Posted in Updates, Writing

Sorry I’ve Been So Silent!

I’ve been silent lately and focusing on several things in the works.

For one, I am getting a short story published in Balance of Seven’s new anthology coming out November 21st, 2019 called Dragons Within: Guarding Her Own. If you keep up with me on my social media pages, you’ll have seen a lot of the posts promoting that. If not, I hope you check them out!

I also have been editing my first novel, Poseidon’s Pearl, that I plan to publish in 2020. I’m still figuring out the self-editing process before I send it to the editor, so it may be awhile.

In line with that, I am working on a short story that is the prequel to that novel as a freebie for my newsletter. I haven’t gotten my newsletter up and running yet, but I will by January of next year. At least, that’s the hope. I will keep you updated on that, as well.

I have been struggling lately with keeping up with my writing, but NaNoWriMo has kicked me into gear. I am now working on a contemporary romance.

I am also experimenting with outlining my novels to an extent. It’s getting easier to outline rather than just sitting down to write without a plan. I am officially a plantser!

I am also keeping busier with a healthy lifestyle by exercising three times a week for 45 minutes each, eating healthier, and keeping up with all of my projects. Those include running Write of Passion Literary Journal, marketing for the Dragons Within launch on November 21st, schoolwork, my writing projects, NaNoWriMo, reading every day, and being an admin of the Creative Central Facebook Group for women and non-binary writers.

If you’ll notice, I am no longer a part of Functionally Fictional or Coffee House Writers. While it pains me to have to leave them, it was necessary for my mental health as I was running on empty for a long time and finally succumbed to burnout in May and have been recovering ever since.

You’ll notice I added a page with my publications (where you can find and order Dragons Within: Guarding Her Own) and changed the name of my posts page to “Blog.”

One thing I’d like to mention about Dragons Within: You can order it now through the 28th of November for only $0.99! We (the other authors in the anthology and me) are trying to hit bestseller status on amazon, so please order or preorder it when you can. Between now and November 21st would be best. You can get your copy through the links on the publications page.

Thank you so much for your support. I will try to be more active and post blogs more often than I have been. Maybe I should join Coffee House Writers again, just so I have a deadline schedule as motivation. Probably not. I already have enough on my plate. Besides, I don’t want to burn out again.

Again, sorry for the silence. If you are still here, thank you for sticking around. It means the world to me.

Posted in Publications on Coffee House Writers, Writing

Writing Methods: Revision

https://unsplash.com/photos/Ak5c5VTch5E
Photo by neONBRAND via Unsplash

Part of of the Writing Methods Series. Previous articles in this series:

Part One – Planning Process

Part Two – Environment and Rituals

Part Three – Approaches to the First Draft

Part Four –Different Types of Editors

Editing can be the bane of a writer’s existence. It doesn’t matter if your writing style is structured or unstructured or if your strength is content or copy editing. Knowing which editing approach works best with your writing style and strength lessens the inevitable pain of editing your work.

Want to further improve your impact? Walk away. Give yourself time and space away from your work. This improves your objectivity.

https://unsplash.com/photos/0gkw_9fy0eQ
Photo by Patrick Fore via Unsplash

Your strengths also dictate what you do. If you have an eye for content editing concerns, then you could start editing your draft by yourself and know what it needs. If copy edits are more your area of expertize, send it to some friends you trust with an eye for content or join a critique group to learn what your manuscript could use some work on.

You can edit as you go, reading through what you wrote the day before and perfecting it, or you can edit once you have the entire rough draft written.

https://unsplash.com/photos/cckf4TsHAuw
Photo by Andrew Neel via Unsplash

As an unstructured writer, your needs are different from a structured writer. Let’s compare your needs and editing strengths to improve your revision process. 

Lack of Structure and Copy Editing Strength

Editing requires structure.  Read your draft from beginning to the end, taking notes of anything you could improve upon, like description, setting, character development, relationship development, plot, etc. While listing your desired changes, also document your timeline for each scene. An outline helps you feel less overwhelmed.

The outline could be on Post-its, index cards, a word document, in a notebook, or a storyboard. The best method is the one that allows you to see the bigger picture and make changes easily.

Once you have a rough outline, look through your novel again. Look for plot holes, structure, grammar, issues, and other story killers. Part of being a writer is killing your darlings. Keep a file of scenes you have cut for possible reuse elsewhere.

https://unsplash.com/photos/ute2XAFQU2I
Photo by Andrew Neel via Unsplash

Go through each scene and figure out what your character’s goal is. Are the goal, motivation, and conflict clear in each scene? If not, make it clearer.

