Join Me at Next Chapter Books and Art Store in New Bern, North Carolina. I will be teaching a class on Fast Drafting Your Novel: The Process of Layering Your Writing.
The art or technique of layering your story is nothing new and neither is fast drafting. There are several versions of both premises. There is even a version of layering that helps with self-editing. So how is my version unique and why should you attend my presentation at Next Chapter Books and Art Store Saturday, June 17th, 3 pm? https://thenextchapternc.com/home/whats-happening/
In trying to find the magic trick that would help me write faster and create more books I have taken several classes, read many books and watched an abundance of videos on writing techniques. Most of them were geared towards plotters. I cringe at the thought of plotting. I have tried to outline and plan my stories. If my brain doesn’t freeze and I actually manage to plan out an outline, I don’t stick to it. It’s a waste of time. Time I could be using to write more books. BUT planning your books helps with the writing process. How can I plan my stories and still be a pantser (or as some people prefer, a discovery writer).
Many of you have heard the story of my first NaNoWriMo. I knew I needed to do something different in order to write fifty-thousand words in a month. My friends Kate Parker and Hannah Meredith gave me a couple of ideas for planning my novel. Kate had a large whiteboard in her house that she used to write plot ideas and when she used the idea, she would check it off. Hannah suggested I do something similar using sticky notes. Author Sarra Cannon uses colorful sticky notes and note cards to plan her books, assigning different colors to each character. While the sticky notes worked well for NaNoWriMo but they aren’t convenient if you don’t write in an office.
I developed my version of fast drafting when I realized I was overwriting and had to cut a lot of my story to make the novel read better. The editing was difficult. The process was even more time-consuming than the original writing. I wanted to be able to write at least two books a year with time to write other projects. I began playing around with different writing styles with different degrees of preparation and success.
Everyone writes differently. Finding your own unique style of prewriting and planning is as important as finding your own writing style. The layering plays a huge role in my fast drafting. While writing faster happens organically with practice, with layering the writing is cleaner and thus getting to the finished product is quicker. If you are interested in learning more, join me and Michelle Flye at The Next Chapter Books and Art Store Saturday, June 17th, 3 pm until 5 pm. You must preregister.
Welcome Back Michelle Garren-Flye, author, poet and owner of The Next Chapter Books and Art Store.
Bio: Michelle Garren-Flye is the owner of The Next Chapter Books & Art, editor of The Next Chapter Literary Magazine, a multi-published author of romance, children’s books and poetry. In 2021 she was named the Heart of the Pamlico Poet Laureate. Her recent poetry projects include Learning Curve (December 2023), Hypercreativity: Poems, and 100 Warm Days of Haiku, all part of her Poetry Diaries series. Michelle’s other works include UnSong, Far and wee, and HourGlass, an adult comic book based on her poetry.
Sherri: Welcome back to Creekside Café, Michelle. Michelle is the owner of The Next Chapter Books & Art store in New Bern, North Carolina where I have my books for sale. She is also the Heart of the Pamlico Poet Laureate, where, as the Chairperson of the Pamlico Writers’ Group I was able to see her growth and her competition.
It’s good to have you back. You have accomplished so much since we last spoke, your poetry project and literary magazine, what else have you been up to?
Michelle: Hi Sherri, and thank you so much for having me here. I love any chance to talk about poetry and my store. I’ve mainly been working on poetry projects, expanding the reach of the bookstore and the literary magazine. As far as poetry goes, I’ve now published five books, four of which are illustrated, and a graphic novel based on my poetry. I’m having fun learning and experimenting with different forms of poetry, too. My next project, which should be out later this month, is called Learning Curve, and it’s 50 illustrated villanelles, which was a totally new form for me when I started.
Sherri: Because you have so many projects going on I’m going to ask this question in three parts. What are your plans for the store, your writing and the magazine?
