Tag Archives: authors

Writing Doesn’t Have to Come Naturally

Sometimes it seems like writing comes so much more naturally to everyone else. I mean, Brandon Sanderson can sit and write for 8-10 hours a day and I’m over here trying to keep myself from thinking about the ice cream in the freezer so I don’t get out of my seat for the seventh million time in ten minutes.

After the year and a half it’s taken me to finish the four drafts of my WIP, I feel like I’ve been hunted by the nine riders, stalked by a schizophrenic mole-looking creature who only knows one word (precious), and carried an all-powerful ring that will only make you go stark-raving mad if you hang on to it for too long.  In other words; finishing a book is like traveling to Mordor and back.

(This is me when I finally finish a story.  Yes, the rigors of writing leave your face smeared with dirt and scattered with scratches.  You didn’t know that?)

But before I can celebrate my hard-one victory, I realize that Brandon Sanderson’s book totaled 1,087 pages.  Talk about wanting to crumple up my 419 pages and throw them into the fires of Mordor.

I think I’ll get that ice cream now and eat the whole carton.

That’s it.  I should give up writing.  Let’s face it; Writing is harder for me than everyone else. Some days it takes me an hour to come up with a hundred words because I’m like Kronk in Emperors New Groove.

Okay, okay.  I shouldn’t compare myself to other writers. There’s a lot of talent out there, but that doesn’t make me less talented. Besides, every word I do write is a drop in the vast amount of practice needed to be a successful writer. It’s alright if writing is hard. It isn’t supposed to be easy.  Like Ernest Hemingway said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” 

That’s not painful at all.

Writing is a challenge, and it’s okay to admit that to yourself. You may think that you’re the only one struggling with it, but guess what?

You aren’t.

Want to know a secret? (Okay, well it’s not exactly a secret, but act surprised anyway). It took Sanderson twelve novels before he was published. Twelve of them! What was wrong with the guy? Didn’t he realize that writing was too hard for him?

No, he didn’t. Because it wasn’t. Writing is a process that gets better with time. The more you write, the better you get.

What would have happened if he’d given up after that 12th novel? We wouldn’t have impossibly long books to read, that’s what!

huge book Brandon Sanderson book

(An actual Sanderson novel)

I’m sure sometimes he thought, “This writing thing is so much harder for me than everyone else,” but he didn’t let that stop him. And because he kept going, he is now a best-selling author with more than 20 books and novellas published. The guy is so popular, that his signings can last up to five hours!  (He needs someone to build him a robot arm that can sign things for him. I mean, he probably has to wear a cast after all that).

The next time that you think writing is only difficult for you, be glad that you aren’t Sanderson in an arm cast.

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Grow as a Writer: Pick up a New Hobby

We’ve all felt guilty for spending our free time doing something other than writing, but what if I told you those hobbies that stole from your writing time actually helped your writing?

It may seem counter intuitive to take time to do something that isn’t writing and expect it to improve your writing, but there are some really good reasons why hobbies make you a better writer.

 

Helps you relate to characters

If all of your characters have shelves of books and stacks of notebooks with half-finished stories in them, you have a problem.

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Sure, it can be fun to give characters a love for reading or writing since it is what you are passionate about (and it’s definitely not wrong to do so) but your characters won’t seem real if they all enjoy the same things. People in real life have divers interests, so your character should be no different.

But how do you give your characters different interests and still make those interests seem real?

Give them an interest in one of you non-writing hobbies.

You will already know a lot on the subject, so you can pepper your knowledge into the character’s thoughts or dialogue to make the character’s interest authentic, and since you are passionate about that subject, it will be easier to translate that passion on the page.

And to give yourself more options, it doesn’t even have to be the exact thing that you do. For example, I love to sing and took piano lessons as a young teen and wanted one of my characters to have a love for music as well, so I gave him an aptitude for the guitar.

