Tag Archives: WriterHouse

Becoming Unstuck and Writing about Becoming Unstuck

Here’s my recent post from BACCALiterary – the website of my writer group.

It’s a mixture of a little writing, a little publishing, a little politics. Stir and bake at 350F for 30 minutes.

OK maybe not that last part.


I recently published my first book. Well, the first book that I actually wrote. For work, I help authors get their books published on the regular. This was my own book though, which made the experience slightly different. Noting the differences between my experience of other people’s books and my own was meta enough, thank you, and yet there was a further complication.

The book I wrote is called FLOAT • Becoming Unstuck for Writers. Which presumes that I know a few things on the topic. That’s true. I’m glad to report that I still feel competent to have written it. The difficulties came when the process of launching this book encountered, well, stuckness. You know, the stuff I’m supposed to know about extricating from.

Things Happen

I want to paint an accurate picture. And to be sure, wonderful things happened. Some great opportunities arose, surprising me with bounties of time (a client needed to postpone our work, due to a personal emergency) and space (a last-minute chance to hide out at a writer’s retreat one long weekend enabled me to put the finishing touches on the manuscript before sending it to the copyeditor). Beta readers were generous and attentive and incredibly helpful. I rejoiced. This was going to work out fine! Even with a full-time job, I was going to be able to stick to my production schedule and get this puppy out in October, as planned.

Then the copyeditor also had an emergency. It was a critically serious one, and needed to be honored. As long as it took for things to get back on an even keel, that’s how long the delay would be.


Then the US political environment took an unexpected turn and I found myself grappling with past trauma I had not expected to need to look at any more in this lifetime. Time, effort, and therapy were required to deal with the reawakened monsters in the shadows. As long as it was going to take, I realized, that’s how long the delay would be. No negotiation was possible with myself on this stuff. I needed to feel safe walking down the street again before becoming capable of glad-handing strangers about the merits of my new book.

Releasing the book in October simply wasn’t going to happen. OK. I readjusted my sights, and planned for early- to mid-November.

More Politics

Speaking of the US political scene, during that timeframe, the news reported that a candidate had won the national election. Suddenly, releasing a book about becoming unstuck felt ridiculously insufficient. And besides, who was going to want to buy such a thing? As if a craft book for writers was going to make a difference to anyone. More reflection, more therapy, more conversations with trusted friends. A growing sense emerged that we each need to focus on doing what we do well, as the best form of resistance, to become forces for positive change. I wrapped my brain around that notion and decided to publish as soon as possible.

Indie Publication and Amazon

Independent publishers like my company often rely on the combined forces of CreateSpace and Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing – both parts of the Amazon empire – to take the completed book files and turn them into paperbacks (CreateSpace) and Kindle-compatible ebooks (KDP). So when CreateSpace delayed my publication date, and KDP refused to accept my formatted ebook file, a great welling of frustration, a sense of stuckness, you might call it, once again invaded my happy plans for book launch. In neither case was it a serious problem. Eventually, the paperback did become available (there had been a backlog of orders at CreateSpace), and the ebook file was accepted (KDP had changed its web form, so I needed to re-start the ebook setup process).



Four local authors: A M Carley (left) signs her book for Zack Bonnie (right) while Mary Buford Hitz and Bethany Carlson talk about publishing.

The book was available from Amazon by the last day of November, and I had plenty of copies on hand in time for my first book event, a soft-launch celebration as part of the twelve-author local writers holiday reception and signing at WriterHouse in Charlottesville, VA. And people bought copies of my book!

Instead of being bummed out that I missed my October launch date, I decided to focus on the New Year, and appeal to writers who need a boost so they start off January with energy and focus. I’m offering a free course for writers who buy the book. That way, they can create their own accomplishments and a-ha moments during the first month of 2017.

Lessons Learned

What have I learned from these periods of stuckness?

  • Stuckness happens.
  • “Circumstances beyond our control” can be affected by our behavior and attitude, anyway.
  • Sometimes the schedule must change. Accepting that reality can create new opportunities.
  • Putting one foot in front of the other, being doggedly purposeful, will often see you through to completion of the next step.
  • There’s always a next step.


This post is reproduced from BACCALiterary.com where it originally appeared.


Candle Podcast

I recorded my first podcast the other day. Here’s how it happened.

A year ago, I wrote an essay at Janis Jaquith‘s Saturday-morning workshop on radio essays at WriterHouse here in Charlottesville. I hadn’t expected to write an essay that morning. I thought she’d give us info on how to do it, which we’d apply later on, sometime.

