Writer Wednesday–Blog Crit

Laura Barnes was gracious enough to critique my blog last week and I wanted to share her blog with you guys today.

Click HERE to see her critique of my blog.

Laura does a great job of assessing a blog’s aesthetic appeal, informational content, design, and scope.

I IMMEDIATELY implemented many of the suggestions she gave me.

You can sign up to get your blog critiqued too!

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Deb’s up for the Sisterhood of the Traveling Blog topic. Stop by her blog and say hi! Check out her dragons figures too–she designs and molds them herself.

Sisterhood of the Traveling Blog–Who Else Is Watching You?

This month, Lydia asks:

Outside of your writing friends, do other people (work, family, friends) know you blog? What do they think of it? Have you ever been hit with a, “Hey! I read your blog today!” from someone you never expected to read it?

FANTASTIC question, Lydia!

When I first started writing (over 3 1/2 years ago now!), I didn’t tell anybody. Back then, I wasn’t sure where my writing was going. I had dreams, of course, but really it was a way to destress, do something creative, and it was FUN!!!!

Then I joined QueryTracker’s forum and met a bunch of fantastic people! With time, I became comfortable enough to start this blog. It was slow going at first, but as the months passed it developed into what you see today.

My blog posts are connected to Twitter and Facebook and since I’ve friended some co-workers, friends, and family there, they’ve seen the links. Much to my surprise and delight, my blog has spread from writer friends to people in my “real life” circle.

It’s been nice to see them “like” a post and even comment on them!

What’s more, they whole-heartedly support my endeavors. They send “*hugs* and chocolate” when I get a rejection and they send “CONGRATULATIONS! and SQUEEEs!!!” when I announce accomplishments.

Even better, it’s hard for me to go a day to two without someone asking me about my book and my short story!

SO. COOL!

How about you? Any non-writerly peeps find your blog?

Sisterhood of the Traveling Blog–To Prologue Or Not To Prologue

This month, I ask:

The Prologue: Love It or Hate It? Are there times when it’s necessary to have a prologue?
 
Before I started writing for realz, I actually LOVED prologues. I didn’t care if they were directly connected to chapter 1 or note. It didn’t bother me if the narrator was completely different from the main character. Hell, I didn’t even mind if the prologue captured a different century, planet, or plane of existence!
 
Then I learned about the RULES.
 
And The Prologue (to me) died.
 
They weren’t allowed. Agents didn’t want to see them. Writing forum members swayed newbies away from them.
 
I was like, “Okay, no prologue. No harm, no foul.”
 
(I try to go with the flow.)
 
Then I saw newly published books (touted by the writing world as AWESOME! FANTASTIC! MUST READ!) WITH prologues!!!
 
I was like, “HUH? I thought they were a no-no!”
 
Listen, when I read a book for enjoyment, I still like prologues. I don’t skip over them. I don’t “tut-tut” them.
 
But I don’t include them in my stories. And I don’t really know why.
 
What about you? Prologues: Love ‘Em Or Hate ‘Em?
 
Tune in next week for Lydia’s take on Prologues.
 
 
 

Sisterhood of the Traveling Blog–Inspiration

Deb asks:

What type of book do you read for writing inspiration, and why? Do you read fiction or non-fiction, and what genres? Mysteries and YA, or archeology and astronomy?

Great question!

The simple answer is I read YA books to inspire me for my YA WIPs and I read middle grade for middle grade inspiration. 😉

I prefer paranormal, horror, sci fi, fantasy, and all things magical. I also like unique and “odd” things. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children fit the bill for unique and odd. The voice, while it seemed “old” for YA, along with the isolated setting and eerie photographs, really created a fresh landscape that captivated me and totally got my creative mind going. The Marbury Lens would be another example.

I’m not big on non-fic. At. All. Lol! I’ve read enough textbooks in my lifetime. That’s enough non-fiction.

On the other hand, there are a lot of great books for writers on technique, like Save the Cat. It’s on my TBR list…towards the bottom, haha!

How about you? What books do you read for inspiration?