Michelle: Well, the store is of course my main focus. I want the store to be a sort of hub for the literary arts community in Eastern North Carolina. I also welcome other arts like visual and musical. The literary magazine is sort of a way for me to reach out and show people visiting our area what a wonderful area this is artistically. That’s why I want to include all types of art in it from photography and paintings to poetry, essays and short stories. As for my writing, I plan to continue writing poetry and experimenting with different forms. So far I’ve learned a lot about haiku (in 100 Warm Days of Haiku), sonnets (in Far & wee) and villanelles (in Learning Curve). I want to continue challenging myself.
Sherri: You are a seasoned author with several published books and one of the hardest things about being a self-published author is marketing, what are your top three things for getting the word out about your books?
Michelle: The best thing you can do is be available for people to meet. So my store, mainly, for me. I’m really excited about the Authors’ Sunday Book Festival at the New Bern Farmers’ Market on November 20, too. I’m seldom able to participate in festivals like this one because they’re always on Saturdays and I’m at the store. Other than that, I’d say social media, particularly Instagram. But you’ve got to be willing to push these boundaries, too. Record a short reading or otherwise talk to potential readers online. I think TikTok is going to become really important, and I haven’t quite gotten brave enough to try that one. And third, update your blog regularly. Which you are definitely better at than I am!
Sherri: Of all the endeavors you’ve attempted, what was the hardest or most difficult to accomplish? What is the one you are most passionate about?
Michelle: This is a tough one. I think it’s my bookstore for both of those. I want it to be a successful business that will support itself and me, and that’s a tough ask of a bookstore. But I am passionate about preserving it. That bookstore has become a part of me, and as uncertain as this world is, I’m going to do my best to make sure it continues.
Sherri: As a mother, business owner, author and your work with the community, how do you juggle everything? What is your one self-care must have that helps you keep your sanity? (I know, you’re a writer, sanity is not guaranteed.)
Michelle: Sanity most definitely is NOT guaranteed. The one thing I decided about a year and a half ago was that as important as the store is for me, I would put my children first. Their schedules, their needs, their well-being has to come first. So I keep what I call “mom hours”. I keep fairly regular hours (10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. to allow for picking my daughter up from school during the week, 10-3 on Saturdays), but it’s not always the hours people want me to be open. I hear a lot of “You’re never open”, but I can’t help that. Until the store reaches a certain point, it will not pay me to hire anyone else, and if I’m worrying about my kids, I can’t put my whole heart into running the store. So, to take care of myself and them, I have to keep my priorities straight. I also take a lot of warm baths.
Sherri: Other than your children, what has been your proudest moment? You’ve accomplished so much in a short amount of time. Choosing one thing might be difficult.
Michelle: Wow, that is hard. I am proud of being the Heart of the Pamlico Poet Laureate, of course. I am proud of all my books and my store. Every literary magazine I put out seems to be better than the last. I think, though, that what I am most proud of is that I continue to learn what I don’t know. In poetry, publishing, bookselling, running a business, even being a mom, there’s so much I don’t know yet, but I’m still capable and willing to learn.
Sherri: What would you tell a young or not so young writer who is thinking about giving up?
Michelle: Don’t bother. If you’re a real writer, you’re not going to be able to give up writing. It may never pay your bills, and you’ll probably always have to have a “real” job, but writing isn’t something a writer can give up.
Sherri: Thank you Michelle for being with us again. It is always a pleasure visiting with you. If y’all enjoyed our interview, you can find Michelle at The Next Chapter Books & Art at 320 South Front Street in New Bern. She is also one of the featured authors at the Book Festival Sunday, November 20th, at the New Bern Farmers Market 421 South Front Street, New Bern, NC.
Happy Birthday to me. My birthday is on it’s way. I remember as a kid always anticipating my birthday. I would start six months away adding half a year to my age. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve not been as anxious to add those extra years. But shouldn’t we celebrate even more so the years we’ve been given. A dear friend just celebrated 95 years and I cannot even imagine all that she has seen. Each birthday is a blessing. While our culture may celebrate youth, I think there is a lot more to be gained from age. I believe that each of us can benefit from the other. I believe youth needs the wisdom and the connection to our history that comes from those who are older, but older people need the young to remind us of what it was to be young. Being around young people keeps us current, relevant and vital.
