Wednesday, April 29, 2015

7 Things That Will Destroy You as a Writer


Entertaining Doubt
The only thing I remember about the cult movie The Little Shop of Horrors is that gigantic Venus flytrap that eats people whole. Point made.

Copycat Mentality
They did it and it worked for them so I’m going to do it. Will cut you at the knees every time. I know some people promote mimicking an author you admire until you grow your sea legs, but I’m not a huge fan of that. We are constantly infusing author influences into our work without even trying to. More important to carve your own path by testing and experimenting with your own voice.

Calling Yourself a Writer without Writing
I come across this more often than you’d think. Label must be earned.

Giving Up Too Soon
Mature writers understand that the true beauty of the craft isn’t discovered via rewards, awards, and reviews. It’s found in quiet moments when fingers are tapping away madly at the keys, when the mind has slipped subtly into the zone. Think journey, not destination because, as with so many things, once you reach one landmark of achievement you’re likely to set your sights on the next one.

Believing There’s Only One Way to Be Successful
Especially within the past five years there’s been a surge of new ways to go about finding success. I’ve made a commitment to encourage fellow writers no matter which path they choose to go down. And I’ve witnessed these same authors celebrating career milestones having traveled north, south, east, and west on the publishing track.

Wallowing in Your Stuck-ness
It’s almost guaranteed to occur. A lull. A blocked dam. Brain freeze of the imagination. Changing perspective when this happens can make a world of difference. Instead of allowing this slow time to eat away a massive hole in your progress, alter the way you encounter this time. View it as time for your story or characters to develop. Invest in another creative project. Don’t waste the stuck hours. We only have so many here on earth.

Overconfidence & Attitude You’ve Arrived
Always a journey. Pride looks ugly on people and authors who act like they’re superior come off like fools. Adopting an attitude of learning and humility transforms the writing process into an incomparable enriching experience beyond anything the ego could possibly produce.

Can you think of anything else that could destroy you as a writer?

 

Monday, April 27, 2015

How Stepping Out of Circles Has Influenced My Creativity

Through the years I’ve encountered several experiences when I’ve moved away from a circle I was in. Sometimes this was by choice. Sometimes it wasn’t. No matter the reason why I left the circle, I can look back and respect how the sudden change altered my creative life.

Leaving circles has influenced me to…

Say Goodbye to My Comfort Zone

When you’re inside a circle you feel a strange sense of protection. Maybe it’s the invisible boundary. Maybe it’s how all is contained within. So it can be terrifying to step out—to not know what the world holds for you beyond the boundary. But it can also be eye-opening. After all, there is a whole world out there.

Shed People’s Opinions of Me

I haven’t mastered this yet, but with every circle I’ve been nudged out of I’ve gained a better sense of who I am and who I want to be. I’ve learned the value of not placing my sense of worth in what others think of me. It’s unbelievable what this can do for creativity. Without the fear of judgment, the mind has few limits.

Inspired Me to Become More Resourceful

This is especially the case when I’ve been sent packing. I remember some sad seasons when I felt like I lost my closest friends in life, only to realize I knew some really cool people I hadn’t paid attention to because I was so busy keeping my eyes fixed within the circle.

Break up My Routine

There’s something about circle living that invites monotony. Do the same old thing in the same old way. Seek approval for that thing. Stay within the confines. Parting circles taught me the beauty of doing things differently. Of trying new things. Of stretching myself.

Increase My Empathy

It’s never fun to be shoved out of a circle. But it can teach so much. In the aftermath of circle living, I had a choice. I could wallow in the pain or I could allow the pain to inform me about the kind of person I wanted to be and the way I wanted to treat others. This is creativity at its best. Receiving pain in life and being able to knead it, turning it into something else.

Brought My Goals into Focus

Change inspires focus. It’s interesting stepping away from a circle could actually conjure a better sense of attention, but as soon as I was stripped of things I’d relied on, that’s exactly what happened. I was left asking the question, “What now?”

In full disclosure, after leaving some circles I’ve had to adjust to a drawback as well.

Loss of Support & Connection (whether real or perceived)

It’s taken me a long time to accept how there are seasons for everything. Can’t it always be spring? But even in the heartache that’s come with circle evictions, I’ve grown. I’ve garnered a strong sense of what fuels me and my creativity. I’ve grown more discerning. And, hard as it is for a sensitive soul, I’ve learned to move on.

