Breaking it Down: Writing Goals for 2019

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The last few days I have been thinking about what I want/hope to accomplish this year in my writing life. At the end of the day (well, year) I’m not going to beat myself up over what I didn’t do.

I’ll be honest, at times I feel like a total fraud or impostor. I’ve mentioned that before but I figured out a (small) part of why. There are times when I don’t write. I don’t mean for a few days or weeks. I mean months. On end. And how can I can myself a writer when I don’t write? (In my defense, I am always dreaming up of new stories and characters…but I end up staring at a blank page or blinking cursor.)

So, my goals for the year will help me to create more. That’s the real goal. So here is my personal break down.

10 minutes a day: Thanks to a FB group I’m in called 10 Minute Novelists, I decided to do just that: write ten minutes a day. No pressure or stress. Surely out of a twenty-four hour period I can find ten minutes to write. There will be days when I don’t manage it, but that’s okay. Life happens. During my minimum of ten minutes, I will work on my current WIP, a new story or blog post.

Get Organized: I have many notes, scraps of paper and old writing journals that I need to get together. Figure out what ideas I want to work on and put the rest in the maybe later pile. I have a partial ‘series bible’ for my Lily and Quinn series. I’ll sort out and re-write it and add to it. It’s a project I keep meaning to get to but procrastination tends to be my best friend.

Blogging: I did really well last year being here, but I did drop off. (Life happened) Part of my problem is sometimes I don’t know what to write here. So I am going to brainstorm some writing and nerdy topics to help keep me going. Writing, book reviews and maybe an author interview or two is on the list. What would you like to see here? 🙂

Nanowrimo/Camp Nano: I did camp nano last spring and really enjoyed it. It’s a lot more flexible then Nanowrimo. But I plan to partake in both these events, and start a brand new shiny project come November.

Writing Retreat: On several occasions, myself and some female writing buddies have done our own little retreat. The last time was 2 years ago and I am thinking we are due for another. The weekend is full of writing, talking about our projects/aspects of writing, as well as wine and snacks. 😉 It’s a fun weekend with loads of laughs and I come home with progress on whatever project I took with me.

So, those are my writing goals for the year. What are yours? What do you hope to finish?

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Author Interview Tips for Newbies

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When I published Blood Bonds: Stories from The Lily and Quinn Series early this month, I wasn’t sure what to expect. While I have been published traditionally in anthologies, this was the first time I have gone it alone.

I have been doing my best to get the word out on my social media platforms, and was wondering what else I could do. The answer came to me one morning when I woke up to find a Facebook message from a reporter at the local newspaper. We went to school together and she noticed my posts about being published, and asked if I wanted to do an interview.

I knew I’d say yes but I needed to call my friend and writing buddy Sherry D. Ramsey for advice. Of coarse, she let out a ‘yes!’ when I asked if I should do it. I replied back to Erin, saying I would do the interview. She was excited and said she’d be calling for an interview in a few hours.

Aside from thinking about feeling like an impostor, I kept thinking of the worst. What if I came off like an idiot? What if I was misquoted? What if she asked me something and I didn’t know how to respond? But, in the end, everything went off well. And I am really pleased how it turned out. Here’s what I did before hand:

Deep breaths: Simple, I know, but there are times when we forget to breath. Focusing on those deep breaths also helps as a distraction from negative thoughts.

The story: I went over different things in my head about the book. Why I self published, what I liked about my characters, when I started the series, etc… Having answers in my head made me feel prepared.

The questions every writer gets: Why do you write? Where do you get your ideas? When did you first start writing? These are things many authors get asked and I tried to think of as many as I could. Again, I was trying to prep as much as I could.

Positive thoughts: My husband, Sherry and a couple of other friends I told were happy and excited for me. The exposure would help get the word out. I reminded myself I may get a book or two sold because of this but also: as a writer, especially in a small community, it tends to feel lonely. (Thank goodness for my writers group!) So, I also thought letting the community know  about another writer was a good thing. There are more writers then people realize in Cape Breton. We have lots of talent here, including those who write. Sometimes I feel we are in the shadows. I tried to focus on the positive and remind myself that I got this.

I was very excited this week to read my interview.

It turned out very well and I am very happy with it. So, if you get asked to to an interview for a newspaper or blog, do it! And each time you say yes to an interview, it will get easier each time. Those nerves will go away. Or mostly, at the very least.

