Tag Archives: amwriting

The best intentions…

Alright, so. The past two weeks have been interesting, but not good for writing. You know the old “Kids say the darnedest things”? Yeah, well, one of the munchkins in our household decided that school was the best place to say those darnedest things. Twice. On top of his older sister coming up with the brilliant idea of doing all her Image result for kids say the darndest thingshomework…and then not turning it in to the teachers. How on earth this made sense to her, I have no idea, but last week was spent dealing with all those fun times. I had one sentence written for the next chapter of Don’t Feed The Trolls. Not good, I know. I had planned on making up for it this week, but then the eldest kiddo was sick, and then there was Halloween night…ahh, fun times.

Let me explain something real quick. We have a dog, Dexter. He’s an idiot. I love him, but gods all bless, he. is. an. IDIOT. Wednesday night, my roommate took Dex out for his nightly walk. Not even ten minutes later, I smell skunk. Now, I fully cop to being weird. I love the smell of skunk, so my first reaction was “Yay! Skunk!” and then…”Wait…didn’t B just go out there…with…Dex……oh no.”

Then I heard the cussing. And the sneezing. And the whining. B comes in, still cussing. I looked at him, me: “He didn’t…?” B: “THE HELL HE DIDN’T!” Apparently, Dex decided that the black “kitty” outside looked like it needed a dog nose up its butt. The “kitty”Image result for skunk disagreed. It was too late that night to give him a skunk bath, so we just tossed his kennel in the backyard and he got to spend the night outside. We spent pretty much all day yesterday dealing with the skunk mess, and giving the dog, like six baths (he still smells, but not near as bad).

Honestly, it was kinda fun, but it has definitely pushed back the new chapter of Don’t Feed The Trolls. I’m hard at work it, I promise, but yeah. No update this week (in case you couldn’t tell).

Also: I am not taking part in NaNoWriMo this year (or any, for that matter), but I encourage anyone/everyone to go cheer on those who are.

Cross your fingers and hope really hard that this week is a bit better for writing, yes?

 

Update: On Zombies and School.

One of these days, I will fall into a regular posting schedule. Maybe. Eventually…you realize I can hear you laughing all the way from here, right?

Right, well, anyway. Some of you may have noticed that only the first five chapters of “Say ‘No!’ to Zombies” are still available. This is because SNtZ has reached a critical stage: querying. Image result for querying

Yup. That’s right. I have officially begun to send my baby out to the scary world of publishers and agents. Currently, I still plan on posting the sequel, “Don’t Feed the Trolls,” to this blog and the associated ArchiveOfOurOwn account, but that may also change. I make no promises on that front, beyond that I will try to keep you all updated. On that note, right now, the best place to go for updates is my Twitter.   

Looking forward, you will also be seeing a lot of changes going on around here. A new look, new content, pages reorganized, etc.. It’s part of my coursework this semester, which is good news for you guys, and not so great news for me. I always struggle with what to write here – a common enough struggle, from what I understand – but I like getting good grades, so. Fun times ahead for all of us.

For those of you wondering when I’ll start posting “Don’t Feed the Trolls” chapters, I am aiming for Thursday, September 20th.

Updates all around

Here, a selfie apology. (Ignore my hair. It’s a mess.)

Alright, so I know things have been quiet here, but it’s been a bit of a bumpy ride this past month/two months.

First, I had a tooth that decided to go abscess. For those of you who don’t know what that’s like – it sucks. And the pain makes it damn near impossible to sleep. I’m used to going without sleep, insomnia has been a lifelong friend, but combined with the pain…ugh. To make it even better, that was the week when a big paper for class was due. I ended up having to text my professor, letting her know that it was going to be late, and why. Fortunately, I had a very understanding teacher, and she gave me an extension, but I hated to do that.

Then: the company my roommates (and I, by extension) work for had an issue with the fire alarm/sprinkler system, so we were all on fire watch for almost two weeks. Basically, every hour, one of us had to do a round on the property to make sure nothing was on fire. Every. Hour. On top of working – and in my case – schooling.

Add in the end of the school year, both kids being home, finals week, the author interview from the other day, and various other issues that have popped up…it’s just been a nightmare. (Still trying to figure out what I’m going to do with my Mondays now that “Lucifer” is gone until next year…)

Not saying there hasn’t been good to go with the bad…I’m finally figuring out Instagram, I’ve rediscovered my love for VIXX (seriously, I’ve turned into a complete teenager over these boys. It’s a bit ridiculous),  and I started work on the proper sequel to Say “No!” to Zombies. 