When’s the last time you left a circle? Looking back, can you see how it influenced your creativity?

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Nesting Doll Approach to Writing Short


When asked to write a short story I knew I was going to have to take a different approach. I have a tendency to allow layers to multiply wildly in my novels. Think Jennifer Anniston famous haircut layers.
Sitting to write a short story, however, I took a nesting doll approach.
My mom had a set of these I couldn’t get enough of as a kid. I loved to open up each doll at the center and fit the smaller ones inside. In order to craft a short story, I found myself doing the exact opposite. I needed to open each larger nesting doll in order to get to the smallest, most detailed doll. The entirety of my story was that doll—the smallest one.
How does this translate to transitioning from novel-writing to developing a short story?
 
I could fit the smallest doll easily in my fingers
When working with a short story I had to be careful not to overcomplicate with subplots and numerous plot lines. I needed a clear vision for the entire story in my hands.
 
Understanding each character in sharp detail
I do this with novels as well, but with a short story I had fewer characters to work with. Every single one had to be written with concise purpose.
 
Particulars tied to something larger
The lines and clothing painted on the smallest doll often resemble what’s found on the largest one. In fewer pages than I’m used to working with, I established a story that spoke to larger truths on a greater scale.
 
Relationship to others
Every aspect of the short story focused how one relationship effected another. As with nesting dolls, they are stacked in a certain order. Each nesting doll relates to another in a specific way.
 
Evoking voice & language
Even as a child I could tell the nesting dolls were Russian by the style of dress painted on each one. Little can tell a lot.
 
Desire to reach the smallest doll
By establishing a clear picture of what the protagonist wants, I worked to evoke that same desire in the reader. The reader, in turn, longed for what protagonist wanted, cheering them on the journey.
As a kid, sitting down to play, I couldn’t wait to get all the dolls open until I reached that smallest doll. That one seemed the real treasure.
And now I get it why people love crafting short stories. Although challenging, the process of writing short stretched me as a writer. And for that, I’ll always be grateful.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Winners of the Spring Is Here Giveaway

Announcing Winners Today!



Bonnie Franks won Palmetto Moon by Kim Boykin
Cherie Japp won Waking Up Joy by Tina Ann Forkner
Letty Pena Blanchard won Stillwater Rising by Steena Holmes
Kayleigh Wilkes  won Secrets of a Charmed Life by Susan Meissner
Claudia Rivera won The Delicate Nature of Love by Wendy Paine Miller
Crystal Deloris Hernandez won The Glass Wives by Amy Sue Nathan
Dani Pie Cochran won Before I Go by Colleen Oakley
Ronda Six Garnett won The Virtues of Oxygen by Susan Schoenberger
Maureen Briggs-Amador won The Hatmaker’s Heart by Carla Stewart
Congratulations to all the winners! The authors will be in touch with each winner soon.
And thanks so much to everyone who entered.
We love our readers!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Anthology News ~ Tales of Tinfoil


Some crazy cool things have been happening behind the scenes with my writing career. And I haven’t shared because I guess it’s just taken me a while to process. Well, I’m done processing. At least with one mega piece of news I cannot wait to share with you today. Last fall, editor extraordinaire, David Gatewood, reached out to me to see if I’d be interested in writing a conspiracy-related short story for an anthology he was working on.

Would I ever!

Let me back up. I read and reread the email. David explained how he edits for Hugh Howey (you know, bestselling author of WOOL, etc.) and I kept having to convince myself David actually meant to email me. Yes, I’d independently put a few of my novels out into the world. But how the heck had he discovered one and liked it enough to invite me to be a part of this irresistible project?

Deeply honored, and always up for a challenge, I signed on.

And I couldn’t be more thrilled. David is a phenomenal editor and I recently had a blast connecting with several of the talented authors included in the anthology during a recent podcast.

In future posts I’ll go into more detail about what it was like to craft a short story verses a full-length novel. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed everything about this experience. There’s such a rich, genuine camaraderie among indie pubbed authors.

So . . .

Love conspiracy theories? Science fiction fan?
You won’t want to miss TALES OF TINFOIL! Releases THIS FRIDAY!