How I am Prepping My Life For Nanowrimo

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There is more to Nano prep then just writing outlines and character sketches. Right now I am doing the most important Nano prep I can do: sorting out life in general. If I can do that, then I will set myself up for a good chance at success.

Cleaning House: There isn’t much time in November to take care of the house like you’d usually do. I know if I sit down on November 1st and my house isn’t sorted out it will be a major distraction. I will want to finish cleaning and organizing which is wasted time. This week I started my fall cleaning: the upstairs bedrooms are freshened up, swept and mopped. Most of the downstairs is sorted. For me, as long as my kitchen and bathroom are clean I’m a happy camper. Having any big cleaning done for November helps prevent junk, dishes and laundry from piling up. Nobody wants to deal with that come December.

My office: Not only will a messy house distract me but so will a messy office. I did that room first. My desk is tidy and I can keep notes, snacks and drinks near me. I have a big comfy blanket on the floor so Foxy, our greyhound, can come in and keep me company while I write. Whatever writing space you are using, make sure it is tidy and organized.

Writing Fuel: With Halloween coming I’ll be picking up some extra goodies, especially if they are on sale. You can’t sit and write a novel without chocolate or another form of fuel. If you vise is coffee, pick up some of your fave flavors before November.

Food prep: This one will be easy for me since hubby is leaving for work. Since I will be only cooking for one, leftovers and easy meals will be my best friend in November. I do plan to make a few bigger meals so I can have leftovers for a few days. The last thing I want to do when I come home after work is spending a lot of time cooking and on clean up. I will want to get to my laptop ASAP.

Warning Friends it’s Nano time: Not that I have a super busy social life, but come November I will be posting on FB that it’s Nano, which means hibernation mode. Partly, at least. Pen pal letters will have to wait until December, some coffee dates will have to wait. People who care about you and support you don’t mind waiting a little while for your time.

So, how do you prep for Nano? What other non-writing ways is there to get ready?

Get Crackin: Preptober

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It dawned on me today that I have yet to even start getting ready for Nanowrimo next month. I had a slight panic attack but seeing as how it’s still early in the month, I relaxed a little.

Everyone has their own way of getting ready. Some are old school like me and write up notes and index cards, while others use programs like Scrivener. (I will get that eventually…she said for the umpteenth time).

Some writers have a full blown manuscript on just their prep alone, with pages of character sketches, maps, plot points, scene break down, etc… While others have little to no idea the day Nano starts. (You people are my heroes…I know people who have had success doing this.  I am not one of those people.)

If you don”t know what your method is, just find what works for you. All writers are different. What works for me might not work for you.

This is what I need to prep this year:

Characters: I am writing in the same universe as my Blood Bonds so I know my charcters well, but there are a couple of new faces. One has introduced himself to me, the other two are being coy and won’t come out of the shadows…yet. Hopefully they will by November 1st.

Setting: Again, same universe so I know the setting well. I will be getting to know it a tad more, but nothing too major.

Plot: Ok, so this is where is gets tricky. Basically I know I want two things in particular to happen…in my head one is a plot and the other is a subplot, but things may go a bit differently. I need to think on my story more. I plan to write some scenes I know I want to happen. I will bring out the index cards and use that method. It’s one of my faves. This will help me figure out plot and give me something to work with come November.

Rewards: Yeah, this is totally on my prep list. I need some sort of treat to fuel me to get a few extra words in. If I hit 25k ahead of schedule, I am having a day off and a Big Mac. I used to use Halloween candy. Like, have a piece after five hundred words or so. But let’s face it, I can’t refrain myself from dippin in the treat bowl. 😉

So, what are you doing to prep for Nano? Do you know what your project is for this year?

 

Writing: That Impostor Feeling

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You know that voice you hear when you’re writing something and it says things like “Omg this is total crap”, “You really should go back and edit this before you write another word” or “This is worst thing ever written”. 

That voice is the inner critic. The voice that makes you doubt your idea, your story or that last sentence you just wrote.

I learned to tune that asshole out a few years ago. My first time taking part in Nanowrimo, to be honest. There wasn’t any time to listen to him. I couldn’t stop and edit because I had to get to that 50k word goal.

