My Favorite Writerly Things

Standard

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!

Random Confessions of a Modern Reader

Standard

Happy Presidents’ Day and/or belated Valentine’s Day, whatever floats your boat. Personally, neither holiday inspired me to blog so, instead, I’m going to share with you some random confessions of mine as a reader.

Forgive me followers for I have sinned . . .

Confession #1: I’ve read Secret Sacrament by Sherryl Jordan at least 10 times

Secret Sacrament is a fantasy novel that centers around Gabriel, a boy with a haunting past who wants to become a healer. His adventures–or misadventures more appropriately–lead him to the wild Shinali people on the outskirts of the city-state. As sinister forces take control of the empire and threaten the peaceful Shinali, Gabriel’s destiny is revealed. From the synopsis, it sounds like a typical YA fantasy read, but it’s anything but. The main character is vulnerable and intelligent. He’s relatable to me on so many levels. Not only does he have a close relationship with his brother (like I do with my sister) but he also has a tender heart. The way he emotionally invests in every patient he heals reminds me of the way I am with my clients. Not only that, but he’s a coward. I too struggle with my own cowardice. Fear is a huge barrier for me. Reading Gabriel’s story and seeing him overcome his past, his fears, and his circumstances, inspired me to do the same. I think it’s a book I’ll be revisiting soon.

Confession #2: I like to read in my underwear

I’m not trying to be shocking or scandalous; I seriously think it’s really enjoyable to read a book in nothing but my Fruit of the Looms. (I’m actually more of a Haynes Her Way kind of girl). Sitting on the couch or sprawled in bed with a good book is an intimate experience. Why ruin it with clothes?

homer-simpson-underwear-superman

Everything is better without pants

Confession #3: I prefer to read paperbacks over hardcover copies or ebooks

As an Indie author, the majority of my sales are ebooks unless I’m at an event, then the paperback copies move like hot cakes. And I do buy a lot of books for my Kindle device because they’re affordable, but I prefer a physical book in hand, more specifically a paperback one. I don’t like the weight of hardcover books. Paperbacks bend easy and fit just right between the palms of my hands. And the pages smell good. Nothing beats a paperback book.

Confession #4: I’ve never read Harry Potter . . . and don’t plan to

Hear me out before you burn me as a heretic. The books came out when I was entering high school, and personally I thought the story sounded juvenile. At the time, I was exploring the adult fantasy section of my local bookstore because my school library couldn’t carry books containing adult content. I was mature for my age and curious about the darker elements of life, which those books were not shy to share. Young Harry’s adventures at Hogwarts just didn’t interest me. If homicidal maniacs weren’t sleeping with their sisters and destroying entire cities I didn’t care to read it.

As an adult, the YA genre certainly appeals to me more, though I am still hesitant to pick up that series. Why? Mainly because of the villain. I can’t stomach dark lords, and I don’t care what people say, dark lords don’t make a series dark. Wizard schools are neat and magic is always fun, but dark lords are dreadfully tired. And before you even call me out, I know the LOTR series features a dark lord. He’s not my favorite villain either and the only reason I forgive it is because of when the novel was written. Post WWI and WWII, stories often featured villainous villains and centered around a battle of good versus evil. War inspires such things. But modern storytelling cannot rely on tired tropes and lazy writing.

While some of the major supporting characters tempt me to pick the series up, I’m still doubtful I will ever dive into the realm of Harry Potter.

images (1)

Dark lord, eh? No thanks

Confession #5: I prefer The Lord of the Rings film adaptations to the books

I know. Burn me at the stake. I deserve it. But as much as I enjoy Tolkien’s unique author’s voice and his beautiful descriptions of landscapes, I actually prefer Peter Jackson’s film adaptations of the original trilogy. Why? Because of the characters. Peter Jackson focuses on the characters in the films, blowing up their personalities and making them absoltly lovable. Look at Gollum! Peter Jackson was so distant from them and focused on where and what they were doing, that I never got a good sense about who they were and what they were feeling, which is very important for me. I’m not saying the films are better; I’m just sharing my personal preference.

1056332146

You shall not pass judgment!

Confession #6: I only read for one hour a day

I like to think of myself as an avid reader since I read every day, but with mom’s illness, taking care of my nephew, working out,and writing my own novel, I don’t have more than one hour–if that–to devote to reading a day. When I was in high school it was nothing for me to read 5 or 6 hours straight, but now that I’m an adult with a full-time job and lots of responsibilities reading is just not something I can binge on anymore. Though that one hour or so I have to read is perhaps one of the best hours of my day.

Confession #7: I prefer traditionally published authors over indie authors . . . for the moment

I know as an indie author I should be ashamed, but so far I’ve been more satisfied by the traditional authors that I follow. Not to say there aren’t several indie authors I follow with excited anticipation, but they were hard-found in all the self-published sludge. Don’t get me wrong, I support indie authors–I am one–but I am constantly dissatisfied with the quality of their writing, writing that I know would excel that of the traditional authors if only they’d taken the proper steps in editing their works. With beta readers, content editors, and copy editors online, there’s no excuse for a poorly written story with redundant scenes and inconsistent characters. It’s the lack of serious editing that holds indie authors back.