As I celebrate this new birthday, I am grateful for this year that I have had with its ups and downs. I can honestly say 55 was filled with more good than bad even though some of the bad things were terrible, like the loss of my young grandson and dealing with this virus, the unrest in our country and the continued racial inequality, but even through all of those tragedies have been shining moments of joy, love and friendship. Each of you have made this year better and I hope in some small way, I have made things better for you.
I look forward to 56 with excitement and joy. I know I won’t be celebrating like I have in years past, but I am grateful for the love and support of my family, friends and you guys, my community of readers, followers and friends. It means so much to have you here supporting my dream. I wanted to be published before my 50th birthday. I didn’t quite make it but this year, I turn 56 with 6 books, so that’s almost as good, right? I hoping to have a couple more books before the end of the year, but life doesn’t always go as planned. I’m working on Roxy’s story and already have details of Trent’s story planned. I just have to decide if I’m going to make Remy wait a while for his story. Too many ideas and plans I’ve got to get busy. Thank you for celebrating with me.
Celebrating my birthday with a book signing at The Next Chapter Book and Art Store in New Bern, North Carolina. It will actually be the day after, Saturday, July 25th, 10-12 noon. Come check out Michelle’s little store with the big heart and maybe buy one of my books. I hope to see you there.
Whenever I start to get depressed because my writing career isn’t taking off like I’d hoped I am reminded of how blessed I am by the people who support me. I never want to forget that you guys— my friends, neighbors, my community and especially my family are right here reading my books, helping promote them, offering encouragement.
While I might not be a best selling author, I’m a well-supported, blessed author and I thank you all for taking the time to read my books, leave reviews, and respond to my posts on social media. I appreciate all of you who have signed up for my newsletter, I will try not to abuse your email boxes and hope you will enjoy learning some of the background information about my town, my characters and my research.
I recently had a giveaway on social media for a couple of gift cards. One for $20 to The Next Chapter Books and Art Store in New Bern, NC, and another for a $10 gift card for Amazon. I chose Amazon because it is universal, and anyone anywhere could use it. The Next Chapter Books and Art Store was chosen for a couple of reasons, one because my books are there, but it is also because of Michelle Flye, the new owner of the bookstore.
Michelle, an author and poet herself bought the bookstore when the former owner was ready to retire. The Next Chapter already had a reputation for supporting local authors but in Michelle’s hands it has become more active. It has become a place where local authors can come and meet with other authors and readers, where they can become known. With the Covid-19 lockdown, Michelle has shut her doors to customers, but she is still taking orders, making deliveries and doing all she can to keep her store viable. Being actively connected to this vibrant hub of creativity and celebration of local talent was important to me and I wanted to let her know how much it meant to me and other like me to keep The Next Chapter going.
I am pleased and excited to announce the winners of the gift certificates.
For the $10 Amazon Card, Stephanie Beers. I was surprised when Stephanie responded to my email because I did not know her email address and it was all I had on the paper. When her photo popped up, I was excited and a little teary to know that she had not only responded to my social media but had signed up for my newsletter. Thank you, Stephanie.
Stephanie is the voice of Jenna in my audio interview with Tar and Jenna I did for Titanium Blue. She isn’t not a writer herself but has supported my writers’ groups both my Word Weavers group and the Pamlico Writers by volunteering at conferences and helping with our bingo fundraiser. Stephanie has been a great friend and is always willing to lend a hand whenever I have some crazy project going on. I’m so thankful she won.
Stephanie: Thank you Ms. Sherri!! Love you!!! We are so proud of you!
Sherri: Oh wow, I didn’t realize it was you Stephanie! I’m so glad! Thank you so much for your support!
Stephanie: Haha yes ma’am♡ I used the gift card to purchase your first book 🙂 since I let Micheala borrow my copy and it moved away. Can’t wait to finish it!
The winner of the $20 The Next Chapter Gift Certificate is Lisa Gargaro of Capelli Hair Salon in Washington, North Carolina. I’m not sure if this is a sign that I need a makeover, since Stephanie is also a stylist. Is it kismet that both winners were stylists?