If I had vague thoughts about subject matter, if she asked our class to jot down some notes, they concerned food and wellbeing.

Turns out, there was time, and expert guidance from Janis, and we all drafted essays that morning. As I sat at the workshop struggling to write something jaunty about food, I could not get past the reality that it was the ninth anniversary of the death of a dear friend of mine. So, because life is like that, I wrote about two suicides.

Here’s the essay, recorded last week as a podcast for the local NPR affiliate, WVTF.

Thanks to Sandy Hausman for making the experience so lovely.

Listen here, If you have 2 minutes and 50 seconds available. You can read a transcript of it here.

AM Carley at the WVTF Studio in Charlottesville

AM Carley at the WVTF Studio in Charlottesville

Bookfest Panel

So, my writing group, BACCA Literary, got together this past weekend to do our panel at Virginia Festival of the Book about Creating a Great Writing Group.

Claire Cameron, Carolyn O'Neal, A M Carley, Bethany Joy Carlson

Claire Cameron, Carolyn O’Neal, A M Carley, Bethany Joy Carlson at Creating a Great Writing Group 23 March 2013

We had a good time, told stories, and got several knowing laughs. Also, I felt that people attending got information, along with encouragement.

During the session and in the chats with audience members afterwards, I sensed some people connecting with things we said – about establishing and protecting trust in the group, about establishing habits of regular meetings and regular work deadlines, about honoring the distinctions between friends and writers.

I am a big believer in the power of a good writing group to educate the writer – it has made me a better writer, as well as a better editor and communicator about writing.

I was reminded again how many interesting stories there are in this world. We carry them around and sometimes we choose to tell them to more people. Fiction or nonfiction, it’s all storytelling to one degree or another. Writing groups can form the bridge outward from the isolation of writing into connection, first with the handful of writers in your group, and gradually out toward strangers, including potential agents, editors and publishers, and the general reading public.

Thanks, BACCA, and thanks Virginia Festival of the Book, and thanks WriterHouse (co-sponsor of our session). None of this would have happened without you.

Now back to writing!

Virginia Festival of the Book

Panel Discussion about Creating a Great Writing Group

Happy Spring! No matter how springlike it looks like, out the window where you are. Here in Charlottesville Virginia, daffodils are up, and some are in bloom. You can see them because the snow from the day before melted yesterday….

If you, or someone you know, might
a) be in Charlottesville this Saturday 23 March at 10am and
b) want to learn about writing groups and what they can do for your craft as a writer,
I’m gonna remind you:

vertical-bacca-vabook-wh-600hClaire Cameron, PhD, Bethany Joy Carlson, Carolyn O’Neal and me (AM Carley), the four writers in BACCA Literary, my writing group, are excited to be holding a panel discussion this Saturday morning. It is free of charge, like almost all the events at this wonderful four-day festival.

Our session, Creating a Great Writing Group, is part of Publication Day at the annual Virginia Festival of the Book in downtown Charlottesville. We’re in the Preston Room at the Omni. It’s a lovely windowed room, located inside the Pointe restaurant. (When it’s not hosting VaBook events, it’s the hotel’s private dining room.)

We start promptly at 10am this Saturday, 23 March 2013.

We’re going to get you thinking about your past experiences when you gave and got feedback on your writing. The four of us will chat about what we have learned to do in our monthly meetings, to keep the constructive feedback flowing. Because each of us has benefited hugely from our years together, we want to share our enthusiasm and provide practical advice to people who want their own Great Writing Group. As far as we can tell, this is the first time in its nineteen years that the Festival of the Book has hosted an event about the actual writing process – before the book is done! So we’re additionally psyched that they picked us to talk about this stuff.

If you can’t attend, but are curious about what a writing group can do for you, take a look at our website: www.baccaliterary.com  (Heck, take a look, anyway!) You can read about each of us, and what we write about. And we put up a number of resources there to help you think about how to pick members for a new writing group, manage the group you may already have, and structure the critiques that you prepare for your fellow writers.

Shoutout to WriterHouse, co-sponsor of our event. We all hold it dear, because the four of us met there, in a fiction class!

Oh, and if you tweet, our hashtag for the event is #BACCALiterary. The hashtag for the entire Festival is #VaBook. Much obliged if you give us a mention!

Thanks for reading, and I hope to see you at the Omni Charlottesville on Saturday morning inside the Pointe restaurant. 10am!

All best