How to Push Through Writer’s Block

I’ve discussed writer’s block (as well as story block) in previous posts. However, it’s been a while, and I thought it was time to revisit to update it. Writer’s block is one of those things that affects just about every writer at one time or another. It’s not a trend that miraculously goes away. It may strike at any given time, and when it does, it is one of the most frustrating things to happen. For that reason, I find it always helpful to read articles or find tips on how to deal with it. Some tips may seem like common sense while others may seem generic. Others are overly stated.

Each day that I write, I discover new lessons and tips. My latest WIP has been a struggle for me. It’s because I’m challenging myself to go beyond what I’m used to doing. Anytime something new is tried, there will be growing pains. For me, this has led to many instances of writer’s block and story block. When none of the methods I knew to work appeared to be working for me, I went internet searching for new tips/advice. Unfortunately, most of what I found was years old. So, I did what I do best and I phoned my writer friends and began asking them what are their methods for working through writer’s block.

  1. Don’t panic. Most times writer’s block is a short phase that writers must get through. Accept it for what it is—a phase. It will not last forever. However, increasing anxiety about having writer’s block will only intensify it and make getting rid of it that much more difficult.
  2. Having perspective is the most useful tool a person can have in solving any problem. When it comes to writer’s block, writers should understand that they are not alone. This happens to many writers; therefore, it is not something that is unique to you as a writer. In many ways, having writer’s block at some point in time is a normal part of the writing process/cycle. It may even happen more than one. It’s like a bad cold or allergies. You catch it and are annoyed by it for a period of time until it resolves itself. Sometimes, all that can be done is to wait until it passes. But while you wait, you should still take care of yourself and do the writing things having writer’s block isn’t interfering with (e.g., designing cover art, writing the glossary or acknowledgment, creating a marketing plan, etc.). There is no shame in experiencing writing block.
  3. Identify the cause of the lack of inspiration/motivation. Remember your goal. Have you ever been gotten frustrated in the middle of doing something and stopped to ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?” If the answer to that question is a valid/motivating one, likely will continue. For example, if you’re dealing with a person who is particularly nasty to you if the reason for working with that person.
  4. Return to the beginning. If you have begun writing but have found yourself stuck, go back to the beginning of the story and see if there are any major flaws or issues that is tripping up the writing the remainder of the story.
  5. Take a short break to give the mind a rest and time to regain creativity. When I have lots of events happening that are predominating my thoughts, I’m not very capable of writing. My mind keeps wandering away from my story. Sometimes, I stop what I’m doing to complete the thing that is weighing on my mind. For example, if I’m worried about whether or not I’ll get my blog written in time, I may stop to write a blog post. Once that is done, I’m no longer focused on having to strike that from my to-do list. However, be careful here that the break isn’t indefinite. However, taking a day or a week may be beneficial. The thing to keep in mind here is any deadlines that will need to be met.
  6. Work on something different. Maybe your brain needs a break not from writing in general but just from a particular project. When I’m working on a story and get stuck, sometimes, I set the story aside and write my blog instead. This is productive in a couple of ways. One, it allows me to regroup and brainstorm my WIP some more. Two, I have to get my blog written anyway. I simply switch the times. Then, when the time I’d planned to work on my blog rolls around, I work on my WIP instead. The time where I may have writer’s block (which is actually more accurately described as story block in this instance) is wasted doing nothing is focused on producing content for my blog.
  7. Get the endorphins pumping. Endorphins give a person energy. The more energized the brain, the more creative it can be. Now, there are numerous ways to increase endorphins. An obvious way is exercising. However, this does not mean a person has to run a marathon or swim ten thousand laps in an Olympic sized pool. Exercising could be taking the dog for a walk or spending an evening dancing with friends. For some (although I don’t know who) brisk house cleaning. Basically, any activity that will get you moving can increase endorphins.
  8. is to gain a huge promotion at work, you may find your way to push through the project. Likewise, if you have set an end goal to your writing which is important to you, remembering that goal may alleviate your writer’s block.
