Thursday, May 31, 2012

This Week in Favs….

Playing on the Zune: Place for My Head by Linkin Park

On the Craft

Official Philosophy of Character Death by Veronica Roth

6 Ways to Never Run Out of Ideas by Ed Cyzewski, guest post on Rachelle Gardner’s blog

25 Things to Know About Writing the First Chapter of Your Novel by Chuck Wendig

Leave Yourself Notes: Ways to be a More Productive Writer, Part 5 on The Other Side of the Story with Janice Hardy

Plotting for Success by Clare Langley-Hawthorne on The Kill Zone

Different Ways to See the Same Thing by Lisa Gail Green

On Writing and Publishing Trends by Ava Jae

Don’t Fall Between the Cracks; Finish the Dang Book by Lynn Price

Even the Best Ideas Need Flawless Execution by Kathryn Lilley on The Kill Zone

Writerly Inspiration

Learning to Drop the Donkey – Is Perfectionism Killing Your Career by Kristen Lamb

Is All the Hard Work Really Worth It? by Jody Hedlund

Being Awesome by Paul Anthony Scott

Amazing Advice for Aspiring Writers by Neil Gaiman on Write to Done

The Importance of “Letting it Go” by Susan Dennard on Pub(lishing) Crawl

The Worry of the Artist: Am I Good Enough? by Jenny Hansen

On Editing, Critiquing, Querying, Publishing and more…

Writers Face the Slush Pile: A Few Hard Truths by Roni Loren

A Great Start: Or How to Keep an Agent Reading by Nephele Tempest

An Author’s Guide to Fan Fiction by Jami Gold

Your Bio in a Query by Lynn Price

What Does a Publishing Contract Cover? by Rachelle Gardner

Do You Listen to Advice? by Marcy Kennedy

The Not-So-Secret Backdoor to Publishing by Mandy Hubbard on Pub(lishing) Crawl

Why Skimping in Macro Editing Could Cost You Readers by Jody Hedlund

Keep Calm and Query On by Luke Reynolds, guest post on The Bookshelf Muse

Why Agents Pick and Choose Our Prokects – No, It Isn’t About the EASY Sale by Scott Eagan

Other Round-Ups

The Author Chronicles’ Top Picks Thursday

Stina Lindenblatt’s Cool Links Friday

Roni Loren’s Fill-Me-In Friday

Elizabeth S. Craig’s Twitterific (compilation of all the writing links she’s shared this week – updated on Sundays)

This week on the blog: 

Happy Reading and Writing, everyone!!!


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Structure of a Scene, Part Two – Motivation Reaction Units

I feel like Sheldon during A-ha moments :)
Last week I shared my ‘A-ha!’ moment with Scene & Sequel. It’s one to read, read, read on a particular topic until it’s in your brain, but it’s entirely another to be shown said topic and actually understand it.
Hmm….I do think that was a classic Show vs. Tell example! *smiles*
Anyway, so back to Motivation Reaction Units (MRU), another fun technique I learned about in Margie Lawson’s Deep Editing Course. MRU’s are basic Stimulus/Response patterns. Margie included in her lecture this informative post by Randy Ingermanson (the ‘Snowflake Guy’) to help drive home the lesson. Randy refers to this particular set as the small scale structure of a scene. In other words, you’ve set up the Scene & Sequel, and now you have to write the smaller stuff, the actual sentences and/or paragraphs that make up the scenes.
Stimulus/Motivation we know. It’s taking something from our POV, dropping a bombshell on them, or kicking the crap of them (most times when they’re down). But the Response/Reaction is what I really want to address in detail today.
The Response/Reaction shows what the character’s made of. Below is the three-part reaction I learned from Margie’s easy breakdown, and the example listed next to each part is the first thing I pictured in my head that helped it remove its shoes and stay for the long-haul in my brain.

