Saturday, April 30, 2016

Z is for Zzzzzzzzzzzz

This year for the A-Z Challenge, I'm attempting to act like I know what I'm talking about and offering advice about writing.  Let's see how I do!

Also, don't forget to stop by the Parallels blog to see more posts about the upcoming anthology, which will be available on May 3rd!  I wrote today's post, and I hope it makes for a suitable wrap-up to such an amazing month!

Please consider supporting our Thunderclap campaign!



Your writing will be better if you’re well rested.  Our brains get fuzzy if we don’t get enough sleep.  I’m a complete hypocrite for saying that you should get enough sleep, since I rarely get enough myself.  My issue is that I tend to get most of my story ideas at night, and once I get swept up in a story, it’s hard to put it down.  And even when I go to bed, my busy mind can keep me awake for hours sometimes.  Night owls with children are bound to struggle with these things, I guess.



Still, if I don’t get a bare minimum of sleep, the writing I might manage to produce suffers.  So how do you find the proper balance that allows you to make the most of your creativity while getting enough rest?

Lately, I’ve tried to go to bed by a certain time, even if the ideas are abundant.  This isn’t always easy.  I find that if I take notes about the ideas I feel compelled to get down on paper, I’m able to calm my brain enough to fall asleep.  Most of the time, anyway.




Friday, April 29, 2016

Y is for Yell and Celebrate the Small Things-April 29, 2016

This year for the A-Z Challenge, I'm attempting to act like I know what I'm talking about and offering advice about writing.  Let's see how I do!

Also, don't forget to stop by the Parallels blog to see more posts about the upcoming anthology, which will be available on May 3rd!

Please consider supporting our Thunderclap campaign!



There are times when we get so angry that we just need to vent.  We may feel like yelling or hitting something, as much as we know that such an action may only make circumstances worse.  Such physical expressions of anger tend to only alleviate the feeling long enough for us to see the consequences of them.

Listening to loud music may be an option, or it may simply annoy your neighbors.  Been there, done that.

Fortunately, there are other ways to express anger that don’t involve such backlash.  I suggest that you yell.  Yes, I already said you shouldn’t yell, but I only meant that you probably shouldn’t yell out loud.  Instead, you can yell on paper.



I’ve found that venting my feelings on the page can be therapeutic.  You can write in all capital letters.  You can use colorful language you may hesitate to say out loud.  You might write about the seething cauldron of bitterness inside you.  At the end of it all, this exercise may help you feel better, or it may not.  It surely won’t hurt to try.

You may even use what you’ve written to help enhance your writing.  It’s up to you!




It's Friday!  Let's Celebrate the Small Things with Lexa Cain!  Tonja Drecker and I are her co-hosts.

I finished the rough draft of a novella this week, which was a great feeling.  I still have a lot of work ahead of me, but feels amazing to get that part of it done.

I have a short story I'm also working on for submission somewhere, and it is nearing completion.  I'm hoping to get the majority of it finished over the weekend.

The April A to Z Challenge is wrapping up tomorrow, and I can hardly believe it.  Congratulations to everyone who joined in and made it through until the end!

The IWSG anthology Parallels: Felix Was Here comes out on Tuesday!  Is it really possible that release day is almost here? It feels surreal.  The Thunderclap campaign associated with it has surpassed its goal and is fully supported, so that's great!


I also have a lot of personal things going on right now, so life has been kind of crazy for the last week.  Don't worry, though. While I'm not ready to go into detail about it yet, it's good stuff.

What would you like to celebrate?




Thursday, April 28, 2016

X is for X-Ray

This year for the A-Z Challenge, I'm attempting to act like I know what I'm talking about and offering advice about writing.  Let's see how I do!

Also, don't forget to stop by the Parallels blog to see more posts about the upcoming anthology, which will be available on May 3rd!

Please consider supporting our Thunderclap campaign!




Every time we get to the letter X, I feel like I’m stretching the word I use to make my point.  Anyway, I’m using a medical metaphor to complete this post.

In order to tell an engaging story, you need to examine the bones of it, i.e. the plot.  X-ray it.  That means going over the plot structure with a critical eye.  You may have a strong plot that leads from a solid beginning to an equally solid ending.  There may be subplots branching off from the main one like peripheral nerves.  Check them all.

Perhaps I’ve taken this anatomical connection too far, but hopefully you’ll get my point.

You can write beautiful prose and solid characters, but don’t neglect the central structure of the story.  The plot needs to be coherent, and you can’t have any gaping plot holes.  Believe me, readers will eventually pick up on them, and they expect better from you than that.  People who don’t use a thorough outline, but rather go with the story as it unfolds, need to be especially careful.  Certain elements can get away from you if you’re not looking.  You don’t want any structural issues to slip through the cracks.