  9. Be consistent. I know this will sound odd coming from me—someone who hates adhering to routine but is a creature of habit. Yeah, I know. How can the two co-exist? Well, it works something like this. I may have ten things on my to-do list, and each one of those ten things is broken into parts that I do in a particular order. While I may do the individual subparts of tests in a ritualistic way, I may perform the individual tasks in random order. I like to explain it as having organized chaos. It makes sense to me but no one else. The point is that writers must get in a habit of writing. Does this mean a writer must write every day? Only if that is what works for that writer. I have days when writing is not possible, and I don’t stress over those days. But not being consistent about writing can lead to writer’s block. For one, a writer may forget parts of the story written and have to spend days reading just to get back to writing. Another thing, writing for the sake of writing is useless if what is being written is crap. I hear writers bragging that they have written 5,000 words, and 4,999 of those words get cut from the WIP. A famous writer said it very well when she expressed that writing was her business. She does not have time to invest in writing things that she will have to throw away. She has deadlines. And if she wastes time throwing away content, she will not meet her deadlines.
  10. Relaxation techniques. Ensure that you’re mentally in a space to write. This goes along with some of the other tips. If your mind is preoccupied, how can you write? Take some time to clear out your mind so that your only focus will be on writing.
  11. Do not try to write the first draft to perfection. It’s a draft. There will time to edit, correct, and polish later. Even if the story sounds terrible, if the plot is solid and the voice strong, it is a durable story. Continue plugging at it. Trying to perfect all the details and every aspect in a first draft will bog you down to the point that you will be incapable of writing. As the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day. In writing, create your foundation/structure first. Frame it and lay the bricks. Worry about the paint color and furniture later.
  12. Perhaps, a writer is experiencing true writer’s block where he/she just can’t come up with an idea or topic to write about. In this case, the writer must find inspiration. Inspirations can come from songs, movies, books, art, and just about anything. Now, when I say get ideas from these other mediums, I do not mean ripping them off. It was years after watching the cult-classic Clueless that I was informed it took inspiration from the Jane Austen novel, Emma, despite having read the book. I wasn’t the only one in my circle who didn’t make the connection. One reason for the lack of connection is due to the change in time period, language, and additional subplots. And while the characters shared many similarities, there were not carbon copies of each other. Also, it may be some small, overlooked detail in what is seen or read that is the starting point for a new novel. The takeaway point here is to pay attention to the environment in order to be able to draw inspiration.
  13. Limit distractions. A huge distraction for me is the internet. It used to be Pinterest, but I put myself on a band. If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I spend a lot of time there, more in the last few years than previously. However, my true kiss of death is YouTube. I don’t know how that obsession started, when or where. But I’m drawn to so much. It used to be the place that I would visit when I needed to figure out how to program something on my phone. Now, I’m watching short movies and all up in people’s live chats. When I’m trying to write, YouTube is not something I need to touch. Now, if you wondering how one falls into this pit if it’s a known problem? Simple. I may be writing a scene and realize I’m uncertain of a fact I need to use in the story. I search it on the internet, and there’s a YouTube video. I watch it, and then another one to make sure the first was accurate. Then, a suggestion pops up for other videos, which I visit. Next, a notification is in my inbox that one of my favorite YouTubers has uploaded a new video. Before long, hours have passed. So, if a writer is one who is easily distracted, identify those distractions, and keep them out of the writing area.
  14. Healthy living. Getting a good night’s sleep and eating healthy foods allows the body and mind to be more energetic. While some foods are tastier than others, they can sometimes drain or zap energy. This is a small thing that can easily be done and help writer’s block.
  15. Make the time you have available to write productively. Okay, follow me on this. Many writers work a day job/full-time job. That limits the amount of time they have to write. That means filling in the downtime with writing. If a person works long hours, when he/she returns home, he/she may feel too drained to write. This may lead to writer’s block because either the person is too tired to physically write or he/she is too mentally drained to create content. However, if the person works in writing during downtimes, he/she may find that she is getting a lot more writing done that if trying to write at the end of a long shift.

Don’t forget to pick up a copy of my new steamy, sports romance, Ice Gladiators, guaranteed to melt the ice. It’s the third book in my Locker Room Love series. Available at https://amzn.to/2TGFsyD or www.books2read.com/icegladiators.

Taz has problems: a stalled career, a coach threatening to destroy him, a meddling matchmaking roommate, and a thing for his other roommate’s boyfriend. The first three are manageable, but the last… well, that’s complicated. Because as much as Taz is attempting not to notice Liam, Liam is noticing him.

