Sunday, November 5, 2017

Radio Silence

November is my least favorite month of the year. The days get shorter, so my mood loses its buoyancy. End-of-semester fatigue drags me down. A few painful anniversaries steal my energy.

In spite of all that, November is usually my most productive writing month. One of my coping mechanisms is to throw myself into work. This isn't always healthy, necessarily, but it does let me get shit done. And I'm in a position now where I really need to get shit done.

I'm a little behind on my writing goals for the year. I wanted to have my contract novella wrapped up by now. I wanted to be through revisions for the first book of project 2016. I wanted to be well on my way to a completed first draft of my next manuscript. I'm not there yet on any of those goals.

Not being where I want to be always gets my imposter syndrome working overtime, telling me that I'm not where I need to be--that I'll never be where I need to be.

It's easy to forget that I was here last year, too: behind on my goals, floundering to finish the fist draft of a project for myself and to get the work done on projects for other people.

I've managed before. I'll be able to manage again.

But it will mean have to rearrange my priorities.

This blog is important to me. It represents my personal commitment to my writing--a promise that I'm going to treat writing as a job, as a commitment rather than just working "when I feel like it." It's also the longest I've ever blogged with any kind of regularity. This weekly commitment is part of how I've kept my writing work habitual.

I'm at a point right now, though, where I need to use the time I spend on this blog doing other things. I love writing these posts, but I'm not gonna get paid if I don't finish my projects.

So, Practice and Procrastination is going to go silent for a while. Not long--hopefully only through the month of November, but possibly until the end of the semester in the middle of December.

I've still got a couple of interviews and guest posts pending. If those come along during my break, I'll get them posted. Otherwise, I've got to be in the writing/editing cave until I get the work done.

If you start to really miss me during the break, you can always find me elsewhere on the internet. My website will still be updated with appearances and announcements (I've got a couple of projects that should be seeing the light of day in the next few months), I'll pop by the Facebook page and Twitter now and then, and you can find some updates (and lots of cat and dog pictures) on my instagram.

Thanks for sticking with me. See you in December.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Anthology

Coming soon! An anthology of retellings of Grimms' Fairytales.

I've mentioned before that I've been participating in a local writers' group. In the past few months, we've been working on a story anthology. This anthology is due for release by the end of the year and will be available for purchase via Amazon and the Huntsville-Madison County Public Library.

Proceeds from this anthology will benefit the Huntsville-Madison County Public Library. There will be a release even in conjunction with the library's NaNoWriMo events, so watch this space for details!

My short story, "Red Snow, PI" is included in the anthology, so if you want to read more of my work and help a local library, this is a great opportunity.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Author Interview with Bria Lexor

This week's interview is with YA author Bria Lexor, whose Gargoyle Redemption trilogy has just released.


·         Tell us a little about yourself.
I am a YA Urban Fantasy Author and my Series: The Gargoyle Redemption Trilogy released on September 25th!

·         What type of books/stories do you write?
I have written about vampires, gargoyle shifters, aliens, Angels and Fallen Angels, a game book, and a female wrestling book so far.


·         What does the start of a project look like for you? (Where do your ideas come from, what prep work do you do before starting a new project, any writing rituals, planner or pantser, etc.?)
I write down all the names of characters I want to use and the story outline. My ideas come from whatever pops into my head at that particular moment in time and I write it down before I forget it. I start writing the book after I get the characters into place as I picture them in my mind. No, I just sit at the computer and start writing away.

·         What did your path to publication look like?
It’s a hot mess! I have found the worst publishers who are out there, excluding a couple. It’s been a struggle for me to have to refind my audience after signing with Foundations, LLC, who is amazing by the way! I’m hoping this time around my books will finally reach the right audience and will be on the Best Sellers list one day soon!

·         Is there anything that you’ve learned through the process that you wish you’d known at the beginning?
Gosh yes! Not to sign with any publisher who is super pushy and ends up treating you badly to the point where doing what I love isn’t fun anymore.

·         Do you have any tips/tricks/resources you’d like to share with other writers?
Just keep writing and you will find the right publisher for your work one day. Never give up on that!

·         What part of the writing process do you find most exciting?
Starting a new series is always exciting for me because I have fresh characters to show everyone who reads and enjoys my work in the future. It’s an awesome feeling inside!

