by Patricia Bradley, @PTBradley1
I started writing thirty-seven years ago when these people came to live in my head and wouldn’t go away until I wrote their stories. It all started when I couldn’t sleep, and one night as I stared at the ceiling, a man materialized in my mind. He stood at a window and in the background smokestacks belched black smoke. Then he turned to me and said, “This isn’t the way my life was supposed to turn out.”
For the next few weeks I entertained myself with stories about his life, and then more people came, all clamoring for their stories to be told. I subscribed to Writer’s Digest Magazine and began my writing journey. Would I have started it if I’d known it would be thirty-two years before my first book released?
Yes. I knew even then that I was a writer—I couldn’t not write. However, there are a few things I wished I’d known. So, if I could give my younger self writing advice, what would I say?
- Find a writing group to join. I was writing in a vacuum—no writer friends, no critique partners, just Writer’s Digest Magazine and a few Writer’s Digest books. Therefore, I had no one to read my stories and tell me what I was doing wrong, so I kept making the same mistakes—head hopping, telling instead of showing, dumping backstory in the first chapter…
- Read with a purpose. I was a voracious reader, but I read mainly for pleasure and escape. I should have been paying attention to story structure and dialogue.
- Be consistent in writing, and get that first draft finished—you can’t edit what you haven’t written.
- Invest in your writing—learn the craft of writing by attending conferences, retreats, and workshops.
- Buy craft books like Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell and How to Write a Novel from the Inside Out by Susan May Warren. Also, anything by Donald Maass, or…goodness, there are so many, just ask your writer friends.
- Network. Back then ACFW didn’t exist, but RWA (Romance Writers of America) did, and a few others like Calvin University’s Festival of Faith Writing. It would be eight years before I attended my first writing conference—Florida Christian Writer’s Conference.
- Realize not everyone will like what you write, so develop a thick skin.
- Enjoy the journey, because it may be long. But if you learn the craft, you’ll be ready when God opens a door.
Those are a few of the things I would tell my younger self. What would you add?
It’s been eighteen years since TV crime reporter Andi Hollister’s sister was murdered. The confessed killer is behind bars, and the execution date is looming. But when a letter surfaces stating that the condemned killer didn’t actually do it, Detective Will Kincaide of the Memphis Cold Case Unit will stop at nothing to help Andi get to the bottom of it. After all, this case is personal: the person who confessed to the crime is Will’s cousin. They have less than a week to find the real killer before the wrong person is executed. But much can be accomplished in that week–including uncovering police corruption, running for your life, and falling in love.
Patricia Bradley lives in North Mississippi with her rescue kitty Suzy and loves to write suspense with a twist of romance. Her books include the Logan Point series and two Harlequin Heartwarming romances. Justice Delayed, a Memphis Cold Case Novel, is the first book in her next series and it releases January 31, 2017. When she has time, she likes to throw mud on a wheel and see what happens.