IG GC AN

Missed the two books in my sports romance series? No frets. Out of the Penalty Box, where it’s one minute in the box or a lifetime, out is available at http://amzn.to/2Bhnngw. It also can be ordered on iTunes, Nook, or Kobo. Visit www.books2read.com/penalty. Defending the Net can be ordered at https://amzn.to/2N7fj8q or www.books2read.com/defending. Crossing the line could cost the game.

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For more of my stories, shenanigans, giveaways, and more, check out my blog, Creole Bayou, www.genevivechambleeconnect.wordpress.com. New posts are made on Wednesdays, and everything is raw and unscathed. Climb on in a pirogue and join me on the bayou. If you have any questions or suggestions about this post or any others, feel free to comment below or tweet me at @dolynesaidso. You also can follow me on Instagram at genevivechambleeauthor or search me on Goodreads or Amazon Authors.

Until next time, happy reading and much romance.

 

How to Commit to Writing

Today has been one of those strange days where I feel that I’ve been busy since my eyes opened; yet, I’ve accomplished very little. When I looked at the clock, it was bedtime, and I questioned where had the hours gone. I knew I needed to get to bed because tomorrow is an early day, but I couldn’t bring myself to doing such when I hadn’t met any daily goals. But I shut down the computer anyway. I closed my eyes to sleep, and despite being tired, my mind was too wound up to drift off. To avoid just lying there and waking all the way up, I slipped in a pair of earbuds and turned to a podcast that I had saved in a to-do folder. I have plenty of professional development articles, podcasts, and videos that I need to listen to/view. One would think with the state of the world, I would have done that over the past month. Again, I must ask myself, what have I been doing each day? But I digress.

So, I flip to this podcast that I’m very interested in hearing the topic is how should a writer determine whether their story idea is a good one. I don’t know one person serious about writing who has not pondered this. Although I’ve never thought there to be a definitive Holy Grail answer to this question, I have always believed there are likely strategies (other than pure luck) that can guide a person to the answer. The most obvious answer, however, is the follow the trends. The problem with following the trend is that often by the time a trend is discovered, it’s just about over. That’s one of the issues with writing to marker. For example, if the big trend is dystopian novels unless a writer is an extremely fast writer and self-published, chances are the writer will not be able to cash in if he/she does not already have dystopian novels in progress. Here’s why. Let’s begin the scenario in January. That’s when dystopian novels begin to sell really well in the market. It may be February or March before publishers and writers realize dystopia is trending. So, in March, a writer decides to write a dystopian novel. I don’t know many writers who can pump out a novel from start to finish in thirty days, but we’re going assume that is the case in this scenario.

It’s April, and the dystopian novel has been written and self-edited. So, now, it’s sent out for queries. Any writer who has queried an agent or publisher knows this can be a very time-consuming process. However, playing devil’s advocate and best scenario, let’s assume that a publisher responds with acceptance after two weeks. Contracts are sent and signed. It’s now May.

The publisher sends the book to editing and cover design. These things alone take months. Add into that listing the book on a publishing schedule with all the other authors who will be releasing and marketing planning. But here we’ll say it takes two months. This puts the book to be published in August. That’s eight months from when the trend began. That’s seven months that the market has been being flooded by dystopian novels (already completed) but other authors. By the time your novel hits the shelf, readers may be tired of those types of books, and the trend begins to fade out. In reality, traditionally publishing a book takes much longer than this. Some writers wait two years to have their books published. Think about how much a trend will change at that time. Of course, self-publishing writers have more control over the timing, but writing, editing, and cover art still take time.

Therefore, I wasn’t listening to the podcast for someone to tell me to pay attention to writing trends. Common sense dictates all writers do this. However, it is not something that a writer can totally rely upon because there is too much variability in trends. Now, this is in no way to knock the authors who typically write to market. But this is a talent not all writers possess. Heaven help if I was ever to try to quickly write a science fiction piece. Could I write Sci-Fi? Probably, but not without effort, research, and help. It’s not going to come naturally to me.

The podcast begins and there’s this long spill about how writers all think their ideas are brilliant. Well, yeah. Again, commonsense. Serious writers do no set out purposely to write a bad story unless it for as a parody or challenge And story ideas are different than completed stories. A writer may have a strong story idea but execute it poorly. The reverse of that is probably also true, but I imagine it is a rarer occurrence. In either case, I can’t imagine either of the books selling well. Again, this is a point that I could have done without being told. But okay. I get it. The person doing the podcast wanted to be thorough. And perhaps, there were writers who had never heard this information. No shade there. However, I would think if that were the case, the podcast would have been marketed more to beginning writers than people who have been in the publishing community for years. I kept waiting for something new or insightful to be revealed, and none came.

