Where in the World is ARCHETYPE?

 

ArchetypeSo there’s this publisher called Dutton Books, who decided to publish this book called ARCHETYPE by M.D. Waters.

GREATEST. DECISION. EVER!

No joke. There’s a reason why there’s been an insane amount of buzz in the publishing world about this book.

Check out the blurb from Goodreads:

Introducing a breathtakingly inventive futuristic suspense novel about one woman who rebels against everything she is told to believe.

Emma wakes in a hospital, with no memory of what came before. Her husband, Declan, a powerful, seductive man, provides her with new memories, but her dreams contradict his stories, showing her a past life she can’t believe possible: memories of war, of a camp where girls are trained to be wives, of love for another man. Something inside her tells her not to speak of this, but she does not know why. She only knows she is at war with herself.

Suppressing those dreams during daylight hours, Emma lets Declan mold her into a happily married woman and begins to fall in love with him. But the day Noah stands before her, the line between her reality and dreams shatters.

In a future where women are a rare commodity, Emma fights for freedom but is held captive by the love of two men—one her husband, the other her worst enemy. If only she could remember which is which. . . .

The first novel in a two-part series, Archetype heralds the arrival of a truly memorable character—and the talented author who created her.

Although ARCHETYPE doesn’t release until February, I got the chance to be a part of the “Where in the World is Archetype” blog tour that M.D. Waters’ Writing Wife, Charissa Weaks, put together.

So what does that mean? Well, it means I got to spend some time reading an ARC of this fantastic, can’t-put-down novel! But first, I had to receive it in the mail from another writer: Melissa Chambers.

To say I was giddy while opening the box is an understatement

To say I was giddy while opening the box is an understatement

Then, I had to read it. 🙂 🙂 🙂

do-not-disturb-im-reading-archetype-by-md-waters

When I finished, I cried, smiled, laughed, jumped for joy, texted Charissa Weaks, and went a little nuts on Facebook with nothing but raves about this book.

Then I sat down an wrote my review:

OMG! There are almost no words for how much I LOVED this book. And there’s no doubt whatsoever that you WILL LOVE it, too!

I’ve never been much of a science fiction reader, but I do enjoy any and all genres that have fantastic characters, amazing story lines, and delicious tension — and that is exactly what this book gave us! Action, romance, mystery, tension, likeable heroine from page one, plot twists so good that you’ll scream aloud, “Oh, my God!”

M.D. Waters has given readers such a treasure with this novel, and there’s no doubt its follow-up, Prototype, will be just as amazing and unforgettable.

Fantastic writing, unforgettable characters, and heart-wrenching, Archetype is sure to find itself at the top of the NYT Bestseller list upon release.

Then, ARCHETYPE and I took a little field trip to the Bicentennial Gardens in Greensboro.

Archetype in Greensboro, NC

Archetype in Greensboro, NC

Archetype and "The Student"

Archetype and “The Student”

And now, ARCHETYPE is on it’s way to the next stop on this little tour. 🙂

Wanna join in on the fun and read ARCHETYPE before it hits bookshelves on February 6th, 2014? Here’s how:

1) Possess your own blog and be willing to post about the book
2) Email Charissa Weaks about joining the tour: cweaksblog (at) gmail (dot) com
3) Read ARCHETYPE in the allotted time frame
4) Take a picture of you with the book
5) Write a note to Charissa inside the cover (this is her ARC, so tell how much you LOVED it)
6) Mail the book to the next lucky recipient
7) Blog about your experience

Not able to join the tour? No worries! You can always pre-order your copy of ARCHETYPE now:

Amazon / Barnes and Noble / iTunes / iBook / Indiebound / GooglePlay

Next stop for ARCHETYPE will be next week with Author Kristi Helvig.

Where in the World is ARCHETYPE? Current Blog Tour List
9/8: Author Melissa Chambers
9/16: Author Jodi L. Henry
9/26: Author Melinda S. Collins
9/30: Author Kristi Helvig
10/7: Author Ash Krafton
10/16: Author Jessica Lemmon
10/25: A Bookish Affair
10/31: Author Tracy Buscemi
11/11: Jessica E. Subject

Happy Reading and Writing!
Melinda

On Candy Crush and Writing

Ahhh, Candy Crush. I wish I could say that I have loads of self-control.That I was able to not succumb–yet again–to an online-Facebook game. But … I cannot. *grin* I mean, come in, cute rainbow-colored candies and nifty power-ups? Why, it’s like Bejeweled. But on crack. 😉

Candy Crush_Level

Looks complicated, huh?

In any case, I was incredibly lazy the weekend before last. My sister and I held a Slumber Party at our house, and so in preparation for this female-only gathering, I cleaned my house top-to-bottom, inside-out. I ran myself into the ground to make this place shiny and perfect for my guests. So what happened after this party? *crash*

My brain was not going to cooperate with my over-worked ass. Nope. So I lazed around all weekend and played … Candy Crush! I passed about 7 levels that weekend–woo hoo–and probably grew about a hundred new gray hairs in the process–boo! That’s when I realized how much Candy Crush is like writing. 🙂

It’s Addictive

Yes, yes, yes. Writing is like a drug for us writers. If we’re not writing, revising, editing, reading, thinking about writing, or making plans to write, then we’re grumpy as hell. And when we’re in our perfect little writing world doing any of these, we’re do deep in the hole that we don’t ever wanna come out and see the light of day. Just one more chapter to revise before bed.*wields red pen* 