Confession #8: I’d rather write than read

Don’t get me wrong; I love to read, but when I’m reading, I often become frustrated when the story doesn’t go my way. I’m not saying I could have written it better, but it’s nice to write the story you’d love to read and know it’s going to turn out just the way you wanted it to.

67df0d6f6b08dbfd7c91f71df2508259

I’d rather be writing

Confession #9: I only review a book when I hate it or love it

I’m like most readers; I only write a review when I’m inspired, or asked nicely to. It takes energy to construct a thorough review, and nothing inspires the words to flow like love or rage. When I love a book, I have to share it with the world! And when I hate a book, I feel compelled to warn others. Sometimes I don’t like books based on taste. This does not warrant a bad review. Only when I feel like the author didn’t try to put forth the proper effort do I dare a negative review. If there was any love or effort detected in the writing, I won’t write a flame review. I rarely write bad reviews. I have to really really hate a book to do that. Most of the time I write rave reviews, not to boost an author’s stats, but their self-esteem and encourage them to keep at it.

Confession #10: I never download free books, EVER!

As an indie author, I can’t support the giving away of free books when an author can profit on their hard work. I know I spend countless hours each week writing and editing my work. Not to mention the countless dollars I’ve spent for professional cover design and editing services. I loathe to imagine myself paying these off for years to come, so I make a point to purchase books at full price. Helping authors is what authors do best.

And those are my confessions. Boy, do I feel a heavy burden removed from my chest. Hopefully, I didn’t hurt anyone’s feelings, but I just wanted to be perfectly honest. The blogosphere is like a confession box, but for readers, so hopefully you can forgive me for my reader sins. For fun, share with me some of your reading sins.

Have a good Monday, everyone, celebrating whatever holiday you prefer!

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

Standard

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!

10 Reasons Why Being a Cat is Better than Being a Human

Standard

It’s Monday, and after a double rehearsal last night, I’m just not in the mood to write anything of real content. So, here’s a fun blog about cats and my reasons for why being a cat is better than being a human.

The inspiration for this blog actually came to me this morning while getting ready for work. Tired, haggard, and cranky, I looked over at my cat still nestled in my bed sheets and was suddenly filled with envy. On the way to work I came up with 10 reasons why being a cat is better than being a human. Enjoy!

  1. Cats don’t have to work. People work for them.
  2. Cats NEVER have bad hair days … or at least mine don’t.
  3. Cats don’t get fat; they get adorable!
  4. Cats receive constant praise for doing … absolutely nothing.
  5. Cats only have to worry about one outfit … and it’s attached.
  6. Cats don’t have to clean up after themselves. People do.
  7. Cats don’t have to cook or plan meals. It comes in a can.
  8. Cats can sleep whenever and wherever they want to.
  9. Cats can fit into boxes. I wish I could do that.
  10. Cats don’t have bosses. They’re the masters of the universe.

Well, there you have it. My 10 reasons why being a cat is better than being a human. If you have some reasons of your own, feel free to share them in the comment section below. I always enjoy hearing from you. Happy Monday!

The Art of Procrastination – A Writer’s Guide: A Guest Post by Rayne Hall

Standard

The weekend is almost here! Can’t wait! I’ve got plans to spend time with my best friend from college, catch up on my shows, clean the toilets, wash my dog, scratch my nose, stare at the ceiling–just about anything to put off editing my novel. Chores and errands are just a few of many ways to put off a writing/editing project. Today’s guest blogger, Rayne Hall, shares 20 more ways a writer can put off their writing. Enjoy!