So, after wasting an hour of my time, and yes, I considered it to be a waste, I asked myself what helps a writer determine if he/she has a good idea for a story. I conferred with some writer friends (because they don’t sleep, either) and came up with the following list.

  1. Identify a niche. This is different than selecting a genre. Fantasy is a genre. Dragons fall into this genre. A shape-shifting dragon maybe a niche of dragons. It’s still fantasy, but it may appeal to a slightly different sort of fantasy reader than just a reptile dragon. There’s always a risk with niches. Theoretically, niches are smaller. Therefore, fewer readers may be drawn to them. This may not be such a bad thing, however. Niches may not sell as big of numbers, but they may sell very well. I hate to bring this up but look at masks. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, how many people wore and purchased masks? How many people began making cloth masks and selling them for profit? It was a smaller market that quickly expanded. Makers are doing well. But how does this relate to books? Just because a market does not appear large does not mean it doesn’t exist. People who needed masks prior to the pandemic sought out places to purchase. There were customers. Readers who like the less written about topics will search for them. They need writers who will give them what they want.
  2. Being different/unique. I detest being asked what makes my writing different. It’s not something that I can explain other than to say that I was the storyteller and told the story the way I tell stories. I call it voice. I have my voice. I can’t describe it beyond that other than to say—take the risk. Be daring. Be bold. Go there to the place where other writers may stop. Now again, this could lead to some trouble if the wrong lines are crossed. I remember being a teen going on a family vacation to Texas. I was bored out of my mind on a road trip that seemed to drag on into eternity. I would like to have occupied myself with a videogame or something, but my father was convinced a handheld game would be a waste of money. He thought a much better investment was a console for the television. (Yes, this trip pre-dated common use of smartphones.) I didn’t have an e-reader. For some reason, we stopped—maybe for gas or to eat. I don’t recall how I ended up in a business that sold lots of books. It may have been a bookstore. I don’t remember. I picked up several books to occupy myself for the rest of the drive. One of those books as part of a series (I didn’t know this when I purchased it) about a group of teen girls who were friends. Each main character had a different zodiac sign, and their personalities and behaviors were based on the traits associated with their sign. I had never read anything like that. I sought out more. When I analyze the plots, they were very similar to other stories I’d read. It was the approach that was different. That what made them work, and it was an element not being pushed in other books at that time.
  3. Nothing is unique. OMG! I wish people would stop saying that. To me, that is the equivalent of being brain dead. It means that no one anywhere in the world has original ideas. That means at some point in time all the original ideas were taken. I wonder who thought the last original though. And when they were thinking it, did they realize they were making original thought extinct for the rest of us? So, if the world exists another 3,000 years, it will only have 3,000 years of regurgitated thought.

Okay, so here’s the rub. Don’t even think about “uniqueness.” If one looks hard enough, similarities can be found in just about everything. Do you. I believe uniqueness exists because unless people are cloned, all DNA is unique. If our DNA is unique, it only stands to reason that our thinking would be unique from each other, too. It’s called diversity. You write your story. Don’t attempt to mimic anyone or any style. At my day job, my work is very easily identified. That is because it is unique to me. And the same goes for my coworkers. We do not have to read the names on back pages to know who has done what. A writer’s style will be what makes him/her unique. A writer’s style will come naturally and develop (possibly even change) over time. When I first started writing, I was a bit timid in writing my characters. As a result, they felt lacking and shallow. They just didn’t seem authentic. Then one day, I decided to edit a story I had written years prior. That’s when it dawned on me why the writing was weak.

