Friday, May 19, 2017

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 167

This Week's Writing Links

I'm posting this week's writing links from the local hospital waiting room. My wife is in the middle of some minor surgery to fix a slight fracture in her left hand. I'd tell you how she hurt the hand, but she's already embarrassed enough about the circumstances, so for the sake of the marriage it's best I say nothing. 

What I will tell you is that no alcohol was involved that no illegal activity was taking place at the time of the accident. :) 

If you'd care to hazard a wild guess as to what happened, please add it to the comment section. I'm sure she'll be amused. 

I know I will.  

Enjoy the links and have a great weekend! 


P.S.  She's in good spirits and expects to be back to work tomorrow.

How to Spot Toxic Feedback: 7 Signs That the Writing Advice You’re Getting May Do More Harm Than Good

5 Reasons to Consider Using an Omniscient Narrator

Does Description Work For Your Reader, or Against Them?

Show Your Baddie R-E-S-P-E-C-T to Make Them Memorable

Memorable Author Screw-Ups

When Readers Don’t Believe Our Writing

The Origin Scene: Where Your Story REALLY Starts

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

A Step by Step Guide for Submitting to a Writing Contest

I'm privileged to have Renee Cheung on my blog today to give us pointers on submitting to a writing contest. As one of the authors whose story was chosen to be included in the Insecure Writer's Support Group anthology, Hero Lost, I suspect she might just know a thing or two about the subject.

Take it away, Renee!

A Step by Step Guide for Submitting to a Writing Contest
by Renee Cheung

(Also known as dealing with demons and whispers.)

Today I’d like to share with you all my personal process that I went through to submit to the IWSG writing contest that resulted in the Lost Hero Anthology. It may not be your shtick but maybe you’ll find a helpful tip or two here. That or I will be coming off as certifiable insane. Well, at least you don’t know exactly where I live.

(1)  Think of a story
Without this first step, there wouldn’t be much to submit right? So without further ado, let's begin. Start by letting the theme of the contest expand in your mind. Look at your surroundings, look inwards, look outwards. Think about it while you are chewing. Think about it while you are sitting on the can (or in my case, while showering). But whatever you do, don’t let it stop percolating in your mind. If you ignore the whispers, they will go away eventually and as an author, you don’t really want that, right? (Unless you’re truly insane, in which case, carry on.)

(2)  Let worry convince you it’s not good enough then do it anyways
Ah, the demons of doubt. The insidious, bad kinds of whispers that always beats down the story before it even has a chance to form. Sometimes there’s just no helping the nagging that goes on and on. So what to do but accept that the story is not good enough but stick with it anyways. Just to spite those demons. Because it’s fun to be spiteful.

(3)  Write like all of hell is on your heels
Whoever said revenge is best served cold obviously knows nothing about the pleasures of instant gratification. So in the spirit of being spiteful, write, write and write. Race headlong and let the words pour out, no matter how nonsensical. Afterall, if you are hearing whispers, you’re crazy anyways so you are just living true to your nature. Also if you are too busy listening to the whispers, you are too busy to give the demons much attention. See, another way to be spiteful!

(4)  Rip it apart
Okay, so you’re done and inevitably those demons have caught up to you. This is the hard part but maybe also the most fun. Listen to those demons, let them rip your writing apart. But then what do you do? You fix your story bit by bit. It’s kind of like pottery. In the previous step, you have shaped the blob of clay into some semblance of a thing and now it is time to actually give it definition and details, so let those demons, unwitting as they are, help. Actually it’s a lot of like that creepy stalker pottery scene from Ghost.

(5)  Don’t expect much (but let your loved ones and friends convince you that you are awesome)
Your expectation is probably the an all-time low at this point so good job, you’ve completed the first half of this step with no effort! As for part 2, you’re planning to share the story anyways so you might as well share early and get a cheerleading squad behind you. At least your loved ones have to have some compliment for your story, even if it is a critique sandwich.  This way, you can try and gather some shred of your confidence back from the brutal time you had in the last stel. Also wine and ice cream. Sometimes ice cream in the wine.

