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How did you start writing?

Asked on Quora earlier today.

When I was seven my teacher had a bunch of lined paper on her desk. I use to grab handfuls of it and staple it together at the edges. I had a beautiful orange marker to write stories about mermaids and nymphs playing with me in the back yard. I guess I never got over that wonder of the unseen.

I still write about mermaids, griffins, and monsters. Each story is a little scene into something amazing. Something wonderful. And I have always wanted to share those scenes with others. Now I get to!

 
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Posted by on March 9, 2017 in On Writing, Personal Notes

 

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Hecktic week

flightminiFirst, Flight of the Griffins is out for free this weekend! If you haven’t picked it up, now is a great time to do so.

This week started out fantastic. I wrote “Orange”, a 1700 word short story about surviving a tragedy… and then I got caught up in life again.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the day to day items. There are times in our lives when stress just sucks the creativity away, and you have to deal with the harder things in life before you can deal with creative pursuits.

For me, this week, it was moving my daughters into their new apartment, and helping a friend move out of her parents house. We aren’t quite finished, there are a few more boxes, and they need a little more furniture, but the majority is done. Now I just need to switch my room with my son. That’s going to be a project in itself.

The short stories helped. Writing small bits, and completing them keeps the creative fire burning. A spark ready to go once life settles down for a bit.

Speaking of which, I think life has settle down some. It’s time to go finish “Red,” a short story about a young girl that steals a red cloak from a witch. What could go wrong?

 
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Posted by on October 27, 2016 in Updates

 

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Norwescon!

IMAG1903Back from Norwescon and it was AMAZING!

GreggIMAG1901 wore his armor again, with a couple of extra pieces that he did, and new findings to make everything a bit more polished. He, of course, won again. In fact he won BEST OF SHOW for workmanship. That means the judges thought his costume was put together better than ANYONE at the masquerade. It was amazing. He basically leveled up and was told that now he has to compete as a master because he’s just that good.

This made me want to wear a costume and compete in the masquerade next year. So ya… I’ve been designing something awesome that I want to make for next years conventions. (We already have tickets for next years con.)

So, w
hat did I get out of this years con? SO MANY GOOD THINGS! First, I sat in on several live action demonstrations of fighting. They demonstrated some aikido, sword fighting, shield, roman legionnaires, and many more. They even took requests from people in the audience on what to demonstrate, and answered lots of questions. I took some video and I hope to share that on youtube later this week.

I also sat in on a number of panels about writing, specifically, the failures various authors have had, and the issues they had to overcome. They even talked about getting tables at conventions and selling your books. I also asked “what if you have anxiety” to which most of the people at the table said “stay on the internet…” I can’t blame them for having that thought. Anxiety and other social disorders are really hard to overcome, and most people who have them probably don’t try and push themselves to overcome them. Thankfully one of the panelists, Ryan Macklin, said he also has anxiety issues, so much so that he takes medication for them, and he manages by having that safe space behind his table and when he gets overwhelmed he goes to a quiet corner to just get away from everything and find a a quiet moment for himself. That was really great of him to speak up and share that with me.

I IMAG1922am not going to lie, having the other authors up there and their first reaction, “stay online,”IMAG1941 was disheartening, especially since I really like two of them (them as people, and their books.) I don’t know if having a table at a con would be a good thing, or just be a crushing blow to what little ego I have. But telling me not to even try…hurt. I know it’s going to suck, I know I’m going to have anxiety attacks. Hell, I have them just going to the convention itself some times. But I have so much fun, learn so much, and meet so many new people at the cons. Why wouldn’t I want to just TRY to sell my books there.

It won’t be easy, in fact I know it’s going to suck ass for a while, but I still feel like it will be good for me, and I will learn a lot about myself, and my books.

So, second thing I learned… Annie Bellet was at a few of the panels I went to and I have mentioned her 20 sided sorceress books on several occasions. They are really good, and I think anyone who loves urban fantasy should read them. Dresden type book with more gaming for the win!

But, anyway, she mentioned in one of the panels that almost all of the big urban fantasy writers write in first person POV. I thought about it: Patricia Briggs, Diana Rowland, Kim Harrison, Jim Butcher, and Annie Bellet… All the urban fantasy writers that I love to read,  All of them in first person POV. WHY ISN’T MY URBAN FANTASY IN 1st PERSON POV? Seriously, I love writing in first person, and I should have done it, but I didn’t. So, I will be updating my “Eternal Tapestry” series about goddesses in the modern age to be first person POV.

She also had a lot of things to say about “writing to market” that actually clicked with me. She didn’t talk about picking a genre you think will sell and write in that. She talked about finding the things you love in a series you love, and the things you love in the genre, and writing that because that’s what you love. It made more sense then anything else anyone had said.
Witch's Standkobowskobo

I also got a fantastic idea for my next short story, and I GOT COVERS!

“Witch’s Stand” should be out in a few weeks. I will get the edits back, then be able to send it out once I go through them.