Three-Part Reaction

Emotional Response – This is the involuntary visceral response your POV has the moment the Stimulus happens. It’s their heart pounding, blood boiling, bones jolting, chest breathing harshly, knees giving out, etc. Whatever involuntary reaction you can think of that happens as a result of a jolt of emotion going through them. This needs to be first. If you just found out your spouse was cheating on you, would your heart pound before or after any other reaction, like ‘come again?’? Before, right? Your heart would ­da-dum in your chest before the words left your mouth. This grasps your reader and pulls them deeper into your character’s POV.
The Reflex – Let’s go back to the Stimulus I stated in the Visceral Response section. You’ve discovered your spouse has been cheating on you. After your heart lets out that loud thud, what do you do next? Hit the wall? Hit your spouse (woman only)? Stomp your foot? Snap your hand over your mouth to keep from screaming? THAT’s what comes next in POV’s Response. Feeling first, Reaction second.
Action & Speech – Now that your heart’s pounded and you’ve screamed or punched a wall or whatever else you’ve done, it’s time for you talk and act! To process what you just informed, be it with short-shots of dialogue, or act on what you just heard by kicking the cheater to the curb, luggage in tow.
The Reaction of your POV character should follow this sequence and include all three responses if they were just subjected to a HUGE Stimulus. For the smaller stimuli, you may not need all three. BUT…you still need to have their Reaction/Response in this order. If not, the response will more than likely not make sense to the reader.

Checking for MRU’s in Your WIP

Now if you’re like me, you’ve already got your WIP completed. It’s been drafted and probably been put through the ringer a few times with edits and revisions. If this is where you’re at with it, then it’s time to smack it around a little more. *evil grin* Pull it back out and go through it, line by line by line. Write down every Stimulus and Response you find, pair them up. You may find you have a Stimulus without an equal Response. Or a Response without a Stimulus. You may discover that the pesky scene you couldn’t figure out for-the-life-of-you wasn’t working because it was missing the preferred order of Reactions, or it was missing either the Stimulus or the Response entirely.
MRU’s are how we should be writing Scene & Sequel. One MRU after another after another after another until the scene or the chapter is over. Then pick up the process again and again and again until the story is told. If you’re editing and you find a small section of the Scene or Sequel that isn’t an MRU then guess what? Yup, it gets the axe! It’s not needed, it’s drags the story’s tension, and takes the reader out of the story.
Easy enough, right? This is a nifty little buggar, huh?
Have you ever written or edited a scene MRU by MRU? How easy did you find this process? Is it easier for you to write like you normally would then go back and edit, looking for the MRU’s as you go along? What other advice have you read or can share about MRU’s? Have you had any “A-ha!” moments similar to this? Was it during the plotting, writing or editing phase?

*For more on Motivational Reaction Units, pick up Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight Swain. Margie Lawson refers to this book often in her lectures. Amazing book, awesome advice, unforgettable techniques.

Friday, May 25, 2012

This Week in Favs…

Social Media and Author Websites

Social Media is an Imperfect Sales Tool. Use it Anyway. by Nathan Bransford

Six Sinister Blog Time Wasters by Stanford on Pushing Social

The Bodacious Blogger’s Essential Ingredients by August McLaughlin

7 Tips for Turning Your Blog into a Book by Brian A. Klems on Writer’s Digest blog

How Much Interaction Should Authors Have With Readers? by Jodi Hedlund

5 Habits That Make Me a More Creative Blogger (and Writer) by Judy Dunn on Cat’s Eye Writer

On the Craft

Writing Fiction With the 1-3-1 Method by Teresa Frohock

Writing Characters Worth Reading by Mooderino on Moody Writing

Writing as MMORPG: Building Your Writing Addiction by Daniel Swensen on Surly Muse

Who’s There? Introducing Characters in a Scene on The Other Side of the Story by Janice Hardy

Writing Dangers: Shiny New Idea Syndrome by Ava Jae on Writability

Finding Time to Write: Making Hard Choices by Amie Kaufman on Pub(lishing) Crawl

How to Write a Best Seller – Advice from an Olympic Medal Winner, guest post by Dr. John Yeoman on Write to Done

The Drama Bomb – Drop it!, guest post by Mario Acevedo on Writers in the Storm blog

