Young Adult Dark Urban Fantasy Author ~

Posts tagged “Writing Advice

Write for the Lovers not the Haters. Better yet, write for You. #MondayBlogs #Writing

I wrote this post a few months ago and feel it needs repeating. There are far too many artists out there holding their words and their art in fear of criticism.

April 2015:

It’s been a while since I’ve written about anything on the blog besides cover reveals and book releases, but today I feel the need to say a few words to the writers, creators, and artists.

When I started my writing journey five years ago, the main thing that continued to hold me back from putting my stories out into the world was fear.

The big bad word.

Fear is easy to succumb to. It loves to whisper in your ear. It loves to lie to you and keep you from what you want most.

I let it rule for a long time without even realizing it and it cost me.

And this is what I want to talk about today.

I’ve had fellow writers who are new to this industry ask me how I do it. How do I deal with the negative side of this industry. How do I have a thick skin. When I say negative side, I mean everything from reviews to rejections.

My answer is always the same: I’m not sure that my skin is thicker than anyone else’s, but what I am sure of is I have something to say.

The truth is, everyone has an opinion about every damn thing. Everyone always will. But you get to choose what you allow into your world and what you block out. I don’t read negative reviews. I used to in the beginning, but what purpose do they serve me now? The books are published. I can’t change them. I wouldn’t if I could.

I don’t take offense to rejections. Some of the rejections I’ve received contained bits of gold. I appreciate any agent or publisher who has taken the time to point out why I was rejected.

None of them had to say anything at all.

My writing has become stronger because they did.

I’ve been writing since I was nine years old. It’s as much a part of me as anything else. It’s something I love.

And I think that’s where the thick skin lies … I’m writing for me. I’m proud of me. I did something I’ve dreamed about. And I’m continuing to do it. So the haters can hate. It’s very easy to hate. It’s the easiest thing in the world to do. It takes no courage, no heart. Raising someone up … that takes real courage. Those are the people I choose to hear.

In the last two years, I’ve had three novels published, (the third released in September), a short story, another short story will release soon, and a fourth novel, that’s up for review on Net Galley, will release before the end of the year.

I’ve had, and continue to have, people who love my stories ( I LOVE YOU GUYS RIGHT BACK!! xoxoxo) and people who hate them. And I’m okay with that. I knew going into this that I would be setting myself up for better or for worse. I took that risk, faced that fear, and jumped anyway.

It’s the scariest thing in the world, but you have to jump anyway.

So, writers, authors, poets, artists, musicians, dancers, painters … do your thing, say whatever it is you have to say in whatever medium you choose to say it in because no one else can say it the way you can.

Then stand back, take in what you’ve done, and be damn proud.

Paint for you.

Sing for you.

Write for you.

Create for You.

****

“I write from my soul. This is the reason that critics don’t hurt me, because it is me. If it was not me, if I was pretending to be someone else, then this could unbalance my world, but I know who I am.”

~ Paulo Coelho


Writers, Don’t Quit ~

“Don’t quit. It’s very easy to quit during the first 10 years. Nobody cares whether you write or not, and it’s very hard to write when nobody cares one way or the other. You can’t get fired if you don’t write, and most of the time you don’t get rewarded if you do. But don’t quit.”

~ Andre Dubus


We Who Make Stories …

“We who make stories know that we tell lies for a living. But they are good lies that say true things, and we owe it to our readers to build them as best we can. Because somewhere out there is someone who needs that story. Someone who will grow up with a different landscape, who without that story will be a different person. And who with that story may have hope, or wisdom, or kindness, or comfort. And that is why we write.”

~Neil Gaiman — The Graveyard Book

** I am a such a Neil Gaiman fan if you guys haven’t noticed.

Neil Gaiman, signing

Neil Gaiman, signing (Photo credit: Jutta @ flickr)


THE 8 Rules for Writing

I know most writers have seen, read or heard of Neil Gaiman’s 8 Rules for Writing. Obviously you guys have figured out that I am huge fan of his work—I am also a huge fan of his advice.

Here it is:

Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman (Photo credit: davextreme)

  1. Write

  2. Put one word after another. Find the right word, put it down.

  3. Finish what you’re writing. Whatever you have to do to finish it, finish it.

  4. Put it aside. Read it pretending you’ve never read it before. Show it to friends whose opinion you respect and who like the kind of thing that this is.

  5. Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.

  6. Fix it. Remember that, sooner or later, before it ever reaches perfection, you will have to let it go and move on and start to write the next thing. Perfection is like chasing the horizon. Keep moving.

