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Category Archives: Support

The End or The Beginning?

A friend of mine, April Snellings, took this in Toronto. I had no idea anyone else knew about this word I dreamed, but they did!

A friend of mine, April Snellings, took this in Toronto. I had no idea anyone else knew about this word I dreamed, but they did!

Those are beautiful words, aren’t they? I finished my story on December 30, because I didn’t want to drag it into the New Year. I was so excited and I emailed my friends, posted it on Facebook and had a little celebration. I know, seems kind of overboard, but I started this story three years ago and it’s finally done. The next morning when I woke, panic set in. Now what?

Let’s see. I’m holding steady at 80k words, which is good for a YA novel. I know for sure that I have two semi-major scenes to rewrite. Then I have to go back and clean it up and do lots of revising. Right now I’m working with one critique partner and will have to start looking for a couple more. Then, after I make additional corrections I need to send it out to beta readers and get a feel for their reaction. Oh. But I also need to write a one sentence pitch and I have to write the synopsis and query. Ugh. I’d much prefer just to write. But this has to be done. I love my story and want others to see it as I do – which does not include me telling the person what I meant to say here or was trying to get across there. My story has to be above and beyond. No story is ever perfect, I know, but I don’t want to have to make make excuses for my writing. Yes, I know not every story is liked by everyone, but I just want to be able to tell this story as best I can. And as you can probably see from this paragraph, I’m a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to storytelling.

So, I’m going to do something that I have a hard time doing. I’m going to ask for your help. I want you to tell me what you think and how you feel about the idea for my story. This is also to get a feel for the upcoming workshops we’re going to be offering. By “exposing” myself like this, I want to show you that we not only want to help each other, we want to help all writers. I’m trusting you, my friends, to not laugh at me or tell me I’m a complete nutter. This is really hard for me to do, but I want you to know that you can trust us with your beautiful stories also. Here goes…

The working title of my story is LUMA. This is NOT my one sentence synopsis, but just an idea of what the story is about: Two seventeen year old best friends are given a gift by a down on his luck, tired superhero.

Need more? Yeah… I thought so. Deep breath. Okay. This is NOT my synopsis, but just a general idea of my story: Seventeen year old Abbey is a party girl. When she hears about an underground club being held at an abandoned amusement park, she has to go. She loves the club scene and everything to do with it. This is the world where she feels she belongs, but one kiss changes everything. A stranger hits on her and after seeing her best friend, Callie, is occupied with her jerk boyfriend, Abbey kisses the stranger. To her, it’s nothing but a hope that he finds her beautiful, but to someone watching, it’s a death warrant – for her. Callie interrupts their moment and tells Abbey they have to leave. Abbey gives the stranger her number and she and Callie leave, but instead of finding their way home, they find themselves trapped in the amusement park. After being hunted through the park, they find themselves in the basement of the old theater. There, they find a man shackled to the wall. After saving his life. he gives them a gift. A gift that only a superhero can give – strength, power, abilities and many things in between. As their abilities grow, so does the danger around them. Someone wants this gift they’ve been given and will stop at nothing to get it (cliche, I know). Abbey and Callie have to decide not only what’s worth fighting for, but who is worth fighting for.

Sucky, I know. But, that’s part of my problem. I don’t know how much to give away and when to keep my cards hidden. I know I’m not the only one with this problem, which is why I’ve posted my issue. So, tell me, is this something that would interest you? What else do you want to know? What questions do you have? I know I’m not the only person with this question, so feel free to post your story summaries in the comments and I’ll see if we can help you. Synopses are hard. They have to be perfect. I want you to see that I’m struggling with mine and though my story is finished – I’m really having a hard time.

I work on my story everyday. Right now, it’s labeled as a YA dark urban fantasy, but it sneaks into so many other genres. I have to incorporate them all somehow. What problems do you have? Let’s work it out together and make sure we help each other reach our goals. I’ve taken a huge step by trusting you, what leap of faith will you take for your story?

