Bestselling indie author Ashley Fontainne is well-known for her suspenseful thrillers.
Her paranormal thriller entitled The Lie won the GOLD medal in the 2013 Illumination Book Awards for fiction/suspense and is also in production for a feature film entitled Foreseen. And in January, she released her Southern Gothic horror/suspense novel, Growl.
Fontaine was kind enough to share her best writing advice for indie authors here.
What is your process for writing a book?
Once the idea for a book pops into my head, I am a woman possessed until I write the last word. Since I still hold a full-time job, I write during lunch breaks, after work and on the weekends. I have quite a long commute each day to/from work (over 100 miles) so I have plenty of time to work out the scenes in my mind before I transfer them to the screen. The story flows like a movie in my head, so once I “watch” it, letting it flow through my fingers is the easy part.
What do you do to get past the dreaded blank page or screen?
Fortunately, I have yet to experience the dreaded moment when nothing happens! Since I waited so long to start writing professionally, I have plenty of stories in me!
How do you know when your book is finally done, and how do you keep yourself moving toward that target when life’s distractions break in?
As I mentioned before, I am a woman possessed when the story comes to life inside my head. It takes about two to three months for me to complete a novel. When I finally find myself at the keyboard, I am fortunate in that I type fast, so my fingers keep up nicely with the storyline. Thankfully, my characters let me know when it’s time for them to speak their last words!
What tips on writing do you have for first-time book authors?
There are so many! The most important one is obviously, to write! Like anything else, the more you do something, the better you become. Artists don’t create masterpieces the first time they pick up a brush. The first piece of clay molded in a sculptor’s hand wasn’t a work of art. It was practice. Honing of inborn skills. Trial and error. Countless pieces tossed into the garbage. The key is they didn’t give up. They pushed on, their drive to create urging them to try again. Writers are no different. You can’t publish your first book if you haven’t written any words! Once the “first” is over, each book thereafter will be better than the one before. It’s a natural progression. No different than weight training: the more you tear down, the more strength you build.
The second piece of advice, one I wish someone would have mentioned to me years ago, is to thicken up your skin. The simple truth is not everyone is going to enjoy your story. Don’t believe me? Take a few minutes and read reviews on classic literature, such as The Count of Monte Cristo or The Great Gatsby. Places like Goodreads or Amazon are full of nasty, ugly reviews on amazing literature. You can’t please every reader who picks up your book. When you read your first negative review, your heart will break. After all, that is your baby, the one you toiled over! You could have 100 glowing reviews, but guess which one will stick inside your mind? Yep, the one that shredded your soul.
After reading it, learn from it. Did the review have legitimate complaints about the story, such as spelling errors, plot issues, etc? If you have more than one negative review pointing out similar errors, it might be worth taking a hard look at your work to see if the complaints are merited. However, if it is just a random troll, one who enjoys negativity, and their review has no merit—let it go. Do not let the voice of a few stop you.
What’s the best piece of advice on writing someone gave you?
Edit. Edit. Edit. Edit. Then, edit some more. Then, hire an editor. Repeat.
Want more help with writing? Ashley Fontainne is also the host of BlogTalk Radio show The WriteStuff. You can catch her each Friday night at 10 p.m. CST.