Blog Archives

Other Creative Outlets for Writers?

This past weekend, an absolutely goregous spring day, I photographed my sister and her fiance. Out of the blue, it hit me. ——-> I needed to get my expanding-can outside more often and be creative. As the shutter on my camera clicked and clacked, my brain untangled plot holes, drafted the next novel in my subconscious, calmly listed the things I needed to do for the promo of my upcoming release.

Now, you might be wondering why I had the above epiphany? It’s easy, really. Doing a non-writing creative thing unlocked my brain, allowing for thoughts to flow more organically.

I’m not just a writer. I’m a photographer. A graphic artist. A fine art aficionado. A Pinterest freak. A painter, a crafter, a gardener.

It’s all those creative endeavors that make me the quirky gurl that I am. I just have to remember that writing all the time doesn’t work for me. I need to pick up a paint brush, dig in some dirt, click that shutter– so that my muse likes being with me enough to stick around for a good long while!

So, what do you do to stoke the creative fires between writing sessions? I’d love for you to comment, post, or show off your artistic creations!

Launching a Book- What I’m Doing for KILL ME

Launching a novel is almost a full-time job. As an Indie Publisher, that equates to a lot of late nights and buckets of stress. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. It may be a complicated process, but at least it’s all mine.

The steps to launching a successful novel are, at least in my opinion, the following:

  1. Write the novelcheck

  2. Rewrite the novel- check

  3. Get a Beta reader’s opinion- check

  4. Edit according to the above’s suggestions.- check

  5. Get another Beta reader’s opinion- in progress x 2

  6. Edit some more- in progress

  7. Repeat the last few steps until the novel is ready for final edits

  8. Send novel for edits

  9. Revise yet again

  10. Send novel for copy edits

  11. Decide when the book is clear of all grammatical, syntax and writer-brain errors, then proceed.

  12. Have the novel typeset or formatted. (I’ve picked out a super-duper formatter. I’ll not share her name yet. Can’t have her getting too busy before taking care of my novel!)

  13. Procure an awesome cover that whispers to readers, “Come. Check me out. Buy me, you know you want to!” – check

  14. Set a launch date. – check, sort of. End of March for sure. Hopefully.

  15. Send out review copies and/or schedule free book giveaways on LibraryThing and Goodreads, so that the book hits the ground running with some reviews. in progress. I’ve set up a Librarything giveaway, but I need to get cracking on the others.

  16. Consider marketing & promotions. Will you take out ads? Will you do blog tours, book signings, organize giveaways and swag drawings for readers? This alone is a huge task.

  17. Publish the book in whatever formats you want. Eventually, I’m angling towards Kindle (Amazon), Nook (B&N), Smashwords (distributing to Itunes, Kobo, etc) and Createspace. At first, KILL ME will be exclusive to Amazon so it can take advantage of the Select promo tools.

  18. Hit the publicity train doing blog tours, author interviews and generally selling your soul to anyone that will read/ mention/ or tweet about the book.

  19. Consider praying, casting a circle under a full moon while chanting in ancient tongues, sacrificing unworthy manuscripts, or anything else that may shine some favorable light on your spanking new baby book.

  20. Meanwhile, start writing a new novel.

  21. Rinse, repeat.

Sounds easy, doesn’t it? (I’ll try to keep my cackling down to a dull-roar.) 

Character Sketches from Polyvore (Blood Chord Novel)

For lack of any serious drive to edit my forthcoming novel, Blood Chord, I decided to spend the evening in mindless Computer-dom. Enter wicked-kewl website Polyvore! I first noticed this site over on Shea MaCleod’s blog and then again the other day while hopping around the IWU Christmas Blog Hop, over on Christine’s site. Polyvore looked like the perfect way to waste away an evening, and I was right. Sort of.

Aside from the few hours I spent searching for the perfect inspirations for two of the main characters from my upcoming release Blood Chord, I discovered something interesting: I have a moderate boo-boo to correct in the novel. Confused yet?