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Posted by on January 7, 2013 in Critique, Motivation, Revision, Support, synopsis, Writing

 

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My Favorite Hugs and Chocolate Posts

Sometimes, a hug is all what we need – Jesslee Cuizon

What a good year it’s been over here! I though that the best way for me to end off things would be to share a few of the post by the wonderful ladies I share this blog with. If any of the links go to places they shouldn’t, please let me know.

It’s been such a pleasure getting to know all of you this year. I’m giving all of you big virtual bear hugs. I can’t wait to see what next year will bring us.

It’s been an honor, ladies and gentlemen.

Jamie Raintree

My Romance With Writing

Who Cares About Writers?

Instruction Manual for a Full-Time Writer

Why Character Archetypes Aren’t Just About Commercialism

Why I Heart Scrivener for Outlining

How to NaNoWriMo During Thanksgiving

Tonia Marie Houston

Bring Your Shovel

St. Patrick and the Writer’s Trinity

Gift Ideas for the Writer in Your Life

33 And It Feels Divine

Give Your Characters Quirk

Synopsis Fundamentals

Heather L Reid

Learn to Love Writing Queries

Dream Big and Never Give Up: How I Landed a 2 Book Publishing Deal

The Third Perspective: Why I Love Third Person Narrative

The First Editorial Letter: Let the Revisions Begin… Again

Riding the Revision Coaster: Completing My 30 Day Deadline

Rebecca Fields

What If…

Luck of the Irish?

The Magic of Fairy Tales

A World of Ideas

Pardon Me, Social Media

Read A (Banned) Book

Courtney Koschel

Filtering Filter Words in Your Writing

Questions to ask When Hiring an Editor

I Suck Syndrome: Recognize it and Beat it

Giving and Getting the Most Out of Critiques

Common Comma Issues

Manuscript Formatting

Jani Grey

Support from the obvious places

Need a little motivation or inspiration? I have some of that for you

Personal Perspective: Why I write 1st person POV

Let me tell you why you’re a winner

The Small Things

Why the subject of your blog post is so very important

Guest Posts

Visualize Your Way to Success: Guest Post by Vaughn Roycroft

DIY Editing and Proofreading Part 1 with Karen S. Elliot

Editing, Proofreading, and a Contest with Karen S. Elliot

Pants on Fire: Guest Post by Laura Long

Guest Post by Brian Taylor: Take a Walk… On a Tightrope: One Writer’s Journey

I’ll see you next year. Have a happy and safe new year!

 

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Are you rising to the NaNoWriMo challenge?

Next month sees the start of National Novel Writing Month, better known as NaNoWriMo. I’m going to assume most of you know what NaNo is but for those who don’t, here’s gist of it.

Thousands of writers from around the world will attempt to write a 50 000 word novel during the month of November(or more if they are so inclined to). Crazy right? Right. But then, all us writing folk have a little crazy in us that we hide from society on good days. During November, not so much. It’s all about the crazy then.

My bio here says that I’m a huge fan of NaNo so it’s with a sad heart that I write this post today. Because I will not be doing NaNo this year for the simple fact that I have too many completed novels and none of them ready to be thrown into the query trenches. The worst thing I can do now is write a whole new novel to add to that pile. Sometimes I don’t like logical me. Right now I’m doing a last round of revisions on the novel I started during last year’s NaNo which makes this a bitter sweet time for me. What I will be is a NaNo rebel. I might finish the last 25k of the novel I started in 2010 and will finish the 2nd draft of a novel I wrote a few months ago.

But you! You get to do it. If you decided to participate this year, you get to be a part of this madness and I envy you. I’m positively green with it! I’m well aware that NaNo isn’t for everybody. One of my CPs tried it last year and said that the pressure of getting it done was too much. She’s the kind of writer who likes to take time and think as she writes and that makes for a bad partner when it comes to writing 50 000 words in 30 days if you don’t have a system/structure in place. I understand that.

