February 2016.

Let me introduce you all to Lucy, from The Blode Writer. Now – I’m  always searching for my next amazing author to interview to write, and her blog caught really my eye. To be more specific, her blogs caught my eye. On www.blondewritemore.com there are three blogs: The Diary of Roxy Collins, The Writing Club, and another one that’s a bit more general, all of which are written by Lucy. My interviews, they usually consist of authors who write traditional or indie published fiction novels, but this time I wanted to explore the inner workings of a bloggers brain.  So – lets start off with Lucy telling us a bit about yourself.

LucyI am writer and a blogger. I am a mother, wife and cat owner.
Writing has always been a huge part of my life. As a child I used to sit in my Dad’s garage and create my own libraries by writing my own books. Writing has stayed with me throughout my life; when I was at university I used to write long and elaborate letters home which apparently made my mother roar with laughter. Tales of me not being able to cook, wash my clothes without dying them or generally look after myself made her morning coffee sessions (sigh!). I would like to point out that I was a nightmare teenager and spent all my time partying or in bed when my mother was giving out ‘life lessons’. In some respects this was her revenge. When I was pregnant with my two children I let my pregnancy hormones go wild and I wrote some amazing stuff.
In April 2014 I created my blonde blog. After turning 40 I decided to take writing seriously. I read that to be an author you need an online platform and a novel. The novel bit seemed to hard so I thought I would do the online platform bit first. My blog has grown and so too has my online following. I now need to finish my novel and fulfil my childhood dream.
I like writing comedy. I think we all lead busy lives and some days we just want someone to make us smile. I am a big fan of smiles.
I am currently writing two comedy series and a thriller novel.
Tell us a bit about what each blog is about.

the-art-of-blocking-out-literary-noise-1The Diary of Roxy Collins: I used to read a lot of Chick Lit. I was obsessed by the genre at one point. Then I started to grow tired of female heroines who were stick like, beautiful, rich and amazing mothers. They had fab husbands and were so far away from reality it drove me potty. I wanted to read about someone who struggles through life, doesn’t have it easy but who survives.
Roxy is my single mother, thirty something, has three kids and two useless ex partners. She’s one of life’s survivors; she has little money, lives in a run down rented house, works full time in an office and is trying to find love third time around. I love writing her and one day I might turn her into a book. For now she is someone who makes me smile!

The Writing Club: I think writers make fabulous comedy characters. We are all intense, emotional and a bit odd. I attended a writing group a few years ago and it gave me so much comedy fodder. There were tears, tantrums and awkward silences. I love the Writing Club because I am getting to know all the characters and they are fun to write about.the-writing-club
Most writers take bits of their everyday lives and weave it in to their writing. Is there any ‘real life’ in your characters? Can you tell us about how you created them?
My characters are a mash up of people I meet in everyday life.
Roxy is based on some of the amazing and inspiring single mothers that I know. I admire their strength and determination to raise their children single handedly.

The characters from the Writing Club are based on some Creative Writing Courses that I have been on and some writers that I have met over the years.

Your blog has a Chic-Lit sort of feel. Do you plan on publishing your blog(s) into a book someday?
I am writing a thriller novel. It’s about a woman who comes back to find her murderer. The story is written from the perspective of her, her best friend and her best friend’s husband. Its set by the sea and I am really enjoying working with the location.

At times I am torn about whether I should stick to writing comedy. I hope to turn Roxy into an E Book later this year.

I love asking this question! If the characters from your writing were cast, what actors would you pick to play them?

This is a great question. Ok here goes – the cast of ‘The Diary of Roxy Collins’:

Roxy Collins – Christina Hendricks from the TV series Madmen. When I think about Roxy it is Christina that springs to mind. She has the fuller figure that Roxy has and that cheeky smile. She also has bags of attitude.

Matilda Collins – This character was inspired by Morgan Saylor in the TV series Homeland. Morgan Saylor plays an amazing troubled teen and this is how I see Matilda.

