Quote of the Week

Quote of the week: “If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.” - Toni Morrison

Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 in Review: How did I do?

I can't believe it's the end of yet another year, and what a great year it has been! I will always look at 2012 as the year that I really became a writer. I wrote more this year than I have since I started dabbling in writing six years ago. I also found an incredible story that will take many books to tell, and I found a really close group of writers to work with in the critique group I started at the beginning of 2012. I also did pretty good at keeping to my goals that I set for myself at the beginning of 2012.

My goals for 2012 were...

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Next Big Thing

A friend of mine Lesley Conner tagged me in a blog of hers and I have been tasked to answering questions about my lasted work in progress, so I chose to talk about my novel Blood Feud.

What is the working title of your book?

The title of my current novel that I am writing on is call Blood Feud. It is the first of six books in a series called Emperors of Ethia. And yes, I already have titles and basic plots all lined up for the other five books.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

New Writing Group: Writers 2 Writers

I created a Facebook page called Unofficial NaNoWriMo in November to help out other writers who were participating in NaNoWriMo contest either officially or unofficially. I found that the support system was a lot of fun and beneficial to all who participated. I wanted to carry that support past November and decided to created a new Facebook page for that purpose.

It's called Writers 2 Writers, and it's all about being a tool for writers to use as a place to recieve encouragment, chat about writing projects or anthing having to do with writing, boast on accomplishments, or simply join to help others become inspired. It's a place to scream for help when motivation is lacking. Show off your work. A place to ask specific questions about grammar, spelling, style, or anything else that may pop up in your writing. But mostly it's about being able to communicate with like minded indviuals who all have the same goal- to write.

My December Goals

Well, my goals for the month of November didn't get reached, but I came pretty close, especially considering I had to take about 2 weeks off due to different things coming up. I managed to get the first draft of Part 2 of my novel (chapters 18-27) done and I've gotten started on Part 3 and completed chapters 28 and 29. Since I wasn't able to commit the full month to my goals, I've decided to extend them into the month of December. My new goals will be...

  • Finish rough and first draft of Part 3 (chapters 30-42)
  • Work on a short story connected to my novel for an anthology due in Janurary

I think my goals are doable, and I can't wait to see what the months of December will bring! So what are your goals for this last month of the year?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Unofficial NaNoWriMo

It's November and you know what that means... NaNoWriMo. Oh yeah!!! I am sending happy thoughts to all you wonderful souls out there gearing up for this great challenge. I too plan on participating, but unofficially. I don't have a new novel to work on, so have opted to work on the one I've been writing for the past six months (Blood Feud), so that means I won't be able to do the real deal. That's not stopping me from setting my own goals!

My goals for the month of November...

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Writing for Me

I ventured onto my blog today to answer a comment a reader left and realized it's been nearly a month since I've updated. I seem to have fallen into a pattern of ignoring my blog and pouring all my time into my my novel and the several short stories I've been working on. So today I've decided to do a update about my writing and why I've been ignoring my blog.

Since I began the journey of writing with the goal of writing for myself instead of trying to be a published author (late last year), writing has become much more fun and exciting! The ideas flow much easier and I'm just a happier person all around. It doesn't mean I won't pursue publication, but I'm no longer writing to fit a certain niche or what I think people want to read. I write what I want to read, and it makes a big different.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Novel Management Software to Check Out

In my endeavor to write my new novel, I have found it difficult to keep track of all the little tidbits that encompass my massive story. I had been content to use a combination of Microsoft word processor documents, several handwritten notebooks, and scraps of paper with off the cuff ideas to be my artist pallet for ideas as the story unfolded. After awhile, chaos ensued and I realized I was drowning in lots of information strewn about every which way. I needed help! That's when I decided it was time to breakdown and start searching for some novel management software. I found three that were on my top list and I thought I would share.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Novel Chapters: Does Size Matter?

In the process of writing my novel series, I began to realize that I was writing incredibly long chapters. Granted, I am still in the the beginning rough draft stage of my novel, but it got me to thinking. How long should chapters be in a novel? Is there a set length that should not be exceeded? Or a length considered too short? What is the acceptable length of an average chapter? I decided to do some research on this topic, and this is what I discovered.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

What to do About Backstory

Backstory. It's the ugly red-headed step child that no one ever likes, but finds necessary to keep around. Like it or not, backstory can be very helpful in enriching a story and giving it depth that can't be done any other way. However, backstory also can be easily misused and become the anchor that pulls a story into a dark abyss of unreadable slush. This happens because backstory essentially stops the story cold. But don't fret, because there are a few things that can be done to help keep backstory from being said anchor.

