What Being A Writer Looks Like

What being a writer truly looks like…

More than once I have been introduced as “Marie-she writes books.”  Most of the time this happens at company functions, business meetings, or a work social socials as a conversation starter. And over 90% of the time people ask the same question;

“Why are you still working here?”

I have also been asked by aspiring authors:

“How fast can I expect to see the money roll in?”

My answer…

You more than likely won’t see more than maybe $60 roll in each month-and that’s being generous.

This answer is usually followed up with either “then why do it?” or “then what do you do all day?” 

Truth, writing for most of us, published or not, is a labor of love-not a step to instant wealth and fame.  You will spend a ton of money, for next to nothing in return.  And your work will be filled with your blood, sweat, and tears.  Most authors will never be able to quit the 9-5 and make enough off their books to pay the mortgage, or even buy that very much needed cup of Joe.

In reply to the “why do it”-I love it!  I feel accomplished every time a book gets sold or even picked up and looked over during a signing or convention. I get high off the “I did this!” rush of opening a shipment of a new release I created from start to finish and holding it in my hands for the very first time.

As for the “Then what do you do all day?” Well-let’s take a peek into a normal, glamour filled day in an author’s life, shall we?

On any calendar my days look like this:


Pick a day, any day, let’s go with Thursday…

You can find me Thursdays at a normal office job from 8-4:30, running figures, answering questions, forgetting I get 30 minutes for break when doing an interview during the lunch bell, budgets, NOI’s, Income and output, and trying so hard all day not to bang my head against the desk.

Then off to make dinner for the family and tidy up the shambles that a house filled with boys becomes on a daily bases.

By 5:30 we’re packing into a car and off to piano lessons for one of those boys.

From piano, the child gets abandoned back home so mom can make a 6:30 school meeting that will last until 9-9:30. Back home, I’ll have just enough time to make a cup of tea before reminding the children there is school in the morning. Once they are properly threatened into their beds I’ll sit down and read an episode of ACN’s Podcast Indie Beginning – and while it’s still fresh in my mind, and the children have given up all hopes in being up passed 10, I’ll record that piece I just reviewed.  That, on a good day, can take an hour.

 Then, we’re off to return ACN emails, before opening notes from the editor and approving her red marks, create a new advertisement, shoot off inquiries for marketing, balance the ACN accounts, and do all the small business owner type stuff I can squeeze in an hour.

Let’s roll to midnight shall we? I’ve forgotten about the cup of tea, so I hit reheat on the microwave, knowing full well it’ll still be in the heat-it-up machine tomorrow, forgotten completely until I go to put another fresh cup in there. So by midnight; I have a new WIP open, the room dark, and music humming through headphones…and I write…and write…and write…

Next thing you know its 3 a.m. and I’ve either not filled a page, or I’ve rambled on the sheets for thousands of words.

Bed…Friday starts at 7…

My day looks pretty much like yours, no?  Most authors work two jobs, one to pay the car insurance, the other pays nothing monetary, but holds a net worth of a million bucks mentally.  We don’t drive a Mercedes or live in a swanky palace, my home is split up between living spaces and home offices.  And for me, that’s ok.

My writing career as it stands today is enough for me that outside of my day job, I never introduce myself as an affordable housing specialist; instead when asked “what do you do?” I’ll reply with author or writer.

In an author’s world the mental gain far outweighs any monetary profit.

A Charming Nightmare has a new look!

Yup, that’s right.  A Charming Nightmare got her nails done, her hair did, and and over all new look (much to Catch’s complaints).  It’s kind of neat to know that writer’s can change things inside and out.



We’ve corrected our spelling and decided to ‘let’s eat, grandma.’ over ‘let’s eat grandma.’  All of ACN is in love with the new look, and can’t wait for the 2nd edition of A Charming Nightmare!