Shaz – Roxy’s best mate and dating confidante. I see this role being placed by Jessica Hynes, one of my favourite comedy actresses who played Cheryl in the hit sitcom ‘The Royle Family’ – she has the dry sense of humour that I like in a character.
How can readers discover more about you and your writing?

My website: https://blondewritemore.wordpress.com
Facebook: Blondewritemore
Twitter: @Blondewritemore
Pinterest: Blondewritemore
Instagram: Blondewritemore

Do you have any tips from people trying to create a successful blog?
I would recommend blogging to anyone. My tips are:
– Find a niche subject and stick to it.
– Think of your reader when designing your blog and writing posts. I see too many blogs with huge chunks of text and are a nightmare to navigate around.
– Get on Pinterest ASAP! It brings in traffic. Use bold and colourful photos on each post.
– Be you! Add the personal touch – this is what makes a blog successful.

Are there any other awesome blogs you’ve come across that you’d share with us?
I am a big fan of Sacha Black’s blog – her blog is jam packed full of writing and blogging tips.
http://sachablack.co.uk

img_2779I see that you’ve won some awards for your blogging; can you tell us a bit about them?
In August 2015 I won ‘Funniest Blog’ award in the Annual Blogger’s Bash Awards. This is an award which is voted by the online community. I was relatively new to blogging so didn’t expect to win. It gave me confidence and helped me build my blog.

Thanks for taking the time to chat today. Keep up the great work!

The Method To My Madness: Part 2

Ebbs and Flow

Welcome back! Up to reading more of my writer musings are you?

In part one, I discussed how I write a scene. And how I consider a book to be like a movie: written in scenes not chapters. But lets back up even further from that conversation: a book being a collection of scenes, and think about how to organize a story so it naturally tells it self, creating it’s own ebbs and flows.

What do I mean by that? (I’ll tell you, because that last paragraph sounded like I’ve been hanging out with some yogi in the Tibetan mountains … naturally tells itself?) I’m talking about how your story moves along and (where I would consider) a good place to start a story.

Now I write YA, which is usually a little faster paced than other writing styles. In fact (Listen up this is a good writing tip for YA!), The average teen who reads has a short attention span. (Nooo http___www.pixteller.com_pdata_t_l-313020Waaay!) So you should pace your writing accordingly. (Duh.) Sooo – taking into account a persons average reading speed, you should change what’s happening in your YA story (change the scene, not necessarily the chapter) every ten minutes. No need to time yourself reading it! Just keep this tid-bit in mind when you’re writing. There is no magic word count number! I.e.: Hmm, it’s been about ten minutes of reading … time to throw a wrench it to things!

A change in the story doesn’t have to be big. There’s no need to go all Game of Thrones on your readers and kill off a character! Your changes can be a little subtler than that. Here are a few suggestions.

  1. Change the perspective. I.e.: Your character is in a bedroom cluttered with things. She picks out an old leather jacket from the closet, remembering who gave it to her. The scene changes from her in her bedroom holding the jacket, to a flash back of a memory of who gave it to her. Present to flash back.
  2. A character that hasn’t spoken or interacted yet, finally speaks up. Perhaps what they say gives the reader a new take on the situation. I.e.: They comment on what happened the previous night and it catches the main character off guard. “Oh my! I never knew he felt that way!”

More thoughts on story ebbs and flows …

Before I started writing HARMLESS, I read a lot of books on how to write fiction ‘well’. I daydreamed and took notes about my story for what seemed like forever before I put fingers to keyboard. There was a diagram in one of the books I read about the flow of a novel. I’ll be dammed if I could find the book, so I’m going to attempt to draw the diagram for you from memory.

Wait – I need to say one more thing before I get into this diagram. Okay – I have my big story idea in my head. It goes something like this. Girl goes through traumatic loss of her brother. Girl’s parents’ get a divorce. Girl moves from big city to small town … and girl unleashes ancient spirit that possesses her friend. (Whew, quite the jump there at the end.)

http___www.pixteller.com_pdata_t_l-313735So that’s my story in a very tiny nutshell.

