Don’t forget to write

Authors and writers hear it every day:  if you are to succeed as an author, you must market, research, critique, tweet, Facebook, create a brand, gain a following, attend seminars, learn how to write synopsis, pitch a book, query and edit.  You are also supposed to do all of this while attending to those little things in life like working, taking care of kids, going to school, exercising, etc.  Is it any wonder after taking care of all the above, you actually forget to write?

Here are a few tips that may be able to help fit some time in to actually put words to paper (or computer):

1.  Schedule a time to write.  If you work or go to school full-time, it may help to establish a regular time each day to write. Make an appointment with your writer self and treat it the same way you would any other appointment.

2.  Don’t be afraid to say No.  Time is a commodity writers can’t waste.  Don’t be afraid to tell your family, friends and neighbors you have to write.  That’s not to say writing should be the most important thing in your life, but you may want to consider, especially in the beginning, giving up that time for the most important things in your life.  Tell everyone, including friends and family, you’re writing a novel.  They’ll usually take an interest, AND give you the space you need to finish it.

3.  Don’t burn yourself out.  Many writers get the idea in their head they’re going to write the next Great American Novel in 30-days, and they go at it night and day for 2 weeks and give up because they’ve burned themselves from both ends. Don’t forget to sleep and eat right.  Exercise regularly (it does wonders to help sort out plots and shake the cobwebs from the head).  Indulge in a bubble bath.  Take a break and read.  Relax.

4.  Don’t over-think it.  Too many writers (me included) start out writing their novel and at the end of chapter 1, they go back and revise and revise again to the point chapter 2 is never written.  Stop with the editing.  Just write.  Always keep moving forward.  Don’t lose the momentum.  The novel will never be perfect so stop striving for it.  Concentrate on writing a great story you love.  Your authenticity will shine through and your readers will thank you.

5.  Identify your fear.  Is there a reason you are not writing on a regular basis?  Are you afraid to finish?  Are you afraid people won’t like your story?  Are you afraid of success?  Do you feel cramped?  Do you not have a good ‘writing space’?  Identify what prohibits you from writing and figure out ways to overcome it.  It may be as simple as having a few friends in your corner you can talk to and vent.  As soon as you can identify the reason(s) why you can’t write, the sooner you can figure out ways to overcome it/them.

6.  Lack of tools.  You may not have a laptop you can take with you wherever you go.  You may not be able to write as fast as your brain thinks.  You may not be able to read what you write, even if your hands can keep up with your thoughts.  Try getting a digital recorder.  If it’s your writing space that’s hindering your creative thoughts, look into changing up where you write.  Not enough peace and quiet?  Try going to a library or coffee-house.  Explore all avenues to find what works and is productive for you.

Whatever you do, set your mind and thoughts free, enjoy yourself, and don’t forget to write.

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NaNoWriMo – Why on God’s Earth am I Doing This Again?

I must be crazy, off my rocker, completely bonkers to want to do this insanity again, but here I am, committing to 50,000 words in 30 days.

I realized in the wee hours of the morning I have to do this.  There are too many stories I’ve started and haven’t finished.  Too many dreams hanging around on my computer and I’ve been too darn lazy to finish any of them.  I need motivation. I need a quick kick in the keister.  I need to set a goal and stick with it.  No more dilly dallying about.

So, I’m restarting my 2nd novel in the Chronicles of Fallhollow series all over again as the first version really kind of sucked except for a few passages that I will reuse.  It’s also inspired me to finish the edits on book one and finish book 3. I HAVE to do this.  God help me.

What about you?  Are you participating in this year’s torture trial for writers?  If so, what’s your profile name?  I’m Slavandria (named after the sorceress in my Fallhollow trilogy).  Maybe we can connect and encourage each other to finish our blasted novels.

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Are you ready for a flash fiction writing contest?

Come one, come all.  Back by popular demand, I have a fantastic writing contest starting Monday.  Return here tomorrow for all the details.  Secret hint:  you need a working knowledge of this guy,

and a timer.  See ya then!

What do you do when you receive blog awards?

Why, you smile and post them proudly knowing that someone else thought enough of you to nominate you.

Over the last couple of days, I received the Beautiful Blogger Award from the lovely Carrie Rubin and the lovely Butterfly Julz awarded me the Versatile Blogger Award.

Thank you very much, ladies.

I’m supposed to list seven things about me you may not know, so here goes:

I used to own a 1966 Ford Mustang. I should have never sold it.

I have seen the Rocky Horror Picture show in theaters 127 times.

My favorite wine is Martini and Rossi Asti Spumanti

I love anything Chenille.

If I could adopt and care for every stray animal in the world, I would.