Witch’s Sight is a prequel that I am currently writing. I’m not sure when it will be available, but I did get some great ideas to make it even better this weekend.

I’m really happy with how they turned out. The artist, J Caleb, really came through for me, and kept the feel of the other two books in mind while doing it. Thank you J!

I will post some pictures, and maybe some video, from Norwescon soon. And have a wonderful week, everyone.

 
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Posted by on March 28, 2016 in On Writing

 

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Writing no matter what

What do you do when your body can’t get along with your mind? You want to write, you have ideas in your head, but you’re tired, sick, or mentally unable to focus. There is too much stress, the house is gaming apart, and that new video game you wanted to play is out.

You write anyway.

I’m currently on week five of acute bronchitis. It’s a viral infection so they can’t treat it with anything, I just have to suffer through it and let my body fight it off. That means nights with too little sleep, days with fuzzy thinking, and moments when I just want to curl in a ball and cry because of the pain and coughing.

So, I write. I use those good moments when I can breath and think and get as much down as possible. I use the not so good moments to write a few words here and there. Every word counts, and gets me closer to something finished.

It isn’t easy, but writing is important to me. I want to be an author more than anything. I want too breathe life into the worlds I dreamed up. And that means writing even on the crummy days.

There have been men who wrote novels while in prison and had to smuggle them out. A man who wrote an entire novel by blinking each letter. Some who endured concentration camps, and mental health  facilities where they were given electric shock therapy. And yet they wrote, they accomplish what they set out to do.

If so many others could overcome those horrible situations, I think I can endure a cold.

We live our lives blind to what is beyond our personal experience, and when we get to a low point we think “this is rock bottom,” never realizing we might hit an even lower point a month later. Never knowing that what we think of as “rock bottom” would be utter heaven to someone else.

So many people ask “how do I write?” The answer is: you do it. Even when it’s hard. Even when life is trying to break you. You tell the story only you can tell, and you keep telling it.

Giving up is easy. You go play a video game, or read a book, or take a vacation. You put those things ahead of writing, or painting, or learning a musical instrument. You have fun, and make memories, and keep going.

But when you wake up ten years from now will you be happy with the memories, or will you feel like you’ve missed something by not finishing that book?

What’s important to you? There are no wrong answers. Not everyone is meant to write a novel, but you need to be honest with yourself. Only then will you be able to stand against all those things trying to get in the way… And just write.

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2016 in On Writing

 

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What I Learned From NaNoWriMo

I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo for several years now, and “won” all but one of them. And every year I come away with a new understanding of myself, my writing, or something else.

This year was unlike any year in the past. The words came easily most days. I would sit down at my computer, spill out my two thousand words for the day in an hour or two, and then walk away to do something else. Play games. Watch TV. Go out with my boyfriend. This year, for the very first time, it is December and I am not burned out from writing.

 

wordsHere is December for the last two years. See how, after I write 50,000 words in November, the numbers are almost non existent? Many days with no writing, and on the few days I did write I didn’t write much.

I always thought this was the cost of NaNoWriMo… the December burn out. I thought that because I wrote so much in November my brain needed a rest. But no… this was the cost of not making writing a habit.

 

Think of it like swimming. If you are not a swimmer, and usually just dip your toe in the water, then take a day to swim across a lake, you’re going to be tired the next day. You might even fail in your swimming and drown on the way across the lake. If your only a part time swimmer then you’ll have a good chance of getting across the lake, but you’ll feel like “I’ve done my swimming for the month” and thew next month you probably won’t swim much.

But if you swim all the time, and your body and mind are focused on swimming, then you’ll just keep swimming. Swam across the lake yesterday? Okay, what about today. That was yesterday, this is today, I need to swim today.

Writing is something I do, almost every day now, and I am not slowing down because I swam across the lake last month. I feel like 1500 words a day is a great place to start, 2000 on days when I’m pushing myself. That’s another 45,000 words a month, every month. I’ll be happy with 30k for a while. But that is more than I’ve ever written in a month outside of NaNoWriMo before. And yet… it seems right to me.

Something’s changed in the way I think about writing. It’s taken a few years, and lots of encouragement from those around me. But I feel like a writer now. Like I’m incomplete if I haven’t written something for the day. And that attitude shift…THAT is everything. That is something HUGE and I can’t wait to see how it plays out in the next year.

 
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Posted by on December 2, 2015 in NaNoWriMo, On Writing

 

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Don’t give up!

It’s nearing the end of NaNoWriMo. Just five days left, and I have 9300 words to go. That’s less then 2k a day. I got this!

But it also means that I’ve been really hard at work, and sometimes when I sit down at the computer I fumble through about three hundred words (words that I will just be throwing out) before I can actually get anything good down.

On one hand this is good. It clears my mind and gets me back into the writing motions. I’m okay with that. And the fact that I can recognize good writing from bad writing so fast, and still realize that I need to get it out before I can go back and fix it, means I’ve improved dramatically over the last few  years.

