Wednesday, September 6, 2017

3 Important Writer Attributes

As an author, I always tell new writers they need to have a thick skin to survive in this business. The most important elements, at least for me, are:

·      passion

·      determination

·      perseverance

You need to believe in your passion for the written word, and continue educating yourself on the craft of writing constantly. Never become ‘that’ writer who thinks they know it all. Why? Because they fall flat, not on their ass, but their writing becomes stale, same thing, like rereading an old copy.

You need to be determined not to allow naysayers drag you down and out of your passion. And trust me, there are always naysayers out there, whether family, friends, or neighbors. They feel it’s necessary to tell you that you will never become the next Stephen King. Sadly, they don’t realize it’s not that as much as the gratification of knowing readers love your string of words. Fame is always the cherry at the top, but the passion to finish a book, have readers comment on it, there’s nothing like that feeling in the world.

And you, above all, must persevere any negative reviews, rejection slips that come your way. Take everything in stride, listen carefully what you are being told, then determine whether or not the suggestions/remarks/critiques enhance your book. But in order to ‘listen’ you must remove yourself as the author and now become the reader. 

It’s hard disassociating with your baby but that’s the only way you will be able to ‘hear’ what is being said. Leave your parent hat on and it’s like you have cotton balls stuffed in your ears. As soon as you realize you are ‘explaining’ and ‘defending’ scenes to critique partners remember that your reader doesn’t have the privilege of calling up the author and asking, “Hey, what did you mean in this scene?” So again, become the reader, listen to critique, and assess if they are right or wrong, objectively.

With hundreds of books nowadays being published every day, YOU becomes a speck among the tens of thousands of authors out there. In order to persevere, you need to be resilient, think out of the box, be passionate enough to believe in your work, and always remember it takes time to build a following. 

Regardless how tired I am, regardless how upset I am on yet another 'Why do you bother writing?' comment, regardless on time constrain...writing is my escape, my mini vacation from real life, allowing me the freedom to shape my fictional world the way I want to and meet characters that help me escape chores waiting once my feet touch back down on earth. 

Thank you for reading.

Does anyone have any other words of wisdom to offer new writers?

AUTHOR'S BIO: Lea Schizas is a mommy of five, referred to as Mother Hen by many writers. She discovered writing in her mom's womb when she believed the umbilical cord to be a really cool writing instrument. 

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Seasonal Effects on Writers and Their Characters

Seasonal Effects on Writers and Their Characters
by JP Barry
            Dusk approaches where days often began mere weeks ago.  Soft colors vanish under the unstoppable control of new, daring, bright ones that are ready to invade a palate far too mild for their liking.  The light breeze once felt against our bare skin is gone, now replaced with layers of protection used as a shield from the elements.  An amber haze sets the sky on fire with striking shades of violet, orange, and yellow.  Instead of fresh linen and honeysuckle, we now take in an earthy, sweet pleasantness.  Lush green grass turns into crunchy leaves underfoot.  Within a moment, carefree days become filled with anticipation for new beginnings and holidays.  Some enjoy and embrace the boldness and the pumpkin spiced smells of everything, while others muddle through.  

            I’m okay with waving goodbye to spring and summer, mainly because I’m not a fan of playing daily games of hide-n-seek with the hot sun.  At the first sign of fall’s impending arrival, something awakens.  Exactly what?  I have no idea, but, the draining heat of those previous days vanishes, transforming into a surge of the senses.  Perhaps the colors, sights, sounds, darkness, and chill all work as one to inspire; but my soul comes to life and remains that way until spring returns.  In the midst of one of the busiest times of the year, my characters come back to life, much like myself.  Of course I write and edit April through September, but the fall and winter months have always been more intense, producing a far better output of work.  

            As time changes for the character, much like the seasons, each creation responds differently.  In The Nearer the Dawn Saga, many positive events occur for Nina, Chase, Gabriel, and Orifiel starting at summer’s end, while most of the major negative ones happen when winter closes.  Now, this isn’t to say, good things don’t happen in June or July for anyone in this series. It’s perhaps an unconscious glimpse into me, the author, and my preferences.  

