Tag Archives: authors

BRAINSTORMING EXERCISE

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In November I attended a writing conference where we met with some great authors, illustrators, agents and editors. It was a two day conference filled with writing tips, critiques, pitch fests and mini workshops. I had a workshop with Linda Oatman High, a successful children and young adult author. Linda was AWESOME. She shared stories of her road to success, offered advice and gave us a super cool writing exercise that I’m going to give to you today. At the end of this exercise, I will share the fiction story I wrote that day.
Grab a pen and get out a piece of paper (or your laptop). Are you ready?

Write down a symbol of hope.
Write down one or two difficult times in your life.
Write down something that recently made you laugh.

Now take everything you just wrote and write a short story. You might find yourself asking how they will possibly fit together but believe me you will come up with something. If you are willing, share with us your story. If you don’t feel comfortable or have time to comment with your story then maybe just comment with the answers you wrote for the prompts given above.

As promised, here is what I came up with.
*Symbol of hope-I chose a dove
*Two difficult times in my life
1. The death of my father
2. Being an overweight teenager
*Something that recently made me laugh – I wrote down “What If” scenarios and trying to apply makeup to my husband on Halloween (we had an idea that just wasn’t coming together, the more I tried to fix the make-up, the worse it became).

Here is the story I wrote.

Every dress I tried on made me look like an Orca. I succumbed to the fact that I was going to be the fat daughter standing at the casket. I don’t remember the drive to the funeral home but I do recall the half hour before the public came in to pay their respects. I stood above the simple wooden casket staring at my lifeless hero, stroking his cold forehead and kissing his cool cheeks trying to remember the warmth they once held.
Random memories surfaced as my face filled with tears. I don’t know how I could forget the car ride over but remember the fight we had one Halloween. My mother insisted he dressed up like the rest of us. “We are trick or treating as a family,” she yelled. As she scrambled about the house gathering our costumes my father sat patiently as my eight year old brother smudged my father’s face with paint from a kit purchased at a costume store. “You’re going to look scary but cool,” my brother said.
My oldest sister flew into my bedroom whining “I don’t want to go trick or treating. I’m a teenager for crying out loud,” she protested.
“Can I eat your candy?” I asked. All I was thinking about at that moment was chocolate, sugar and more chocolate. I followed her out the room continuing to beg for her candy (I knew regardless if she wanted to go, she was going to be forced to go). She ignored my pleading and headed down the steps. I raced behind her shouting “Erika can I eat your candy?” All I wanted was to hear her say yes. I skipped the last step to get to her sooner. When I hit the landing, I felt a crunch beneath my foot. My father still sitting on the floor getting his face done, looked up when he heard the sound. His face wasn’t cool or scary, it was ridiculous. I would have laughed at the blur of mish mash colors across his face if it wasn’t for the fury I saw swimming in his eyes. When I lifted my foot, I saw the remains of the shattered ceramic dove his mother painted for him when he was six years old, three years before she died.
It was usually on the mantle of our fireplace in its special spot but that day my father allowed my brother to take it in for show and tell. He didn’t put it back. “I’m sorry Daddy,” my brother mumbled before his eyes lowered. My father’s head shook. He looked at me “You should be giving away candy not trying to eat more,” he said. My heart crashed from his hurtful words. I knew at that moment that my father the only person in my world who never made a fat comment to me thought I was fat.
The memory faded as people from his life filled the small room. I took my spot next to my siblings and thanked the people offering condolences. I couldn’t stop myself from thinking that as they were telling me they were sorry for my loss they were also thinking she’s the fat daughter.
When the night came to an end and the funeral parlor emptied. I kissed my father’s cheek and said goodbye once again.
I heard its call when I stepped outside. I stood paralyzed. Above my head on a telephone wire a dove cooed. I looked up at the bird. Its head nodded as if it was acknowledging me. It might have been nothing to someone else, but to me it was my father giving me a sign in the form of a dove. Perhaps he didn’t want that memory to occupy anymore space in my mind. I let the memory of the only hurtful word my father spoke to me during his life fly away with the bird.

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Filed under A to Z, brainstorm, Fiction, writers, Writing

Writers VS. Non Writers

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The writing world is filled of hopes, dreams, let downs, research and possibilities. Sometimes non-writers don’t get the ways of the writing world. Have you ever tried to explain to a non-writer why it takes so long to get an agent? Why it can take years to become published? Why you continue to write even though there is no guarantee you will ever find success?