Writerly Inspiration

Monday Motivation: Know You CAN DO IT! by Scott Eagan

Think Like an Author by Danyelle Leaftyl on

Icarus and My Fear of the Sun by Marcy Kennedy

Respecting Your Natural Rhythms by Barbara O’Neal on Writer Unboxed

On Editing, Critiquing, Querying, Publishing and more…

When Editing Is NOT Enough! by Tonya Kappes

Digital Publishing – A Marathon, Not a Sprint by C.S. Lakin on Live Write Thrive

What Will Make an Agent Gong Your Pages by Roni Loren

Don’t Think Too Much, You’ll Create a Problem That Wasn’t Even There, guest post by Julie Musil on Adventures in YA & Children’s Publishing

Rankings or Dollars by Terry ODell

10 Tips for Attending a Writers’ Conference by Annie Neugebauer

Mastering Your Author Headshot with Photographer Ken Dapper by August McLaughlin

The Truth and Nothing but the Truth on Promotion and Publicity for Debut Authors by Joanna Volpe on Pub(lishing) Crawl

All About Advances by Rachelle Gardner

What Does the Editing Process Look Like? by Rachelle Gardner

5 Things Every Author Needs to Understand About Self-Publishing by James Scott Bell on The Kill Zone

Break it Down: Trimming Words From a Too-Long Manuscript on The Other Side of the Story with Janice Hardy

Other Round-Ups

The Author Chronicles’ Top Picks Thursday

Stina Lindenblatt’s Cool Links Friday

Roni Loren’s Fill-Me-In Friday

Elizabeth S. Craig’s Twitterific (compilation of all the writing links she’s shared this week – updated on Sundays)

This week on the blog: 

Happy Reading and Writing, everyone!!!


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Structure of a Scene, Part One – Scene & Sequel

Photo Credit

One of the awesomely cool things about taking an online writing course is the fun new ways you learn about old techniques. I love it when something you already know clicks in your head because now you fully understand the concept. And you can point out what you’ve learned in every published book you read.
In Margie Lawson’s Deep Editing course, she referred to an article by Randy Ingermanson (the ‘Snowflake Guy’) called, “Writing the Perfect Scene.” The sad part is I read this article a loooong time ago, but none of it clicked for some reason. So Margie shared this article and added her thoughts because it truly was the best way to understand both Scene and Sequel and Motivation Reaction Units (which I’ll cover next week)…and I got it!
As Randy states, a scene has a large-scale structure and a small-scale structure. The large-scale structure is Scene and Sequel; small-scale is Motivation Reaction Units.
And here’s how I broke it all down in my head to where it clicked:


In this sense, scene can also be understood as the stimulus. You open the scene stating the goal of the character. Then you create a conflict that keeps the character from obtaining it. Then the fun part comes: the disaster of being unable to reach said goal.
Easy enough, right?
I know it sounds easy, but pinpointing this in every single scene? Not so easy sometimes. There are some scenes where the goal isn’t obvious or clear to the reader. Or maybe there really isn’t a conflict there and the character goes straight from goal to disaster.
But as Randy states, your character has to have a goal at the helm of every scene. If they don’t have a goal then they’re simply sitting there twiddling their thumbs waiting for something to happen to them. With a goal they – and the reader – have a clear understanding of what they want so they’ll go after it. And the fun of fiction as a writer is throwing conflict their way. *evil grin* We think of everything possible to plant in front of them, to slow them down, which is great – and also known as disaster. This keeps the reader intrigued and ups the tension (yay!).
The best way I understood Scene was to insert myself as the character. I want to be a published author (goal). But I have to learn how to write compelling stories with knock-it-out-of-the-park plots, but it’s hard to do that when life either gets in the way or a character(s) won’t cooperate, or the muse is nowhere to be found (conflict). Then…disaster strikes! My computer goes kaput, or the plot goes to hell…or maybe I reply to MS requests and get rejections (we all know rejections can feel like disaster).


