Featured Writer on Wellness: Allison Maruska

Filed in Writers on Wellness by on October 30, 2018 • views: 2845

I’d say separating self from product is the biggest challenge.

We put so much time, energy, and love into our books, so we tend to take criticisms of our work personally. I can have hundreds of positive reviews, and if I get one bad one, it’s a little soul crushing.

Some authors seem to have a magical switch that allows them to be themselves while letting their books be separate entities from them. I have yet to discover where this switch is.

It Helps to Laugh at Bad Reviews

Talking with friends helps, especially fellow writer friends who also have horses in this race.

It also helps to laugh at bad reviews. I’ve posted screen shots of a 1-star review boxed in by positive reviews or in a row of reviews featuring every rating, partly to allow readers into my world a bit (and to laugh with me at the ridiculous ones) and partly to remind myself that reviews are subjective as hell.

It’s Too Easy to Plop Our Butts Down and Not Move

Staying active is the biggest physical challenge (lower energy and weight gain happily go along with that). It’s too easy to plop our butts down and not move with the goal of “working.”

I used to have a gym membership, but introverted me struggled with facing people at the end of a work day. So my husband and I bought a rowing machine and some weights. It’s been easier to get workouts in when the means are in my own house.

Seasonal Depression Can Affect My Writing

For me, the key to my creativity is understanding how my brain/mood fluctuates throughout the year.

I’m a long-time sufferer of seasonal depression, which has become more apparent since I started writing because when it’s in full swing, my writing motivation and actual writing sucks.

Seasonal depression isn’t much different from “regular” depression, in that it squelches creative drives. When it first creeps in, you:

  1. think you suck,
  2. assume everyone else thinks you suck, and
  3. struggle to create something that will obviously suck.

At its worst, depression feels like a heavy shroud, and you just don’t care if you create at all. My counselor told me that with seasonal depression, I likely have a “functional” level of depression throughout the year, but it dips with the shorter days of autumn and early winter.

Those dips are what I have to be aware of when I write. I can write, but what I produce isn’t to the standard I have for myself. Those tangential ideas we get as storytellers just don’t happen so the stories aren’t as rich.

Even though I now receive treatment for my mood, I allow myself grace if I can tell it’s affecting my work and wait it out.

How A Difficult Critique Created a “Ledge Moment”

The darkest moment: I call it my “ledge moment.”

A well-meaning (I think) critique partner basically gave me some difficult feedback on one of my books, saying the opening was weak, among other things. It occurred when my mood was especially low, and after the conversation I cried, vowed to stuff the book away forever, and questioned if writing was really for me.

I spoke with another author friend shortly after, and he talked me back from the ledge and helped me see what was good about the book. I self-published a few months later.

That book went on to be a runaway best-seller.

My biggest triumph: Last October, I was a workshop presenter at the Florida Writer’s Association conference.

After one of my workshops, an attendee approached me in the hallway and put a handmade, wooden pen in my hand. She said my class was so good she wanted me to have the pen as a gift so I would remember her and how I helped her.

It’s probably my stubbornness that keeps me going. LOL. There have certainly been “quit days” for me, but I’m not the type to simply walk away from something I’ve put so much of myself into.

Advice for a Young Writer: It Won’t Always Be Fun

I would say patience and tenacity are key.

Many are surprised how long it takes to get a coherent book completed, let alone the glacial pace of publishing and the non-stop need to feed the marketing beast.

It won’t always be fun. But when it is, it’s the best.

* * *

Allison Maruska started her writing adventure in 2012 as a humor blogger. Her first published book, The Fourth Descendant, was released in February, 2015 and has held strong rankings on Amazon best-seller lists since July, 2015. Her YA urban fantasy, Drake and the Fliers, was released in November, 2015, followed by the components of the Project Renovatio series in 2016 and early 2017.

Allison is a part-time elementary reading specialist, a wife, mom, coffee and wine consumer, and owl enthusiast. For more information on Allison and her work, please see her website, or connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

The Seventh Seed: While researching the cause of beehive demise across the country, scientific prodigy Javier stumbles onto a breakthrough discovery—a virus carried by bugs that insecticides can’t eradicate. It explains a string of human illnesses and deaths, and it means a vaccine is possible. But instead of his achievement being celebrated, his bosses try to murder him.

Bloody and bruised, Javier flees only to collapse in the courtyard of a homeless shelter. Liz, a jaded widow, saves him and agrees to help as the authorities trump up charges against him. Together, they become fugitives, and in searching for a way to develop a vaccine, they discover an intricate chain of secrets that leads to the most powerful entities in the country.

Now, to win freedom for themselves and for millions of others, Javier and Liz must fight an impossible battle against government bodies and corporations that will imprison and kill before letting their secrets out. While winning means relief from decades of manipulation and oppression, losing would result in more deaths than the virus ever threatened—including their own.

Available at Amazon.

Project Ancora: After suffering great loss, Levin struggles to find his place in a world that would see him as an outcast if it knew the truth of his existence. His purpose lies in keeping his siblings and the other genetically engineered youths safe. So when they start disappearing, he has no choice but to find them – a mission that becomes more urgent when his sister, Rana, is among the kidnapped.

As Rana works with the captives on an escape plan, Levin uses his extraordinary abilities to figure out where they are and who is behind the abductions. What he discovers is more serious than he could have imagined, and it’s up to him to get them back to safety while keeping them hidden from those who are supposed to be protecting them.

Available at Amazon.

Drake and the Fliers: Sixteen-year-old Drake can’t understand why the virus spared him. The only survivors he’s seen vandalized his makeshift dwelling, and despite his sister’s dying wish that he connect with others, he spends his days alone – that is, until he develops the ability to shapeshift into a dragon.

While exploring his new abilities, Drake nearly flies into Preston, another shifter. Their chances of survival increase if they team up with others like them, but when their search leads to a group in Las Vegas, they find not everyone is welcoming.

As Drake develops new relationships, Preston endures daily confrontation and eventually takes off on his own. Concerned for his friend’s safety, Drake launches a search and stumbles into a situation stranger than anything he could imagine. Now he must embrace his animalism if he wants to save his humanity.

Available at Amazon.


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  1. Dana Griffin says:

    I know all about the “might as well give up syndrome.” Not that I’ve gotten any recent bad reviews, I think a whole string of things have led to my discouragement in how I see myself as a writer. I’ve been in an awful rut of not producing anything and I’m not suffering from any depression symptoms. Which amazes me how productive you are. What with working on your current works in progress you also are actively blog. Something I can never get the motivation to do.

    I hope I wasn’t that critique partner who shoved you towards the ledge. If I so, I’m sorry.

    Hang in there