My Favorite Writerly Things

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Fingers on keyboard and judgement from kittens
Bright neon notebooks where words will be written
Brown cups of coffee turned lighter with cream
These are a few of my favorite writerly things

And here are a few more:

Writerly Weather

I’ve seen a lot of writers comment that rainy days are ideal for them to write. Not for me. Rainy days are lazy days. The most I can hope to accomplish (besides staying awake) is reading a chapter or two from my favorite book. For me, sunny days are the best days for writing. The sun lights my writing space and keeps me in a positive, productive mood.

Novelty Pens

The pen is mightier than the sword, especially when it has a bobble on top. Whether it’s neon colored, topped with a feather, or odd-shaped, a novelty pen inspires me to write. My favorite pens right now are my Inside Out pens which allow me to write in colors that express my current mood. (Current mood is yellow).

Coffee, Coffee, Coffee!

Or just caffeine in general. Though, in all honesty, my favorite caffeinated drink is coffee. My favorite roast is the House Blend Roast from Starbucks. I just grounded a fresh batch so we’re all set for the weekend. Star Wars coffee creamers make it even better.

Cats

Where would a writer be without their feline companion. Critic more like. Cats have a tendency to sit near the computer screen, narrow their eyes at the screen, and cast judgement. I know my cats do. They also like to sit on the keyboard, inserting strange gibberish into my writing. But I don’t know where I’d be without them.

My Computer

I used to draft all of my novels on notebooks, but my hand started cramping too much. Plus, my desire to go back and scratch out everything I just wrote became too great. Now I do all of my work on the computer. It’s my notebook, my radio, and my social outlet. If it died today my world would just end.

Notebooks

Even though I do all of my writing on the computer, I still like to complete my outlines in notebooks, especially cute ones with pictures of cats or Disney characters on the front. Neon ones are also fun. There’s something about that binder in hand and the immediate connection between the mind and the paper that makes thoughts come easier. Don’t you think?

Movie Soundtracks

Most of the time I write in silence . . . unless my nephew is up and about. LOL. In that case, I try to drown out the sound of Legos crashing and action figures smashing with music. Movie soundtracks are my favorite, especially instrumental numbers. Hans Zimmer, Howard Shore, and Yo Yo Ma are some of my favorite composers.

Books

For good measure, I like to keep a pile of books nearby . . . for no apparent reason other than looking like an author. LOL. Actually, I like to keep references near at hand just in case. I hate getting up out of my seat.

Useless Geegaw

I like to keep my desk cluttered with useless geegaw. Whether it’s a Funko Pop Vinyl figure or a Lucky Cat figurine, if it’s in my way it’s making my day!

Motivational Quotes

I have a tack-board just above my desk covered in photos, business cards, and motivational quotes to keep me inspired.

Well, that’s about it for me. What are your favorite writerly things? Feel free to share in the comments below. And as always have a wonderful weekend!

Friday Fun: Fill in the Blanks

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Let’s play a game. No, not a love game. A writing game. If your week has gone anything like mine, you’re probably in need of a break and a little fun.

Here’s how to play: Read the questions below and fill in the blanks. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. Most importantly, have fun!


The best part of being a writer is [blank].

The worst part of being a writer is [blank].

If I wasn’t a writer I would be a [blank].

The best way to drink coffee is with [blank] cream and [blank] sugar.

My favorite beverage while I’m writing is [blank].

My favorite non-writing past time is [blank].

I like to nap for [blank] hours per day.

My main character’s name is [blank], but my favorite character’s name is [blank].

[Blank] is the book I wish I’d written.

Of all the stories I’ve written, [blank] is my favorite.

If I could incorporate any fictional character from some other work of fiction or film into mine it would be [blank] from [blank].

If I could bring any of my fictional characters to life it would be [blank].

On average, I write about [blank] words per day.

While I’m writing, I like to listen to [blank] for inspiration.

The author who most inspired my writing is [blank].

I would consider myself a [blank] writer.

The best word to describe my writing is [blank].

Sometimes, when I’m writing, I’d rather be [blank].


Not too hard, right? In case you’re curious, here are my answers to the questions:

The best part of being a writer is creating.