  1. Read this blog before you start today’s writing session.
  1. Nobody can procrastinate all the time. Take a break now and then and write something. Then return to procrastination with renewed vigor.
  1. Don’t waste your procrastination on unimportant matters.
  1. Tidy your desk. You’ll write much better once the clutter has gone.
  1. Prepare your writing session so you won’t be distracted once you start. Have everything ready: glass of water, cup of coffee, cupcakes, carrots, the right music playing, comfortable themed clothing, to-do list, dictionary, thesaurus, different colored gel pens, how-to-write books, reference books, pictures for inspiration, incense, matches, good-luck charm, statue of writing deity or patron saint.
  1. Let out the cat, feed the baby, groom the dog and do whatever else needs doing to guarantee that your writing session will not be disrupted.
  1. Twitter is a useful procrastination tool. Have you checked your tweets yet today? It’ll only take a moment. Do it now, so you won’t need to interrupt your writing later.
  1. Don’t underestimate the value of other social media networks. Even if you don’t plan to use them, they’re worth checking out. Just take a quick look at Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, Vimeo, Tumbler, StumbleUpon, FourSquare, Reddit, Wattpad, Flickr, DeviantArt, Delicious, Instagram, GoodReads and BookLikes. Create any accounts you don’t yet have.
  1. Time spent on social media is never wasted. You’re networking, which practically counts as writing.
  1. Your blog is overdue. Come on, it won’t take you long to dash off 300 words for your blog. Get it out of the way before you start working on your novel.
  1. Let sales statistics for your published books boost your writing motivation. Quickly check today’s sales on Amazon, Smashwords, Apple, Barnes&Noble and Draft2Digital, worry or rejoice as appropriate, and to get a true picture, ask other authors how their sales are doing.
  1. While you’re at it, see if your published books have entered any bestseller lists today. If yes, spread the word.
  1. Unless you check your email now, you won’t know if a publisher has accepted your novel.
  1. You’ve been sitting at your desk too long. Do some light aerobics to loosen up.
  1. Oh, rats. Your coffee has gone cold. Get a fresh cup.
  1. Comment on this article before you start writing. It’s only common courtesy.
  1. Read and reply to the comments other people have left. It’ll only take a second, honest, or maybe two if required to sign in or up.
  1. Share this with at least three people before you start writing. The convenient share buttons at the bottom of the page save you time.
  1. If you’ve read this far, you qualify for membership in the Procrastinating Writers Club. Tweet me @RayneHall and I’ll put you on the #shoutout list. Do it now, while you’re logged into Twitter.
  1. Make a firm resolution that tomorrow you will really write.

71V+XAmii0L__UX250_Rayne Hall has published more than fifty books in several languages under several pen names with several publishers in several genres, mostly fantasy, horror and non-fiction.  She is the author of the bestselling Writer’s Craft series and editor of the Ten Tales short story anthologies.

She is a trained publishing manager, holds a masters degree in Creative Writing, and has worked in the publishing industry for over thirty years.

Having lived in Germany, China, Mongolia and Nepal, she has now settled in a small dilapidated town of former Victorian grandeur on the south coast of England where she enjoys reading, gardening and long walks along the seashore. She shares her home with a black cat  adopted from the cat shelter. Sulu likes to lie on the desk and snuggle into Rayne’s arms when she’s writing.

You can follow here on Twitter http://twitter.com/RayneHall where she posts advice for writers, funny cartoons and cute pictures of her cat.

10 Things that Remind Me of Minions

Standard

What’s small, yellow, and serves the world’s most despicable masters? Minions, of course. But what are they supposed to be exactly? The creators have never really said. We know their language is mostly comprised of babbling and random words, but what about their anatomy? What was the inspiration behind their design? I, for one, can’t tell you what they are, but I’ve made a list of ten things they remind me of (for shits and giggles). Please, enjoy:

  1. Twinkies
  2. Swifter Duster Extenders
  3. Rayman Raving Rabbids
  4. Yellow jelly beans
  5. Cheetos
  6. Yellow pill capsules
  7. Mighty Beanz
  8. Yellow submarines (because of the goggles)
  9. Pikachu (if he wore pants)
  10. Yellow fire hydrant (I think there’s one in the movie)

Hope you enjoyed the list. If you’ve got a few of your own, please share them in the comments below. Happy Monday!

5 Reasons to Read Local

Standard

Today’s the big day! My first local authors event, and I’m so excited! I’ve got everything ready from the tablecloth to the decorations, from the books to the bookmarks. If nothing else, the booth will look amazing. Haha! But mostly, I’m looking forward to meeting local readers and having a chance to share my book with them.

I’m aware that most of my followers on WordPress are not from Indiana, so I don’t expect to see you there. And I don’t expect you to get a plane ticket and fly all the way out here either. Haha! But here’s a list of reasons to read local that apply to any local community:


1. You’re supporting your local community.
Local authors are also your neighbors. They live, work, and shop in your community. By purchasing their books, you’re keeping money in the community, which benefits everyone.

2. You’re encouraging others to read.
Writers are artists. Like musicians and painters, they spend years learning and mastering their craft. And like musicians and painters, their craft contributes to the local arts. Art helps communities thrive and attracts tourism, so support your local author.

3. You’ll broaden your horizons.
The bestsellers lists only make up a small portion of the talent that’s out there. If you only read books from that list, you’re missing out on many great authors–maybe even your next favorite author! So give local authors a chance!

4. You’re supporting local literacy.
This might seem a far stretch, but think about it. When we celebrate local authors, we are promoting literacy in our community. Meeting a local author or seeing a work published by one might encourage someone to read or to improve their own reading and writing skills.

5. You’ll encourage future authors.
Nothing motivates young people to take a stab at their dreams like seeing someone else succeed first. If they see local authors being celebrated in their community, they will be more apt to try their own hand at publishing. Won’t somebody think of the children!


Well, that’s 5 reasons, at least, why you should read local. I’m sure there’s 10 or more, but I’m out of time. I’ve got a lot to do before the event. So anyway, wish me luck, and if you do happen to be in Kokomo IN this evening, please stop by and say hello!