If you truly have no idea what to fix, join a critique group with other writers. Ask them to help you or hire a content editor to help tame your manuscript. Have friends or family beta read and give you feedback.

Fix the outline first, then the manuscript. Once you are… [Read More]

Posted in Publications on Coffee House Writers, Writing

Writing Methods: Drafting

https://unsplash.com/photos/FHnnjk1Yj7Y
Photo by Nick Morrison via Unsplash

So far, we have talked about things you can do before you write. We have talked about planning your story, whether that’s outlining or pantsing, controlling the surrounding environment when you write, and rituals you can do to kick start your brain into writing mode. But what about the actual drafting process?

There are several ways you can approach the first draft. These range from how you write sentences, how fast you write the draft, and whether you revise before you finish writing the draft.

Mind Barf vs. Careful Construction: Writing Sentences

If you write more lyrical prose or your training is in poetry, chances are you think about every word before you write it. You craft the perfect sentence, or at least a deliberate one, before moving on to the next.

Other writers type or scribble whatever comes to mind as fast as it enters their brain. I like to call this mind barfing onto the page. The only limitation here is how fast your fingers move.

https://unsplash.com/photos/ymf4_9Y9S_A
Photo by Randy Fath via Unsplash

You may be somewhere in between these two, depending on what you are writing, how fast your brain works, and how many times you edit the words in your head before you write them down. Some writers outline only the major plot points, while others only outline the characters. This is a good way to get the major events in a story without always having to rewrite a detailed outline over and over. For more information on these types of outlining, check out the first article in this series: Outlining Vs Pantsing.

Turtle Writers vs. Rabbit Writers: How Fast Do You Write?

If you fall into the careful construction of each sentence category, you are probably a turtle writer. This means you may bang out a couple of hundred words of your project daily and call it a day. You take a lot longer to finish the first draft, but it’s more polished than those who mind barf every thought. You may produce more words than a couple hundred when you write, but you take a lot more time to get the same amount of words as your mind-barfing counterparts.

https://unsplash.com/photos/VuQSy84Yqzs
Photo by Brett Hales via Unsplash

If you are in the mind-barf camp, chances are you can bang out a couple thousand, if not tens of thousand words a day in a relatively short amount of time. Your fingers fly over the keyboard or your handwriting is on the messy side because of how fast you scribble just to get everything on the page.

Old School vs. Tech: How Do You Write?

Some writers enjoy using pen and paper for their first drafts. It feels great to write this way. Plus, when you type everything up into your computer, you automatically have a more polished draft because you edit as you go. The feeling of crossing things out, drawing circles and arrows, and other such revision processes are satisfying. A lot of turtle writers and construction writers like to write by hand.

The downsides to writing by hand is that you have to count your words manually. You could lose a notebook and all of that work is just gone, without a backup. Handwriting is usually slower than typing up your work. This method also hurts your hand if you’re not used to it.

https://unsplash.com/photos/3ym6i13Y9LU
Photo by Mike Tinnion via Unsplash

Others like the feeling of typing because you can get your words out quickly and save it in several places so you’ll always have a backup of your work. Also, you can copy, paste, cut, delete, and move things around more easily without crossing things out. It’s much cleaner than writing by hand. It’s also easier to change the formatting to meet publisher requirements and you don’t have to take that extra step to type it all up. Mind-barfers tend to end up in this camp.

Downsides to typing include eye strain, the expense of having to print things out, and losing things if you don’t save regularly or have auto-save set up.

https://unsplash.com/photos/FlPc9_VocJ4
Photo by John Schnobrich via Unsplash

Goal Setters vs. Go-With-the-Flow People: Do You Set Deadlines?

Setting deadlines, such as finishing your book by a certain date, writing a certain number of words each day, or … [Read More]

Posted in Poetry, Publications on Coffee House Writers, Writing

Free Rein: A Poem

https://unsplash.com/photos/pUAM5hPaCRI
Photo by Jeshoots via Unsplash

I long for that place.
You know, the one where
everything fades away
and you are left with just

Your mind
and a blank page.

Anything is possible.

