Tag Archives: books

Feedback

23 Jan

….is food for the writer. It even has the word ‘feed’ in it. As a writer/author feedback is very important for your growth, but also for the growth of your story. Every draft you write takes you closer to the version that it was meant to be in the first place. It’s like creating a sculpture out of lifeless lump of clay. You can see what it’s supposed to be, and it will take a while to get it there.

After almost two years of being swallowed up by my new work, querying has taken a backseat. But now that I feel like I’ve got the hang of that thing we call Real Life, I’m back in the game. As I’m still querying the first novel in my cosy mystery, I’m already working on the second. At first I thought that was pointless, because I haven’t even published my first novel yet. I have the luxury, however, of being able to work on multiple stories, so it’s not like I can’t query more novels as a plan B. Also, I let a very critical friend read it and her boyfriend heard about the story and wanted to read it too. Now they’re both hooked and he kept asking me when I’d write the second novel. If that isn’t motivational, I don’t know what is. I also considered it a good exercise of my writing muscles without the pressure of knowing I want an agent to look at it. So I put finger to keyboard and mind to page and here I am…I have a murder in a hotel, an emotional mystery writer, and a love interest who is getting closer to making his move. Yay, the excitement.

What’s even more exciting is the feedback. I mean, after not playing with my characters for a while, it’s nice to know I still got it. And hearing that it’s well-written and just drags you in is just the thing you need to hear. Not just as an ego boost but also because it’s important to know when you’re on the right track. That’s equally important to knowing you’re not. Also, because my beta readers are impatient, I send them a few chapters each time so when they pick up on an inconsistency, I can immediately change it. I’m still going to let more beta readers ravage it, but only after I’m done. In the meantime I’m so happy to reconnect to my characters and let them grow even more.

More murders, more fun. Wait, that sounded psycho. I really must be a writer, then.

Scheduled Writing

18 Jan

The muse is a fickle mistress. Waiting around for her will only lead to a broken heart. The only way to get ink on paper is by jumping that muse and tying her to your desk. Sure, she will chew on her arm and possibly also yours, but it will be worth it. I mean, the only way to get anything done, is by simply doing it.

Since motivation can be tricky, the key is habit. Writing has to become as easy to do as brushing your teeth. As a child that may have been a chore but we stuck to it and now we don’t even think about it. The wonderful thing about this, is that it doesn’t matter how long the writing lasts. Just like with most things, the more you do it, the better you get at it. Writing is a muscle that needs to be exercised. Exercising for ten minutes is still exercising.

Finding Forrester was on TV today (one of my faves) and it was cool to watch a seasoned author type away on his typewriter within a second of sitting down. His mentee asking him what he was doing, wondering how he shook some amazing prose out of his sleeve within seconds. Because HOW is that even possible? I guess the same as when someone finishes a marathon. With a lot of practice. Whether you try to publish your work or not, the more you write, the better.

So take a notebook with you, or have your laptop within in reach and make sure you have a few moments to jot down whatever your fingers let escape. Your characters will appreciate it. And so will your (future) readers.

 

Genres

5 Jan

As I’m working on my query letter I can’t help but wonder what genre I am even writing. Does anybody else have that problem? Well, it turns out they do, but it doesn’t make it easier.

I follow the story. The words follow me. The genre, however, is much like my pet dragons when they don’t want a bath. It’s so easy to write something that crosses genres, because books are much like people, they’re many things. Books don’t think in genres, we do.

There really is no solution, except to find an agent that represents both genres that it crosses or think tennis balls, I don’t care. Just pick one and go for it. Sometimes I see books that are labelled as a certain genre that makes me raise my eyebrows AND my socks. And yet they are labelled that way, so it’s more subjective than one might think. Plus, sometimes you just have to take a chance and hope an agent doesn’t laugh at you before he rejects your novel.

Mind you, I only have this problem when I write magical realism. It’s a fine line between fantasy and MR, which makes it more tempting to stick to cosy mysteries. 😉 Then again, murder can creep its way into magical realism too…

Oh, boy.

Trouble

4 Jan

Knock, knock. Here’s trouble. We all have them, don’t we? Why wouldn’t we, we’re constantly surrounded by the most dangerous species on this planet…HUMANS. The thing is, it would be boring without them. Our troubles teach us so many things. We learn, we evolve, we become better versions of ourselves.

Doesn’t the same apply to our unsuspecting characters? We would never want to read a story about a character who is fully content and has absolutely no problems or cares in the world. He’s just breezing through the story with a smile plastered on his perfect, symmetrical face. BORING. We want characters with hidden scars and secrets. Even better if we only get to find out a few, as long as we know they’re all there. They don’t call it ‘sweet sorrow’ for nothing. Our characters should face their demons and come out victorious because all their troubles have prepared them for it. That’s what makes the ride worth it, at least, for me.

