Tag Archives: The writing process

It’s Not Writer’s Block…I Swear

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It’s not Writer’s Block.

It’s not.

I swear it isn’t.

I was doing so good writing The Wings of The Fallen. I was in a groove and then the holidays came.

I thought to myself that after the holiday season was over then maybe I would get back on my writing horse, but nope. That did not happen.

It’s a curious thing really. I’ve never had any problems writing. The only time I had to stop was when I injured my neck and shoulder from writing too much.

So, what’s a girl to do?

Well, I started yoga and I have to say, I really enjoy it. Then, I decided to start meditating before yoga, just for a few minutes to loosen myself up before the strenuous stretching.

I know what people who know me well are thinking, but today I had a breakthrough.

I realized the story didn’t lose me. I lost the story. I plunged into writing without doing any outlines or any direction because I thought I had a good idea on where and how the story would go, but what I didn’t take into account was that, the story was there, but I just couldn’t see it yet.

I preach all the time about being prepared before writing, but this time for some reason I didn’t do that and now I am in a whirlpool of confusion. Where do I go? How do I begin again?

That’s when it hit me. Hit me like a ton of bricks. I didn’t exactly like my story or where it was going. I was having a hard time connecting to my main character and I wasn’t sure if I even cared enough to write about her.

Yes, I said it. I admit it.

But, and there’s always a but, something else came creeping into my twisted, sick writer’s mind and now I know why. I don’t want her to be the hero who slays the bad guy and rides off into the sunset with the so-called good guy. I want her to have conflict and I want her to be fierce, but insecure. I want her to make mistakes and I want her to be real.

I also have this driving force in me to do Charleston proud. I love my adopted city. It’s beautiful. Yes, it has issues like any city, but it’s my home.

So, is there such thing as a writer’s block? Yes, there is. I never gave into that myth before, but now I am a believer. What writer’s don’t tell you or admit though is that it’s not so much as a block but a lack of focus and love for their story.

We start on the path and sometimes we lose our way. We might go down some pretty shady areas. We will face what seems like insurmountable obstacles, but when we realize that our story needs to be told, we punch through those walls and get back to work. It’s a need inside of us that cannot be explained. It’s a voice or several voices that need to be heard.

Let the tiredness begin. Bring on the shoulder and neck strain because I have a story to write. It may not be the one I started, but by the time it is finished, it will be one that I love.

 

~Shannon

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The Editor Dilemma…a Collaborative Tale with Val Day-Sanchez

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When I usually collaborate with Val, I post my view first and then post her take on whatever subject we are writing about, but today I am doing things differently. I am letting Val’s article be proudly displayed front and center.

 

Val’s Take:

As an Indie Author you are in charge of creating, publishing, writing, editing, selling, promoting really doing any and everything associated with writing a book.  So if you are like me and have a family, a job, (or two or three) you find yourself seeing your shortcomings.  Like you may be great a weaving a tale, but you may be awful at sighting grammatical errors so you think; “hey I’m trying to move my family to a new city, find my 5 year old a school, rent out our house, start a new job, finish a novel-while publishing another, I think I’ll hire someone to help me edit, it’s not my favorite thing to do, and I really don’t have time.”  So you do some research, find someone that won’t break the bank and get your book edited.  After all the  first go around it went great!  You’re reviews were exemplary they made you doubt that you put something out there that was so well received and then the third book happens and your editor screws you over.

They send you a fake edited manuscript, guarantee their work, and you believe them and publish it.  In case you’re thinking Valerie why did you trust them?!  It’s because as an indie author I have met amazing people from around the world.  All of which are not very affluent, and so dedicated to their work rather than the profit, you start to feel that you are a part of a tight-knit community that supports one another, that wants to see you thrive.  They too are also less concerned with money but completely engaged in the art that is being produced, so you trust people as if we are all intertwined in this creative community that looks out for one another and then you realize that there are still sharks.

These sharks want your money and they don’t care how many years you have waited to pursue your dream.  They don’t care how your only wish was to see your work in print, to have your name among authors, your heroes.  This carelessness leads to them giving you horrible work that you then publish and receive a backlash of reviews for, because the small fan base you have managed to acquire feel disappointed and betrayed that you would put something out that was so unpolished.  The readers don’t realize that you made a mistake and trusted the wrong person.

This blog is an apology as well as a rant as well as a warning.  If you want to pursue your dreams be careful who you ask to aid you on your journey.  I asked fellow author Shannon Barczak if she to has experienced such woes during her journey in self-publishing and she had this to say.

 

My Take:

 

Val’s view on this is written eloquently and with passion. I felt like raising my fist in joyful solidarity when she emailed it to me.

I am not going to be as nice as Val on this subject because quite frankly, I am ticked off on her behalf, and I also have a tremendous amount of guilt weighing heavily on my shoulders.

Several months ago, I found a reasonably priced editor. I checked out her website and her references. I crossed my fingers and sent her my manuscript, as well as, half her required payment.

At first glance, I thought she did a good job, but then I noticed a few discrepancies and I was disappointed. I chalked it up to a lesson learned and moved on.

