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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

How to Recognize Newbie Writing Mistakes...and fix them

Well the whole family is back from vacation and school started this week. It’s a new day for everyone. For me, it’s a new day of no more quiet days and getting the sleep I need. And needing a vacation after my vacation.
For my sons, it’s a new school year and my youngest is entering Kindergarten! Uh-oh, faculty watch out. Fathers, hold on to your daughters. The Wilks brothers are in the house!
I’ll be on pins and needles all week. Not too worried about my eldest because this isn’t his first rodeo. Although sometimes I wonder if it is with how forgetful he can be of the school and class rules. And from what’s right and wrong. Or is it because he’s hardheaded. Sigh.
Anyways, it’ll be a whole new world for my youngest. Learning and following the school and class rules. Sitting still. Though he’s the youngest, he has more common sense than his older brother, smh. But still, can’t help but wonder and worry. This will be all new to him.
He’s a newbie.
But we’re all newbies at one time or another. And the great thing about being a newbie is that you don’t remain one for long. Plus newbie or not, you’re always going to make a mistake and learn from it. When I first started writing again I made some newbie writing mistakes I thought I knew better not to do. So what did I do?
I learned from my mistakes, absorbed and applied writing tips and techniques to hone my craft. Am I a perfect writer now? No. My goal is not to be a perfect writer but a writer whose works can touch and entertain readers.
Do I still make writing mistakes? Oh, hell yes. And in this post, I’m sharing insights and tools that have helped me correct them.:
Info dumping
When I first started writing again I was a huge info dumper. Most if not all my backstory ended up in the story. Especially in the beginning. Which pretty much meant I had no hook and my story really started on the next page. So how did I fix it? Well I thought of it this way. Writing is a relationship between the author and the reader. It’s like a date. And nothing ruins a date more than going on and on about unnecessary things. Like the number of times you chewed your food that morning. Simply, there’s no reason to give everything away. It’s all about the pacing and the excitement in getting to know you. So let your readers get to know the story. Space and pace your clues. And let them enjoy trying to figure out the wonder of the world you're building by what you did leave out.
I’m always mixing tenses but I recently came upon a tip to help fix that. And that is to write your draft in the first person and present tense. When it’s time to rewrite, revise and edit then you change it in the tense you want it. Be it third person limited and simple past. Second person or you can decide the story flows better in first person and keep it as is.
Word usage
Five words. Thank god for the thesaurus. Writing isn’t as easy as it looks but those bestseller authors does make it look easy, don’t they? How are they capable of writing 90,000 and more words? How is it that they have no trouble not repeating and overusing words like ‘look,’ ‘said,’ and or ‘walk’? With a handy thesaurus by your side ‘look’ is replaced by ‘gaze’ or ‘gaze longingly.’ Instead of ‘said’ you can use ‘bragged’ or ‘chatted.’ Another word(s) for ‘walk’ are ‘stomp,’ ‘shuffle,’ and or ‘amble.’ Use a word cloud generator to find your most repeated words. And hunt through the thesaurus for a better word usage.
Keeping it hidden
I know it’s scary but sharing your writing and not keeping it hidden will get you out of the newbie writer zone. Put your writing out there, get feedback and critiques. The constructive criticism you’ll receive will help improve your writing. Plus, you’ll get to befriend other writers.  You should also try entering contests and submitting to anthologies. You’ll never know, your writing might be accepted for publication. Which would also lead to you gaining readers and fans of your writing.

What mistakes did you make when you first started writing?

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Piper Morgan by Stephanie Faris

Today, Stephanie Faris is joining us to tell us about her newest books. Oh, and give us a "what if?" question. Enjoy... 

One day, an eight-year-old girl learns she has to move away from the only home she’s ever known. She and her mom live a nomad-style existence over the coming months as her mother accepts one exciting temp job after another. For the young girl, it becomes an adventure, but she still longs for a place she can call “home.”

That leads me to today’s What If? question.

What if you found a job where you could triple your current salary, but you could no longer live in one place? To get the salary, you have to move every couple of weeks to a new city? Would you accept the opportunity and learn to adapt or stay at your current pay to remain in one place?

And now some more about Piper Morgan...