The worst part of being a writer is marketing.

If I wasn’t a writer I would be a well-rested person.

The best way to drink coffee is with 2 cream and 0 sugar.

My favorite beverage while I’m writing is coffee.

My favorite non-writing past time is reading.

I like to nap for 1 hours per day.

My main character’s name is Mongrel, but my favorite character’s name is Margo.

Empress by Karen Miller is the book I wish I’d written.

Of all the stories I’ve written, The Wizard’s Gambit is my favorite.

If I could incorporate any fictional character from some other work of fiction or film into mine it would be Tyrion from Game of Thrones.

If I could bring any of my fictional characters to life it would be Littlehammer. (She’s a hoot).

On average, I write about 1,000 words per day.

While I’m writing, I like to listen to movie soundtracks for inspiration.

The author who most inspired my writing is Terry Pratchett.

I would consider myself a decent writer.

The best word to describe my writing is supercalafajalistickexpialadojus.

Sometimes, when I’m writing, I’d rather be napping.


That’s all for now! I hope you had fun with this activity! Feel free to share your answers in the comments below!

 

 

 

 

Something to Read on Tolkien Reading Day

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Today is Tolkien Reading day, and so I’ll be spending my day off revisiting some of my favorite works … and trying to get a little writing done as well.

Last year’s theme was “friendship” which I found rather uplifting. This year’s theme is … less uplifting: life, death, and immortality.

My sister shared a rather interesting blog post on the subject and how it ties to Tolkien’s life. Click here to check it out.

But before you go, I’m curious to know, what are you reading for Tolkien Reading Day?

 

 

 

Fellow Writers, Don’t Give Up, Don’t Give In, and Try Everything

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I won’t give up, no I won’t give in
Til I reach the end and then I’ll start again
No I won’t leave, I wanna try everything
I wanna try even though I could fail

That’s just the chorus of Shakira’s (or should I say Gazelle’s?) new hit single, “Try Everything” which is featured in latest Disney movie Zootopia. Listen to the rest of the song and tell me it doesn’t inspire you keep plugging away on that work in progress?

I hope you enjoyed the video. It’s the only song I’ve been listening to recently to help me get through my workout and those painful bouts of writer’s block.

Happy Hump Day!

 

Social Networking Advice for the Antisocial

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Writing is a solitary endeavor, but does it have to be a lonely one? Absolutely not. In fact, it’s beneficial for writers to interact with other authors in order to exchange information, market their work, and build their readership. It literally pays for authors to be social.

While attending the weekly Business Professionals Meeting at Ivy Tech in Peru, I learned some advice on social networking that I thought applied to writers, not just business owners. And I’m going to share it with you!

Use Social Media to Connect with Authors, Editors, Agents, & Readers

Social networking doesn’t just happen in the “real world.” It happens wherever people interact. One of the most popular places people go to hangout is online. You already use Facebook and Twitter to stay connected with family and friends, so why not use these social media sites to meet other authors and new readers? There are hundreds, if not thousands, of them online. You can interact with others via private message or by replying to their posts. Sharing other people’s content is another great way to interact. Once you build a positive rapport, they will be more receptive to your marketing messages or requests for help.

Attend as Many “Real World” Events as Possible

Writers conferences, book fairs, local readings, book launches, and library events are great opportunities to network with authors and readers. Plus, they’re educational. Just keep in mind, it’s not about selling; it’s about making friends, and building a readership.

Bring Marketing Material

I always take a stack of business cards and/or bookmarks with me to events. In fact, I keep a stack of each in my car just in case I run into a new friend. That way, they have links to my social media sites and a reminder that we met. Let’s face it, no matter how cool you are, people get busy and might forget you. A bookmark is a great reminder.

Follow up

Meeting someone at a networking event or following someone online is just the first step in beginning a relationship. Take those business cards home and send an email, connect on Twitter, or send an invite for coffee or lunch. Main point: stay in touch. And be patient. I once knew a prospective reader one year before they finally bought a copy of my book. It only took 3 touches. They say a sale can take 7, so that’s pretty good.

