This week, I had the pleasure of interviewing Alyssa Archer about her latest book: Dreamtime: What to do Before You Write Your Novel. It is the first book in a four-part series designed to guide the new writer from dreaming about writing a novel to actually writing and publishing a novel over the course of one year. Dreamtime covers the first quarter of the year.
Alyssa studied poetry, literature, and writing at the University of Oregon, where she was honoured to be one of only sixteen undergrad students selected for the Kidd Tutorial, a year-long, graduate level course in writing fiction. It was there that she learned the discipline and the deep bones of the craft of writing.
She’s since worked for bookstores and publishing companies, technology companies and clean energy services companies, always employing her core skills of writing, editing, and coaching other writers. She’s taught writing classes at women’s retreats and led corporate writing training sessions. She served as a judge for nearly a decade for several Romance Writers of America’s chapters’ merit-based contests. She has been a professional editor since 2002.
Dreamtime: What to do Before You Write Your Novel
How is Dreamtime different from what is already out there?
As you know, Dreamtime is the first book in a four-part series designed to guide the new writer from dreaming about writing a novel to actually writing and publishing a novel over the course of one year. Dreamtime covers the first three months of the journey.
Dreamtime is different from other books out there in that it offers ninety short chapters, each containing an inspirational quote and picture, a healthy (but not overwhelming) dose of information, and writing exercises. The book is a daily companion and guide that focuses first on habit building and self-care for writers, and guides the new writer through the pre-planning process so that they will be ready to tackle the first draft of their first novel with book two in the series, Draft Time. This book encourages play and experimentation. It offers more than one approach to writing and encourages writers to find what works for them as they prepare a road map for their first novel.
That sounds really helpful. I know so many writers who struggle with this part of the process in that they don’t think it’s part of the writing process at all. I’m glad you’re here to tell them otherwise! What is that made you write Dreamtime?
I started writing this series when I was making an effort to remove myself from corporate technical editing. I wanted more creative fulfilment in my life and I adore teaching. I was meeting regularly with a ‘Passion and Prosperity’ group—it was our goal to find where that intersection was for ourselves. There were a few other writers in the group and I remember when my friend Bernie turned to me and said, ‘You should really write about how to write a novel for people who want to write one but don’t know where to start. You seem to know a lot about it.’ The spark took hold and this series was born.
I tend to agree with Bernie. So who did you write Dreamtime for?
This book is for anyone who wants to write a novel but doesn’t know where to begin. It’s not for the get-rich-quick-from-publishing crowd, but rather for those that want a relaxed and deep entry to the craft of writing a novel. It’s for those that want to incorporate a daily writing habit in their lives, and work towards something bigger. Fans of Anne Lamott, Julia Cameron, and Natalie Goldberg will likely enjoy this series and its approach.
Personally, I prefer the latter, and I’m glad that’s the way you’re promoting. There are so many get-rich-quick books out there, writers sometimes seem to forget it’s OK to write for the love of the word, and not of the money. OK, last but not least, what is the best writing advice you were ever given?
If your characters aren’t in trouble, you as a writer are. Load on the conflict!
Dreamtime: What to do Before You Write Your Novel is available via Amazon for US$6.99 and Kindle Unlimited for the first three months. After this period, the book will be available on all the major platforms. The paperback will be out soon, too.
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(The Amazon links in this post are affiliate links, which means I receive a small percentage if you buy through these links.)