The first rule of backstory... Only tell the reader what they need to know in that moment to understand the story. It isn't necessary to load a reader up with information that they don't need right away. Does the reader really need to know that the main character's father has been in a mental hospital for the last six years? Or that the main character's favorite team is the Red Sox? Or maybe the main character likes to wear cut off jeans and holey T-shirts every Saturday when he (or she) likes to go to their favorite local pub. Unless that information is necessary to the story right in that moment of the story, it should be come at a later time.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Truth About Flashbacks

This post is another result of one of Michael Knost classes. I do highly suggest his online classes to anyone who wants to take writing seriously. Check out his blog to find out more. Anyways, this most recent class I took was all about flashbacks (and backstory, but that's a different post). I found a few "light bulb" moments in the class that just had to share, but this post really is only the tip of the iceberg of what I learned.

The most important thing to remember... Flashbacks should not be used unless there is absolutely no other way the story can be told. Flashbacks carry a built-in disadvantage to even the best of written stories, because it stops the story. A flashback is about something that has already happened. It's over and done with so the flashback lacks immediacy.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Be a Mimic Writer and Enhance Your Writing Skills and Style

I have found one of the best and quickest ways to enhance my writing skills and style is by being a mimic writer. In fact, it is one of the most natural ways to learn the skill of becoming a writer. How better to learn than from the masters that have come before? In a way, it's an apprenticeship of shorts and gives a struggling writer the ability to get a deeper understanding of how the author manages to create a seamless piece of art.

How to be a mimic writer. The best way to do this is to pick a favorite author, or someone who has inspired you, and read everything they have written. Read like a writer. Pay attention to how the author is writing the story. Then take passages you like and copy them out word for word, punctuation for punctuation. Lastly, put the author's style into practice and experiment with your own words. I am not condoning plagiarism- far from it. What I am talking about is appreciating an authors work and using it to better understand that work and help you learn.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Using Body Language to Tell Your Story

I recently took an online class through my friend and fellow writer Michael Knost on body language, and wanted to share some of the highlights that I found helpful. This was a topic I knew some about from other writing sources, but his class really brought everything into prospective for me.

Body language is essential in creating believable characters. It's the subtle things like a smile in just the right place of a conversation, or a small touch of the hand that can change the whole way a reader perceives a character. When you show a character through their body language, you are allowing the reader to size up the character without spoon feeding information that might push the reader from the story. The reader wants to feel intelligent as he or she comes to their own conclusions. It's the writer's job (you) to be invisible enough to help lay out the signs or clues that get the reader to where you want them to go.

My Writing Progress

I know it's been a long while since I've posted on this blog. I do have a perfectly good excuse. I've been writing like a whirlwind on my new series of novels. It's been a fun, but tiring process of getting the story down as fast as possible. I posted a blog called Marathon Writer: Riding the High back in May, and well I've been riding that high ever since. I managed to finish that book (Shadow Games) and start on another one (Blood Feud), which I'm about 68,000 words into right now. The story is just huge with plot twists and events happening all over the place in my Universe called Ethia.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Advice from Slush Readers

What makes a good story? What are people looking to read about? How can I get people to care about my story and characters? And what does it take to get published? These questions have been on my mind recently and I ran across a few great articles I wanted to share and they come in the form of slush reader's blog posts.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Marathon Writer: Riding the High

Picture taken by my bored and frustrated son.

Well, I just finished probably one of the most intense writing sessions ever since the writing bug bit me a little over 6 years ago. I can hardly believe it, but I managed a whopping 45,000 words in one week on a new novel idea. Yep, 45,000 in ONE week. The most I ever wrote in a stretch was 50,000, which was over a full month for the NaNoWriMo in 2010, so for me this is HUGE deal.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Truth About Creativity

Creativity is a fickle playmate that likes to play hide and seek with the best of us. I, like many artists, have discovered this first hand. In fact, many writers blame creativity, or the lack of it, for periods of forced writing and/or not writing at all, claiming the muse has just up and walked off without another thought. I've claimed this many times myself. So it leaves the struggling artist with the age old question... can creativity be harnessed?And in an extension to that, can creativity lead to truly original ideas?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Beach Photo Writing Prompt

Picture taken from office.microsoft

 I don't know about you, but with the weather getting warm, it makes me want to hit the beach right now! I do have a family vacation scheduled for some beach time in June, but that seems so very far away. I decided to put all that longing for the warm sandy beach into a writing exercise with a photo I found online. The photo lead to a great funny short story for me. Now it's your turn. What does this picture say to you?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Two Short Stories Worth Reading