I’ve read Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 11 times (my fave out of the HP books)

I prefer sundresses to shorts any day.

I’m supposed to pick bloggers to hand these awards to, but I’m in a very generous mood this week.  I had a really weird start to the week and all of you came out and rallied behind a friend and me when we were both feeling down and all of you deserve both awards in my opinion.  As writers, we are all versatile. We all have other activities we tend to every day.  Some of us are into scrapbooking, some write poetry, some have family and kids and others are going through their own health issues.  We all lean on each other for support and we all are there for each other through all the ups and downs.  I can’t thank you enough for being the individuals you are and for sharing a part of you with me every day. To me, that makes all of you beautiful.

Enjoy your rewards and show them proudly!  🙂

Moving on – into the land of queries and synopses

Yesterday I exposed my heart and spoke about my personal bout with low self esteem, and how it can beat a person up no matter how much the person tries to stay positive.  I had so many responses, by e-mail and on my blog, and it warmed my heart to know I’d touched so many people.  Some of you opened up about your own moments of low self-esteem, others tossed out some great advice, but what struck me the most was the love and the compassion that came pouring out of every one who responded.  It hit me last night how truly blessed I am.  My words were read by 136 people yesterday.  That’s a lot for me.  Over half of those 136 responded.  My e-mail had 21 more messages this morning, thanking me for opening up my heart and letting the world see ‘me’.  I even picked up a few new followers who said they would have never heard about me if it hadn’t been for this post.  I guess whoever said ‘write what you know’ knew something about this writing business.

Today I awoke with a whole new outlook.  I’m wrapping up my short story and starting on the dreaded synopsis and query for it.  I’d rather give birth to a fourteen pound baby, but it is something I have to do.   I have 9 paperback books in front of me, all flipped to the back cover.  I’m taking notes on the blurbs, trying to decipher the code that makes the hooks work.  There is a rhythm that I found in each one, a cadence, that reads like a finely choreographed waltz of words.  It is an art, a whole different style of writing.

It’s marketing.  It’s selling the story.  It’s

writing at its best.  No pressure there, right?

I found Charlotte Dillon’s site an amazing source of information on writing queries and synopses, as well as Rachelle Gardner’s.  I’m sure I will be referring to them a lot today and tomorrow as I wrap this piece up.

Are you good at writing synopses and queries?  What’s your secret?

Stepping outside the comfort zone

I recently took up a challenge:  write a short story between 5,000 and 10,000 words for an anthology based upon a picture.  Doesn’t sound too hard, right?  Wrong.

After researching this publisher, I discovered that, while they publish mostly urban fantasy, all of their published works have a romance theme running through them.  I don’t write romance.  I stink at writing romance.  Whenever I tried, the words always sounded funny to me, forced.  Clichéd and clunky.  But I really like this publisher and I like the books they put out, and I really want to be published by them.  That put me in a dilemma:  do I continue writing my young adult fantasy pieces and pass, or do I step out of my comfort zone and write an adult fantasy with a romantic element?

I took the leap.  I stepped outside, and let me tell you, I was shaking in my sneakers.

I stared at the picture they gave us thinking ‘what the heck am I going to write about?’  The publisher laid out some rules and regulations and stated what the story could NOT be about, which made the challenge even harder because, if you look at the picture, you wanted to write about what you couldn’t write about.

So, I started with a few sentences.  I didn’t like them.  I started over…and over, and over, and over again.  Then, a week or so ago, a pretty nasty thunderstorm rolled through the area late at night.  Howling wind.  Rain pattering hard on the window.  I lay in bed around 2:30 in the morning listening, and the scene for the short started playing out in my head.  I could see my characters, I could see the plot, the theme, the motivations.  I could even see the romantic element.  But could I write it?

After taking my son to the bus stop at 6:30 am, I sat at the computer and wrote.  The words started to come.  I told myself to write.  Get it all out first and then go back. Don’t stop in the middle and revise.  Just keep going.  I had 7,200 words 10 hours later.  But the draft was just that – a draft.  The romantic element wasn’t there enough.  I needed more.  That took a few days to fix.

I’m still not sure if it or the entire story works. It’s with beta readers right now who have my permission to slaughter it.  I still have time to fix the problems.  I can say this, though:  I was happy enough with it to let it go, and I’m not fretting.  What matters is I took a chance to see if I could do this, to see if I could write outside my comfort zone.  And while the task seemed cold and daunting at first, even dreadful at times, I persevered, I survived, and I learned once again that the fear of trying is worse than the actual doing.

Have you got something you’re dreading to write?  A term paper?  An essay?  A business report?  Sit back, take a deep breath, and trust yourself.  You can do it.  All you have to do is believe.