Sequel is parallel to response. You’ve written your scene where your character has a clear goal, he’s going for it then gets shot down, pushed around, and trampled on by a herd of wild banshees (great visual, huh?).
Now it’s time for the character to react to the disaster, face the dilemma ahead of him, and make a decision that’ll allow the story to move forward.
Again, easy enough, right?
But sometimes we miss ensuring each step is represented in the sequel. We’ll have the character react but then he’ll follow that up in a quick manner with a decision. Or maybe we’ll have him look at the dilemma and make a decision but forgot to include his reaction.
This is where the tried and true advice of Randy comes into play. Sequels must have all three of these elements in order for them to work. No exceptions. Period.
In life when we’re working toward something we desperately want and get hit so hard it puts a kink in those plans, we react. We cry, scream, steam, stew, stomp, bang our heads against the wall, and sometimes threaten the worst on whatever caused the set back.
So why wouldn’t our characters do the same?
Once we’re done having a reaction, we sit back down, face the dilemma head-on, then finally come to a decision that will clear the path to getting what we ultimately want…once again.
Again, this can be compared to the life of a writer. We’ve gotten tons of rejections which feel like a disaster. So we react by crying, screaming, etc., etc. Then we face our dilemma: one of the rejections suggested revising a core element of our MS, so now we’re faced with the decision to change it and resubmit the query, or move on and query more agents.

I had a huge “A-ha!” moment when I got to this section in the lectures. Then I got another one when both Margie and Randy explained Motivation Reaction Units (MRU) as the small-scale structure of a scene.
This is what a novel is! It’s going from scene and sequel, over and over and over again until the character finally arrives at their ultimate goal. Yes, I knew the overall plot of a story was to get a character from point A to point B, and that they needed to face a series of obstacles throughout that journey. But the problem not only lies in getting the character there. It also lies with ensuring each and every scene has a goal, conflict or disaster followed by a reaction, dilemma and decision.
I think sometimes when we’re in the midst of writing that first draft, we just write, write, write until the bare bones are on the screen. Then it’s difficult when we go back and edit because we just can’t figure out why a scene isn’t working. And most times we’ve been told it’s the plot that’s causing a scene not to cooperate – which is true. But a way to examine this theory is to look for the Scene and Sequel, then check for the Motivation Reaction Units.
By having these points written on an index card and sitting on my desk, I’m constantly reminded as I write and/or edit that if I look for these elements – or include them as I’m drafting – my path to getting my WIP polished will be brighter and provide me the much-needed jolt of excitement that says, “You can do this! It’s all right there, you just have to pull it out and make it obvious!”
And the best part of having these elements in your WIP? If they’re there, in the right order, you’ve helped eliminate the telling…and brought on the showing. :)
HUGE kudos to both Margie and Randy for their genius in helping this finally sink in and stick!
Can you easily pinpoint these elements in your WIP? What other advice have you read or can share on the structure of a scene? Have you had any “A-ha!” writing moments recently? Were they during the plotting, writing or editing phase? 

Friday, May 18, 2012

Thank You

In place of my regular weekly round-up post, I'd like to take this time to say THANK YOU to everyone for their thoughts and prayers over the course of this past week.

While it has most definitely been tough, and the wounds have yet to heal, the kind words, thoughts, and gestures have meant the world to both me and my husband they are priceless in helping us and our family get through this difficult time.

Next week will be back to 'semi' normal with a writing post on Wednesday and a round-up of writing links on Friday. No music for Monday, sorry.

THANK YOU again for everything to all of my writing and blogging friends! You are the best supportive, awesome, incredible, beautiful, wonderful and amazing group of peeps a writer could ever ask for!

Happy Writing!


Monday, May 14, 2012

Random Act Of Kindness BLITZ!

Today is going to be very difficult - it's my mother-in-law's funeral. And while I thought about not posting today, I remembered all the random acts of kindness she did for everyone around her and felt today was the best possible day to honor her memory.

Today we're blitzing the writing community with Random Acts of Kindness!!

A smile. An encouraging word. A thoughtful gesture. Each day people interact with us, help, and make our day a bit brighter and full. This is especially true in the Writing Community

Take a second to think about writers you know, like the critique partner who works with you to improve your manuscript. The writing friend who listens, supports and keeps you strong when times are tough. The author who generously offers council, advice and inspiration when asked.

So many people take the time to make us feel special, don't they? They comment on our blogs, re-tweet our posts, chat with us on forums and wish us Happy Birthday on Facebook.

Kindness ROCKS!