Hmmm….. that sounds a lot like how I feel when I can’t get past a stupid level on Candy Crush! I’m addicted and have to keep playing to win the level. Just one more level, honey, and I’ll come to bed. Promise. 😉

Every Level is Like a Puzzle

Whether you’re a plotter or a pantser, at some point you have to stop writing and take a look at what’s on the page. Whether it’s at the end of the first draft and we need to map the bigger picture to ensure all the inner-workings are playing nice with one another, or if it’s a bit of plotting at a time as we’re writing that first draft, or if it’s before we even begin to type Chapter One. We look to decide how to move forward. What scene should go where. What’s the most logical follow-up to the scene we just wrote? Where does the character go from here? How do we get the Hero into the same room as the Heroine? How are they gonna serve it to the villain? Ugh, why won’t they just freakin’ cooperate already?!?

Again, this sounds pretty familiar. Because once you start getting into the higher levels on Candy Crush, you have to start thinking ahead. *gasp* There are obstacles in your way like jelly that you have to bust away, cages you need to spring a candy from, chocolate you must keep from growing and taking over the game board–er, wait … do we really want the chocolate to stop growing?

It’s Frustratingly Fun

At some point we all dart out of our chairs and threaten to throw our computers across the room. And instead of throwing our technological best friend against the wall, we walk away thinking that we’re never going to figure this scene/plot/character out. Never! BUT, after a nice, longer breather, we calm down, and suddenly the answer comes to us. So then we run back to our computers and BAM! We did it! We figured it out and we can move on. Am I right, or am I right? 🙂

Hehehe … yeah, this is me and Candy Crush. When I have to play a certain level more than 10 times to pass it, heck yeah my phone’s going to find itself breaking against a wall. Just kidding. Sort of. But in all seriousness, I keep coming back to it, like I do with writing. It doesn’t matter how frustrated the damn game makes me feel at times ’cause when it’s good, it’s good enough to outlast the smaller moments of frustration that I feel at not being smart enough to figure out the puzzle.

Candy Crush_Failed Level

Grrr….

Help! I’m Out of Lives. Help! I need more Moves to pass this level!

Every writer and author needs a good beta reader and/or critique partner. Someone to cheer us on, tell us we’ve got the power within us to make our stories shine. Whether online or in person, we have to not only surround ourselves with other writers/creative personalities, but we have to be willing to ask for the help!

In Candy Crush, you only have certain number of moves in which you can beat each level. And to make it a bit more interesting, you only have five lives. When you run out of your lives, you have to wait a certain amount of time before accruing more. *cries* But, wait! I have friends who also play Candy Crush. And they see that I’ve been stuck for a few days on this level. *checks Candy Crush inbox* WOO HOO! Friend A just gave me three extra moves and Friend B has given me a life. SCORE!

Candy Crush_Help Your Friends

Do Unto Others

It’s All a Part of Our Journey

Every word, every sentence, every line of dialogue, every scene, every chapter, every novel, every critique, every beta read, every blog post, every rejection and every acceptance are the building blocks that make up our writing journey. They are what makes us into better, stronger, NYT-bestselling-level writers. If we want to win at this publishing game, then we’ve gotta do the work. We’ve got to learn, master, and surpass every level of writing craft–especially if we wish to not only draw our readers in, but keep them wanting more.

We have to know when to sacrifice for our passion, when to take a break and decompress, when to stay up all night and when to listen to our bodies and go to bed. And we have to make smart investments with our money, energy and time. I have an hour before work. Should I write? Or should I play Candy Crush? *ponders* Writing it is!

Candy Crush_Journey

Wait, there’s more levels?!?

As of this morning, I’ve actually managed to stay off Candy Crush for 2 days. Okay, well, not completely. Because I want to continue to support my friends’ addiction to the game, I’ve logged in via cellphone and sent them lives and extra moves to help their progress. But other than that, no playing for this writer.

The new rule in my home is: No playing Candy Crush unless I write 500 fresh words. Oh! That means I get to play today since this post is well over 500 words, right? 🙂

What about you? Do you play Candy Crush? Can you think of additional writerly lessons from this game? Do you have another game-crack of choice? How do you abstain from playing?

Advice to My Newbie Author Self, Part 4: Become a Sponge

Welcome to another installment in my ongoing series: Advice to my Newbie Author Self. Before we get started, I’d like to you on a trip down Nostalgia Lane for a sec.

Do you remember Magic Capsules? Oh, those were so much fun. I’d open the package and immediately throw one (or all) of the capsules into a glass of water. Then I’d sit and wait, and wait, and wait a little more–like the impatient person I grew to be–and then suddenly … voila! I had spongy dinosaurs! 😀

Fast-foward to almost 30 years later, and all I can think about it how we as writers should learn to become more like those Magic Capsules. And this is why I love, love, love analogies!

Magic Capsules = The Writer

Regardless if we’re just beginning our journey to publication, or if we’ve been on this road for longer than we’d like to admit, at some point we realize that this road becomes less rocky once we become a Magic Capsule–as in we learn to absorb every piece of writing advice we come across.

