“I love fantasy, and I love Japan.” For this award-winning novelist, inspiration is everywhere

Bexx Matthews’ novel-in-progress, The Girl With White Hair.

For someone who likes to daydream so much, Bexx Matthews sure gets a lot done.

Case in point: when Bexx was just seven years old, she penned her first trilogy. Inspired by the personality quirks of her family’s three Rottweiler puppies, the stories she wrote made her realize that the only thing she liked more than daydreaming and imagining, was writing it all down.

More recent case in point: In October, Bexx cranked out 10,000 words in the ChapterBuzz 10K Social Writing Challenge—and won.

The Challenge, for the uninitiated, is a month-long writing marathon where novelists qualify for top awards by writing at least 10,000 words. (Incidentally, the next Challenge starts March 1st. You can—and should—join us! Learn more and get updates here)

But almost as impressive as her win was the dramatic fashion in which she completed the Challenge. “I’d written for hours on the last night, trying to hit that 10,000-word mark,” Bexx recalls. “I was so happy that I managed to get through and finish.”

Her hard work paid off. Bexx took home the Most Buzz Award, meaning that she attracted the most readers for her novel-in-progress, The Girl with White Hair, which tells the story of Tsukiko, the youngest girl in a long line of Japanese hunter/warriors, who seeks revenge against the Emperor for an attack on her clan. With such an exciting premise, it’s no wonder the book swiftly soared into the site’s Top 20.

The stories she wrote made her realize that the only thing she liked more than daydreaming and imagining, was writing it all down.

Now that The Girl with White Hair is officially an award-winning novel, will it be published anytime soon? Between university classes, learning to speak Japanese, and of course, long bouts of daydreaming, Bexx has a lot on her plate. But she still plans to finish her manuscript by September—so I’ll take that as a yes!

From filling up her workbook during class writing sessions in primary school (“I just couldn’t stop the words”) to her current focus on strong character development (“Characters live and grow alongside the person writing”) to how The Girl with White Hair is continually challenging her (“It’s a bit out of my comfort zone”), Bexx’s writing journey has led to plenty of personal and professional growth over the years.

But that journey hasn’t been without storm clouds. “I’ve had my fair share of struggles,” she reveals, “including a particularly bad episode of depression. I’ve had times where I hated everything I put on paper, and wondered if writing was something that I actually enjoyed.”

Fortunately, she managed to pull herself out of her funk by writing poetry and fan fiction. “I started a blog and gave myself no obligation to write on a daily basis,” she explains, instead writing only occasionally about “the little things that I really appreciated.”

Then, inspiration struck. “I love fantasy, and I love Japan,” she says. For The Girl with White Hair, “the initial idea was to have fun in a Japan-inspired fictional world. It’s totally different than what I would usually write.”

“Why should a chapter be tedious to write? Why shouldn’t every page be bursting with your own individual voice?”
—Bexx Matthews

Any advice for aspiring novelists?

“I feel as though anyone who has ever considered writing as a career has gone through this stage where they just become so focused on being a writer to prove to themselves that they have what it takes, and in the process, forget to enjoy themselves,” Bexx says. “Why should a chapter be tedious to write? Why shouldn’t every page be bursting with your own individual voice?”

I couldn’t agree more. Writing is to be enjoyed, and of course, it’s even more enjoyable when that hard work is rewarded.

“The morning I opened the e-mail informing me The Girl with White Hair had won the Most Buzz Award, I was half asleep and squinting to read the screen. There was this pause where I processed it, followed by the biggest flood of relief and sense of achievement.”

“Writing this novel,” she hastens to add, “really is a dream come true.”

Congratulations again on all your hard work, Bexx. Or as they’d say in Japan, omedeto gozaimasu!

Want to be an inspiration to other writers? Share this story on Facebook! You’ll also be supporting Bexx’s burgeoning career. Simply use the “Share this” buttons below, and while you’re at it, we’d love to hear your comments.

I’m Timothy Pike, book publisher and editor-in-chief of What Inspires Your Writing? I love discovering talented, up-and-coming writers from our community, and featuring them here. Get involved in our ChapterBuzz community, and the next article may just be about you!