I still am a little. You see, while compiling the polyvore board for one of my secondary characters, Bette, I discovered that I made her do something completely out of character towards the end of the novel. How did I figure that out, you might wonder? Well, I spent over an hour crafting Bette’s board and when I was done, I compared it to what I know of Bette in the novel to see if everything gelled. It didn’t.

Bette is sultry, seductive even without trying. She is controlled and coiffed. Bette is courtly, reserved. She is above flagrant dislays of emotions, especially in the presence of others. And I made her wig out- a complete scratch-your-eyes out hissy-fit. Bette would never do that. She’d rather take a stake to the chest, but that’s another topic altogether. So now I have to fix the gaffe, but I’m glad I discovered it sooner rather than later.

So I didn’t exactly waste my time tonight playing on Polyvore, now did I? On top of making my novel better in the long run, I’ve now discovered the first place I’m going to stop when creating new characters. It’s a perfect way to get to know the people inside my head that much better!

So what do you think of the Polyvore boards below?

Character Sketch - Bette's Style (Blood Chord Novel)
Character Sketch - Claire's Style (Blood Chord Novel)

Post-Christmas Updates

I hope everyone out there had a great holiday and I’m sorry I didn’t get around to wishing you all the best sooner! Other than the holidays, I’ve had several things sucking my time away over the last few weeks. Finding a replacement vehicle for my husbands totaled truck. Unloading our house. Finding a new house. Packing and moving right before Christmas. Two kids that need a mommy who is in the Holiday spirit. Hopefully, things are going to get back to normal soon.

I finally selected a new book to read. After weeks of no reading, I was itching to get my nose stuck in a proverbial e-book. I settled on Walking On Broken Glass, by Christa Allen. Originally, I added the book to my samples pile in my Kindle because I adored the cover. I didn’t even know what the novel was about. I’m quirky like that sometimes. At any rate, so far, so good. I’m getting into the book and I’ll report back to let you know my thoughts after I finish it.

Otherwise, I’m dying to get back to the edits on Blood Chord and to finish the other few books I’ve been working on. Now, if it would just snow several feet– enough to keep me locked in the house for a few days, maybe I could catch up on all the work I have to do!

Writing Prompt #1

Often while toiling away in my daily life, whether I’m at work designing custom art for industry musicians or knee-deep in a pile of dirty laundry, I’m struck by a flash of sudden story inspiration. SSI for you folks who like to abbreviate everything.

(No that’s not my head. I do many things to my hair- the current expression being chocolate with a literal blue-streak, but if I shave my head my spouse would probably give up entirely!) 

Don’t chuckle at my affliction, please. It is a real and depressing condition. Seriously. Harvard is giving away grant money to studies that are actively seeking a cure. I promise! Merck already has an expirimental drug. I’m all over that… just as soon as they eliminate a few of the “explosive” side effects.

But I digress. Imagine, if you will, being a writer without enough time to get all of those delicious stories out of her head. They crowd and jostle. It feels like when drank too much Kool-aid as a kid. I can practically feel the sloshing-around. Can you feel my pain yet? Of course you can. You’re probably like me: a voracious reader, writer and overall busy person.

So, without the ability to clone myself or the funds to hire a maid, I’ve decided to set some of my little gems free. So without further ado, here’s my inagural Writing Prompt #1:

I heard someone say that every seven years, the human body goes through one complete cycle of replacing its cells. The person you were seven years ago is physically an entirely different than the one you are today. Now, I have no idea if this is actually true, but think of the literary possibilities!

What if, instead of genetic replicas of the former cells, a virus is activated. Maybe it’s a curse unleashed by a relic. Or a deadly consequence from clandestine experiments. Whatever the cause, slowly your body’s cells are replaced by these mutants. So slowly, that none of your friends or family notices until that crucial tipping point is reached. You begin to act completely out of character. Maybe you are discovered gnawing on a fluffy little bunny-wabbit in the back yard. Or maybe you begin to lose your memories one at a time- one for each cell that’s replaced.

