Author Feature

Why You Write – with Monya Williams

The following are the words of Monya Williams, Archway Publishing author of “I CAN-CER VIVE” Learn more about Monya on her author website and blog. Download the Archway Publishing free publishing guide for more information on our supported self-publishing services.

Blog to Book

I have written in personal journals since I was eight years old.  I carry a pen and pad with me at all times in case I see something interesting. In 2009 I decided to put my thoughts and feelings in a blog platform.  Two months later, I was diagnosed with Stage 3C breast cancer. My silly blog soon had millions of followers, many asking me to write a book. My answer to this question was always, “I’m not a writer.” Now here I am, eight years later, an author.

The Deciding Factor

I Can-Cer ViveWhen a person decides to write a book, it’s a huge undertaking: 80% of people who start writing a book never finish it.  Now I understand, many do not have a big enough “why.”

I believe the reason for writing a book is what propels writers across the finish line.

The desire to finish your book has to be larger than anything else you have going on in your life. I had to write my “WHY” down and see it everyday to remind me.  On days when I didn’t think I could write anymore I looked at the picture of my family and told myself, “this is not about me.” I wanted my family to look at my life and be proud of how I handled adversity.

Choosing a Publisher

For many authors, choosing a publisher is easy. My circumstances were a bit different, I wasn’t sure I could finish this book before my life ended. I was fighting against time and needed to connect with a publishing company that would understand my situation: because of my ongoing battle with cancer, this book was not going to happen over night.  With this in mind, Archway Publishing – a Division of Simon & Schuster – piqued my interest. I had interviewed with several other publishing companies and never felt a connection like I did with Archway. I was blessed with a wonderful team of compassionate supporters. Choosing Archway was one of the best decisions I made in this publishing adventure.

The Pitch

You’ve conquered. The completion of a book is an enormous accomplishment. You’re smiling from ear to ear, and for good reason: you are among only 20% who finish a book they’ve started. When I finished writing my book, I was asked to pitch my story in two minutes or less.  It took four years to write a four hundred page book and now I was supposed to reduce it down to two minutes. Are you kidding me? Well, I’m happy to tell you it doesn’t matter how big or small your book is, you can pique the interest of anyone with only a few sentences.

This Is My Why

  • Decide why your book is different than another bookwhat makes it stand out? When I attended the LA Book Expo, I was stunned by the amount of books written about “curing” cancer. My story tells the true story of what it’s like to survive cancer: from surgeries, procedures, side effects, despair, determination, loss of hearing, a bi-lateral mastectomy, and permanent facial paralysis to finding faith and hope for my future. I didn’t romanticize my breast reconstruction or gloss over my abuse. My story tells the true, raw emotions of what women are going through. I write about some things that are never talked about openly. My story will make you cry, it will make you laugh, and if you’ve ever known someone affected by cancer or abuse, it will touch your heart and soul. Take the three or four most compelling parts of your story, and write them down.
  • Memorization: the importance is not to script your voice or take the emotion out of it. A book pitch is more about practicing so as to keep your voice and story succinct. I wanted the listener to connect with me and my journey, but leave them wanting to know more.

Final ThoughtsMonya Williams

I will most likely not have the chance to write another book, but I have no regrets. What I wrote is authentic, raw, and real. I transferred my thoughts to paper and I continue to blog today, embracing a combination of hard work and magical thinking.

When I received the first copy of my book, I stood in amazement with tears and said “Yes, the hard work matters, but I will always leave room for experiences to come along that are even better than I could have ever imagined.”


Archway Publishing is always looking for content for its blog. If you’re an Archway Publishing author and would like to share an idea for a guest blog post, please tweet the Archway Publishing Twitter account @ArchwayPub or send us a message at the Archway Publishing Facebook page.

Author Feature, Writing

Characters and Setting with Author Linda Maria Frank

The following are the words of Linda Maria Frank, Archway Publishing author of “Secrets in the Fairy Chimneys” Learn more about Linda on her author website, YouTube, or Facebook page. Download the Archway Publishing free publishing guide for more information on our supported self-publishing services.

Where to Begin?

One of the most common questions when writing fiction is the question of creating characters.

My choice in writing was to create a mystery series for kids. My background teaching forensic science provided a whole world of possibilities for plots. I thought of just the thing to grab my young readers’ attention: the main character of my series, Annie Tillery.

Many of my readers ask if Annie is me. My answer is that Annie is the teen I would have loved to have been. I enjoyed creating a fantasy world and putting Annie into it to see what she would do. You know, sometimes the characters make the decisions. That being said, I manufactured my girl sleuth protagonist.

Building Your Character

The process of creating Annie was like dressing a paper doll. Let’s see what the basic body type is. This is important! Your readers want to visualize what she looks like. I decided to address this issue by adding a description somewhere early in each book. Next, I tried on – not different clothing – but different characteristics. Some of the choices for a junior sleuth were: brave vs. reckless, smart vs. nerdy, enthusiastic vs. low key, sneaky vs. inventive, and feisty vs. passive aggressive.

It’s also important to give the protagonist a personal life, family, relationships and such; not a perfect family, but one that presents them with challenges and brings out characteristics that will endear them to a reader.  Or, make them angry at her.

The books you’ve read that feature characters you’ve fallen in love with let you into that character’s head. Even better is if the author lets you into a character’s heart. That is what I have attempted in my teen mystery books.

Whatever the genre or plot, the reader wants to know what the main characters think and feel. What’s the best way to do that? THIS WAS THE GREATEST CHALLENGE TO ME WHEN I FIRST STARTED TO WRITE.

Placing the Character

The final element of a book is setting. The first two books of my series take place in settings I knew and loved. Because of this, the story could sometimes just flow on the back of descriptive passages and historical accounts. The development of characters became easier, because the setting helped me to capitalize on specific personality traits that were evoked by the surroundings.

Setting the third book of my series, Secrets in the Fairy Chimneys, in Turkey was not easy. Although I visited Turkey to research the book, the fabulous settings I found there were not a part of my soul. I had to really work hard to achieve a credible air of intimacy with the settings of Turkey.

In an archaeological journal I came upon a description of a dig in a real place: Catalhoyuk, in what is modern day Turkey. I was fascinated by the fact that Catalhoyuk was the oldest known town ever found (9,000 years old). The area where it exists is Cappadocia, rich with ancient history from the Hittites to the “cave people”of the present. “Fairy chimneys” is the name given to striking and weird geological formations that exist there.

My Inspiration

My tour of Turkey included much time in Cappadocia, allowing me to take many pictures and absorb the atmosphere of the place. I took notes and wrote passages of the book, adjusting the chapter outline to make it fit what I saw. My photos were invaluable. I had a super guide book that helped me with words and phrases. I took note of peoples’ names so that I could use authentic Turkish names in the book. Cappadocia almost became one of the characters in the book with its dry vegetation, dust, and of course, fairy chimneys.

Istanbul, once Constantinople, was captivating. The city setting can still be conjured up just by closing my eyes. The bazaar exceeded my expectations. It was a total assault on the senses

As a writer, the lesson I took from Turkey is to really research your setting. If you can’t go there, study maps, view travelogues, and learn the history of the place. Google maps and images are a great help too.

There needs to be a balance between setting, character, and plot. Setting for me can be one of your characters; one that provides your main characters with endless possibilities.


Archway Publishing is always looking for content for its blog. If you’re an Archway Publishing author and would like to share an idea for a guest blog post, please tweet the Archway Publishing Twitter account @ArchwayPub or send us a message at the Archway Publishing Facebook page.