When Piper Morgan has to move to a new town, she is sad to leave behind her friends, but excited for a new adventure. She is determined to have fun, be brave and find new friends.

In Piper Morgan Joins the Circus, Piper learns her mom’s new job will be with the Big Top Circus. She can’t wait to learn all about life under the big top, see all the cool animals, and meet the Little Explorers, the other kids who travel with the show. She’s even more excited to learn that she gets to be a part of the Little Explorers and help them end each show with a routine to get the audience on their feet and dancing along! 

In Piper Morgan in Charge, Piper’s mom takes a job in the local elementary school principal’s office. Piper is excited for a new school and new friends—and is thrilled when she is made an “office helper.” But there is one girl who seems determined to prove she is a better helper—and she just so happens to be the principal’s daughter. Can Piper figure out how to handle being the new girl in town once more?

https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/img/b/R29vZ2xl/AVvXsEgLv2fUAv83jPUysg5DnWQ0xuiqAgggy0MPogosIdL9hVDM9bsv9EhharhtEgc42juI-p2kNtnHKwo1_nAMNCuPhAax-bLENhNw3JWlSrnTx4YAVY9sVcOxz4ZR32amKXsXYLUtaRVsTHM/s1600/HeadshotSF.jpgStephanie Faris knew she wanted to be an author from a very young age. In fact, her mother often told her to stop reading so much and go outside and play with the other kids. After graduating from Middle Tennessee State University with a Bachelor of Science in broadcast journalism, she somehow found herself working in information technology. But she never stopped writing.

Stephanie is the Simon & Schuster author of 30 Days of No Gossip and 25 Roses. When she isn’t crafting fiction, she writes for a variety of online websites on the topics of business, technology, and her favorite subject of all—fashion. She lives in Nashville with her husband, a sales executive.


Friday, August 19, 2016

Lucy Get Your Gun by Valerie Capps

Today, Valerie Capps is joining us for the launch of her new quick read book and to give us a "what if?" question: 

Thank you Liz for hosting me today. I love to write, but I am new to introducing people to my work. I know nothing about marketing so I appreciate you inviting me.

What if? Two little words that open up a whole world of possibilities, past and present. There is a lot of debate over the second amendment today, but Lucy Get Your Gun isn't about that controversy--it is about survival. It is about an adult decision a 10-year-old must make when an unscrupulous man shows up at her farm with plans to take Lucy and her younger siblings away.

What if you were ten-years-old, in danger, and lived in a remote area during a time before you could dial 911 for help? How far would you go to protect yourself and your family?

Lucy Get Your Gun: It was a different time. Somewhere between the taming of the wild west in the 19th century and the insane indiscriminate violence of the 21st century. People like to think it was a time of innocence. In some ways perhaps it was, but there was evil lurking about in the shadows back then as well. Not everyone lived a "Leave it to Beaver" existence. People in rural areas often had to depend on their own resources. It was a world before 911. A world where sometimes people had to stand firm and protect their own. That was where 10-year-old Lucy Rhys found herself one day in the summer of 1959. A day of reckoning so to speak. A day when she found herself caught between a child and an adult and had to make a life or death decision that would determine the fate of her family. Lucy Get Your Gun is the fourth in a series of Proctor Hollow short-story/quick-read Kindle eBooks released through Amazon.com.

Valerie Capps is a freelance writer and author. Her short stories and articles have appeared in various magazines and newsletters with world-wide circulation. Valerie's latest project is a series of short stories with a paranormal theme set in a mid-twentieth century town called Proctor Hollow. The first four books in the Proctor Hollow series, The Holler Witch, Incident at the Diner, Occurrence on a Country Highway, and Lucy Get Your Gun, are available on Amazon.com.

Valerie lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband and their Welsh Corgi.

Contact Valerie at:
Blog | Amazon | Twitter | Goodreads

Monday, August 15, 2016

Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda

Stipula fountain pen" by Power_of_Words_by_Antonio_Litterio.jpg: Antonio Litterioderivative work: InverseHypercube - Power_of_Words_by_Antonio_Litterio.jpg. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.

Once I realized that my week was coming up, I started to ponder what I wanted to talk about in my writing life. And the thought that occurred had two components. One: the labels we put on ourselves. And two: the things that we have told ourselves we must do in this writing thing.

