Writing For An Anthology

I was invited by one of my author friends to participate in an anthology. It’s coming out this Halloween, and I’m really excited about it. This will be my second published work this year (following the release of my debut novel, “Follow the Hummingbird”, in July), and it means so much to me, since I only started writing last year. 

I saw a lot of authors participate in different anthologies, and have always thought that it must be a great experience. You’re writing your own story, but at the same time you’re part of a team. It’s a challenge because there is a certain topic/theme/genre your story needs to be in. Besides, there is a deadline, which makes it even trickier. 

In my case, the deadline felt tight. I learned about the anthology on August 22nd, and at that point I didn’t have a story that would be a fit for the project. I needed to create it. I needed to come up with an idea, and then have it written, professionally edited and proofread within less than two months – because the release date is October 31st, and of course, the stories have to be submitted in advance. 

So yes, this was definitely a challenge. I know that some other authors had stories that were already completed, but others, like me, had to write them from scratch. 

The wordcount range was from 5K to 35K.

As someone with very limited time for writing, I had my doubts. I really wanted to take part in the project, but I wasn’t sure I could make it. I had nothing at that point. I had started to work on two other writing projects by that time, so I’d have to put them aside and focus on the third one instead. I am a toddler mom, so most of my writing happens late at night, if I have any energy left after chasing my super active 2-year-old the whole day. Sometimes I sneak in some writing during his naps in the day. But I don’t have the type of schedule where I can make or keep firm commitments. 

But I thought, maybe I can manage to write 5000 words in a month. (The second month I intended to use for editing). I was nervous, a bit overwhelmed and excited all at once.

So I decided to accept the offer and take part in the project. I paid the anthology buy-in straightaway, before I could change my mind, and started thinking of the story.

I didn’t have to wait for inspiration. The story idea just came to me that same evening. I couldn’t sleep until 2 a.m. and kept thinking about it and writing down all the ideas in the notes on my phone. And then I decided to start writing. So I wrote a little bit of the opening scene. Then I woke up early the next morning, and while my little hurricane was still asleep, I continued writing. By the time my son woke up, I had 2,000 words of the new story written. 

In just a few days, I finished the story, having written 11,000 words in total. All that time I couldn’t think about anything else except the new world I had created and the characters and their adventures. 

My husband read the story and thought it was great. He even commented on how the story could easily be expanded into a novel. 

Then I heard the same from my editor. 

I am now thinking that I could expand this novelette into a novella and make it a prequel to a bigger story, or maybe even a series. 

I know for sure that this story has great potential. I can feel it. And I’m so grateful that it just came to me, exactly when I needed it.

I’m looking back now and thinking that a couple of months ago it wasn’t even in my plans. I had just released my debut novel, and started working on book 2 of the series, making peace with the fact that I wouldn’t release anything any time soon. 

Now, I have a whole new story that will be available to readers in a couple weeks. 

Isn’t this amazing?

Another beautiful thing about taking part in an anthology is working as a team with other writers. I have met some wonderful people there. Besides, spreading the word about your new release is so much easier when you join forces with other authors! 

Thanks to this anthology, I’ve been in Halloween mood since the end of August. And of course, while writing a story about a witch, I just had to buy a witch hat!

I’m finishing the edits this week and sending out my story, “The Secret Spell”, to the organizers. It will be formatted along with the other stories, and at the end of this month we’ll be celebrating the release of our anthology, “The Season Of The Witch.” The cover has already been created, and the book is available for pre-order on Amazon.

So I can say that my first experience of writing for an anthology was very positive, inspiring and encouraging. It was a challenge, and it was great fun at the same time.

I’ll definitely be participating in other anthologies in the future. Although for the next few months my priority is writing the next novel in my series. I’ve even decided to try NaNoWriMo this year – but that’s a topic for a separate blog post. 

If you want to check out our awesome witchy anthology, you can find it here:

Author Spotlight: Julie Embleton

Today I would like to introduce Julie Embleton to you. Julie is a new adult fantasy author. She is also famous in the writing community for her extensive support to indie authors. And on top of all that, she’s just an amazing person who kindly agreed to answer some of my questions today.

Let’s dive in.

Hey, Julie! Thanks again for finding the time to do this. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself, please?

I’m an Irish lass, and I live right beside the Irish Sea in north County Dublin. I lived abroad for many years, but always missed Ireland—yes, even the weather. 

I write paranormal fantasy for the New Adult genre, so readers will find vampires, werewolves, witches and all sort of other paranormal folk in my tales. I’ve also written short stories for two fairytale retelling anthologies.

When not crafting stories from the voices in my head, you’ll find me with my tarot cards. I’ve been working as a professional tarot reader for the last six years and will soon be launching my brand new tarot website: www.creativesoultarot.com. The occult fascinates me, and I’m looking forward to sharing this passion through my blog, while continuing to offer guidance with tarot.

