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Monthly Archives: November 2013

You Can’t Write, We Have Company


4e9b4afcDamn it! That seems to be my favorite phrase this time of the year when it comes to my writing. Just because it’s the holidays shouldn’t mean that I have to give up my writing time right? Still, for some reason it is a requirement that I stop all creative activity and hobnob with people who will ask me incredibly stupid questions about my writing. (i.e. “So do you think you’ll ever get a real job?” or “Where do you get your ideas, is there a place you get them from?”) Is there a way to balance things out so that I can write and be a good host?

The holidays are especially tough for writers because everything is so fluid. People are coming and going, the spouse is hollering come help me and the kids are all out of school. Just to find a minute to write goes quickly from really hard to damn near impossible. There is only one way to overcome this and get through the holidays without resenting your entire clan….you have to set up some agreements and everyone has to stick to them.

Agreement 1 – Your writing is important, holiday or not: You have to make this agreement with both yourself and your family. Everyone knows that your writing pays some of the bills but because you work from home it is easier to shove you aside so that Aunt Millie can be picked up at the airport. Agree with your family that things have to be scheduled around your writing, not the other way around.

Agreement 2 – Your office is off limits: I don’t know about you but for some reason everyone feels that it is okay to sit down at my desk and do random stuff. My brother-in-law sits there to make phone calls, one of the kids needs tape so they search my desk, my mother-in-law needs a quiet place so she sits at my desk and is suddenly snooping through my stuff…make all of this stop. Declare your office or workspace off limits…it’s okay…it’s yours.

Agreement 3 – It’s okay if you need to write: I know the holidays are a busy time. And I know there are extra people in the house, but here’s the thing….you still gotta pay the bills. I would say that it is reasonable that you don’t work ON Thanksgiving or Christmas Day but the rest of the time you should be able to work a bit. Last year I tried to work ahead but stuff came up and I ended up behind. Work some, it’s okay, it’s your job.

These are just three agreements that you can make with your family to ensure that you get something done AND you don’t lose your mind. Writing helps me relax and without it I might punch someone in the face, and although that makes a great holiday story years from now…I don’t want to do that if I don’t have to. Set down your agreements and then stick to them and demand that everyone else do so as well. It may take a few holidays but if you are consistent, after a while folks will get it and they will just flow into it on holidays after. You set the tone and the pace and get some writing done.

© The Writer’s Advice, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2013 in Healthy Writers, Writing

 

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Give Your Characters Some Character


3D-Character-DesignHave you ever met someone who seemed…well…cardboardish? You know what I’m talking about, stiff, boring and if they weren’t standing upright you would swear they might not have a pulse. What do you usually do when these folks are around? You leave right? You need to think about that when you are creating your characters.

Despite what non-writers will tell you our characters are real people. They have to be or the whole story isn’t believable. You characters have to ring true and the only way for that to happen is to make them as “real” as possible and to do that you have to give your characters some character.

People are not one-dimensional. In fact most of us have some sort of split personality. I know that I am different with my peers than I am my spouse and my children know an entirely different side of me. This is not to say that all of these personalities don’t bleed together; they do but if I am honest I have many, many sides. People are complicated because there are so many sides to each of us. Your characters have to have this aspect of being as well. Your main character, for instance, has to have “things” that make him/her your main character. They have to be strong and resourceful. They also have to be interesting.

So what can you do to give your characters more character? You can….

  • ·         Give him/her a backstory – Everyone needs history to work off of. Our history is what shapes us.
  • ·         Make sure the personality fits the name – Bob will never be a super hero but Mika will. Think about what you name your characters; it’s important.
  • ·         Give him/her issues – We all have them…those things that we drag around with us. Emotional baggage is very helpful when defining your characters. There has to be a reason why they do what they do.
  • ·         Give him/her a physical trait – When describing folks to other folks we often hear things like, ‘she has a limp’ or ‘he has sleepy looking eyes’. “Real” people often have something that makes them stand out from others. Make your characters memorable by giving them a physical trait that makes them unique.

These are just a few things that you can do to give your characters character. Remember that you want readers to like your characters, relate to them or downright hate them…strong emotional reaction is a good thing. So write a more memorable story by making sure that your characters are as real as it gets.

© The Writer’s Advice, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

 

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A Little Shameless Self Promotion is Allowed


shamelessselfpromotionYou are a writer and writers live and die by the way that they get their work out to the readers. Sure you have written a book but what good is it to do that if no one ever gets to see it. Let’s face it, we are our only bastions of PR. If we don’t suss out the situation and then shamelessly promote ourselves….who will?

