#IWSG Just keep writing (and reading...if you can!) and #WIN an #Amazon #GiftCard

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Every first Wednesday of a new month, a group of writers takes time blog about their fears and insecurities without fear of being judged or ridiculed.

In fact, we write about our innermost doubts to join our peers in shared worries and struggles, because we've found that we all suffer from the same concerns, weaknesses, and nerve-wracking experiences.

And we've also learned that many have overcome these same insecurities, so we can blog about our successes and triumphs, too. Many blog to share encouragement and advice, because writers are the most generous, helpful group of people you'll ever meet.

We all want to see each other succeed and don't want anyone to have to reinvent the wheel. If there's one thing writers all need more of, it's time, so when one person has spent countless hours learning something new, the writer will share it with everyone else to save them time!

Sound amazing? It is. And we have the generous Alex J. Cavanaugh to thank for all of this camaraderie.

Need more encouragement and writing buds? Find the IWSG on Twitter: @IWSG and #IWSG

Each Month we blog about our doubts or accomplishments OR we can write about an optional monthly questions. This month's question is:

February 1 Question: How has being a writer changed your experience as a reader?

I still feel like a newbie posting on these Wednesdays, but this month I'm co-hosting, so I look forward to meeting MANY more of you than I have in the past few months!  My response to this month's question is: Man, I've heard writers talk about this a lot. And I have to say, writing has changed my experience as a reader to some extent.

I've always had a harder time getting into novels.  I usually give a book until the fiftieth page to suck me in. In some ways, writing has made this WORSE. It's much harder for me to lose myself in a character and her world because I'm paying attention to the WRITING. I'll reread the first sentence multiple times, and then the first page. I'll consider the premise, the hook, the first pages, the characterization, the goal, obstacle, antagonist...basically I'm trying to reverse outline the dang beginning.  Talk about ruining a good thing! BUT if the book is good enough, I do eventually let go and enjoy the story. That being said, I am constantly aware of phrases I adore and want to save as quotes or strategies the author uses to develop her characters.  Before writing, I'm quite certain I read a book cover to cover and didn't think twice about any of those things.

Also. I think I'm more aware of authors. Before writing, I chose a book based on the cover and title and maybe the blurb and first few pages, but NOW I choose based on author, and genre, of course. I also read a variety of fiction now. Years ago I stuck mostly to adult mystery/thriller series, though I threw in the occasional literary fiction, romance novel, and historical novel...whatever Oprah had been recommending at the time. I didn't venture away from the same ol' same ol' much at all.

For the MOST part though, I'm still a reader, and I'm a writer, and I enjoy the two in different and distinct ways. Unfortunately, the writing takes up a lot of my reading time. I feel scolded when authors tell me how much I should be reading when I'm not, but honestly, during the school year, I have to choose. I either spend a couple of hours reading or I spend a couple of hours writing. And when I have a writing schedule and deadlines I'm holding myself to, well then, there isn't much of a choice. Which, I suppose, is why I devour three books in a week during spring break and the first week of summer. I just can't make it happen even though I KNOW it's important to read a lot to be a better writer. I know, okay?

(Adding this in now that the day is half over...I DO take my Kindle to bed with me every night and fall asleep after reading a page or two of fiction, but that just doesn't feel much like reading to me since it's not long enough to get into the book or enjoy it (even when it's an amazing story...I'm just TIRED). I also read for critique partners when I make time for it, especially when they have deadlines, so I DO read their fiction as well.)

How much time do you dedicate to reading and writing per week? How do you make time for both? I'd love to hear how you make it work. Share any advice you have in the comments. And I'll be by to visit you when I'm done teaching today!

But before you comment and take off...

Today I'm also being featured at the extraordinarily talented author Crystal Collier's blog talking about my pen name's new release. Visit her to discern two truths and a lie about yours truly. 

Last week YA Bound Book Tours hosted a blog tour for my new release and in honor of the tour and my book, I'm giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card! And you're in luck because there are still 11 days to enter! 

Good luck!

When you leave here, be sure to visit this month's co-hosts as well as all the other bloggers listed on the hop! 

The awesome co-hosts for the February 1 posting of the IWSG are Misha Gericke, LK Hill,Juneta Key, Christy (that's me!) and Joylene Buter!

And also welcome new IWSG Admin Heather Gardner today!

And... one more tiny thing! (Now that I've written it, it turned really long....Bear with me. It's such HAPPY news!)

