Books to read. Coffee to drink. Stories to write.

👓 Writing Wednesday: Big Bookstack

Bookstack for the Autodidact

An autodidact is a self-taught person. That’s what the Merriam-Webster Dictionary online edition tells me when I look it up just to make sure I’m not missing any valuable nuances of meaning. The word comes from the Greek autodidaktos, didaktos in turn from the word didaskein which means, to teach.

Looking up histories and etymologies of words has me asking myself if I shouldn’t, maybe, teach myself Greek. Words are so interesting! I could give up writing and instead lose myself in the intricacies of language itself. 

Hmmmm. Tempting. 

However, I’m having enough trouble scheduling in Spanish lessons on the Babbel app I uploaded to my phone as part of my plan to become fluent in the next four years while I have the opportunity to practice with native Spanish speakers in the great American southwest. Plus, I’ve already accumulated this Mt. Everest-sized stack of how-to manuals and inspirational guides for the aspiring writer/author. I might as well continue up the path toward the goal I’ve set for myself: to write quality women’s fiction and contract with a publishing company whose readers crave the kind of stories I love to write. 

If there’s one thing that is true about publishing, it’s that the landscape changes all the time. Markets implode. Companies merge. Publications disappear. New platforms emerge and disrupt the status quo. While these changes swirl around us, we writers hunker down and practice, study, and grow. Sometimes, yes, we moan about the changes and how we just reached a certain rung on the skill-ladder only to have the ladder disappear, but through it all we hone our pens ever sharper and look for resources to guide us into the new unknown. We write every day and teach ourselves as best we can.

That’s what my bookstack is all about. Each of these books has influenced me in ways large and small. Each of them gave me some nuggets of inspiration or information I’ve incorporated into my style or my process. Some are general essays on the writing life, or what I like to call, “how to stay sane while pursuing a creative vocation.” Others are subject specific, i.e. how to write romance or how to write memoir or how to write mystery.

In any case, this stack is a major part of my DIY creative writing program, and it is ever-evolving. For a few dollars (versus several hundred for a live class) I can absorb the brightest ideas from published authors, literary agents, and knowledgeable and experienced editors. Right now I’m reading The Business of Being a Writer by Jane Friedman on my Kindle. If you’ve never heard of Jane, check out her excellent website,


Wattpad Update

Exciting news from Wattpad. Just before Christmas, the official chicklit/women’s fiction profile sponsored the ‘Tis the Season short story contest. The multi-pronged prompt sent me scurrying to my computer, and I dashed off “Mary & Breight,” a meet-cute rom-com about Marcus Breight, a professional basketball player filling in as a taxi driver for his brother on a rainy December night, and Mary Celeste, an assistant editor who’s late for the company Christmas party and wishing for snow. 

On Tuesday, I opened my Wattpad messages to find that I’d won first place! Woo-hoo! 

Because writers can’t rest on competitions past, I spent yesterday working on the next chapter of Rosalie Porter and managed to get about 1000 words completed. I’ll be back at it today as soon as this blog post is finished. Rosalie has made it to Gull’s Haven, Maine, is working as a housekeeper/cook for a feisty senior citizen, Vivienne LaRousse, and trying to start her life over after her steamy sex scandal with a U.S. Congressman. 

Confession time? I can’t wait to complete this novel. I already know it needs editing, but I don’t want to get into that until I have a finished first draft. My goal is to complete the first draft serialization by April and have edits done by June. Keep your fingers crossed for me. If you want to read it as I post the chapters or if you are interested in “Mary & Breight,” just log onto and find me by searching “ShelleyBurbank.” There are other books as well: a couple full-length mystery/thriller with romantic elements and a bunch of short women’s fictions. 

Did I mention reading on Wattpad is FREE? 


A woman can’t live by writing alone. One of these days I’m going to start working on my next knitted comfort shawl. The skeins of yarn look pretty on my living room shelves and call to me every day, but somehow I never seem to start. Which is weird because I enjoy knitting. I love the soft feel and pretty colors of the yarns. Creating comfort shawls to give away to Alzheimer’s/Dementia patients gives me comfort, too. The idea is to be mindful as you knit, putting love and care and peace into each stitch. Good for the recipient. Good for the giver. Good stuff for these crazy times. 

That’s it for today.




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This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing your life and thoughts, Shelley – you always make me think! I enjoyed the concert of “how to stay sane while pursuing a creative vocation.”

    1. Hi Debbie: Staying sane is the goal. It’s so easy to go off the deep-end on some aspect of this business. Like blogging, for instance. I’m wondering if 3 x a week is a little nutty and unnecessary, maybe even off-putting. I might go back to once a week, but rotate the days. One week Mindful Monday. Next week Writing Wednesday. A Friday Happy Hour or Weekend Edition every so often. On the other hand, if I get myself in the right mindset for BREVITY I can use this as blogs were intended…like a journal of sorts.

  2. That’s quite a stack! Love your ambition and how you are making this happen for you! You my firend are a true inspiration and I wish I had that much drive, determination, and time! Write on my friend!!! I have a feeling this could be your year!!!

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