Ladies and gentlemen, and everything in between or out, I would like to introduce you to Book 2 of “The Survivors Chronicles” (name may change): “Don’t Feed The Trolls.”

I even made you something…um…pretty? Ha. Enjoy. And scroll down for a very short preview. As always, when it comes to Shelly, there is a warning for language.

Don't Feed the Trolls (1).png

 

World building: Putting It Together.

And now for some more advice on building your world. Last time, I talked about things you would need to help you keep your information organized. This week, it’s a bit more general advice. Ways to help you think yourself through issues/ideas you may be confused or unsure about.

Remember, this isn’t something that is 100% going to work for you. Everyone is different, so your mileage may vary – quite a bit, at that.

  1. Talk it out.
    cooperate-2924261_1920If you can’t decide on one idea or another, open up a blank document and “talk” it out with yourself. Or, better yet, with a friend or collaborator (I recommend Google Docs for this).

    Some people like to argue with themselves about which way they want a story to go, or the pros and cons of using one idea or another. If that’s you, hey, that’s fine! It’s wonderful, even. It helps sometimes, believe me, I know. The problem is: sometimes you get so caught up with chasing this idea or that idea, that you forget where you were going with it. Have it written down helps you 1. Stay on track, 2. remember all the ideas you come up with, and why you discarded them, or kept them, and 3. Oftentimes, you will come across an entirely different idea that completely blows all the others out of the water.

    Just remember, when/if you use this method: do not delete anything. No thinking, “oh this sounds stupid” and hitting backspace. Type it out: “This is stupid, what was I even thinking? ARG! Next idea, please? Brain?”

    When you are entirely done discussing whatever issue you’re trying to work out, and you have a final decision on what you are going to do, then go back and delete all the extra crap.

    Bullet point the information you want to keep (remember: keep it organized). You may even want to bullet point the ideas you rejected and why they didn’t make the final cut. That can help prevent the wishy-washy “Why didn’t I do this instead?” question that likes to rear its ugly head halfway through the damn book. You’ll be able to go “Oh yeah, that’s why!” and move on much quicker.

  2. Diversity is good.
    Think about it. Look around you. Chances are, unless you live in a backwoods small town, you’re going to see people of all colors and beliefs. There’s going to be families with mostly blondes in it. Another with mostly brunettes. There may even be a couple redheads in your community.

    Now look at the world you created. Is everyone exactly the same? If they are, you might want to make sure you have a really good reason why. I’m not saying you need the “token black guy” or the “nerdy Asian” stereotypes. You just need to have more than busty blondes and chisel-jawed heroes. Spice it up. Why can’t the hero be the Average Joe or Jane? Why can’t the guy with the sculpted muscles be the spunky sidekick?

    And don’t get me started on the sexualities. Just, seriously, spice. Spice is good. Spice is wonderful.

  3. Pointed diversity is insulting.
    This goes back to the “token black guy” thing. If you are just including a character of color/sexuality/gender to be “inclusive” – DON’T.

    It’s an insult to the people you’re “trying” to include, your story, and yourself. 
  4. Do your research
    This is where it can get fun, believe it or not. You just have to make sure you don’t fall into the Wikipedia abyss. This actually also ties into a major pet peeve of mine regarding research vs. creative license. I understand that sometimes it’s tempting to just write whatever you want, and claim creative license – research can be tedious, believe me, I know – but when you do your research, it shows and it really helps to make things so much better. It feels more authentic. Plus, a person who reads a lot of that particular genre will be able to tell that you’ve put in the work, and will appreciate your story all the more.

    There’s also the chance you’ll get a new idea to play with, which is always a bonus.
    And now for one that is slightly off topic, but still important:
  5. SAVE YOUR SOURCES.
    This one probably sounds insulting at first (“Psh, like I don’t know how to bookmark a site!”), but trust me: sometimes that’s not enough. When I say “save your sources” I mean save them. If the site won’t allow you to download the page, screenshot or copy and paste the important information into a word file and save it (as well as the site address and/or authors of the article). Writing a book can take a long time; you don’t want to do what I did, and lose one of your sources when the person running the site loses interest and lets their domain expire. The internet WayBack Machine can only do so much. 

    On that same note, however, make sure your information is up to date. Don’t use information from the 1950s to write a book in 2018 (unless your story is actually set in 1950s, in which case, your characters can/should only act on the information available in their own time…).This bit of advice is mostly aimed at those of you who are working with ideas that aren’t very well known, or societies that a lot isn’t known about (ie: Sumer, FreeMasons, certain types of cults, religions, etc.). Whether it’s because people lose interest over time, or other reasons – in the case of cults, societies, and religions, anyway – a lot of the sites with somewhat useful information tend to disappear.