Writers, save the date! Win an award for your up-and-coming novel

Learn more about TimDon’t miss the big writing event of the year, the ChapterBuzz 10K Social Writing Challenge, starting March 1st!

What is the 10K Challenge?

It’s your chance to win an award. You could be the next Dacia M. Arnold (who now has a publishing deal in the works), Liberty Henwick (who has the #1 book on the site), or Bexx Matthews (winner from our last Challenge)!

You’ll spend the month of March writing 10,000 words (that’s about 350 words a day), meeting writers from around the world, and fine-tuning your manuscript with the help of feedback from the group. And it’s totally free to enter! Learn more about the Challenge

Want to jump-start your writing career? This is your chance.

Get on the updates list today, and be the first to know when registration opens!

Friday Roundup: a pirate ship, an armored dog, and A Crack in the Mirror

Learn more about TimFrom flash fiction to battle-worn pets, here’s what’s been happening in our writing community. All that’s missing is you!

Ashley Reedman made the top 15 in a writing contest! The Rocky Mountain chapter of Mystery Writers of America sponsored a 6-word writing contest, and Ashley placed with her very short story, “Diving goggles found in pirate ship.” Great work! Join us on Facebook and stay up to date on opportunities like this throughout the year. (Our group is called Published Author VIP.)

Sibille Rose is hoping for some feedback for her novel-in-progress, A Crack in the Mirror:

Sibille asks: “I’m not sure that I’m entirely happy with how things went here … I always feel a bit silly writing it. Does this … ending read well?”

Join ChapterBuzz and help Sibille Rose write her novel!

Ruth Virgo created a writing prompt for members of the Better Writers Club to respond to: Years ago your pet vanished without a trace. You assumed the worst, but hoped for the best. This evening they showed up at your door, scarred and battle-worn, wearing battered armor and carrying a note for you. Explain it in under 500 words.

Tiffany S. Doran’s response about a highly ranked officer in the doggie army is spot-on.

Join us in the Better Writers Club and add your own response!

Could your brain use a good “writing workout” after the holidays?

Learn more about TimClad in your dark gray track suit and winter cap, you step out of your front door just as the sun’s first vivid, orange rays splash across the morning sky. You breathe in deeply and let the fresh, frigid January air fill your lungs. Your muscles creak and groan a bit as you start to jog, but soon the blood is flowing, your entire body is humming like a well-oiled machine, and you’re feeling on top of the world.

The kind of dedication it takes to go for a run every morning is rare, but we all know that regular exercise is of the utmost importance.

Same goes for your brain!

If, like many of us, you let writing fall by the wayside over the holidays, now is your perfect chance to step it up and get those creative juices flowing to the brain again.

How about starting with today’s featured writing prompt?

Every week in the Better Writers Club, I choose one to send out (among the many available to Club members).

Author Sibille Rose

This week’s is from Tier II Author Sibille Rose:

You are the keeper of an island of lost things. One day, you find another person washed up on the shore of the island. This person can be a character from one of your existing stories or someone entirely new. Why are they on the island?

Share your response with us! Join us in the Better Writers Club today and you can get feedback on your response, read other entries, and even create a prompt of your own. And with the Fame Points you earn from these and other activities, you’ll be making a name for yourself as a writer in no time!

We are a group of writers who are passionate about what we do and serious about mastering our craft. Are you one of us?

Learn more & join us

3 steps to TAKING ACTION on your writing dreams in 2018

Learn more about TimIt seems most of the advice people receive, especially around this time of year, revolves around doing something. Usually, this is in the form of New Year’s resolutions, which, unfortunately, get made by many but followed through on by few. So instead of merely encouraging you to “do something,” I would like to present a 3-step plan for taking real action in your writing life.

And for maximum effectiveness, we’re only going to focus on the next 30 days.

Here are the steps:

1. Dream big, start small. First, decide what you want to accomplish in the month ahead. Make sure it’s realistic for you, but don’t hesitate to challenge yourself. Now, try a thought experiment: if I told you to start right now, literally this instant, how would you feel? Overwhelmed? Not sure where to start? If that’s the case, then break it down and figure out what the very first step would be. Still hesitating? Rinse and repeat, breaking it down into even smaller steps, until you have a tangible action step that you feel comfortable taking right now.