Lisa is owner of the famous Capelli Hair Salon in Washington. She is a lovely lady who gives back to her community through her Wigs and Wishes program, providing wigs for cancer patients who have lost their hair.
Lisa is a talented writer, poet and watercolor artist and has recently become the grandmother to a beautiful baby girl.
Lisa is a member and officer of the Pamlico Writers’ Group. A former Army mechanic, this versatile lady can do anything. She is the kind of person I want on my team and I am so thankful for her friendship and support.
There were many who supported this giveaway, not to win but to support me and I appreciate all of you. When I looked through the names last night and saw who was there, it meant so much to me to see your names some I recognized others I did not, but I am thankful for each and everyone of you.
You can still sign up for my newsletter, the next one will be going out the end of this month and I’m working on a little short story to give you a taste of my upcoming book. It’s an exclusive for my newsletter so you have to sign up if you want to know the backstory.
During this trying times I have seen some bad things but I have also seen some amazing things. Most of you who know me know I prefer not to dwell on the negative. We can’t stop the prejudice, the ignorance or the selfishness in others, we can only try to correct it in our own lives. So, instead of worrying about THOSE people, let’s celebrate the people we see doing good things.
People, myself included often complain about the negativity on Facebook and social media, but since the virus outbreak I have seen people trying hard to be positive and encouraging. Even as they pass on information, they try to be positive. I still see an occasional post that makes me hesitate to send it, not because I don’t agree with it but because the way it is worded sounds negative. During this frightening time I do not feel it is the time to lash out at each other, it is a time to come together as best we can, and support each other.
I went to our local restaurant this week to pick-up my take-out order. My husband goes to the drive-through but I decided to go inside. I wanted to check on my friends. People were standing apart three to six feet, but they were still having conversations, still helping their neighbors and even a stranger or two, they were showing more kindness and consideration, and patience. It made me realize that there are still good people and we will get through this together.
I’ve put up a sign on the door to my store no more than three customers at a time please and most people check before entering. People stop to visit a moment, hungry for contact but keep their distance, some have worn gloves, avoided touching doors by using their shirts, elbows or backsides to open them. They are learning to cough into their elbows, wipe their face with their wrists and wash their hands often.
No matter whom I see during the day whether at the store where I work or when I have to run my errands or on social media, the majority is trying to offer support to their friends, family and neighbors through whatever talents they possess.
I, and some of my fellow authors have put their books on sale or even free. My first four ebooks are 99 cents each, Red Steel, my recent release is only $2.99 but I have free ebooks available for anyone who asks. I would love to share them with you!
Just before the virus outbreak, I took my books to The Next Chapter Book Store in New Bern. Michelle Flye, author and owner of the book store has a fabulous collection of local authors’ books. As an author herself, she is an advocate for indie-authors and she is doing all she can to keep her store going during this frightening time.
In trying to support my community and a bit self-serving as well, I have purchased a gift certificate to The Next Chapter Books and Art Store in New Bern to give away. For my out of state friends, I will also provide an Amazon Gift card. To win, share. Share this post. Share your book links, especially if you are one of Michelle’s authors, shout out your books. Tell people what books you are reading, no matter if they are indie or not. Share pictures of what you are doing during your confinement, or if you are like me, still working, tell us how you are coping. I would like to see a real community built here.
April 15th I will draw a name or email address from those who have commented, shared or posted on my social media, or who signed up for my newsletter. If when I contact you, you are not able to use the store gift certificate, I will send an Amazon gift card and draw again. If that person is also from out of state, I will send another Amazon gift card and choose a local supporter to receive the $20 gift card from The Next Chapter. (Facebook, Twitter nor any other entity is NOT responsible for the outcome of this contest.) Winners will be announced on all of my social media sites. Note: if the first winner drawn is local, I will draw once more for an Amazon Gift Card. You do not have to purchase my books with your card though I hope you are a fan. You do not have to sign up for my newsletter to be added to the drawing either but I hope you will. Let’s be a community.