Why the learning curve though? Why does it tend to take us so long to learn to absorb the fantastic writing advice? Because, like the Magic Capsules, we have a shell. Many writers are introverted, so we hide behind a thin shell of protection when we first begin our writing journey. Everything’s new, everything’s fresh–the words, the stories, the characters. So when we first begin, we simply focus on getting the story written. We block out everything else–family, friends, online community, etc. Which, to be honest, is how it should be when we’re first starting out. How else are we going to remain committed to finishing a draft if we’re distracted? *grin*

But after we type The End, it’s time to shed our shell and let the inner writer grow, flourish, and absorb.

Water = Writing Craft Books, Blog Posts, Critique/Editing Partners, Writing Craft Courses, The Witing Community, etc.

Once we let our outer shell dissolve, it’s time to begin absorbing the fantastic plethora of writing tips, advice, tricks, and techniques. When we’re open to receiving all of this wonderful guidance on our writing journey, our heads begin to feel like the sponge crammed inside one of those Magic Capsules.

Oh, my head’s spinning. OMG, I’m so overwhelmed with writing craft awesomeness it’s insane. Holy hell, somebody get me a glass of wine–screw it, make it the whole bottle.

For some of us, feeling super overwhelmed with information and advice makes us want to shut down, turn off the listening ears, and crawl back into our shells. BUT, like the Magic Capsule spongy dinosaur, we canNOT fit back into our tiny shell anymore. It’s impossible to shrink our thinking back to the tiny bean-size capsule it was before. Impossible. So what do we then?

Proper Care #1 = Developing Thick Skin

At some point, sponges wear out. They become frayed at the edges, small pieces of sponge fall peel and fall off, and they’re no longer as effective as they used to be. This is the same concept for all of us writers. If we don’t develop thick skin in order to properly care for our spongy minds–or spongy muses–we’ll become frayed at the edges, burn out will ensue, and then we’ll begin losing pieces of our writing soul. One small fraction at a time. So thick skin to guard our precious writing souls and muses? Absolute must.

Proper Care Tip #2 = Selective Implementation

Here at my house, we have a total of four sponges that we use on a daily and weekly basis. There’s one for dishes only, one for kitchen counter top cleaning, one for floor scrubbing, and one specifically for scrubbing the bath tubs. We could use 1 for all of these tasks, couldn’t we? Technically yes, but just the thought of washing my dishes with the same sponge I just used to clean the counter (most times with diluted Clorox) sickens me.

But the point is, we could use a single sponge for all our dirty tasks. But we choose not to.

While it’s great to absorb every single piece of information out there in the Writing Universe, it’s usually not a good idea to implement all of it. Most advice/techniques/critique notes can be contradicting to one another, and most simply aren’t going to suit our personalities, our writing styles, and/or our story’s needs. Writing is subjective and everyone will have a different opinion of what we should write, how we should write, when we should write, which pubbing route we should take, and so on, and so on, and so on.

Selective implementation is simply tuning out all the outside voices whose advice does not work for us at this time, in this moment. What works for them, may not work for us. So we absorb the ideas that are being shared, then we take them home, spread them out on a table, and selectively implement what works for our story, our characters, and even our careers. We do this by listening our inner voice–our gut.

If we do all of this–crawl out of our shells, absorb the world and knowledge around us, take proper care of our minds/muses–then our sponge is most certainly destined to not only last a lifetime, but we, as writers and authors, are destined for greatness.

What about you? Do you see your writing brain as a sponge? Do you absorb all the knowledge surrounding you each and every day (online, critique notes, etc.)? Have you ever tried to implement too many pieces of advice at once? Do you listen to your inner voice on a daily basis?

I’d LOVE to hear from you! 😀

Miss my earlier posts on Advice to My Newbie Author Self? Here’s a few links to get you caught up:
Patience, Young Padawan
Buh-Bye Self-Doubt & Introverted Tendencies
The Dream vs. The Reality

What Do You Do When You’re Smacked Five Steps Back?

Happy Monday, everyone!

As you may have already noticed, I have a new site header. *pets screen* 😀

My amazing sister-in-law, Julie, designed this fantastic graphic, and she’s even going to shrink it scale for business cards. With the new design comes new excitement and a fresh feeling of oh-my-God-I’m-really-doing-this.

I’ve been absent from pretty much all social outlets for the past week or so due to a mini personal crisis, and an all-around lack of motivation. As in, I got hit hard with major revisions that I must do in my current WIP, which, in turn, unintentionally deflated my motivation. And as you can imagine, because writing is deeply personal, I took a small hit in my personal life (but one that happens at least once a year, so nothing too out there for me).

So what do we do when we’re hit hard? 

Take a break to gain distance and subjectivity.

My break happened subconsciously at first, but then it turned into an intentional decision so I could gain better distance from my work.

Take baby steps back into game.

I started by breaking down the plot in my current WIP, mapping it out on my plot planner, spreadsheets, and scene lists.

Slap on the big-girl panties and get back on horse.

After a small amount of time of reflection and baby steps, it’s time to just bite the freakin’ bullet and get back on the horse. ‘Cause we’re never going to get anywhere by sitting on the bench. Our books aren’t going to write themselves, they’re not going to revise themselves, and they’re most certainly not going to query themselves.

Realize this happens to the best of the best … so relax!

I’ve always been extremely hard on myself. And, at times, this has helped tremendously. But it has also hindered my progress and my creativity. So when we fall, we need to accept that it happened, give ourselves a break, and not be so hard on ourselves (or lecture ourselves on how much precious time we lost by taking that break).