To commemorate the release of their book The Emotion Thesaurus, Becca and Angela at The Bookshelf Muse are hosting a TITANIC Random Act Of Kindness BLITZ. And because I think KINDNESS is contagious, I'm participating too!

I am randomly blitzing three writers today:

S.P. Sipal: Susan was the first person I met within the online writing community (and she lives near me too!) and she's been incredibly awesome to me since I started my social media journey and she's helped with a pitch earlier this year, and has even offered to assist me with my first query (as soon as it's ready). Susan, for my RAOK gift, I'm offering to critique your query or first chapter, or Beta Read 150 pages. Susan blogs at Harry Potter for Writers. If you have a minute, please stop in and tell her how awesome she is!

Jami Gold: Another incredible writer whose blog I can't imagine not not reading! Jami is a talented writer who always offers up helpful advice, and she helped me whip a pitch and first 250 words into shape earlier this year. Whenever I need assistance or tips with a particular writing technique, Jami's blog is one the first I search. Jami, for my RAOK gift, I'm offering to critique your query of first chapter, or Beta Read 150 pages as well! :)  Jami blogs at her website. If you have a minute, please stop in and tell her how awesome she is as well!

Tina Moss: I don't think I could do a RAOK blitz without blitzing Tina. She's been uber sweet and incredibly nice, and extremely helpful with any and everything I've needed. She's offered to maybe do some Beta Reading for me, which I'm sure I will take her up on that offer here soon. ;)  Tina, for my RAOK gift, I'd like to offer you the same as Susan & Jami: critique of your query of first chapter, or a Beta Read of 150 pages. Tina also blogs at her website. If you have another minute, please stop in and also tell her how awesome she is!

Do you know someone special that you'd like to randomly acknowledge? Don't be shy--come join us and celebrate! Send them an email, give them a shout out, or show your appreciation in another way. Kindness makes the world go round. :)

Becca and Angela have a special RAOK gift waiting for you as well, so hop on over to The Bookshelf Muse to pick it up.

Have you ever participated in or been the recipient of a Random Act Of Kindness?  Let me know in the comments!

Friday, May 11, 2012

A Difficult 24 Hours

My apologies, but today's regular post, This Week in Favs, will not be available.

Wednesday night, around 10:30pm, my husband received a call from his sister. His mother was rushed to the hospital, unresponsive and without a heartbeat. Around 7am Thursday morning, we said good bye. 

This was sudden, shocking, and surreal since my mother-in-law had not been sick. She was young, full of life, laughter, and love, and was the type of mother who took care of everyone - and always before herself. She was the definition of selflessness. She was a nurse and the matriarch of my husband's family. She was the model of what it meant to truly love another person unconditionally, and from the moment I met her (1 week after my husband and I started dating 12 years ago), she welcomed me with warm, loving arms. 

She will be missed, and will forever live on in our hearts. Not a day will go by without thinking of her. 

My husband, Jason, and his mother, Shirley

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A Writer’s Vocabulary Journal: Owning the Perfect Word

If you’ve ever spent countless amounts of time looking for the perfect word, you’ve probably smacked yourself in the head when it finally came to you.
Most of the time, when I’m banging my head up against a concrete wall, it’s not only because I can’t locate the perfect, but it’s also because my personal vocabulary has become a bit meh. After we leave school, most of us don’t take time every day to look up interesting words we’ve come across, or maybe we don’t play word games like we used to, or we forget to highlight an astounding word another author used in their work – or better yet, we buy one of those books titled The BIG Book of Words You Should Know and forget to even crack open the cover.
It happens. Life gets too busy. And if we are highlighting and/or writing those interesting words down, we often find that list growing, growing, and growing to the point where we feel overwhelmed at definition time. Other times it’s not that life’s too busy, it’s just we forget to write them down and the memory isn’t what it used to be. *raises hand*
This is where the vocabulary journal comes in.

Dear Vocab Journal….