Dear Writer,


Amy Walker is a stay at home mom who loves to read.  When she is not reading fairy tales to her two small children, Amy dives head first into any book the local library has to offer.  Reading is how she winds down after a long day with twin toddlers.  She finds most novels are hit or miss, and loves when she picks up a novel by a local author that is not so well developed and then opens a new novel (a second chance) by the same author years down the line to learn that they have found their groove!  When asked what her favorite authors were she listed Stephanie Myers, J.K. Rowling, and others of great fame.  When asked about indie authors she listed Beatrix Potter (the creator of Peter Rabbit), Hugh Howie (one of ACN’s own top ten with his series Wool), and Andy Weir (you may know his little indie book The Martian).

Amy and M.K.F. discussed at great lengths the things she wished she could tell her favorite authors.  One thing kept coming up in their conversation; characters.  How readers need to feel them in order for a book to be truly heard.  According to Amy if your characters make her cringe, cry, laugh, or flat out burn angry; then you have her as a fan for life.



Dear Writer,

We fall in love with your characters.  So much so that sometimes we will close the pages and daydream about them.  If they are written well.  As a reader, I don’t need to know how ripped the hero is or how perky the heroines breasts are; what I need is to feel them.  Some of the best descriptions in a character come from the emotional bond you build in your characters actions. The way they talk, or how they portray the world you created for them.  Do more of that!  Make me get mad when the villain attacks, make me cringe at how the main character fumbles through life.  Don’t recreate Michelangelo’s David, but if you do make him scarred. Show me the fear and uncertainty that plagues a normal person living in a normal world. Don’t just tell me they didn’t know what to do, bring me into their mind and use your adjectives in a way that I can see their path, how they got to that point.  That for me is a how to gain a fan.  Always, that is how you’ll get my attention over his six pack abs, and suddenly ability to climb Mt. Rushmore with the damsel in distress in his arms.

Not to name names, but you want a character that I will forever love to hate-let’s name Joffrey from Game of Thrones.  I despise that kid; instantly I get angry when I see his name printed on a page.  I’ve even been known to growl when he comes up in conversation.  That, to me, is a perfect character.  And Mr. Martin will forever have a fan in this girl!

How did he do it? How did he create such a villain that readers obsess over?  It wasn’t so much in his description of features; taller than Jon Snow and Robb Stark with golden curls and deep green eyes, but in the description of his actions.  You watch him grow into a psychopath.  Killing animals for fun, torturing his siblings, doing anything on a whim-whatever he pleases, whenever he pleases.  Joffrey fascinated, and surprised me in how much I despised him as a character.  His actions and verbiage mounted such emotions that before I know it I had whipped through Storm of Swords blowing out a final breath when he did.  Relief-I felt relief in a book!  And justified, and vindicated, and not one bit guilty that I was happy.

Another example of this is Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games.  More specific: Katniss in Mocking Jay.  She’s suddenly a very scarred heroine.  One that we watch battle internal demons as much as she does the Capital.  This Katniss is one of my favorites, I can feel for her.  My heart breaks for her, my internal struggle is as hard as hers when we read how she feels, or what she is thinking.  She is by no means perfect.  I believe, forgive me if I’m wrong, but Susanne Collins doesn’t even attempt to physically describe Katniss.  She lets you see her through emotions.  Even after the war is won, she spends her life battling what is v.s. what once was. My heart melted later, after it was all over and she was petrified to be pregnant.  Terrified to feel something growing inside her, and her worry over loosing that child to the games. That is something I carried with me far beyond the chapters.

Dear writer, when you create a character, create them beyond their physical appearance and strength.  Not all heroes have to have dashing good looks, or flawless skin.  They have to have sustenance, something for us to cling onto. Emotions and thoughts the same as you or I.  If you don’t feel it when writing, then your readers certainly aren’t going to connect.




If you are an author, reader, or person in the industry and would like to contribute a feature piece to ACNBooks please submit your topic idea to: mkf.acnbooks@gmail.com

“Your Book — Your Passion” A Message From Children’s Author Pamela C. Rice

childrens book, african american, diverse, pamela c rice, little shoeshine boy

“Your Book — Your Passion”

Last week we met children’s author and illustrator Pamela C. Rice.  This week Rice took a moment to send a thought for authors new and old about visuals.  Your book is more than just romantic pairings of letters on a blank page; it’s a picture. Your cover is the first impression of everything hiding inside your novel’s jacket.  Below are her words on what to think about when creating a cover:


Being a designer has been my life’s work, (my father and my brother, also) I have found, that more people are VISUAL than not. People are attracted to what appeals to them, no matter WHAT it is.

