02] MB: [00:42:02] Yes! So if you're a fan of. Everything that I'm a fan of you are going to love The Almost Queen by, Alys Murray. We have fallen in love with this fantasy story. Wven Nicole, our submission intern, not to call her out, but she's not a fantasy reader. And this story pulled her in. So we are so, so, so excited to have Alys as part of the sword and silk family

[00:42:31] Laynie: [00:42:31] And tell you a little bit about it. So it is NA it's new it's old, which is something that when we opened the company, we did not want to overlook that age group, because it is so often overlooked by traditional publishers.

[00:42:47] It is fantasy. Of course.

[00:42:52] MB: [00:42:52] It is a new adult fantasy. If you didn't know it's a new adult fantasy.

[00:42:56] Laynie: [00:42:56] Well, we did have people come back and say, well, I didn't submit [00:43:00] to Sword and Silk because I thought you were only doing fantasy. And we were like, wait a second, wait, we never said that we like all the books.

[00:43:08] MB: [00:43:08] We like all the books. I mean, yeah. I mean, even our first others are contemporaries. I would love all the fantasy, but I know that there are some amazing people out there who don't write fantasy.

[00:43:20]But yeah, no, we, everything I just happened to be, this is actually our first fantasy.

[00:43:25] Laynie: [00:43:25] It is our first fantasy.

[00:43:27]Well, so Never Say Never is fantasy leaning, but it doesn't fall over that cliff.

[00:43:32]Almost Queen is very, very fantasy.

[00:43:36] It takes place in another realm in another world, which is war torn at the beginning of the book and it follows a green skinned witch,

[00:43:44]and it, follows her through the war has stopped and the, witches were on the losing side and she's looking for freedom for her people. The new King is looking for a queen.

[00:43:56] MB: [00:43:56] Hehehe

[00:43:56] Laynie: [00:43:56] and the [00:44:00] deal that they strike will change both of their worlds forever.

[00:44:09] Love

[00:44:10] MB: [00:44:10] it. I'm so excited. I hope everyone's excited for his book because. It's all of our books are fantastic. This book is fantastic. I'm so excited to have this as part of our upcoming catalog.

[00:44:21] Laynie: [00:44:21] So in addition to taking on Alys as our new author, we also had another exciting thing go on earlier this month, which was, I arrived home to 300 book boxes. They don't have books in them yet. They're not ready to be sent out. Of course, cause we're still working. Our editor is hard at work right now and actually one of our authors has already received her edits back and reviewing them. We are, we are in the thick of it. But the, the books aren't quite ready yet for the book boxes, but the [00:45:00] boxes are here.

[00:45:00] They are, the boxes are waiting for said books. They are, and they are adorable. So if anybody's familiar with the Sword and Silk brand, and if you're not, you know, there's probably a picture of the podcast up right now where you can see the pink silk sash that goes across and that sort of thing, which we were so amazingly lucky to have Lucy makeup for us.

[00:45:25]So that imagery has transferred over into the boxes. The boxes will be undeniably Sword and Silk when they arrive in the inboxes.

[00:45:36] MB: [00:45:36] No denying us!

[00:45:39] Laynie: [00:45:39] In the mailboxes of those backers. Those came in and we all got excited and I showed pictures and our staff got excited and it's definitely going to be an undertaking. And my fingers are probably going to be very sore, putting them all together, but it's okay. It's worth it. We knew what we were getting into. I don't know if our authors did cause when I was like, okay, so I'm going to have to send you like [00:46:00] 50 arcs that you're going to have to hand sign and then ship back to me.

[00:46:03] MB: [00:46:03] Have fun!

[00:46:05] Laynie: [00:46:05] Okay.

[00:46:06] MB: [00:46:06] I think we should send like a wrist brace with every box of books. Here you go and your Sharpie have fun.

[00:46:13] Laynie: [00:46:13] Sorry about this.

[00:46:17] MB: [00:46:17] Oh, by the way, we need it next week.

[00:46:20] Laynie: [00:46:20] And as always, Kristin,our blog Maven, has been putting out some amazing books. If you didn't know on Wednesday, she does right. Or Wednesdays, which, tend to go into more of the craft side of writing. And then on Fridays, she does fun Fridays, which goes into more of the reader side. And she's covered a variety of topics. She did an entire pride series for pride month, and things like lesser known pen names, which was one of my favorite blog posts, because I had no idea about some of them. And, things like representation and pride, within the, writing community. And she goes over helpful things, things that make you a better writer, she goes over her fun things like [00:47:00] bookshelf bingo,

[00:47:00]And just generally keeps everybody both up to date on Sword and Silk and entertained and educated.

[00:47:07]So while we try to do something similar in this podcast, once a month, Kristin is there twice a week, every week, putting out these blog posts. And it's just amazing to me how she comes out with such amazing content over and over and over again. In the blog  on Friday and then our Kickstarter update, we sent out a link and opened up our reader group on Facebook. So if, if you want to come talk to people who are excited about Sword and Silk books, if you want to talk to staff, if you want to talk to our authors, it's the place to do that.

[00:47:39]Our intern JM is going to be in there, with memes and games and things like that, to keep everybody connected and engaged.

[00:47:49]So I'll put a link to that with this podcast. They'll also be on our website, in the blog and in our Kickstarter updates. So, make sure you check that out. And [00:48:00] then MaryBeth, you want to tell them the SSpitch cause that's your baby.