Dragons, Dungeons, Magic Potions
Love, Friendship, Soul Mates
Aliens, Spacecraft, Time Travel

Fantasy, Romance, Science Fiction

Vast as… [Read More]

Posted in Publications on Coffee House Writers, Writing

Writing Methods: Rituals

https://pixabay.com/photos/home-office-workstation-office-336373/
Photo by Free-Photos via Pixabay

This is the third installment of my writing methods series. You can find the previous articles on outlining vs. pantsing and writing environments by clicking on the respective links.

Sometimes it’s hard to get into the right mindset to write. That’s where rituals come in.

How Will a Ritual Help?

For anyone who has taken a Psych 101 course, you may have heard of classical conditioning. That is, associating one unrelated stimulus with something else. But what does this have to do with writing or rituals?

If you do the same thing over and over before you write, you can trick your brain into the right mindset. Doing the same ritual and teaches your brain to associate it with writing. Ritual will make it easier to snap into writing mode and allow you to get into a flow more easily.

Kinds of Rituals

There are lots of kinds of rituals you can try. They can be certain smells, certain foods, putting on a particular genre of music or a certain piece of clothing, or a variety of other rituals. The trick here is to only use these when you are about to write, and not at other times.

Tastes and Smells

These are some of the strongest senses and will be the most effective in getting you into the writing mindset quickly.

Always have the same beverage before you write. Light a certain scented candle. Eat the same food, like a candy bar or other type of snack. Put on the same perfume before you write. Use a specific scent in an essential oil diffuser, but be careful if you have pets. Certain essential oils can be toxic to our furry friends.

Sound

Play a certain genre of music when you write. Do you have a… [Read More]

Posted in Publications on Coffee House Writers, Writing

Writing Methods: Environment

https://pixabay.com/photos/writing-writer-notes-pen-notebook-923882/
Photo by StockSnap via Pixabay

This is the second article in the Writing Methods series. You can find the first article, about different outlining or pantsing methods, here.

Creativity can change. Things that worked for a long time might stop working. There are several things you can do to try and prevent this from happening, including controlling the environment you write in. It’s all about training your brain and finding out what works best for you.

Noise Level

Some writers work best with background noise, such as music or ambient noise. Others work best in complete quiet. If you are one of the former, experiment with listening to music while you write. Classical or instrumental might be a good place to start if you have never done this before. If you want to try something a little tougher, put on a playlist of familiar music with lyrics. The key here is it has to be familiar because anything new will draw your attention away from your writing.

If you don’t feel comfortable writing with music, you can go to a coffee shop, library, park, or other public place to work, depending on the level of ambient noise you prefer. Experiment with different places and times to see what level of ambient noise works best for you.

You can also experiment with ambient noise through headphones such as binaural beats (check out Brain.fm), nature sounds, or other ambient noise for creativity or studying from YouTube or websites like coffitivity.com, where they record ambient noise and play it back on an endless loop. You could also put on the radio or TV in the background, but this might be more distracting than helpful.

If you are a writer that likes silence, invest in a pair of noise-cancelling headphones or earplugs. Writing from home or in a familiar place where you aren’t likely to be interrupted is key for your writing methods.

Location

Some writers feel most comfortable at home, with fewer distractions. Others like being around people in public places so they can people-watch or eavesdrop to get story material.

If you feel most comfortable at home, you have several options. You can…[Read More]

Posted in Publications on Coffee House Writers, Writing

Writing Methods: Outlining Vs. Pantsing

https://www.pexels.com/photo/close-up-of-human-hand-256514/
Photo by Pixabay via Pexels

This is part one of a series about different writing methods. I will share different approaches you can try to unlock your creativity. This week I will talk about outlining versus pantsing.

Creativity is a fickle thing. What works for one person doesn’t work for another. Many times, each project uses a different method. Experimenting is the best way to figure out what will work best for you and each of your projects.

Outlining

Plot

This is the best-known writing method. When most people think of outlines they remember the detailed, paragraph-by-paragraph plan we had to turn in for research papers in school. The truth is, outlining can be as comprehensive or as sparse as you want it to be.

Some writers describe every scene in detail from the beginning through the end in a scene list. Others put these scene descriptions into a table that tracks the point of view, characters, timeline, and word count for each scene. Still, others fill out all the major plot points in a beat sheet, while some know only the beginning and end before they start writing.

For an example of a beat sheet, read Save the Cat or Save the Cat Writes a Novel. You can also use any number of beat sheets available online. A beat is a plot point. There are various methods and numbers of beats you could choose to plan. Some beat sheets calculate the approximate page number where something should happen depending on the target word count of the project.