What if the affected person is your spouse, your cherubic toddler, your boss? What if it’s the ruler of the free world? Or that sweet little old ladie that always gives you her peppermints?

What does the “replaced” person want? How has the cellular switcheroo affected them? Do they crave human brains marinated in tobasco sauce? Do they go off on an altruistic journey?

Are they even human anymore? Is it contagious? If so, how is the virus (or proton, amoeba, etc.) spread?

Now that I’ve given you some food for thought, what will you do with it? If you decide to craft a story or novel from this prompt I’d love to hear about it! Feel free to leave links in the comments below so we can all see how one idea can spin off into infinite directions!

Winning, Wrecks and Witches

Whew, it’s been a killer month. NaNoWrimo has kicked my butt, I’ll have to admit first and foremost. I have probably broken that coveted 50k word goal, but it’s been spread out over 4 different works in progress (including one spanking new baby that seems to be about past lives and why people aren’t supposed to rememeber them!) so unless I wanna be a NaNo cheater I won’t be getting my banner this year 😦

Besides all that holiday madness and NaNo, I had house guests for the first two weeks of the month. Of the manly-hunting variety. I’m just now recovering from the Camo overload. Then, my husband had the misfortune of wrecking his truck. Or rather, some random guy crashed into Hubby and had no license, insurance etc. So we’ve been dealing with that and trying to find a suitable replacement truck. (Here’s his mangled deer-hauler. How sad is that?)

And of course, I’m busting my hump to get BLOOD CHORD ready for publication sometime this month. I will beat the holiday rush, dag-nabbit. You can enjoy the tentative cover for that while I procrastinate via blogging.

Lastly, the third book in what has become my favorite series as-of-late, A Reckless Witch by Debora Geary has finally been released! I’m so excited about it that I can’t wait to find a couple of hours to read it. (You may remember I’ve reviewed the first two books in the series previously.) If anyone beats me to it– NO SPOILERS! I mean it!

That’s it. I’m off to finish editing my novel Blood Chord so it can be born, grow up, and move out of my house already!

Indie Authors and Novels: Updates 11/7

Thought I’d take a few minutes to share with you some interesting, and movin-on-up Indie Author/ Novel news. First, the winners of last months Indie Author Rockstar have been announced and it was a tie! Getting some well deserved recognition for the month of November is KATE AVERY ELLISION with The Curse Girl and DAN HOLLOWAY with The Company of Fellows. Both of these winners were voted on by a panel of peers and were selected because they are both exceptional books that should def. be checked out. So what are you waiting on—-> go check!

Also, our very own short story collection SKIN has been chosen for the current collection over on Indie Author Rockstar, so while you’re over there looking around, why not check out the current nominees as well?

The book I reviewed just a few days ago, The Temple, is featured over on Pixel of Ink today. Go Temple, Go!

One of my favorite Indie Authors is Michelle Muto (you may remember I reviewed her Book of Lost Souls a while back) and I just realized I missed her latest release, Don’t Fear The Reaper. Looks like a very interesting novel, and I’ve already added it to my TBR stack on my Kindle app.

One of my favorite Indie Authors regularly updates her blog, and every time I get a notification I have to read it right then and there. I’m addicted. Really. I simply adore her posts and I’m positive you will to. Head over to Shea’s site and subscribe to her updates. I dare you not to love them! (On a side note, Shea also has a new long novella/ short novel out- Dragon Warrior –  and the cover alone is very, uh, exciting.)

That’s all for today! If anyone knows of any killer new releases, Indie Authors making a name for themselves etc, please do let me know 🙂

Oh, NaNo Muse, Where Fore Art Thou?

So it’s already day 5 of NaNoWriMo and I’ve only managed a couple of hundred words on this year’s project. I should be at least 8,000 words into the blasted thing by now. Sigh.