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I may not play the guitar, but I could use my memories of my first piano lessons to write his first attempt to play the guitar–all the wrong notes,  feeling awkward as you try to get your fingers in the right positions, the thrill you feel when you get a succession of chords right and excitement that you are actually playing a song. 😀

You can do this with any hobby. If you love to knit, give your character a love for crochet or sewing dresses. If you create digital art, your character could love to paint.  If you took ballet as a kid, your character could love to salsa dance or break dance.

*(I thought I’d add that there is nothing wrong with researching a hobby if you want to give your character a love for something that you’ve never done. It just saves time and makes it easier to write when you already know and love the hobby you give your character.)

 

Gives your brain a break!

Have you ever had a tune stuck in your head, but you couldn’t remember the lyrics? You would sit there for minutes, thinking so hard about it, but the words just wouldn’t come. Finally, you’d give up and go do something else. The moment your brain completely unfocused on trying to remember and got absorbed in something else, those lyrics would miraculous spring into your head.

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The same thing happens with writing. When we come across a problem in our story or an obstacle our character is facing that we need to create a solution for, we will sit at the computer screen and agonize over it when sometimes all we need to do is step away.

Our subconscious is a brilliant thing and will come up with a solution for us as soon as we distract our thinking minds and push our problem to the back of our minds to work out.

If you hobby is something like jogging or biking, then it gets you out of your head and gets oxygen and blood flowing to your brain so you can better solve those problems.

If it is something like sketching or photography, it keeps your creativity flowing while still giving you a rest from writing.

Whether your hobby is active  or more sedentary, it gives your brain a break so even if you don’t come up with an answer to your story’s problems while doing whatever you are doing, you’ll be refreshed and ready to think of something creative to fix it.

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So, writers, don’t feel guilty for spending some time doing other activities besides writing. You’ll get some valuable incite to your characters (not to mention you’ll know how to write a fight scene if your hobby happens to be something like jiu jitsu or boxing 😉 ), and make your writing time more productive because you’ll avoid feelings of being “stuck.”

I hope I’ve inspired you to start a new hobby or go back to an old one you’ve dropped!

I’d love to know what hobbies my fellow writers have! I enjoy singing, as I’ve mentioned, and I also like to paint (and am guilty of pushing it aside so I can write…I haven’t picked up a paint brush in months!)

 



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Self-Publishing and Other Exciting Announcements

Hello Epic Dreamers!

As you can see, today’s post is a video, and yes that means what you think it means; I’m starting my YouTube channel up again! But I’ll let the video do the talking. 🙂

 

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I’m so excited to finally be doing this, and I’m so glad that you all get to be a part of the journey. The Hashna Stone wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for all of you here, so I am truly thankful for you and the support you’ve shown me. 🙂

If you just don’t have it in the budget to become my patron, no worries! Feel free to check out my Patreon page anyway. I’d love to know what you think…what you love…what could be improved.

If you do decide to become a patron, you’ll get a peek into my books’ characters and worlds that NO ONE ELSE sees, along with some other cool things.

Patrons can get access to:

-World building

-World history

-Character sheets

-Character’s back stories

-YouTube bloopers

-Pictures from my Pinterest’s secret board

-Access to exclusive short stories (both set in the world of my books, and shorts that are completely on their own).

-Name listed in every book I publish

 

As I mentioned in the video, the first 20 to become patrons will get their name mentioned in the “thank you” section of the book. This is regardless of which tier you select. That means you can get your name mentioned (which is something only the highest level patrons get) for only $1. Yes, one dollar will get your name in my book!

It’s going to be so much fun getting to share all this behind the scenes stuff with you. I can’t wait!

Well, I’m off to edit another chapter. Until next time Epic Dreamers!



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Why I Haven’t Posted Lately  (and why you should be excited about that)

Hey Epic Dreamers!

It’s been two weeks since I’ve posted, so I thought I’d let you know why I’ve fallen off the face of the earth. There are three reasons actually.

First one is that I moved to a new apartment.  I’m totally excited to be where I’m at. It’s a cozy little place close to all the stores, but in an area that still feels peaceful and secluded. And there’s a lake!