Overall, I’m fairly happy about the time I took away from everything. I’ve been able to spend even more time with my husband, catching on TV shows and movies. I’ve been able to read a book purely for pleasure. And I’ve been able to catch up on some much-needed Zzzz’s. 😉

What about you? What do you do when you feel as though you’ve been smacked five steps back? Do you have any additional advice on how to get back into the game?

Advice to My Newbie Author Self, Part 3: The Dream vs. The Reality

Many times as a newbie author–heck, sometimes a seasoned author–we get a whack in the head, or a face-full-o-concrete from a little thing called reality. For many of us writers, the moment we type “The End” on our first full manuscript is the moment we sit back and begin to daydream about huge book tours, TV interviews, movie deals, having our favorite band write a song inspired by our novel.

Yes, I seriously imagined that last one.  🙂

The Dream Scape

At the start of our writing journey, we set goals. These goals can range from, “I’m going to snag a large, multimillion dollar contact,” to “I’m going to as famous as Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, and Danielle Steele.” Even our family and friends will say things like, “Don’t forget about us little people when you become a big and famous author.”

After thinking these goals, we sometimes sit back and imagine how our first TV interview would go. Maybe it’d be on Good Morning America. Maybe it’ll be Matt Lauer. OR … maybe it’ll be with Baba Wawa herself. Oh, that’d be so awesome, wouldn’t it?

Dreaming and imagining future interviews, movie deals, and everything in-between is okay. Day dreaming is what our imaginations do. And our imagination is what made us an artist in the first place. So turning that part of our brains off is impossible. And even if we could our imaginations off for a moment, would we even want to? Hellz no. Because we’re artists. We’re writers. And we can’t imagine going a second without the vivid imagery our brains conjure at various times of the day.

However …

At what point–and when–do we draw the line in the sand between dreams and reality?

When should we reign in our imagination? When should we begin telling ourselves, “Ya know, it’d be great to nail that TV interview with Baba Wawa. And it’d be great to sit on a movie set and watch my characters come to life. But maybe I need to think small-scale. Baby steps. How about I snag the title of published author first?”

The answer to those questions are for each of us to decide. Maybe we don’t start telling ourselves to slow our day-dreaming-roll until after we knocked down by a brutal critique. Maybe we pull our heads out of the clouds when we attend our first local RWA chapter meeting.

It doesn’t matter when we stop and come back to reality. What matters is that we do, at some point, take a look at our writing journey from a realistic standpoint.

I recently had a conversation with a mother and her oldest son. Mom told me that her youngest son wants to be a published author. Older son told me that he felt bad because he might’ve discouraged his younger brother by telling him, “It takes hard work and it doesn’t look like a goal you’ll achieve quickly.” My response? Well, I said that maybe little brother should’ve discovered that reality on his own. However, I also said, “You’re definitely right about what you said, though.”

Because that’s the reality.

Now it’s just a matter of the younger brother’s perception. If younger brother wants to become a published author bad enough, he’ll accept the reality as a challenge and face it head-on. And throughout his entire journey to becoming published, he’ll continue to dream of the day that he signs a publishing contract on a daily basis. 🙂

So the perception question is: Do we fall now? Do we face reality now, in that first moment of typing “The End?” Or do we allow ourselves to hold on to those BIG publishing dreams as long as humanly possible and run the risk of doing more damage to our hearts at a later time?

For me, personally, I wanted a cold, hard dose of reality as soon as possible. The more time I spend day dreaming of meeting Matt Lauer in person, the more my heart’s going to crumble when I realize I have a snowball’s chance in hell at that ever happening. The more I keep going through life believing I’m already the best at my chosen profession, the more I’m going to look like an idiot. And I already embarrass myself enough as it is, thank you very much. 😉

So even though I waited a little longer than I might’ve liked to get my dose of reality, I still sought out the facts and welcomed the smack of reality. Searching out articles like “Author Reality: Today’s Book Publishing Industry” is my way of bringing myself back down to earth. Which is just my style since I’ve never really been one to make large decisions without facts (in life, not writing–that’s a whole other topic). After I got the facts, I knocked a few items off my “ultimate goals” list. And now my goal list is a bit more in line with what’s realistic and possible.

Though I still dream of having Michael Sheen playing one of my first characters in a movie one day. 🙂

Michael Sheen

Yes, you will play one of my characters on the big screen one day, Mr. Sheen.

Note: The best part about being a writer on a journey like this is that there are many of us who prefer to keep that high dream alive and on the top of the goals’ list. And that is A-OK. Because we’re individuals, and what works for one of us, motivates and drives one of us to do and be our best, may not work for others.

Which means this particular debate–the dream vs. the reality–is an individual decision. One that only we can decide.

I’d love to hear from you! Which side of the scale do you fall? Do you have an ultimate goal for yourself? Did you shoot for the moon, or did you pull back a little? What was your “published author daydream” when you first began this journey?

Previous Advice to My Newbie Author Self posts:
Part 1: Patience, Young Padawan
Part 2: Buh-Bye Self-Doubt and Introverted Tendencies

Advice to My Newbie Author Self, Part 2: Buh-Bye Self-Doubt & Introverted Tendencies

Photo by Umberto Salvagnin via Wikimedia Commons

Two weeks ago I addressed the first piece of advice to my newbie author self: Patience, Young Padawan. This week I wanted to address another important piece of advice I believe every author, especially newbies, can benefit from: saying sayonara to our self-doubt and introverted ways. Part of the time, at least. Yes, I know, this is definitely easier said than done. 🙂

Step 1: Start with Social Media

In the WikiHow article How to Make Friends As an Introvert, the first step listed is to take a hobby you enjoy and use that commonality to find and make friends. What a concept, right? Finding other authors within a community to chit-chat with? To bond with? To exchanges ideas and insights with?

