Thursday, July 31, 2014

Ten Quotes for Writers

It's 4:00PM on a Thursday and I'm still in my pajamas, so I thought this is the sort of day when a girl (or boy) needs inspirational writing quotes. I spent the morning grading/organizing, etc and have mush brain--but I haven't written a single word toward my current WIP--so this little "eye of the tiger" warm up is meant to get me pumped up for the main event (Today's word count goal: 2000!)

So for anyone else who finds that so often life gets in the way of writing, here are some quotes that will hopefully make it a little easier to approach the page:

Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now.
--Ernest Hemingway

“The road to hell is paved with works-in-progress.”
—Philip Roth

“Cheat your landlord if you can and must, but do not try to shortchange the Muse. It cannot be done. You can’t fake quality any more than you can fake a good meal.”
—William S. Burroughs

“Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.”
—George Orwell

“Write. Rewrite. When not writing or rewriting, read. I know of no shortcuts.”
—Larry L. King, WD

There is no rule on how to write. Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly; sometimes it’s like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges

--Ernest Hemingway

“I do not over-intellectualize the production process. I try to keep it simple: Tell the damned story.”
—Tom Clancy, WD

“When your story is ready for rewrite, cut it to the bone. Get rid of every ounce of excess fat. This is going to hurt; revising a story down to the bare essentials is always a little like murdering children, but it must be done.”
—Stephen King, WD

“I always start writing with a clean piece of paper and a dirty mind.”
—Patrick Dennis
“Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now.”
—Annie Dillard

So this is me, off to give it all, give it all now! Wishing  you a prodctive day as well :)

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Stick or Carrot: Thoughts on Persevering

So I am a fan of to-do lists. I always have been. I get ridiculous and immense joy when I scratch something off the list. (Feed dog? Check! Bathe myself? Check! Pay my bills? Wow, look at me go!)

And while I might be an awesome list-maker, I'm not so good at perseverance. I have a tendency to sob and flail when the going gets tough--at least when it comes to doing my own work that is. If someone else draws the short stick, I'm quick to ride in, armor polished, flashing my best 'don't I look great saving your ass' smile--oh Pride. Well, it has its uses.

Anyway, as I get older (and occasionally indulge in books found in the self-help section) I've come to realize that the key to getting really big jobs done (oh say, WRITING A NOVEL OR EIGHT), is to break it into small tasks.

And some of you might say "Of course, Kory! Duh!" But I'm that person who would rather break both her arms bringing ten grocery bags into the house at once than make two trips--so let's just say this lesson has long been lost on me.

Recently, however, (as in two days ago), I've come to realize how awesome small task completion can be. This is mostly because of an app that I downloaded onto my phone called Carrot. My friend Katie turned me on to it because she thought I would love its "bordeline mean personality" and she was right!

This is not a review for the app or anything, but it did inspire this post. You see, it makes to-do lists into a sort of game. You get points and prizes and the companionship of a snarky AI bot named Carrot. More importantly, because you get as many points for "Write a chapter" as "Write a novel", it encourages ALL OR NOTHING fools (Also read as: ego-driven masochists who suffer from delusions of grandeur) like myself  to break their insurmountable mountains down into rock chunks that can actually be carried away.

Because I want to 'win' at this, I type in everything--every task I do. This is good because so often we don't give ourselves credit for the things we DO do. But now, I'm able to look at my phone and see "Hey, I leveled up! Look at me accomplishing **&^%$". This is always nice when there is no one around to tell me how awesome I am for washing my hair! For not eating PB out of the jar but actually cooking a real meal! :D (I'm just kidding, this hasn't happened--yet.)

It also encourages me to break those huge tasks into more manageable chunks. "Bring in groceries" becomes "bring in a grocery bag" that I can replicate ten times! And this is good for writers because I think we get so wrapped up in huge tasks that we often STOP writing and abandon challenging projects too quickly. But if we change our perception and scope of the problem(s), I think we can improve our chances of success. "Finish my revision of this *&^$% novel" will become "Rewrite Chapter 12." or even "Rework this horrible sex scene".