(6)  Send it to your writing buddies and brace for the worst
Okay, so now is the time for real feedback. Your demons have gorged themselves so hardcore on your doubts that they are pretty useless to you at this point. Time to turn to better help and brace for impact. All good things that are good for you hurt or taste bad in some way, like cough medicine, right? But hey, there are bound to be more critique sandwiches. Mmmm... sandwiches.

(7)  Close your eyes and hit the send button
Okay, so you have revised and revised and at some point you are going to have to stop. The demons are cackling by now because they think you have given in and are stuck in revision land. So what better way to go “BAM! IN YOUR FACE!” then hitting the send button? I know it has been a few steps but we are trying to go for spiteful here, remember? In the words of the great Nike advertising campaign slogan: Just Do It.

(8)  Move on (or try at least)
That’s it! The demons are probably on the defense now, telling you that you will never win but hey, that’s just them trying unsuccessfully to be spiteful. Afterall, it's done and out of your hands. Go have some pie, or some wine, or more ice cream, or all the above! You have appeased the whispers of inspiration so go celebrate. Also stop dwelling. Yes I am talking to you. Oh you will dwell but that’s why you go back to step 1. Now go, feed the inner crazy.

And that’s how Memoirs of a Forgotten Knight became what it is. As authors I think we are all a little neurotic at times with our craft. What are your quirks in your writing process? 

Renee uses her years of experience as a developer to write about the what-ifs of magic and technology. When she is not suspiciously peering at her computer in between her writing, she can be found roaming the streets with her family or gaming (whether it’s video games, board games or table-top RPGs) with her similar-minded friends. 

Memoirs of a Forgotten Knight

Long ago, before the Unseen migrated into servers and networks, a hedge-knight sought to save a village from a dragon. But being a hero always has its price.

Hero Lost
Mysteries of Death and Life
An Insecure Writer’s Support Group Anthology

Can a lost hero find redemption?

What if Death himself wanted to die? Can deliverance be found on a bloody battlefield? Could the gift of silvering become a prison for those who possessed it? Will an ancient warrior be forever the caretaker of a house of mystery?

Delving into the depths of the tortured hero, twelve authors explore the realms of fantasy in this enthralling and thought-provoking collection. Featuring the talents of Jen Chandler, L. Nahay, Renee Cheung, Roland Yeomans, Elizabeth Seckman, Olga Godim, Yvonne Ventresca, Ellen Jacobson, Sean McLachlan, Erika Beebe, Tyrean Martinson, and Sarah Foster.

Hand-picked by a panel of agents and authors, these twelve tales will take you into the heart of heroes who have fallen from grace. Join the journey and discover a hero’s redemption!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The Insecure Writer and Story Research

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

What makes me an Insecure Writer this month?


Well, other than the fact that my submission to my critique group is due tomorrow and my chapter is nowhere near ready. But that’s nothing out of the ordinary, so I think I’ll answer this month’s optional question instead. 

What is the weirdest/coolest thing you ever had to research for your story? 

Hmmm… I’m still working on my first story so I haven’t had to do all that much research yet. My story does include some rather esoteric aspects of alchemy, but I’m a chemist so I already know most of that. I suppose my most memorable bit of research involved online banking transfers. Not because this topic is particularly weird or cool, but because of the way I had to obtain the information. 

The heroine in my story needed to access someone else’s bank account, but I didn’t know if what I had in mind would work in real life. So I picked up the phone and called both my bank and my credit card company and, after explaining that I was writing a novel, asked them pointed questions about the security issues involved when transferring money. 

I was admittedly nervous during the calls, afraid I might sound like someone planning to do something illegal. But both of the people I spoke with were very nice and didn’t seem at all reluctant to answer my questions. Turns out what I had in mind would work—at least sometimes—so I’m happy I made the calls. 

But the black sedan that’s been parked outside our house for the last few days is beginning to creep out my wife. 

I look forward to reading your answers to this question on your blogs.