In the year of 2011, I headed up a project for our writer's group. It was a collaboration of 12 authors who came together with the common goal of compiling an anthology of short stories with a theme of December 32nd. It was a wonderful experience that lead me to deeper friendships with already great friends and gave me a new appreciation for the writing process. The project was a roller-coaster of deadlines, successes, critiques, correspondence and working towards a common goal. Unfortunately the anthology project disbanded at the beginning of 2012, because of conflicting goals and writing processes, but out of the experience came something unexpected.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Passive Voice

Everyone talks about passive voice, but what is it exactly? How can it be made to work to benefit a piece of writing and when should it be avoided all together? When is a piece too passive? 

Passive voice occurs when the subject of a sentence is neither a do-er or a be-er. The subject exists, but not focused on. The real emphasis happens- when it is the most important- to the thing acted upon, or when the actor is not important.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Book Spotlight: The Write Brain Workbook

Over the Christmas Holidays, as part of my Christmas gift, I purchased a bunch of writing books that I thought I'd find interesting and helpful with my writing. I purchased several on helping in the craft of writing, but I also wanted to make sure I got one dedicated solely to writing exercises, so I ordered the book The Write Brain Workbook: 366 Exercises to Liberate Your Writing  by Bonnie Neubauer

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Want to Be More Creative? Bring Out the Inner Child

Image from Microsoft Office

Let's face it, creativity is the bread and butter of being a writer. It's the spark that gets the imagination going and is an essential part of coming up with something interesting to write about. It would stand to reason, then, if a writer has trouble coming up with ideas for writing, what a person really might be having problems with is creativity. This problem can be fixed by bringing out the inner child that resides in all of us.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

More on Focused Freewriting

One of my lists of Focused Freewriting Questions

As I already discussed in The Amazing Benefits of Freewriting, practicing freewriting on a daily basis can open up writing in a wondrous way. This happens in the best way possible when freewriting is focused on a specific topic or question. The topic or question can be anything that you chose, but the more specific the question the better. Having a broad topic to work on can be more confusing than helpful, but allowing freedom to explore inside a narrowed topic or question allows for discovery that might be surprising and quite enlightening. Here's how I do it...

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Taking Time Away From the Writing Journey

Don't you just hate it when something comes along to interrupt your writing journey? Everything is scheduled out, deadlines are set, motivation to rush full steam ahead is not a problem- then the unthinkable happens. You go on vacation (maybe not such a bad thing), work requires a lot of overtime, you have a family emergency, you get the Flu, or some other reason life takes a sidetrack that wasn't expected, or something that's just down right inconvenient for your writing journey. It makes you groan deep within, because you know you'll have to put your writing aside for a time in order to put your full focus onto the interruption.

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Amazing Benefits of Freewriting

There are many tools in a writer's toolbox, but none is as helpful as the simple practice of freewriting. It's something that I picked up in my writing journey, which I used- but never fully appreciated- until I learned how powerful it could really be. This happened after reading the book How to Be a Writer by Barbara Baig. Nearly all her exercises, in the 265 page book, uses different variations of simple freewrite and focused freewriting. After doing several of the exercises, I found that all the freewriting I’d done up to that point was really just a warm-up. I never took it to the next level, because I hadn’t realized I wasn’t doing freewriting nearly enough (it should be done everyday), or even asking the right questions to do focused freewriting.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Publication: Why the rush?

There are two kinds of writers; the ones who are published and the ones who are not. The ones that are published are constantly looking for new things to write about and launch into the world (they make it look so easy). Then you have the writers who aren’t published, looking at the published authors and saying, “that’s what I want.” So these unpublished or newly published writers race to break into the field, because it’s what's expected of them. 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Goals in 2012

It’s January 1st once again and like the years before I want to reassess my goals and where I would like to go on my writing journey. After a Year in Review, I have come up with some things I want to accomplish in 2012 to better the craft of my writing. 

The best way to get better at any craft is to study those who have gone before in the field you wish to know about. So if you want to learn to write what better way than by reading what others have written? Reading something every day is my goal, even if it’s as simple as a blog post. 

How can a person get better at something when you don’t practice? You can’t, so that’s my next goal to write every day. A good friend of mine once told me that it takes approximately 10,000 hours working at something to really be good at it. Looks like I’ve got a ways to go. My plan is to put a decent sized dent in that 10,000 hour mark.