Back to the diagram now! In this very informative book of writing tips, that I no longer seem to have in my collection, it said – start with a hook. The hook being – the moment when you have the reader! And put it in the first ten minutes of your book!

The hook in my story is ‘girl unleashes ancient spirit’. Chronologically, there is a lot of story that comes before the unleashing moment, but I don’t have time for that in this first part. I only have ten minutes to hold the dwindling attention of my reader. So all that super cool back story will have to wait. I only have time for essentials!

 

My super cool drawing!

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I’ve numbered the diagram to make this a little easier to explain.

  1. As you can see, right away in my storyline diagram, the excitement, the engagement, goes up. This is my moment of no return. Something happens that alters my characters plotted life course! Yeeee! Exciting!
  2. We are past the exciting hook. Things may have settled for the moment. The main character is flooded with questions and possibilities. What will happen next? Then BAM! A quarter through your story should be another big exciting moment. Wow didn’t see that coming! Now there is no ignoring what could have been coincidence. The plot thickens! (Insert evil laugh here.)
  3. The middle of your story. Don’t let it get saggy! IF YOU ARE BORED WRITING, THEY ARE BORED READING! Never forget that. The middle of your story is just as important as any other parts. I like to get into what I call ‘mini stories’ in the middle. Those awesome nerd-nuggets, back story, gems that will keep your reader going. I.e.: weave in a flashback, explain a quirk, debunk a myth! The mini story bits are endless.
  4. Building tension like the impending crash of a freight train. Then BOOM, the ending! An event which if your character survives is forever changed … not always for the better. All parts of a book can be tricky to write, but endings are what you leave your reader with. I’ve heard that, what people remember most about a book is not what it was about, but what feelings it left them with. What feelings will you leave them? It’s a bigger question then you think. One more pearl of wisdom when writing endings … I heard this at an event where Veronica Roth and Tahereh Mafi where speaking. Veronica Roth said that her editor told her, “You will find your end in your beginning.” Best advice ever! Ponder that for a while when you are having trouble with your ending.
  1. The tail-end. I like to keep this short and sweet. Say something poetic and call it a day. Some readers might want to know what happens ‘after’. But I say, if your readers want more – write book two.

So that’s my pictorial tutorial on the ebbs and flows of a YA story. But I’m not quite done yet … here is my tail-end.

Diagrams, tips, tricks and other things with help you figure out the intricacies of what good writing is. BUT the only way to go from being good to great, as with most anything – is to do it! So write, every day, even if you don’t feel like it.

Wow! That just sparked an idea for my next Method To My Madness Blog! Writing when you’re not in the mood: You aren’t always sunshine and rainbows, and neither are your characters!

 

Good writing and good reading to you all.

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Eight Steps to Fitness for Writers

Novel writing is a marathon that’s interspersed with bursts of speed, hurdles, and trip wires (aka plot holes). And yet it’s a very stationary sport. It’s easy to succumb to the temptation of staring out of the window, sipping from the half-empty coffee cup or vodka glass, as you ponder the inevitable: that like all writers, you are suffering from writer’s block. You are, of course, allowed to.

Writer’s Fitness – a Healthy Body for a Healthy Mind

Yes, writing is hard mind work—but minds are at their best in a healthy body. A fit body gives more energy, more thinking power…and builds a winning confidence that can feed into all areas of a writer’s life. “Your Workout Makes You Smarter”, an article in Scientific American in July 2009, explains that “physical exercise is critical to vigorous mental health”.

This is something I have certainly found in my life to be true. I used to box competitively, and noticed pretty early on that the fitter I was, the more effective I became at achieving goals inside and outside the ring. Pretty soon it was clear that in order to achieve my daily written-word target, I needed to spend many hours per day at my desk—but I also needed to be physically fit. The words just didn’t seem to flow from within when the vessel that held them wasn’t in top working order.

I believe that we are comprised of a mind, a body and a spirit—and the body minds spirits! So, the first step is to pour the Smirnoff and the cappuccino onto the knot weed that’s chewing through your home’s (and your writing’s) foundations—and to take some exercise.