IMG_20190327_162708 lake at apartment

The second reason is that I don’t have Wi-Fi yet, which can also be blamed on moving. There are several other things that I need more than Wi-Fi (like electricity and food) so easy internet access will have to wait a while. For now, I’ll just have to be a library bum and use their Wi-Fi.

The third reason is the most important, most exciting reason. If you don’t think that moving or restricted internet access are good enough reasons for missing the last two weeks, than you will think this reason was worth it.

I’ll start at the beginning…

A few weeks ago, I was in a class that was discussing a book, The Obstacle is the Way. I haven’t read this book (but it is on my ever-growing reading list), but basically the concept is this: sometimes what we see as the obstacle to getting what we want is actually the way to getting what we want.

So, as I was sitting in this class, I thought, “How does that apply to my life?” Of course I thought of my book first thing, because I’m a nerdy writer whose whole life revolves around books.

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I’ve tried getting an agent to represent it, sending off query letter after query letter. I got one agent from Writer’s House that asked for the manuscript, but no one has agreed to represent it, so I’ve kind of put The Hashna Stone aside. Maybe it isn’t meant to be published. Maybe I should work on something else.

Or….Maybe the obstacle (no interested agents) is showing me the way I should be going. I’ve been so focused on finding an agent and getting published traditionally that I forgot my original idea for The Hashna Stone: to self-publish.

Maybe my path to traditional publishing is being blocked because I’m supposed to change course.

So, I’m sure by now you’ve guessed what I’m about to say. The decision I’ve made, the reason I’ve been too busy to post is…I’m self-publishing The Hashna Stone!

harry-potter celebrate Happy fans

I’m not waiting for someone else to publish my book. I’m going out and making this thing happen. You all have waited a long time for this. Some of you have been here since The Hashna Stone was just a choose-your-own-adventure story for this blog. Some of you have been on here long enough to remember the day announced that I decided to turn The Hashna Stone into a novel. And some of you have just been around long enough to get annoyed at how many times the words “the Hashna stone” come up in blog posts. 😛

This is a story we wrote together. You all deserve to enjoy the story whether I can find an agent that clicks with it or not.

So, I may have been a bit distracted from the blog because I’ve been busy researching self-publishing, searching for editors, and looking into cover designs.

And I’m having the time of my life. This is WAY more fun than sending query letters to agents. 🙂

I have another little surprise to tell you, but that will have to wait for another post (I can’t give away all my secrets at once.) I’ll keep you updated on how things are going.

Until then, keep dreaming!

 

 

Growing as a Writer: Blogging

Hey Epic Dreamers! Welcome to the second post in our Grow as a Writer series. The last Thursday of every month we’ll be discussing ways to grow as writers. It’s all about how we can stretch ourselves and strengthen our writing skills.

Today we’ll be discussion how blogging can make you a better author.

Most of you Epic Dreamers already have a blog of your own…that’s how you came across Invisible World in the first place. So you’re probably thinking, “I already blog. Tell me something I don’t do. This isn’t the big writing secret that will give me a writing superpower.”

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It may seem a bit anticlimactic since it’s something you’re already doing, but knowing why we are doing something keeps us motivated to continue doing it even when it gets repetitious or we run out of ideas.

It’s pretty obvious why writing a blog post would improve your writing skills.

1. You get use to putting your thoughts and ideas on paper.

2. You get better at wording things and making your sentences flow.

But that’s the boring stuff (well maybe not that boring…we writers are a bit nerdy). What we’re really looking for is how to be better authors. We want the skills that will make us better storytellers. If all we cared about was the technical side of writing, than we would spend our time creating a textbook on grammar. What about all that stuff that will help us pursue our dream, whether that’s finding an agent, self publishing, or gathering a following on Wattpad?

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Posting on a blog may not have all the bells and whistles of story writing, but it will still strengthen the skills needed to be a writer.

There are two main reason why I’m glad that I started blogging before I started writing my book. And as I’m sure you guessed, I’m going to share them with you. 🙂

 

Discipline and Commitment

If you start a blog, you have to be committed to it. It can’t just be something you start one weekend because you’re bored and you’ve already read your copy of Me Before You five times and are tired of sobbing when you get to the end.