My career background has hotel management and HR, but I’ve just been made redundant after eighteen years with the same company, and am now taking the next year to work for myself as both an author and tarot reader, so exciting times ahead! 

I’m a mum to a sassy teenager, and slave to two crazy cats.

You can find me www.julieembleton.com or @julieembletonauthor on Instagram

I just love it how you described the essence of the human-feline relationships! Have you always wanted to become a writer? Or were there any other dreams?

I never dreamed of being an author. I loved books as a kid and was an avid reader, but the idea of writing didn’t kick in until I was a teenager and we studied creative writing in school. From then on I wrote dozens of stories, but they were always just for me. 

As a kid, I wanted to be a nurse, but after a stay in hospital, I realised it involved dealing with puke, so I dropped that idea like a hot potato. I then fell in love with art, and soon settled on becoming a graphic designer which I now hold a degree in, but shame on me, I never followed it as a career. I fell into Hotel Management, then HR, but along the way, carried on scribbling my stories until I decided to brave independent publishing in 2013. I’m due to publish my eighth book in September 2021. 

Oh, wow, this is amazing! Eighth book! Congratulations! What is the thing you enjoy most about writing?

The escapism. It’s daydreaming on a grand scale, and I get paid for it too! For me, there’s nothing more addictive than the creative flow where plots, characters and dialogue pour onto the page. When I’m in that zone, reality fades into the background. Time stops too. That in-between place makes me feel like I’m living in a different dimension and sometimes it’s hard to come back to reality.     

I know what you mean. Love that feeling! What, in your opinion, is the hardest part of being a writer?

The marketing. I think for the most part that authors are an introverted lot, so putting ourselves out there and shouting for attention is as unpleasant as a hot needle to the eyeball. The self-publishing industry has changed so much since I first began, and keeping on top of trends, skills and technology is a full time job in itself. Over the next year I’m planning deep dives into Amazon ads and other marketing tools. A lot of my fellow authors are as mystified about these strategies as I am, so I’m hoping to blog about my findings!

Amazon ads. 🙈 Still dreading the thought of diving into that. I’ll be looking forward to reading about your experience! But back to your writing — please tell us more about your book series!

The Voyager Chronicles series is a trilogy that flips between the modern and medieval, with realm-hopping, sorcery shenanigans, despicable villains, gutsy heroes and heroines, and a sprinkle of romance.

In order, the titles are: The Dawning, The Veiling, The Claiming. 

The Turning Moon series is centred around two werewolf packs and the paranormal threats they face from demons, fellow werewolves and even vampires. While my books are not classed as romance, there’s always romantic suspense within the plot, as I love a good happy ever after and can’t resist playing matchmaker with my characters. My next release, Torn, is book four of the Turning Moon, and book five is already under way!  In order, the titles are: Bound, Released, Haunted, Torn (due September 2021) 

Congrats again on the upcoming release! The series sound absolutely awesome! Here’s another thing I wanted to ask you: you are known in the Instagram writing community for the support you provide to indie authors. Can you tell us a bit more about that? When and why did you decide to start doing it? How did the famous #selfpromotesunday come into existence?

Following a conversation with a fellow author who worried she was being pushy when she self-promoted, (there’s that pesky fear of marketing again) I started the tag so indie authors could come together to share their work, with the emphasis on their post being a shameless self-promote. With a dedicated weekly tag, I wanted to give authors the opportunity to shout about their work, but also have a place to meet new friends, offer support and encouragement, ask for advice, and of course, add even more titles to heaving To Be Read piles. I didn’t think it would become as popular as it is. Even now, I get authors messaging me to say it’s the only time they promote and feel like they have the ‘right’ to because they’re using the tag. I’ve met dozens of my author friends through #selfpromotesunday and have discovered some of my favourite indie books through it too. When I first started, there were only two posts that had ever used the tag, now there are over 5000! As the host, I do my best to comment on every post, and I also share many posts on my stories, just to spread the bookish goodness even farther. 

5000 posts! Julie, this is incredible! Thank you again for everything you do for indie authors! I remember that your account was blocked by Instagram, and you had to start from scratch again. That was so amazing! Not the fact that you lost your account, of course. You know what I mean. 😅 My sincere admiration to you! Why do you think it happened? Any advice on how to prevent it? Where did you find the strength and patience to do it all over again? By the way, you’re an absolute star! ⭐️

Ah, Instagram. The platform I love to hate. In January of 2021 I did unfortunately get locked out of my @julie_embleton account. Two years before then, I had downloaded a follow/unfollow app which I used a few times, found useless and forgot all about. I came across a warning on another platform about Instagram cracking down on accounts using third party apps like Later, Repost, Follow/Unfollow apps etc, and as I never used the follow app, I decided to delete it. I opened the app to see what steps I needed to take before deleting it, but because I hadn’t used it in so long, and had gained almost 2.3k followers since I’d last opened it, my guess is that it connected to Instagram and they flagged it as a phising attempt. Now when I try to log in to my old account I’m told I need to request a security code to prove it’s me accessing my account. I’ve requested it over and over since January, but the email never arrives (even though they can still email the same address with reminders of what I’ve missed since I last logged on to the account. Go figure, eh?) 