For some reason the NaNo hate was extra obvious last year.  Maybe I shouldn’t say hate, and instead dislike.  I read a few posts where the writer/author/observer was dismissive, deriding, and sometimes disrespectful of those participating. Ugh. I don’t have time for that. BUT! The support was loud enough to drown out a stadium of crazed, soccer-obsessed fans, and that made me smile and think, I’m proud to be one of those crazed fans. I loved seeing all the NaNo posts and updates in my reader whenever I took a few minutes to scan through it.

I love NaNo because it’s a challenge. And if there’s one thing I can’t resist it’s a challenge. I love the community and how extra small the world feels during November. The rush of being on deadline is something I thrive on as well. The abandon with which I get to write, leaving the editing and revising and worrying that there’s more wrong with this story than right for later.

This is a good time to prove to yourself that you don’t need to be inspired to write. Writers write, with or without their muses. It’s as simple as that. If all of us waited for inspiration to strike we’d never get anything done. And if you’re one of those people who’s inspired all the time, I envy you. Hand over what you’re drinking, I want some of that too 😉 .

The support is amazing. AMAZING. There are so many other writers attempting this that you will never be alone, especially if you’re part of the Twitter writing community. There’s always somebody willing to kick your behind when you feel like slacking or giving up. It makes a difference.

At the end of the day, if you take a logical approach to writing your novel, it’s definitely doable. Think about it like this. If you do four sprints with a target of 500 words in each sprint, you’ll have about 2k at the end of the night. That’s about 300 words more than the intended 1 777 words you need to write a day. If you’ve plotted your novel, or are a pantser like me but know exactly where your story is headed, this shouldn’t be too difficult. There will be plenty of word wars and writing sprints happening on twitter and facebook, so there really is no excuse for not giving it your best shot.

Even if you don’t finish or hit 50 000 words by the end, you started a new novel. That’s 15 000 words you didn’t have. That’s 23 000 words that you wouldn’t have written. That’s insane and awesome and great and fantastic all at the same time! You are a rock star for even starting! Well done, you.

I’ll just sit here with my puppy eyes and sad smile while everybody else writes with no restraint. I’ll bring you chocolate, coffee, cookies, bacon, and whatever else you need to keep yourself motivated. I love motivating people, so if you need the kick, my right foot is all yours. Just let me know 😀

On that note, here are some links to help you out. Some of them are from a few years ago but they still apply:

NaNoWriMo – Should You Join in the Silliness? 9 Reasons to Consider it – Anne R Allen

Maureen Johnson: Your NaNoWriMo Questions Answered.  There are a lot of helpful tips, go have a read.

So who’s doing NaNo? Will you be doing it as a rebel or going full out?
 
 

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It Takes a Village

Back when storytelling first began, it took a community to write a tale. One person started it and told it to another, to groups over a fire. It got passed on to friends and family members, generation after generation. Each time the story met new ears, the telling got smoother. Each person augmented it with their own knowledge, improved it with their own experiences. And now, those timeless stories are the flawless fairytales and legends we know today. The ones that still speak to our hearts, even after all this time.

Today, it seems we’re pulling away from that connection and group mentality. We hide our writing lives from our families, we’re cutting out editors and publishers, and getting critiques is such a blow to the ego. We’re holding so tightly to the idea that somehow, the art of writing will be compromised if we allow others to give their input. We fear being “commercialized.”

When I first started writing, I hoarded it. I chicken-pecked it out on my parent’s computer, which I think ran Windows 97, and saved it on a Floppy Disk so they wouldn’t find it on the hard drive. I was terrified that if they found it, they would think I was silly, writing these unbelievable love stories. They’d point out everything wrong with them and I’d never want to write again. But it didn’t matter. They were just for me and my girlfriend to giggle about in class. Nothing more.

As I became an adult and began to write more in-depth stories, I wanted them to reach more people. But when I started to share them with others, their comments quickly taught me that my reality was not the same as others’ reality. My experiences and views were completely valid, but if I wanted more people than my best friend (who grew up in the same neighborhood I did) to relate, I had to open myself up to understanding other people’s realities and experiences and knowledge. I had to embrace the fact that writing a great story–one that would last through the generations–wasn’t just about me and my own thoughts.