Support for Your Writer’s Fitness Plan

It’s one thing to have a fitness plan, it’s another to stick to it. I’ve tried a lot of different ways to “trick” myself into exercising over the years. In the end, what worked best for me was a multi-level support plan.

  1. Find a Friend4.Fitness in Yr Daily plan

First—find a friend who shares your fitness ambitions. You can both then encourage, congratulate, or cajole the other into actually doing it.

I’m lucky because my co-trainer is my editor. This means our work schedules are often focused on the same deadlines so we can co-ordinate our gym visits too. Even though my editor works on the other side of town, we check in via email to push each other along.

It doesn’t matter whether your friend is in the same country—though similar time zones can be helpful—what matters is the consistency and the commitment of you and your partner to stay in touch and support each other in your goals.

  1. Make a Plan

The second is to draw up a (realistic) plan and monitor progress. This can be via a spreadsheet or (in my case) a piece of paper pinned to the bathroom wall above the sink.

The key thing here is to write it down. There’s more impact when looking at marks on a calendar that clearly show when days have been missed. Somehow, just noting it in the brain doesn’t have the same effect. We are writers and respond well to the written word—so write your plan down, update it daily and put it where you can see it.

  1. Banish TBSALA Syndrome

The third is to rid yourself of TBSALA Syndrome. This is perhaps the most important of all. It stands for: The Bathroom Scales Are Lying Again.

Arbitrary numbers have never worked for me. To be allowed to box competitively, you must make a certain weight. This meant weeks before an event of monitoring exactly how much I consumed, with daily trips to the weighing scales. I learned pretty quickly that the scales never lied. They also never made me happy. As soon as I stopped competing, I threw them away, which was a liberating experience.

Not only was it a mental burden banished, but I also became more aware of how my body felt at its correct weight. I learned how to “feel” the difference if I gained or lost a few pounds. Without the scales to rely on, I had to learn the feeling of normal for myself. It takes a while to get used to, but looking at scales puts distance between us and our bodies. It’s indirect. If you make exercise a part of your routine, you’ll notice on your calendar notes when you miss a day. Your body will tell you too.

  1. Make Fitness Part of Your Daily Plan2.make a plan

I start my day with a brisk fifteen minute walk to a local coffee shop. It’s enough to wake me up and I fill my time considering the writing challenges that kept me awake the night before. Then I drink a decaf or herbal tea, read the paper, and do the word puzzle, hoping to beat the Bulgarian trainee barista who wins four times out of five.

Why not add a gentle morning walk to your routine? More and more, I hear walking is the exercise of choice—there are several Meetup walking groups (www.meetup.com) in my area. If you find walking suits your style and want to go further, perhaps there’s a walking group near you.

  1. Add Moments of Meditation Daily – Fitness for the Mind!

After the coffee shop, it’s a brisk trot back to my desk. I open the Word file for my manuscript and write until lunchtime (the timing of which is dictated more by hunger pangs than by a clock). Then after a light lunch, I lie on the sofa for twenty minutes and blank out.

It’s a form of meditation—and I try not to fall asleep. When I rise, I feel recharged in body and mind. So I stretch a little, then write some more. This is usually the time of day when I am at my most productive.

It may feel silly to stop and take time for oneself, especially when there are pressing deadlines to be met. But give it try. Persevere. It’s an effective way to supercharge your productivity and it only takes moments.

  1. Make Sure You Move Every Hour!

When writing, I try to limit myself to an hour of sitting at a time. After that, I get up and move around. Web MD recommends two minutes of walking every hour to boost health (www.webmd.com, Dallas, Mary Elizabeth, April 30, 2015). In 2016, I’m planning to buy a treadmill so that I can create a “walking desk”, to enable me to walk and write at the same time.

Author Yann Martel of Life of Pi fame uses a walking desk—and it seems to work well for him. You can see him on Youtube discussing it at www.youtube.com/watch?v=-JBJMhJqgu0 .