In the writing realm on the Internet, certain "truths" float around. We're all introverts. We all mainline our coffee. We're either a "panster" or a "plotter". We should write every day. We should always be working on our novels (or memoirs, or whatever it is we are writing). We should write our first draft quickly, then go back and edit it. And those are just the ones that come off the top of my head.

Of course, reality is murkier. So, when life throws us a curveball (death in the family, car accident, loss of a job, or any of the other myriad of things that go with having a life), we feel guilty for not writing through it.

I think it's time to stop and assess. What are some ideas about writing that you've been holding on to that no longer serve you?

When I started on this writing journey, I needed to make it a habit, so I made it my goal to write every day. Every. Day. Christmas. My birthday. When I had a head cold. (Those three days where I was throwing up every couple hours I took off.) When I went on vacation. (Although, that didn't work out so well.)

But since then, I've had to reevaluate this. Things happened. Time evaporated. I had a choice between sleeping and writing, and sleeping won. Stressors made it so I couldn't concentrate. So, writing slowed. But wonder of all wonders, it didn't stop. (I guess it became ingrained enough that I couldn't stop it permanently.)

We can get through it. But first, we have to take out all the things that make us feel lesser than. Like we're not writers.

What "shoulds" are you putting on your writing? 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

How to Activate Your Creativity

Writers are a different kind of animal. We can be sitting in a crowd and see things other people (normal?) don’t notice. Emotions, facial expressions, the simple act of society. We absorb and take note of these instances to use in later scenes. But sometimes creativity is an elusive critter and we must hunt it down, stalking it with eagle-eyed intensity.

I needed to compose a short story about one of my characters in Wilder Mage. I had no clue how Sable discovered she was a mage. She wasn’t in a talkative mood and I was bone-dry.

I was raking the yard that day musing on several scenes and rejecting them just as quickly. The air was still as a church when, thirty feet in front of me, the wind kicked into a maelstrom of dust, leaves, bits of grass, and corn stalks. A dust devil, a monstrous one that reached the tops of our cedar trees. It was so large and violent, the wind roared like an animal.

It came up the drive and across our wide lawn, hissing and
swirling. I didn’t hesitate but ran into the middle of it. The air was cooler, the projectiles small and inconsequential. The miniature tornado sailed on through a fence and into the pasture.

I laughed as it passed and was exhilarated because I knew I had my opening scene to Out of Magic, Sable’s discovery that she was something different.

Life events shape our writerly world. Sometimes it takes a whirlwind to start the process. Other times creativity hits when I apply pen to paper, longhand scribbling.

It is a brain function called reticular activating system or RAS. Writing longhand sets in motion the creative portion of the mind, the RAS. It is a portal into our subconscious.

Now, I didn’t know any of this highfalutin' brainy stuff until I wondered why it was easier to write on a spiral notebook while on the treadmill. Really, where would any of us be without Google, am I right?

No wonder I have mounds of notebooks, a veritable hoard lurking in every part of my house awaiting the next magic to hit my RAS.

Tell me about one of your scenes. How did you arrive there? And do you write longhand sometimes?  

Monday, August 8, 2016

The Writer versus Exercise: How to bring Them Together

Due to our nature, the Writer must remain immobile when typing. But experts say stationary positions are the new smoking and not conducive to good health. For this Writer, sitting at the ‘puter is a cause for concern. Movement is life and life is preferable to the alternate.
So what’s a Writer to do?

One of my solutions is the treadmill. I compose while trekking a mile or two.  Magic explodes when I write longhand. Why? Well that’s a subject for another post. For today, it’s all about
moving and I find the treadmill morphs these two into one. I can write several pages and walk a couple miles while doing it, a win-win.

A little backstory regarding this photo: I had a laugh at my poor husband’s expense when someone asked why the poster of Edward was in front of me. I said I was running toward him.

“Oh?” my friend said. “Then who is behind you?”
“My hubby,” I replied, snickering. He was not amused.

Composing is a big piece of the day. But what about the typing and the butt-ache from sitting at the computer?

My solution is the Fitbit, a marvelous little tool that reminds me to get up and walk around every once in a while. It challenges me, gives me goals, and records my activities. Tethered to my IPhone, it completes the union between technology and the material world.