I did that today. I shamelessly announced that two of my mysteries were on sale. (See previous blog post) I have to get the work out there or folks will forget what it is I do. Now when you first put your work out there the sales come easy. Why are they easy in the beginning? Well…because the people who are buying your book are your mom, you sister and Aunt Ida. Family has stepped up at that point followed closely by friends who don’t want to be the only person at the next dinner party who hasn’t bought a copy. After you have exhausted these folks you have to actually work for your sales and it ain’t easy.

Being a writer these days involves so much more than just writing. We have to promote, market, keep records and, in the end, pay the taxes. It’s a full-time job! I would love to just write but I know that those days are long gone if they were ever really here for most of us at all.

Yes I know that self-promotion sucks but it is a necessary evil. For me personally I hit a number of venues. I advertise on Facebook and ask my friends to share the post. I advertise on my blog, website and Google + anywhere they will allow me to shamelessly shout out the virtues of my stories. I even hit Pinterest.

So before you decide to go on to the next book project take a bit to promote the work you have already done. I manage to support my new projects with my old ones by doing so and, to be honest, that’s the way it is supposed to work anyway. You write to support your writing to sell your writing to support your writing…whew, that made me dizzy. So shamelessly promote the best author you know….you!

© The Writer’s Advice, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

 
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Posted by on November 20, 2013 in Business of Writing, Writing Tools

 

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Holiday Sale #2


Passions-Revenge-cover1-217x300For the holidays the prices have dropped on 2 of my books so that more people can purchase them. Visit Amazon today and support the starving writer…

Visit Amazon to purchase Passion’s Revenge for just $3.

 
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Posted by on November 19, 2013 in Business of Writing

 

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Holiday Sale!


Project Stowaway cover-final  For the holidays the prices have dropped on 2 of my books so that more people can purchase them. Visit Amazon today and support the starving writer…

Visit Amazon to purchase Project Stowaway for just $3.

 
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Posted by on November 19, 2013 in Business of Writing

 

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Does A Memoir Have to Mark the End of Your Life?


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Memoir – the very word provokes an image of an old guy sitting alone at his typewriter pecking away all of the vast knowledge he has accumulated over the years. We all think of memoirs as an end-of-life kind of project. Or one for the rich and fancy who want to make just a little more money out of all those nosey fans; either way our thought process on this issue is wrong. Anyone can write a memoir and you don’t have to be dying to do it.

We all lead interesting lives. Sure they may not be interesting to everyone but they are always interesting to someone, even if it is just our moms. A memoir has come to be the icon for those who feel they have to leave the story of their lives behind but why do that? Why not tell part of your story here and now? Case in point Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird. This book is on writing but she used her life to enhance the story.  Or Cate Montana’s Unearthing Venus which is a story about finding her true self in which she tells stories from her childhood. These are both memoirs but not of people dying off.

We all have stories to tell and each of our stories is unique and special. If your heart leads you to write a memoir don’t let social ideals keep you from it. Your story might help someone fell less lonely or stronger. Your story might show someone else that they too can find the strength to get through x or z.  Whatever your story, if you feel led to share it, you should.

I recently began a memoir and I took a lot of guff for doing so at such a young age but you know what I decided? I decided that I should write it while my brain was still fresh and my memory is still there. Waiting to write such important work in the life of a writer is just silly. So if you have a story to tell…tell it…don’t wait until the grim reaper shows up.

© The Writer’s Advice, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

 
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Posted by on November 14, 2013 in Inspiration, Writing, Writing Tools

 

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Support Means More than a Good Bra (Especially for you guys)


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I am my own worst critic. I am so bad, in fact, that I often times talk myself into a sad stupor when I am particularly hard on something I have written. We writers tend to be that way in general. We write, we edit and then we chastise ourselves because we aren’t “better” at what we do.

On this particular subject we aren’t unlike many people who think that they can always do a better job.  This is a good thing when you consider that in expecting more from ourselves we tend to become better BUT what happens when we are too hard on ourselves? The key then is to have good support and I’m not talking an underwire bra, I mean someone who loves us enough to both support us and tell us the truth.

My spouse is the best writing support I could ask for. She tells me when I am working too much i.e. up until 3 a.m. because I just have to finish this one thing, and she reads all of my stuff and gives an honest opinion about how good or bad it may be. She is gentle (this is important because we writers have fragile egos) but firm. I know that, to some degree, I don’t have to be so hard on myself because she will come along and be honest.

This is not to say that I always agree with her right off the bat. I have had pieces that I am proud of that she has turned on its head….that’s frustrating, but in the long run I know that she cares about me and my work and won’t steer me wrong. This support is invaluable and every writer should have it.

So find your support and make sure that they know how much you appreciate them. These are the folks who will keep you writing, they will make sure that you are okay and in the end they will save you the embarrassment of turning out something that you might one day regret. Writing is generally a lone gunman kind of thing but that doesn’t mean you have to be alone all the way through it. Trust me, you need the support.

© The Writer’s Advice, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

 
 

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