We’ve worked with over 75 people so far in workshops and one-on-ones. We’ve had three who chose us to help turn their publishing dreams into reality. We’d like to introduce to one of them. Ms. W. Owens, the first client we had to follow our program, From Blank Page to Published in Six Months or Less!
Tell a little about your background.
After graduating in 1998 from Aurora Central High school, I attended Metropolitan State College of Denver for four years, studying Business Administration and Computer Information Systems. In 2007, I attended the Institute of Children’s Literature and focused on Children’s Short Stories, obtaining a certificate.
What drew you to writing?
Writing became an outlet for me. Because of the hostile environment during my parent’s separation when I was in middle school, and the constant moving around, the friends I had became pretty scarce. They didn’t know what I was going through and I was too shy to speak of it. So, I began to write in journals as if I were talking to a best friend. I still remember imagining someone sitting in front of me as I explained my day. My sister was three years younger than me and though I knew she understood most of what had been going on, I felt like I could express all my feelings down, no holds barred if you will. I was 14 and felt like the paper was the friend that would always be there.
What genre do you write and what led you in that direction?
I read all genres but suspense and drama are typically the ones that stick in my head the most when I paint a story. I love plot twists, and the ‘what would you do’ scenarios; the stories that make you question all the time.
What is your writing process? Do you write every day? If so, for how long?
I have tried all sorts of ways to begin a project, from waiting until the house is asleep, (night owl hours lasting until 4am) to having scraps of paper and notebooks all over the place every time a thought comes through my head. Lately, when I start, I think about if this is a project I want to be aggressive with and complete quickly, or take my time with no set end date. In the beginning of my work, I normally write everyday for an hour or two. It then dwindles once I get my draft done as I’m cleaning up the work and rearranging, filling in gaps of context.
How do you manage writing with the rest of your life / roles and responsibilities?
I set a manageable timeline of completion based on what is going on personally (kids’ practices, work, other projects). I have found lately that my best time to write is at work on my lunch break. When I’m in the zone, I take my laptop every day to work, get a half hour to an hour in and then spend about that same amount of time once I get home writing. In just that short amount of time in the day I can get pages completed, especially when a full scene is playing out like movie in my mind. My husband and kids know when ‘Mamas writing’ and tend to not really bother me, however, as a mom, there are tons of distractions at home.
Since you’ve dedicated yourself to writing, what is the best advice you’ve ever received from another writer?
The best advice I have ever received was to ‘just write’. “Don’t think about formatting and spelling and placement, just write. Your first draft is supposed to be ugly, just write.” 😊 (Thanks Dana – Nowata Press)
Is this your first book? How long did it take you to get your first book finished? How did you feel once it was complete / published / in your hands?
This is my third book. My first book took six months to complete, which people that I talked to thought I was crazy, but I wanted to see if I could do it, and I did. I felt so overwhelmed with excitement because I stuck to what I wanted and didn’t give up when I felt discouraged or came to a roadblock. When that book was in my hands for the first time, I thought about how I accomplished another chapter in my life. Also, that my boys could see what hard work and determination can give you.
What qualities do you believe a writer must possess to be successful?
I think all writers need to have that drive, that vision to want to paint a picture, a masterpiece. One that is vivid and beautiful and tells a story. There’s a difference between reading a story and telling a story, if you can distinguish that, you are on your way.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers who want to self-publish?
Research and talk to people. You never know who has information that may be beneficial if you don’t inquire. There are so many workshops out there that writers don’t know about that help with self-publishing its unbelievable. I’m still finding new outlets to help myself and I can’t tell you how much its guided me. I learn something new all the time, whether big or small.
How much time have you invested in learning how to market your works and what has and hasn’t worked for you so far?
I have invested a day or two a month which is way less than what I initially wanted but some things have shifted in my personal life which will allow me to dedicate more time (once a week) to marketing. I have had book launch parties that have been successful and I have also reached out to local bookstores for exposure. My website hasn’t done that much as far as sales but I believe its due to not putting a lot of time into really throwing the site out there (social media, word of mouth)
Are there one or two writing books that you recommend over all others?
How to Write and Publish in 6 Months* is my number one go to reference anytime I began new work. Even when I plan to take my time on writing, it still guides me, structure to completion.
What are you working on now?
I’m excited to say that I am currently working on my third book, which is a sequel to the very first book I self-published, In Safe Arms. I have had a good amount of people ask after my first book when the sequel would come out that was the encouragement I needed that I did something that consumers want to read.
What are you most proud of when it comes to your writing?
I’m mostly proud that I can write what I see. What I mean is that I imagine a scene and literally write it down vividly then have someone come to me and say, “Wow, I could see all that I read in my mind. Like I’m watching a movie.”
How can readers and other writers reach you?
Facebook : Willmetta Owens
Via Email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
What is one thing you would like us to know about you and your writing?
I’m always reading or listening to an audiobook, almost constantly. Lately, I’ve been straying off of my regular go-to authors and finding new ones. This is happening even when I’m writing my own. Keeps my mind fresh with ideas and I find myself a lot of times rewriting a scene in my mind that I read or heard.
It was a pleasure working with Ms. Owens and sharing in her excitement. Be on the lookout for our reviews of her first two books.
*Nowata Press’ premiere writer’s workbook.
If you’ve decided it’s your turn to bring your writing dreams into reality, then click the services tab above and book your initial consultation with Nowata Press!