I have one really wonderful writerly thing to share. I teach in a PK-8th grade school, and even though I chose a pen name to be all secretive, word got out that I released my first YA novel, and ever since I've been showered with happiness because of it. Parents and their daughters stop me in the car line (while I put their children in the cars at the end of the school day to send them home) to tell me they LOVED my book and that they got nothing accomplished over the weekend because they couldn't stop reading, or that their mom is reading it now because they enjoyed it so much, or that they wrapped it and gifted it to a friend. And THEN I walk down the hall and see middle schoolers reading my book, and when they see me they're so excited.

(Here's the really, really happy part, so if you skipped the rest READ THIS--->>>) BUT THE BEST THING happened the other day when an eighth grade boy who's struggled with behavior and motivation in school since kindergarten approached me to ask about my book and to tell me that he wants to be an author. He told me he wrote a short story that wasn't very good. AND I THOUGHT OF ALL OF US! And I swatted at the air and said "Every writer writes stories that aren't very good at first. I've been writing for six years. Keep writing." And his eyes lit up and he said, "Okay." So I told him to write that night and over the weekend and pledged to get a few chapters of my own done. And since then he's stopped me to tell me that he started a new story. And he's so excited about it. And we've been holding each other accountable for at least fifteen minutes of writing each night. YOU GUYS. I'm tearing up right now just sharing how happy it made me to find a student writing buddy that I can share my love of writing with, and I'm so overjoyed that he is so excited about writing, too. Writing is  such a PASSION, and once we take hold of it and it takes hold of us, we can never let it go, no matter what the world tells us. And THAT'S what this group is all about.


Thanks so much for visiting with me today!



  1. "Every writer writes stories that aren't very good at first." Isn't that the truth!! Dory says "Just keep swimming" and authors say "just keep writing." Yep, practice and failure. We do learn from our mistakes :)

    Your post basically mirrors mine; just read for entertainment, but now read for that elusive entertainment, but also as a learning experience. Not sure I should always report on those learned lessons, lol. Still, it passes the time, to read or write.

    Awesome that you have been an inspiration for a young writer. And that so many of your parents are reading your stories. Kudos. Keep up the adventure.

  2. I think a lot of writers don't enjoy reading as much. I've always loved reading for enjoyment, except for when I went through my reading crisis, and thankfully I still do. Awesome that all the parents and students in school loved your book and that one of the boys in your school is so excited about writing.

  3. Thanks so much for co-hosting and for sharing that inspirational story about your student :-)

  4. That's a great story about that boy.
    I don't have a lot of time to read either. Doesn't help that's I'm also a very slow reader.
    Thanks for co-hosting today! You're going to have a blast.

  5. I felt the same way you do back when. I promise it gets easier. The hunt for good reads is made easier simply by being here at IWSG. We're surrounded by good writers. It just takes time to find them. Thanks for co-hosting, Christy. This place we call IWSG is a great place. It's made all the difference to me, too.

  6. Oh wow! That boy's story made me tear up. Thanks for sharing it!

    Like you, my reading takes a serious hit when I'm writing. I just don't have the time to do both all the time. Sigh.

  7. What an amazing story about the boy. I also like your answer to this month's question. I'm definitely more aware of the author when I read now and I read in a variety of genres. Thank you for co-hosting!

  8. I'm with you. One of the greatest joys of teaching is motivating students. Good luck to you!

  9. Wow--that's so cool! It must be so gratifying to work with your target audience and actually have them love your writing. And encouraging a young writer too? Wonderful.

  10. I'm happy to see today that I'm not the only writer who finds themselves reading and picking it apart at the same time. I wish I had more time to read too, I neglect it a lot.

  11. Oh my gosh. I love, love, love that you and 8th grade boy are holding each other accountable. I'd be tearing up too. Congratulations on your book, it sounds wonderful!

  12. Hi,
    You are a good one to give a book up to fifty pages. I have to admit, I read the first chapter and if it doesn't hook me in the first chapter then I don't read any further. Since it is on my iPad I move it down to the bottom instead of deleting it because I think maybe it isn't my day for that particular book and some time later I'll pick it up and read it again. That has happened.

    Thank you so much for co-hosting.
    Shalom aleichem,

  13. Oh Christy, that is an amazing story (your boy who is inspired to write by you). I'm a teacher and isn't that exactly what we want? I'm so happy for you--and him.