Hopefully we finally learn that we’ve had enough after one too many concussions. When that happens, it’s brainstorm/resolution time.
As if ordained by God or something, a few hours after I decided to not only start keeping a journal, but to update it nightly with definitions and review previous entries, I came across this post on Write It Sideways: 5 Simple Ways to Improve Your Vocabulary. Well, well...if Bill Engvall had been around in that moment the phrase “Here’s your sign” would’ve been all too opportunistic.
A vocabulary journey can range from a small notebook you keep on you at all times to a larger notebook you carry around with worksheets/templates for each word entry (including a space specific for synonyms/antonyms). Whatever floats your boat (cliché!) and ensures the words are gonna stick, be sure to do it. I began by writing the words on index cards. I carry them in my purse, along with a small accordion file. At the end of the day I transfer the words into a larger notebook I keep at the house.

Getting the Words to Stick

Now that we’re been keeping track of words we’ve either read or heard throughout the day, we gotta made sure they stick.
Every night, or every other night, sit down with your journal. Add in definitions, synonyms/antonyms and/or pictures/diagrams for each entry. I stick with definitions and synonyms.
By seeing these words again, writing their definitions, looking at similar or opposing words, they’ll stick in your brain. Regardless of how long it’s been since our brains had to absorb and learn new information, the words will stick in some way, shape or form. And the best part is that this journal isn’t going anywhere either. It’ll always be there when you know you have the perfect word but can’t find it.
The key to this step is to keep ourselves from revisiting these once a week. Then we’re stuck feeling overwhelmed again and the cycle begins anew. Strive for either every night, or every other night. It takes no more than 10 minutes – 20 minutes if you have a long list after a great read.
Now that the vocab level is increasing, the perfect word can – hopefully – be easily found. Because – hopefully – you will own it in your journal. You’ll know it, you can recite it, you’ve learned to love it.

What is a Perfect Word?

I’ve been getting some writing education these last two months with Margie Lawson. She is a genius when it comes to empowering emotions, body language, and all those other psychologically gripping methods of writing and editing that slip under our readers’ conscious radars to dig into their subconscious and make them want more. She’s also the creator of the Deep Editing system I’ve come to know and love.
Margie’s coined a few terms that sum up what the perfect word is better than I ever could: Scene-themed, Emotion-themed, Character-themed. The perfect word your WIP needs will more than likely need to fall into one of those themes. Either it is a word fit for the scene itself (the setting, characters within it, goal, tension), the emotion surrounding the passage (inner emotion/turmoil, not necessarily outwardly expressed), or the character’s unique internalizations or speech (you wouldn’t have a cop call someone a ‘bad guy’ – it’d either be the suspect, the unsub, the defendant, etc.).
So ultimately the perfect word is one that fits the character, their current situation and frame of mind, and most importantly: your voice.
Knowing these three areas of themed words has personally helped me tremendously in selecting the perfect word. Perfect because it adds a psychological punch to a scene and/or passage with high tension and/or emotion. I highly suggest either signing up for a month-long course with Margie, or purchasing one of her lecture packets (warning, they are HUGE, but every lesson shines with her genius). I’m so amazed by how much I’ve learned, and flabbergasted by how my WIP has transformed by 2 online classes and 1 lecture packet that I’m flying out to Colorado – with 5 other authors – for an Immersion Master class. Woo hoo!
What are some of the tasks you do to keep your vocab on its toes? Word puzzles? Reading the dictionary? What about afterwards when you’ve assimilated the newer vocabulary? How do you select the perfect word? Is it a long drawn out struggle where you have think on it for a day or so, or is it as quick as the click of a button?

Monday, May 7, 2012

Song of the Week - Paradise by Colplay

It's Monday again! *throws confetti*

I apologize, you must excuse my enthusiasm for Monday. My theory is that Monday hates me, so I figure if I glorify its arrival I'll be killing it with kindness and it'll start being kind to me and never show its face again. Think it'll happen? Nah...but it's worth a try, right?

Moooving on.....

This week's song was picked for exactly what the lyrics say: "Dreaming of paradise." We all escape. Some with books, with writing, in our dreams.... no matter your escape, this song should have a meaning for me.

Hope you enjoy!