Give a Little More than You Take

I am reminded of a really corny song from Dreamwork’s animated feature Joseph, King of Dreams. Whereas the song had nothing to do with the events in the movie, it applies greatly to networking. The most successful authors are the ones who give advice and promote others. Why? Because helping others encourages them to help you.

Give it Time

Take your time and grow your network organically. No fertilizer. Don’t be tempted to buy followers in order to reach your goal overnight. The most successful authors get to know their contacts one person at a time via small events and private chat. Remember, it’s quality over quantity.

I hope you found this advice as helpful as I did. Please feel free to share your own advice in the comments below. Have a great week!

10 Things Indie Authors Should Be Thankful for This Thanksgiving

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In advance, happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I know not everyone here on WordPress celebrates manifest destiny and the destruction of a native people, but all the same, have a good one!

For most of us, Thanksgiving is about food, family, and giving thanks for everything we have. At least that’s what it means to me. And this year I’m grateful for many things, most of all getting to spend another holiday with my mother and being a published author.

I know I complain about the trials and tribulations of being indie author in today’s over-saturated and ever-volatile market, but there are many things that indie authors should be grateful for this thanksgiving. Here are ten:

1. A Variety of Alternatives to Traditional Publishing

2. Word of Mouth (AKA, Free Marketing) 

3. Positive Reviews

4. Any Reviews

5. The Internet

6. Local Bookstores and Libraries 

7. Librarians

8. Caffeinated and alcoholic beverages  

9. Friends, family, and cats

10. Readers

Is there anything I forgot? What are you grateful for? Please share in the comments below and I’ll see you on Black Friday!

10 Ingenious Ways to Increase Your Word Count and Win NaNoWriMo!

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It’s November! And you know what that means? No, not pumpkin spice the everything! November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). And for those of us who are trying to reach that coveted 50,000 word count by the end of the month, I have for you the secret to success, a list of ingenious ways you can increase your word count without bruising your brain.

1. Give your characters super long names

Ever wonder why George R. R. Martin’s novels are so thick? It’s because of his character’s names. Take Daenerys Targaryen for example. During her campaign in Slaver’s Bay, she is introduced as Daenerys Stormborn of the House Targaryen, the First of Her Name, the Unburnt, Queen of Meereen, Queen of the Andals and the Rhoynar and the First Men, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Breaker of Chains, and Mother of Dragons. That’s 40 words and you’ve only introduced the main character! And how about Robert Baratheon? His name is so long they actually say “so on” and “so forth” while writing it out to save on word count. But for those of us trying to win NaNoWriMo, we’d write the name out.

2. Have your characters break into song whenever possible 

Why not? Tolkien did it. How else would his books have ended up so long? So make up a song, a silly song, or have your characters sing a popular number from their time period. If all else fails they can sing “The Song That Doesn’t End” from Lamb Chops Sing-Along, as many rounds as it takes to make your word count goal.

3. Provide lengthy descriptions of everyone/everything 

Another thing Tolkien did to stretch his stories out was to provide lengthy descriptions of characters and plants. And if he could get away with it, why not you? So, instead of saying something simple and direct like “she fled into the forest” try fleshing it out with more adjectives until you end up with something like “The young brunette girl in the white and blue polka dotted dress fled into the thick, damp, and moldy forest. Her red high heel shoes stuck in the sticky brown mud.” See how many more words there are when you describe every single little detail?

4. Have your characters slip into lengthy monologues

Even if they have nothing important to say, have them say a lot. Nothing like a three-page monologue to up the word count. Villains, in particular, are good at this sort of thing. Just watch any cartoon or movie to see how it’s done.

5. Copy and paste the same scene multiple times

Go through your draft and find a scene you really like. Copy it. Paste it. Repeat until you reach your word count goal.

6. Give every character a complex backstory and share it

Either by storytelling or by flashback, reveal every single character’s complicated backstory. That’s sure to add pages to your draft and help you reach your word count goal.

7. Create a ton of minor characters

The dialogue alone will increase your word count. Then there’s the added description, interactions, and backstory. Make them argue, tell jokes, quip, and banter. The more the merrier. Make sure you give them all really long names!