So what’s the hold-up you say? Okay, so maybe you didn’t say, but I’m going to tell you anyway. In list form:

1. The first two weeks of every November (when NaNo runs) I have a house full of family up from South Carolina. They come for the opening of Hunting season, so I am overrun with Camo, Ammo and testosterone. And very little free time.

2.I’ve been a busy-little Photog the past few days. Last night I spent a few hours photographing a local salon, Vanity Hair, who had recently relocated and needed a photogallery for their website. I got home and began editing right away, and didn’t find myself headed to bed until close to 1 a.m. Then, I headed out again to the same Salon to be the “model” photog for a Princess birthday party. And for the rest of this evening I was once again strapped to my desk editing images.

3. My muse is a little scatter brained. She’s torn between finishing/ editing a Paranormal novel that’s near completion, and moving on to a new story for NaNo. There’s also the 3 partial manuscripts also demanding her attention. Not to mention that after watching the entire first season of the Walking Dead on my iphone while editing last night, I now have another potential novel idea (came from me dreaming all the night long about Zombies trying to eat me!)

So I’m stuck. My creative well runeth dry. And that frustrates the heck out of me. So, tomorrow I’m locking myself in my bedroom with a liter of Coca-Cola, a package of processed sugar (probably in cookie form) and my little writing set-up (ipad, keyboard) and just write. Who cares if it’s crap? Who cares if I bulldoze over most of it when the editing process rolls around? The important thing is that I just Get To It, Already! Isn’t that the whole point of NaNo anyway?

It’s Almost Time For NaNoWriMo!

The time is near for writers everywhere (or wanna-be’s) to cast off their daily responsibilities, shun family and friends, and do the unthinkable- write a complete novel in just 30 days. Not possible, you say? Of course it is, and thousands of writers prove it every November!

 

What is this organized chaos I speak of? Why it’s NaNoWriMo of course. For those not in the know, that quirky little abbreviation stands for National Novel Writing Month. Every Novemeber writers pledge to write a novel, which in this case is defined as having at least 50,000 words. That’s actually a “thin” novel by traditional publishing standards, but it will give you solid bones to work with when the edits start later.

The sponsoring site, NaNoWriMo.org let’s you create a free account, input a little info about yourself and effectively gives you a novel page where you can update your word count ticker, view the progress of your friends and scour the forums for support, inspiration, or answers to the ever-cropping-up plot problems along the way.

I’ve participated in NaNo two years, one of which I “won” or crossed the 50,000 word mark and the other (my first year) it never really got off the ground. That’s probably because I tried to write as I normally do, from the seat of my pants and lost steam quickly. My second attempt went much better because I had an outline of sorts.

For my second attempt at NaNo I used Scrivener, which let me draft index cards for tentative chapters so that when I sat down to write each evening I had a clear path charted ahead. That was extremely helpful considering that I always have family up to visit from South Carolina for the first two weeks of the month. And then there’s the distraction of Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Christmas prep. Yes, I know. That sounds like a lot to cope with.

It is. And it also isn’t.

To reach your goal of 50,000 words you must churn out 1,667 words per day. I have emails that are longer than that. The trick is to meet that daily goal each and every day, lest you find yourself like I was last time- with three days left and still short almost 20,000 words. I barely remember that weekend.

But I made it! And there’s really nothing like pulling it off. Who knows, you might even get a marketable novel out of it! Now, time to start plotting my NaNo project 🙂

Book Review: Let’s Get Digital by David Gaughran

So I won a copy of David Gaughran’s Let’s Get Digital and let me just say, if you are even considering taking the Indie-plunge, this book is a fast must-read. It will save you a lot of trial-by-fire mistakes and keep you from wasting hours combing the ‘net for the best tips on publishing your first book

This book is compressed with tips to help the first time indie author, but the schooling doesn’t just apply to Newbs. I’ve been at this for a while now, and I could have skipped hours of research by getting this book. And even novice publisher’s like me will gain a few ideas to take their career to the next level. As an added bonus, included are features from numerous successful and up-and-coming Indie Authors.