Their reactions vs. a writer friend’s reactions may be similar to the ones I included below.

The Personal Rejection: A writer friend will understand the greatness of this rejection. You won’t have to explain to them why getting a personal note from an agent is promising.

A non-writer friend may look at you with sympathy filled eyes. They might nod and smile when you tell them in great detail why it’s a good thing, but the pitiful look in their eyes tells you they only heard one word, “Rejected.”

Research: A writer friend will understand when you make an appointment with a realtor to see a house that may be the perfect home for your main character.

A non-writer friend might say things like, “Let me get this straight, you’re not in the market for a new home, but you are going to see a new home because you think an imaginary person might live in a house similar to the one you are going to see?” Warning-situations like this may make you feel a tad crazy but don’t worry us writers totally get it.

The Waiting Game: A writer friend gets that it may take months to hear back from an agent.

A non-writer friend may say things like “Just call them and ask them if they got your stuff,” or “What’s the hold up? How long could it take to read three chapters?”

Standing in the Rain: A writer friend won’t look at you sideways when you stand in the pouring rain so you can feel what you want to write. They understand that sometimes you need to get your feet wet to write in a way that helps the reader feel the rain.

When you find yourself in a situation where you are explaining to someone who is not a writer something that has to do with writing, be sure to remind yourself that their quizzical looks or rolling of the eyes is due to their lack of knowledge of the world we submerge ourselves into daily.

Have you ever encountered situations like the ones mentioned? Share your story with us.

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Filed under writer's life, writers, writing, Writing

Use Your Phone to Help With Your Writing

Notes - iPhone 1

A few months ago I was sitting in a café with my sister and a friend. Across the room was a couple enjoying each other’s company (at least it looked that way).I found myself staring at them. They were young enough to be characters in a young adult novel. I began making mental notes. The boy had broad shoulders, dark wavy hair and eyes that made him look as if he had a permanent peer. The girl had long blonde low lighted hair with a side swept bang. Her all black clothing was lightened by tons of silver jewelry she wore as accessories. As I willed myself to remember their features, styles and mannerisms (I was character building), I wished I had a notebook and pencil. I know better not to leave the house without a notebook.

I was fiddling around on my phone when the “aha” moment hit. I did have a notebook. My nifty little i-phone came equipped with one. I’ve been jotting down notes on my i-phone ever since.

Below you will find a list of ways to use an i-phone to help with your writing. I still bring a notebook just in case the unforeseen happens, my phone goes dead, I drop it and it breaks, I lose it etc. Notebooks should not become extinct but times are a changing and anything that helps your writing is a good thing.

1. Notepad- As stated above this feature on i-phones is awesome for writers. It allows us to open up individual notes where we can jot down things such as character descriptions, character traits, settings, dialogue, anything that inspires us while we are out and about.

2. The Camera- You find yourself at a location that would be ideal for the story you are writing, no worries snap a few pictures so later you can write about the setting. You see someone that resembles your vision of a character, click away (try and do it discreetly or you can be looked at as a creep).

3. Web surfing-As long as you have a reasonable plan you can roam the web via your phone to fact check, send or receive e-mails, visit social platforms or sneak a peek at your blog stats. (I’m not the only one who does this am I?)

4. Voice Recording – You can set your phone on record to tape the noises that surround you. You’d be surprised at the noises we tune out on a daily basis. Sounds help bring the picture you are trying to create come into view. The noises you hear while dining out are different from those you would hear while fishing.

5. Video Recording- A great tool to help you write action scenes. You’re writing about a soccer player kicking the winning goal. If you have the actual moment at your fingertips it will make writing the scene a lot easier.

I’m sure all phones whether they are an i-phone or an android have the options I mentioned or similar accessories available. Was there any I missed? Do you use your phone to assist with your writing?

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Filed under character building, writers, Writing

IT’S A NEW YEAR, LET’S GET WRITING! MY 500 WORDS: A WRITING CHALLENGE

Happy New Year! I hope this New Year brings luck, prosperity, ideas and days filled of writing.

I have lots of ideas for the blog this year. In addition to author interviews, book giveways and posts focusing on this wonderful craft, I have decided to include more writing exercises and critique giveways. Who doesn’t love a critique? I love to critique and will promise to offer constructive feedback.