  1. Find Exercise That You Love1.Find a Friend

Walking may not be the exercise that most speaks to you. But there are so many sports to choose from. And sometimes a change of pace is fun too. Even a favorite sport can become repetitive. Alternating between types of exercise can keep interest levels high.

Late afternoon/evening for me is the time for a gym visit or swim. I try to alternate sessions and aim for four workouts a week. Swimming is an incredible form of exercise because it’s highly efficient (working most muscle groups) and low impact. In the gym, it’s skipping, hitting a bag, stretching, and fast reps with light dumbbells.

Why not be adventurous? Find out what you enjoy. You can also alternate your favorite exercise with a new sport. What have you never tried but always wanted to? Does your exercise partner have a suggestion?

  1. What Motivates You?

One of my most powerful fitness motivators is the sense of guilt—letting myself down—if I miss a session. This feeling lingers until I hit a new target, whether it’s about losing weight or a certain number of push ups etc. I try to push myself extra hard after a missed session.

The energy of others working out nearby motivates me too. I’m fortunate in that I really do enjoy exercise. However, I find it difficult to work hard when I’m alone, so I aim to train when there are others around. Pretty soon you start recognizing and talking to people. As writing is a lonely occupation, I find this interaction stimulating. And once your new friends learn that you write, they usually want to know more…

But everyone is motivated by different things. Some make a promise to their exercise buddy about a target they hope to achieve; others promise themselves treats after a goal is reached. How do you motivate yourself in other areas of your life? What works for you there? Maybe you can adapt this to motivate you in your writer’s fitness routine as well.

A fit body keeps the mind fit. Scientific American said it. Someone—possibly golfer Gary Player, or actress Ethel Merman—said something similar too: “The harder I train, the luckier I get”. So I train pretty hard, and you know what? So far, I’ve been pretty lucky.

How do you keep fit as a writer? What exercise and routines motivate you?

 

5i.Moments of meditation 1.Ben in morning cafeBen Starling is passionate about marine conservation and boxing, both central themes in his work. His interest in marine life has taken him across three continents over the past three decades. He boxed competitively until recently and continues to coach. He graduated from Oxford University with a Master of Arts and a Master of Philosophy. www.ben-starling.com

 

 

 

 

 

Blank white book w/pathBen has just released, Something in the Water, available now on Amazon at http://bit.ly/SITWbtour2am.

The sealed box Teal finds in the street contains more than a mystery…

What if to be with the man of your dreams… you had to give up your life?

On the verge of losing her job, a side-lined journalist is forced to travel to the South Pacific to untangle a mystery where she meets a reclusive ex-boxer with a message. When a syndicate of corporate criminals invades paradise, she must either accept the plum promotion that will save her career or defend the island with her life.

The awesome Victoria Griffin from Victoria Griffin Fiction has tagged me in a fun Valentine’s Day blog hop!
 
You don’t need to be tagged to participate! So if you are reading this – join in and have a whole lot of valentine fun!
  1. Favorite Love-Story book? Hmmm … A memorable series that comes to mind – Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi.
  2. Share your best Valentines day memory? I’m not one to kiss and tell. 😉 Especially not on the internet!
  3. Favorite fictional hero/heroine? There are so many! Evan Walker – Fifth Wave, Eve  – Anna Carey’s Eve, and Juliette and Warner – Shatter Me.
  4. What story has the best most memorable romantic moment; kiss, proposal, etc.? The last book in the Shatter Me series, Ignite Me, between Juliette and Warner. Swoon!
  5. What is your all time favorite Romantic movie? I don’t watch a lot of romantic movies, but I’d have to say Hope Floats. It’s one that’s stuck with me. Or Maybe Train Wreck! Hahaha!
  6. You can go anywhere for a romantic getaway (fiction or non-fiction,) where do you go? Somewhere in Europe involving the countryside, castles and wine.
  7. Who do you want to be your valentine? My hubby is my only valentine. :)
  8. Chocolate or flowers? Hard call … I have expensive taste in both.
  9. Novels: Romance or Adventure? Adventure, but I’m a sucker for young love.
  10. What fictional villain, do you secretly love? I’m in love with the villain in my own book, Mason Allen! Ask my editor.