Friday, April 28, 2017

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 166

This Week's Writing Links

Sigh... Another week gone without a Wednesday post. Surprisingly, it's not from a lack of topics about which to post. In fact, I have more ideas queued up than I've had for a long while, but time is tight these days and I'm loathe to steal time away from my story-writing to ruminate here. 

Of course, I'll definitely be posting next Wednesday since it'll be the Insecure Writer's Support Group bloghop and I'd never miss that one. Alex does not tolerate slackers! :) 

Enjoy the links and have a great weekend! 


Let's Make a Detective!  
Although the article is about creating the traits for a detective, it could just as easily be applied to the creation of any type of character. 

Crafting Opening Novel Scenes That Pack a Punch

Producing Your Books in Audio Part One: Should You?

Don’t Picture Your Readers in Their Underwear: Writing Stage Fright

Who Hates Ya Baby? Creating Bad Guys Who Aren't the Antagonist

Breaking Writing Rules Right: "Don't Use 'Was'"

Fancy Free: Some Fun CSS Tricks for Ebooks

Friday, April 21, 2017

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 165

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

I apologize for the lack of activity here the last couple of weeks. Life has been keeping me busy and the weeks seem to end before I realize I've forgotten to post. When I think about it, however, I couldn't have picked a better time to slack off. It's April, which means the A to Z challenge is in full swing, so all you busy bloggers out there probably haven't even noticed my absence. 

As far as my writing progress goes, I've finally reached that point of the story where my notes for the next few chapters consist of: "MC tracks down bad guys and almost gets caught." Not a lot to work with. I plan to flesh out those notes over the weekend, but as usual, only time will tell if I succeed. 

Enjoy the links and have a great weekend! 


Kindle Unlimited: Is It Worth It?

What an Editor at a Publishing House Looks For: 6 Myths & Truths

Giving Characters the Courage to Change

Writing YA? What You Need to Know About Adolescence

Quick Scene Structuring

WHow to Request A Reversion of Publishing Rights

Middles: Keep Your Novel Moving

Friday, April 7, 2017

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Insecure Writer and Writing Full-Time

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

Why am I an Insecure Writer this month?

Because I’m contemplating what it might be like to be a full-time author. 

Before I go any further, however, I feel it necessary to post the following disclaimer, just in case any of my bosses at work happen to stop by. 

“I’m very happy with my current job and I have no plans to leave anytime in the near future.” 

Okay, now where were we? Oh, yes. Full time writer fantasies. Sitting at the computer all day, doing nothing but writing, drinking tea, and watching your sales numbers climb on Amazon. What’s not to like? 

Since I'm such a slow writer, I often wonder what it would be like if I had all day to write, instead of relying on the random thirty minute snippets I depend upon now. Because every great once in a while, when I’m lucky enough to find a three or four hour window in which to write, I often make more progress on my story than I normally do in two weeks. 

Now it would be easy to conclude that if I had eight hours every day in which to write, my weekly progress would skyrocket. But I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t work out that way in real life. For one thing, I’m almost always thinking about my story when I’m away from the computer (much to the consternation of my wife). If I sat in front of the computer all day, I’d lose a lot of that free association time so important to my productivity. 

But that’s not the main reason I doubt my productivity would scale with writing time. Some of my ideas take a long time to percolate through my head. I mean a looooooong time. It’s not at all unusual for me to dream up better ways to write a chapter several months, sometimes years, after I think it's finished.  

In fact, just yesterday I thought of a way to change one of the scenes in my current chapter so as to increase the emotional tension between two of the characters. I can’t tell you how many dozens of times I’ve gone over this chapter in the past two months, yet this idea just came out of the blue today. I fear that writing at a faster pace would rob me of many of my best ideas and my chapters would suffer. 

In the final analysis, I suppose I’m okay with not being a full time writer, if only because I’m pretty sure that if I were a full time writer, my family would starve. So I can confidently state that I have absolutely no intention of quitting my day job in order to write. 

Of course, should I win the lottery, all bets are off. 

How many of you are lucky enough to write full time? 


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