  1. Any topic will work as long as it makes sense. Not too long ago, there was a movie receiving a lot of hype. It didn’t seem like my type of movie, but I went anyway. Approximately ten minutes in, I asked a question. The people watching it with me gave me the stink eye because they knew I’d spoiled the movie without having seen the end. There was a huge plot hole. Well, it wasn’t so much of a plot hole as I don’t think the writers thought most viewers would ask. They thought it would be a twist at the end. But see, they didn’t do anything to draw the audience away from asking the question, either. As long as that question lingered in my mind, the movie didn’t make sense, and I wasn’t satisfied with anything happening on screen. When the movie finally made it to the end, I was over it. A similar thing happened in another movie. The movie had a good number of big-name actors. About fifteen minutes into the movie I noticed one of the big names wasn’t getting a lot of screen time while lessor known actors were. It seemed odd he would be so underutilized. Since it was a mystery, I deducted that the attention was being “drawn away” from him so he could be the surprise culprit. So, while all this time was spent on casting guilt on other characters when it came time to villainizing him, it fell short. So much didn’t make sense at that point. It all felt forced and contrived. It would have worked so much better if the screenwriter had just thrown him into the mix with everyone else so that his guilt made sense. A reader will buy whatever the writer gives them if it makes sense. Did any reader ever doubt that Dorothy clicking her heels to get back to Kansas? (Or New York if you watched the Wiz.) The writers made it make sense, even if it was a bit silly.
  2. Putting the story in front of the appropriate audience. This goes hand-in-hand with a niche. It doesn’t matter how clever of a story one writes, if it’s presented to the wrong audience it is not going to end well. In college, a friend of a friend stated, “I can’t stand me no singing movie.” Aside from the piss-poor grammar, the statement stuck with me. He never gave opera or musicals a chance. He blindly decided he didn’t like them. His mind was closed to giving them any sort of chance. I dropped out of a book review group for this same reason. At the beginning of the month, we would vote for a book to review. The book that was selected one month just wasn’t my cup of tea. It was well-written grammatically and no plot holes. The characters were developed. I just didn’t click with the characters. I felt that there was a lot of exposition, but, at the same time, there wasn’t enough. Part of that wasn’t the writer’s fault. When writing in a niche, people in the niche do not need to be spoon-fed information. I’ve struggled with this in my own writing. For example, if two characters are chefs, one character would not have to explain barding or concasse to the other. They would just say the words. A non-cooking read may be loss. The writer would then have to work in a way to explain it. However, if the majority of readers are cooks, then a lengthy explanation about this going to bore them. I was the wrong audience for this book. I felt it unfair to say that I didn’t enjoy the book (which I didn’t), but it was not because the book was poorly written. The debate becomes if should I write an honest review saying I didn’t like it when I generally don’t read that genre. The problem was that participants in the group had to agree to certain conditions prior to becoming a member. One rule was agreeing to leave ah honest review for a free copy of the book. It was the same situation for the next book selected for review. I realized the people in the group would always vote to review this genre and no other genre would win the vote. Putting a book in front of the appropriate audience includes publishers and agents. They may say a wonderfully written and clever plot is awful if it’s not something that soothes their personal taste.

That’s some of my tips for helping writers determine whether or not their story idea is worth pursuing. I’d like to say, don’t ever allow anyone to dissuade you from your dreams. Even bad ideas have a purpose. Some of the best lessons come from mistakes or things that go far left. Additionally, not everything one’s head can be explained. Think about how many ideas failed only to later to become profitable due to timing. What works for one person may not work for another. Just because someone previously failed does not mean you will. Look at the field of medicine. How many chemists, biologists, physicists, and physicians have spent endless hours researching a vaccination or treatment to turn up goose eggs before one person discovers the solution. Heck, look in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince when no one else can brew the Felix Felicis potion to perfection.

Don’t forget to pick up a copy of my new steamy, sports romance, Ice Gladiators, guaranteed to melt the ice. It’s the third book in my Locker Room Love series. Available at https://amzn.to/2TGFsyD or www.books2read.com/icegladiators.

Taz has problems: a stalled career, a coach threatening to destroy him, a meddling matchmaking roommate, and a thing for his other roommate’s boyfriend. The first three are manageable, but the last… well, that’s complicated. Because as much as Taz is attempting not to notice Liam, Liam is noticing him.

IG GC AN

Missed the two books in my sports romance series? No frets. Out of the Penalty Box, where it’s one minute in the box or a lifetime, out is available at http://amzn.to/2Bhnngw. It also can be ordered on iTunes, Nook, or Kobo. Visit www.books2read.com/penalty. Defending the Net can be ordered at https://amzn.to/2N7fj8q or www.books2read.com/defending. Crossing the line could cost the game.

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Life’s Roux: Wrong Doors, my steamy romantic comedy about what could go wrong on vacation, is available at Red Sage Publishing. To order, follow the link to http://bit.ly/2CtE7Ez or to Amazon at http://amzn.to/2lCQXpt.