Shop around and see if you can find a beat sheet or outlining method that might work for you.

Character

So far, I have mentioned outlining methods that focus on planning out the plot. Some writers sketch out their characters in addition to, or instead of outlining plots. There are many techniques for building characters.

For example, [Read More]

Posted in Publications on Coffee House Writers, Writing

Writing As A Coping Mechanism: Processing Emotions Through Fiction

https://pixabay.com/photos/typewriter-keys-write-vintage-old-1209082/
Photo by Free-Photos via Pixabay

Have you ever written something that you never planned on publishing? I start most of my articles this way. Sometimes I even start a novel that I have no intention of publishing because the real-life events I wrote about are too recognizable. I worry the people involved might realize I was writing about them.

Why would anyone write something with no intention of publishing it?

For one, it takes the pressure off and allows creativity to flow. Think about journaling. People write down their thoughts and feelings and lock them up, hoping no one ever reads them without permission. It’s a record for us to revisit all our painful and joyous times whenever we want.

Yes, most of my fiction has elements of truth, some more than others. Still, there is a reason I don’t journal as much as I write fiction. When I am journaling, there isn’t enough distance between me and myself.

What do I mean by “not enough distance between me and myself”?

When I am journaling, [Read More]

Posted in Publications on Coffee House Writers, Writing

How To Get Your Creativity Back On Track

Creativity: A lightbulb, two pencils and an eraser on a blank page
Photo by qimono via Pixabay

A lot of people in the writing-focused Facebook groups I am in have mentioned they’re depressed and don’t feel like writing. One of the most common questions asked is, “How can I get my creativity back on track?”

What I have found is the advice one person gives doesn’t always work for someone else. You must try many different things to find what works for you.

Here is a list of different tactics you can try to get your creativity back on track:

  • Take a walk, exercise, go outdoors, or run errands. Movement can help spark your creativity.

Exercise can help your creativity

Photo by StockSnap via Pixabay

  • Take a hiatus. Take as long as you need. A hiatus can last from a few hours to years. I took one for four years, from 2013 until 2017.  The four-year break gave me fire and passion to not give up on my writing. I was so tired of not writing that I needed to write.
  • Work on another creative task: baking, cake decorating, sewing, cross stitching, knitting, crocheting, drawing, sketching, playing an instrument, singing, redesigning a website, using Photoshop or graphic design software, or whatever you feel like doing. Often, doing another activity can kick-start your creativity somewhere else.

Other creative endeavors can help you get past a block
Photo by Pexels via Pixabay

  • Set an amount of time you will allow yourself to feel blocked, then force yourself to get out of the slump. Don’t let it control you, but… [Read More]
Posted in Publications on Coffee House Writers, Writing

Finding Time To Write

https://pixabay.com/en/watch-time-clock-hours-minutes-690288/
Photo by Free-Photos via Pixabay

All of us have busy lives. Full-time jobs, family, and school are some common ones, but there are many more. How can we find the time to write when we have so much going on in our lives?

Track How You Spend Your Time

https://pixabay.com/en/calendar-wall-calendar-days-date-1990453/
Photo by webandi via Pixabay

The first step is to track how you spend your time. Take a week to record every activity you do during the day and the approximate time of day you do them.

For example, mine would look something like this:

  • 8:30 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. Wake Up/Morning Routine/Breakfast
  • 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. Social Media
  • 10:00 a.m. – 11 a.m. Writing Time
  • 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Homework for School
  • 12:30 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. Lunch
  • 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. Writing Time/Reading/Appointments
  • 2:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. Social Media/Free Time
  • 4:30 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Cook/Family Dinner/Wash Dishes
  • 6:00 p.m. -7:30 p.m. Meetings for Groups
  • 7:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. Wind Down/Bedtime Routine/Reading
  • 9:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. Try to Fall Asleep

This works for me because I need plenty of time to fall asleep because of my insomnia. I don’t have many responsibilities, either. Yours may look different.

You may ask why I am qualified to help you find time to write if I have no responsibilities. I’ve worked, gone to school, and finished the first draft of a novel at the same time.

This exercise is about tracking how you spend your time. Don’t judge what you are doing. Just record what you do and when.