·         What part of the writing process do you find most challenging?
Right now it has to be making a grid for my new series. I just haven’t figured out why I can’t do something so easy. That is challenging for me.

·         Any new work from you we should be watching for?
Absolutely! I have 4 new book series to look for in the future: My Fallen Angels series, my Sports Fiction series, My Alien series and my Game book series are all going to be unique and fresh from me!

·         What’s one piece of advice you’d give new writers?
Keep writing. No matter how long it takes to finish writing that first book, keep at it. You will get there. I promise.


Thanks, Bria! If you want to find Bria, check these links:


You can find Bria's work here. Be sure to check her out.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Author Interview with T.K. Lawyer

Today, we have paranormal romance author T. K. Lawyer visiting us for a chat about her books and her writing process.


·         Tell us a little about yourself.

I have always had an interest in the strange and unusual and I’m a romantic by heart.  So how did I come into writing, you ask?  Well, I stumbled into it.  Yeah, that’s pretty much what happened.  I never pictured myself as a writer but sometime in 2011, craving some kind of excitement and adventure in my life; I jotted down a few notes for a book idea and never looked back.  Funny part is, the notes I wrote never became a book, instead I took on subjects as wolf-shifters and angels and created their worlds and I have loved every minute of it. 

I write passion-filled paranormal romance- weaving tales of alpha males willing to do anything for the one feisty, curvaceous, strong-willed woman who has won their heart.  They will go to any length to please their mate, in and out of the bed.

·         What type of books/stories do you write?

I write Paranormal Erotic Romance and Contemporary Romance.  My male characters can be wolf shifters or Guardian Angels and they are all loving, protective, strong, alpha males.



·         What does the start of a project look like for you? (Where do your ideas come from, what prep work do you do before starting a new project, any writing rituals, planner or pantser, etc.?)

I am a pantser.  I get a general idea for a book or a series and I go from there.  When I sit and write it is because I got inspiration for a particular scene in a book.  This inspiration can come from anything:  something I hear on the radio, an event that happened to me before, or even sometimes, a dream I had that would make a great scene in a book.  I start writing these scenes down, placing them where I think they would be best in the book and then one by one, they start falling into place and a book magically appears.  It’s really amazing how it all comes together and just from my thoughts and ideas.

·         What did your path to publication look like?

Well, I never pictured myself as an author.  Frankly, I figured writing was a hobby and never considered it a career but when my full-time job became tedious, writing took me away to new adventures.  It tapped into the buried passion I have inside of me and unleashed it into words, sentences, paragraphs and eventually published books.  I sent my first book, Nightfall, to publishers and agents without a hit and then I shelved it until a year later, I tried again and landed a publishing contract within days of inquiring.  Opening my e-mail to find a reader who not only enjoyed my work but loved it enough to offer me a publishing contact was amazing!



·         Is there anything that you’ve learned through the process that you wish you’d known at the beginning?

I wished I had the opportunity to have a mentor.  There is so much to learn as an aspiring writer that no one teaches you.  With a mentor, they can show you the basics and advise you so you can find and build on what works for you, faster. 

·         Do you have any tips/tricks/resources you’d like to share with other writers?

Marketing is key.  If you find something that works, stick with it.  There will be times when you might have tried a blog tour or a review site and you come away feeling like you wasted your money.  That’s okay.  It was a learning experience.  Try another site or company and keep moving on until you have a list that works for you.



·         What part of the writing process do you find most exciting?

When I can actually sit down and write, it’s a lot of fun for me.  After writing for a while, I find the characters amuse me and I will find myself laughing at their quips or antics that I write down.  What started as an outlined scene in my head changes as I write sentence after sentence.  It’s quite thrilling how this occurs and the final product is always better than I imagined.

·         What part of the writing process do you find most challenging?
Finding that extra time and having the energy to write.  I have a full time job and several family responsibilities that take up a lot of my free time including weekends. As a result, I am drained most of the time and it’s a process of “psyching” myself up to sit down and write a new scene.

·         Any new work from you we should be watching for?

My next book in the Guardian League Series, Aeron, Book 4, is expected to be released in October 2017.  I am currently writing Book 5- Orion and hope to have this published sometime next year.



