November 6, 2017

November #InkRipples - Finishing that Book!

It’s like we realized November is National Novel Writing Month when we chose this month’s topic. Huh.

To me this is an extension of last month’s topic of Career vs Hobby. One of the most difficult aspects of being an author – of it being a career vs it being your hobby – is that you finish the dang book. How many people have partial books on their hard drive? A LOT. Even career authors have partial books; a.k.a. works in progress, or WIPs. But a career author makes a habit of finishing them.

There is an abandon point in every book. For me it is usually somewhere in the middle. Usually near the end of the middle. Middles are really hard. In my mind, they feel like I’m trudging waist deep through a thick bog. Peat is gathering around my legs and hips making the progress more and more difficult and finally I have to think, This book so being so difficult. Is this worth it? That’s where you either abandon the book because you can’t see a way to the end, and you stay a hobbyist. Or you push and push and push through until you break free and can finally craft the end of the book. The first time you do that is when you become a career author. Even if you aren’t published yet. Finishing that book is really difficult.

There are other circumstances that make finishing the book difficult. Raising children, work, family commitments, obstinate computers, walking the dog, a new season of Flash on Netflix, reading all the other great books out there…that’s where things like NaNoWriMo come in. The first time I did NaNo – 2008, I think – I chose to do it because I was a wife, mother of four school aged children, working part-time and finding it very difficult to sit down and write. I thought if I participated in NaNo, it would force the discipline. It did! It was such a painful process for me. The novel was an absolute mess, but I finished it. And guess what? Five years later that NaNo novel – King of Bad – was published. Plus the torture of that month of writing was always the incentive to keep the discipline so that I would never have to do NaNo again!

But then I hit a writing slump. After publishing 12 books, I was disillusioned by the business of being a published author and stopped writing for over a year! I needed to step back, find the love again. By the time NaNo came around last year I was ready to jump back in with both feet. I sat down and wrote a novel. Luckily for me I was a far more seasoned novelist and the NaNo experience wasn’t nearly as painful. Since that novel was shorter than the 50k words you need to ‘win’ NaNo, I worked on another one to make up the remaining word count. Not only did I find my writing stride again (I’ve since finished two more books and published one of them) but last year’s NaNo book will be published on November 22nd! It’s a book for the grown ups among us under my other pen name, LA Dragoni. You can pre-order it now. The links are on my website. It’s a fun, fun book for those of you who like a slightly sexy time travel romance.

Anyway, the point of this rambling isn’t to brag, but to demonstrate why finishing that book is key to building an author career vs being a hobbyist.

And the only way to do it is to push through the hard stuff. Just get something down. Butt in chair. Cruddy first drafts. Name your cliché. The point is, you can’t improve your story without that first draft, so even if you know it’s just the skeleton of a scene –get it down! Finish that book.

Happy writing!


#Inkripples is a themed meme hosted by Mary WaibelKatie L. Carroll, and Kai Strand posting on the first Monday of every month. To participate compose your own post regarding the theme of the month, and link back to the three host blogs. Feel free to post whenever you want during the month, but be sure to include #inkripples when you promote so readers can find you. The idea is that we toss a word or idea into the inkwell and each post is a new ripple. There is no wrong interpretation. Themes and images and more information can be found here.

October 21, 2017

October #InkRipples - Career vs. Hobby


When does writing move from a hobby to a career?

First and most simply we could just let the IRS answer this for us. They consider it a hobby if you haven’t made a profit after five years (or something like that, I’m not a tax man.) But for now, we’re going to ignore the government’s definition and concentrate on what the author and her readers want.

The author’s goals are probably the biggest definer of this. Many authors are happy to write and publish just for their friends and family. They don’t care if their book(s) ever makes money or is held by the hands of a stranger. The rest of us want all the strangers to pick up our book(s) and read. We want fan mail telling us how our book changed their lives or helped them heal or some other life affirming thing. We want fans asking when the next book comes out. We want fans posting drawings of our characters on Deviant Art. Writing fanfiction on Watt Pad. Using our character as their user name.

I’m nowhere near that level of career. Yet. I still hope that one of my books will hit it big and readers will fall madly in love and do all those things I mentioned and then discover all of the books I’ve already written and start buying those too and that one day I’ll make some money at this. A decent enough amount of money for me to only need one part time job. Or better yet, to write full time again. Mentally, I’m ready to go back to writing full time, but financially I’m nowhere close. Taking a year off of writing killed my career and I’ve complicated it by adding a second pen name, so now I have two personas to maintain, which isn’t hard once they are both rolling, but is quite a challenge getting them there.

The reader’s goals factor into this also. When a reader really loves an author and clambers for more from her, they are helping to push that author into the career field from the hobby field. Most authors have lives outside of writing. They are spouses and parents and employees. Friends, sons or daughters, siblings. They have to attend band concerts, or throw birthday parties, or go on work trips or care for sick parents. When life gets busy and their books are just hanging out not really selling much…guess what? Writing takes a backseat. It can even go away completely if no one seems to care. All the while, Suzy Reader is sitting at home thinking, “I wonder why we haven’t seen the last book in the series from Wonderful Author.” Or, “I wonder whatever happened to Wonderful Author. She published those two books and then…nothing.” Readers can really boost authors by sharing their work online, giving favorite books as gifts, constantly recommending their favorite books to others. Keep Wonderful Author in front of others and you will help inspire her to keep writing – and you may pad her change purse too, which probably assists even more.

Even though I have two part time jobs outside the house, I consider writing my career. I’m devoted and focused and I work really, really hard at it. The IRS will surely tell me it’s just a hobby one of these years, but we’ll know better – won’t we?