Wednesday, April 27, 2016

W is for Work

This year for the A-Z Challenge, I'm attempting to act like I know what I'm talking about and offering advice about writing.  Let's see how I do!

Also, don't forget to stop by the Parallels blog to see more posts about the upcoming anthology, which will be available on May 3rd!

Please consider supporting our Thunderclap campaign!




If you want to make writing into a career, you need to treat it like a job.  Perhaps you can’t treat it like a full-time job due to work and family commitments.  That’s okay.  When you’re trying to gain traction as a writer, it’s going to be a juggling act.  Nevertheless, whatever else you need to do in your life, you need to make a place for your writing.

Set aside a block or two of time each week to write, even if it’s only an hour a week.  Treat that time commitment like another job.  During that time, barring illness or emergency, you need to work.  This is, after all, the career you want.  You owe it to yourself to make that commitment.  If you treat that time as dispensable, you’ll be cheating yourself.

As with any other job, writing requires dedication and discipline, especially since you’re the only one holding yourself accountable.  The good news is that writing, while difficult, can also be quite fun and rewarding.  It’ll be worth the effort you put into it, so you may as well give it the best you’ve got.



Tuesday, April 26, 2016

V is for Vacation

This year for the A-Z Challenge, I'm attempting to act like I know what I'm talking about and offering advice about writing.  Let's see how I do!

Also, don't forget to stop by the Parallels blog to see more posts about the upcoming anthology, which will be available on May 3rd!

Please consider supporting our Thunderclap campaign!




Writers can go through stretches of great output, and these prolific times can result in lots of wonderful stories.  They can also, occasionally, result in burnout.  The words stop coming.  The story stalls, and you feel like you’re drowning.  You may find yourself at the point where you feel the pressure to write something even though you’d rather yank your hair out by the roots and run through the yard screaming.

This is the point where you need to set things aside and walk away.

I’m not saying that you should walk away forever.  You should, however, allow yourself the occasional vacation.  Writing, like any other job, requires a little downtime so you can recharge your batteries and enjoy the other parts of your life for a time. This could simply mean enjoying some time at home with your family.  It could involve a short day long road trip to see something interesting near where you live.  Or it could actually involve some kind of extensive travel.



Whatever you do, try something new that interests you, even if it’s something small, and have fun.  Afterwards you can return to your writing rejuvenated and with new ideas.

Monday, April 25, 2016

U is for Undervalue

This year for the A-Z Challenge, I'm attempting to act like I know what I'm talking about and offering advice about writing.  Let's see how I do!

Also, don't forget to stop by the Parallels blog to see more posts about the upcoming anthology, which will be available on May 3rd!

Please consider supporting our Thunderclap campaign!



If there’s anything that can kill your creativity more thoroughly than undervaluing yourself and the work you do, I’ve yet to see it.  Plenty of people operate under the assumption that writing is something easy and that anyone can just sit down and do, but they’re wrong.  They’re clearly not writers.  If they were, they’d know better.

Don’t let these naysayers get to you.  When you’re struggling to get the words out and you hear those negative thoughts in your head, they can douse the creative flame that keeps you going.

I think I, and many others, feel like impostors, from time to time.  There’s even something known as Impostor Syndrome.  Just look it up.   It’s easy to feel like the things we accomplish were flukes or accidents, and we fear someone will eventually see through us.  When we do this, we undervalue our own abilities and creations.  This is quite self-defeating.



There’s no easy solution to this quandary.  We won’t always feel good enough, but it might help to remind ourselves that other authors have struggled with feelings of inadequacy too.  Think of how sad it would be if they had allowed those feelings to silence them.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

T is for Tone

This year for the A-Z Challenge, I'm attempting to act like I know what I'm talking about and offering advice about writing.  Let's see how I do!

Also, don't forget to stop by the Parallels blog to see more posts about the upcoming anthology, which will be available on May 3rd!

Please consider supporting our Thunderclap campaign!




I wrote a little about establishing tone in my post about perspective.  The eyes through which you tell your story will play a critical role in establishing the tone of that story.  Still, there’s more to establishing tone than that.

One important way of establishing tone is description.  You need to consider how you describe the character’s surrounding.  Think about the words you choose.  For example, consider the difference between these two sentences.

It was a windy night.  She pulled her coat tight around her.

The wind swept around her with an unearthly moan, rattling the bare tree branches.  She pulled her coat tight around her, trying to suppress a shudder.

The first sentence certainly conveys some of the same information, but it does so in a much different way than the first.  The first is a fairly direct description of the scene.  The second paints a picture of a spooky night that you might expect to find in a horror film, and you get an idea of how the character feels at the moment.  Without knowing the specifics of what is going on, you get to know the tone of the story.