Well, now I have a different voice in my ear when I write. It’s the inner critic’s big brother. The voice that makes me feel like I’m an impostor. A fraud.

This goes beyond the inner critic. This isn’t a matter of writing a horrible paragraph. This is the voice that says “Why do you even write at all? Your stories are garbage and there are soooo many great authors out there. Why are you even trying?”

This asshole is hard to tune out. But I’ll do it.

The last few days I feel like I snuck into the the cool kids house party, but nobody has realized I’m there. I came in the back door, been hanging out by the snack table when I am not hiding in the darker corners of the house.

And it’s only a matter of time before I am caught and thrown out.

Last night I went for coffee with a friend of mine, who is also a writer. She has a number of novels published, short stories published and she is a fantastic story teller. The night before we got together for coffee, I was thinking about how prolific she is and how I wished I could have her talent. While having coffee, she told me she wished she was more prolific. And I had to laugh, and I admitted that the night before I wished she was as prolific as she was. It just goes to show, every writer is hard on themselves, for one reason or another.

When you have these self doubts, ignore them. It’s hard at first, trust me. The easy way would be to quit doing what you love. But then the bastard in your ear wins. And who wants that?

My friend shared this article last night, How to Keep Writing even when you feel like a fraud. I found it really helpful.

So, if you have this impostor feeling, don’t give up. I know I won’t.

 

 

A Letter to My 18 Year Old Self: On Writing

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Dear Kid, (cuz yeah, that’s what you still are)

You’re a daydreamer. And good news: that doesn’t stop. Bonus points: it pays off someday. In the not to distant future, you’re gonna get published for the first time. How great is that?!

But here is the thing…you gotta KEEP writing. Even when it is shit. ESPECIALLY when it is shit.

Don’t throw out any of your work. That’s a pain in the heart you can’t get back. Every bit of writing should be kept. Just in case. If anything, you can see how you’ve grown. Or have a good laugh.

Backup EVERYTHING. Anything you save on a laptop, save in other places. Hell, email it to yourself. Because when the time comes and you don’t do that, you will hate yourself. Trust me.

Write more. Put writing at the top of your priority list. Fill those note books with ideas, dreams, scene and plot ideas. Write more short stories. Start those novels. Finish them. Even if it is just ten or twenty minutes a day, write something down.

Read more. Not just fiction. You got that pretty covered. Read books on writing. Blogs on writing. There is lots of great (and not so great) info out there.

And when you get the chance, go to that writers group. Don’t be nervous. Trust me, it’s one of the best things you will ever do.

And last but not least, don’t beat yourself up. When writing isn’t going well or you feel like your idea is stupid, don’t get frustrated. Just keep going Kid. Books and story telling have been in your heart since day 1.

Love,

Your future self

How to Critique a Story When You Don’t Know What You’re Doing

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It isn’t always easy to give feedback when an author, friend or otherwise, asks you to be be a beta reader. At least, it isn’t always easy for me.

I’m not used to critiquing. In the beginning, I was crap, no doubt about it. But over the years I have slowly gotten better at it. Between people reading for me and being a beta for others, I have grown better at giving helpful feedback.

Tip 1) It isn’t easy if you feel like you are going to hurt someone’s feelings. Just approach it with tact and know that the author needs your help. Writers can’t approve and grow if everyone keeps telling them “oh I loved your story” with no other input.

Tip 2) Read the story first as a reader. Don’t worry about picking out issues unless something catches your eye. Then read the story again, slower this time, and keeping an eye out for issues with characters, plot and even grammar. Not every beta reader will find every problem. Just do what you can.

Tip 3) Don’t focus on the negative. I try to point out one positive thing for every few points of constructive criticism. Writers need to know what they are doing right, along with the hiccups of their story.

Tip 4) Take notes. As you are reading, jot down what you like, the plot issues, etc…Then later on use these notes to organize your thoughts when giving feedback.

Tip 5) Make sure to let the author know if this is a genre you typically read or not. I know when someone is reading one of my vampire stories, if the supernatural isn’t their thing, then my sights are set low for how much they enjoy it. And that is totally ok. I am looking for issues with pacing, if I have a cardboard character, etc…

I hope this helps. I still don’t feel totally comfortable giving someone feedback, but I do my best. And after all, practice makes perfect. 😉