Sure, trouble isn’t always fun, but the main thing to remember is that what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. Let our characters show us that there is hope and that we are strong, but even stronger than we know.

Food For The Soul

28 Dec

Books, books, books, books, books. For a writer books are pivotal if you want your soul to survive and stay weird and writer-y, as opposed to normal. I mean, think about it, what if our souls could survive on thoughts and feelings regarding the household, shopping, and whether or not our neighbour likes us.

No, our soul needs to swim in the energy of the worlds that we read about, the beautiful words that are constructed like an intricate sculpture. Energy we need every day or our souls will slowly dwindle down to Normal.

There are so many things good for us. So many things we should do daily, like walking/exercising, meditate, hug someone, drink water, and all that kind of nonsense. Well, I’m here to tell you that reading should be on that list too. Because if reading is on there, writing will surely follow. Trust me, I know. I’ve had the writing itch for a long time but my fingertips don’t bleed ink anymore, they’re dry. I know why. It’s because I can hardly remember the last time that I read anything other than the tests my students make. This year has been so hectic and stressful that I SHOULD have been writing my ass off, diving into other worlds and lives than my own, but the thing you really do when you get home is fall down on the sofa and find that you’re stuck to it. An invisible person has glued you to it, and that invisible person is called Stress.

Now it’s the Christmas holiday and I have a moment to breathe. More importantly, I get to read! And wow, have I missed it. Also, now the writing muscle needs training again. Why not start with a blog post? (I have missed you, Bloggy.) And after that, work on a story, no matter how rubbish I may have gotten with all that slacking off.

Then again, it really does help to remind myself, that writers don’t need to write in order to write. And any time my mind has wondered off (and it has done so often) conjuring up images of tough chicks, lonely detectives, murders, unusual people, and unexplained situations, I have been writing. I HAVE BEEN WRITING.

#PitchWars

15 Aug

Please skip this paragraph if you already know what #PitchWars is. Make yourself comfortable if you don’t. Here’s a cup of virtual tea and a fluffy pillow to lean against. Pitch Wars is a competition that allows you to pick up to five mentors to send your query letter and first chapter to. If you’re lucky you will get chosen as their mentee. This means that they’ll read your entire manuscript and make it all shiny and awesome-r. They will help you get published and who knows? You might gain a friend.

There is something special about scrolling down the list of mentors, reading about them one by one and writing down the names of the ones that make you go: “AAAH. YES.” Never mind if your pet dragons look at you weird for bouncing up and down in your seat as you high five your characters in your head. It feels kind of special that these people WANT YOU to CHOOSE THEM. I mean, when you’re querying agents you do the same, but it feels different. It feels more like standing close to the edge of a cliff. This, however, is a competition where you’re aware of just how many other people are in the same boat as you. It brings you closer to these people and makes you feel less like it’s you against the world.

Also, there is less pressure somehow, because you know IF you get chosen you will get help. You will get better. There needs to be enough potential and a click, sure, but somehow the demands made of you feel less…demanding. It’s just difficult to understand the world of publishing when you’re not yet in it. Who knows how many mistakes you’re making without being aware of it? It is such a gift, therefore, to meet someone who will take your under their wing and open your eyes to a new world where you might achieve something great.

Bring out your manuscripts and most of all, your courage and join the PITCH WARS. You know you want to…
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Writing Prompt: Spoilers

8 Aug

Okay, it’s not really about spoilers, but most of the time writing prompts inspire you to start a (short) story. This time I’ll give you the ending and you can decide what inky path you will follow to get there. Sharpen your pencil as well as your mind and have fun with these writing prompts:

1.
The man in the mirror was not the man I saw this morning. The changes were minor and hardly noticeable except to someone who observed this face long and hard every morning and night. I started scrubbing my hands again even though the blood had mostly washed away. I could still feel the wet substance clinging to my skin and the thought burned into my mind. How was I going to do this? How was I going to tell her?

2.
The dust settled. Eventually the quiet returned to my life and the storm had left nothing but scars on my heart that only I was aware of. The hardest part was pretending that it hadn’t even happened at all. My gun was replaced with smiles and talk of the weather. I had gone back to the stillness that I had always craved. This time something was different, though. This time I realised that it wasn’t home because I wanted it to be home. Home doesn’t work that way. This was wishful thinking. This was playing house. Yet I could do nothing but accept it for their sakes or they would lose a mother and wife. Even if I was suffering, I was also happy. Just like always I’d be in-between.

3.
Nothing is ever what it seems. We label the things around us according to the way we perceive things and that is all relative. We only see a tiny corner of the world, we only see ours. The only person I knew that had seen more than his world was dead now and it was all my fault even if he would tell me that wasn’t true. It was easier to blame me, because I already felt the way I did. The only thing left to do was take care of the diamonds and my revenge. That would be my parting gift to this world before I’d leave it. Just like he had told me, I made sure I said goodbye from this world with a smile on my face and I kept my promise.

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