  14. As a former teacher, I am tearing up hearing about your interaction with that young man. Those connections are so important for some students. So happy for you.

  15. Love love love the last part of this post! So excited and thrilled and happy for you. Thanks so much for sharing that with all of us. :)

  16. You know, being a writer and reader has definitely pushed me to read more diversely. I really did only read one genre, maybe two, as a kid/teen, but now I read at least a good ten or more. It's amazing what you can learn from reading cross genre, eh?

    How cool. That moment with the student... It really doesn't get better than that. I'm going to a school to speak to kids in a couple weeks, and I'm so excited about it.

  17. Thanks for co-hosting this month. I don't think I'm very good at balancing reading and writing. I do what I can and it never feels like enough. Sometimes I stop writing to focus on reading; sometimes I stop reading to focus on writing. At the moment I'm trying to do both in 20 minutes spurts, so far so good.
    As a teacher myself, I can imagine the scene with the student. While my peers, parents, and students haven't embraced my writing one bit, I've still connected with a few others who look to me for inspiration. They see my determination and realize they too can write and publish on their terms. So happy for you and the support you've received.

  18. I consider reading an important aspect of being a writer and schedule time to read the publications I'd like to write for, informative articles and good writing in general. For me, reading feels a bit like restocking on words - just as a baker might take time to order flour and loaf tins.

  19. I read every night. Patsy is right that it's an important aspect of being a writer. I love all genres, and like Crystal said, reading across the board truly helps in my writing. I don't believe that a writer has to write every day. I'm a slow writer and stick it in when I find the time. Some days are better than others. I love your final sentence about writing is a Passion!!

    Thanks for co-hosting this month.

  20. Such a beautiful story about your book and your students, especially that boy that wants to be a writer. It made me warm inside. Congratulations on all your students (and parents) fans.

  21. I'm just like you, if I take a book to bed with me, I'm snoozing a few minutes later. I never used to be like that. I don't know what happened, it's not like I"m old...just tired. Thanks for co-hosting!

  22. I'm much more selective about what I read now that I'm a writer. When I read the beginning of a story that sounds remarkably like the beginning of a dozen other stories I've just read, I just have to put it down. There has to be something about the beginning that sounds different, or else I assume the rest of the story is the same too.

    Thanks for co-hosting this month's IWSG!

  23. I try to read in many genres just to get a sense of storytelling in each. Thanks so much for co-hosting this month's question for IWSG. I already follow your blog. So all the best to you.

  24. Thanks for co-hosting! It is nice to be able to disconnect your writer brain from your reader brain.

  25. I got all teary eyed!!!! Love when you 'catch' a reluctant reader and turn him/her into a reader/writer! So awesome :)

  26. Like you, I give the author about 50 pages. I'm either into the story, or I'm out. I have so little time to read that the story has to captivate me. Then I spend way too much time trying to figure out how and why this author "does it." The damned lawyer in me wants to analyze how it works and where it doesn't. Thanks for co-hosting and taking time to comment on my non-post. I love this group!

  27. I was so excited to see that drop-dead-gorgeous cover at Chrystal's today. So excited for you. I hope it's a winner! Thanks for the info. I've read posts by 'elite bloggers' who say they've never bought a book after reading the Look Inside...that's pretty extreme! Are there so many 'bad' books out there?

  28. Aw crap. You made my eyes leak. Reaching that student through a shared love of reading has got to be one of the most rewarding experiences of your entire teaching career. There's no doubt in my mind that YOU are responsible for a positive change in that young man's life.

    Congrats on your book! It sounds amazing, and if I don't win it on that sweet "cheesy" blog, I reckon I'll have to buy a copy. :)

  29. Christy, I loved what you shared about having a student writing buddy! It brings tears to this retired teacher's eyes! Thanks for co-hosting this month, and happy writing!

  30. It takes time for me too to let go and enjoy a story. Every so often I pick up a book from my to read stack (enormous ebook stack)that I bought several years ago and wonder why I ever bought it. Which is kind of sad, because when I purchased it, it sounded interesting. But less than stellar writing destroyed my enjoyment. On the plus side, the fact I recognize good writing must mean I've learned a few tricks of the trade.

  31. Another reason to be glad for audiobooks. Some of the things that bug me about reading a book now don't distract me like they did.

  32. "The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires." - William Arthur Ward.
    We all know which teacher you are :-) Thanks for sharing.
    Good luck with your book - the cover looks amazing. Happy writing.