Herein lies the beauty in this day and age: With the power of the internet, we have just about every possible resource for making writing friends available at the tips of our fingers. No face-to-face meetings, no physical handshakes, no anxiety over the look or glance someone just gave us. None of that. Nothing truly sucking the energy out of us. With the online platform, we can meet and chat with others from the safety of our homes. And alone.  🙂

I like to think of the online writing community as a vast pool of authors sharing laughs, ideas, insights, knowledge, and encouragements. Come on in, the water’s fantastic!

When first starting out on social media, the best advice out there is to begin slowly. Only dip your toes in at first. Get a feel for Twitter. Learn how hashtags work and which ones to follow (i.e.: #MyWANA, #amwriting, #writetip, etc.). There’s so much information floating around—all at once, most times—that we definitely don’t want to jump in headfirst. Then we’ll feel overwhelmed and drained of all our energy.

Twitter is a fantastic opener to the blogosphere. By following fellow authors and artists and writing hashtags, we’ll get links galore! Many, many authors tweet links to blogs that have sound writing advice, interesting takes on old techniques, inspiring stories of an author’s journey to publication. After a bit of exploring Twitter and all these fantastic writing links, we’ll soon have a full-fledged blogroll built up. And again, we have another amazing route to meeting and chatting with other authors. If we feel we have something to contribute to a blog post? We comment. If we simply enjoyed the post by the author? We comment and let them know.

If we take it slowly, one small step at a time, putting ourselves out there in the writing community isn’t so bad after all. We just have to remember to take a step back and breathe in order to keep from feeling overwhelmed.

Being online is the easy part. We can be alone all day long and still have meaningful conversations while meeting new people. 😉

Step 2: Local Writing Groups/Chapters

This next step is a bit more intimidating. I took this step myself last month. Um, can you say I was shaking so bad when I arrived to my first CRW meeting that it was utterly embarrassing? 😛

There’s really no easy way to take this step. It literally is a bite-the-frickin-bullet and get-it-over-with kind of thing. However, we can make this step a little easier by:

  • Giving ourselves time to prepare. Look at the meeting schedule and decide on a future meeting. Usually if we give ourselves a month or two before a meeting, we’ll get a bit more comfortable with the idea of dropping into a room with many other authors we don’t know at first. We’ll be more focused and bit more prepared for the exhaustion that pounds against our skulls afterwards.
  • Ripping the band-aid off. Meeting new people is like ripping a superglue band-aid off. We dread it, we have anxiety over it, we want to cry, kick and scream to not have to pull that sticky crap off. This is just too tiresome. Can’t I just stick with the online stuff? Pretty please! But here’s the thing, like a band-aid, if we simply put our big girl panties on and just do it. By the time we walk through the door, another chapter member will usually recognize we’re new, they’ll introduce themselves then they’ll tell us to “have a seat and glad you’re here!” Then, suddenly, the pain and worry about being there in the first place is … gone. And we can either contribute to conversations, or we can keep to ourselves. Whichever is fine. But at least we got ourselves there. 🙂
  • Reminding ourselves that we’ll regret not going. Many writing groups and chapters hosts special guests at their meetings. Last month, I had the pleasure of meeting an editor from Kensington Publishing (and got a three-chapter request off a pitch—score!), and historical romance author Terry Brisbin. Next month, I’ll have the pleasure of meeting lawyer and literary agent, Eric Rueben. Hands down, I would’ve regretted not going to the two meetings I went to last month. I got pitch practice, the added confidence boost I needed by having an editor intrigued with my story’s premise, and fantastic ideas on how to stay motivated from an experienced author. I’d take the exhaustion from being talkative and bubbly and driving so far to the meetings over regret of not even going any and every day of the week.

Remember: Regret’s a nasty, four-horned dragon that’ll eat our writing souls if we don’t take these advantage of these small, golden opportunities.

Step 3: Stomp-Out Self-Doubt

Oh, God, they’re going to think I’m crazy. Or that I don’t know anything. Oh, it’s gonna be so obvious I’m new at this!

All of these thoughts are the work of the self-doubt. We all suffer from these thoughts. Sometimes we bow to these thoughts. And even though it’s difficult, we need to learn how to stomp these thoughts.

Whether a post-it note on your monitor, desk, or wall, a poster hanging on our office wall, a pep talk we give ourselves before getting online, writing a post, or commenting on someone else’s post, we all could use the reminder to shut down these thoughts. Some of us respond well to nice and simple notes like: “Be yourself. Nobody can ever tell you you’re doing it wrong.” And some of us may better respond to something stronger like: “Be yourself, damnit! Go with your gut! Get out there and get ‘er done! You’re frickin’ awesome!”

However we respond best should be what we seek to discover over time so that we can train our brains to not doubt ourselves as much (I’m not going to say never, because I’m almost willing to bet that even Stephen King doubts himself from time to time).

