Are You Emily Dickinson? (And a Giveaway!)

Who wouldn’t swoon over a man who invented over 1,700 words? Seriously–1,700. Do a fact check on that one.

When I was in high school, I had a strange obsession with Shakespeare. I knew he was completely messed up in his personal life, but man could he write. Not to mention his nearly 2,000 word contribution to modern language. But alas, my obsession didn’t amount to much. You’ll likely never see a thee or thou in any of my books, nor have I shaken our literary world with linguistic contributions. But if I could write like Emily Dickinson …

Just for fun, my guest, Tessa Emily Hall, put together some a list that might indicate if you’re the next Emily Dickinson. But don’t forget to read through the entire post because there’s a giveaway at the end!

Five Signs You Might Be the Next Emily Dickinson
by Tessa Emily Hall

You don’t have to write hard-to-interpret poetry in order to become the next Emily Dickinson. This poet is known for far more than just the thousands of poetry of hers that’s in print.

How can you know if you’re the next Emily Dickinson? Check for these signs…

  1. You don’t abide by all of the writing rules and trends.

unwritten-melody-quote01Dickinson’s poetry went against what was considered norm back then. This is why most of her poetry wasn’t published until after her death.

  1. You don’t leave the house.

Dickinson stayed in her bedroom and wrote poetry for days on end. When someone visited the house, she would speak to them from the other side of the door. Although she was rarely seen in the public, she communicated frequently to friends via snail mail (AKA today’s version of social media and email). Sound familiar?

  1. You store your writing in a private file on your computer.

After Dickinson passed, her sister discovered thousands of un-published poetry. Only twelve of her poems were published during her lifetime. How crazy would it be if most of your home-1822424_640un-published manuscripts weren’t published until after your death?

  1. Your write for yourself first rather than the approval of others.

It’s obvious Dickinson wasn’t motivated to write by the idea of publication or applause; rather, she wrote for herself. She didn’t want publication so badly that she changed her style into one that would have more favor with publishers. Writing was her way of expressing her thoughts, feelings, and emotions. I don’t doubt that she used it as a form of therapy. (Which she could’ve probably benefitted greatly from, based on how many hours she spent in her bedroom by herself!)

  1. Your writing tends to reflect the dark side of life.

Many people believe Dickinson struggled with bipolar disorder. Traces of her depression are reflected in much of her poetry. Does your writing reflect optimism or pessimism?

In my upcoming YA fiction novel, water-1245677_640Unwritten Melody, my protagonist, Cassie—who is also a sheltered poet—believes she has many of the “symptoms” on this list. (She might have a little obsession with Dickinson, too, for obvious reasons.) When Cassie realizes this, she becomes determined to live life to the fullest and strives to avoid following Dickinson’s footsteps.

If you, too, possess many of the above signs, then it might be time to evaluate your writing life and keep yourself from becoming the next Dickinson. How?

Here are a few quick tips that might help you lead a more balanced (and productive) writing life:

  1. Get some fresh air. Take a walk. Change locations and work from a coffee shop, library, or bookstore.
  2. (Yes, with actual people, not just the writing community on Twitter.)
  3. Leave it to your siblings to publish your writing. (Kidding, of course.)
  4. Stay passionate about writing, but don’t allow it to become an obsession.
  5. Keep your family first.
  6. Don’t be afraid to release your work to the public.
  7. Make sure your health is in balance. If you find that your physical or mental state of being is headed off track, seek help.


How many of these signs did you possess? Have you ever been intrigued by the life of Emily Dickinson as well?


Does breaking free require breaking the rules?

unwritten-melody_webCassie Gilbert lives every day in the shadows of her deceased mom’s rebellion. But now that she’s seventeen, she finds herself longing to break away from her grandmother’s suffocating rules, experience what it’s like to be a regular teenager, and fulfill her songwriting dreams.

James Russo, former American Spotlight contestant, escapes to small town Willow Creek, SC hoping to flee from his tarnished past. When a school project pairs him with the shy principal’s granddaughter, he’s determined to get to know this Emily-Dickinson-obsessed and typewriter-using girl. His plan? Convince Cassie to co-write songs for his demo album.

As Cassie gets to know James over “project meetings” (more like opportunities to match her lyrics with his melodies), she becomes intrigued by his sense of adventure and contagious passion for music. But soon, his past becomes exposed. Cassie’s left to wonder—did she make the same mistake Mom did by falling for the bad boy?

Then, Grandma’s control pushes her over the edge. Cassie must choose between remaining in the chains of yesterday, or delving into her own freedom by completing the melody her mom left behind.

Find the book on Goodreads, Amazon, and B&


Enter for your chance to win the Unwritten Melody Prize Pack! Two winners will be selected and announced on Tessa’s blog the final day of tour (Friday, December 9th) and will be notified via email.


This prize pack includes…

  • E-copy of Unwritten Melody
  • Signed paperback copy of Purple Moon
  • Unwritten Melody mug, filled with goodies
  • Unwritten Melody swag, including a bookmark, pen, and poster
  • Starbucks mocha flavored instant coffee
  • Free Unwritten Melody: Page-By-Page Secrets PDF
  • Handmade journal
  • Typewritten thank you note

*This giveaway is open to the US only.

Enter here: a Rafflecopter giveaway


tessa-emily-hall_headshot3Tessa Emily Hall writes inspirational yet authentic YA fiction to show others they’re not alone—and because she remembers the teen life like it was yesterday (or a few years ago). The debut novel she wrote at 16-years-old, Purple Moon (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas) was a Selah 2014 Finalist. Her second novel, Unwritten Melody, releases with Clean Reads November 2016. She’s the Founder of, a magazine that inspires teens to embrace their calling. She also enjoys helping writers achieve their dreams through her internship at Hartline Literary Agency.

When her fingers aren’t flying 116 WPM across the keyboard, Tessa can be found making healthy homemade lattes, speaking to teens, decorating her insulin pump, and acting in Christian films. She writes in a small town nestled between the Blue Ridge Mountains and Southeastern coast. Her favorite way to procrastinate is by connecting with readers on her blog, mailing list, social media (@tessaemilyhall), and website.

Connect with Tessa on her blog, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.


About Jennifer Slattery

Novelist and speaker Jennifer Slattery, also writing as Jen Pheobus, uses humor, grace, and truth to inspire God's children to live abundant, Christ-centered lives. She does content editing for Firefly, a southern fiction imprint with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, and is a regular contributor to; Internet Cafe Devotions; Faith, Friends and Chocolate; and manages the social media for Takin’ it to the Streets, a ministry that serves Omaha’s working poor and homeless. She’s placed in numerous writing contests and her work has appeared in numerous compilations, magazines, and e-zines.
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