Writer Words

All New: Writing Tips

Well, I’ve been doing Q&A Sunday for a little over a year. I had tons of questions! But they’ve kind of fallen off. So, I decided to start on something new. If you have a question, I’ll still answer it here, but when I don’t have questions, which is more often than not, I wanted to offer something to aspiring writers.

The romance community is simply amazing. The number of people willing to share their knowledge and expertise always astounds me. In 2018, I’m going to start offering workshops for authors, and it only makes sense, for me, to start writing about writing!

I’ve answered a few reader questions about writing, but when I started out, I had more questions than people I could ask. Some of these posts will go deeper than others. Some will be more general. Some will make you think, and some will give you ‘homework.’ Overall though, I want to help you, the aspiring author, to make you you, the published author!


The first thing I think every author needs is a healthy love of reading. I’m not talking you read a couple books a year, or you pick one up every once in a while. I’m talking you should be so anxious to start reading a new book that you twitch! Well, maybe not that bad, but you have to love it. It should be almost like an addiction.

I have a Pinterest board called I Dream of Books. There’s a reason for that. I really do! When I was battling cancer, I had a horrible time sleeping. I was always a poor sleeper, but it was even worse during that time. I would use that time to read. I was awake anyway, and reading a book helped to calm my mind and alleviate some of my worries. Or at least forget about them. When I would read at night, I’d frequently dream of the book I was reading!

I still read at night, although not usually as late as I used to. I still dream about books I’ve read, and books I’m writing.

I think you need that if you want to be a writer. You have to love books. You have to have a list of authors you love so long that you could spend your entire paycheck on them. Of course, you don’t, but you could.

Now, does what you read have to be what you write?


But they should be related.

What I mean by that is if you absolutely love reading fantasy, you might not write Inspirational YA as well. If you love contemporary romance, writing historical paranormal might not work out so well. If you love both, then yeah, go for it. But if you don’t enjoy reading it, you’re probably not going to love writing it. Let’s face it, you can read a book in a day. It takes a month, or sometimes many months, to write a book. If the topic isn’t one you love, you’re going to hate your job. And that’s no fun.

If you’ve thought about writing a book, ask yourself if you love what you want to write about. If not, think about writing something else. I have friends who read paranormal for their guilty pleasure, but write (and read) romantic suspense or contemporary. I’ve started reading some historical, but all the research that goes into it is too much for me. You have to figure out what works for you. But make sure you love what you write!

If you were going to write a book, what genre would you choose? 

If you have a question, either about writing or about anything else, send me an email (mary (at) maryethompson (dot) com) with Q&A in the subject, or post it in the comments below, and I’ll answer your question right here on the blog!

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Q&A Sunday: More Questions

It’s Q&A Sunday, but I’m all out of questions! If you have a question you’ve always wanted to ask, now’s your chance! You can post it here or you can send me an email (mary (at) maryethompson (dot) com) with Q&A in the subject.


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Q&A Sunday: Writing Advice

This is going to be a long answer! I apologize in advance, but if you’ve ever thought about writing a book, you’re going to love this question from Rachelle!

What valuable advice would you give to a writer starting out?

There is a ton of advice out there. You could read all day and all night and never get through all the advice offered to new writers. Some things you’ll do right, some things you’ll mess up. Some things will be a try and see experiment. Some you’ll figure out off the bat. But my advice is here…

Read, read, and read some more.

Every writer should be a reader. Read books in the genre you want to write in. Dissect these books. How do they work. Read good ones and bad ones and compare them. What makes one better than another? What ‘rules’ are there in each? What rules can be broken and which ones are unbreakable?

In romance, the only hard and fast rule, for me, is that the has to be a HEA, or happily ever after. There should be an ending that leaves you with that warm and fuzzy feeling. Sometimes it’s characters saying I love you, sometimes it’s a wedding or proposal, sometimes it’s just a commitment. But there’s always something that makes you feel like the couple is going to be together.

Find the rules for your genre, and stick to them.

Study everything you can about writing.

Follow writer blogs. Join writer groups. Make writer friends. Immerse yourself in the world of writers. Read books about the craft of writing. Then go back and read more books in your genre and analyze how they fit the guidelines. You will start to learn more about what rules can be broken, and how to break them and make the story better.