Beating the self-doubt thoughts is another fantastic positive from getting involved in the writing community. We’ll meet other authors with the same type of self-doubt-tainted thoughts. We’ll begin encouraging one another to stop thinking this way. We’ll build up each other’s confidence. We’ll build such a good rapport, that most times, we’ll become excellent CP’s or Beta Readers for one another.

And it’s an incredible feeling when a fellow author, one who’s been in your seat not too long ago, tells you, “Suck it up, buttercup! No more whining. You’re good at this! Get out there and make it happen!” 🙂

So if I leave nothing else with my newbie author self (besides patience, always have to have patience), I’d say this:

The beautiful thing about social media and the writing community is we build each other up. Because we’ve all suffered from self-doubt, from anxiety, from being overwhelmed with information and to do lists, from being new and simply not knowing any better. So when another author’s in need—newbie or not—we keep an eye out on our own and offer a helping hand. And a shoulder to cry on when times are rough. And some confetti to throw when there’s good news.

And above all else: Be true to who you are as an individual, as a writer, and as an artist. People will come to know and love the unique individual that is YOU.

 

I’d love to hear from you! Are you an introvert? What steps did you take to put yourself out there into the writing world? What was the hardest part of becoming involved for you? What are some other self-defeating behaviors? How did you overcome those?

What’s Your Favorite Craft Book?

Today I’m interrupting the continuation of my Advice to My Newbie Author Self series to rave about the latest craft books I’ve been devouring–yet again:

The Complete Writer’s Guide to Heroes & Heroines by Tami D. Cowden, Caro LaFever and Sue Viders

Heroes & Heroines

All fiction writers want to write stories with great heroes and heroines–characters who leap off the page and capture the reader’s imagination.

 

Fallen Heroes: Sixteen Master Villain Archetypes by Tami D. Cowden

VillainsThe villain is the hero of his own story – and is every bit as important as the heroic characters.

 

I’m in the middle of revisions, and I have to be honest on this one: I smacked myself upside the head so, so hard while reading these books. Yeah, it can be fairly easy to create characters and dissect their personalities and backstories until our eyes bleed, but if we start with an archetype, that job can–most times–be a helluva lot easier. 😀

I can’t recommend these two books enough. Easy to read and understand with character examples from movies we all know and love, these two books give us the starting point from which to leap into designing our characters. We can begin with one archetype, lightly cross into another (similar) archetype, and we can even take the archetype for a hero and pair him with the villainous archetype that’ll translate best for the readers (and vice versa).

Both of these books have a permanent position within my Must-Have Craft Books shelf. 🙂

Your turn: What craft books are you devouring these days? Do you have an absolutely favorite that you go to again and again?

Advice to My Newbie Author Self – Part 1: Patience, Young Padawan

When we first start venturing down the road to becoming a published author, there are many, many, many aspects of this writing life that we don’t know. Some things are fairly simple–such as writing craft techniques that’ll make your life so much easier–but others are the kind of stumbling blocks we didn’t know were there until we’ve already tripped and smacked our heads on the pavement. *re-applies ice packet to forehead* The pain! OMG, the pain!!

I set out to write an article for a project with my local RWA chapter, and in the process of writing one article, this idea manifested: What if I could go back and give myself 10 pieces of advice? What would they be?  The first and obvious answer to that, my friends, is patience. *sighs*

You mean I have to be patient? I don’t wanna be patient. I wanna be a bestselling author right now! *cries*

 patience-yoda

Yeah, about that, Mr. Yoda. We live in  a day and age where we can get just about anything instantaneously. Need a new book to read? Buy it and download it immediately. Don’t want to drive to rent a movie? Order it via your cable provider. Need something hot, fresh, and fast? Pull through the drive thru. Don’t want to do your own grocery shopping? Order your groceries online so someone else can do the shopping and load the stuff in the car for you. Oh wait … is that last one just me? 🙂

The one thing that hasn’t changed is the publishing industry. Especially traditional publishing in the time-wise sense. The publishing industry, whichever route we choose to take, has never been a “get rich quick” career. It can take years to hone our craft to the required level, and even then it’ll probably take us another year or so to snag an agent. Then some more time to snag a publishing contract. Then a bit more time before we see our book on the shelf.

In this business, I truly believe it is all about timing. The right story with the right voice hitting the right agent or publisher at just the right time.

Self-Publishing’s No Different

The market’s competitive on the self-publishing end. And in order to have a competitive edge, we’ve gotta do the work, build our audience from the ground up, and invest in our product. The patience factor comes in when we, again, spend years honing our craft, take the time to find the right editor and cover artist, and then, if we don’t want to hire someone else to do it, we need to learn how to pull our hair out format our novel. (Note: I haven’t ventured into self-pubbing myself, but this is what I’ve deduced from the conversations I’ve had with those who have. 🙂 ).

So What Do We Do In the Meantime?

Ah, now that’s a great question! All of the advice we’ll find out there says that we should write. Just write, that’s all. But there’s more to it than just writing. Writing’s just the start to avoiding the impatience monster.