Yesterday while blog hopping I stumbled upon Jeff Goins My 500 Words: A Writing Challenge. I signed up and made a promise to myself that I will write 500 words a day for the entire month of January.

I need the discipline and look forward to visiting other writer’s blogs to see how their progress is going.

I’m diving into 2014. I declare my mantra to be- No feeling beats the feeling of accomplishment.

Today, I found a book I purchased years ago when I first started studying the craft. The book, Writer’s First Aid by Kristi Holl offers motivation for writers.

Throughout the month I will be opening the book to a random page.

Today, I smiled when I saw the words Keep Moving on page 65. Kristi encourages writers to tackle unfinished business. She explains how stalling can deplete your energy. (So True!) Her message is a similar message to the one I wrote about a few days ago. You have to get up! Stop procrastinating. Tackle the projects you have allowed to sit. You will feel so much better about yourself.

Come on guys, we can do this. We have to believe in ourselves. Write something right now, in an hour you will be happy you did.

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Filed under writer's life, writers, Writing

JUST KEEP WRITING

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We all have days where we find ourselves sitting on the couch staring into space while internal conversations run amok.
For me, they go something like this, “What are you doing? You should be writing. The laptop is less than two feet away. Go pick it up!”
I promise the voices I will write in five minutes, right after I check Twitter, Facebook, my e-mail, look through the photos I took over the past month, take a quick nap, make dinner and then what the… it’s time for bed. I hate those days! Why does it sometimes take effort to do the one thing I love to do?
Is it laziness, tiredness, fogginess, stupidity or writer’s block? I think it may be a combination of all of them. But, there is always a little voice off in the distance trying so hard to be heard. It’s a small voice that chants over and over. It’s the voice of Dory (you know, the little blue fish that follows Nemo’s dad) except my Dory isn’t saying Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming. My Dory is singing Just keep writing, just keep writing, just keep writing. Tonight, I found myself sitting on the couch staring into space. I was telling myself I was going to write, but then I did what I often do and picked up my phone and started to check all the sites I spend too much time on when I heard my Dory.
I listened to her tonight, I put down my phone, got off the couch, went and picked up my laptop and began writing. I never feel as good as I do when I am stringing words together. I’m going to keep writing. I hope you do too.

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Filed under Uncategorized, writer's life, writers, writing, Writing

WHEN A WRITER WALKS INTO A THEATRE

movies

Last night I went to see Catching Fire. As I sat there and watched the characters I read about come to life on the big screen, I thought about the characters I’ve created.
This post isn’t about the movie, even though I will say I enjoyed it. It’s about what happens to a writer when they sit down in a movie theatre. Yes, they are excited just like everyone else to see their favorite books become movies or the previews they watched for months finally become the movie. But, there is something else going on in their minds. They are imagining their creations being brought to life, they are envisioning their names across the screen, they are fantasizing about the emotions that will fill their bodies and surround their soul.
I watched the previews, I laughed at a few, but within seconds I felt my mind drift. I was outside the theatre watching droves of people sprint up the steps, scurry into the lobby and wait in a line that extends to the snack bar for the movie that’s based on the book I wrote.
I watched their reactions to try and get a sense of what they were thinking. I stared silently at them during the sad and funny parts to see if they responded the way I hoped.
I waited for the credits to roll and the lights to come on, and then I eavesdropped on their conversations. I imagined their words to be positive. I cringed when I thought I heard someone say it sucked.
The daydream I had, covered all scenarios but only took up a few seconds of my time. Before I knew it I was once again focused on the screen in the theatre. I was anticipating the battle Katniss was about to face and I was hoping that at the end I would be satisfied.
Our creations may never hit the movie theatres but our dreams of our stories becoming recognized must never dimmer. We are the characters in our own life, so why not imagine great things happening.

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Filed under audience, dreaming, writer's life, writers, Writing

THE STAGES OF A WRITER PART 1

DAYDREAMING
A STORY IS BEING BORN

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ENVISIONING THE CHARACTERS

IDEA

OUTLINING

FIGURING OUT A PLOT

THE BEGINNING

Writing

THE MIDDLE

WRITERS BLOCK

THE END

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Filed under Fiction, story writing, writer's life, writers, writing, Writing