2. Declare your intention. Once you know what the very first step is, tell yourself you’re going to do it. Then, tell us you’re going to do it! I call it your 30-Day Declaration of Intention. So go ahead and comment below to let us know your goal for the next month, and what that first step is. Announcing it on this blog is a great way to get involved with our community—a community that can help you achieve your writing goals.

(Speaking of community, I’d also love to welcome you into the Better Writers Club, a brand new way to meet other writers, make writing a daily habit, and earn points and badges to motivate you—even on those days where you’re dragging your feet. Check it out!)

And then…

3. Actually do it. After you’ve made your Declaration, be sure to actually take that first small step forward. This may seem obvious, but people still miss this part for various reasons. If there is still hesitation on your part, or you find yourself procrastinating or making excuses, you may need to break it down even further and ask yourself, what’s the first, first step?

There’s no more time to waste—it’s action time! Your writing dreams and goals have waited long enough, and I know you’re itching to feel a sense of progress. Now is your time.

So, what’s your intention? Declare it below! Remember to include your 30-day goal, and the very first step toward that goal.

7 signs you’re going to be a VERY successful writer

Learn more about TimThere’s a huge difference between a hobbyist—someone dabbling in writing—and a serious writer who is (or plans to be) a published author.

Do these 7 signs describe you? Then say hello to a bright, bright future!

1. You love to write. It’s something not everybody can do, but because you can, it truly is your passion. And what’s not to love? Writing is a prestigious skill, it’s a powerful outlet for your thoughts and ideas, you can do it from anywhere—the list goes on and on. If you love to write, you can check this item off. You can even say “check” out loud if you want.

2. You have a Grand Vision. You’re constantly imagining your life one month, one year, five years in the future—and what you’ve accomplished in that vision reflects all the hard work you’re putting in now. Since you know that in order to get what you want, you must first know what you want, you’re able to be very specific about what you’ll have achieved, what you’ll still be working on, and the lifestyle you’ll be enjoying—made possible by your writing, of course.

3. You’re writing every day. Since so many of your dreams and goals involve writing, it’s only natural that you spring out of bed every single morning, rarin’ to go. I heard that—you just muttered “not!” under your breath. That’s because like any career-minded writer, you treat writing like a job, which means that some days it’s going to feel like one. But you’ve decided you’re not going to sit around and wait for inspiration to strike, no siree bob. You’ve made writing a priority in your life, and every morning when you sit down and put pen to paper, you’re creating your own inspiration.

4. You continually educate yourself. You know that if you want to truly master your craft, you’ve got to keep learning. Whenever you get a few minutes, you’re watching a YouTube video about writing, reading a blog article, or off attending a writer’s conference somewhere (an excellent way to learn, by the way, but also to network with other writers and keep up on industry trends). The educated writer is the successful writer.

5. You’re not afraid to put yourself out there. If these items were in order of importance, this would arguably be #1. As a writer with a successful career ahead, you do what it takes to get your work in front of readers, interact with other writers, give and receive feedback, and generally make a name for yourself. Participating in forums, joining writing groups, and posting samples of your work are all highly effective ways to do this. (May I suggest the Better Writers Club as a way to do all of this at once?)

6. You realize these things take time. While other writers may feel exasperated and think, I’m already doing everything on this list and nothing’s happening, you’re confidently plugging away in the knowledge that rarely does a writer hit the bigtime overnight. Quite the contrary: most writers invest many, many years in their work, and experience plenty of rejection, discouragement, and disappointment along the way. With the stable career, widespread renown, and upgraded lifestyle that await you, you’re understandably impatient—but mostly excited—for what lies ahead, and you welcome the challenge with open arms.

7. You never give up. Sure, you’ve considered throwing in the towel (we all have!), but since you’re convinced from the deepest level of your being that you have something great to offer the world, you are steadfastly determined to finish what you started, and like the Energizer bunny, you keep going and going and going. Nighttime finds you tirelessly tap-tap-tippity-tap-tap-tapping those keys into the wee hours of the morning, getting your ideas together or adding to a manuscript that you just know people will love—if only they get a chance to read it. And you won’t let them down.

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Timothy Pike is a self-publishing coach and the founder of the Better Writers Club, where Fans, Fame, a community of awesome writers—and of course, writing prompts—await you. Join us!