If I acquired any useful knowledge about the experience is that she used the Macro widget on Word to plug in overused words and adverbs. I, being a newbie, had no idea about this wonderful invention, so when I became aware that I could do that by myself, I was psyched.

In my disappointment and new found Word prowess I had forgotten that I had mentioned her to Val. I saw that she used her as an editor and I figured that she had better luck than me so I wasn’t going to mention my experience because I didn’t want to cast any doubts in her mind if she was happy with her choice of editors.

When I received Val’s email describing her recent disappointing situation, I wanted to email this person myself on Val’s behalf, and write a profanity laced letter.

Val touched on something that I think is extremely accurate. As an Indie Author, we do come into contact with great people that are in the same boat as us and we form an immediate kinship. We do support one another and when one of our own gets the shaft, we take up arms and batten down the literary hatches as one.

I think what is important to convey to everyone, is that as an Indie Author, we wear many hats and it is always a relief to find someone that offers us a service to help make our lives easier.

Unfortunately, no matter how careful we are or how vigilante we are in checking references and reviews, we can still be taken in by someone with no conscience.

The simple reason is greed. You can spout off different excuses, but it all comes down to money in the end.

All I have to say is, shame on you.

How dare you take a writer’s manuscript and not do what you say you are going to do.

A copy of a writer’s book is like an extension of themselves. In some way, it is our baby, our child that we nurtured from nothing but a thought and developed them into full blown characters with a history, as well as, a future.

When we give it to someone else to read or edit, we are trusting that person to help make it better. It’s like when we send our kids off to school and we pray that they are kept safe, and that they receive the love and attention they deserve.

To have someone that poses as an editor not fulfill their obligation can be crushing and I have to believe in a little thing known as karma because Val did not deserve that nor did her book.

If you have read my blog posts or know me personally, you might have an idea on what I did when learning this news.

This editor received my favorite kind of greeting when I pulled up her email…my trusty middle finger.

 

 

 

 

See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil.

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First off, let’s take a moment to pay homage to one of my favorite movies ‘Dazed and Confused’. I love this movie. It is one of my favorites and if you can’t randomly identify or throw out quotes from this example of fine cinematic greatness, then you probably shouldn’t be my friend.

Okay, now that I have got that out of the way…

I saw something today that stunned me a bit. I was perusing the books being promoted on a few Facebook groups and I clicked on a link because the book looked interesting.

I read the synopsis and then I came to the end. I know that I am a relatively new author, but I know my way around the kindle book store and I have never ( can you hear me emphasis never?) ever, seen this before.

At the end of the book blurb, the author, wrote that if a reader is dissatisfied with the book and is tempted to give it 3 stars or less to please write her or her publisher before submitting such a review.

I’m sorry. She didn’t say please, she used the word implore. She implored you the reader not to leave a bad review.

Anyone who uses the word implore means business…that’s all I’m saying.

I was confused, shocked and I have to admit, a little amused by the plea.

I almost felt like writing a review on her book blurb. I wanted to say “Sweetie, you’re in the wrong business,” but I didn’t. Instead I have been stewing about it all afternoon.

Writing a book is hard. That is a fact that every intelligent person is aware of in this world. Publishing a book is even harder. Not only are you selling a piece of your soul for anyone to read, but you are also inviting criticism which can lead you to be brokenhearted.

It’s a terrifying proposition, but it is one you must consider before you publish. Every, single, author has had a bad review. I don’t care who you are, we all have had them and does it sting? Yes, of course, but I believe it is what also makes us be a better writer.

We all know about the buying of bogus reviews. If I see a book that has 300 four or five star reviews with not a single naysayer then I am now suspicious. I hate it. I wish I wasn’t weary, but I am now.

I wish I could speak to all the readers who didn’t like one of my books, but I can’t and you know what? It’s okay. I realize some people may not like profanity and graphic sex scenes and that’s why I write a disclaimer. If I see a review that mentions it, then I have to admit, I don’t lose sleep over their words because I’m honest about what I put out there.

My early reviews mentioned typos and whatnot so I fixed them. I read the criticism and agreed. I finally admitted that I needed help and I couldn’t do it on my own.

I took the words to heart and I am a much better writer now.

I have had two one star reviews. Now, I don’t think that’s bad considering I have published seven books, but boy it sucked to read that they thought my story was silly.

There’s no other word for it. It sucked. Big time.

Those are the times you put on your big girl panties and move on with a smile.

I’m not trying to make fun of or bash this author. I know how hard it is to get those bad reviews, but trust me when I say that at the end of the day, those reviews are what makes us stronger as authors.

There’s a part of me that wants to reach out to this author and tell her how I feel. I wish I could convey to her in the nicest way possible that frankly it sounded a bit pathetic and that she doesn’t need to persuade people to like her book, but she needs to believe it herself.

Part of being an adult is that we can move forward even after hearing or seeing something that makes us upset or hurt. We acknowledge our faults and try to use them for personal growth.

I would much rather hear a person speak the truth than listen to their lies. The thought of begging someone to like my books is ridiculous. My stories are a part of me and if you don’t like them then that’s cool.