Although it has been said, “never judge the book by the cover”, the case remains…people are attracted via visual appeal.

A few questions authors should ask themselves: 1) What will make my book stand out before a person knows what the book is about—the title — yes; and 2) the visual—most of the time.

If your book is sitting on a shelf with dozens of other books, does it stand out? Can your title and the author’s name be read from 10 feet away? Are they displayed on the shelves at child-level? Who are you trying to target? Children? What ages? Parents? Are your graphics or illustrations bold and not competing with the heading? Do the colors relate to the market you are trying to reach?

There are some publishers, who in their offering will design your cover. Many will just give you template art and not true R+D, real design.

Too may authors try to do everything themselves. Consider calling on a student of design or illustration at a local college. They’d be ecstatic to produce a cover for a children’s book. Ask to see some of their work. Have them give you a few layout options. Both of you will have something to gain. The student — a piece for their portfolio and you, the author — a book cover that is much more professional.

                            If creating your book is your passion, take it all the way.


To learn more visit Pamela C. Rice’s site KidsShelf

ACNBooks was really happy to see these words from Pamela C. Rice.  Take a step back and look at your book; can you read the title and the authors name from 10 feet away.  Are your graphics not competing with the heading? Is your book getting lost visually with the others on the same shelf? Is it the appropriate color scheme  for the genre and audience you wish to reach?  In future articles we will hit some of these topics with other graphic designers and cover artists including our own amazing everything artist Angela.

If you are an author, reader, or person in the industry and would like to contribute a feature piece to ACNBooks please submit your topic idea to: mkf.acnbooks@gmail.com

“I Grew Grandma’s Tomatoes” and so much more…a moment with children’s writer and illustrator, Pamela C. Rice.

Indie Beginning Podcast gets a slew of submissions that we go through, giving authors our complete anPeyPIC3ad undivided attention.  Sometimes, no matter how much we adore a book IB has to turn it down for whatever reason.  Pam Rice came across the IB desk, and as much as they adored her children’s book submission of  I Grew Grandma’s Tomatoes the podcast felt they couldn’t do the story justice when visually it is stunning! How can you see that over an audio-book format podcast? Immediately ACNBooks snatched up the opportunity to feature Ms Rice and her work as an author and illustrator.

This week we will get to know a little bit about Pam Rice and her passion for not only writing children’s books, but illustrating them!  Next week the author of I Grew Grandma’s Tomatoes will take over ACNBooks with a piece on being your own illustrator.

Creating children’s books is what Pamela C. Rice enjoys and since August 2015 she has released 12 books including When the Brown Bird Flies, The Painting Speaks, Aaron’s Dreams, and Rufus Finds A Prize. Each book is warmly illustrated by Rice and offers written artistic expression of her childhood experiences and inspirations that children will find fun, imaginative and educational.

Rice grew up surrounded by creative art and design, and believes that she is a person born to write and illustrate for children. Both Pam’s father and brother were in the field of design. Her father was a commercial artist, and her brother was in textile and artisan design. With over 30 years of independent and corporate experience in advertising, graphic design, and visual communications, Rice has earned high recognition and top accolades with over 30 design awards. She has made guest appearances as a lecturer at the Illinois Academy of Design and Merchandising and at Northeastern Illinois University. She has also taught at the University of Illinois-Chicago, in the Principal Scholar’s Program.

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Pam has illustrated for various authors such as Anna K. Morris, Emma Young, and Kay McCrimon, to name a few. For many years Pam has developed her unique illustrative style, and is excited to create content that both parents and children can enjoy. She is currently working with a Peruvian friend and translator to bring more diversity and inclusion to her library of books.