·         What’s one piece of advice you’d give new writers?

 If you want to write, go ahead and do it.  Don’t let anything stop you from pursuing your dreams.

Thanks, T.K.!

If you want to find out more about T.K. Lawyer, you can check out her website. She's also on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

You can find her work for sale on the Foundations Books website, or through these links:

Jasper (The Guardian League, book 1)
Centurion (The Guardian League, book 2)
Apollo (The Guardian League, book 3)

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Guest Post: Planning with J. Ross

Today's guest post is from indie author J. Ross, who wants to give us some insight into planning a story.



Have you ever tried writing while having a full time job? If you haven’t, let me be the first to tell you that it is one of the hardest things that you can ever do.
This is my second year teaching elementary school, and to call the job demanding would be an understatement. Grading papers, writing lesson plans, filling out paperwork, meetings before, during, and after school all take most of your time and energy; and I haven’t even mentioned the time it takes to answer all of the emails and texts from parents! One of the biggest blessings, however, is that I am the Reading/English Language Arts teacher. Which means that my focus is on teaching the writing skills that I use in my (for the moment) side gig as a novelist.
I loved teaching my fifth graders my favorite part of the writing process: the planning process. As I taught, I was hit by the realization that if I want writing to be my full-time job I needed to really put some time and effort into the planning process. The book that I published over the summer, General Leila, is one that I actually wrote in 2009. For that book, as well as much of my writing since then, I’d relied largely on the “write when you’re inspired” model of writing. I realized, as an adult with a full time job, I’d need a more structured approach to writing in order to spend what little time I do have to write productively.
Teaching my fifth graders last year really allowed me to see how important having a plan was. Especially considering that I usually have a million story fragments and ideas floating around in my heads. Actually seeing the words on the page helps to make sure I focus on the one story that I’m working on. I had my students start with several ideas, then choose one idea to work on, and from there,create a plan of action. Since my students were only writing short stories, a five-paragraph essay format was a good enough plan for them.
With that thought in mind, my first step was to decide how I was going to do my plan. Was I going to write out a detailed chapter outline? Write bullet points? Do character sketches? Was I going to put all of this into a separate document on my computer?
After some consideration, I decided to use a hybrid method. I basically wrote out an outline of the story on paper, with blurbs of the major plot events.



This way, I was able to cross off what was done, as well as add details or new plot points as I needed them. Mapping out the plot like this allowed me to quickly see holes that needed filling or if certain characters needed more fleshing out. Having the paper beside me as I write also makes it easier than clicking back and forth between documents on my computer.

One of the things that I had to help my students with was actually using the outline to figure out what was important to add in the story. They always wanted to just jump into writing, which invariably ended up with them writing a disjointed story rather than an outline. Forcing them to slow down and really plan made a huge difference in their drafts.
By the same token, I had just been inspired with a new story when I decided to use this process, so I was anxious to start writing. But I forced myself to slow down and really focus on having a solid plan for what I was going to write. I wrote character names, background information, specific details, all in a rough plot map.
It definitely paid off.
Using this method, I wrote 20,000 words in about two weeks, something I had never done before. Normally I had to wait on sudden bursts of inspiration to write three or four pages, and then I might struggle for weeks to continue. I was extremely excited, and I can’t wait to see where else this story will go!
Now that the first two weeks of school are over, and both myself and the students have adjusted to the new school schedule, I’m going to pick up my computer and my notepad and get back to work. With my plan in hand, I’m confident that I’ll have another book ready to go in the next year or so!
If you’d like to find out more about me and my work, feel free to find me on Facebook! My novel GENERAL LEILA is available on Amazon and CreateSpace.com. 

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Beat the Block with Katherine Eddinger Smits



This week's guest post is by author Katherine Eddinger Smits, who wants to share her insight into writer's block.

 

Do you have Writer’s Block? You know, the feeling that stops you from sitting down to write? It prevents you from starting a new story or blog. It halts your work in progress like a naughty pony skidding to a stop in front of a jump (usually tossing her rider over her head to a crash landing on hard ground). It sends you into the kitchen or bathroom to clean until the house shines, or out on a shopping spree, anything to avoid the blank screen or page. Yeah, that’s the feeling.

