Friday, February 24, 2012

We Were All Newbies At One Time by Nike Chillemi

Writers don’t wake up one day, decide to write a book, and immediately get published. Well, at least that's not how it works for most of us. Today, author Nike Chillemi shares what she learned during her journey to publication and offers important tips to those traveling towards that destination. ~ Dawn

We Were All Newbies At One Time
by Nike Chillemi

The most important thing I've learned about writing is that it's a process that takes time. I know newbie writers don't want to hear that, but it's true. Very few, in fact none that I know of, sat down, wrote a first draft of a novel, and, voila, got it published.

The advice I'd give those who want to write any type of fiction is keep writing. Turn your internal editor off and just write. Discover your voice and don't let critique groups, beta readers, or editors change that. Second to that and almost as important is to read those you admire in your genre. Read the work of those who you feel are at the top of their game, the best of the best writers. Which authors in your genre are finalists and winners in the major fiction awards? Read them. As you read, make mental notes, or actual written ones. What makes their work so compelling?

And yes, get into a good critique group if you haven't done that yet. American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) has a wonderful critique group system set up. Some people prefer Beta readers. If you're going to use Beta readers, get more than one so you can compare what they say, and get ones who aren't afraid to be critical. I love the critique group process. However, I don't change things in my manuscript just because a critique partner suggests it. If two or more crit partners see the same problem, I'll take a real close look at it and will probably make the change.

Find out how you work best. Are you a plotter or a panster? That means do you work best writing by the seat of your pants, not knowing what will be written next? Or, are you one who must outline the entire book and not only that each chapter has its own individual outline? I even know a writer who outlines each scene in the chapter, but we won't call her obsessive compulsive, will we? Hey, she's a really good writer. Perhaps you're a combination of these two. I am. I write as it comes to me, but I also have a working outline I refer to as I'm writing. Of course, what I'm writing (if it works) trumps what's in the outline.

Quite naturally, I found myself far less anxious when writing my second novel Goodbye Noel. I'd already reached publication once, so I knew I could in fact do it again. Not only that, people seemed interested to read what I felt compelled to write. That's another point, be true to yourself in your writing. 

I also suggest taking real time and online classes and seminars about writing technique and also about the business of publishing. After the manuscript is polished, the writer still has to query it, get a contract, and after its release market it.

Nike Chillemi has been called a crime fictionista due to her passion for crime fiction. She was an Inspy Awards 2010 judge in the Suspense/Thriller/Mystery category and a judge in the 2011 Carol Awards in the suspense, mystery, and romantic suspense categories. She is the founding board member of the Grace Awards and its Chairman, a reader's choice awards for excellence in Christian fiction. She writes book reviews for The Christian Pulse online magazine. Burning Hearts is the first book in the crime wave that is sweeping the south shore of Long Island in The Sanctuary Point series, published by Desert Breeze. Goodbye Noel, the second book in the series was released in December, 2011. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and the Edgy Christian Fiction Lovers (Ning).

You can find out more about Nike and her books by visiting

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  1. So many good ideas, Nike.

    One thing about reading a good novel, it's hard to take notes because I'm so caught up in the story. And yes, ACFW is such a great support group. I've been in it a while and am a newbie, so all this is good info for me.


  2. It's so nice to hear someone like Nike Chillemi share her encouraging remarks. There seem to be so many areas that we don't think about as we progress toward the area of actually getting the script into the hands of a publisher. There are many writers that are willing to help; and getting to know other writers online and through sharing with ACFW members is wonderful. I really appreciate those who have taken the time to encourage me. :)

  3. Everything you said was so spot on, Nike. Thanks for all the great advice.

  4. I'm so glad to be hear. It's great to be able to express my views on writing in a way I think will be helpful to new writers.

    Angela - Sometimes I do read w/a notebook near by. Others times I don't want to be interrupted.

    Diane - I think it's a good idea for authors to say what worked for them.

    Tracy - If one new author says, "Hey, I think that would work for me," I'd be really pleased.

  5. Excellent advice for new writers, Nike. It takes practice and time to hone those skills. I have purchased Goodbye Noel and downloaded it. Can't wait to read it soon! Blessings, BJ Robinson

  6. Good advice, Nike. And while, as you mentioned, it's important to consider editing a section where two or more crit partners deem necessary, I really appreciated the following words of wisdom: "Discover your voice and don't let critique groups, beta readers, or editors change that."

    Kudos to a cherished Crime Fictionista!

    Teric Darken

  7. So true!

    I'm a mix of the outline but fly by the seat of my pants writing. I sketch out where I think the book is going, but as I write I'm always surprised by things that I didn't see coming. It makes it exciting.

  8. Very helpful advice, Nike. Thanks!


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