Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Listening To Books On Audio Makes Me A Better Writer

It’s Wednesday again? How does this keep happening? Seems like every time I write a Wednesday post, I scarcely leave the computer before it’s time to write another one. My Wednesday posts are slowly turning into Thursday posts. Fortunately, it’s not quite midnight yet, at least on this side of the pond, so this is still officially a Wednesday post. :)

Over the past several months, I’ve noticed it’s much easier for me to write if I’ve spent the prior fifteen to thirty minutes reading a chapter from someone else’s book. I’m not sure why, but reading someone else’s words seems to kick my muse into high gear and I find myself thinking more like a writer. I don’t always have the luxury to do this, but when I do, the difference is obvious.

Three weeks ago, I attended a writing workshop in Indianapolis hosted by David Wolverton. The site was five hours away by car, and since long car rides drive me bonkers, I stopped by the library to pick up a couple of books on CD (Dan Brown’s Inferno, and Terry Pratchett’s Unseen Academicals). The ten hour round trip wasn’t sufficient to finish one book, much less two, so I’ve been listening to them the past several weeks during my one hour drive to and from work. And what I’ve discovered is that when I listen to a book, my creative juices flow even faster. My descriptions are better. My sentences seem more professional. I don’t know why, but my brain seems far more receptive to picking up the nuances and rhythm of sentences when it processes the sound of the words.

Of course, this doesn’t help much when I arrive for work, but when I return home in the evening, I’m all fired up and ready to write. Maybe I’ll have to download the Audible app for my phone and start listening to all my books. It suspect it'll make me a better writer in the long run.

Like that’s not going to drive my wife crazy…

Do you prefer reading books or listening to them?

Friday, October 17, 2014

Social Media Woes and Friday's Writing Links

I was a bad boy this week and didn't get around to posting on Wednesday, so today you get both a post and this week's writing links.  Enjoy!

It may seem like an odd time to worry about whether I’m following the New Year’s resolutions I made back in January, but one of those resolutions has been nagging at me lately. Ten months ago, I promised myself I’d do better on social media than I had the previous year. Considering how much I sucked at it before, you’d think just getting better would be a slam dunk. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case.

Okay, I admit I’ve gotten a little better. I’m finally remembering to tweet or Google+ the link whenever I post on my blog, and I am interacting more on Facebook (only because I now have a smartphone), but I’m still pretty bad about the whole social media thing. I have a Pinterest account for collecting pictures of castles and old buildings that help inspire the stories I write, but I’ve done very little pinning myself. I haven’t added social media links to my website yet. Heck, I haven’t even gotten around to adding the name of my website to my blog banner. Lowers head in shame

I was reminded of this abysmal state of affairs during Melissa Maygrove’s recent FollowFest. It’s a great way to connect with other writers through social media, and I made lots of new friends when I participated last year. This year, however, life got in the way and I didn’t join in. My loss.

Half my problem with social media stems from not really knowing what I’m doing and half comes from approaching it haphazardly. What’s particularly vexing about my situation is that I now have a smart phone and can tweet and post from anywhere—assuming I remember to do it. And that’s the real problem. Social media isn’t a habit for me yet, and I rarely think about it until I get a notification that someone else has posted.

So now it’s time for drastic action. Instead of playing Candy Crush whenever I have a few minutes of free time during the day (for example, during commercial breaks when my wife and I watch our one hour of TV a night*), I intend to check out my social media apps. It may be a small step, but I have to start somewhere or I’ll never get better with this stuff.


So do you guys have any tips on how to get my social media act together? What are your secrets? C'mon, spill 'em.

* BTW, just in case you’re wondering why I don’t interact with my wife during commercials instead of playing Candy Crush, you should know that she brings up her Candy Crush app less than a microsecond after a commercial appears on the television. :)

Now for the links...

Choosing the Right Social Media Site for You and Your Readers

Why Cinematic Technique Is Essential for Novelists

The Key To Making A Character Multidimensional: Pairs of Opposites

The Problems of First Person Narrative

In other news, Thanmir War by Loni Townsend is on sale today for $0.99.  Go check it out!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Friday Links -- Volume 50

Another week gone!  Where does all the writing time go?