Again you might think this is common sense, but for too many of us, it's the first "sense" to fall out the piggy bank when life gives us a good shake. So app, or no app, list or no list, I hope to get better and better at breaking apart  the impossible into possible chunks and give myself more credit for these small victories along the way. And I wish the same for you.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

How To Form a Writer's (Critique) Group #amwriting

Many people argue that a writing group has been essential to their success. After all, where would we be without our beta-readers, our proof readers, and those other kindred souls who know exactly how hard it can be to return to the page day in and day out. For all of these reasons, I recently formed my first post-grad writers group, The Four Horsemen of The Bookocalypse—and it has made all the difference. Not only do I have the support of three other fantastic readers/writers but I have people who will give me a honest assessment of my WIPs and challenge me to take it to the next level.  But how does a writer form such a group? And should they?

1)     Decide that you do in fact want/need a critique group. Critique groups are a big responsibility. It isn’t just that you’ve roped a group of fools into reading/proofing your work at your beck and call. The street runs both ways. You have to be prepared to put in as much work as you get out of it.

2)     Once committed to doing the work, decide who you want to work with and what kind of group you want. I found my cofounder, Angela Roquet on Twitter. I read her book and admired it and thought it would be fun to work with her. Then we each invited writer friends who we thought would be a good match and who would benefit from the discipline of a writer’s group. Online works best for us because the Four Horsemen are scattered across America (Seattle, Missouri, Michigan, and Tennessee). If your co-writers are closer though, maybe you would prefer a group who meets face-to-face—goodness knows that coffee shops, libraries, and kitchen tables are available almost anywhere. If you don’t already know writers who you’d like to group up with—or hate the idea of reaching out to people you wish you knew—then consider checking here , here , or here  for possible group mates.

3)     Decide how big you want your group to be. The more people, the more work and possibly less attention—but you’ve also got more eyes floating around, which is to say there are pros/cons to any size group. Some people do well with big groups and some don’t. It’s totally up to you and your preferences here. But have a size in mind when you start/form your group and make that cap-size clear to everyone upfront, in case someone’s sister-in-law’s best friend’s cousin, who wrote a couple of poems in college, decides she wants to *try* her hand at novel writing and take you along for the ride. “No we’ve decided to cap the group at 8” is a good excuse to have for such situations. If however, you are joining a pre-existing group, then you’ll have little say in the matter—which leads me to number 4.

4)    You have your group mates. Awesome! Now make the rules.
Any functional group has rules that all civil participants abide by. But again these rules are dependent upon the group members themselves and should reflect your goals and intentions. For example, one of the things I needed most was discipline, so we agreed to submit pages every other week (two writers per week). Once you know what you want to achieve, design rules that will help you fulfill these goals. Rules are best kept if all group members are involved in their creation--which is why you may also want to have consequences outlined as well. (What happens if someone doesn't submit work on time? What happens if...etc.) . This might be a good read for ideas on where to start with your rules.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Click #Submit-- Getting Your Work in Print the Traditional Way

Sometimes people ask me where I submit my work. This answer varies depending upon the genre (poetry or SFF prose, in my case). I’ve heard some people use submission managers (like Duotrope) with varying degrees of success, but I prefer to save $ where I can, so I use good ‘ol-fashioned Google and an Excel spreadsheet to keep myself organized. Why an Excel spreadsheet? Because for any kind of effectiveness you need to submit your work--A LOT.

For your convenience, here are suggestions for both poetry and prose submissions:

Back in the day, you had to print your poems, stuff them into an envelope (don’t forget the SASE!) and send them off into the world, hoping they reached the right person. Nowadays, online submission managers are much more common, easier to use and free! Which is good for those of us who don’t have the money to buy $1000 worth of postage in exchange for a CV byline and two complimentary copies of the issue within which we’ll be featured. So here is a working list of magazines that accept (free) online submissions. (CLICK HERE)

If you’re into literary fiction, a lot of the journals listed in the above link also have fiction submissions. If however, like me, you write SFF or mainstream fiction, you may want to consider this list of top journals/magazines. (CLICK HERE)

Regardless of what you like to submit and to whom, remember the following:
1)    Guidelines are important. Remember that these folks get THOUSANDS of submissions and need a way to whittle that pile down to a more manageable size. They do that by crossing out the fools who can’t read directions. Don’t be that fool.
2)    Respect requirements. Some journals/mags require exclusive consideration of a poem/story. This means that you can’t submit the same poems/stories to multiple places at the same time. If that is the case, give priority to your top choices for publication, but respect the rules. Don't lie and send it anyway around anyway. It's shady and makes you look unprofessional.
3)    Be patient. Not only is rejection the norm, but so are long wait times. Your best bet is to keep writing instead of twiddling your thumbs and waiting to hear back. Finish something, send it out, and get to work on the next something. It’s the only way.

