Cindi Madsen: How I Write

Cindi Madsen“How I Write” is a feature hosted by A Book and a Latte. Colorado author/writer features are being re-posted here as well!

About the author: 

Cindi Madsen sits at her computer every chance she gets, plotting revising, and falling in love with her characters. Sometimes it makes her a crazy person. Without it, she’d be even crazier. She has way too many shoes, but can always find a reason to buy a new pretty pair, especially if they’re sparkly, colorful, or super tall. She loves music, dancing, and wishes summer lasted all year long. She lives in Colorado (where summer is most definitely NOT all year long) with her husband and three children. She is the author of YA novels All the Broken Pieces and Demons of the Sun and adult romances Falling for Her Fiancé and Cinderella Screwed Me Over.

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads


Are you a planner (outline, etc.) or do you “pants” it?

I’m a panster. I have a basic idea of characters and the story and then I just go, writing into the mist, trying to find the right path ☺

Do you write daily or sporadically when you’re inspired?

I write daily. I also have daily word count goals. It’s easier to hit them and surpass them as I’m inspired, but now that I have deadlines, I have to write every day. But when I finish a book, I do try to take a week or two off to catch up on laundry and reading-for-fun, and to have some time to let my brain rest.

What inspired you to want to become a writer?
I’ve always had stories in my head. I often have a hard time falling asleep, and so I’d just have a story play out in my head. If it didn’t finish before I fell asleep, I’d pick it up the next night. One day I decided to put them on paper and see what happened. The rest is history (or literature, as it were)

What kind of mood are you typically in when you write (happy, sad, etc.)?

It’s surprising how much the mood of what I’m writing affects me. I’m usually pretty happy and excited about my story, especially when I figure out plot points. But once in a while I’ll write a sad scene and I’ll feel sad. I also don’t like stopping after a big fight between the hero & heroine. I want to resolve them so we can all be happy.

Do you have any writing quirks?

I listen to playlists and drink Mountain Dew. When I’m editing, I also eat Peanut M&Ms and sour gummi worms.

What tool(s) do you use to write? Microsoft Word, Pages, Scrivener, typewriter, pen and paper, and/or napkins/toilet paper?

Strictly toilet paper. Is that weird? Lol. Actually, I write in Word, though I believe it is of the devil and swear at it a LOT. I have notes in my phone when I’m not by my computer and get a great line or bit of dialogue or plot idea. I have 46 notes on my phone right now, each for different books or random ideas or lines I know I’ll use someday. And I also have notes in a notebook and have been known to write all over the backs of bills and envelopes, and yes, even napkins. I tried to stop that, because I can never find them when I need them, and my husband was scared of throwing away something I needed and getting the wrath of the crazy writer personality that sometimes take over in the thick of a project. My phone notes help me stay better organized.

What resources do you recommend for new writers?

Writing organizations. Find one in your area. They have classes and support systems. It’s also a good place to meet a critique group, which is really important for new writers, though it’s also a hard step. Other than that, read, read, read, and write, write, write. Follow editors and agents blogs and twitter feeds.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received for writing?

One of my critique partners told me that while I knew how my character felt, I wasn’t getting their emotions on the page. That changed my writing a lot. Each one of my critique partners has taught me so much and with their help, I grew more as a writer in a couple months, then I had in several years of writing on my own.

What are your thoughts on traditional publishing vs. self-publishing?

I think there are positives and negatives in both, and you have to look carefully at what’s best for you. There’s this misconception that self-publishing is just writing a book and throwing it up for people to buy. Which does happen. But the books that are successes in self-publishing have had more than just the author read it. They’ve been critiqued and edited, and they’re good stories. Take the time to get it right. On the other hand, you can do whatever you want, so there’s that freedom. It’s hard to get the word out by yourself, though. I’m still considered indie pubbed, because my publishing company is smaller, though really, they’ve grown a ton since I signed. I’ve been very happy with the final product and it’s nice to have a support team. The one thing I think is most important to remember, traditional or self-published, is we’re all authors who love writing. We’re on the same team. Let’s cheer for each other.

What types of writing events have you participated in (NaNoWriMo, conferences, workshops, etc.)? Which was your favorite?

I’ve been to workshops, conferences, and done NaNoWriMo. My favorite is probably writer conferences. I’ve met some great people there, including one of my closest author friends. They’re expensive and exhausting, but my husband said, it’s like your college class. Only you get it all done in three days. I like that way of looking at it. You’re investing in yourself. I often write a novel in a month, so I expected to like NaNoWriMo more, but I don’t know that I’ll do it again. The chart keeping track made me feel like I was being bossed around for some reason. Not sure why. I did write a ton of words that month, but it’s a huge mess. I like to get my word count for the day, and then have time to go back over those scenes and mess with them a bit before the next day.