I joked with my critique partners a couple of weeks ago that I would have to put their names on the cover of my novel next to mine, and while I doubt they or my future publisher would feel it necessary, I did mean it. They add more to my story than they will ever know. Every week we get together and tear our stories apart. Yes, willingly. I love nothing more than seeing them as deep into it as I am. I’m filled with such hope for my novel when they have conversations about my characters that don’t even include me, and then tell me how they think it should end. I have an outline but I always take their thoughts into account and, more often than not, I do make changes based on their suggestions. Not because I’m not an artist that values her own work, but because I’m an artist that values her own work…all ego aside.

As our culture becomes more isolated by the decade, I think it’s even more important to have a community for your story. Not just people cheering you one to get it written, but people who believe in your story, people who put pieces of themselves into it. I think that’s what makes stories whole. What creates a writer is the desire to change someone’s mind with our words. Maybe even change the world. How else can we do that if we don’t understand the struggles of the people we’re talking to, or let them have a say?

I won’t lie and say I don’t feel nervous every Wednesday night when I send my work to my critique partners. Who knows where it might lead? But come Saturday morning, after we’ve spent time hashing it out, talking about everything we know to be true, agreeing, disagreeing, laughing, falling in love with each other’s characters, hating each other’s characters, and scaring the poor people that work at Starbucks…that’s when I feel like my story has finally come to life.

Because my story is my baby. And everyone who loves it, and challenges it, and helps it grow, is my village. It takes all of them.

Photo by McKay Savage

 

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Cursing the Blank Page

The cursor winks, mocking me as it looms above the blank page.

“Come on. Do it. Write something.”

Dark and evil it blinks, a beacon of my own inadequacy, each beat a challenge.

“I dare you.”

Fear grips me, anger too.  My mind is blank. I wipe sweat from my forehead with a sleeve. I take a sip of water, to ease the dryness in my mouth. Ideas swirl through my thoughts, I grab at them, one by one examining them in my mind, then throw each back into the ether. None of them are good enough. None of them worthy of the demands of that damned cursor. I curse. Damn you. I look at the clock. 12:20 pm. Time and the cursor are in cahoots with their taunts.

I have deadlines! All I really want to do is give the cursor the finger, escape into a game of Skyrim, and devour a bar of chocolate.

“Quitter.” The cursor sneers.

Heat rises in my cheeks. I grit my teeth. I am not a quitter.

There’s only one thing that can guarantee our failure, and that’s if we quit.–Craig Breedlove

The cursor stares at me, shocked.

Magic is believing in yourself, if you can do that, you can make anything happen.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

I start to write.

Keep on beginning and failing. Each time you fail, start all over again, and you will grow stronger until have accomplished a purpose – not the one you began with perhaps, but one you’ll be glad to remember.–Anne Sullivan

Word by word.

Other people and things can stop you temporarily. You’re the only one who can do it permanently. –Zig Ziglar

I will not let the blank page, that blinking cursor, win.

All that is necessary to break the spell of inertia and frustration is this: Act as if it were impossible to fail. That is the talisman, the formula, the command of right about-face which turns us from failure to success.–Dorthea Brande

Act as if it were impossible to fail, act as if it were impossible to fail, act as if it were impossible to fail…the mantra for today. The thing that’s getting me through this blank page is the encouragement found in the words and the works of others. It’s the friends that I’ve made online, the support from my peers and family and the belief that I have a calling. This passion for the written word isn’t for naught. There is poetry in my soul aching to be released. I must learn to trust it. I grab onto that idea. I hold it close and let it feed me the determination to never give up, to act as if it were impossible to fail. I open myself up and let the words pour onto the page, without fear, without limits. What is there to lose?

You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don’t try.–Beverly Sills

What talisman or formula do you use to break the inertia and frustration of the blank page? I would love to hear your thoughts. Keep writing, all! Harness the poetry and the passion in your soul and never give up.