  7. Laugh at your own jokes.

  8. The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it ­honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.


Imagination, Not Invention …

Only in men’s imagination does every truth find an effective and undeniable existence. Imagination, not invention, is the supreme master of art as of life.

~ Joseph Conrad

English: Joseph Conrad Print Collection portra...

English: Joseph Conrad Print Collection portrait file. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


If You Dare Nothing …

“If you dare nothing, then when the day is over, nothing is all you will have gained.”

~ Neil Gaiman (The Graveyard Book) 

The Graveyard Book

The Graveyard Book (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Wait … Should I Write That?

There is a moment now and then when writers may catch themselves and think … wait, should I write that? 

My fellow writer, and friend, Elena Ransley wrote a post titled, Just because I write it, doesn’t mean I did it.

I think her words are both honest and true. There is a fine line writers walk between fiction and fact. Fantasy and reality. So much of who we are is embedded in our stories. Our words, our voices, our hearts … our sometimes crazed imaginations. Elena writes,  “Just because you write about an axe murderer, doesn’t mean you are slightly unhinged and could lose it and carry out your protagonists actions in the middle of the night – just because you think it, doesn’t mean you would do it.”

People judge you as a person when you put your stories out there. And we can judge ourselves as words fly from our fingertips in a flurry of ideas. Whether you write horror or paranormal romance, people will either love your work and sing your praises, or wonder if you are indeed unhinged.

Does it matter? As a writer who has chosen to share their work with the world–it probably shouldn’t. It’s the risk you take when you decide to go public. It’s the reason every writer hears those few words of caution, “Grow a thick skin. You’re going to need it.”

Not everyone will praise or even like your work. Some people may hate your genre, your ideas–your imagination. And they will judge you. But we can’t please everyone and we can only write what moves us and hope our words resonate with readers.

So I leave you with this to ponder:

“Writers are not just people who sit down and write.  They hazard themselves.  Every time you compose a book your composition of yourself is at stake.”  ~E.L. Doctorow

So the question is, Are you willing to put yourself out there? It’s the risk all writers have to take. The difference between owning what you love and hiding it. The difference between being public or private. Published or tucked away in a drawer.

SO WRITE ON WRITERS. Take your best shot. 😉

*** Re-posted from April 2012 ***

 

Fear Stops Most People …

“If you want to write, you can. Fear stops most people from writing, not lack of talent. Who am I? What right have I to speak? Who will listen to me? You are a human being with a unique story to tell. You have every right.”

Richard Rhodes

Richard Rhodes 2

Richard Rhodes 2 (Photo credit: afagen)


Still Aspiring?

Aspire: to long, aim, or seek for.

Aspire is one of those words with an embedded escape clause.

“If I really suck at this, or if I just give up, it won’t matter because I’m only aspiring.”

GHAACK!

Do you love to write? Does it speak to you?

Then WRITE.

Aspiring isn’t goal setting. It’s an escape hatch. It is scribble, scribble, blah, blah … What was I talking about?

If you want to write then write. If you want to become an author work your ass off at it. It’s hard and it will make you want to scream one second and cry the next. But writers write. It’s what we do. Don’t be afraid to put a label on it.

~ Author Unknown

~ Author Unknown


What Are You Afraid Of?

Judgement.

It’s every new writers nightmare. The reason so many hide their stories away.

What if no one likes my book? What if I only think I can write…but really, I can’t! 

Oh, god, people are going to judge me. 

BUT…..

A quote by Bruce Patrick

WRITE ON, WRITERS.


A Week In Links

Two Italian legal / accounting books (on Stato...

Two Italian legal / accounting books (on Stato Patrimoniale) lie open, one on top of the other. Only a few lines of the underlying book’s text are legible because of the narrow depth of field (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I invest a ludicrous amount of time reading. Whether I read novels, blogs, craft books or research material, I always try to find useful or inspiring bits of information each week. And then I save them. Here are some of the best links:

From The Creative Penn, Joanna Penn talks about How To Work On More Than One Book At A Time

Author Michelle Davidson Argyle has a great post up on her blog, The Innocent Flower. You can find it here: When You Can’t Hack It As An Author

Joel Friedlander has great tips on his blog, The Book Designer. Here’s his post: How To Find Out What Readers Want

WRITE ON.


A Week In Links

Two Italian legal / accounting books (on Stato...

