Category Archives: life

ACT IT OUT

ACT IT OUT

This blog post has been walking around my thoughts for a while. I’m glad it coincides with the first letter of the blog writing challenge from A to Z.

Have you ever got to the point in your story that is begging for an action scene? You stare stupidly at the screen in front of you. Your imagination presents to you a clear picture but the words you type out are bland. All you want to do is get your main character up the stairs (insert whatever scenario you are writing about here) quickly and down the hallway to the back bedroom where there is another hidden room that she can hide from the baseball bat carrying stranger. You feel her anxiety rush through your bones but yet you can’t convey it on paper.

There are a million action scenes that can be acted out right in the confines of your own home that will help make your scene stronger. I am forever jumping over obstacles, banging into things, pretending to shoot darts, stirring a pot just so I can experience the moment of the scene. What happens when I bump into something? Does pain shoot through my body? Do I bounce back? Do I bruise?

Please don’t think I like self mutilation because I promise I do not. But, I like to get down and dirty with my writing so I can help my readers experience the scene as if they are part of it.

If I was trying to get my character up the stairs, I’d probably find a flight and start racing up them. I’d pay attention to my movements. Do I stumble? Do I catch my fall with the palms of my hands slamming against the step above? Do I trip over clutter on the stair, causing my knee to smash into the step? Once I reach the top what happens? Do I turn back to see if the stranger is right behind? Or do I race down the hallway to the secret room only I (aka the character) knows about?

If this is not something you have done before, I suggest you give it a shot. It could be something as simple as making a pot of coffee. Act out the action and see what you come up with.

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Filed under character, constructing, Fiction, life, writer's life, writers, Writing

Freeing The Funk

I have been in a funk. It started about a month ago. I don’t talk about my day job too often because the fact of the matter is, out here in cyberspace I like to be known as simply a writer. I, like many other writers have a day job (well sort of- I work from 3:00 a.m to 11:00 a.m). What do I do? I work in a casino. I am what they call a “dual”, which means I am half dealer, half supervisor. I began as a croupier (craps dealer) and learned additional games along the way (black jack, three card poker, Spanish 21 and Let it Ride). About a month ago, I was asked by my superior to train for Baccarat. I knew it was a good opportunity and I wouldn’t be able to turn it down. (Well, I could have, but not everyone is asked so I hated the thought of saying no.) Saying yes to training meant I was saying yes to fourteen hour days. I knew it was a temporary situation and in the end I would be glad I said yes. I didn’t know that it would put an end to writing for a while. You see, I am also a mother of four. My free time had to be spent mothering. I’d wake up at 1:00 a.m. and go non-stop until 8:00 p.m. After the first week, I started to feel blue. I blamed it on lack of sleep. It occurred to me that it wasn’t the lack of sleep or the overload of obligations. It was the absence of writing that was making me feel lost in my own world. For the past ten years I have written daily (occasionally I’d skip a day or two but never a week). The part of me I enjoyed so much was gone. I started to feel like I was no longer a writer. I even convinced myself that I might have to give up on my dream of becoming a published author. I’d stumble upon writing sites such as Twitter and feel like I didn’t belong. I’d attempt to write only to fall asleep in mid sentence. I had a pity party for myself and was about to make peace with the fact that my dream had to be abandoned. I simply no longer had the time (for ten years I was a stay at home mother who waitressed part time) my choice to get a full time job meant that my dreams had to be sacrificed. I spoke these words over and over trying to convince myself that I believed them to be true. Then somewhere in the distance of my mind another voice spoke back. “Don’t be silly,” it said. Being in a funk did not mean that I no longer could write. In fact if I chose to never write again, chances are I’d never come out of the funk. Writing is my first love. It is my therapy. It is my hope for a better tomorrow. It is who I am. I am a writer. I might have other things going on but a true writer always finds their way back. Today I am freeing the funk. I am continuing to do what I love. A writer may do other things but the only thing they want to do is write. Have you found yourself in a funk? What did you do to get out of it?

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Filed under creating, emotions, life, story telling, writer's life, writers, writing, Writing

Inspiration Isn’t Always Pretty

If you have been watching the news you should have seen the devastation that poured through my hometown and all surrounding towns this past weekend. Yes, Northeastern Pennsylvania watched in horror as the floods swept away homes (my sister-in-law’s was one of them), flooded streets and brought people to their knees. Our bridges were closed. We had curfews. I myself sat on the only open bridge for an hour and a half trying to make it home to my family. I felt as if I was on the set of a movie. It was surreal. It was inspiring?

As I watched the news something the reporter said initially struck me as odd. She was talking about how people just couldn’t help but go out and see what was happening. “It was like viewing a car wreck,” she said. “You know you shouldn’t look but you just can’t help it”. She then went on to say a situation like this was inspiring. Inspiring? At first I felt a little offended (I know the writer in me should have immediately knew what she meant) but because everything was so close to home (Literally. The only thing that saved my street was a makeshift dike built out of dirt by a bunch of heroes) I didn’t like that she used that word. To me, inspiring meant beauty. The word itself even sounds pretty. It couldn’t relate to something horrible, or could it? Of course it can.