    I know some/most of us probably use Wikipedia for our sources, but even those pages change sometimes, so the point remains. Save your information.

 

Keep in mind: I am not here to tell you how to write. We all have different styles, and let’s be honest, there is no real expert on writing. There are professionals in a field, but that does not make them “experts” and what works for them might not work for you.

The suggestions I’ve made here are not rules. These are simply ideas and tricks that I’ve picked up along the way – ones that I wish I had heard about/figured out long before I did. I hope you find them at least somewhat useful.

#BatFiles 1 – Distractions

Ah, what doesn’t distract me from writing?

Right now, it’s this blog. And homework. And DC Legends on my phone, Criminal Case on Facebook, and Homescapes on my tablet. There’s also the new wall going up in my room (long story, will explain later), so there’s moving stuff out of my room, painting, moving the stuff back in.

There’s making sure the kids do their homework and chores before my roommates go on vacation, doing my grocery shopping for the week, and getting ready for my vacation next month (yes, I plan this far ahead). Let me put it this way: when I began writing this, my roommates hadn’t left for vacation yet. They’ve been gone a few days now. It has taken me two weeks to write two paragraphs. Oyvey.

Honestly, with life, it’s entirely too easy to get distracted, and we all know it. I try to make myself sit down and focus on just one thing, but unless I’m really feeling whatever it is, my brain goes “SQUIRREL!” and I end up going down the rabbit hole. On the plus side, I learn so much, because the rabbit holes are usually of the philosophical sort, but on the downside, my writing suffers.

I’ve tried every suggestion I’ve been given to keep myself on track and none of them have worked. I have an app now called StayFocusd, and I plan on giving it a try next, but I already know I’m going to end up turning it off. I hate having limits putting on me. My brain goes all “Bring Down the House” Queen Latifah on me and by the time it’s done having its say, my ass is hanging from a bathroom hook at a fancy country club, and I don’t ever want to have that conversation again, either. So yeah, limits are a bad thing.

One day I will find a way to get my brain to just shut up and let me work, but I’m not holding my breath waiting.

Reblog: A New Frontier

Side project. Kinda? Something I’ve been helping out with, but she’s been doing so well on this, I’m actually impatient to see how it’s going to go, lol.

The Biblio Feels

Hiya friends. Have you ever tried to step out of your comfort zone and try something new? I’m betting you have, BUT have you stepped so far out that you need to create a whole new world to inhabit? (Sorry, my brain went totally Aladdin here, and I’m on a flying carpet with a petty thief. But hey, he makes the fezzes are cool!) Okay, I’m back, wow, that went from Aladdin to the Doctor real fast.

I decided last year to try my hand at a completely different genre. See usually, I tend to write in the crime/murder mystery genre. Not this time peeps. My crazy ass friend Tiff (you guys might know her as Tiffany Crystal, check out the blog. I recommend Say ‘No’, you won’t regret it) talked me into giving sci-fi a try. Well, I’m an alien nerd (I mean, I have an alien…

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“Say ‘No!’ to Zombies” 2

Well, the good news is that the sequel to “Say ‘No!’ to Zombies” is coming along nicely, and looks like it will start with the New Year. Bad news is…it’s still untitled. Oops? Hey, at least it’s not big bad news, right? Also, I’m in a somewhat good mood, so I figured I’d share a (very) short excerpt. Enjoy.

 

   Right after we locked everything down, we all called our families. Jo got ahold of her husband. Told him to keep their daughter home, and lock the house down. Basically, sit tight for as long as they could. Ryan got ahold of his mom, but his father had already turned and attacked her. She was on her way to the hospital when he called. His sister was with her. She refused to leave their mother, but passed the warning on to her husband. Everyone else…I don’t know all the stories. I know, by the end of the second week, between family members and the people they brought with them, our number had more than doubled. Neither of my parents answered their phones, but I kept calling anyway.

In the first week, we had six people turn, three people killed themselves, and ten? Twelve? I think? A bunch of people. They left. By the end of the second week, though, things calmed down and everything started blurring together. Joe ended up in charge, which, frankly, never should’ve happened. He was a terrible manager, and an even worse leader. It was Jo, or me, or Lori coming up with ideas, like hooking up the hoses outside for showers. Using the shelves to give us all our own private spaces. You know, things that make living a bit easier to bear when the world is falling apart.