Wishing you all the luck!


Saturday, July 19, 2014

Lovin' Summer & Swag

Summer is the best time to go to the beach with a good 'ol paperback and read--and that's my plan for Sunday anyway, assuming I get all my grading done tomorrow and a jumpstart on packing (We are moving Aug. 3rd)!

My goals for Sunday will be to lounge like these guys below, eat salty potato chips, drink iced tea, and get farther into China Mieville's Perdido Street Station. (Read why I'm determined to finish this #^&% book here.)
Big Sur- August 2013

And while I'm doing that, assuming you guys can't join me on the beach, you should enter this great giveaway. There are tons of fun prizes and swag from various writers (yours truly included) and I think the Lisa and Leann do a fantastic job with their blog. So if you haven't had a chance to check out Twin Opinions yet, do so!  You're missing all the fun. Seriously! Look at all the prizes listed down there!

And when you're done with that, grab some good chips and come find me. ;)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Cover Reveal: Dying by the Hour (A Jesse Sullivan Novel)

September 2, 2014
Here it is! I'm so excited to show you the cover for my upcoming release Dying by the Hour, the sequel to Dying for a Living. I think John K. Addis of Addis Enterprises did a fantastic job and I hope you agree.

dying by the hour will be available in paperback and eBook in 46 days (not that I'm counting or anything...), so I'll start the onslaught of giveaways and fun times soon. After all, what's a celebration without friends? :D

Stay tuned! 


Friday, July 11, 2014

To My Everlasting Shame...

I doubt many people feel as guilty about NOT reading as writers. Personally, I feel like I am always behind in what I should’ve read by now. I feel like the lack in my writing skills is directly proportionate to my lack in reading. When I read a writer’s work and think of how clever they are, marveling at word choice, image, or turn of phrase, my first thought is always “Man, what are they reading? It must be brilliant!”

So here I am openly admitting the books that I am most ashamed that I have not read. I’m doing so for two reasons—to stimulate a conversation about these books and 2) to publicly declare that I intend to rectify this lack as soon as humanly possible.  So here are the 10 I think I need to read most immediately!

Foundation by Isaac Asimov
…because how can I call myself a scifi writer if I don’t!

American Gods by Neil Gaiman
I hear it is fantastic, but it is always hit or miss with Gaiman’s work for me.

The Stand by Stephen King
Many King fans swear this is his best work. And as an avid King fan myself, I’m pretty ashamed that I’ve yet to take on the 1000+ page epic, viewing it kind of like War and Peace—a lofty goal that will be completed “sometime” before I die.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K. Dick
Philip K. Dick is a legend this own right and I haven’t read any of his work. I thought this would be a good place to start, though I’m interested in The Man in the High Castle, and several others as well.

Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness
I am fascinated by the gender themes alone. I have a copy of this but I’ve been hoarding it forever, unopened.

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
I also have a copy of this but I have yet to get through it. But it’s premise reminds me of the magician movie with Huge Jackman—and who doesn’t like a good Victorian setting ;)

Peridido Street Station China Mieville
The world-building alone is supposed to be worth it. I guess I’ll find out!

Agatha Christie
This is sort of a “return to our roots” kind of goal. Christie is one of the original mystery writers responsible for giving us a lot of what we use today, but I wouldn’t know exactly what that is since I haven’t read a single one of her books. I’ll start with The Murder of Rodger Ackroyd, before moving on to Murder on the Orient Express & And Then There Were None.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
I’m also interested in Sharp Objects and Dark Places, of course, but I’ve seen these books everywhere for a while. And though it isn’t considered traditional canon (yet?) I have to admit I feel like I’m behind the curve on this one.

Ok, so that is about 15 books, but what did you expect? What kind of writer can stick to those rigid guidelines?!?

Anyway, wish me luck! :D And feel free to share below books you wish you’ve read already and/or how reading helps you write!


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

#Interview & #Giveaway: Vampires, Werewolves, Witches, OH MY!