*Eric Tozzi created this excellent video

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Four Necessities for Creative Completion


Did you ever abandon a treehouse as a child?
I abandoned about three or four. The neighborhood kids and I gave it a go a few times. Starting off we were so determined. But after a few weeks, planks were left hanging from low branches. Nails jutted out of random places in the bark. And nothing ever came of the treehouse. It didn’t even earn the name tree shack.
We often have the best intentions with our creative work but something comes along and hinders us from finishing. Lack of energy, distractions, stress, doubt . . . all kinds of excuses land on the branches of our best intentions. But when we quit, we miss out on the rewards that only come from following through.
I’ve experienced this with numerous projects through the years. A mosaic that resembled broken pieces of a plate (well, that’s what a mosaic is). A shed I dreamed of fixing up from top to bottom. Nothing got fixed but the middle. Finally, other than the dozen I’ve completed, I’ve given life to a handful of other novels that died by the halfway point.
If there’s something we are truly passionate about finishing, how do we go about staying the course?
Let’s think back to treehouse building days as I give you . . .
 
The Four Necessities for Completion

The Right Tools
You can’t build an entire treehouse with a hammer and a few nails. It’s essential to research what you’ll need. And even who you may have to ask for help. It takes a courageous person to admit that sometimes you can’t go it alone. I know my career in publishing has been drastically enhanced because of the fellow authors who’ve prodded me along.

A Stick with It Commitment
If you go into a project halfhearted, you’ll likely come out of the project that way. Prematurely. Tell yourself there is no alternative. This will get done. Get used to funneling positive messages through your brain. I’m always blown away to witness the powerful effects of mental fortitude.

Goals & Game Plan to Do the Work
Write down your goals. That way you can go back to it and see your progress. Base floor up by May. Walls by June. Complete by July. Get even more specific. Then dash out notes how you intend to meet those goals. Base floor up by May—buy tools, work two hours five days a week, ask tall neighbor for help securing boards, etc.
Then put on your Nike T-shirt and get out there.

Determination to Fight off Obstacles

You should expect obstacles going into any project. Know there will be times when you’ll purchase the wrong paint, the windows won’t fit, the paint might strip off, or the characters just won’t talk. Expect internal obstacles as well. What was I thinking building a treehouse? I have no idea what I’m doing. It’s too big of an undertaking . . .
Shut them down. As soon as the doubts creep in, smother them. Don’t give them a voice.

And as far as the more tangible obstacles, view them as a way to exercise creativity and patience while in the midst of a project. Some of the best inventions have come from unexpected circumstances. Take Penicillin, X-Rays, and fireworks for example.

 So, there you have it. Why didn’t you finish your treehouse as a kid? Do you have a grown-up equivalent of that treehouse?

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Q&A with One of My Favorite People

If you haven’t encountered Jill Kemerer yet online or in person, you’re missing out. I’ve known her for eight years. We’ve critiqued each other’s work, encouraged each other through the highs and lows of the industry, and witnessed changes together with awe and fortitude.

It is a great honor to tell you Jill has recently released her first book. She has been patient like no other and I was seriously impressed with how my dear friend added to the romance genre with her newly released book, Small-Town Bachelor.
 
I love watching her dreams come true.

Watch out world, Kemerer knows romance & she’s here to stay! 

Our Q&A 

W. What inspires you as a novelist? You've written so many books. How do you continue to come up with so many story lines? 

J. Little things inspire me. An ad in a magazine. A funny line in a television show. A minor character in a book. I spend a lot of time walking through local parks, and ideas come to me then. If I stopped walking, I probably wouldn’t have new stories!

W. I've had the awesome pleasure of being your critique partner for years. We've been super honest with one another. No doubt this industry can be difficult at times. What are your go-tos when the going gets rough? How do you stay motivated and determined to keep on keepin' on? 

J. Supportive writer friends (you!!) have made a huge difference. Writing is a lonely endeavor, which is fine when you feel good, but it messes with your emotions on the bad days. I’ve wanted to quit many times. I pray when I feel like quitting, and somehow God always pushes me forward. Having goals is extremely important. I know what I want. The vision for my future keeps me motivated! 

W.  What's your favorite aspect of writing romance (you do it so well!)? 

J. You are very kind! I love when an unexpected truth comes out that I wasn't expecting. It might be spiritual growth or unrealized jealousy, but those moments make me sit back and go, "whoa." Plus, I always cry writing the final chapters of my books. 

