Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Writing and Music

This past week in my League of Utah Writers group we did a fun a little exercise. Our chapter president put together a few songs and had us write a story to the music. The point was to showcase how much a shift in songs can change the way we write.

I often write with headphones in, and I become so focused that I don't even notice the music until something strikes me. The funny thing about doing that exercise was that I wrote what I wanted to anyway. I started thinking of a plot line and I plowed my way through. But I wasn't really feeling it.

In fact, when I got home I tore out the pages I wrote and threw the story in the trash. I didn't think the music had really influenced me until I crumpled up the story, becasue none of the music that played matched what I was going for in a story line.

So here's something to consider. Before you sit down to write, visualize the scene, find the perfect song and keep it on repeat. That way you'll have the same tone to your writing. It might even fuel you more than you expected.

Here's the song I was listening to while writing this post, do you think it influenced me?

Monday, September 24, 2012

How I'm Doing

I'm Back! Did you miss me? I sure missed you! And I came back to a few new followers, welcome!! As most of you know, I had a baby at the beginning of the month. I love babies, I hate being pregnant, but I love babies. My new little boy is so good, he just sleeps and poops, and cuddles with me. It's heaven.

Who wouldn't love a little guy like this?

During my time away I haven't exactly been resting. If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter then you already know, but for those of you that don't, the pitch for my YA sci-fi book EXISTENCE made it to round 2 of GUTGAA! Go check it out on Deana Barnhart's blog :)

Guys, I really feel so good and am happy to have my little boy here! I hope you're all as happy as I am!

Anyone else make round 2 of GUTGAA? Anyone doing the small press pitches? How's your writing in general? Last but not least, do you love babies too?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Do I Want To...? by Lynn(e) Schmidt

Today I'm pleased to welcome the Lovely Lynne Schmidt who is talking about writers conferences, seriously good stuff in here. Glad to have her aboard! Take it away Lynne--
Do I really want to do this? I asked myself this question for days before approaching a college professor. "There's a writing conference my sister wanted me to go to. It's like $40, I'll have to miss some classes, and it's in Denver. Should I go?"

She looked at me and said, "you want to go."

I probably asked her why, or some other equally obvious question, but her answer didn't change. "You want to go."

Soon enough, I packed a suitcase full of what I considered dress clothes (khaki pants, collared shirts, one single hoodie), told my professors I'd miss a couple of days, and headed to Denver, where I met up with my sister, and her friend. From there, we toured the town, checked in, and I rifled through a large book that had the following days' events.

I don't remember which panels I went to (though I still have all the notes). I don't remember who said what. I do remember laughing, hard, during some of the panels. I remember getting influenced to be brave and write, and not care what other people think. I also remember, that it was cold, and hoodies were expensive, and my youthful vanity told me it was wrong to wear the same hoodie two days in a row. Because it was reversible, I turned it inside out, and met a poet during her signing time. I said, "I'm not sure you remember me, but we talked yesterday..." and to my horror, she responded with, "I do remember you! But your hoodie was the other way yesterday..." ::Cringe::

After this conference, I sat at home and went through my notes and the back of my notebook. It was COVERED in ideas, poems, short stories I wrote in between panels. 

When I came back, my professor found me and asked, "Are you glad you went?"

I couldn't thank her enough for pushing me out of my hesitation. 

That first conference was the start of everything writing. Years later, I found myself working three jobs to be able to afford conferences in Seattle, D.C., Chicago, or in Orlando. I constantly save money and schedule my life around conference season. 


Because there are agents. There are editors. Sometimes you're allowed to pitch to them. If not, you can talk to them. But the best part? There are other authors, other writers. Some are published. Some are not. No matter what everyone is supportive and encouraging. I've found some of my best beta readers through conferences. I've met some phenomenal agents at conferences. Even better than that? You get free pens.

More than you can possibly imagine or go through in five years.