From what I’ve heard, I’ll never get the account back which is disappointing. It’s not the end of the world, but it’s been tough starting from scratch all over again. I had almost 2.5k followers, but thankfully, within days of opening my new account, @julieembletonauthor lots of my Instagram friends immediately followed so I wasn’t left in the wilderness. I still use Later and Repost with my new account, but will definitely stay away from the follow/unfollow apps. I’d encourage users to do research into any apps that link to Instagram. I know lots of people who’ve been locked out and all are still out in the cold like me with years of work lost. There’s no direct customer service in Instagram, so pleas and request for help fall on deaf ears. I now have an account on MeWe and Vero, but Instagram is my main platform, even though I’d punch it in the throat if I could.  

Oh, goodness, I’m glad that I have no idea how to use those apps – I guess it’s safer this way. 😅 And yes, if I were you, I’d definitely want to punch it in the throat too. 🙈 Here’s another question. Considering how much kindness and support you’re giving out to others, I really hope you’re getting it back too! Are you?

Yes, most definitely, but I don’t keep score! When I get excited about a book, I have to shout about it, it’s as simple as that. And I really enjoy sharing the Self Promote Sunday posts because I know for some authors, it’s not easy to put themselves out there, so a share here and there is simply spreading the love. 

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?  

Read, write, read, write, read, write. The more you read, the more technical skill you’ll develop and employ. The more your write, the stronger your unique voice will become. 

Dream big, believe in yourself, and don’t let anyone talk you down. 

I think finding your tribe is vital, too. When you gather with people who are on your wavelength and aspiring for similar goals, there’s no ladder with ‘top and bottom’ achievers, it’s just everyone walking hand in hand, helping each other along the way. Your tribe are also the people who’ll nudge you out of your comfort zone and help you take bigger, braver steps that you mightn’t have taken on your own. But most importantly, they’re the people who’ll champion you and be there for your wins and fails!

Thank you for the brilliant advice, Julie! I couldn’t agree more about the importance of finding your tribe. I’m forever grateful for all the support I have received (and keep receiving) from the writing community. And I try to do my best to pay it forward. Once again, thank you for everything and I’m wishing you tremendous success in everything you do!

Are You Proud Of Yourself?

“You should be proud of yourself,” my husband said. “You wrote a book.”

It was nice to hear. It meant a lot. He went on to tell me how much I have achieved and how proud he was of me. 

I keep thinking about his words. Something was bothering me. And I realized what it was. 

I understand that I should be proud of myself. I wrote a book. Me. By myself. In English, which isn’t even my native language. While raising a baby. And a teenager (nope, it’s not easier, I’m sure parents of teenagers will understand.)

I wrote a whole novel. 

Why do I not feel proud?

I mean, I do feel good about it. I love my story. I know that after this final round of edits that I’m doing now it will shine even brighter. I can’t wait to share it with the world. I do believe that it’s going to be a great book. 

But where’s that overwhelming feeling of joy and pride? Where’s the “Wow, I’m so awesome, I did it” moment? 

It’s not there. There’s a whole lot of other things though. There’s “I probably could’ve done it better”; there’s “Okay, so you wrote a book, good, now get to the publishing and marketing side of things, too much to learn and do, no time to lose”; there’s “I need to write more, only where do I find the time, look, other authors are writing and releasing several books a year”. And there’s a bunch of other disturbing thoughts and worries. I’m steaming ahead in an attempt to catch up, to make up for the time I “lost” (I know it’s a misperception, but it happens when you’re dreaming of writing all your life but only start doing it when you’re 41).

And I guess I’m in too much of a rush to pause, look back at what I’ve achieved, and feel the pride. The key word here is feel. Not just understand, acknowledge or think of it as a fact. It’s important to attach some emotion to it.

Like a kid bringing home an award or a trophy from school, beaming with happiness. 

That kind of proud. 

I tried to remember the last time I felt anything like that. I couldn’t. 

I know the feeling, though, because I feel proud of other people. 

Earlier today my niece called me with some great news about her work. It’s something that she learned quite recently, and she made incredible progress in a short period of time. And now she has people who want to learn it from her. She was so thrilled to get a request from a student; her voice was filled with so much genuine happiness and pride – I could hear it although we’re thousands of miles apart and I couldn’t see her face. And I felt that pride and happiness for her. You know, that somewhat ticklish feeling of warmth in your chest, like you have your own little sun there caressing your heart with its rays.