On the other… I have to throw out a bunch of words I just wrote. It sucks, however you look at it. Every once in a while you’ll see a tweet from me (if you’re following my twitter) where I say “just wrote 600 words and threw out 600 words. A day in the life of a writer.” And it’s true! Some days you have a bunch of drek to throw out before you can get to the good stuff.

But that’s okay. EVERYONE has those days. We all have a day where we don’t feel good, or we don’t feel like being creative, or efficient, or even getting out of bed. Sometimes we even give into those feelings. It’s okay, it’s normal. As long as the job still gets done.

I’m starting to think of writing as a job more and more. A job I love, but a job just the same. One in which you still have to show up and do the work every day or you don’t get paid. It’s not a hobby anymore, it’s something I need in my life, and I keep doing. Even on days when it’s tough. Even when the ‘muse’ must be tied up to the chair and force fed coffee to get her butt in gear.

So don’t give up. I know it can be tough sometimes, but don’t give up.

 
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Posted by on November 26, 2015 in NaNoWriMo

 

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Grasshopper Writing

I mentioned that I wrote a blog post and would post it when I was on Buddy’s Writing show the other day. Sorry for the delay, but sleep wouldn’t allow me to put it off any longer. So, without further adu, the Grasshopper Method:

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People often ask: How do you write?

It seems like a simple question, but everyone has a different answer. The most common is “put your butt in the chair and write.” But that doesn’t answer HOW you write. For that most people talk about pantsers, plotters, and in betweeners.

I do something that is part pantser, part plotter, and part crazy person who likes shiny things far too much. I heard someone else describe it as “the grasshopper method” and thought that fit perfectly.

Let me try and put it visually, and then maybe you might start to see why it’s…well you’ll see.

Imagine you are in the shower (because all great ideas start in the shower, right?) and the shower door is ninety percent fogged up, with a few places that are transparent, or half transparent.

The shower door is your blank page. It is where you are writing the story. Just beyond the shower door is the entire plot of the story, from beginning to end, neatly laid out in story boards. Through the clear places in the fog you can see little glimpses of the story: a character, an item they are searching for, the ending. The rest is obscured by the fog.

When I finally sit down to write a story I usually already have most of the plot in my head. I can see vague glimpses of the story because I’ve been chewing on it for several months, or years, already and have built it up in my subconscious. Little pieces might be missing, like how they get from point A to point B, or why they did this thing toward the end, but the majority of the story is right there behind the fog.

So I start clearing away the fog to get a clearer view. I jump to this patch that seems a little brighter and find the young prince and his entourage assaulting a toy castle in their pajamas. Up above that I find a mother desperately trying to keep her calm as her world is falling apart. I find a glade where something magical is waiting to be found, but I can’t quite clear away enough fog to see what that item is. I keep clearing, and I keep sorting, and eventually there comes a moment where everything snaps into focus. The last bits of fog are gone and the entire story board is laid out.
timoneIf you have seen a story board you know that it is made of a bunch of pictures. Each picture represents a scene. Once you have all the pieces of the story board you don’t quite have a complete story yet. Sometimes you have to rearrange things so they make more sense. Sometimes there are scenes in between the scenes that are missing. A lot of the time it is just a few little strokes of a pen (or in a writers case, a few paragraphs) that connect two of the pieces together.

When I sit down to write I write one piece at a time, and slowly connect them. Sometimes I rearrange the pieces. Sometimes I have to delete, or add in pieces. Sometimes I just have to hope I find that missing magic item in that glade and figure out what the heck it does. The story is already in my head, though, and I just have to coax it out. One tiny piece at a time.

The grasshopper method is not for everyone. In fact I would say it is something to be avoided. I don’t only skip between scenes in a story, I sometimes skip between books in an attempt to find some thread of a story that will come to the surface of the fog in my mind.

This has lead to other problems. It’s unlikely I will ever have a co-author because who could work with someone who can’t work in a straight line? I’m unpredictable, and I am constantly changing.

I’ve gotten better over the years. I’ve learned to do some beats to make the story boarding process faster, but even then I sometimes can’t seem to focus on one board at a time, I have to skip around to find the one that is speaking to me that day. Story beats have increased my output from two hundred words a day to almost a thousand though, so I’m not entirely upset about it. My goal is to get to three thousand words a day by the end of the year. It’s going to be tough, especially since half the year is already over. I’m giving myself permission to take breaks for marketing, editing, formatting, etc etc. And just to have fun. But if I can writing more on the days I do write it means I can have a lot more finished by the end of the year.

With the grasshopper method it is more about spending the time with butt in chair then anything else. The more I write the closer I get to completing something. And sometimes that means having several projects done in close succession, while other months it means nothing is finished. It’s frustrating. But it’s also the way my brain works.

 

Just a reminder, you can find my email newsletter here to find out about new short stories, or novels being published. Sometimes they are free. Also, Witch’s Sacrifice is out. It will be $2.99 till the end of the week then it goes up to $4.99. I should also start having audio books out next month.

 
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Posted by on May 5, 2015 in On Writing

 

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