Gotta Go Dark…

I had hoped to avoid this, but I guess you can’t fight City Hall, can you? O.o

This is the time of year that’s absolutely insane for me–mostly at the day job where I’m usually stuffing 60 hours worth of work into a 40-hour work week.

So. Not. Fun.

But I love my job and it keeps me on my toes. The only problem is that something always has to give around this time of year. Unfortunately, it’s consistently blogging that has to fall to the wayside since my writing takes precedence over anything else.

Don’t worry though! Things should calm down in about 2 weeks, which is perfect because I have a special treat on its way to the blog …

Tina Moss and Yelena Casale’s debut novel, A Touch of Darkness, is releasing on the 15th!

AND, AND, AND!

I’m going to review their book on the 17th!

AND, AND, AND!

Then Tina and Yelena are going to pay us a visit here on the blog on the 24th with a special excerpt–and if we’re really nice, they may do a giveaway. 😀

AND, AND, AND!

On Halloween, I’m going to host my own little giveaway!

Be sure to check back later this month! In the meantime, here’s to welcoming the internet darkness for two weeks! 😉

Happy Writing, everyone!
Melinda

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 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?

The Lucky 7 MeMe, Kreativ Blogger Award, And a Blogging Break

Happy Wednesday, everyone!!

Last week I held another contest here on the blog, How a Scene Can Turn on a Word – Comedy or Tragedy?, however I do not have any winners to announce. The good thing is that I still have the prizes in my goodie bin, so I can give them away anytime I wish *smile* and next time I promise to make it a little easier for everyone to enter into the contest.

But before then I will be taking a scheduled blogging break for the month of April. I’m beginning my second Margie Lawson course this month (believe me, last month’s class was FUN!), and it’s just time to take a break so I can concentrate more on my writing. Since last week’s events, my Muse has suddenly awakened and keeps poking me in the cheek every few hours. When I’m at work that’s a problem, but when I’m home I can not neglect him. No. Matter. What.

I’ll still be around on Twitter and visiting my favorite blogs throughout the month as I find the time. Then I’ll be back in May with a fresh outlook and a bunch of fun, fresh ideas!

But before I sign off for the month, I’d like to pay-it-forward! I received two blogging tags over the past few weeks – both by the wonderful Tina Moss: The Lucky 7 MeMe & The Kreativ Blogger Award!


If you’re tagged the rule was to answer 7 or 11 questions about yourself. *deep breath* Here we go!

1. What setting best describes you? An extremely quiet beach in the Caribbean somewhere. It’d be nice if I could find one on either Trinidad or Tobago, but I’d take whatever I can get. Nothing beats the quiet calm sounds of the waves.

2. What was your favorite childhood book? I don’t exactly remember the titles, but there were many in a series that I remember enjoying very much: The Berenstain Bears.

3. Besides reading and writing what are at least two of your favorite pastimes? Watching movies, listening to good music and hanging out with my friends.

4. What is the coolest/strangest thing you’ve ever done? Umm….. I live a fairly quiet existence so it’s nothing *that* cool, but I’d have to say so far it’s been the few WWE events I’ve been to and the Paramore concert my hubby and I attended a little over a year ago. Yea, those were some pretty awesomely cool times.

5. If any character from any book could be your best friend, who would it be? Oh God that’s difficult!! But my mind actually honed in on one for me: Rhage from the Black Dagger Brotherhood. I think I’d seriously enjoy busting his balls – and I’m sure I’d get the same back. That could definitely be fun!

6. If you could be invisible for one day, what would you do? Oh no. Yea, not telling on that one. *locks lips tight*  *hubs walks in and steals the key* Dang it!!!

7.  What famous person (dead or alive) do you consider a role model for your own aspirations? Oh, this is a fun one. I’d have to say J.R. Ward, Deborah Harkness, and Thea Harrison <—All 3 are amazing authors in the genre or paranormal romance and they inspire me and my writing to be the best it can possibly be. Right next to them would be John Lennon because he was a true artist in every form and wasn’t afraid of what he put out there for the world. 8. Which Greek or Roman (or other culture’s mythological) deity would you be (either who you’d like to be or who you most resemble)? Apollo – wow, that was easy. And the reason I selected that is because he’s recognized as the god of sun, truth, prophecy, healing, plague, music and poetry (just to name a few). I mainly coincide with truth (I try to be as honest as I can with my feelings at ALL times), healing (cause I enjoy being there for others during their times of need), plague (cause I can really raise hell when I get ticked – haha!), music (cause I’d be NOTHING without it), and poetry (cause to me writing and the process that goes along with it is pure poetry for my mind).  *smiles*

9. Would you marry a Vulcan? Only if the Vulcan in question was Zachary Quinto. LOL!

10. Do you believe in any conspiracy theories? Yes and no. I do enjoy watching the shows and researching a few from time to time, especially if it’s for a WIP, but other than that, I don’t really put much stock into them. Wait a sec….I do believe there is an Area 51, so I guess other than that one, not really.

11. If you were to reincarnate, what would you be like to be? I don’t care if I came back as a dog – as long as I come back and live a full happy and healthy existence, it doesn’t really matter.