Lyrics for Paradise

When she was just a girl
She expected the world
But it flew away from her reach
So she ran away in her sleep
Dreamed of para- para- paradise
Para- para- paradise
Para- para- paradise
Every time she closed her eyes
Whoa-oh-oh oh-oooh oh-oh-oh

When she was just a girl
She expected the world
But it flew away from her reach
And the bullets catch in her teeth

Life goes on
It gets so heavy
The wheel breaks the butterfly
Every tear, a waterfall
In the night, the stormy night
She closed her eyes
In the night, the stormy night
Away she'd fly.

And dreamed of para- para- paradise
Para- para- paradise
Para- para- paradise
Whoa-oh-oh oh-oooh oh-oh-oh

She dreamed of para- para- paradise
Para- para- paradise
Para- para- paradise
Whoa-oh-oh oh-oooh oh-oh-oh.

La la la La
La la la

So lying underneath those stormy skies.
She said oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh.
I know the sun must set to rise.

This could be para- para- paradise
Para- para- paradise
This could be para- para- paradise
Whoa-oh-oh oh-oooh oh-oh-oh.

This could be para- para- paradise
Para- para- paradise
Could be para- para- paradise
Whoa-oh-oh oh-oooh oh-oh-oh.

This could be para- para- paradise
Para- para- paradise
Could be para- para- paradise
Whoa-oh-oh oh-oooh oh-oh-oh.

Oo-oo-oo, oo-oo-oo, oo-oo-oo
Oo-oo-oo, oo-oo-oo, oo-oo-oo

Happy Writing!


Friday, May 4, 2012

This Week in Favs

Now that I’m back and hitting the ground running with finding the balance, This Week in Favs will now feature only the Top 25 Writing Links from the past week. Enjoy!!   :0)

Social Media, Author Websites, and Marketing

“Marketing the Self-Published Book: Tips that Work” on The Chipper Muse

“10 Tips to Help You Keep Your Head While Vlogging” on Jenny Hansen’s blog, More Cowbell

On the Craft

“Promises Promises Promises” by Stina Lindenblatt on Seeing Creative

“Top 5 Most Important Moments of Your Story” by Tom Beingessner, Jr. on The Weekend Writer

“How to Make Your Novel Scratch and Sniff” by Marcy Kennedy

“Voice: You Are Not Your Characters” by Ava Jae on Writability

“Power Words Save the Day” by Stina Lindenblatt on Seeing Creative

“Before Fingers Touch Keyboard: My 6 Pre-Writing Steps” by Roni Loren

“Guest Author Jen Blood: 5 Ways to Build Suspense Like a Master” on The Other Side of the Story with Janice Hardy

“Happily N/Ever After: A Round-Up of Unboxed Advice on ‘The End’” by Therese Walsh on Writer Unboxed

“25 Realizations Writers Need to Have” by Chuck Wendig on Terribleminds

“Cliffhangers: Not Just for the End of a Book” by Jami Gold

Writerly Inspiration

“Fiction Writers: How Do You Jump-Start Your Creativity” by Daniel Swensen on SurlyMuse

“Guest Author Donna Galanti: How to Stay Inspired and Keep Writing” on The Other Side of the Story with Janice Hardy

“Stuck on Your Novel? Write Yourself a Five-Star Review” by Roz Morris on Nail Your Novel

 “5 Stellar Bits of Wisdom from a New York Times Bestseller” on Writers in the Storm

On Editing, Critiquing, Querying, Publishing and more…

“The Perils of Writing a Query Letter” on Penslinging Word Herders

“Self-Publishing Self-Test: How to Determine if You’re a Good Candidate for Self-Publishing Your Book” on Writer’s Relief blog

“How NOT to Write a Series, OR, Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket” on Jennifer Represents…

“Trimming the Fat” on Writer Musings

“Before You Hit Send on Your Manuscript” on Novel Rocket

“Step Outside Your Story World” on The Editor’s Blog

“Your Story Has Too Many Genres” on Babbles from Scott Eagan

Other Round-Ups

The Author Chronicles’ Top Picks Thursday

Stina Lindenblatt’s Cool Links Friday

Roni Loren’s Fill-Me-In Friday

Elizabeth S. Craig’s Twitterific (compilation of all the writing links she’s shared this week – updated on Sundays)

This week on the blog: 

Happy Reading and Writing, everyone!!!