W. Why are you thankful Small-Town Bachelor is out there for the world to read? And what is difficult about that fact?        

J. I’m thankful to finally have one of my books on store shelves. Small-Town Bachelor blends my love for small towns, Michigan lakes, cute animals and relatable characters with real problems. I’m excited to have sold more books set in fictional Lake Endwell. It’s a fun town to write! The difficult part of having a book out in the world is dealing with insecurity. Will readers like it? I remind myself some people will enjoy it, others won’t, and that’s okay! 

*** 

About Jill ~  

Jill Kemerer writes inspirational romance novels with love, humor and faith. A full time writer and homemaker, she relies on coffee and chocolate to keep up with her kids’ busy schedules.  

Besides spoiling her mini-dachshund, Jill adores magazines, M&M’s, fluffy animals and long nature walks. She resides in Ohio with her husband and two children.  Jill loves connecting with readers, so please visit her website www.jillkemerer.com and find her on Facebook and Twitter.

***
Small-Town Bachelor ~ 

A Place to Call Home  

When Reed Hamilton arrives in Lake Endwell for a family wedding, he expects to do his part as best man then head back to the big city. But when a tornado postpones the wedding, the town is in shambles and Reed is injured. Thankfully maid of honor Claire Sheffield offers him one of her cottages to recuperate in. 

Dedicated to her family and her dream job at the zoo, Claire is all about roots. She's this city slicker's opposite, yet as they help the town rebuild, Reed is captivated by her stunning looks and caring ways. He can't ask Claire to leave the life she loves for him, but he also can't imagine ever leaving her behind…

Interested in buying Small-Town Bachelor? Click on http://jillkemerer.com/books/small-town-bachelor/ for links to purchase!

 My review:

Kemerer knows romance! I thoroughly enjoyed reading Small-Town Bachelor. I was quickly swept up in the story and I appreciated the depth of this novel. As someone who normally doesn’t read romance, I was pleasantly surprised at how attached I got to the characters and how much I found myself drawn in by their love story. A must-read romance selection! Can’t wait to read more of Kemerer’s books!
 
Thanks for being here, Jill. Love you like a sister! Now, go connect with her, everyone. ;-)

Monday, April 6, 2015

Spring Is Here Giveaway—9 Women’s Fiction Books, 9 Winners!


Spring Is Here Giveaway—9 Women’s Fiction Books, 9 Winners!
 

I’m ecstatic to be announcing the Spring is Here Giveaway! Please visit the Facebook author pages of the authors involved & tweet about the giveaway for a chance to win one of the 9 books mentioned.

The Books & Authors:
Palmetto Moon by Kim Boykin
Waking Up Joy by Tina Ann Forkner
Stillwater Rising by Steena Holmes
Secrets of a Charmed Life by Susan Meissner
The Delicate Nature of Love by Wendy Paine Miller
The Glass Wives by Amy Sue Nathan
Before I Go by Colleen Oakley
The Virtues of Oxygen by Susan Schoenberger
The Hatmaker’s Heart by Carla Stewart

The Facebook Pages:
 
 

Spread the word & join us as we celebrate spring during this phenomenal giveaway! April 6-20.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Which Came First, The Concept or the Character?


Which Came First, The Concept or the Character?
Chicken, egg. You’re with me.
It used to be that characters were the first to introduce themselves to me. Generally, a woman. She’d tap lightly on the door of my imagination, then peek through the windows of my cortex until I took notice. She’d often linger around my synapses, dropping a line here and there for me to write down or memorize. I’d hear her as I fell asleep or in the midst of a conversation with a friend. And she grew familiar to me, as familiar as family. At some point I’d invite her in to stay. And her story would, at that point, unravel into a novel.
But that’s not always how it’s played out. There have been concepts that have found their way to me first. A notice in the doctor’s office. A picture in an ice cream shop. The inability to identify your own face. An infallible memory. These concepts, much like spring flowers releasing their potent aromas, practically insist on being trimmed and brought inside. Or if you’re a foodie, picture old cartoons when Bugs caught the irresistible scent of cooking meat. He had to follow. So it is with a concept that lingers and conjures that no-turning-back-now pull. I’m hooked. And another completed novel results.
Writers, here’s a fun question to ask yourself if you’ve yet to do so—which comes first for you, the concept or the character? Is it the same every time?
 
*Check back next Monday to be a part of a MAJOR GIVEAWAY!

What is a Character Solar Eclipse?

I thought it might be timely to mention a character solar eclipse . We all know, and have read, the ins and outs of what’s going to happe...