Monday, July 25, 2011

Partner on the Path--Amber West

This lovely writer lived with two of my closest friends, but somehow I never got to meet her. How did that happen? Now she lives on the other side of the country and I've finally been able to get to know her--online. Though most of my writing partners write for children, Amber doesn't. But she has a child. So that counts, right? 
What resources have you found most helpful on your writing path?
I have to admit that I was really surprised at what a great resource Twitter is when you know how to use it.  Following certain hashtags (#amwriting, #MyWANA) has led me to some great blogs and people.  I've found writers that I can share and commiserate with, and the sense of community is nice, especially on those days when I never leave the house.
Youtube is great, too, when I need to get a character's voice in my head.  Literally.  I sometimes use actors to "play" my characters.  Having their cadence and intonation in my ear helps with making dialogue real.
What’s the most encouraging thing you’ve experienced along the way?
Recently, another writer I met through an online writing group and my blog read my WIP.  She is only the second person I have ever let read my work.  I was so incredibly nervous and even told her, "Don't give me a crit.  I'm not ready for that."
She read it and gave me a crit on the first 2500 words anyway.  It helped me work a few things out, and the positive feedback she gave me had me floating for the entire weekend.  I shared my work, which meant overcoming a big fear, and had positive results.  Doesn't get much more encouraging than that.
Favorite children’s books? Authors?
My favorite author was probably Roald Dahl.  When I "grew up" and taught at an elementary school, I read Matilda to my second graders and they loved it.  A couple of them bought it at the school book fair.  I was excited to pass that love on.
My mom used to buy the "Serendipity" books when I was little.  They are beautifully illustrated and written, and always have a moral. I have an emotional attachment to those.
I also love Mo Willems.  I owned the Pigeon books before I was even considering a child.
What keeps you going when you feel like giving up?
It's funny, I haven't hit that wall yet.  Probably because I haven't entered the world of trying to get my novel published.  I love the writing part.  Even when a scene isn't completely free flowing, I enjoy figuring it out.  The writing itself is what keeps me going. 
Ask me again when I'm getting rejection letters.  I'll probably be in the kitchen baking and drinking wine.
If you could choose to live any place on the planet, where would it be?
Wow.  That one is really difficult.  My two very best friends in the world live in Seattle.  My family lives here in Florida.  If I could transport all those people with me wherever I choose, then I don't know that it would matter much. 
Let's say the Seychelles.  Also, in this dream, I'm living off the never ending inheritance from some mystery dead relative.
Describe your fantasy writing space?
A loft.  Lots of windows, comfy couches.  Natural light, but not too bright.  Music playing softly. Coffee shop downstairs.
In real life, the closest I've come was the apartment I lived in with the aforementioned best friends.  Unfortunately, life was crazy and I didn't have time to take advantage of the writing space when I had it.
What obstacles have you overcome in order to keep writing?
The fear that comes with saying "I am a writer".  The fear that people will hear that and laugh.  The fear that when it comes time to publish, someone will tell me to give it up.
Lots of fear.
Fear, and a toddler.
What one word describes your writing process?
Exciting.  (I never know what's going to happen next!)
Best writing advice you’ve been given?
Just write.
There is so much advice out there, sometimes too much.  You end up sitting in front of your notebook or computer obsessing about which rule you just broke or are about to break.  There comes a moment when you have to allow yourself to just write.
What do you like to keep in mind while drafting a story?
I've always enjoyed stories that I feel connected to.  If I can't see myself, or someone I care about in the main character, even a good plot can lose me.  I know that isn't the case for every one, but for me, I have to feel that the characters are people you connect to. 
Even if you hate them, you hate them enough to want to see what will happen to them.
How will you celebrate the publication of your first book? 
It will probably involve a vlog of me doing a really embarrassing celebratory dance.  The people who have supported me along the way deserve to be amused.  Even if it costs me a little dignity.
But seriously, it will probably involve a really good restaurant.
Here's where you can find Amber: 
Amber's also a member of SheWrites, a lovely community of writers, where she's currently serving as a volunteer coordinator. 


  1. Nice to "meet" you, Amber. I know what you mean about that tug when yo tell someone you are a writer and the fear associated with actually publishing your work. I often feel as though I should offer an excuse...for what, I'm not really sure!

    Good luck!

  2. Nice to read more about you here, Amber! I didn't know you had a toddler too! My toddler girls love Mo Willems. :-)

  3. I've 'met' Amber through Twitter! I also didn't realize what a great resource it would be to commune with other writers.

    Amber, it's fun to read a little more about you. I also haven't started down the road to publication and am enjoying the writing part right now. The best to you!

    Angelina, thank you for the thoughtful interview!

  4. Thanks for interviewing me!

    @Mary Ann - Nice to "meet" you, too. I completely feel you on feeling like I have to excuse or explain. I don't know why we do that to ourselves.

    @kiperoo - Yup, he will be two at the beginning of August!

    @Barbara - all the best to you, too!

  5. Whoop Whoop!!!! Here I am, dreading to type another medical report, so I click over to Angi's blog (side note: How the heck is it Monday?! I was gunna call you!!!! I hang my head in shame). And there's my lovely Amber smiling from the page. I love your answers! All wise and down to earth at the same time.

    I've read her WIP. People, be prepared to snort your beverage from laughing. Amber should have been writing for the last 10 years.


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