Since that crash course, I've found that attire needs to be comfortable in case you get lost for two hours on foot (which happened, in Seattle). Jeans are usually not acceptable (I've heard agents say if a person is not dressed for success, they'll reject on principle). Business cards are a MUST (you trade them). A good piece of advice? If you get a card from someone, write which panel you were in when you go it. Or some other tidbit, because when you come home with 50+ cards, it's hard to remember who that memoirist was...(which one was she? The blue or purple card?) And snacks...your bag needs to be full of two things. 1) Notebooks and pens and 2) SNACKS. 

The time you spend there, even if you only ever make it to one, is invaluable. So to answer the question, Do I really want to do this? The answer for me is, Yes. Always. But remember to budget and plan ahead.

 Lynne Schmidt is a writer and snowboarder. Phobic of plastic, commitments, and feet. Caffeine intolerant, curse like a sailor, owner of an awesome but water loathing dog.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Hiking to Success by E. Louise Bates

Thanks to J.A. for asking me to guest post on her blog! I’m so excited for her and her family with their newest member and all the fun (and sleeplessness) that goes along with it. I don’t miss much about the baby stage with my girls, but I do remember with great fondness that initial getting-to-know-you part where you finally get to experience the baby as an individual with a developing personality rather than just “person inside me who kicks all the time and keeps me trekking to the bathroom five times a night.”
One of our favorite things to do as a family is hiking. We took our eldest on her first mountain climb when she was nine months. On one of our hikes this summer, I watched the way we all approach the trail, and an analogy blossomed in my mind.

Joy, who is five, wanders about from side to side, spends more time looking at the clouds and trees and checking out all the creatures on the trail then in actually walking, stumbles over every rock and root in her path, and yet still manages to stay on her feet almost the entire time.

Grace, age three, keeps her eyes sternly on the path in front of her, occasionally looking up to look at something particularly interesting her sister has found, but mostly just watches her feet and hikes like this is her business. Hiking is, for Grace, serious work.

Carl takes huge long strides that eat up the ground, covers any kind of terrain without difficulty. Given the choice between a short, rocky burst or a long (long, long, long) smoother stretch, he takes the long way, because it doesn’t take him that much time at all.

I have weak ankles and I have learned over the years the best way to accommodate them. Oddly enough, I do better going over rocks and roots, because on the smooth stretches I forget to pay attention and always catch my foot on an unexpected bump in the path, and then there goes my ankle. In the rocky sections, I have to watch where I go, and so it’s easier for me to place my feet carefully.

I think the journey to publishing is kind of like that. We all have different ways we approach the goal. For some people, self-publishing is going to match their style the best. For some, sticking with the long stretch to traditional publishing works. Some might choose small presses, some might decide to forgo novels and turn instead to short stories (or blogging!) or screenwriting.

Some might even find that life causes us to take a break along the way, or take it more slowly, or wander along a different path for a time. In the end, we all are going toward the same goal, and the very best way to get there is not to worry about how everyone else is doing it, but trust to our own instincts about what works for us and stick with that. However much I wish Grace might look like she’s enjoying herself more, or that Joy would pay more attention to her feet and less to her dreams, it doesn’t work to try to force them to walk their sister’s path (and yes, I’ve tried).

And at the end, if we’re persistent and help each other along the way, we all get to share in the same spectacular view. And that is what makes it all worth it!

E. Louise Bates is a writer, wife, and mother living in upstate NY. She juggles parenting and writing and the occasional attempt at keeping house. She is currently unpublished, but hopes to change that soon. You can find her blogging at E Louise Bates, on Twitter @ElouiseBates, or check out her Facebook page at E.L. Bates.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

What is The End for You? by Kelly Lynn

Hello there!

Ms. Bennett is off taking care of a new little human (CONGRATS MY DEAR!) and has asked a few of us to help her with the month of September. So here I am.