Some characters, such as Olivia and Jax, in The Cain Trilogy never discuss seasons.  Life for them is one continuous moment.  Maybe they’re overworked or other elements of existence hold more importance to them, because they’ve never expressed the desire to speak about holidays or seasonal snapshots of time.  However, for someone like Cain, this wouldn’t be the case.  Holidays would be spiked with pleasure and pain.  Pleasure drawn from material gain from receiving presents, but pain because of family circumstances, being ignored by others whom are suddenly busier than normal with their own non-dysfunctional families, and distress over lack of customer’s money because they can’t afford to pay him a visit.  I’d imagine he’d loath the beginning of fall and the self-reflection it would cause, and much like a squirrel, would deem this a time to stock up and store not only cash, but an emotional supply of some kind to sustain the cold, long, winter.  

            Honestly, until this blog idea was pitched, I never thought much about this topic.  I’ve always been aware that this time of year was a personal favorite, but never put much stock into how seasons actually affected my writing, or if they even did.  Apparently, they do.  
            For now, as the air hints and teases with moments of cool crispness, this author will happily pack away her tank tops and flip-flops, eager to throw on a warm cozy sweater and pair of boots.  Goodbye, iced coffee.  Hello, hot pumpkin, spiced latte patiently waiting for me to sit in front of the computer as creativity once again bleeds through my characters in a way only fall will allow.  

J.P. Barry is a freelance writer from New York. Combining her passion for all things spiritual and romance, blank pages began to fill with the words for The Nearer The Dawn Saga.

One moment can change everything … Darkness is near. 

Hell hath no fury like a demon scorned. 

He'll leave an imprint so dark and deep you'll be branded for life with his mark - the mark of Cain. Are you ready to beg for mercy? 

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Refresh: Sunday Musings - How and where to start

Hello, Sunday.

Everyone keeping well?

Last week we talked titles or story first and this week's question from my teen, I think, follows the next course:

How do you know where to to start?

I generally dismiss my first idea for the start of a story on the grounds that if it came to me so easily, it's probably boring! Having done that, I try to think of something a bit more offbeat and memorable. Sometimes, I like to plunge the reader into the middle of the story first, then backtrack and find the real start of the story. Wherever I start, I always try to make it so interesting the reader can't wait to find out what happens next.

Knowing where to start a story is hard, and it's not something that I always get right on the first try. I have to write the story – the whole story – from beginning to end. Only after that can I go back and see if the first chapter – or chapters – are really backstory that needs to be cut and worked into the text bit by bit. Nothing, IMO, loses a reader faster that starting with a couple of chapters of background material.

I think about my seed idea until a potential book forms in my mind and then normally start at the beginning.  There have been a couple of cases where I began writing in the middle, continued to the end, and returned to do the beginning.  This happened with PARIAH.  I couldn't get myself to postpone the specific scene and so obeyed the book and went with it.  Everything worked out smoothly.  I've learned over the years not to fight with what my books or characters really want to do.

Usually I get a sentence in my head and I put it down. This will bring me to the next one and suddenly I have an idea. Or, as in the case of writing my sequel to If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor, “Who Is Jennifer Taylor?” I thought about what if we could see Jennifer’s side of the story and it brought me to the idea of writing about her the year after the first story.

I’m a plotter and before I start writing a new book, I create an outline. When it comes to writing the actual beginning scene, I do that much later.

I wait until I know my characters really well, and what secrets they might be hiding, and then it becomes clear where the story is supposed to begin.  I find it’s easier to have my characters fully fleshed out before I write that first page. When I know their quirks and habits, and I know what is coming ahead plot-wise, I can sprinkle in some in mystery and foreshadowing and humour and all the good stuff.

So, the beginning is really one of the last things I write.

Dear reader, thank you again for joining us and we’d love to hear from you. Keep smiling and have a fun week. Never stop believing. See you next Sunday…nothing better than being cozy in bed with some Musings.