What is your favorite craft book?
Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass changed my entire understanding of how to tell a story. The entire section on emotional impact helped me truly understand the relationship between the words on the page and the readers themselves. I have used it (and its workbook) with everything I’ve written since 2012 or so.
Which do you think is the most underrated craft book? Why?
Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss is legit one of my favorite craft books. I mean, yeah, it’s British English and grammar, but if we can’t laugh about punctuation, what are we doing with our lives?
What is your favorite (or most anticipated) writers conference?
My favorite writing conference of all time is Realm Makers. It’s specifically for speculative fiction writers of faith, but I have learned more about professionalism and the publishing industry from Realm Makers than nearly anywhere else. It’s an environment that feels like a family reunion every year, and with the annual award banquet doubling as a costume party, you can’t go wrong.
What’s your favorite other source (YouTube, podcast, etc.) for writing tips/info?
Honestly, I just read a lot. I would like to listen to more podcasts and watch more YouTube videos about writing, but usually I just don’t have time. So I read and listen to audiobooks, preferably ones that are bestsellers so that I can learn what is popular in the industry. Oftentimes I do read craft books or books on marketing tactics and strategy as well.
Who is your writing mentor/inspiration? Why?
That’s a hard one. As far as impact and reach, I would say that an author who inspires me is J.K. Rowling. Whether you like what she writes or not, that woman has turned the world upside down multiple times in the last 20 years. She pretty much created the literary fandom concepts we are so familiar with in popular culture right now. She taught an entire generation how to read, how to fight for what’s right, and how to be brave when you don’t feel strong enough—all through a series of books. That’s what I want to do with my stories.
But I can’t in good conscience call J.K. Rowling a mentor because I don’t agree with most of her worldview. I’m certain she’s a good person, but I don’t want to be a good person. I want to live a life that honors God. So while J.K. Rowling’s industry-shaking achievements are a goal I want to aim for, the author I consider a mentor would probably be C.S. Lewis. He had an extraordinary gift of taking spiritual truth and making it simple enough that even children could understand it.
I want to write stories that turn the world upside down for Jesus. I want to tell stories that challenge the status quo and make readers ask questions about what they believe, no matter what side of the political or religious line they stand on. And I want to have a relationship with my readers that makes them feel like they’re part of my family.
What’s the worst writing advice you’ve ever received? Why was it bad?
I’m sure I’ve gotten bad writing advice, but I can’t remember any of it.
What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received?
Don’t be afraid to let your own life experiences inform the characters you create. That doesn’t mean you have to regurgitate every trauma you’ve survived on the page. Nobody wants to read that. But the struggles and trials you have survived in your life taught you something about yourself and about God. Don’t discount that. Use it. Because there’s a good chance someone else out there needs to hear what you learned in your dark valley.
What would you say is the best writing tip for new authors?
Just finish. That’s it. Don’t get bogged down with the details. Don’t get discouraged if it isn’t making sense. Stop editing as you write. Get to the finish line and go back and rewrite. You can’t edit a blank page.
What is your best self-editing tip or advice?
Only take advice from people who actually understand and know the genre you’re writing in. If you’re writing a sci-fi adventure novel, and you give it to a beta reader who only reads regency romance, they aren’t going to have useful feedback for you. People who read regency romance are used to different expectations for their genres, and the same is true for sci-fi adventure.
Now, if you’re writing a sci-fi adventure that has elements of regency romance in it, absolutely give it to that beta reader. They will be able to give you better insight on the love story than an average sci-fi reader.
The bottom line is be careful who you accept critique and feedback from. Make sure your critique partners speak the same language you do before you implement their feedback in your writing.
Please share your most encouraging tip for frustrated/discouraged writers.
A career as a professional author/storyteller is a long game. This is one of the most competitive industries in the world, whether you go the traditional route or not. Don’t rush it. The most successful storytellers are the ones who understand that we are all learners. Get excited about learning new things, and you’ll never have a disappointing day.
Tell us about your newest release/upcoming release.
My latest book is Karl Goodson and the Food Truck Fiasco, a hilarious novella from my superhero adventure series, Reishosan: Samurai Defenders. It’s a wild, hysterical ride through the streets of San Francisco in search of a lost engagement ring, and the fact that everyone looking for the ring is wearing samurai armor isn’t even the funniest part.
A.C. Williams is an author and writing coach with fifteen published books. She loves cats, country living, and all things Japanese. She’d rather be barefoot, and if she isn’t, her socks will never match. A senior partner at Uncommon Universes Press, she is a Realm Award Winner and the 2022 Arise Daily Writer of the Year. She also contributes to two blogs ranked in Writer’s Digest’s Top 101 sites for authors.