Let’s face it… as a virgin Indies, we not only browse for tips and information, but we also look for the tiniest sliver of promise within the “success stories” of the industry. This book delivers on all counts, and I can see a time in the near future when Let’s Get Digital will become the first stop for all those that consider bypassing the legacy publishing system by taking control of their own destiny. So what are you waiting for? Go check it out!

Meet Indie Author Jolea M. Harrison

Today I’d like to introduce a fabulous writer I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of as she releases further books in her series– Jolea M. Harrison. Give her a warm welcome, why don’t cha! (And by all means, pop on over to her site or check out her book when you’re done getting to know her!)

1. What made you decide to Indie Publish? Any particular author/ website that helped you learn the ropes?

A friend of mine, author Dayle Dermates talked to me back in February or March about Indie publishing and she recommended Krisitine Kathryn Rusch’s publishing series The Business Rusch and after reading all those articles (a small book in themselves) I was led to her husband Dean Wesley Smith’s website and from all that information I decided to self-publish.

2. Of the publishing process, what is your favorite part? Least favorite?

The best part is getting to know other fantastic writers. There is no other group so supportive and kind! The second best part is being read by complete strangers. That is a trip. Formatting is my least favorite part. All the ereader makers need to get on the same page and use one universal format. I mean, come on!

3. If you could give advice to someone that is considering becoming an Indie, what would it be?

Don’t rush. That is really hard advice to follow. If you rush, you’ll make mistakes and possibly hurt your reputation. Seek the opinions of fellow authors and be prepared to take criticism. It’s part of the deal. If you can’t take a critique from a fellow author, dealing with a bad review will be devastating.

4. Do you have a set writing routine? Do you outline, or just start and see where it goes?

I write whenever I can, which is haphazard moments throughout the day, depending on what life chores I have to deal with. When I realized my story was expanding beyond three books, I took a moment and wrote down the bare bones outline. Had to. Otherwise, there’s a lot of unplanned stuff that comes out of nothing. I like to let it.

5. How do you keep the muse around? Anything quirky that you do to get into the writing mode?

I’ll pick up a favorite fantasy book like Lord of the Rings or watch something like a show on the universe, or outer-space. That usually brings on the ideas.

6. What are you working on now?

Myth, The Second Chronicle, Guardians of the Word. I’m connecting some dots and then have to let it stew for a week or two.

7. Tell us about one of your books, and where it can be purchased? 

The only book I have out, Chosen, is available digitally and paperback as well. Check out the links below! It’s the first book of a series called The Guardians of the Word, and is about a young man trying to figure out who he is, thrown into a situation he isn’t prepared to deal with, and finding a way to manage it and survive with the stakes as high as they can get. On a larger scale it’s about good and evil and what throws the universe out of balance when one gains more power than the other.

You can find my book, Chosen, here –  Chosen on Amazon
And on Smashwords here – Chosen on Smashwords
On Barns and Noble here – Chosen on Barnes and Noble
I’m on Facebook – Jolea M. Harrison facebook

My blog is here – http://jm-harrison.com/

And on twitter here – http://twitter.com/joleab

Creating Believable Characters in Fiction

There are several ways to establish a connection with the reader to ensure they will read on, the easiest is by having interesting, believable characters.

When writing fiction, creating believable characters is one of the best things that you can do to ensure that your story will be read and treasured. A great fictional character can overcome many things, like a weak plot line or touchy subject matters. How do you create believable characters? The keys to creating believable characters are commonality, originality, dichotomy, desire, and peculiarity.

First, when writing fiction, give your characters some sort of attribute that will allow the reader to identify with them. For a story targeted to housewives and mothers, give the character a little obsession over her thighs. For a mystery, give the character something to worry about, like his family, career or health. The key here is commonality.

Now, while you should give a reader some reason to identify with the character, you don’t want to create a character that just screams cookie-cutter either. If writing about a Private Detective, don’t make him tall, dark and scruffy. Do the unexpected. Make him a woman (but avoid the obvious clichés here too) or bound to a wheelchair. Give your character something unanticipated. In Janet Evanovich’s best selling series, her heroine Stephanie Plum is a female bail-bondsmen with little experience or training. The key here is originality.