When I first thought about how to put this advice in the best way possible to my newbie author-self, I immediately went back to this fantastic post from Kristen Lamb last month on embracing the meantime. The basis of my ideas on what worked best for me still fall inline with Kristen’s. I just ended up putting them into a different format. Then I tweaked a few things here and there to give myself a few more ideas on what to do whenever I got stuck. Then I ended up posting these on the wall in my writing space so I wouldn’t forget. 🙂

So, during the wait, here’s what I’ve been doing in the meantime–starting with WRITE:

  • Write through the wait: Plot and write the next book. This is the basis of why we do what we do. We LOVE to write. This is the key to keep trucking down the road to publication. Tina Moss wrote about this very thing last week (and she moved forward 😉 ).
  • Reach out: Talk, socialize, chat, email, etc. with the writing community. Both Tina and Kristen’s posts suggest reaching out to our fellow writers. Other writers will have been there, done that, and got the shot glasses. Who better to understand our frustrations with patience than someone’s been through it before? But it’s not just about finding someone to complain to (which shouldn’t be why we’re on social media, by the way), it’s about networking and creating lifelong relationships with others who understand our journey better than anyone else–even our significant others.
  • Ignore the impatient monster: When the impatience monster creeps in, keep busy. Ignore him. He does not deserve our attention. We can ignore him by moving forward, or by reading a book in our chosen genre (research, right? 😉 ), by re-designing our website (heh), by taking a writing class, by talking shot on the phone with our critique partner for give hours, or by learning a new writing technique … and so on, and so on. Never allow the learning to stop. There’s always more to learn. We’ve just gotta be ready and open to embrace the new knowledge and wisdom of others. If we’re doing that, then we’re too busy to even worry about waiting.
  • Take a break:  This is the perfect time to watch a movie, catch up on our TV shows, go work on the garden we’ve been neglecting, or do that fancy new workout program we’ve been dreading dying to try. Movies and TV shows don’t have to be simply for entertainment. If we tune in the writerly part of our brain while watching, we’ll learn what to do–or what not to do–in our work (plots, characterizations, body language, dialogue, etc.). And we might want to forewarn the fam before they sit and watch TV and movies with us. 😉
  • Encourage and give: I’m a firm believer in encouraging others and giving more than we take (and I’m still working to become even better at this). And the impatience monster? He doesn’t like it too much when we busy ourselves by talking and encouraging other writers, nor does he like it when we give more of our time than we take from others. So the waiting period is a good time to offer a Beta Read for a fellow writer. Or be one of those shoulders to cry on when another writer is frustrated with their wait, or when they receive a rejection letter, or when their plot just isn’t working, or when a character refuses to open up. With both of these routes, we’ll not only be helping another writer in need, we’ll also learn LOADS more about ourselves and our writing than we ever thought possible. 🙂

So when impatience starts creeping in and we’re getting agitated about not seeing a huge improvement in our progress toward publication, we should practice patience and WRITE

Because if we don’t have the patience of an insane nutbag saint, the road to publication will be bumpier than the country dirt roads of the Carolinas.

And besides, waiting is fun. It’s the in-between time that we should be enjoying because that’s where the magic truly happens. 😉

I’d love to hear from you! How do you practice patience? Do you find it difficult, or is it starting to get easier with each new project? What would be your first piece of advice to your newbie-self?

Getting Armed and Ready for a New Author Site & Blog

Usually when writers set out to start a blog, we get so excited over the idea of getting out there and sharing our journeys that we make the mistake of not truly researching all the options out there for an author site and/or blog.

Who has two thumbs and made that mistake three years ago? *whistles and looks away* 😉

When we’re finally ready to put ourselves out there, we can sometimes go with the first blogging platform we’ve discovered. If we have an overly zealous type personality, we may also find that we’re chained to our computer whenever a new story or character crosses our paths with no idea of where the story’s going (I’ve done that one, too. It was a total, nonsensical mess).

So the question out there for many new authors can range from “Where do I start?” to “What should I blog about?” Those were my main questions, and I failed to do my research. The results ended up being okay, but not great. In almost 3 years, my stats on Blogger were: 26,000 page views, 175 posts, and 60 followers. Those stats aren’t bad, but they’re not great. They’re not where I would’ve pictured myself three years into blogging.

When results aren’t what we’d hoped for, that means it’s time to rethink, re-attack, and re-boot.

Where Do I Start?

There are many, many, many resources out there with advice on the pros and cons of the different blogging platforms. We just have to know how to find them. We can either Google search blogger vs. wordpress (which is what I just did to find the previous link), or we can turn to other author-bloggers that we’ve come to know and trust (A suggested place to start would be with Jami Gold, Paranormal Author. Here’s a link to her posts on author websites).

Once we’ve compiled all the information on our site possibilities, it’s time to get serious, sit down, and make a decision. These decisions range from super simple to oh-my-god-my-brain’s-on-decision-overload. Here’s an example of the decision-making process I undertook about three years too late:

  • Am I going to stay with Blogger or go to WordPress
  • Will I purchase a domain name (ex: yourname.com)?
  • Who will I host my domain name with?
  • What’s my vision for this new site?
  • Am I going to learn coding (HTML, CSS, PHP) so I can design the site on my own? Or will I just use a template from my chosen platform? OR should I hire a designer?
  • How soon do I want this new site up and running?

Once all these decisions are made, it’s time to get started on creating our site. And once our site’s created–look how shiny and purdy it is!–it’s time to start blogging and connecting with our audience.

What Should I Blog About?

Yet another mistake many beginning bloggers make is that we get out there and start blogging without really know how to connect with the audience. Some of us don’t even ponder on those all-too-important questions of: What types of posts will roll out the welcome mat to readers? What kinds of topics will help forge a connection? Why in the world would someone want to read my damn site in the first place?