Two Italian legal / accounting books (on Stato Patrimoniale) lie open, one on top of the other. Only a few lines of the underlying book’s text are legible because of the narrow depth of field (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I invest a ludicrous amount of time reading. Whether I read novels, blogs, craft books or research material, I always try to find useful or inspiring bits of information each week. And then I save them. Here are some of the best links:

From The Write Angle: Fifteen Reasons Why Other Writers Aren’t Showing You The Love by Jean Oram

By Indie Author, April L. Hamilton, Fifty Shades of Hypocrisy

And lastly, New Wave Authors Blog, Of Sentences And Stories, by Author Craig Lancaster

WRITE ON, WRITERS!


A Week In Links

Two Italian legal / accounting books (on Stato...

Two Italian legal / accounting books (on Stato Patrimoniale) lie open, one on top of the other. Only a few lines of the underlying book’s text are legible because of the narrow depth of field (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I invest a ludicrous amount of time reading. Whether I read novels, blogs, craft books or research material, I always try to find useful or inspiring bits of information each week. And then I save them.

Author Joanna Penn, creator of The Creative Penn, has a wonderfully inspiring post on her blog this week. Recommended Book For Creatives: Turning Pro By Steven Pressfield This is a must read post by Joanna as well as a must read book, The Art of War being the prequel.

Anne R. Allen’s blog this week features a post by her co-blogger Ruth Harris. An interesting and humorous read. 11 Reasons Writers Get Rejected—And Why Only 3 Of Them Matter

Indie Author Lindsay Buroker has an informative post up on her blog. Is It Harder Today for Self-Published Authors to “Break-in” at Amazon?


The Indie/Trad Debate. Why Are We Still Talking About This?

Writer Wordart

Writer Wordart (Photo credit: MarkGregory007)

It occurs to me after reading yet another scalding blog post by another author who is upset by the current state of the publishing industry, that we as a whole of writers need to stop engaging in the ‘who’s on the right or left side of the fence’ argument.

I know that we all get emotional and heated up and mad. It keeps the fire burning. It fuels the “I’ll show them!” mentality on both sides. By my god, this topic is OLD. And frustrating. And Petty.

So why, why are we still talking about it? Why are we still reading scathing posts that are meant to infuriate?

You wanna go Trad? GO TRAD!

You wanna go Indie? GO INDIE!

Who cares? Other than you, the author, it’s no one’s concern. No one’s business. People will always judge. Fact of life.

Your choices in publishing don’t need to be defended. Nor should anyone’s choices be ridiculed.

So let’s all shut up about who’s wrong and who’s right. Not all trad books are glazed in gold and not all indie books suck. Stop drawing an imaginary line in the imaginary sands of no where land. It doesn’t exist. Stop with the professional vs. amateur argument about indies ‘settling’ for second best because it’s all they could get vs. trads clinging to their sinking ship waving their credentials high above their heads.

Readers don’t care. This is a writers argument.

Readers want good stories. That’s it.

Self-pubbed, trad-pubbed. They don’t care.

Writers need to write good books and channel them in whatever direction they choose. Fact is, some writers are control freaks and the thought of giving up rights throws them into a backward tail spin. Others cannot fathom the idea of going it alone. They want the support that trad publishers provide.  There is no right choice. There is no wrong choice.

Are we all really going through the headaches of creating worlds and characters and plot lines to turn around and waste our precious time and energy demeaning other writers for the choices they make regarding how to publish? Really? That train of thought boils down to envy, jealousy… and FEAR. Let it go.

Write good books and leave the complaints at home. Spill them out there. To your dog. Or your cat. We are all wasting time yapping and pointing fingers. Not to mention making asses out of ourselves.

Our little blogosphere of writers here online—it’s not so small. We have a world-wide reach and those who are always gripping make the lot of us look bad.

Good day my fellow writers. Write On. Publish On. And remember the wise words of Author Chuck Wendig, “Try not to suck.”


When Do You Become A Writer?

During my usual perusal of blogs, I ran across Joanna Penn’s interview of Jeff Goins. If you haven’t seen it, it is a must watch. Especially for those of us who are new to the writing scene. No aspiring here, just real writers writing. Watch. It’s worth your time.


A Week In Links

Two Italian legal / accounting books (on Stato...

Two Italian legal / accounting books (on Stato Patrimoniale) lie open, one on top of the other. Only a few lines of the underlying book’s text are legible because of the narrow depth of field (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I invest a ludicrous amount of time reading. Whether I read novels, blogs, craft books or research material, I always try to find useful or inspiring bits of information each week. And then I save them.

Here are this week’s links on writing and social media.

Author Kristen Lamb’s Blog, Can Facebook Hold Your Fan Page Hostage?

Author Chuck Wendig, 25 Ways To Fight Your Story’s Mushy Middle

Author Lindsay Buroker, What Does It Take to Become a Full Time Indie Author?