Now here’s some of my favorite bloggers I’d like to pass this award onto. Take your prize and share some interesting facts about yourself – 7 or 11, it doesn’t matter. :0)

  1. Ava Jae
  2. Jessica O’Neal
  3. S.P. Sipal
  4. Daniel Swensen

ONE DOWN, ONE TO GO!


Rules:
1. Go to page 77 of your WIP
2. Go to line 7
3. Copy the first 7 sentences, paragraphs or lines exactly as they are written, no cheating.
4. Tag 7 authors and let them know.


This excerpt is from DESTINY AWAKENED (I’m in the middle of deep editing this WIP and just by typing it here is making my inner editor go INSANE…but I promised I wouldn’t cheat!):

“Father.” He started walking onto the sandy, white beach.

“Son.” Eldron’s voice was husky, carrying with it a sliver of anger. “The Council has uncovered evidence of her existence.”

Ambrose froze. “I thought all evidence was destroyed nearly thirty years ago.”

“They raised Isabel’s remains from the grave. My informant tells me an ancient spell, one performed by several of their witches, drew out her final memory. It revealed a new born swaddled in her arms as she drew her last breath.”


And here are the newest players of the Lucky 7 MeMe:

  1. S.P. Sipal
  2. Charissa Weaks
  3. Lisa Gail Green
  4. Cheryl Reif
  5. Lisa Hall-Wilson
  6. Marcy Kennedy
  7. Lydia Sharp

If you’ve already been tagged then I apologize. If not then I can’t wait to read your Lucky 7!

So I guess that’s it!

See everyone next month! :0)

Happy Reading and Writing!

Melinda

Writerly Wednesday: A No-Go Contest, Alligators, and Another Contest

Where in the world did the month of March go?!? Is it just me or is 2012 starting off a bit too fast for you?

So, today’s a bit more of a mid-month check-up here on Muse, Rant, Rave. For starters, I held a Playlist Plotting contest on the blog last week, complete with a special guest judge, Lisa Gail Green of Paranormal Point of View, but unfortunately, there were no entries. *insert sad face* But no worries! That just means there will be MORE prizes for next week’s contest, How a Scene Can Turn on a Word: Comedy or Tragedy?, where we’ll have another special guest judge, Angela Ackerman of The Bookshelf Muse. *insert happy face*

Prizes up for grabs during next week’s contest:

And the best way you can obtain one of these goodies to put your brain for just a little bit.

Now….moving onto those alligators – or rather the subject of being in the water with ’em.

Yeah, this is what it feels like when you try to make split time between the following during the week:

  • Fresh entries into your current WIP
  • Edits to polish up another WIP so it’ll be query-ready by the end of the summer
  • Complete 2 lectures AND their homework assignments for Margie Lawson Deep Editing course
  • Read a book you’ve been waiting 6 months for
  • Pull 40 non-stop hours at the day job
  • Cook dinner at least 5 nights a week
  • Try to be sociable on Twitter
  • Try to be sociable 3 times a week on your blog
  • Spend time with the significant other
  • Watch your favorites teams play in the ACC & NCAA tournaments
  • Spend time with your family

Exhausting right? So yeah, it’s called being eyeballs deep in alligators…and that’s a scary concept. And I know I’m not alone as I saw a posting on FB by a fellow author/blogger wondering how in the world can writers find that balance?!? Yes it’s difficult. Yes it can feel lonely because your mind is on everything else you gotta do before bedtime. Yes you feel as though you’re being pulled in twenty different directions at once. And yes you want to murder someone from time to time because they interrupted your writing time or your lecture time or your reading time – which will make you look like this:

Thus is the life of a writer sometimes, eh?

So once again we’ve gotta tell ourselves to:

BREATH. RE-BOOT.

And that’s exactly what I plan to do the entire month of April. I’ll be celebrating 11 months into the blogging world next month, and I will be taking a break so that I can start my one year bloggiversary off bright-eyed and bushy-tailed (cliché, I know).

And guess what? It’s COMPLETELY okay to take a break sometimes. I had a mini-conversation with S.P. Sipal of Harry Potter for Writers last week on Twitter about this. We’re in this for the long haul, and as such we have *got* to take breaks – whether a week, a month, or three – to shut ourselves out of the social world in order to step back, gain a fresh perspective, get back on track, catch up, or to quite simply rest a little. Maybe we’ll return with a better idea of how to keep away from those alligators, or maybe we’ll return and throw ourselves back into the swamp. But regardless, that break can and should be taken for both your sanity and that of your Muse (or your spouse, take your pick). I’m going to be buckling down, yet again, with another Margie Lawson course (Writing Body Language and Dialogue Cues Like a Psychologist), so hopefully without the added pressure I’ll be able to safely get myself out of that swamp and hit the ground running away from it when I return in May.

But until then, I’ve got a great contest cookin’ for next week so that I can say I ended this absolutely insane month of March with a BANG!


Are you also eyeballs deep in alligators? What is your plan for giving everything it’s equal amount of attention during the week? What about social media? How do you manage your time and energy on social media so that you’re not either buried over your head with it or barely dipping your big toe in the pond? TIPS ARE ALWAYS WELCOMED WITH OPEN ARMS! Please share.


PS: Print this out and post it in your writing and/or work space. If for nothing than a good laugh, it’ll actually help a little. Enjoy! 

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