Tuesday Tips: Ask Amy Thinks Outside The Box


Now that I’ve got your attention, no–that is NOT a real book. The totally twisted folks over at Smoshed.com posted a whole slew of tongue-in-cheek (I hope!) “Rejected Children’s Books” . Here’s another one that seems to fit today’s theme–think outside the box & get off the @#$%^! pot!

As writers we need to know our audience, and give ’em what they want. Since all my kids have four feet and fur, I’ll leave it to others to wax poetic on what’s appropriate for human children. But for the rest of us, one truism remains in today’s world of publishing. Even though it’s changing faster than Magical-dawg sheds fur, publishers still want the same-ol’ same-ol’ but with a twist.

They want a book that’s exactly the same (so it’ll sell), only different. Arggg! Listen, if you’re writing to a popular “trend” the train has already left you behind. Legacy publishing–the traditional Noo Yawk way of doing things–takes so long that by the time your agent search, editor offer, and publish date rolls around, your piping hot trend is old news fit only for the bottom of the cat box. And we all know that discerning kittehs snub stale boxes and look for pristine accommodations.


So the tip of the day is — WRITE WHAT MOVES YOU. Put on your big-kid panties, get off the pot and write what YOU want to read, find your passion, and never mind if others raise eyebrows. It takes a brave soul to be a trend-setter. Somebody had to be the first to turn dry courtroom jargon into a thriller, transform doctor-speak into bone-chilling narratives, fairy-tale broom-riding kids into an international phenom, and cold-blooded suckers into sparkly hearthrobs. Study why that trend works. Then set it on its ear, and find a way to make your twist a success. And remember to listen to your audience!

I’m trying, believe me. Fur keeps getting in my ears.

How do you think outside the box? What passion rules your writing–or other creative outlet? Are you knitting fantastical creations for your grandkids–or the Siamese down the street? Have you figured out a new way to clicker train your goldfish, or teach middle school students? (Now THAT’S scary!)

My audience, for instance, gets pissy about cat box issues. (How’s that for an awkward segue? Stinks, don’t it…) Litter-ary problems are the top cat behavior complaint and there’s lots of reasons why Sheba chooses to …ahem…  “color” outside the lines. I suspect there are parents out there with their own potty-training horror stories. Lucky for me, Seren-kitty has been faithful to her box. This latest Ask Amy “covers” a common potty problem. What are some other tips that have worked for you? Please share!

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6 thoughts on “Tuesday Tips: Ask Amy Thinks Outside The Box

  1. Since there are only what…Six plots, and 16 character archetypes, I’m sure MOST of us are writing the same book. The “different” part is the characters and our voice.

    Thanks for bringing YOUR sparkly voice to another fun blog!

  2. As an unpublished writer who’s fallen into the trap of obsessing about whether or not I’m writing the “right” thing to get published, this post is a great reminder. If I don’t love my book, no one else will.

    • Stacy, keep on keepin’ on! The difference between published and not-yet-published writers, ot a great extent, simply is perserverance. What do you write?

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