I’m happy to welcome author Darby Baham. Today, Darby shares writing advice and her debut novel, The Shoe Diaries.
Advice for Writers/Writing Tips
It is only when you open your veins and bleed onto the page a little that you establish contact with your reader. — Paul Gallico
I remember hearing this quote about what it takes to be a writer long before I ever knew who said it or fully understood what it meant. At the time, I probably thought, man that sounds hard, but it’s only for people writing memoirs or heavy, deep content. However, in the decade plus that it took me to write The Shoe Diaries, I have learned that no, this is good writing advice for anything you write. Good writing, meaningful writing, requires that you dig deep and write about things that make you feel vulnerable at times, because that’s what other people connect to.
Here are five other tips I’ve learned along the way:
*You have to love it! Writing is a labor of love. You can be the most skilled and talented writer, but you will inevitably go through the same cycle we all do: loving and hating what you wrote until it’s done, and then loving and hating it while you’re editing, and loving and hating it when it’s being published. It’s not an easy process, but if you love it, if writing is in your bones, every bit of it is worth it.
*You have to make the time for it. If you have a deadline, you don’t always have the luxury of just writing when you feel in the mood to do it. There will be times where you have to set aside designated time to write so that it gets done! I won’t say that you have to write every day, because maybe that doesn’t work for you. It doesn’t work for me. But ask yourself, “What is a schedule that pushes me, but doesn’t mentally drain me?” When you have the answer to that question, it will make things a lot easier. Some people like setting aside an hour a day to write, others enjoy spending one full day a week where they write for hours and hours. It’s a process of trial and error. Figure out what works for you, and then commit to that time.
*Don’t be afraid to get it wrong. I spent years trying to make the first three chapters perfect because someone somewhere had told me that those were the most important chapters to getting you an agent. And it’s not that they were wrong, but I took that and didn’t make it past chapter 3 for years. So here’s what I learned: it’s not going to be perfect at first, you just need to get something on the paper. Don’t get stuck in the rut of editing while you write, because you’ll likely end up frustrated and won’t write as much as you were probably hoping to. If you’re holding onto “it has to be perfect” you’ll never get it done.
*Get okay with rejection. No one likes to be rejected, but the reality is you will likely get far more nos than yeses on this journey to becoming an author. One of the hardest things I dealt with was hearing from an editor a while back just how bad my version of The Shoe Diaries was at the time. It hurt. A lot. But he helped me, too, because it pushed me to dig deeper and try again. Just remember you only need one yes. Stick to that, and you’ll be golden.
*All the things you’re scared of in your real life, put them into the book. To be fair, this is my own version of the “bleeding yourself on the page” concept, but I think it’s slightly more direct. Everyone else is probably scared of those things, and that’s what they will be able to relate to. It’s the scariest thing to do, but it’s a beautiful way to create connection with your audience. People can’t connect to your book if you are guarded and holding back on things you don’t want to address, and yes that means in your romance novel too.
*Bonus: Read! Read! Read! You become a better writer by reading good writing.
It’s never too late to put your best foot forward
From the outside, Reagan “Rae” Doucet has it all: a coveted career in Washington, DC, a tight circle of friends and a shoe closet to die for. When one of her crew falls ill, however, Rae is done playing it safe. The talented but unfulfilled writer makes a “risk list” to revamp her life. But forgiving her ex, Jake Saunders, might be one risk too many…
From Harlequin Special Edition: Believe in love. Overcome obstacles. Find happiness.
The Friendship Chronicles/Book 1: The Shoe Diaries
“Reminiscent of Sex and the City and the Shopaholic series in the best possible way. Her stories are a lot of fun and yet she still tugs at your heartstrings.”–Gail Chasan, Special Edition Editor
Love of Shoes
October 28, 2019
“It was barely 7:00 a.m. when I heard my alarm blasting the sounds of Nicki Minaj’s “Pound the Alarm.” “Not yet, Alexa.” Groggy and yearning for at least five more minutes of sleep, I stretched my arm over the length of my bed and pressed down on the snooze button with my eyes still closed. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to get up, necessarily; it was just that the cocoon of my comforter in my queen-size bed felt so much better than whatever could have been waiting for me outside it. I pulled the cover over my head as an extra protection against the sun.
“Pound the alarm!”
“Agh!” I screamed out as it went off once more. “Fine, fine. I’m up now.”
The music still blaring, I finally acquiesced and rolled myself out of bed, one leg coming free from my cover cocoon, then the next, and made my way to my closet for what had become my daily routine: pick out shoes for the day, figure out the outfit that goes best with them, take a shower and then, of course, post my #shoeoftheday photo to Instagram before heading to work. Conveniently, I passed right over the red pumps that spelled disaster for me the night before. “Hmm, now what do I feel like wearing today?” I questioned, dancing to my closet and scanning all the shoes I own with my eyes, from my flats to my heels, boots to sneakers, in every color one can imagine. They were all intricately displayed on the shelves—heels facing out to show the length and style of the pump, flats facing forward to make it easier for me to see if it was a peep toe, curved toe, pointed toe, or square. “Oooh, these!” Something about my deep red, almost maroon peep-toe heels from BCBG caught my eyes, and I knew they were the ones for the day. The shoes were adorned with a silver buckle on the side of each peep toe and would go perfectly with my red-and pink floral blouse, black pencil skirt and peplum blazer to match. It was amazing how the rest of an outfit could come together for me once I picked out the shoes, and today was no exception. These might even be the ones to help me finally convince my boss to let me do the article I’d been pitching to him for months. Excited about my choices, I laid them out on my bed and hopped in the shower, continuing my best rap impressions as my playlist toggled through my favorite female rappers.
It was 9:00 a.m. when I walked into work at Washington, D.C.’s premier political news online magazine, my heels clacking on the linoleum floors they must have purchased just to make it that much easier for women to alert everyone of their comings and goings in the office. Seated at her desk already was my always-early, no-holds-barred freckle twin, and the best IT specialist in the office, Rebecca, her reddish-blond hair pulled up into a loose bun and a smile on her face the size of a kid in a candy store. “So…” she said, dragging out her first word. “Tell me about last night.”
Author Bio and Links
Darby Baham (she/her) is a debut author with Harlequin Special Edition and a New Yorker of five years who sometimes desperately misses the sprawling shoe closet she had while living in Maryland. She’s had personal blog posts appear in The Washington Post’s relationship vertical and has worked in the communications industry for more than two decades. The New Orleans, LA native is also a lover of big laughs and books that swallow you into their world. Her first book, The Shoe Diaries, debuts in 2022.
NOTE: Here is the link to subscribe to receive books specifically from Harlequin Special Edition — https://www.readerservice.com/content/series/harlequin-special-edition/
Darby’s book will be included in the January edition.
Darby Baham’s Washington Post Bylines
I had the perfect date dress. Why did it hang in my closet unworn for more than a year? — March 2016
When it comes to relationship advice, sometimes it’s best to ignore your friends — February 2016
I’m the oldest sister in my family and I’m single. And that’s okay. — March 2016
I was afraid to say ‘I love you.’ Here’s how I found the courage. –
The Shoe Diaries Sales Links
One randomly chosen winner via Rafflecopter will win a $50 Amazon/Barnes & Noble gift card. Find out more here.
Follow Darby on the rest of the Goddess Fish tour here.