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Anne Marie: How I Write & Giveaway

Anne Marie

Anne Marie

“How I Write” is a feature hosted by A Book and a Latte. Colorado author/writer features are being re-posted here as well!

About the author: Anne attended the University of Colorado for a BA in English Literature, where she fell in love with folklore and myths from around the world. She adores languages, great white sharks, and the impossible. Her work usually includes one of those three things. She currently lives in Aurora, Colorado with Brody Beagle. Her most recent short story, La Dame à La Licorne, was published by Euterpe YA, an imprint of Musa Publsihing. Buy it from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Musa Publishing.

Author Links: Website | Cimmerian Tales | Twitter | Goodreads


Are you a planner (outline, etc.) or do you “pants” it?

I’m a hardcore outliner. My outlines have outlines! Research is one of my favorite things about novel writing. I get to: draw maps, fill-out character sketches, and discover things about places I’ve never been. Yet. Now, this might sound like I’m taking the organic character’s journey out of the story, but actually, I do that in the planning process. The creative process doesn’t stop with an outline though. Sometimes the characters have other ideas in mind. If I ever get too far astray, I have a map to find my way back.

What time of day do you find you write best? Or you enjoy more?

Weekend afternoons and evenings any day. Once I tried to get up at the crack of dawn to write for an hour before I had to get ready for work. It lasted one day, and I deleted the entire “scene”. Lesson learned? Don’t force something because a number of published authors swore by it. Find what works for you!

What kind of mood are you typically in when you write (happy, sad, etc.)?

For me, there’s no one mood to be in to write. If I had to always be moody to write, I’d never get anything written. Just like waiting for inspiration to write, waiting to be in a certain mood seems counter-productive. I will say, however, that when I’m in the throws of an emotion, I do step back and think, “What does this feel like? What is my heart doing? My hands? My lungs?” Which seems weird and dissociative now that I wrote it down. >:D

Where is your favorite place to write?

My couch. It faces my patio and in the afternoons, the light streams in. Plus, my dog really likes it too.

What tool(s) do you use to write? Microsoft Word, Pages, Scrivener, typewriter, pen and paper, and/or napkins/toilet paper?

Yes. All of them. Except toilet paper. The pen always tears right through the sheets. Before I had a cell phone, I used to write all over my hands/arms. Scrivener is an amazing program, but I also find it to be distraction. I could spend hours on the Internet searching for photos to put into the character boards instead of writing. When I get stuck with a particularly hard scene or line of dialogue, I write longhand. For the majority of work I use Word.

What resources do you recommend for new writers?

If you’re a children’s writer (PB, MG, YA, or NA), then Verla Kay’s Blue Boards are one of the best! Find them at

For books, I second Courtney’s list.

I’d also add, The Emotional Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi.

Lastly, read everything. In the genre you want to write. Out of the genre you want to write. Read graffiti. Read the newspaper. Read the back of cereal boxes and old letters. It’s surprising what might spark an idea or teach you something new.

What are your thoughts on traditional publishing vs. self-publishing?

They are both valid paths depending on what you want to accomplish, your marketing savvy, and how much time you have to devote to the project. If you’re self-publishing, you are in charge of everything from the cover to the blog tour. If you’re traditionally published, you have a team of professional help and guidance. If I want to see my giant squid love poetry published one day, I’d probably have a better chance self-publishing. However, if I want to see my YA version of the Da Vinci Code published, the traditional route might be more appropriate.

What types of writing events have you participated in (NaNoWriMo, conferences, workshops, etc.)? Which was your favorite?

I’m a nine-year veteran of NaNoWriMo. Every year I tried something different, which is why I know I’m not a pantser. After one more year, I’m going to hang up my NaNo hat. It’s a great idea, but I know my writing habits now. I know what I need to improve upon. And while I can write 50k in a month, I’d rather take 3 months to write a more solid novel.

I’ve attended Pikes Peak Writers conference two years in a row. I’ve already signed up for year three. I love this conference! The atmosphere is friendly and the workshops are fantastic. I also had the fortune of attending the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Gold Conference. It, too, was an amazing experience. Lastly, I attended a small-group workshop with authors Sarah Ockler and Heidi Kling. I really enjoyed the focused attention of both Sarah and Heidi due to the workshop’s size.

At this point in my career, I believe smaller groups and more hands-on attention is what I require. I’d love to be able to attend Clarion someday soon, or find a mentor. I’m learning new things about this craft all the time. Conferences, workshops, other writers, etc. have all helped me become better, so they’re all my favorites.


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