Over the last few years, I’ve read a lot about Writer’s Block. Lots of people write about it and propose solutions or ways to deal with it. Force yourself to write. Give yourself a break from writing. Sit down and write anything that comes into your mind, even if it isn’t related to your work. Journal. And more. All are good ideas, and I’m sure they help some people. However, I’ve never heard of anyone approaching the problem the way I do.

I’d like to propose an experiment. The next time you get this feeling, stop and sit with it for a minute. Don’t try to force yourself to write. Don’t beat yourself up for not writing. Don’t get busy so you can avoid the feeling, telling yourself you’ll get back to writing later. Don’t try to psychoanalyze yourself into revealing the deep-seated fears that prevent you from working.

Sit. Breathe. Feel. Wait. 

Now, change how you think. Instead of labeling your feeling, Writer’s Block, call it something else. Call it resistance. Say out loud to yourself, “I’m resisting writing at this moment.”

How is this different? If something blocks you, you’re stuck. You might envision yourself stopped by a giant, brick wall, or some other obstacle that is much too difficult to break through. You’re passive. There’s nothing you can do about it.

However, if you are resistant, you have the power to change. You’re in charge and you’re only holding yourself back.

Now sit with the idea of resistance rather than block for a minute. Notice the resistance with curiosity instead of judgement. Oh, I’m resistant to writing today. I wonder why that is?  See how different that is from, I have Writer’s Block. What’s wrong with me?

The truth is, there’s nothing wrong with you. Everyone feels resistant to doing things sometimes. It’s easy to understand when you’re resisting doing something you truly don’t want to do, like going to the dentist. It’s harder to understand when you’re resisting doing something you love, like writing.

In addition to writing, I also ride horses. (You might have figured that out from the pony reference above.) I love horses and riding. But some days, I don’t want to go to the farm and take my lesson. I’m resistant to it. If I sit and let myself feel my resistance with curiosity, sometimes I realize it’s because I’m tired, or fighting a cold, or scared of falling off and getting hurt. Maybe my body just wants to be comfortable and staying inside in the air conditioning is a lot more comfortable than putting on long pants, boots and a helmet and then exerting myself in 90+ degrees. Maybe I’m worried I won’t perform well. Riding lessons involve getting yelled at a lot. Whatever the reason, some days, I feel resistance. After I notice resistance is the little voice whispering in my mind, Cancel that lesson. Stay home. You know, you really need to clean the house, I know I can either decide to take the lesson or skip it, but it’s my decision, not something outside myself preventing me from doing it.

Writing is the same way. Once you realize that the little voice is your own, it doesn’t seem so overwhelming anymore. The awful feeling is not so strong because you have interpreted the situation differently. Maybe you’ll decide to skip writing that day. Or maybe you’ll decide to sit down and write just a few words. Before you know it, you may have written a lot. 

In counseling, we call this technique reframing. It works because most of the time our emotions result from the messages we give ourselves about a situation, rather than the actual situation itself. For example, if you’re driving and someone speeds by you at 100 mph, you might think: That reckless person is going to cause an accident! That’s terrible. You get mad. Adrenaline spikes in your bloodstream and you’re ready to fight, or at least give the person a piece of your mind. 

But what if the person speeding by you is driving an ambulance, with lights flashing and siren blaring? That’s different. You might think: There’s an emergency and they’re on their way to help someone. You don’t get mad. Your main concern is to get out of the way, so they can reach their destination.

Reframing works just as well when we do it for ourselves as when a counselor does it for us. Try it when you’re feeling resistance to writing. Say to yourself, “Well, I notice I’m resisting writing today.” How does that feel? Is it less debilitating than thinking, “I have Writer’s Block”?

I’d love to hear from you. Did this experiment help you? Or not? Do you think this is a completely crazy idea that can’t possibly work? That’s okay. There’s no universal cure for much of anything. Maybe you have a better idea, or something that worked better for you. I’d love comments. 


Katherine Eddinger Smits has a BA in Psychology and Sociology and a Masters in Social Work. She retired after over two decades of helping veterans, families and community agencies as a clinical social worker. She has published two paranormal romances and has several more in the works. You can find out more about her at her website.  You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Interested in Katherine's books? Check them out here:

Water Dreams

The Sea Witch and the Mage