Thursday, January 26, 2012

Breaking Through the Blocks

The other day (okay more like for days) I was having some major “issues” with my current wip. I had an idea of where I wanted to go but the plot was causing me problems. It was frustrating because unlike some writers who are blessed with the ability to just sit down and write, I need some kind of outline. It doesn’t have to be very detailed but it does have to give me a plot point breakdown so I know where I’m going. I didn’t have that for this particular wip and every time I sat down to write I’d eventually hit a roadblock. It was not good.

So in total hair-pulling frustration, while I was sitting fretting about making my word quota for the week, I suddenly had an idea. I decided to list the problems I was having with the plot. In point form, some phrases, some questions, I listed all of the “issues” that were preventing me from moving forward. It looked something like this: But if he does that, what about this…and this character doesn’t have a purpose but needs to, and why did you mention that if you’re not going to use it?

It was a start and it felt awesome to purge. Once I got the problems down I started to brainstorm using a kind of stream of consciousness approach – you know, just rambling on with whatever came to mind as I worked through the problem. Well, in a matter of minutes I had a series of plot points worked out from the roadblock all the way to the end! It was marvelous!

In the past, when I’ve had a problem with a ms, I sleep on it and let my unconscious mind work it out…this time that wasn’t happening –I think the issues were too complicated to sort through in my sleep. This technique worked really well and I’ll definitely use it again. Keep in mind, I’ve only used it once and had success, who knows what may happen next time. Either way, I got through the blockage and have been pounding out the words ever since!

I've got another e-copy of Going the Distance to give away! All you have to do is comment here (and leave a way for me to contact you) and you'll be entered to win! I'll randomly draw a winner next week.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Hunting Vampires with Puppy Power: Guest Post with Julie Campbell



Angie, thank you so much for having me here today.

I’ve been asked a few times, why a dog? Well, why not? Okay, they’re not quite the traditional vampire hunter but when a Border Collie stares at you with that sheep-herding eye, you know it… and I suspect a vampire would too.

Part of why I picked a dog is because of why I wrote the first Doc story. A fellow author was having a flash contest on her forum and she happens to be a huge dog fan. The prompt was involving vampires. At the time, I’d never had much luck writing flash fiction, but she encouraged me to give it a try anyway. I said I would if inspiration struck. Then one day I was out playing with my Border Collie. She stared at the ball in my hand with her ‘eye’ and, well, inspiration struck. The story was so popular (it won both that round and the grand prize round) that I decided to keep up with the series. Not to mention how much fun it is to write from a dog’s perspective – but that’s a different blog post.

If you think about it, dog’s make great vampire hunters. They don’t really stand out in a crowd, so a human trying to blend in won’t look odd walking a dog. He would look odd walking a big hunting cat, or a wolf, or something else, but not a dog. They are super loyal to their humans and super trainable. You can teach a dog to track a human in the forest, or even in urban settings, so why can’t they track something that has such an obviously different smell. Police dogs are trained to attack on command, so why not vampire-hunting dogs? Different breeds would likely have different styles of assisting their humans. Border Collies use their ‘eye,’ other breeds would likely attack, or chase – like a Grey Hound – or lick them to death, oh wait. LOL. I don’t believe all dog breeds would make good vampire hunters – but certainly breeds traditionally used to hunt or work could be trained to track and possibly even help kill vampires. Dogs also love to have a job. What better job than keeping humans safe?

It’s man’s best friend vs. his worst enemy.

I hope you get a chance to enjoy some of Doc’s stories free on my website

Or check out his new novella.

Bio:
Julie writes fantasy novels. When she’s not out riding her horse, she can usually be found sitting in front of her computer with a cat on her lap and her dog at her side. You can find out more at www.writerjacampbell.com

Links!

Amazon

Amazon UK

Amazon UK ebook

What a great post! Thanks Julie!

As promised, I've randomly drawn a winner for an e-copy of Going the Distance and that lucky person is...Kyla Holt! Yay! Congratulations, Kyla!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Thick Skin

You've heard the phrase I'm sure, "Gotta grow some thicker skin..." or something to that effect. In the writerly world, growing thicker skin is directly connected to being critiqued, whether it be by fellow writers, readers or fans. It's an easy enough phrase to spit out, "I've got to grow some thicker skin and stop being such a baby!" but it's damn hard, no, impossible, to just do on command.