I feel proud of my kids for their successes, big or small. Sometimes it’s so overwhelming it makes me want to cry.

I feel proud of my husband for all his accomplishments and achievements.

Why am I not that generous with pride when it comes to myself? Why do I get a “well done” and a virtual pat on the back from myself (okay, maybe a little treat sometimes too), but not the genuine feeling of pride? 

Why do I find time to write long to-do lists and set tons of reminders, but don’t find time to write a list of things that I’m proud of? 

Because first of all, I need to allow myself to be proud of my own achievements. 

I’ll imagine there’s a ‘Settings’ menu somewhere inside my mind, and all I need to do is open that menu, find the “Appreciate yourself and feel proud” option, and hit ‘Allow’. Done. 

And then I’ll write down a list of things that I’m proud of. Most probably, it won’t be that easy at the start. But I’ll still try. 

And when I succeed (because of course I will succeed), I will look at the list of my achievements and I will take each and every thing on it and infuse it with a feeling. A feeling of pride and happiness. A feeling of joy, fulfillment and gratification. 

I want to sit there with my eyes closed and a huge smile on my face, thinking about how amazing and cool I am.

I want you to do the same. (Well, with your own achievements though. But feel free to think that I’m amazing too, I won’t mind.) 

Go change your inner settings and make that list. What have you done (recently or years ago, it doesn’t matter) that makes you feel happy and proud? 

I’ll start. 

  1. I wrote a book.

Your turn.

The Magic of Storytelling

I miss my story and my characters. 

“Follow the Hummingbird” is entering the final editing stage. I’m still receiving feedback from beta-readers, and it’s such a bitter-sweet feeling — I know I will go back to that world and tweak some things, but I miss the writing process. I miss creating those worlds. I miss characters reaching out to me and telling me what the next chapter would be about and where it would take place. 

It’s all been written now, they’re all there, they exist, they’ve gone on their journeys, they’ve had their adventures, they’ve laughed, they’ve cried, they’ve struggled. Well, actually, I believe that they continue doing all that somewhere, in some realm where all our story ideas and fictional characters come alive. 

It’s just that I miss creating them…

That’s why I enjoy feedback from my betas so much — when they talk about my characters or discuss certain scenes from the book, I dive back into that world happily. 

That’s also why I started working on a new project, although ”Follow the Hummingbird” is not fully completed and has yet to be published. 

Because I miss the writing process. And because the new characters are reaching out to me and asking me to tell their stories.

Considering that I am still working on my novel and it’s on my mind all the time, it kind of feels like cheating. I have to admit, I even get my characters’ names confused — in the story I wrote recently, I called my character Tina a couple times, using the name of the main character in my novel. 

But it feels so good to write, and I figured that I’ll sort these issues out when I edit, and for now I’ll just focus on the writing. 

The new project I’m working on is a collection of short stories called “The Town.” All the stories in it are happening in the same town, but they involve different characters and are not interrelated. The only thing they have in common is that they take place in the same town and the events that are happening in these stories are anything but ordinary. 

In fact, I am going to include a couple of them in the mini-book that I’m putting together now. It’s a small collection of short stories called “Planting Seashells,” and I will be giving it away for free to my subscribers. I’ll add two stories from “The Town” as a sneak peek of my new project. 

When I complete the mini-book, I’ll add a sign-up form here, so that you can subscribe to my monthly newsletter and receive the free mini-book. I’ll post about it additionally, so if you don’t want to miss it, you might want to consider subscribing to my blog updates. Or follow my posts/stories on Instagram. 

I’m very excited about this new project. I know I’ll have so much fun writing all those different stories about all those different characters. I also know I will have to put it aside for a while when I’m doing the final round of edits of “Follow the Hummingbird,” which will be happening in about 2-3 weeks from now. But as soon as my little ’hummingbird’ flies out of the nest into the big world, I’m heading straight back to “The Town.” 

When I’m there, I’ll find a cozy cafe with the best coffee in The Town, take a seat, look around, talk to its residents, and start writing down the stories they tell me.

I can’t wait. 

This is the best part of being a writer. It’s pretty much like traveling through time and space, if you think about it. You get to go places that nobody knew existed, you get to meet all kinds of people and learn their deepest secrets. You get to be a demiurge and create worlds. All that without the need to actually leave your house… (one of the few possible ways to travel nowadays, right?)

And then you get to see what other people think of the worlds you created. What they think of your characters. Some will understand them and see them the way you do, some will see them in a very different way. Somebody will dream of your worlds. Somebody will miss your characters after they finish reading the book – just like you’ll miss them when you finish writing it. 

It’s such a strange, unnerving, exciting and beautiful experience — to be sharing your stories with the world.