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Finding the Balance, Part Deux: Warning Signs and How to Gain Control Again

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Last July I addressed every writer’s favorite topic: Balance. Back then I described life as I knew it as chaotic. Has it changed? No, not really. But instead of out-of-control chaos these days I find myself in the realm of calm, otherwise known as contained chaos – composed and unflappable. *knocks on head wood*
Last year I addressed my personal struggle with balance and shared the plan I’d created to get everything under control. I’m sure it’s needless to say, but that plan didn’t quite pan out like I’d hoped. And that’s okay. Sometimes it takes several failures before you finally realize the warning signs, what’s needed to gain back control, and how to maintain that new feeling of I’m almighty and can do anything.

Warning Signs

Sometimes we find ourselves so knee deep in life, work, projects, reading, etc. that we miss the forest for the trees. We miss the warning signs that the road we’re on is going straight to Chaosville and our vehicle is slowly but sure gaining speed.
You might need a U-turn if:
  • Someone mentions a popular TV series such as Touch, Game of Thrones, True Blood, House, M.D.,The Vampire Diaries, and Modern Family and you say, “Huh? Never heard of it.”
  • Your to-do list has grown exponentially over the last six to eight months, everything piling on top of each other, and you’ve yet to delete one or two items to lighten the load.
  • Your coworkers, friends, husband or kids can count on more than two hands the number of times you’ve said, “Oh my God, I’m soooo busy,” or “It just doesn’t stop!” or “Kill me now!”
  • You spend at least two hours every day/night writing a blog post, or with your Tweeps, or commenting on others’ blog posts. Then you’re upset because your writing time is almost nonexistent afterwards.
  • You curse yourself nearly every day because in order to be a good writer you have to be a reader first…and the finishing time for a novel lately is nearing the one month mark.
  • The last time you and your pillow made sweet, passionate snoozies you were lucky if it lasted five hours (and you can’t remember a time where you got at least 8 hours of sleep).
Any of these sound familiar to you? If more than two or three of these do then it’s time to slam on the brakes and jerk the wheel to the left. Get the hell out of dodge and don’t look back...not anytime soon at least. *smile*

Gaining Control

Once you realize you have uncontrollable chaos on your hands, it’s time to stop the time suck, evaluate, plan, re-apply (‘baby steps’) and re-apply again (in ‘time out’):
  • Stop the time suck: Break from one of your biggest time sucks (other than plotting/writing/editing, reading and education). Break from it for at least a month. Mine was blogging and social media in general.
  • Evaluate: After a week or so without the time suck, stop and evaluate how much time you now have on your hands. You’ll probably start to feel as though you have a bit too much time. *cheers* You work, come home and cook/clean, spend an hour or two on the WIP and/or other special project and/or watch a movie/TV show, and still have time to read for about thirty minutes before it’s time for bed. AND you and your pillow are once again well-acquainted!
  • Plan: Now that you’ve been unstressed by time (hopefully), you can realistically plan your time. By having so much time when you’re not at the day job, and not stressing yourself out to get this done, get that done, do this, do that, you can actually sit back and realize 1-2 hours on the WIP is enough per day or every other day. That a TV series is awesome and well worth an hour a week. That movies are a delicious break from life in general. That doing absolutely nothing for a while feels absolutely amazing and should be done at least twice a week. And so on and so forth until you begin to think, once again, that you truly can balance all of it.
  • Re-Apply: Ease back in to your previous time suck with baby steps. The last week or two of your break, ease yourself into the former time suck by maybe tweeting two-three times and commenting on blogs maybe 2-3 times a week.
  • Re-Apply: Begin anew with your previous time suck by disciplining yourself like a three-year-old in time out. Buy a timer, set it to 20 or 30 minutes, and stick to it! Spend that time visiting other blogs, chatting on twitter, and contributing to your next blog post. Rome wasn’t built in a day. It’s okay to write your posts and/or research them a little a time. Plan ahead to ease the pain.
In the end, you’ll feel more relaxed, more like yourself, more free than you had before, and more like the super-being you are.
Do you have a U-turn ahead in your future? What were your warning signs? Are you back on the road after a recent U-turn? How did you gain control of the chaos?
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