Starting a blog means committing to a certain number of posts each month. It means disciplining yourself to write even when you don’t feel like it.

Making yourself sit down to write regularly and building your skills at committing to a long-term project are exactly what you need to be an author, no matter the platform.

If you don’t have the discipline to write a 500-word post, how will you write a 100,000-page novel? If you aren’t committed enough to post regularly, will you have the dedication to put out new chapters for your Wattpad audience?

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A blog gives you a place to practice discipline and commitment on a small scale so when you decide you want to give that 100,000-word novel a try, you already have the skills needed.

 

Gets you used to others reading your work

It’s a bit daunting for new writers to share their work. Writing isn’t like completing a math equation. You’ve put your heart and soul into it. You’ve created something that wasn’t there before. From somewhere deep inside, you’ve pulled out a whole new universe. You’re basically a magician.

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But in spite of this incredible gift you have and all the effort you’ve put into your story, there’s still fear rising in the pit of your stomach at the thought of anyone actually reading it. What if they don’t like it? What if they think it’s boring? And what if they have *gasp* critiques?

This is your precious, perfect little baby and if anyone says anything negative about it, that would stab a knife through your heart.

That might seem a bit dramatic to any non-writers reading this, but anyone who’s written a story knows exactly what I’m talking about. You’re not just sharing a story. You’re sharing a piece of yourself that no one has seen. And that’s scary.

Instead of waiting until you have a whole novel before you let someone see that piece of you, try sharing snippets at a time.

A blog is a perfect platform for you to share short stories or scenes from longer works before throwing your 100,000-word baby at someone and hoping they don’t tear it to pieces.

I never experienced the deer-in-the-head-lights panic that so many authors talk about when I first shared my book with people, and I attribute that to this blog. I was so used to people reading what I wrote that it was like, “Yeah, that’s why I wrote this…so people can read it.”

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Besides teaching you discipline and getting you used to sharing your work, it also gives you a place to experiment with what styles or genres work for you and gives you a place to meet other writers.

I highly recommend blogging to anyone even remotely interested in writing stories, even if you aren’t sure writing fiction is for you. Once you’ve blogged a few months, you’ll know. I started this blog as an experiment and now, four years later, I’m still doing it. And if that isn’t a writing superpower, I don’t know what is. 😉

So if you haven’t started a blog by now, what are you waiting for?!

 

 

 

Book Update: Good and Bad News

Two weeks ago, I talked about how I wanted to throw my manuscript in the trash, but my novel writing journey hasn’t been one big discouraging experience.  I had a lot of moments where celebration bells went off in my head as I finished certain milestones:

  • When I came up with a plot some unplotted chapters after pacing for an hour
  • When I finished my first draft!
  • When I finished reading through and marking up my first ever manuscript in paper
  • When I wrote my first query letter
  • When I queried the first agent
  • When I got my first rejection letter (yes, I saw this as a badge christening me as “a real writer.”)

I’ve grown so much since that day I first decided to write a book, and each of these milestones gave me the motivation to keep going. But there’s one milestone that REALLY gave me a supercharged boost in motivation.

And now for the drum roll….

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An agent from Writer’s House asked to look at my manuscript!

Yes, you read that right. It isn’t a typo or me being a writing and making up stories. 😛

She didn’t choose to represent it, but it was just about the best news I’ve received all year. It meant that at least something about this story was worth interest. It also meant that I must be writing my query letters right too. 😉

The agent said that The Hashna Stone was an “original concept” and that I’d “done a great job creating a novel with a strong voice and engaging characters.” She said that she didn’t connect strongly enough with the book to represent it though.

This agent’s interest gave me more than just a ray of hope that one day, someone would represent it. She gave me an opportunity to look at my work, yet again, and be a little more critical.

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Her email left me thinking, “What made her say no?” It could truly be that she loved everything about the book, but its style wasn’t quite something she wanted to represent. But most likely, there was something flawed about the story.