My mom is visiting this week, so I don't expect to get much writing done.  How about you guys?  Do you sneak off and write when you have visitors?  Does your spouse have to explain your constant absences?  Come on now, be honest.

Have a great weekend!

Grant of Rights . . . Or Wrongs?

How to Prep for Author Events

A Reader’s Manifesto: 12 Hardwired Expectations Every Reader Has

How to Use Traps to Create Suspense in Fiction

The Potential Perils and Pitfalls of Signing with a Small Press – And How to Avoid Them

NaNoWriMo Prep: Planning Your Novel’s Beginning

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

My First Writing Workshop - Woo Hoo!

As some of you know, I spent last weekend attending David Wolverton’s writing workshop, Write That Novel, in Indianapolis.  It was my first ever workshop/conference/retreat and I wasn’t sure what to expect. I anticipated an intense couple of days where we would be writing down so much stuff our hands would cramp. Turned out this workshop was more relaxed, with David sitting back in his chair and describing his approach to writing, sprinkled with all sorts of anecdotes. I suspect he didn’t cover nearly as much territory as he would have liked, but since he emailed us a copy of the workshop notes, I have all the info I need right on my Kindle.

The workshop was a smorgasbord of topics, including how to make your story resonate with the widest audience, how to maximize your income from books (including the handling of movie rights, which I suspect none of the attendees are ever going to have to worry about), and what to consider when negotiating with a publisher.

David is also dabbling in self-publishing, and he spent time explaining what an author needs to do to self-publish a book readers will want to read and how to market it, including how to write back cover copy and where to purchase artwork for cover designs.

One concept he discussed at length involved try/fail cycles. I already knew the MC should struggle and fail through most of the story, succeeding only at the end, but David told us that each story needs (at least) three major try/fail cycles, each more difficult than the last, and each requiring a larger percentage of the book in order to tell.

Overall, David was able to keep me interested for two eight hour sessions, which is no easy feat. So now I’m motivated to jump back into my stories and apply what I’ve learned. Wish me luck!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Friday Links -- Volume 49

It's Friday, which means many of you only have one more day of work this week, but it also means I'm in Indianapolis attending a writing workshop.  But not wanting to disappoint you, I've collected a few writing links to share with you.

Enjoy the links!


Ramping Tension to the Max in Your Novel

Sentence Structure — the Musical Soundtrack to our Writing

Creating Characters We Care About

5 Steps To Find Your Book’s Ideal Audience

Why No Advice Is Perfect: Character Emotions

The Two Most Dangerous Words in Book Cover Design

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Insecure Writer and His First Writing Workshop

Today is October's contribution to Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group.

Why am I an Insecure Writer this month? 

Because in two days I’ll be attending my first writing workshop.

To be honest, I’m not sure what to expect. It’s not a big writer’s conference, so there won’t be any mingling around a convention center. It’s a two day course, given by David Garland, author of many fantasy books. All I have to do is show up with a notebook and pen.

This will be my first foray out into the world of writing, and in many ways it feels like I’m taking a leap of faith off a cliff in the dark. Hopefully I’ll return with lots of great ideas and some good stories to share with you.

What was your first writing related meeting/conference/workshop and how did it go for you?  Any tips for me?

Friday, September 26, 2014

Friday Links -- Volume 48

If you read my last post, then you know this has been a sucky week for me and my family.  A pall has descended on our house and it's not likely to leave anytime soon. I can't wait for the week to be over.

A month and a half ago, I was looking forward to my first writing workshop, which is scheduled for next Friday and Saturday.  Right now, I could care less.  I hope my mood will improve during the next week, but I'm not looking forward to leaving my wife alone (with the kids) for a couple of days.

Sometimes, life just sucks.


This week's writing links:

Should You Cut That Character?

Ten Tips for How to Behave at a Writers Conference

Connecting Your Characters to Settings in Your Novel

Why You Need To Write a Series - FUNNY!

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