#Inkripples is a themed meme hosted by Mary WaibelKatie L. Carroll, and Kai Strand posting on the first Monday of every month. To participate compose your own post regarding the theme of the month, and link back to the three host blogs. Feel free to post whenever you want during the month, but be sure to include #inkripples when you promote so readers can find you. The idea is that we toss a word or idea into the inkwell and each post is a new ripple. There is no wrong interpretation. Themes and images and more information can be found here.

September 27, 2017

September #InkRipples: World Building

This has been a busy month. My daughter got married, school started, and it took me forever to find my motivation to compose this post. Does that happen to you sometimes? You just simply don’t feel like it? It isn’t the topic. I love building worlds. It is among my top favorite things about writing!

To me, world building is in the details. The small things that are mentioned casually. For example; if my main character is a slob and he’s lost his keys, I would show him flinging empty take-out containers and candy wrappers aside looking for them in order to give the reader the visual of his messy setting—his world. If he was a slob in the future, I might have him bark a command to his smart room asking where he last tossed his keys. Small details sprinkled throughout the text creates the world stealthily so the reader doesn’t even see the image form in their head.

Fantasy and Science Fiction often require a bit more of an in-your-face presentation, especially in the beginning, in order to set the reader solidly inside the strange new world from the get-go. In my [currently unavailable] middle grade novel, Beware of the White, I built a whole underground world. It was so much fun to imagine what types of species might live underground and how they would adapt to their circumstances. There are neon beings—like the fish that live way, way deep down in the ocean—who light up. There are water beings that thrive on the pollutions and toxins in water, who have naturally become part of the filtration system. But a huge amount of the world building had to be edited out of the final version of the book. Though it was important for me, the author, to have a thorough understanding of Concord, it was yawn inducing for the reader. I introduced Concord’s otherworldliness as Terra entered the city, but then, after that, I sprinkled the details throughout.

Other worlds are more like ours, so the differences can be unfurled slowly. In my speculative fiction series, Super Villain Academy, we have people living in a contemporary setting. Everything seems normal until they start wielding super powers. Same with my middle grade fantasy series, The Weaver Tales. That is set in a quaint mountain village – where everybody speaks in story. It’s very light on fantasy, so the world didn’t have to be built, so much as the setting had to be defined. But since a gnome-elf shows up to grant a wish, there is some world building that had to be done. For a reader to accept the unusual in stride – for a blue skinned gnome-elf to suddenly appear at a wishing well, or for a teenaged boy to leap over a six foot fence and shoot fire from his palm - the world has to be built around it or your reader will just stop reading.

Other than Hogwarts – what are some of your favorite literary worlds?

#Inkripples is a themed meme hosted by Mary Waibel, Katie L. Carroll, and Kai Strand posting on the first Monday of every month. To participate compose your own post regarding the theme of the month, and link back to the three host blogs. Feel free to post whenever you want during the month, but be sure to include #inkripples when you promote so readers can find you. The idea is that we toss a word or idea into the inkwell and each post is a new ripple. There is no wrong interpretation. Themes and images and more information can be found here.

September 15, 2017

Don't Be Closed Minded. Read a Banned Book. #Giveaway



On this list, compiled by the ALA, of the top 100 challenged books of the decades 1990-1999 and 2000-2009, I've read:
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Adventure of Huckleberry Finn
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
Blubber
Crank
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
The Dead Zone
The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things
Fat Kid Rules the World
The Giver
Harry Potter (series)
The Hunger Games (series)
The Kite Runner
The Lovely Bones
Olive's Ocean
Speak
Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes
That Was Then, This Is Now
Thirteen Reasons Why
Twilight (series)
A Wrinkle In Time

I would recommend any of them, but especially the titles I've linked. The thing with me and banned books is that I don't get it. The banning thing. Why would you ever feel the right to keep a book out of the hands of other readers? Why would you feel you have the authority to say what some can and cannot read? Do you have the right to voice your opinion? Absolutely! If you think the book is inappropriate somehow, tell people why. But to pull it from shelves or distribution? Absolutely not. Are there books I've read that I don't recommend? Yes. Am I feeding the banned book bandwagon by not linking all the above titles? No. I simply didn't enjoy the books enough to recommend them. You might like them, so if their blurb sparks your interest - go for it.

The only readers I ever felt I had authority over were my underaged children. I tried to steer them into reading books I thought they were emotionally mature enough for - and that decision was different with each child. However, once they got past about 16 or 17, all bets were off and they could read whatever they wanted with or without my consent. Hopefully, knowing that I was ALWAYS available to talk to if a subject rocked their world in some good or bad way. Books are the SAFEST place for people to be exposed to controversial subjects. I would much rather learn about subjects such as; prejudice, incest, and brainwashing by reading about them. Reading helps you avoid repeating ugly behavior or falling victim to it. It also opens your mind to how to be a more compassionate, giving human being.

Harry Potter did not teach me how to practice witchcraft, but it did demonstrate how to overcome insurmountable odds. I didn't start killing contemporaries after reading The Hunger Games, but I did see how to hold onto my compassion in harrowing circumstances.

Don't be closed minded. Read.

To celebrate banned book week, I'm giving away an electronic copy of Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell - one of 2016's top 10 most challenged titles and a book I absolutely LOVED! To enter simply leave a title of a banned book you've read & would recommend in the comments. I'll choose one random winner on October 1st. Open Internationally. Must have an email address so I can contact you and award your prize.

Visit Bookhounds for more banned book week fun.

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