Let the Tagging begin!
I tag:

To participate: Copy and Paste the following in your blog to participate in this tag.
Cupid’s Book-Lover Tag

The Rules:
1. Tag the creator (AbbieLu @ Cafe Book Bean)
2. Have fun answering the questions.
3. Tag 5-10 people to join in the fun.
4. Thank & link those who tag you.
5. Don’t worry about the rules!
You don’t need to be tagged to participate, so join in and have a whole lot of valentine fun!

 

Dark Fantasy is not my usual genre of choice, but I’m so glad I took the chance on this book!

Where do I start …

necroThe main characters, Maldren (love the name) and Ayla, aren’t your ‘A’ typical heroes. Maldren, is a bit of a buck the tides, head strong, Necromancer. He has ambitions for promotion in his guild, but keeps getting passed over. For those of you who don’t know what a Necromancer is, it ‘s – in general, a magic practiced by a witch or sorcerer. This magic centers on being able to communicate and/or conjure magic in regards to the dead.

Ayla, is Maldren’s new apprentice. She’s young, from a rich family, inexperienced … everything that gets on Maldren’s “got-to-go” list. But – things change, the story develops, and you can’t help falling in love with both these characters.

Each scene is vividly written, taking the reader there; to the battles, to the sewers, and back to places a little less rough around the edges. Many times when reading this book, I found myself glancing back at the cover. Graeme Ing couldn’t have picked a better image for this story!

I give this book a 4 out 5! And would recommend it to any fantasy loving reader.

 

 

 

 

 

 

So … being that my manuscript is finally finished (YEAH!), and is waiting to be discovered, I now have more time to do other stuff – like sit and stew. But really – I’m not moping around staring at my phone and email waiting for it to go off … waiting … waiting for the infamous call. Okay – I’m not good at waiting.

But I’m finding ways to keep busy – like writing this blog! I got the idea to write this after it was suggested to me that I help run a writers workshop for a local woman’s group. There was a workshop template I could use, or I could change it up as I saw fit. This got me thinking – How can I make this workshop unique? How can I make it my own?

The only way I know how! By sharing how I write a novel. Yes, yes – I know people have done this before. There are a million billion self-help writer books out there. But that’s not what I’m looking to do in this series of blogs. I’m not wanting to give you writing tips. I am wanting to let you into my inner madness. To show you how (specifically) my unique way of writing is achieved.

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If this blog were up to my editor, she might say that I have the ability to channel characters from a fictional dimension. #TheFictionalDemension (I’m going to make this hashtag trend one day!) But that’s not the case … entirely. :) Wouldn’t that be cool though!

Any who, moving along …

In this blog, I’m going to keep it pretty general, or at least try. And then in the ones to follow, I’ll start to really dissect my writer’s brain, showing you where the crazed little hamster runs on the wheel!http___www.pixteller.com_pdata_t_l-300685

So – back when I started writing I didn’t have a whole lot of rhyme or reason about why I wrote the way I did. But now that I’ve been at it for a while I’ve started to notice the patterns in the way I do things.

http___www.pixteller.com_pdata_t_l-300696Let’s start with how I would write the beginning of a scene. Yes, I called it a scene, not a chapter. That’s because when I read a book (if it’s a well written book), it plays like a movie in my head. I can mentally see the characters interacting in their little world.

Now – I’m a bit of a free writer, by that I mean I don’t make huge, intricate outlines. What I do is a little more organic. In my notebook (coil bond, paper … I’m old school like that), I write out a few key points. This page often turns in to a scribbly mess but as long as you can read it that’s all that’s important. I start with the most basic things – Who is in the scene? This part is usually easy. I know which characters need to be there, which ones haven’t been seen in a while, and which ones might have some unfinished business.