My goals are to walk a certain distance, move at least 250 steps every hour between 6am and 6pm. My smart phone chimes every hour during that time to remind me. It gets me up, kicks me out of the writer’s fog, and this is a good thing. Truly, I have sat at the desk as the sun is coming up thinking “just a few minutes”...and then it is noon and I look around half dazed trying to remember where I am.

My Fitness Pal is a free app that unites both Fitbit and IPhone. I heartily recommend it even if you have a smart phone.

How do you combine exercise with writing? Any tips for us?

Friday, August 5, 2016

Dear "I want to GIVE UP!" Writer

Dear “I want to GIVE UP!” Writer,

There had been a few times when I thought about giving up. Any writer worth his or her salt has thought the same thing. When you’re so committed to a dream, but you’re hitting road blocks or struggling, it’s very easy to throw your hands in the air and say, “I give up! I quit! I can’t handle this anymore!” 

Usually when I said this, I was in tears; fed up with all the rejections and getting nowhere. But did I give up? No. I didn’t have it in me to give up. You see, writing is my life. Becoming a published author was my dream since I was twelve (although I had been writing since I was five). I couldn’t stop writing no matter how much I felt like throwing in the towel.

Image from Flickr

As a matter of fact, I still tell my mom, “Never get published.” Because although I achieved that dream, being published is an all new ball game. It’s not easy to publish, market, get reviews and readers, and I get fed up by it all from time to time, especially during stressful moments.

If you truly want to publish, you won’t give up either. You may feel like wanting to give up when you face the dilemma of having to rewrite a book or do extensive edits, but you pull up your bootstraps and do it.

You may feel like burying yourself in a deep pit after months of rejections, but you’ll take a deep breath and keep on submitting.

And you may find all the steps to self-publish daunting and time-consuming, but you’ll fist your hands together and do what you have to do.

That is what a writer does: we go on even when it’s hard.

We go on even when we want to stop.

We go on….

Image from Flickr

Author of Hurricane Crimes, Seismic Crimes, 30 Seconds, Ghost of Death, and Witch of Death. Blogger. Reader. Auntie. Vegetarian. Cat Lover.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Calling Romance Writers!

For your information!

Click HERE for more information.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Dear Impatient Writer

Dear Impatient Writer,

I’m impatient. I always have been. When I was younger, I was extremely impatient about getting published. At the age of seventeen, I wanted an agent and publisher YESTERDAY. I drove myself crazy with my impatience. Every month that went by without those things was brutal. At some point, I realized all things really do happen in their own time . . . when they are meant to, and no matter how hard I’d push against the wall, it wouldn’t budge until the universe moved it for me. But, of course, I kept working and striving toward my dream, because the universe does need a bit of help.

So many writers are impatient. They want to finish writing their book NOW. They want to finish editing their book NOW. And they want to publish their book NOW.

But here’s why it’s a good idea to take your time:

Writing: When you rush while writing, you can leave out details, emotion, mess up the chronological order, and create plots holes. If you take your time, even if other writers finished two or more books in the time it takes you to finish one, your sentences will flow better, the scenes will make sense, and your characters will be well developed.

Editing: Rushing through writing will lead to more editing and rewriting, but if you rush through the editing process, you’ll miss typos and grammar and punctuation mistakes. You won’t catch redundancies or unnecessary words, and you won’t be able to spot places that need help. Taking your time will ensure your eyes (and brain) can spot these mistakes.

Publishing: Now that you took your time writing and editing, this is the most important time to be patient. You don’t want the wrong agent or publisher, do you? By researching and taking your time, you’ll find agents/publishers right for your book. When you do, one of them may be the agent/publisher who signs you. And that is worth being patient for.

If you self-publish, you especially need to go one step at a time. Hire an editor and don’t rush editing. Get a professional book formatter and cover artist, too. Cutting corners on these may mean the difference between a good self-published book and a poor one.

Author of Hurricane Crimes, Seismic Crimes, 30 Seconds, Ghost of Death, and Witch of Death. Blogger. Reader. Auntie. Vegetarian. Cat Lover.

QUESTION: Are you patient or impatient?