Life_s Roux- Wrong Doors

For more of my stories, shenanigans, giveaways, and more, check out my blog, Creole Bayou, www.genevivechambleeconnect.wordpress.com. New posts are made on Wednesdays, and everything is raw and unscathed. Climb on in a pirogue and join me on the bayou. If you have any questions or suggestions about this post or any others, feel free to comment below or tweet me at @dolynesaidso. You also can follow me on Instagram at genevivechambleeauthor or search me on Goodreads or Amazon Authors.

Until next time, happy reading and much romance.

 

The Secret Life of Blogging

In this season of “The Rona,” I’ve been reading over past blogs, trying to stay positive, and provide quality content. In this review, I’ve noticed that some of my previous posts should be updated or that some aspects of the previous topics/subjects were not addressed. That is the case with blogging or being a blogger, and what better time to rectify that than now.

These days, especially having been quarantined for so long, many people looked for ways to occupy their time in isolation. For some, not being able to go places or socialize was no huge adjustment. For others, it felt as if the world had ended. And that is not to make light of the situation. Many people lost their jobs and healthcare and have many grave concerns ahead about how they are to recover. All any of us can do is take one step at a time. As with everything else, some people will have an easier transition than others. So, what does that have to do with blogging? Well, nothing and a lot. I know that doesn’t seem to make sense, but bear with me.

I started Creole Bayou blog in late 2017. I was just getting my feet wet and made so many mistakes, not to mention all of the technical issues I had. It wasn’t until early 2018 that I started to get it together. However, I believe this was a little late to the party. The blogging space is saturated. (So is everything else, honesty.) YouTube and podcasts were taking off. People seemed to prefer streaming and listening to audiobooks. Who has time for blogs? And why would anyone want to blog with the other media outlets available? What is the purpose?

Let’s start with purpose. I’ll start with a specific example and move to a more general one. My blogging goals were to bring quality information that may be difficult to find one location to assists that persons searching for this information will not be forced to bounce all across the web for hours. Specifically, I wanted to have a forum for Creole culture. At the time, gathering information on this topic was difficult for several reasons. First, it was often lumped as being synonymous with Cajun, which it is not. Information was often segmented or departmentalized. For example, one site may provide information only about Creole food while another site may provide information solely about Creole music or dress. Often times, the information that was written was little more than a few paragraphs or generic information. Some sites simply regurgitated the same information as others. Thus, a person seeking to learn more would be reading the same information repeatedly. I found that to be frustrating. Anyone who has ever watched Shark Tank (and I have to refer to that because I wasn’t a business or marketing major and do not want to speak out of place) have heard The Sharks define a good product as one that identifies and solves a real problem that others would like to have solved. Well, for me, I felt not having a concise place for information about Creole culture was a problem, and I heard many others express an interest in the topic.

Anyone thinking of beginning a blog should begin at a similar point. The person should consider why he/she wants to begin a blog and what he/she expects to achieve from it. If the person is wanting to blog for any purpose other than personal journaling, then he/she needs to consider what appeal the blog will have to others. Is there interest by others about the blog subject? What problem(s) about this topic will the blog address? Is there much information already about this topic on the internet? If yes, what will you add to make yours different? Is there enough information about this topic to write consistently about it? Are you as a blogger informed enough about the topic write about it? For example, I am crap at micro-fiction. I’m not by nature a sci-fi writer. I would be very irresponsible to write a post on how to write a sci-fi micro-fiction piece—at least, not without a lot of research and a great deal of help from someone who is very knowledgeable in that area. Now, I’m not saying a blogger cannot tackle a topic that he or she is not an expert. Some very effective blogs have been learn-with-me blogs where the blogger invites readers to follow their process of learning about something. In this instance, it’s a joint venture. So, if I were crazy enough to write a blog about how to write a sci-fi micro-fiction, I would present myself as a novice and share with readers the mistakes and positives that I discovered in attempting to write this type of work.

Second, understand that blogging takes time and effort. Unless already has a large social media following, be prepared to be swamped among the thousands of other blogs already out there. Readership may be small or nonexistent. Most of the blogs with thousands of followers are either famous persons or persons who have worked for years establishing a following. Instant fame is rare. However, sometimes, for whatever the reason (right place, right time) a novice will have a blog skyrocket. Some knew bloggers pay for advertisements or have connections with other bloggers that spread the word or allow them to piggyback. However, for the majority of bloggers, they should expect that their blog may not grow as fast as they would like. This does not mean, however, that it will not grow. The one thing that is known about a blog is that the longer it exists and the blogger posts consistently (I’ll come back to this later.), the more likely it is that the readership of the blog will increase.

