Today I'd like to introduce Amanda Arista! Whose last name I have the worst time typing-I want to put the t before the i. All that aside, think werepanthers. Think yummy hotness. Think I should buy this book because it looks just that good! I did. I haven't read it yet, but I bought it!
A voice of a whole other type
Four years ago, if you asked me what I did, I would have said that I’m a medical secretary. It’s where I spend most of my time and it’s what pays the bills. Made sense. That writing thing I did was simply a very strange hobby that kept me up late at night. Concocting the moving of dark armies over the American landscape was just something I did in my spare time. It didn’t bring in money and it certainly wasn’t something that I told everyone I did.
About four years ago, I was floundering. While being a secretary is interesting, I’m not passionate about typing up reports every day. Seeing that I was struggling, my husband issued me a challenge. I know it sounds a little cavemanish, but it worked. He said “Write a book or go to grad school.” It was the type of challenge that I hadn’t had since college, one that would stress me out just enough to keep me motivated. And being the stubborn girl that I was, I took him up on it. I was going to write a novel.
And the first time I told someone that I was going to take a year to write a book, they laughed and joked “Yeah, the next great American novel.” Several people actually had the same response and it was quite a funny joke at family get-togethers. It was disheartening at best. But I sucked it up and joined a class at the local community college. I could do this; I just needed a little more guidance and a little less sarcasm.
The very first thing the professor said was that if you write, you are a writer. Just like if you swim, you are a swimmer. If you walk, you are a walker. Welcome to my first Yoda lesson. If you do it because you love it, then it becomes more than what you do, it becomes part of who you are.
Did I run out of that first class proudly proclaiming that I was a writer? No. But it was the first step in a long line of small steps towards realizing that this writing thing was not a hobby. Being a writer changes the way I look at the world, makes me ask more questions to understand the world around me. This is why it’s more than what I do.
Some of those first steps were just talking about my story out loud. This provided its own set of problems. Saying the words “werepanther” to a person outside of my inner sanctum was the next challenge I had to face. If it wasn’t a snicker, it was a full blown laugh. “A what?” was most people’s response. That’s when practicing a good succinct one line pitch comes in very handy, a simple sentence that sums up what your book is about. My second Yoda lesson for today: when a person asks what you are writing about, give them the one line pitch. You’ll be able to tell afterwards if they really want to hear more, or if they are just placating the crazy writer.
I have to admit that I backed off telling people that I was writing a fantasy novel about a girl who shifts into a panther. I was defeated again, or at least tired of the crazy writer looks. I kept my head down and wrote my silly little book because I was still determined to win my husband’s challenge. I worked my tail off writing every Saturday morning, finding time to slip away to coffee shops with a few other writers who were in the same boat as me: they needed someone who wouldn’t snicker when they needed to talk about their books. Last Yoda lesson of the day: get a group of people who understand the need to write and you will feel so much better about your own drive. They also will need practice with their one-line pitch and have been laughed at as well.
As we know from all good tales, the hero must endure some challenges. While mine were mostly snickers about my genre of paranormal romance, I’m proud to say “My name is Amanda Arista, I am a paranormal romance writer.” I have my weapons of choice: a one line pitch that doesn’t scare my 70 year old uncle, an arsenal of other writers who are one the same journey as me, all facing down their own demons, and a book that frankly I can point to when people snicker and say “I showed you mine, now show me yours?”
I hope that my little tale has helped you gain confidence that you are not alone. The tests will come, the stress of finding time, the looks, the snickers. But everyone one of those will only make you not only a stronger writer (don’t think that some of those snickerers didn’t get eaten on the page) but a stronger person able to withstand more that just your average Joe. Myke Cole (@ MykeCole on Twitter) said it best when he tweeted “The writing life is not for the weak. We could teach the marines a thing of two about coping with fear.”
What kind of experiences have you had when you told someone you wrote? Pen me a line to share your stories with other writers and you can enter yourself to win a $25 gift certificate to the e-book retailer of your choice.
Thank you and Happy Writing!
Thanks for sharing, Amanda. What to find Amanda and learn more about werepanthers, book 2, and her writing? There's her site, twitter, and facebook (search Amanda Arista, Author). Plus, I'm sure she'll love to read an email or two!
Diaries of an Urban Panther Blurb:
thought the fairy tales her mother wove were just a way to get Violet to sleep, not a way to prepare her for the apocalypse she is the key to preventing. When she becomes a midnight snack for werepanther Spencer Haverty, his infectious bite invokes the first element of her destiny. When Violet's budding instincts allow her to save a boy’s life, she realizes this new gig may come with perks: a slimmer figure, the attention of a handsome Guardian, and insights into her future embedded in her mother's stories. But as push comes to claws, can Violet make the fatal strike against the men threatening her new family, her new home and her first boyfriend in ages? Jordan
Chapter 15 ish
It was dark and quiet and there was no dog smell on the wind, no Chaz smell either. I sucked in the cool safe air as my head cleared.
What the hell was I doing? I asked myself. Who were they? Haverty’s men come to collect? And why the hell had I run? I’d just left him there, to fight my battles. Just left Chaz to deal with the beasties because they were his thing; they were part of his world.
Screw that. When the last time Violet Jordan let someone else fight her battles?
Oh, that’s right, until I met Chaz, there were no battles to fight. And if there was anything that invaded my little fortress, I ran. It’s what I had always done. Run, move, and start all over with a fresh slate when things got hairy.
Wasn’t getting any hairier than this.
I looked up at the waxing moon and felt the stir of the cat in my chest. I wasn’t the Violet Jordan who ran anymore. I was the Violet Jordan who threw drinks in men’s faces and threw sensei’s across the room. I was the Violet Jordan who dated male models.
And those jerks had just ruined the first good date I’d had in years.
Coming soon: Book Two of the Diaries of an Urban Panther, Dec 2011