Then I write down, in point form, what I need to get across in this scene. For example, the main character is very secretive about her life before moving to this small town. She’s doesn’t express her feelings well, she’s awkward, and the only time she’s ever opened up about her painful past was to a therapist, whom she can’t see any more because of the move.

Point form:

  • She (main character) is awkward
  • She doesn’t express her feelings well
  • She has a secret past
  • She’s spent years with a therapist, that she is heart broken to leave.

(These particular examples pertain to writing the first chapter in my novel. Maybe you don’t care … but it keeps me focused telling you this as I write.)

When introducing this character, I need to get across all these things, BUT without actually telling the reader or dumping too much on them all at once. Not easy! But I’ve gotten better at it. It’s the whole – ‘show don’t tell’ thing. :)

To help ‘ show’, I’ve given my main character, Rachel, a few quirks and objects in her environment.

  1. Cardboard boxes: A simple and an effective way to hide things out in the open. Give a person a whole bedroom stacked with unopened boxes, that have been there for months – and you now have a proverbial ‘elephant in the room’. The cardboard boxes gave me a way to show the reader that Rachel was hiding something. It lets the reader in on a secret without sharing all the details with the other characters (her friends by association), while still making something seem ‘off’. She is reluctant to share what is inside the boxes with her friends. (Conveying her secretiveness about her past.)
  2. Expressing her emotions through weather analogies: I wanted to show the reader the relationship my main character had with her past therapist. So I gave the therapist a nickname, The Weather Lady. (In my world, you give people you love the most a nickname.) This ‘Weather Lady’ would analyze Rachel by using analogies about the weather. I think using this in my story adds depth, backstory, and invites the reader to use their imagination about what the main character is thinking. It also keeps these feeling to the reader and the main character, because she is shy, closed off, and all around messed up.
  3. An inner monologue, that occasionally comes out: Something the therapist tried to cure Rachel of, without success. I myself have a constantly running inner monologue. This quirk is a little bit of me seeping in to my character. I think it’s an awesome way to share with your reader, while keeping secrets from other characters.

Now that I have my list of characters in the scene, the points I need to get across, and a few things in the environment, I start to think about how I’m going to share this part of the story with the reader. A good way to figure out ‘how’ is to ask a few questions.

For example:

  • Are the characters in the scene hearing something? A radio, A TV?
  • Is someone talking in the background?
  • Is a character dreaming or thinking about it in their mind?
  • Would a flash back best tell this tale?
  • Are the characters in a conversation?
  • First, second, or third person?

After I’ve figured out where my scene stating point is, I let my characters take it from there. If you know your fictional characters well enough, they’ll know what to say and do. :) #TheFictionalDimension Make it trend people!

Okay! I hope that all made sense and you’re hungry for more. Next time, I think I’ll write on how I develop a fictional character.

Thanks for reading!

Good writing and good reading to you all.

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Whether you’re submitting to literary magazines, querying your manuscript, or applying to be crowned ruler of the world, you’ve got a tough road ahead of you. There will be heartbreak, betrayal, and disillusionment—and that’s just in the trailer.

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But I’ve got a few tips to make it easier. Nothing fancy, but they might help you out in a pinch. Think of this post as a Swiss Army Knife for the submission jungle.

1. Savor encouraging rejections.

You know the ones: While this piece is not for us, you obviously have tremendous talent. Or even better: We would love to see more work from you. Take those, enjoy them. Don’t stop reading as soon as you see the dreaded unfortunately. Sometimes an encouraging rejection can be your motivator for the next few submissions. It lets you know you’re on the right track.

2. Give yourself a fighting chance.

Check the guidelines, people. We’ve all heard it before, but we can all stand hearing it again. If the magazine or agent accepts literary and mainstream, do not send fantasy. If they only publish poetry, do not send fiction. Format your stuff the way they ask. Send them what they ask. If the guidelines say to write your story on a roll of toilet paper and send it by way of giant carrier pigeon then do it! Writers are always struggling with the question of what do editors want? Well, they’ve been kind enough to lay it out for us in the submission guidelines. There’s no reason we shouldn’t follow them. Don’t let your story suffer because you needed to use Calibri instead of Times New Roman. It’s just not worth it.