Who am I? Kelley Lynn a Young Adult author who’s usual home is my blog which you can find here. I do like visiting places and making new friends though so I’m PUMPED J.A. allowed me to come for a visit.

What should we talk about? How about… THE END.

J.A. Bennett has a fantastic blog, all about the Writer’s Journey. As I fly around the blogosphere I realize every writer has a different journey and a different goal.

Some of our friends are looking forward to typing ‘the end’ on a book, to look at those wonderful two words and say, “I did it! I finished a book!” The idea that we determined we would write a book and followed it through to completion puts a huge smile on our face.

Some of us need to see our work in print, whether hard copy or ebook. Perhaps we don’t need an agent or a publisher’s approval. We know our work is good and as long as others read it (anywhere from a few to many) that is enough for us. Self-publishing it is!

Then there are those of us who need validation from another source, maybe it’s a small publisher or an agent that says, “Yes, this book is good. I/We can work with this.” We sift through rejection after rejection waiting for just one person to utter these words, determined this is the only way our book will see the shelves.

Each journey is unique. Each goal is beautiful. Not one of them is better or worse, harder or easier. The goal can only be determined by one person: ourselves.

And the goal might change. This is what happened to me. My original goal was to find an agent. That would be the confirmation my work was good enough. But then I found a small publisher that got my work. That wanted to put their name behind it and I was beyond thrilled. I adjusted my goal, and am completely happy with the outcome.

So what is your goal? What is at the end of your journey? Where will you be when you ride off into the sunset knowing you accomplished what you set out to do?

Kelley Lynn is a YA Author represented by Brittany Booker of the Corvisiero Literary Agency. Her YA Fantasy, FRACTION OF STONE, will be released on March 21st, 2013 by Sapphire Star Publishing.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Taking Time by Kathleen Doyle

Since you can't really take maternity leave from blogging, I asked a few friends to write posts as a help while I adjust to having a new baby. The first volunteer was the lovely Kathleen Doyle. I'm so excited to have her here and I know y'all will love what she has to say :)

Thanks to Jennie for having me here today! Good luck with your brand new baby!!

Taking Time

Writing with young children at home is, at times, an exercise in futility. You’ve heard over and over again the whole “Write Every Day!” and “Get Butt in Chair!” but there isn’t always an opportunity to do either of those things. And then you feel the guilt.

Well, stop! Stop it right now. I’ve always been a big fan of taking time off and away from the computer/pad of paper. Not everyone is cut out for the marathon days of writing, and there is nothing wrong with that. Especially if you have those young children at home.

There are going to be days when you are exhausted. Your baby just went to sleep after several hours of colicky crying that started as soon as you lay down in bed the night before. The best thing for you to do is not to sit down and churn out those words that you’re so guilty about not writing yet. The best thing you could do for you and your baby is to sleep as well. Besides, as tired as you are, those words might not make much sense.

Credit: Hunter Emkay

And this goes for those with older kids as well. I have a three year old and a six year old, both with attitudes of teenagers, and there are days when chasing both of them around the house turns my brain to mush. So, I don’t write on those days. I watch TV with the Hubs, call friends, or just go to bed. Because, while I know my words won’t be perfect (not until edits that is), I do know there are certain times when my words will be less than good. And if I’m going to write, I want to be at my best.

There’s one more thing you should do if you’re in the slumps and the guilt is gnawing at your fingers… For women, I suggest finding your very best fingernail polish and giving yourself a manicure. For men, I suggest the same thing, only without the fingernail polish… Unless you want to, and then it’s perfectly okay=) You’d be surprised how much something so simple will lift your mood.

The point of all this rambling? Don’t be so down on yourself if you can’t get to the writing every day. Take the time you need to be at your best so the words come easier. Do what you have to do to make yourself feel happier and healthier and your writing will reflect that!

Do you feel guilty if you don’t write every day?