I like them and in the end that is all that matters.

Write for yourself and no one else…have I mentioned that, like, a million times already?

 

 

 

 

 

My nemesis: Action Scenes

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Every writer has different abilities that they excel at and every writer also has areas where they will always need work.

I have no trouble rambling on with my characters inner musings and I am pretty darn good at dialogue, if I do say so myself.

The problem I have always been faced with is action. I tend to see it in my mind and skip over little details which in the end makes those scenes somewhat rushed. I have been trying harder to overcome this obstacle and with the last book in my series, The Cursed Scepter, I had to face it head on.

*Cue Eye of the Tiger*

I think what my problem is that I usually gloss over action scenes in a book. There’s a part of me that always yells, “Ok, I get it, you’re fighting, you’re punching, you’re running, e.t.c.”

But then I realized something as a writer. We are the only ones that can convey to our readers what the heck is going on and it is our duty to provide as many details as possible. I reread my first few books and I did the whole scrunched up face, hitting my head with the palm of my hand, and wincing almost in pain as I scrolled through in agony.

I have put a lot of thought into it lately and I have come up with a few tips.

 

1) Write as many details as possible. You can always come back later and take out any unnecessary adverbs… Actually that’s just good advice for every single line in a story.

*FYI: I am not only a comma whore, but an adverb slut as well.

 

2) Just because you as a writer can see it happening in your mind, doesn’t mean the reader can as well.

*Apparently when someone buys your book they do not get the mind reader decoder ring.

 

3) A thesaurus IS your best friend.

*There are many ‘established’ writers out there who poo-poo the thesaurus, but let me be the exception to that snotty rule and raise my hand as a proud thesaurus owner and user.

 

4) Keep the story moving as fast as possible. You do not want to get held up writing a scene about punching someone for three pages.

*Why is that, you might ask? Because people really don’t f-ing care that much and they will get bored. You might like writing about your beloved main character beating the crap out of someone, but chances are your reader doesn’t want to read two thousand words on an ass kicking.

 

5) Write what you know and if you don’t know much about full on fighting scenes (Um, did you see my hand raise again?) then either:

A) don’t include it

or

B) Fake it as best as you can!

 

The bottom line is this. Unless you have been on the front lines in the military, a professional boxer or an Ultimate fighter, chances are it might be difficult for you to write those scenes with any sense of accuracy. You might be tempted to dip your pen in the ink of plagiarism, but I really want to warn you that those things will always come back to haunt you. Stay true to yourself. I have fun writing action scenes when they involve magic and what not, but when it comes to the art of kickboxing, I’m going to leave that to the pro’s.

The Starting Point

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” I didn’t set out to write this book. It crept up on me when I wasn’t looking, when I didn’t know I was writing it.”

– Mark David Gerson

 

There is one question that absolutely terrifies a writer. It’s the inquiry that makes you shrug nonchalantly on the outside and squirm on the inside.

How do you start to write a book?

I know when I hear this question my first reaction is to roll my eyes and let out a silent groan.

The answer is quite simple, yet oh so complicated.

Writing a book is not an exact science. I think we’re all different in our approach. I love the quote from Mark David Gerson because for me, that is exactly how I feel right now.

I had a plan a few months ago as I was finishing up The Fae Witch Series, but now that’s pretty much shot to Hell. I was hit with this sudden inspiration for a story and now it’s all I can think about. I can only answer the question on how do I start writing a book from my perspective and try to give you insight into my thought process as I navigate this wild journey.

I have said it before and I’ll say it again, I think outlines are imperative when you are writing a book. To sit down and try to wing it without any preparation is very difficult and I also think you will end up with a mess of a rough draft, if you even finish at all.

I always start with a fresh notebook and from there I jot down ideas. I begin with the major characters and their back story, as well as, a fairly long synopsis before diving into a rough draft of chapter outlines.

The best part for me is the daydreaming.

I love to let my mind wander and imagine my book from start to finish. I create and rewrite my book so many times in my head. I then go back and scratch out some of my outlines before furiously writing my new ideas down so I don’t forget them.

And then the real work begins.

I don’t think I can explain or teach the crafting of writing your first chapter. It is, to me, the most difficult part of being an author. You have to grab the readers attention and make them thirsty for more. You are also tasked with introducing your characters and providing a set up for the entire novel in just a few short pages.

So, how do you start writing a book?

I guess the only answer I have is that when you truly want anything in this life then you just do it. No matter how many blog posts you read or classes that you take, none of that will ever prepare you for the moment when you sit down to write your story.

You will have feelings of panic, doubt, and fear. You will be filled with anxiety and a slew of excuses of why you can’t start today may overwhelm you.

But then there’s those first few words that come pouring out of you and onto your screen. Suddenly the gates open and shaft of creative light streams from your fingertips as you hesitantly type out a sentence which turns into a paragraph.

When you’re done, the smile that breaks across your face is one of relief and then you’re entrenched into a world that only you can enter.

It’s that hard and that simple.

I guess I better get started…

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