3. Don’t stress about each submission.

I know I mentioned guidelines. Read them, follow them, but don’t get hung up on them. Don’t fret about whether the title is exactly a third of the way down the page or whether your cover letter is spotless. I’m not saying to be careless, but you have to find a balance—one that gets the thing into an editor’s hands. Your work will never be accepted if it’s stuck in an unsent email on your computer, waiting for you to proof it for the twenty-second time. Do your best, and let it go.

4. It’s a numbers game.

Nobody will ask about your failures. They ask about your successes. They won’t ask how many rejections you received for those five acceptances. They won’t care whether there were ten or two hundred. But guess what, two hundred submissions will definitely get you more acceptances than ten submissions. Submit submit submit. Most markets accept simultaneous submissions because they know how it works. You have to get your stuff out there. A while back, I decided to commit to a few things: write one word a day, read one page of (unassigned) fiction a day, and submit one piece a day. I have since discarded the stringency of this plan—although it did what I meant it to, started good habits—but I still submit like crazy. Sometimes I feel like I am crazy, or at least a glutton for punishment, when the rejections start rolling in. But here’s what I’ve learned: you pay for each acceptance. You pay with effort. You pay with time. And you pay with rejections. Every so many rejections I receive earn me an acceptance, even if the going rate fluctuates.

5. Don’t take it personally.

Yeah, we’ve all heard this one. We roll our eyes when someone gives this advice, and yet it is one of the toughest pieces to master. As a softball player, we talk a lot about the fact that a person’s value is not dependent on her batting average. Obviously, I know that, rationally. If someone walks up to me and asks, “Are you a bad person because you struck out last night?” I’m not going to say yes. But I often feel that way, and the fact that the feeling is not grounded in logic makes that it tougher to combat. As writers, it can be even more difficult. Each piece we write is a part of us, and when an editor rejects it, we feel like they are rejecting us as a person. So next time you see an email in your inbox (Thank you for your submission, but unfortunately…) take a moment to remind yourself that your self-worth is not hooked to that message. You are not a bad person because one editor didn’t absolutely adore your work. Don’t let yourself fall into that trap. If your personal value is at stake every time you send out work, a difficult process becomes impossible.

If you’re not sure whether you need that reminder, say it out loud. Seriously, stand up, take a deep breath, and say, “I am still a good person. Rejection does not change that.” See how it makes you feel. I know it sounds silly, but it’s one of those things that can sneak up on you and get stuck somewhere deep in your mind. Don’t let it.


Real talk: when the Twitter feed is out of sight, and nobody is watching, it’s going to come down to you and the submit button. That’s why, as much as these tips work for me, you have to find your own driving force strong enough to make you press that button and put your heart on the line. You have to find your own reasons and your own strategies to survive it.
 
Hopefully, something in this post clicked for you. I hope I leave you with one line or one thought that makes it a little bit easier. Because really, that’s all we can hope for as writers—for it to be just a bit easier. I know, and you know, that we would never want it to be easy. We would never sacrifice the thrill that comes with being chosen out of hundreds or thousands for that coveted acceptance.
 
Just don’t tell the editors that.

Guest Blog Written By: Victoria Griffin

Victoria GriffinFiction writer. East Tennessean.

Victoria was born and raised within sight of the Smoky Mountains. She loves any place you can still see the stars and constantly struggles with (and sometimes succumbs to) the temptation to write “ain’t” and y’all.”

She is a senior at Campbell University, home of the Fighting Camels (yes, it’s always hump day at Campbell), where she maintains dual identities as a softball player and English major.

When not writing (with a do not disturb sign stuck to the door) she is likely on a lakeside run or relaxing in a hammock, her nose in a book.

Her work has appeared in various literary magazines, links to which can be found in the Fiction section. Follow on Twitter for updates. – See more at: http://www.victoriagriffinfiction.com/about.html#sthash.GzkDg1zx.dpuf