  33. Your description of how you read as a writer...I feel like you're inside my head.

  34. I’m a reader first. The writing started late.
    My reading experienced has changed...completely. I don't/can't read with that carefree abandon anymore. It's sad...in a way...but hey, it's not the end of the world.
    The up side is that I now read across genres, something I didn't really do before I started writing seriously.
    Congrats on the release of your YA novel! Awesome!
    Thank you for co-hosting the IWSG this month.

  35. Woot for inspiring the student to keep at it!

    I tend to devour books by authors I already like. Otherwise, I find it hard to make the time to read because I've got two young kids and a husband vying for my attention on top of my job. I hardly even have time to write! Grats on the book. I hope it's a smashing success!

  36. Lately I've been doing zero reading or writing other than the blogs. I getting to sucked into other things and need to break free.

    It's rare for a book to draw me in from the first page, but it's nice when it happens. Usually it takes several pages-maybe even 50 or so like you say--because besides the story itself, I have to get into the rhythm and style of the writing as well as vesting myself into the characters. If I don't care much about the characters then it's difficult to care about the book.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

  37. Just read your entire post . . . and now I'm tearing up! Great "heart" moment with the student who discovered the joy of writing. Thanks for co-hosting #IWSG this month, Christy. I plan to do some checking on your YA book now also.

  38. That was beautiful. You made me tear up.
    Happy IWSG Day!
    Juneta @ Writer's Gambit

  39. I too, bring my Kindle to bed. I have two opportunities to do this since my husband takes a nap every day and likes to have me there with him. Instead of sleeping, I look at it as a reading break. I spend the rest of the day juggling appointments, kids (whom I homeschool), my husband, and writing. I get to spend a lot more time writing than many people, though, so I feel blessed. My heart was warmed by the story of your student. It was a teacher who encouraged me in my love of writing. It changed my life. Since I can't thank her, I thank you!

  40. Oh wow, Christy! Reading the last part of your blog almost brought tears to my eyes. As a fellow (primary school) teacher, I know how exciting and rewarding it is to inspire students and guide them towards their passion, smartness and ideologies. This is just awesome!

    As far as the reading experience as a writer, I think many of us feel the same way. Gone are the days to totally indulge into a book, without dissecting it somehow. Luckily, when the story is really gripping, we can still let go (of pencil and critical minds) to just enjoy the book.

    I feel guilty about not reading more because of lack of time (and because it is encouraged by other writers, so I should do it more). I try to make time for it once in a while, with the "excuse" that it helps my writing. It is all about finding a balance. I tend to prefer reading to writing, when I am pretty tired and unmotivated.

  41. Fabulous! Good for you and good for him! I read a shitload of novels and nonfiction. Just a habit I got into very young. I found fb was cutting into my reading time so I put the boots to it, at least for a couple of months. I work full time on a reserve with youth, so time is precious,but if I don’t read I won't write either so... I read in the bath and before bed, also my fella reads a lot too so we keep each other company in the evening reading. So glad to meet you! I'll be around again.

  42. I try to do a little of each thing every day. I work reading in between writing assignments (I'm a full-time freelance writer in addition to my novel work). I also listen to books on audio while walking at the gym or doing housework. But I've gotten hooked on true crime podcasts lately, so I haven't been doing my audio reading as much as I used to.

  43. There is never enough time to do all the reading and writing I would like. Like you I take the iPad to bed with me and try to catch up on my reading then, but often it's a page or two and I find myself nodding off. I've had to cut back my blogging to make the time to write. It's a good compromise. I make sure to do the IWSG each month and maybe one other post, but that's about it. I seriously want to have something published in '17 and it ain't gonna happen unless I get serious.

    I'm gonna pick up your book and give it a read. No promises on when I''ll get through it as I'm currently involved in a critique on a very long self-pubed work, but when I do I'll do my best to leave a review in a few places.

    Best wishes, and it was nice to meet you. Thanks for being a co-host this month. I know this IWSG thing woulodn't happen without people like you and I DO appreciate it.

  44. I am trying so hard to actually love reading again. Every once in a while a story does sucks me in and I am so grateful when that happens. You are so right about thinking of the author now, I do that all the time!
    I love the story about the boy, oh my goodness you changed his life!

  45. I love the story about the 8th grader!

    I sometimes find it hard to get into books too. I have to decide if I want to stick it out or keep going.


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