Author Anne R. Allen, Slow Blog Manifesto…and 8 Reasons Why Slow Blogging Will Help Your Career


Fantasy World Building. J.R.R. Tolkien

 

The vision and imagination behind The Lord of the Rings is hard to fathom. Written in 1937, The Hobbit was the first of Tolkien’s works within this series. The three remaining books followed over a span of twelve years. Tolkien gave me my first real taste of what high fantasy can be.

The Balrog, as seen in Peter Jackson's The Lor...

The Balrog, as seen in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

World building. It isn’t easy. Writers must create rules for their world to abide by, scenery perhaps never seen before, and creatures of vivid imagination. With fantasy comes conflict, and with conflict comes action. Action that makes sense, flows smoothly, and can hopefully be seen within a readers own imagination.

This can be the most difficult part of writing. Recreating the images we have created in our minds into words on paper. Words that resonate with the reader.

I see all my stories in my minds eye. Similar I’d say to a film reel. Scenes rush by in my head and try to catch them, and write them down.

Here is one of my favorite LOR scenes:

“The Balrog reached the bridge. Gandalf stood in the middle of the span, leaning on the staff in his left hand, but in his other hand Glamdring gleamed, cold and white. His enemy halted again, facing him, and the shadow about it reached out like two vast wings. It raised the whip, and the thongs whined and cracked. Fire came from the nostrils. But Gandalf stood firm.

‘You cannot pass,’ he said. The orcs stood still, and a dead silence fell. ‘I am the servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the flame of Anor. You cannot pass. The dark fire will not avail you, flame of Udun. Go back to the Shadow! You cannot pass.’

“….Gandalf lifted his staff, and crying aloud he smote the bridge before him. The staff broke asunder and fell from his hand. A blinding sheet of white flame sprang up. The bridge cracked. Right at the Balrog‘s feet it broke, and the stone upon which it stood crashed into the gulf, while the rest remained poised, quivering like a tongue of rock thrust out into the emptiness.

With a terrible cry the Balrog fell forward, and its shadow plunged down and vanished. But even as it fell it swung its whip, and the thongs lashed and curled about the wizard’s knees, dragging him to the brink. He staggered and fell, grasped vainly at the stone, and slid into the abyss. ‘Fly, you fools!’ he cried, and was gone.” ~LOR, The Fellowship Of The Ring, J.R.R. Tolkien

**Here is the film scene:

Rarely do I think that movies hold a candle of the magic that books do. Especially when recreating a classic such as LOR. LOR however, is one of my exceptions. There is as much to learn from this series of films as there is to learn from the series of books. Both are incredible.

Having trouble writing action, creating worlds? Read some Tolkien, and remember to keep it clean and concise.

Related article: Fantasy World Building — Thanks To Star Wars and Legend

 


To Outline Or…Not

English: Hot-swap states with transitions appl...

Image via Wikipedia

You had two roads to take, the gut instinct or the outline. You chose to write from your gut, let the story pour from your imagination onto the page. You didn’t think about where it was going because you knew it would get there. You’re 80,000 words in. Done. All feels great. Now what?

Now, Editing. You begin to go through your work chapter by chapter, detail by detail and you realize the transitions aren’t what they should be, could be, need to be or what you thought they were. Here is the biggest issue writing without an outline — headaches. You’ve got a great story but it doesn’t roll off your tongue quite right. It doesn’t work quite the way it sounded in your head.

Now for the rewrite. The biggest pain in the ass ever. It even trumps editing. And that is saying a lot. You rewrite from the beginning, move a paragraph here, a chapter there and think, okay, I can do this, it’s not so bad. Until it is bad. Until you have 30 chapters staring back at you asking to be properly read and all your thoughts become a jumbled, dizzying mess.

Now, let me start from the beginning. I’m not methodical. I’m a jumper. I get hit with an idea and I’m off. It’s my way, my style, my inspiration. But let me say that my style completely bit me in the ass. No outline is a bad idea.

I had notes. Pages and pages of notes, handwritten. I had documents–so many I couldn’t keep track of them all. In the beginning, I thought they were enough. In the end, they weren’t. Not even close. I had too many ideas. Ideas that I couldn’t reign in. Ideas that I couldn’t mold in the way I needed to—wanted to. I paid for those amateur mistakes in the end. Through rewrites, a staggering number of drafts, cuts, edits, and revisions. Close to two years worth.

Now my notes are in an abstract outline form, still free-flowing, but an outline nonetheless. Word to the wise: Get your idea, work it through and outline it. Even if that outline is as simple as a few sentences per chapter–a few ideas. Even if you only have a kernel of an idea of what the beginning, middle, and end of the story should be. In the end you will gain a ridiculous amount of time, a better story and with any luck, your sanity.