 

Training Tools – Websites for Creativity

El grito de la gaviota – Seagull Scream by Dani_vr on Flickr

I’ve wanted to use that image since I first saw it. Not sure how it applies to today’s post, but hopefully it made you smile 🙂

I’m coming off my post-Olympic high. I miss coming home and watching elite athletes fulfill their dreams. I don’t know about you, but I found it inspiring. It gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling in my core. Those people worked hard, sacrificed, trained, and look where it got them. Writers aren’t that different. We have to go through a lot of the same things (but with more wine and chocolate and less laps and pushups).

Our minds are constantly being pushed, our imaginations stretched. We’re honing our craft. If you’re like me, you’ve pretty much given up sleep. Learning, we’re always learning. And what is this “free time” you speak of? Yet we do it because we love it. We have goals and dreams, and we won’t stop until we make it.

What does all this have to do with creativity? Well, as writers, creativity is kind of important to the whole process. I have a bookmarks folder titled, “Websites for Creativity,” and I thought I’d pass along some of my favorites. Think of them as training tools. (There, I totally tied this back to the Olympics 😉 Sneaky, right?)

Critters is a part of Critique.org but for horror (here’s looking at you, Brian), fantasy, and sci-fi writers. How awesome is that? It can be hard to find critique partners for genre fiction; thankfully critters helps writers connect.

Creativity Portal – If you want to read articles about creativity, and I do this sometimes to better understand the creativity process, then creativity portal is a good resource.

Easy Street Prompts – Like writing prompts? Check this one out.

Six Sentences – This website invites you to tell a story in six sentences. Kind of interesting.

Plot Scenario Generator – This is one of my new favorites. The whole website is really good.

Five Free College Level Writing & Lit Videos – Who says you have to pay to learn?

InkPageant – A collection of blog posts for writers.

80 Journal Writing Prompts – I’m a sucker for journaling and writing prompts. What more could I want?

That should be enough to keep you busy for a while. What about you? What are some of your go-to sites for creativity?

 

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Finish the Race

In the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games, Derek Redmond’s was a favourite to medal in the 400 meter sprint. Imagine working your whole life for one goal— to be an Olympic champion. You’ve done everything right, you’re on the pinnacle, in great shape, the favourite, all you have to do is give it your all and there’s no doubt you can do it. You’re on your mark, heart steady, muscles flexing. The sound of the gun explodes and you’re off, you can taste victory, and just as your about to cross that finish line, life throws you a curve ball.

 

Derek didn’t finish first that day, he didn’t even finish second or third, he finished dead last. His dream of Olympic gold shattered, but he didn’t give up. He kept going, he crossed the finish line despite everything that had been thrown in his path.

Being a writer isn’t as gruelling as being an Olympic athlete, we don’t compete on a world stage or against other writers. We compete against ourselves, working and striving to become better than we are as we learn our craft. We don’t win gold metals, but we all dream of crossing that finish line. Traditional of self-published, we all dream that one day our stories will be on shelves or on Amazon ready for readers to pick them up and get lost in a new world.  We spend our days hunched over a laptop agonizing over sentence structure and story arcs. We sacrifice sleep and free time to pursue our passion, and we send out queries and get rejections and race ourselves to the ultimate finish line of publication. But does it matter how fast we get there? Does it really matter if we are first to the finish line or last as long as we get there? I started writing and querying over fifteen years ago. I accumulated stacks of rejections, some personal and some not so nice. I had near misses with magazines articles and with one devastating, hamstring snapping, close call with one of the big six. A call so close I could almost taste the paper and ink of the finished book only to fail at getting the gold in the end. I could have quit. I could have said forget it, I give up, time to try something different. I never gave up. It took me another five years to get my gold medal, and it doesn’t even matter how long it took me to get there. I crossed the finish line and so can you.

Writing is not a race. I know it feels like it sometimes, like you have to cross that line now or you might never get there. It’s hard to be patient, it’s hard to keep focused and keep striving forward when all you want to do is give up, to call it quits, but you’re not alone. There is someone out there who wants you to cross that finish line. When you’re down, call on them. Never give up. Stay strong and write on.

Has there been a time when you’ve kept fighting for something? Have you crossed a finish line despite the odds? I would love to hear your stories.