It wasn’t the idea, the overall story concept itself. She said it was an original concept.

It wasn’t that a lack of voice or that I had flat characters. So what was it that turned this agent away?

As I started thinking about how the story unfolds, I realized that I wasn’t entirely happy with the ending, and chances are, if I’m not happy with it an agent wouldn’t be either.

It needed to be bigger, there needed to be a few more scenes, the other viewpoint character has a last scene that just doesn’t seem to wrap everything up as nicely as Dalan’s.

There was a LOT of work that needed to be done. And here I was thinking it was finished. *sigh*

So, that is what I’m working on now, dear Epic Dreamers. Sending to agents has been put on pause so I can rewrite about ten of the last chapters (which also means rewriting quite a bit in the first and middle, because it has to reflect and foreshadow what happens in the end). I’m excited about these changes because it’s making The Hashna Stone a better story, and hopefully the next time an agent asks to read my manuscript, she’ll say yes.

 

Using Location to Reveal Character

We writers spend a lot of time coming up with the way our character looks–eye color, hair color, height, scars, freckles, etc. While all that is important, simply listing physical attributes doesn’t let the reader get a gimps into your  character’s personality.

How do show their personality when introducing them? One way is by using location. A character’s surroundings can be a backdrop to bring out significant details about your character.

Say you have all these details about your main character. You know what they look like. You know that they carried a blanket around until they were six, that they hate watermelon, and that they have quite the addiction to boiled peanuts. But in spite of all the information you have, they just don’t come alive when you try putting them in a scene.

Rabbit winnie the pooh dead tired sleepy drained sick sleep walking

It could be that the location/surroundings isn’t a suitable background for the character. Try experimenting with different setting and see how they change the way your character is perceived.

Put them in a place where they will shine–a place that lets the show off their skills, proves their competency, or show what a sweet, likable person they are.

In the book I’m writing, The Hashna Stone, I introduce one of the supporting characters in an environment they thrive in.

Some branches to my left rustled. I looked up to see a red-haired girl climbing down from a tree a few feet away. The animal skins she wore and the way she scurried down in quick, sure movements made her look like an overgrown squirrel in deer-hide boots.
I started to move toward her, then stopped. Her bow was strapped on her back, so unless she had some other archer around that I didn’t know about, I was safe. I asked anyway.
“I am allowed to move now, aren’t I?”
She reached the ground and faced me. Her hair was cut unevenly just above her shoulders, as if she’d done it herself with a hunting knife. “Before we go anywhere, let’s talk about rules.” She strode toward me, face as stern as a general’s.

 

The way she scurries down the tree shows, rather than tells, readers that she’s had a lot of practice climbing them. You know right away that this girl is at home in the woods. This suggests that she has been living in them for a long time and is skilled enough to survive the harsh environment.

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Her hair is described as being unevenly cut. If I had her entrance to the story happen in a city, her bad haircut might make her seem more like an street urchin who sawed off her hair for some money. But since we already see her competency and can guess at her self reliance, her haircut hints at the kind of nonsense person she is. She would rather chop it off  than have to use time brushing and washing it that could be used hunting.

Another good way to use location to introduce a character is to place them in an environment that makes them uncomfortable, or where their talents don’t do them any good.

I did this with my main character, Dalan, who was the spoiled son of a commander but now is struggling with his position at a lower-class orphanage that lends out its residence to do manual labor for a fee.

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The story starts out with Dalan thinking that his hands were meant to hold a sword, not a broom, as he sweeps the back room of a shop.

This is the perfect location to highlight Dalan’s resentment at his new role, and his hopes for one day getting back to his possession as a pampered city boy with tons of adoring fans and his plans of revenge on the person who put him in the orphanage in the first place.

If your character seems a little flat, try placing in a few different locations, and see how each place brings out a different side of them. Make it interesting. Put the sweet grandmother in a tattoo parlor, the six-year-old with ADHD in a business meeting, the dog lover in a room full of cats.

Your bound to get a reaction from those characters then! 😉