Sisterhood of the Traveling Blog–Expectations

Sarah Fine (blogger of The Strangest Situation and writer repped by Kathleen Ortiz) asks:

Where do your expectations for your writing (career/skill/quality/achievements) come from? Is the source internal, external, or both? And how do you cope when you don’t meet them?

This question is SO pertinent to what I’ve been grappling with over the fall. Like, seriously.

When I first started writing, I did it for the sheer enjoyment. In the back of my mind, I mused about how cool it would be to see my work published, but I didn’t really think it was possible. As I continued to write, I noticed progression in my skill.

Then the craziest thought popped into my head:

I want to be published and I’m going to actually DO something about it!

Gosh, it would be grand to be the next JK Rowling or Stephen King. I also know that’s a looooooong shot. So, to be more realistic, I’d like to see my novels make it to print and I’d like to see a fair amount of people read them.

I do expect to hold a bound novel with my name on the cover. Others have expressed the same vision.

But it hasn’t happened yet.

And that leads to a LOT of frustration for me. So much so, that I contemplated quitting and didn’t write for several months. There’s a natural fallow time for every writer, but this time seemed to be…the end.

It looked like my way to cope was to finally face the “truth” that it wasn’t going to happen and give up.

I thought about that.

And thought about it.

And thought about it.

(I’m a shrink and a bit obsessive, so I thought about it a lot, okay?)

And thought about it.

Finally, I realized that I’d given away control. I’d let the industry dictate how I did things. I let it beat me down.

I’ve never done that before.

Then I remembered that everyone’s path to publication is unique. No way is right or wrong, better or worse, than any other.

For example, I started at a community college, then transfered to a four-year school before applying for medical school. I was rejected the first year (a not uncommon thing). I tried the next year and got in. Medical school was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. But I persevered. I got my MD. And I did it in an unconventional way. But it’s still an MD.

Publishing my work can be the same. I may not follow the path that most traditionally pubbed authors do. And that’s okay.

…I think I got off track a bit. Pretty normal, considering my general approach to life goals, LOL!

Bottom line, when in the writing game, I think it’s reasonable to expect the unexpected. Ha!

How about you? What are your expectations for writing and how do you handle it when it doesn’t work out the way you envision?

Stay tuned for Lydia’s response next week!

Sisterhood of the Traveling Blog–Do You NaNo?

This month, I ask:

If you do NaNoWriMo, why do you do it? If not, why not?

Listen, I had fully intended on doing NaNo (National Novel Writing Month) this year. I signed up. I had my plot 2/3 done. My mind was cooking with great plot twists, conflict, and cliffhangers. I could picture the characters, the setting, even some paranormal tricks.

Then I got sick.

Work got complicated.

“Open” weeknights and weekends got filled.

I got overwhelmed.

It was a tough decision to make, but I have decided NOT to do NaNo this year. Sure, I could use a kick in the pants to get writing again (haven’t worked on a new project since summer). I could even use the challenge to shut off my internal editor.

But I’m not going to.

Why?

Well, I’ve done NaNo before (in 2009) and was successful, so I know I can plop down 50,000 words in a couple weeks. Those were my panster days. Super fun, but they left me with uber-long character sketches with little plot to speak of. Scenes turned into rambling concoctions of “this, then that.” “Filler” chapters slogged the middle. It took 100 pages for the story to “get going.” I ended up cutting more than I kept.

Two years later, I’m not so much into plopping as I’m into careful consideration and mindful building of a solid structure.

Okay, so this slows me down a LOT, but I end up with a much better quality draft. And I’m more content.

Your turn to dish. Do you NaNo? If yes, then why and if no, then why not?

Check out Lydia’s response next week!

 

Whipping Out The Words

Participating in NaNo forces us to channel Speeedy Gonzales, the Tazmanian Devil, and the Road Runner at the same time so we can burn up the keyboard with word counts.

But dear LORD, how do we do it?!?!?!