Before we get started, tell us about yourselves. Any weird hobbies we should know about?
Michael- I don't know about weird, but definitely nerdy.  I have a baseball card and a soap opera card collection LOL
Shelly- Hmm. I love collecting old coins, I have stamped silver coins from England, a two cent piece from the Civil War and a bunch of other old ones. I like anything different. I also love history of the coins. I like to imagine what the person was like who used them, how many hands it passed through and how I got my hands on it. I'm a dork, I know.
You wrote a book called Blood Moon. How could you describe this work to someone who’s never heard of it?
Michael- Blood Moon is a story about the fact love overcomes all boundaries when it's real, when it's right. This all takes place amongst supernatural beings called Variants. It involves vampire witches, werewolf witches and shape shifters. It's about ancient grudges and rivalries and the power and importance of blood.
Shelly- It's also about choices and how you can't change the past, but you can change things in your life. It's about righting something that went wrong and how we all can do that and there's more Variants than just wolves and vampires.
Who were your inspirations for this novel?
Michael- Part of the inspiration for the novel came from simply being tired of reading angst ridden vampire and werewolf tales, where the characters sit around, hating themselves for being what they are; our characters celebrate their immortality and abilities.  We also wanted something different, a story where the werewolves are not only not subservient to vampires, but are superior to them.
Shelly- I also wanted to see more strong women characters. Women who weren't afraid to go after what they want and not be a damsel in distress type.
What lead to you agree to collaborate with each other?
Michael- We talked about it and it just clicked.
Shelly- We have been role play partners for over four years and the characters that we brought to life needed to be heard. It was a world that just continued to grow and finally, we thought it was time to introduce them on a larger scale.
What challenges/rewards do you think are unique to collaborative writing?
Michael- We know each other so well, our strengths and weaknesses, so it's easy to get a feel for any scene we do together.  We're like a seasoned tag team in wrestling. Call us the modern day Road Warriors. Shelly's Hawk and I'm Animal.
Shelly- The biggest challenge is that Michael and I are very strong willed people and we are very opinionated. However, Michael and I have a great relationship in the fact that we communicate very well together. If we have issues, we tell the person and get it out in the open. That doesn't happen often, unless we're editing. LOL
This book is the first in a series. How many books do you see unravelling before you?
Michael- We have so many stories to tell, I could see at least ten novels in the Dark Moon series.
Shelly- We have so many characters who's stories need to be told, clammering to be told. I think you'll see that the Variant Nation is very connected, so we could have a long series.
Are there other series or projects in the works for you?
Michael- Not at this time, no.
Shelly- No, but I could definitely see us expanding out from the Dark Moon Series. I think we could write a great crime drama, but who knows what the future holds.
What can we expect to see from you next?
Michael- The next book in the series is entitled "Dark Harvest."
Shelly- You'll get to see some new, interesting characters in the next one as well.

This or That:
Coffee or Tea:
Michael- Tea
Shelly- COFFEE! I love, love, love it.
Late Night or Early Morning:
Michael- Early Morning
Shelly- Late Night, which works well since we're on opposite coasts.
Sci-fi or Fantasy:
Michael- Fantasy
Shelly- Ugh! I can't possibly answer! I love them both equally.

Being called “Self-pubbed” or “Indie”?
Michael- Indie
Shelly- I prefer Indie.
Vampires or Werewolves:
Michael- Vampires
Shelly- Well, I love vampires but there haven't been any strong wolves for great examples. The closest for me is Underworld, but again the vampires were the top of the food chain. So I'd like to see it be more equal.

Just for fun:
If you could have any (but only one) super power, what would it be?
Michael- Super Strength
Shelly- Teleportation
If you could pick the brain of any writer/poet/artist from anywhere across time and space, who would it be and why?
Michael- Jim Butcher, because I find his stories amazing.  His imagination is unshackled.  The man had his Harry Dresden character reanimate a dinosaur and ride it through Chicago!
Shelly- I'd love to talk to Kresley Cole! She is one of my favorites and also Iris Johansen. Both very talented women and writing role models.
What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?
Michael- I'd like to write a screenplay. I have a juicy crime drama that has been rattling around my brain for years.
Shelly- I wanted to be a police officer and actually went through the training, but life had other ideas for me.
What profession would you not like to do?
Michael- Garbage Man
Shelly- Arm pit sniffer (You know to see if the deodorant is working!)
If Dante’s Nine Circles of Hell existed, which circle would you be trapped in and why?
Michael- One of the less severe circles, I hope!  I'm no saint, but I pretty much mind my business.
Shelly- I'm good with limbo. I sometimes feel life is like that anyway, so I'd be good with it!

And there you have it! Connect with Michael and Shelly on Twitter and be sure to enter the giveaway below! :D

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