In my experience, there are a few phases of "being" that a writer must go through or experience in order to work on developing that thick skin.

Phase one: I've been a part of an awesome writing group for a little over a year and a half now. Before that I'd get crits from well-meaning family members who, although they plead otherwise, really are just biased ego-strokers. Ego-strokers are good and they do serve a purpose. We need those people to point out our talent and stoke our passion for the craft. They are the teachers, the friends, the family members who may not be "experts" in the field but have the sense enough to recognize when someone "has it." The ego-strokers are a great bunch, we like them, they're safe, but if we want to grow as writers then we must leave the nest and venture out to see what the world thinks of our writing. Scary, I know, but absolutely necessary.

Phase two: Finding a CP (crit partner) and or writing group is the next, very necessary step in growing that thick skin. These people are the ledge-talkers...the ones who you trust to talk you off the ledge when you're ready to jump. We ALL want to jump/give up/burn our computers/etc at some point. These people not only offer support but they're good critiquers. They tell it like it is, don't sugar coat and offer constructive feedback that you can actually use. They are there to cheer you on not tear you down. That's not to say you won't disagree with their feedback at times but that's the great thing about putting yourself out there (in a trusted environment) you can take what you will use and toss the rest. The important thing is opening yourself up to being honest with yourself, your work, your strengths and weaknesses and ACCEPTING that one person's opinion is subjective and really, it's your story in the end.

Phase three: Finding a mentor. This is typically a person who is further along in their writing career than you are. Someone who you respect and aspire to be like with regards to writing ability, work ethic, ambition, success, whatever. What has really surprised me the most about this industry is how many mentors are out there, wonderful writers who are willing to offer their support, their time, their opinions just to help a novice writer out. I've had the very fortunate experience of being critiqued twice by an author whom I greatly respect. I've also been critiqued by writers who are further along in their careers and can offer me much needed insight and perspective on my writing. I can't begin to thank these writers for how much they've helped me grow and even if I felt the sting (and I mean STING) of their critiques, it was a necessary trial to undergo on my journey towards becoming a better writer. So if you're lucky enough to find someone who is willing to help you, just know that they wouldn't be doing it if they didn't truly want to help you succeed. Yes, there really are people like that out there.

Growing a thicker skin takes time, it takes honesty with oneself, it takes acceptance, and it usually comes with experience. It's a necessary journey that all writers must venture even if it does hurt like hell at times. Trust me when I say with time it does get easier and you do become less sensitive to the criticism.

I just want to add one thing. I am very leery of anonymous posting and critting...I feel very strongly that if you can't put your name to your opinion then you shouldn't be sharing that opinion and that goes for writing especially. There are, unfortunately, souls out there who are tremendously jealous of anyone who they perceive has more talent or is further along than you are and will use their anonymity to destroy a writer's ego (and we all know how fragile that ego can be). So if you are desperate for critique, enter the public posting forums with extreme caution, a bad experience there can very easily leave your confidence shattered beyond repair.

I've got another e-copy of Going the Distance to give away. All you have to do is leave a comment and a way to contact you and I'll draw a winner next week this time!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

I'm on a roll!

Another week has come and gone and I've randomly drawn a winner for an e-copy of Going the Distance from my guest post over at Bea's Book Nook!

And the winner is: BookAttict!

Congratulations!


I've got another interview and contest starting over at author Keri Lake's blog this week. All you have to do is a leave a comment...there or here to be entered to win an e-copy of Going the Distance! I'll randomly draw a winner next week.

And that's it, folks! Hope you all have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

A Winner, A Guest Post and A New Contest!

Happy Thursday!

First things first, we have another winner of an e-copy of Going the Distance drawn from the comments left on my guest post last week at Colin F. Barnes blog...and the winner is: Fran! Congrats! Hope you enjoy!

Next, I've got a guest post up at Bea's Book Nook talking about my challenges writing a contemporary erotic romance. Hop on over there and leave a comment and you'll be entered to win an e-copy of Going the Distance! (Don't forget to leave your email address!)

And that's that...short and sweet (which is nothing like me) ;-)