Kathleen is a writer of YA Paranormal Romance and Fantasy. She lives with her husband, two kids, and a cat in Southern Indiana where she spends her days watching bad sci-fi movies and reading all the books. Her writing began with poetry when she was 12 years old. As she got older, she became interested in writing stories and books. She majored in Theater in college and loves delving into the psyche of of others, figuring out what makes people tick. When she’s not reading a book, playing with her kids, or pulling her cat out of a tree you can find her on Twitter, Facebook, or her blog.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

August Mini-Reviews

August started out as a great month for reading. My goal of a book a week was shattered by the end of the second week in the month. Of course, things got a little crazy at the end of the month and I didn't read anything else, but I had my baby yesterday and now I have late night feedings keeping me up with a good book ;) Onto the reviews -

Not Your Average Fairy Tale by Chantele Sedgwick. I bought this because Chantele is awesome and the book sounded like it was right up my alley. It was even more than that. I love the world Chantele built and I totally fell in love with characters. Hey Chantele, I better hear you writing because I'm dying for the next book!


Artemis Fowl: The Last Guardian. If you've been following this blog for a while you know that I've made my way through the other seven Artemis Fowl books slowly but surely. I happen to have impeccable timing because The Last Guardian is the final fowl installment and what an ending it was. It made me laugh and cry and ponder and hope for the characters in way reminiscent of the ending of A Series of Unfortunate Events. Once again, Eoin Colfer is brilliant!

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. Okay, I know I'm way behind the curve on this one. It seems like everyone and their dog has already partaken of the joy and tragedy that is this book. But better late than never, eh? I'll admit that I put off reading this for some time because everyone said it made them cry, plus I heard there were swear words scattered throughout and other things that I usually avoid in a book. But people kept writing about how wonderful it is. Even though I was hesitant, I'm glad I didn't pass it up. What a tragic and beautiful and beautifully written book. If you're in the mood to read something that makes you feel. Pick up this book!


Endlessly by Kiersten White. I loved the first two books in this series.I love the character and her pink loving, bleeping fun personality. But this book. I don't know what it was. It dragged on for me. I felt like she was trying to wrap every last detail up and by so doing it was more a book of let's get everything done rather than let's enjoy this character's journey. That's not to say I hated the book, it just felt like it could have been cut way back. I actually would have loved to have the ending open just a little more. It almost felt like the character's life was over. I still think the series is worth a read, this just wasn't my favorite of the three.


That was it for this month, what did you read in August?

Monday, September 3, 2012

GUTGAA Meet and Great

It's September which means it's time to gear up to get an agent!

Deana Barnhart

Today is all about making friendships, and there's no better way to do that then to tell a little bit about myself. Luckily Deana has provided questions so I don't have to sit on my soap box and feel like I'm being self centered.

However, there is something about me that needs to be said becasue it defines a large part of my life. That is, I am a wife and mother. I'm going to have child #3, on Thursday. I can't wait!

Onto Deana's questions!

1. Where do you write?  At my desk in the front room of my home.

2. Quick. Go to your writing space, sit down and look to your left. What is the first thing you see? The sliding glass door that leads to the back yard, and subsequently a golf course with a mountain behind it that is just starting to show fall colors.

Ain't it pretty?

3. Favorite time to write? At night after the kids are in bed. That hasn't really been possible since I've been pregnant, but I love it when I can. It's so peaceful!

4. Drink of choice while writing? Water.

5. When writing, do you listen to music or do you need complete silence? I like to have my headphones in, it really takes me to another world, but editing often requires silence.

6. What was your inspiration for your latest manuscript and where did you find it? It was on Heather Howland's blog. She posted this gorgeous picture -

And my time travel story just came to life.

7. What's your most valuable writing tip? I don't know that I'm really the person to be giving out  writing advice, but the one thing I have to remind myself about day after day is that it's worth it. That settling isn't an option and the work is what's going to make the dream come true.

That's it for the questions. It's not too late to join, and there will be all kinds of fun abounding! Here's the linky if you're interested.