Lemonade without either the sugar or the lemons would be unpalatable, and so, every believable character needs contrasting elements. Good versus evil, or desires fighting with responsibilities. A conniving, flashy lawyer is boring, until we learn that he doesn’t own a car or lives in a run down neighborhood. A reader would wonder why, and they would continue reading to find out. Dichotomy is the key here.

Give your fictional character desires, something to accomplish, because without something driving the character, a reader won’t want to follow him into the story. Maybe your struggling artist wants to be famous as a way to win a girl. Maybe a harried housewife wants to go back to school for a career and some sanity. Maybe a terminally ill woman wants to live long enough to give birth to her only child. This shouldn’t be confused with plotting. Plotting is what happens in the story and the ambition is what makes your character do certain things throughout the story. The key here is desire.

We all have our quirks—that’s what makes us different and that’s what also makes for interesting and believable characters. The character Adrian Monk (played by Tony Shalhoub on USA Network’s show Monk) is a detective with a whole host of phobias, and viewers love him. Don’t give a character a slew of quirks though, because you would risk turning your reader off. Instead, a few well placed oddities will make your character more fallible and human. Maybe he still drinks Tang by the gallon even as a forty-year-old man. Maybe a woman drives the exact same route to work every day because she believes that to deviate would invite catastrophe. Whatever you give your character, the key here is peculiarity.

If you take care in giving your characters life and breath by using the keys outlined—commonality, originality, dichotomy, desire, and peculiarity—you will be closer to creating a story that someone will read and characters that they will believe and identify with.

Elements of Fiction Writing – Characters & Viewpoint

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Getting into Character

 

Read More, Write Better

 I’ve shaken my head many times after hearing a writer proclaim that they don’t read much. That’s akin to a Doctor who never went to Medical school. Great writers are also great readers!

Reading is important for a fiction writer on so many levels, from genre structures to how to craft a novel. The information is there, so why wouldn’t you study it?

First, if the fiction that you write falls into any sort of genre, then you better have read books within that genre. These books tend to have formulas, and following them can be the difference between publication and rejection. You wouldn’t submit a category romance without the girl actually getting the guy at the end.

Reading is also a way to absorb great writing, to train your brain as to how a well-crafted sentence feels as it trickles over your tongue. There is no better way to elevate your prose than by reading, and reading a lot.

Some writers, while working on a particular story, refuse to read anything that resembles their story, for fear of accidentally plagiarizing. This is a legitimate fear, and one you would be well heeded to pay attention to. However, this doesn’t mean that you should never read in the genre you write; just avoid those books while actively working on something. But you should still read. If you are writing a mystery, read something literary. If you are writing something literary, read a romance.

Another reason to read abundantly is so that you can see what plots have been used or over used. Your original idea may not be original after all, but you wouldn’t know that unless you read voraciously.

By reading, you can see how differing point-of-views can help or hinder a story. You can see how effective pacing can turn a yawn-of-a-plot into a page-turner. You can see how other writers work back-story into carefully chosen segments of the story, instead of starting off with ten pages of exposition. Reading will allow you to consider your options when writing dialog, when weaving a plot, when writing the last paragraph of your story.

I once had a writer say that he didn’t read very often, because he wanted his stories to be 100% unique and out-standing. My answer to that was, well, you may end up with something all-together new, but there is a good chance that it will be so unique that no one will want to read it. Or, you will inadvertently write a plot that has been done to death, or use the entirely wrong POV for a story. If you don’t know how high the bar is set, how can you possibly hope to jump over it?

Reading novels is like studying for the Fiction Writing Graduate Exams, you have to study, study, study, before you can hope to pass into the elite group of graduates, or published writers.

Still Unconvinced? Try one of these:

How To Read Novels Like  A Professor

Reading Like A Writer