Then the power started flickering. I knew it was coming. I tried warning Joe, but he wouldn’t listen. I started making plans with Lori and Jo that day. We had never unpacked the cars in the garage, so whenever one of us was on monitor duty, the others would sneak more supplies out to the cars. We caught Ryan doing the same thing one night with the pickup truck, and brought him into our plan. He and his son, AJ were a huge help. He had worked in the sporting goods department, so he had snuck out a bunch of camping supplies. Camping stoves, cans of propane, tents, guns, the whole works.

NaNoWri-NO!

I swear. Every other year, I see/hear about people participating in NaNoWriMo, and I ask myself “why not?” and I decide to give it a try the next year. Halfway through, my word count is at half of what it’s supposed to be (and that’s if I’m lucky), the feeling of failure starts sinking in, and I suddenly remember “oh, this is why!”

know we’re not supposed to get discouraged. I know that every single word, even if we only write five for the whole month is still five more than we had before, but it doesn’t help. Especially when there are people calling out their word counts, and you can’t help but compare theirs to your own and feel like you’re fighting a losing battle.

I fell into the NaNo void this year. I am currently about 20k words behind, and Thanksgiving week, when the kids will be home from school starts on Monday. I also have two major assignments coming up that same week, and the week after, during the last week of NaNo. I’m not counting on catching up. I’m pretty much making this post to remind myself not to fall for this again. I’m still writing, don’t get me wrong, but I am refusing to let myself feel bad for not reaching the goal.

For those of you who are participating: Best of luck.

For those of you who are so far behind that you’re about to give up: grab a cup of coffee or tea (or whatever) and join me. We can sit together and enjoy the wooshing sound the NaNo deadline makes as it goes flying by.

The things we realize…

It’s interesting how a random thought can turn into a realization about your entire childhood. A couple weeks ago, someone on Facebook posted about how they liked horseradish, and it got me thinking about my grandfather.

In the entire time that I knew him, and I’ll grant you, it wasn’t very long, but in that time, he never asked me to bring him anything. He would ask my cousins, or my aunts and uncles, but never me, and I think I finally figured out why.

To borrow the good ol’ sports analogy, I was born with two strikes against me. Let me explain…

First, my mother.

My mother is easily the most kind hearted person I know. Sometime early in my parent’s relationship, my mom was helping make sandwiches for lunch. My grandfather asked for horseradish on his. Mom, never having horseradish before, proceeded to slather it on to the bread like it was mayonnaise, and gave it to him. Grandpa took one bite, and spat it back out, yelling, “You trying to kill me, woman?!”

That was strike one.

Then, my sister.

My brother and sister are both 9+ years older than I am, and grew up when my family was especially church orientated. When I say “church orientated”, I mean, my father was a deacon, and my mother was a Sunday School teacher. So it was church every Wednesday, twice on Sunday, and every single day during Revival. This might not seem relevant, but bear with me.

Now, my grandfather liked to drink beer. He also liked to sit in his comfy chair, which left him with a problem: how to get a nice cold beer from the fridge…without getting out of his comfy chair. His solution was to ask my sister to bring him a beer.

Remember the thing about the church? Here is where it comes into play, because, you see, the church taught two major things: respecting your elders…and alcohol is bad. So, grandpa’s solution…became my sister’s problem. Alcohol was bad, but so was refusing to do what he asked her to. Fortunately, my sister has always been smart and came up with a solution to grandpa’s “solution.” She brought him a beer from the fridge, alright. But first, she gave it a good shake.

He made it through the unexpected beer shower the first time. And the second. And maybe even the third, I don’t remember how many times she did this to him before his cogs started turning, but eventually, he stopped asking her, and turned to my brother instead.

I love my sister, let me just get that out of the way now. She is the usually the sweetest little thing. However, she has her moments. And when grandpa asked our brother to bring him a beer? Well, she had a moment. She got our brother, three years younger than her, in on Operation Respect Our Elders/Beer is Bad. It eventually got to the point where grandpa would look around, realize that they were the only two there…and get up out of his chair to go get his beer, rather than risk another shower.

That was strike two.

By the time I came around, grandpa decided it was better to change sports than to worry about any curve balls I might’ve thrown him, and – just to be safe – he also wrote my name on all of the benches…with permanent marker. Now that I’ve had time to think about it, of course, I’m surprised he didn’t take a knife and carve my name into the wood.

At any rate, it’s a childhood mystery solved.

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