8. Fill your story with filler filling

If your characters run out of things to do or defeat the baddie before you reach 50,000 words, have them go on a side adventure like a shopping spree or a trip to the circus, whatever keeps them busy and ups your word count. A visit from a long lost grandmother is sure to keep your main character occupied while his best friend and worst enemy go out on a date. Whatever inconsequential activity you can think up, it’s sure to pay off word-count wise.

9. Have your characters perform tedious daily tasks

Another reason why George R. R. Martin’s novels are so long. His characters eat, sleep, bathe, and f**k as often as they can and then they eat some more. So have your characters wake up each morning, wash their faces, do their chores, eat breakfast, pee, wipe their butts, eat lunch, roll in the hay, eat dinner, pray, and go to bed. And don’t forget to describe in great detail what they’re having for dinner!

10. When all else fails resort to button smashing

Yes, you heard me. Hit the keys. Random words, letters, and numbers are sure to add up eventually. Special characters probably count, too, so don’t exclude the top row on your keyboard.

Now you’re ready to . . . write the world’s worst pile of drivel. Okay, let’s quit playing around. Here are some GOOD tips to increasing your word count:

1. Wake up an hour early or stay up an hour late

Better than finding more words and scenes to write is to find more time to write. Having more time will allow you to pace yourself and focus on putting down words that will enhance your story, not harm it.

2. Drink coffee

I don’t drink coffee in the mornings; I drink it ALL DAY LONG! Caffeine makes us more productive and allows our brains to work more rapidly, allowing us to get a lot done. Coffee helps us stay alert, plus it tastes good and keeps us happy while writing those difficult scenes.

3. Plan. Plot. and Prep

I’m a panster at heart, but I create an outline because I must. It helps to know where your story is going so when you come to a blank page you spend less time wondering what should happen and instead spend your time actually writing what you know should happen next. Plus, you save yourself half the headache during revisions.

4. Gag your internal editor

The best way to get words down on paper is to put them down and leave them. Your internal editor is going to want to stop, go back, and tweak that word. Tell that internal editor to shut up because he’s/she’s wasting your time. Remember, you can always go back and fix that word or sentence later. The goal is to just get the words down on paper.

5. Generate new ideas and try them out

You’re in the drafting stage, not the editing stage, so take this time to brainstorm new ideas and try them out. Bad ideas can always be cut out later, and good ideas can take your story to a whole new level.

6. Explore the unexplored

Wondering if those two characters should hook up or what would happen if those two characters were left alone together? What if so-and-such never died? Wonder no more. Write it. Unnecessary filler can be cut later, and if nothing else, the scenes you did cut will still have allowed you to explore your characters in more depth. Themes, characters, and conflicts should all be explored and played with during the drafting phase. Remember, you can cut out the crap later.

7. Create an interesting cast of minor supporting characters

Give your main character someone to talk to and interact with. Loners don’t reach word count goals. Plus, characters are more interesting when placed beside someone who pulls out their best and worse qualities. Take Shrek for example. He was pretty boring until Donkey and Fiona showed up.

8. Add internal conflicts to external conflicts

Instead of just adding more and more action scenes to up your word count, add some internal conflict during the scenes you already have. If your main character is pitted against a monster, don’t just have him battle the beast; have him battle his own cowardice as well. Maybe fighting isn’t his first response to a conflict. Maybe he’s worried he’s a wimp. Maybe he’s a careless showboat and needs to learn a lesson. Maybe he has to choose between saving himself or his friend or choose which friend he can save. The internal conflict will not only add word count but it will set the stakes so much higher.

9. Let your characters talk

Don’t just give your hero traveling companions to ride with. Have them talk and argue, quip, and banter while they ride or camp or whatever. Even the dullest of travel scenes can be improved by a few well-timed jokes plus dialogue increases word count.

10. Just. Keep. Writing.

Seriously, the only way to increase word count is to keep writing. So, just keep writing, writing, writing. What do we do, we write! Write!

There you have it, 10 ingenious ways to increase your word count and win NaNoWriMo. If you have other fun or helpful ideas, please feel free to share them in the comments below.

Good luck!