Frequently asked and unasked questions about writing, social media, etc.

Are you ever going to get something published?

Maybe I will, might take a while to get this book published.  I have started editing and that can take a while. This is technically my second book. I trashed my first book.

Writing anything else?

No, I’ve started outlining the next one and I am focusing all attention on editing the book I’ve written. I’ll let you know when I will start drafting this one.

What music do you listen to when you write?

I like to listen to music and groups that inspire me, make me dance, make me think, or make me feel connected.

Some of my favorites include: Billie Eilish, Maggie Rogers, FINNEAS, Brandi Carlile, Imagine Dragons, Vampire Weekend, Lumineers, Interrupters, Haim, The Bad Man, Sara Bareilles, and lots more.

Justin smiling,Word document on computer screen says

How do you write?

With my right middle finger on a Clevy keyboard with WordQ word prediction software. Check out the video.  I use Microsoft Read Aloud to read back my work aloud when I edit what I’ve written in a Word document. It highlights words as they’re read aloud which helps me with visual tracking.

Check out my YouTube video that shows how I write. I made this when getting ready to give the keynote speech at the Charting the Cs Conference a two years ago.

Why did you want to write this book narrated by a girl with cerebral palsy?

Ok, part of my decision to write this book with a narrator who is a young woman who has the same disability I do was appealing to me because it doesn’t matter what your gender is, what your economic status is, what your race is, and what your sexuality is. Writing is about empathy and being able to see the world from other human experiences.

What genre was your first book that you say was the worst?

My first one was a science fiction/romance novel (or that is what I want to call that).

What does your second book have that the first one didn’t have?

Realistic stuff. I wanted to draw from my own experiences regarding deep brain stimulation (DBS) and having a physical disability. The dialogue for the narrator primarily happens through her communication device. I am able to share a bit more of everyday frustrations through this character than I do in my real life. This book feels more honest to me.

Why don’t you post on social media more often?

Excellent question. One reason is that I don’t have a phone or easy way to post on social media when I’m out doing stuff away from my computer. If I’m out with my mom, we’ll write posts together and then she’ll post on Twitter or Facebook and tag me, always with my permission first! Never tag your kids unless you have their permission! Even when they’re adults! Here’s an example of how my mom and I partner up.

 

I should be posting a lot more than I am and we’re looking into options for phone access, although it’s tricky because physically, I can’t use a phone and we haven’t figured out a good way to use with my somewhat old communication device. And with the amount of time it takes me to type in my communication device, I’d end up missing out on a lot of living if I’m spending all my time typing a short tweet or post.

Second reason is that social media can be a huge time suck so when I’m at home, a lot of times, I’d rather be writing or working on my books, reading books, or watching YouTube.

That’s it for today. I’m probably laying low for a while. I don’t do well with viruses.

All best – Justin

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Plotter or pantser?

Done!

The novel

NaNoWriMo and More

Ready for AFC Wimbledon, Art & Writing

 

Plotter or pantser?

I have started planning the next book and I mean that quite literally. I say that because I pantsered the last two books. Although I didn’t know this, I think that I might actually be more of a plotter.

Wait, what is a pantser and plotter?

Ok, when I wrote my first two books, I had an idea of what kind of story I wanted to write, but I had no outline for the books – this is referred to as “pantser” as in fly by the seat of your pants. This makes it harder for me to edit because I don’t have an outline for the novel and made it difficult to get unstuck when I had writer’s block and not sure what direction to take the story.

I’m outlining everything in the next book – this is referred to as “plotter.” So, for my next book, when I draft, I have my map to go back to. The nice thing about a map is that I can stay on the path I charted out, but there are lots of possibilities of how to get to my destination – and if I get started down a path that’s not working for me – I can always change where I’m going. But I have a starting point, a general idea of where I’m going, and what I’ll find when I get there.

Wait, what about the book I just finished?

In my last post, I said that I just finished the draft of my book and I’m taking about a month off and then will start working on editing. I couldn’t wait on outlining my next story though because the ideas are bursting in my brain.  Don’t worry, I’ll be hard at work on the Until the Lights Die (my own unofficial title) draft.

One cool thing, if you’re a writer, author, aspiring anything – check out NaNoWriMo.  My friend, Annie, told me about this organization last fall and I love the community of writers. When I posted on the NaNoWriMo Facebook group that I had finished the first draft of my book – I had 185 messages of congratulations, and 2.1 thousand likes within hours. WOW! What a great community for encouraging writers to keep going. We have important stories to share with the world!

Wait, do I ever take a break?

Yep, fun concert last night at the Fine Line. Saw Weathers and Echosmith.

This Tuesday, 2/25/20. will be a busy day for advocacy – another thing I love! Disability Day at the Capitol is in the morning and a great way to learn about issues impacting people with disabilities.  Find out more about the event on The Arc Minnesota 2020 Disability Advocacy day site.

Man with arm around Justin, We belong in the community sign hanging on front of Justin's wheelchair

And don’t forget, if you live in Minnesota, the Precinct Caucus is this Tuesday. Why is it important to go to your caucus? For me – it’s supporting my awesome State Representative Ami Wazlawik and supporting Justin Stofferahn who is running for my State Senator. Time to flip our senate seat blue! It’s not all about the presidential election – local politics matters! It’s an important year – get involved!

That’s all for this week.

Done!

Did it! 1st draft of my 2nd novel is done!

When I started my second book, I wanted to do this narrative as a twenty-one-year-old who is looking back on the time when she was sixteen. For the narrator, I draw upon my own experiences of having cerebral palsy, using a communication device, power wheelchair, uncontrolled movement and jerky muscles, etc.  All this wrapped in a story of mystery and comedy and light.

“Until the lights die, let the story about yourself be your own personal story and no one else’s.

Until the lights die, we don’t know when we will shine. Until then, live.”

– Justin Smith

Read my earlier post about The novel

Justin smiling,Word document on computer screen says "The End"

Justins for Justin

Another exciting moment this week was introducing my friend Justin Stofferahn at his State Senate District 38 Kickoff. In all the drama around the presidential caucuses and primaries, don’t forget how important your local and state races are! I’m doing what I can to help Justin get elected as our new State Senator and flip our district blue. This race matters. This election matters. It’s important for all of us to get involved – because, you guessed it – it matters!

Find out more about Justin’s campaign at JustinStofferahn.com