For my journey, I, once again, started asking these questions way too late. *headpalm* But once I started asking, I turned to Social Media Jedi, Kristen Lamb. I picked up her Are You There Blog? It’s Me, Writer three months ago. If you haven’t read it, I highly suggest you give it a read. Even a seasoned blogger will find many golden nuggets within her book’s pages. And after you’ve read the book, check out the posts on her site with many, many more blogging tips.

Within the pages of her book and the posts on her blog, we’ll find the answers to all our questions … and more!

The best part of reading Kristen’s book, for me, was the realization that she has made these mistakes too, and she was there to help me rectify them. Which is a huge reason why I’m here on a new site and new platform with new lessons and a new approach to sharing and welcoming insights, lessons and information. 🙂

If we now take all the information we’ve absorbed (well, after we’ve survived the head spinning–sorta 😉 ), we can now set sail into the world of social media, author sites, and blogging because we’ll be armed and ready with information, insights and confidence. *wields shiny new sword*

I’d love to hear from you!

Do you currently have an author site and/or blog? What steps did you follow regarding your site/blog’s set-up and design? Do you have any advice for authors who are new to the world of author site/blog creation? Do you have any best practices or tips you’d like share?

Springtime & Starting Fresh: New Site, New Blog, New Lessons

SpringtimeIt’s Springtime again! Woo hoo! Time for Spring-cleaning, warmer weather (if Mother Nature cooperates *shakes fist*), and fresh blooms.

If you think about it, New Year’s and Springtime both have a few things in common: Both are times to start fresh, begin anew, get rid of the clutter in your home and/or life, and to revamp, rethink and reboot.

And that’s exactly what I’ve been up to this past month: starting fresh, revamping, rethinking and rebooting. 🙂

 

Starting Fresh With a New Site

Okay, so it’s not exactly starting “fresh”, but it’s close. 😉

During the final session at WANACon, Jami Gold did a quick rundown of the differences between WordPress.com (the free version) and WordPress.org (the paid/self-hosted version). This particular topic got my brain turning on the possibility of making the move to WordPress. So from there, I contacted Jami’s TechGuy, Jay with TechSurgeons, and started the process of “testing” out a WordPress powered, self-hosted site.

Since WANACon, Jami has posted more information about author sites, such as “Do Authors Need a Website and Blog?” and “What Should an Author Website Include?” She’s even had guest posts surrounding this topic, such as “Switching from Blogger to WordPress—Guest: Natalie C. Markey”, “Does Your Site Welcome Disabled Readers?—Guest: Linda Adams”, and “Is Your Site Secure? Tips from a TechGuy”.

And for those writers who aren’t quite sure where to start on developing a website and blog, Jami has two workshops coming up this month at WANA International where she teaches students how to start their website/blog (whether it be the free WordPress route, or the self-hosted route). For more information on her upcoming workshops, click here.

So, with all this information floating around, it’s like the universe was sending some kind of sign. “Make the move, Melinda,” it said. “Go for it!” I sucuumb easily to peer pressure, so I decided to make the leap from Blogger to WordPress. There are a few other–more legitimate–reasons as to why I made this decision, and I’m going to get to those on Thursday. But believe me, the leap was worth it and I couldn’t be happier with my decision. 😀

So as of next Monday, I’ll have a new interwebz home. *tapes up last moving box* Look for the link next week so you can come join me over there. 😉

Starting Fresh With a New Blog

Again, not entirely starting fresh since I’ve been able to move all my Blogger posts over to the new site, but again, it feels so fresh!

Something about changing locations, moving into a new home, reorganizing your desk, buying a new wardrobe and moving websites gives us such a sense of newness that we can’t help but think, “Fresh start. New beginning. Yay!”

So over on the new site I’ve made a commitment to post at least three times a week—Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. Even though blogging isn’t new to me (dang, I just checked my calendar and I’ve been doing this for 3 years next month. O.o), my thinking and approach have both drastically changed. Drastically.

I recently finished reading Kristen Lamb’s book, Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer, and I have to say that Kristen’s approach to blogging was so truthful and so spot-on that it hurt. Hurt! But in SUCH a good way. If you don’t have a copy of her book, go buy it and devour it. Now. 🙂

Starting Fresh with New Lessons

We’re never going to get anywhere unless we learn. Unless we fall down, pick ourselves back, and learn a lesson from what caused us to fall face-first into the mud.

  • If these last eight months have taught me anything it’s this:
  • Nobody’s perfect
  • We all make mistakes. It’s what we do to learn from them that sets us apart.
  • Nobody ever got anywhere being negative all the time. <– This is my Southern ‘Tude coming out, by the way. 😉
  • Becoming a published author is a marathon, not a one-mile sprint.

So with a new site and blog, I’m looking forward to sharing the failures, lessons, and triumphs I’ve made over the course of my journey in a positive light.

Blogs may be “ours” and a place to share “our writing journey”, but the posts won’t do much unless they have something to offer the reader. It’s the same with our novels—if we can’t provide entertainment or an escape, give the reader a sense of belonging and understanding, or teach them something new or a different way to think and/or do things, then why are they going invest in us? Why are they going to spend time and money to allow our words into their hearts and minds?

So here’s to start fresh with a new site, a new blog to call home, and new lessons (and what I’m sure will be many, many more before it’s all said and done)!

What about you? Have you thought about moving your website and/or blog? What lessons have you recently learned? What are you looking forward to the most this Spring?