With All Your Heart – by Juliana Spink Mills

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve made a blog post. Maybe I’ll find a few cobwebs here!

But after reading Heart Blade, I just couldn’t resist asking Juliana Spink Mills if she’d be a guest on my blog to tell us all a little about The Blade Hunt Series and her thoughts on writing in general. I really enjoyed book 1, Heart Blade, and I have book 2, Night Blade, in my book collection, waiting to be read. I’m sure I’ll enjoy it as much as the first!

Juliana Spink Mills was born in England, but grew up in Brazil. Now she lives in Connecticut, and writes science fiction and fantasy. She is the author of Heart Blade and Night Blade, the first two books in the young adult Blade Hunt Chronicles urban fantasy series. Her short stories have appeared in anthologies and online publications. Besides writing, Juliana works as a Portuguese/English translator, and as a teen library assistant.

You can find Juliana online at www.jspinkmills.com or on Twitter @JSpinkMills

Over to you, Juliana:

With All Your Heart

Recently, I took part in a library author event. All us participating writer types were given a five-minute slot to talk about our work. I’d practiced a short piece from my first book, Heart Blade, as most of the authors were doing a reading. But as my allotted spotlight moment approached, I found myself wanting to do something different. So I grabbed the program sheet and frantically scribbled some last minute notes on the back. And this is what I ended up with…

Three things I’ve learned about writing:

1. Take Your Time. As the saying goes, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. When I started writing ‘for real’, one of the first things I did was read a lot of bios and websites for authors I admired. To my surprise, there were very few true ‘overnight success’ stories. One author took ten years to be published, another five. Another more than that combined. Some writers didn’t become household names until their third, or fifth, or seventh book.

Beginner-writer-me found this hugely reassuring. If other people could do it, so could I. If I had to put in the time to learn the craft and get it right, then so be it. I wouldn’t be the first, or the last, to take a deep breath and tell myself, “As long as it takes.” I knew this was something I loved, and that I was prepared to be in it for the long haul. I just had to jump in, and keep going.

2. Make Mistakes. Also known as: you have nothing to prove. I’d always planned on becoming a writer ‘someday’. Perhaps when I ‘grew up’. But somehow, I never got around to it. Probably because I had this weird notion that writers sat down in their perfect writing spaces and dashed out the Next Big Classic all in one go. Yes, I really was that naive! I knew nothing about messy first drafts, or that it takes rewrites, revisions, and a whole lot of elbow grease to produce something halfway decent. So of course, with that sort of self-inflicted pressure, inevitably I was terrified of starting and failing.

When I figured out that the writing business was a long-distance event (see number 1), this led to the realization that nothing had to be perfect right away. I could allow myself time to work things out, to back my story into corners and fall into plot holes. I could get things wrong, and dust myself off, and rewrite, and get it wrong again, as many times as necessary. The only thing I couldn’t do, was let the fear of failure hold me back from trying.

3. Have Fun! Along with realization number 2, came the awareness that I didn’t actually want to write the Next Big Classic. I wasn’t fussed about literary immortality, or having my books on required reading lists. I couldn’t care less whether my prose was gorgeously poetic. Instead, I wanted to enjoy my writing. I wanted to fill my pages with fight scenes, and daring escapes, and fireballs. Maybe a breathless first kiss or two. I was an 80’s teen, and all those hours spent watching the likes of Star Wars, Die Hard, Back to the Future, and The Goonies had to impact my writer’s soul somehow. Once I figured out the sort of things I enjoyed writing, the stories took off and the words just flowed. I was having fun, and I never ever wanted to stop.

Of course, these discoveries may have worked for me, but may not work for you. Find the small bits of wisdom that inspire you, personally, and use them to keep going on the dark days. We all have those days – beginner writer or seasoned pro – and sometimes you just need to remind yourself of why and how you got started in the first place. And then get up, dust yourself off, and jump back in with all your heart.

~ ~ ~

Thank you, Juliana. A really interesting read.

You can find Night Blade, the latest book in Juliana’s series here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Night-Blade-Hunt-Chronicles-Book-ebook/dp/B076P1ZYNK

If you like the sound of Juliana’s books, but haven’t read the first one yet, here’s a link to Heart Blade to get you hooked started on the series: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B01N22UGJT/ref=series_rw_dp_sw

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