Find Potential Writing Time

https://pixabay.com/en/needle-in-a-haystack-needle-haystack-1752846/
Photo by pixel2013 via Pixabay

Now that you have a week’s worth of records, the next step is [Read More]

Posted in Publications on Coffee House Writers, Writing

Romance Writing: Creating Characters Who Are Meant To Be Together

https://www.pexels.com/photo/pink-love-fabric-decor-with-feathers-1058417/

As an avid reader of romance, I have read numerous novels where the hero and heroine fall in love for no reason. It simply serves the plot. This is not what we want as readers. We want characters that fall in love because they are meant for each other. They have to be perfectly matched and have complementary traits. For most writers, this is hard to achieve. However, the solution to this problem is simple.

Character Creation is Key

https://www.pexels.com/photo/man-and-woman-holding-hands-walking-on-seashore-during-sunrise-1024960/
Photo by Ibrahim Asad via Pexels

If you don’t spend time getting to know your characters before you start writing, it is a lot harder to achieve the kind of relationship readers want. Writing before you know your characters requires a lot of editing to get their relationship to where it needs to be.

Trying to fit characters to a plot has the same hindering effect. The choices characters make in a given situation are because of their personalities. It is a lot harder to fit a character’s personality to actions instead of figuring out what a character would do based on who they are.

Build One Character at a Time

https://www.pexels.com/photo/white-l-o-v-e-led-signage-722245/
Photo by Loe Moshkovska via Pexels

By focusing on one character at a time, you are better able to [Read More]

Posted in Publications on Coffee House Writers, Writing

An Editing Process for Pantsers

Editing Process
Photo by WokinghamLibraries via Pixabay

This is another article that I wrote for Coffee House Writers. You can find the full article with this link. I hope you find this helpful!

An Editing Process for Pantsers

The 18th of July was the one-month anniversary of finishing my first full-length novel. You may have seen my article “Starting Over: Mirroring Kristin Cashore’s Process Of Writing Bitterblue,” published earlier this month about the process I was planning on using to edit the novel.

Well, plans have changed. I admit I’ve never edited a longer piece of writing before. The editing process is a bit of a mystery to me.

I have read lots of articles about how to approach editing, but few seemed to lend themselves to the way my brain works. Being a panster, a term for someone who doesn’t plot or plan before writing, means a lot of methods for editing aren’t aimed towards your process. Plus, a lot of these methods didn’t tell me how to approach each step. They just gave a basic rundown of the process involved without going into detail.

I ended up cobbling several methods together to get what I think I need for this specific project. I have a general idea of what it needs to improve.

What methods did I choose to include in the editing process?

First off, I wanted to read through and separate the scenes. I placed a hashtag between each of the scenes. Then, I filled out an index card with a couple of questions. These questions were:

  • Who is in the scene? I wrote down the names of each character that makes an appearance. I made a note if they only appear for a portion or leave in the middle of the scene.
  • What happens? I made a short synopsis of the events in the scene.
  • When does it happen? This has three parts to it.
    • I included the day number during the timeline of the novel (Day 1, Day 2, etc.,).
    • The time of day the scene happens (early morning, morning, early afternoon, afternoon, evening, night, late night,).
    • And the day of the week (Sunday, Monday, etc.).
  • What is the POV Character’s Goal? What are they trying to accomplish? Do they [Read More]

Posted in Publications on Coffee House Writers, Writing

Black History Month: A Story of a Slave Named Jerry Finney

https://www.flickr.com/photos/cogdog/7360975994
Photo by Alan Levine

For Black History Month, I thought I would talk about the story of a slave named, Jerry Finney. I found his story a few years ago and was enraptured by it.
Jerry Finney was a slave in Kentucky. His owner, Mrs. Bathsheba D. Long (widowed), permitted two of her men to bring him across the Ohio border to help them in a task. I am not sure what it was, or who the men were.
Jerry ended up escaping and living in Columbus, Ohio for over two decades, working as a cook and a waiter. He had a family and was well loved by the community.
That’s the part that interests me as a writer: what made him so well liked? He had to have been respectful, at least in that time period. Was he also kind? Charismatic? Funny? I can’t find any personal accounts of people who knew him, so it is hard to tell what he was like then. Near impossible, really.
Anyway, years after she lost him, Mrs. Long hired two men, Forbes and Armitage, to find Jerry and bring him back. They did so, but were put on trial for kidnapping in the court case I found: Forbes and Armitage vs. The State of Ohio. The court case was the only substantial record I found of what happened to Jerry. All the other records only mentioned his story for a page or less.
Unfortunately, Jerry had to stay in Kentucky after the kidnapping for unknown reasons. The people of Columbus, Ohio loved him so much, they… [Read More]