[00:48:03] MB: [00:48:03] It is my baby. So, as we go through submissions  it's, it's funny that that's someone said, I thought you were only fantasy because I don't know if it's that we seem like we're only fantasy or if that's just what's out there, but we realize. That in and doing this, like, we need more and I don't say we need more submissions cause I may have who doesn't want more submissions, but we want to see more things we want to see what's out there. Yep. So we participated in PitDark. We've been in Pitmad. We we've tried to get involved in a few different, pitching contests on on Twitter and we've love it.  So we thought, what if we didn't so much do a contest, but opened up a little bit more to the community to fine tune almost what we want to see.

[00:48:49] Cause there's so much out there. So instead of us looking through the seas of the algorithm, why don't we try to bring it a little bit more close to home? [00:49:00] So that is where SSpitch has been born. So. On August 7th, we are going to host between 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM Eastern standard time because Boston represent, we are going to host #SSpitch, wherein we want you all, who have stories, to pitch to us.

[00:49:19]We want to see what you have. Everything we like, we will just, as per you know, normal Twitter pitch contest, we will ask you to submit to us, the query letter, the synopsis first 50 pages. The thing about SS pitch is that every submission we request and receive, we will respond with not a form rejection or acceptance of whatever we want to give back.

[00:49:43] So we will give everyone an in depth critique of their first 50 pages. So that being said, If you have a story that fits our wishlist. And at this time we are looking for female centric horror or thrillers. We want innovative fantasy [00:50:00] with romantic elements. Give us twists on the classic tropes, especially those that make the tropes seem more inclusive and diverse. We want, feel good contemporaries, underlying messages of hope and togetherness and twisty, suspense, and mystery.

[00:50:13]If any of those sound like something you have, consider pitching it to us on August 7th. We do want to reach out and do just want to say we're not exactly good right now for picture books, middle grade poetry, nonfiction, or erotica.

[00:50:26] Sorry, but anything else, you know, between YA, NA, adult - anything you think you have that could definitely fit into what we're looking for, please consider pitching it to us on August 7th, #SSPitch.

[00:50:42]We do have information about it on our Twitter at SwordSilkBooks.

[00:50:46]And I think it's up on the blog and on our website and we'll definitely be talking about it a few more times, definitely before the actual date. But you know, spread the word, let people know if you're interested, feel free to reach out to ' us on Twitter, [00:51:00] Facebook, social media, whatever.  Feel free to reach out to us, ask those questions and hopefully we'll see you on August 7th.

[00:51:07] Laynie: [00:51:07] Yeah. And when in doubt, just ask. Yeah. Like, like in MB said we're responsive. We're not, we don't want to be that publisher who is standoffish, that people are afraid to come to There's not really any stupid questions as far as, as we would rather you ask then to count yourself out on something that we would absolutely love.

[00:51:27]Even if it's just about the way SS pitch is going to go down or about our wishlist, if you don't think that what you have is a good fit and you just want to make sure, we're always open and available.

[00:51:38]So as MB said, if you want more information on SSpitch or just us as a company, you can find us on social media.

[00:51:46] We're on Twitter at SwordSilkBooks, and then on Instagram at SwordandSilkBooks, on Facebook at SwordandSilkBooks, or you can always use it or website at [00:52:00] Where we provide updates, and links to the blog posts, which are great for finding out more about us as a company as well.

[00:52:08]We are always listening, and we try to stay as involved as possible in the community to be there to answer questions, to be there to give updates, to let everybody know what's going on. One thing that MB and I we're very particular about when we started this company is the level of transparency.

[00:52:27] People who have listened to our first podcast have noted. That we are very vulnerable when we talk about things. We don't hide anything. We're not, we're not here to give off a level of ego or, or bravado.

[00:52:43]What you see is what you get with us when it comes to publishing, when it comes to writing, when it comes to everything that we've been through,

[00:52:48]We experienced it and for a reason, And that reason is to help other people through it, to learn from it, to grow and if we can help other people by being vulnerable and by being [00:53:00] upfront, about it -not only what we're doing now, but also what we've been through, then it's worth it.

[00:53:04]We never want to, to be the allusive wizard behind the curtain. We always wanted be right out in front and letting everybody know what's going on. That is, as best as we can bring to the table.

[00:53:17]So that being said, it's probably about times to wrap this up.

[00:53:21] MB: [00:53:21] We could just keep going on.

[00:53:25] Laynie: [00:53:25] This is why staff meetings take hours. So we wanted to say thank you to our kickstarter backers to our followers, to everyone who is excited and say, thank you so much for everything that you guys have done to get us to this point and for your continued support and your continued patience, because I know it feels like these books take a really long time to come out.

[00:53:50] It feels like that to us too, but it is to make sure that we are providing the best quality possible. And so we wanted to say, thank you guys. We wanted to, to show [00:54:00] you that we, we do appreciate you. We are listening.

[00:54:03]And we, we are more than grateful that you have stuck with us, that you've been there and, and that you've allowed us to get this far.

[00:54:12] That we have a podcast and a website and signed authors and book boxes without books. And so we wanted to say, thank you. And we wanted to wrap this up because we have probably been rambling in your ears for close to an hour now

[00:54:28] MB: [00:54:28] And we have writing we should be doing!

[00:54:31] Laynie: [00:54:31] And we have writing and publishing things to do. Thank you guys for joining us and until next time,

[00:54:37] MB: [00:54:37] Bye.

[00:54:40] Voice Over: [00:54:40] Thanks for joining us today.

[00:54:41] To find out more about sword and silk, the company, visit our website at


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