What was the inspiration for I Grew Grandma’s Tomatoes?

The inspiration for the book was an idea of planting and how a few seeds could yield  a plentiful harvest.

I read that you write and illustrate your books; which is your favorite part?

Because my life’s work has been art, graphics, advertising design and visual communications, I’d have to say illustrating…that’s the easy part and my favorite. 

And for you which comes first?  The drawings or the story?

When I’m coming up with the story, my mind automatically jumps to the visual. I believe that the visuals drives the story —for me.

What are you working on now?

I have a book called “Lizzy’s Purse”, that I’ve completed. I will probably release it towards the fall, because it’s season appropriate.

What drew you to children’s books?

For years I had illustrated books for various authors. I realized that my style of illustration had developed and that people would recognize immediately books I illustrated. I also would send my niece stories of events and incidents I had when I was a child, and realized that individually they would make good material for book content. I will never run out of material to write about.

What does a typical work day look like for you?

Since I am still freelance and a graphic designer, I’m working on various projects from websites to exhibits.

What does your writing space look like?

In front of my laptop, wherever I am.

Out of all the books you’ve written do you have a favorite?

Because so many of my books are stories of life experiences as a child, most are my favorite. “Whistle Watch At Uncle Willie’s House”, “I Can Smell The Rain”, “Daisy’s Bright Idea:, “Aaron’s Dream”…On the inside back cover of most of these books I include a small paragraph that explains the reason for the story.

Is there anything about the writing life that you think is misunderstood by the public?

I have to write stories that are meaningful…stories children can relate to ‘from a child’s perspective’. Some children’s books can be too simple and trifling. My stories can be read and enjoyed by adults because I weave in ‘life lessons.”

What were some of the unexpected challenges you faced on your writing journey?

Because ideas come to me in pieces, I have to thread those pieces together, so the books eventually flows together. If that doesn’t happen, I usually ‘can’ the book OR just put it to the side.

childrens book, african american, diverse, pamela c rice, little shoeshine boy

Do you have anything today that is your author “kryptonite”? Examples: Coming up with new ideas, Book readings, book signings, marketing, public speaking, touring, etc. etc. How do you handle them?

I haven’t done any book readings. Marketing, yes. A few Podcasts, no touring. I’ve been asked to get involve with some book fairs, but I am not one to set up, sit around, and personally sell books. At some point I will. My ‘library’ has grown and selling and promoting a variety of books appeals to me more than just hitting the circuit with just one book.  I’ve done the whole ‘exhibit ‘ thing with my paintings. I have had several one-woman shows with my art, and was in four galleries (Wisconsin, Chicago, Michigan)

For right now, my books have been on the ‘organic’ sell. Website, Social Media, local Whole Foods. I guess I, income way , still see it as a hobby.

I am in the process now of writing a book on African American ’adventurists’. I’ve selected some very interesting people who I know and their stories needed to be told. This is something I had been pondering for a while…a few people you may or may not of heard of. I’m hoping to complete by November.

What advice would you give to someone just beginning their career as a writer?

One needs a source to draw from, that’s important or you’re always going to run into writer’s block.

For more on Pam’s work in illustration check in next week! To get yourself a copy of one of her beautiful life lessons you can click the link here:

Pamela C. Rice’s Children’s Books

Learn how people have reacted to Pamela C. Rice’s stories on Goodreads

Curious about Pamela C. Rice? Learn more on her webpage!


Are you a writer, reader, or person in the publishing industry? Would you like to talk books with our followers? Email mkf.acnbooks@gmail.com with your topic idea!

Let me tell you about…

coming-soonComing later this month; ACNBooks will be giving followers the stage!  We have lined up authors, people from the industry, and BOOK READERS to take over the site with their own articles. They have put so much time and effort into writing stories to help you learn and understand the world of books.  We have everything from being a children’s book writer and illustrator to what it is like to adore books when you have ADHD.


If you are an author, or someone who enjoys reading and would like to participate in a takeover please email: mkf.acnbooks@gmail.com with your idea!