Sometimes You Need To Scrap It. That’s Okay.

I scratched my cornea two days ago. Forgive any typos as I’m writing this with one eye.

As I am rounding out the last of my revisions and running to the final edits stretch of my novel, I’ve hit a speed bump. I have to cut three chapters. Ghaack! It’s about…7700 words. NOT that I’m a word counter. You can read why if you’d like here: Word Count Goals And The Pathway To Hell

But that’s another subject… When you’re a pantster, like I am, and when you write as slow as a turtle, like I do, you may find that what worked a few drafts ago simply doesn’t work in the final draft. That’s okay. Sometimes scenes no longer fit.

Yes, it creates headaches. But I am a firm believer that cutting makes your work stronger. It makes you look deeper, think harder, and search farther outside the box, which in fantasy, is very important. (Yeah, I write fantasy.)

As I’ve said before, if something doesn’t feel write, it’s because it isn’t. Follow your instincts, listen to your gut, and cut the scene (or at least rewrite it).


A Week In Links

Two Italian legal / accounting books (on Stato...

Two Italian legal / accounting books (on Stato Patrimoniale) lie open, one on top of the other. Only a few lines of the underlying book's text are legible because of the narrow depth of field (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I invest a ludicrous amount of time reading. Whether I read novels, blogs, craft books or research material, I always try to find useful or inspiring bits of information each week. And then I save them. Here are this weeks links:

Joanna Penn has a great post on her blog this week, The Creative PennTraditional Publishing And Self-Publishing Are Not Mutually Exclusive

David Gaughran from Let’s Get Digital talks about Publishing this week in his post, Was Self-Publishing The Right Decision?

And lastly, Indie Author Lindsay Buroker has an interesting interview with Author Liana Brooks up on her blog. Check it out here: Why One Author Chose A Small Press over Self-Publishing

WRITE ON, WRITERS.


Say It Like You Mean It.

“If the writing is honest it cannot be separated from the man who wrote it.”

~Tennessee Williams

T. Williams (1965)

T. Williams (1965) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Without truth, our words die on the page.

WRITE ON.


A Week in Links

Two Italian legal / accounting books (on Stato...

Two Italian legal / accounting books (on Stato Patrimoniale) lie open, one on top of the other. Only a few lines of the underlying book's text are legible because of the narrow depth of field (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I invest a ludicrous amount of time reading. Whether I read novels, blogs, craft books or research material, I always try to find useful or inspiring bits of information each week. And then I save them. Here are this weeks links:

Joanna Penn has a great post up on her blog, The Creative Penn. Tips For Writers: On the Importance of Persistence. You can find the link here: The Creative Penn

Anne R Allen has an interesting post on her blog. 12 Myths about being a Writer. You can find it here: Anne R. Allen’s Blog

Lastly, Steven Lewis has this post up on his blog, Taleist, Do you have the storyteller’s intelligence? Here’s the link: Taleist

WRITE ON, WRITERS.


Revisions. Listen to the Voice.

You know that feeling you get after you’ve logged in hours revising your novel, and then it dawns on you that you have to scrap chunks of it?

Yeah, I’m there.

I wanted to label it as a block. Pin it down to being “brain tired.” Chalk it up to, “I’ve been working on this piece too long, so now I’m just sick of it.”

Revision notes

Revision notes (Photo credit: jez`)

Reality?

That little voice in my head, the one that helps guide me down these cray writing roads I find myself on, that voice told me something was wrong. And it wasn’t because I was too tired, or blocked. It wasn’t because my story was too ingrained, or that I was sick of it. The voice stopped me in my revision tracks because something was wrong.

Scrap is a harsh word. Rewrite is a more appropriate one, and something I had not anticipated needing to do. But as I’ve said before, sometimes the story simply doesn’t work. Sometimes the ideas in your head don’t play out on paper in the grand scheme. Sometimes you need to rewrite a few chunks, so the rest of the chunks, work.

Listen to your voice. It doesn’t lie, and it won’t lead you astray. If something in your story doesn’t feel right, it’s because it isn’t.


Don’t Stop

“Stopping a piece of work just because it’s hard, either emotionally or imaginatively, is a bad idea. Sometimes you have to go on when you don’t feel like it, and sometimes you’re doing good work when it feels like all you’re managing is to shovel shit from a sitting position.”

No matter how hard it gets, how overwhelmed you feel, keep going. You will get there. 

WRITE ON, WRITERS!