Here are some tips on how to put your nose to the ACME anvil and grind out the pages:

  • Practice with Write or Die. This website sets up a timed session. If you don’t reach a certain word count in a certain amount of time, your words will be DELETED! (I’ve never been brave enough to try this myself, but lots of writers LOVE it!)
  • Make your Word document window 1-2 lines long and use a large font. You’ll only be able to see a couple of sentences so you can’t go back and re-read and re-read and re-read and…well, you get the point. (My dear friend, Mary Lindsey, came up with that one. Her book SHATTERED SOULS comes out SOON!!!!!! I can’t WAIT to read it.)
  • Connect with some writer buds and do a write-off. Pick a chat room, keep tabs via Twitter, use direct messaging, anything that’ll keep you in real time communication with others so you can all sit down together and challenge one another to pound out some words. (Lynn Rush, Rachel Firasek, Ciara Knight, and Kendall Grey like this route.)
  • Join a group on the NaNo website. (You’ll see a lot of familiar faces–er, avatars–there. Capitalize on it!)
  • Don’t think of all 50,000 words in one chunk. It’s like staring Mt. Everest in the face and thinking you’ll reach the summit in one step. Yeah, not gonna happen. Instead, remember that you only need 1667 words a day. That’s a doable number. A few pages. Half a chapter. A couple of scenes.
  • Now is NOT the time to edit. Don’t worry about nailing description, smoothing dialogue, or capturing an action scene in cinematic detail. Get the essence down and MOVE ON.

What tips do you have to keep the words flowing?

Check out Sarah’s response to whether or not a pet/person/plant inspires her writing. 😉

Flake-out Friday: Dear God, I’ve Become The Cat Lady…Also, CONTEST WINNERS!!!!

All the stereotypes are true. If you’re a single woman in a big house, you’re going to have cats. Lots of them.

*shakes head*

I never thought it would happen to me. Guess that’s how denial works.

But they’re just SO CUUUUTE! How could I NOT keep them?

*grin*

Gracie (The Diva Princess)

Callie (upper right) and Lily (lower left) (The Twins)

Mahli (The Boy)

 

And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for…

*drum roll please*

The winners of last week’s blog tour contestants are:

Lydia K wins Wasteland by Lynn Rush!

AND

Amie Borst wins Monarch by Michelle Davidson Argyle

Post your email and I’ll forward it on to Lynn and Michelle respectively.

CONGRATS!!!!!!

Launching A New Blog Series

Hey gang!

So I’ve heard a rumor that “blogging is dead.” This saddens me because I enjoy blogging and reading others’ blogs. It’s a great way to stay informed, network, and get support from other writers.

Anyway, in an effort to stave off Death, I’ve developed a new blog series that will be informative and useful to writers in all stages. (Aren’t ya excited? I know I am!)

Each month I’ll detail a different writing related topic. The posts will likely be on Wednesdays. (I’ll stick with Mental Health Monday posts and Flake-out Fridays, okay?)

Next month I’ll start the series off with:

NaNo Prep!

I’m looking forward to this new endeavor. How about you? (Please say yes, LOL!) 😉

Do check out Deb’s response to the Sisterhood of the Traveling Blog’s topic of Character Development.

It’s Time For Some Culture

I gotta say, I’m blessed with some awesome colleagues. Not only are we supportive of one another, but we also have diverse hobbies and interests. It certainly makes for some stimulating conversation over drinks and appetizers.

One of the soon to be graduated residents at my hospital has been an avid photographer for several years. I’ve seen Aparna’s work and man is she TAL-ENT-ED!!!!!

(She also told me about the create your own South Park Avatar link. SUPER FUN!)

The good new is that she’s sharing her photography with the world. That’s right, she launched her own blog a couple weeks ago and I’m SO excited for her!

Click here to see her work. Follow her blog. You won’t regret it. I promise!

 

Geisha3

Aparna Nair Photography (photo by Aparna Nair)

Once you’ve checked out Aparna’s blog, don’t forget to head to Lydia’s blog for her response to the Sisterhood of the Traveling Blog’s topic of character development.