Start to build your following.

I know, you think it’s crazy. You don’t have a book out yet. It’s hard to promote nothing, right? But you will one day. Create your pen name, reserve your web presence, and hold pages and accounts on any social media sites you might want to join. Before you have a story out, you can publish a blog and engage with people. Get to know potential readers. Some authors find an agent or editor through social media also. Don’t discount making connections. And if you already have a following, your first book will earn sales, which is always the goal!

Remember to be true to yourself.

I think this was the hardest lesson for me to learn. When you’re starting out, you want to follow all the advice out there. You want to be on every social media site. You want to run massive launch campaigns. You want to guest blog and do book tours and Facebook parties.

And then you’ll wonder when the hell you’re going to write a book.

You won’t be able to do it all. At least, not if you plan to sleep and have a life. Pick and choose what makes the most sense for you. Pick one social media site to build and when that becomes almost automatic, add a second. Or skip social media altogether if you hate it. Publish a blog, or don’t if it doesn’t speak to you. Write six books a year, or two if that’s all you can do.

This is your career. Not someone else’s. Don’t compare yourself to another writer and think you should be doing everything she’s doing. Do what makes sense for you. Be true to you, and enjoy it. 

Thanks so much, Rachelle, for your question! If you have a question, send me an email (mary (at) maryethompson (dot) com) with Q&A in the subject, or post it in the comments below, and I’ll answer your question right here on the blog!

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Q&A Sunday: Process

Welcome back for another question! Rachelle has a good one for me today!

How long does the writing process take from the original idea to publishing the book?

I think I have to answer this question in two parts because it’s different things for me. I have so many ideas that I can write for years, honestly, and not run out. I have books planned through the next three years, with potential ideas to get me into year four. If a new idea popped into my head today, it would be many years before it would become a book or a series.

That’s another distinction for me. I plot a series at a time. I have an idea of how many books a series will be. Each series gets tied together in one way or another, like Raise A Glass where all the books are linked because the characters are cousins. I had the idea for Raise A Glass three years ago. I knew it was going to be nine cousins. That they would all have to work on the vineyard in order to inherit it. I knew who each cousin would fall for and how they would all come together.

But it took me three years to publish the first book.

The second part of the answer is actually writing the book. Once an idea is in there, and the book fits into my schedule, then I can start writing. Start to finish depends on how long a book is, obviously. The Raise A Glass books take me about five weeks from start to finish. The Big & Beautiful books take a little more than three. In that time is also two to three days of plotting the entire story. When it’s done, it has to be edited, and the time that takes can vary, but in general, after a book is written, it’s published within a few weeks. There are always exceptions, but that’s pretty typical for me.

If you’re thinking of writing a book, stay tuned for next week’s question!

Thanks so much, Rachelle, for your question! If you have a question, send me an email (mary (at) maryethompson (dot) com) with Q&A in the subject, or post it in the comments below, and I’ll answer your question right here on the blog!

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Q&A Sunday: Inspiration

Welcome back! I have a question from Rachelle to answer today!

What books did you read that inspired you to become an author?

I’ve always been a reader. I grew up with my nose in a book. I read everything from RL Stine to The Babysitter’s Club to Michael Crichton to John Grisham. Romance? Nope. Not growing up.

Eventually I started reading chick lit. Emily Giffin was one of my favorite authors when I was in college. I loved the modern stories of people falling in love. I guess I’ve always been a romantic, but romance novels didn’t interest me for a long time.

Four years ago, my kids were finally at an age where I could sit and read a book again. That was when I finally found true romance. The first book I read was Simply Irresistible by Jill Shalvis. At that point, I was starting to think about writing, and it really pushed me to take the plunge.

As I kept reading other contemporary romance novels, I found that I truly loved it. I loved reading it, and writing it, and I knew I found my calling. I love every last bit of it, and I’m very lucky to have found a career I love as much as I love writing romance!

Thanks so much, Rachelle, for your question! If you have a question, send me an email (mary (at) maryethompson (dot) com) with Q&A in the subject, or post it in the comments below, and I’ll answer your question right here on the blog!

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