As I thought about her broadcast my flooded mind receded and my thoughts became clearer. I began to understand exactly what she meant. Something horrible can be inspiring. Devastation like the one my town recently endured inspired many things. It inspired communities to rally together to help save homes. It inspired newspapers to share heartbreaking stories. It inspired photographers to snap photos so we can remember and others will be able to see history. It inspired me to write this blog.

Writers don’t only write about sunny days and perfect lives. If you want to write about the human experience you have to be able to be inspired by things not so pretty. How boring would books be if there was never sorrow or obstacles to overcome?

Because we observe unhappy situations and then later write about them does not mean that we are freaks or disaster lovers, it simply means that we are interested in writing about life experiences. I am not happy that the flood happened. It saddens me that so many people I know had to suffer. I don’t find joy in writing about their pain but in a strange way I do feel inspired.

Have you ever been inspired by an unfortunate event?

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Filed under emotions, Inspirational, life, random, story telling, writers, writing, Writing

Rejection

Out of the darkness comes a fist to your face.
Smashing against flesh
Distorting
Mangling
Upsetting
Laughing at your inability to stay fresh
You fall to the ground weak and unable to rise
A leg from somewhere delivers a kick
Smashing your soul
Rattling
Pounding
Destroying
Unsympathetic that you now feel sick
Curled up and sobbing you shield yourself
“No more, no more, please let me be.”
Pleading
Cursing
Screaming
“Why? Why? Why don’t you believe in me?”
You wait for the next impact but it never comes
Peeking out of a bruised eye you scan the room
Alone
Confused
Wasted
The fist uncurls and out stretches a hand
Get up!
Fight Back!
Toughen up!
Rejection stands before you wrapped in dark clothes
Clueless
Crazed
Suspended
Slowly you rise. You are ready to confront
“Why do you hate me what did I do?”
“My child, my child, do you not see? Acceptance without rejection wouldn’t be the same.”
“I am here to make you better not cause you shame.”

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Filed under emotions, Fiction, Inspirational, life, rejections, writer's life, writers, writing, Writing

MY GUEST BLOG POST FOR AGENT BREE OGDEN

Do you think a writer needs to go on a diet? A writing diet that is. Check out my guest post over at This Literary Life. Bree Ogden (a super agent) was cool enough to allow me to write a blog for her site. It is the first time I have written for another blog as a guest and I’m super excited.

Make sure you leave a comment so I know you stopped by.

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Filed under audience, Author Interview, books, character, character building, constructing, creating, critique, critique groups, editing, Fiction, Inspirational, life, rejections, stories, story telling, story writing, Style, Voice, writer's life, writers, writing, Writing, Young Adult

Getting Rid of My Book’s “Baby Fat”


I’m approaching the end of my YA novel titled The Cult. I have been writing this suspense novel for about two years. The idea came to me in a dream right around the time Nanowrimo was about to start. I was about three chapters into a middle-grade novel (I’m excited to get back to that one) when my sister-in-law presented me with a challenge. “Hey, let’s do Nanowrimo,” she said. She had been contemplating writing a book for some time and Nanowrimo was the push she needed to get started. I accepted her challenge and began writing never realizing at the time it would take me two years to finish the book I never planned on writing. Writing this book was different from the others I have written. It was the first time I chose to just keep writing and not look back. My previous books I would write a chapter, edit a chapter, and then continue. I took more of an organic approach with this one and I’m hopeful it will pay off.

Growing up in an Italian family meant that eating was good. The more you ate the healthier you were. As I got older I realized that what I ate mattered more than how much I ate. It was time to get rid of the “baby fat”. Today I am getting rid of my book’s “baby fat” and replacing it with healthier options. I have to be honest with myself and admit that some of what I wrote was nothing more than junk or fillers. At the time it sounded good but in the end it weighed the book down. The junk made the pace sluggish and hid the story inside.

It’s time to sculpt my book and help it become the best version of itself. I don’t want it to be filled with empty words. I want it to be healthy and full but not stuffed.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on editing your book for publication. How do you know when your story is weighed down?

“Do you have a hard time putting your book on a “diet”?

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Filed under audience, books, character, character building, constructing, creating, editing, emotions, Fiction, Giveaway, Inspirational, life, meme, middle grade fiction, NaNoWriMo, novel, random, rejections, routine, story telling, story writing, Style, Voice, writer's life, writers, writing, Writing, Young Adult

Stay Tuned

I have been soooo consumed with life lately and my blog has suffered. Plus, my two-year old stepped on my laptop and cracked it. Anyway, I will be returning soon with an author interview that I’m very excited about.

Sorry for the absence. What’s a writer to do when life becomes extremely hectic?

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Filed under audience, books, character, character building, constructing, contests, creating, critique, editing, Fiction, Inspirational, life, random, rejections, stories, story telling, story writing, Style, writer's life, writers, writing, Writing, Writing Contest