Not only will it take time to develop an audience, but it also takes time to create content. This sometimes (most times) requires investigating or research. As mentioned earlier, a blogger should be informed and knowledgeable about the content that he/she writes. Readers expect reliable and accurate information from the blogger. The exception to this would be if the blog posts fiction excerpts, topics for debate where support for a point-of-view is solely subjective, or a blogger who is posting about his/her personal experience. Otherwise, blogging may require interviewing another person or visiting an area. It also requires (I hate to use the P-word but I must) planning. What are you going to post? When will you post it? How often will you post? How long do you want your posts to be? Do you want to include graphics/photos? Where will you get these graphics/photos? How long will it take to write the blog? When will you have time to write the blog? When will you create the graphics? What program will you use to create the graphics? How will you let other people know about your blog? And those are just a few questions to begin.

Sure, content can be anything, but it should be of good quality. It can be difficult work, and it may require some “do-overs” to get it right. Again, this may take some research. However, what many bloggers find the most difficult about content is developing content ideas. What to write about can be a major issue. If the blog is a personal journal, then coming up with a topic may not be as difficult. However, if your blog has a narrow forum, one may struggle to find topics or a fresh way to discuss topics. For example, if a person is blogging about cheesecake, there may only be so many ways of how to make and types of cheesecake. This especially may be a factor if you are a daily blogger.

Content may change over time. That is the case with Creole Bayou. The blog has grown over to cover more topics. This has occurred for many reasons. For one, the author has multiple interests. Two Creole culture is a culture. It’s not exclusive in persons of that culture only experience things exclusively in that culture. For example, mental health affects everyone. I’m a writer, so if I create a writing-related blog, it is not only meant for writers who are Creole. It is intended for all writers. Furthermore, I listened to the readers. When they send me questions or suggest a topic I cover, I do my best to oblige if I’m able and knowledgeable on the subject. Change is nor a bad thing or something to be feared. Thus, bloggers should always strive to grow. Additionally, sometimes, as a blogger, you may want to take a break from your typical content. However, be careful here that you do not alienate your audience. Remember, they come for a specific type of content. For example, if a blog is about beauty and suddenly the blogger starts posting only automotive posts, chances are, some viewers are going to tune out. That happened with me and one of my favorite YouTubers. She decided she wanted to take her channel in a new direction, which was her right and nothing wrong about it. However, her new content just was not for me. It was not something that I could relate to.

Sometimes, content must change. If a niche is too small or narrow, it may never grow. A fellow writer told me he had to change his content because his blog was stagnant. The readers he had did not engage, and his numbers remained the same. He said it was disheartening to invest so much effort with no payoff. (When he said payoff, he wasn’t speaking of monetary payments.) So, he altered his content, and he gained more interest. This wasn’t selling out. He remained true to his core. However, he added more content.

Consistency is a must. One of the best ways to build a following is to have a schedule of when you post. There are so many benefits to regular posting. Blogging is excellent for building a brand. Branding happens when a person’s name becomes associated with a specific image, event, activity, or subject, he/she wants others to associate him with. The quickest way to have people make the association between the author and what the author wants others to link him/her to is the number of times the person is paired with that brand object. In a way, branding is sought after stereotyping. For example, in the 1980s films, “nerds” were portrayed as persons with slick/oily hair, high-water pants hitched above the waist, thick-framed glasses (often secured in the middle with masking tape), and clunky shoes. They were written to be either to have genius-level or flea level intelligence. Because Hollywood had been consistent with giving the audience the physical look, once a character like that appeared on screen, audiences often begun making assumptions about the character’s personality and traits. Bloggers who are consistent in posting typically have larger followers because their audience knows what to expect from them and when to expect it.

I don’t know if it is appropriate to say that the internet is infinite, but it definitely is large. There’s enough room for anyone who wants to blog to blog. If you want to begin a blog, do it. There will be plenty of people who may attempt to discourage you. Don’t listen. They will argue that no one reads blogs anymore. Just because they don’t, does not mean that it is true for everyone. Anything that you want to do (that’s legal and nonviolent) is worth trying. Some will argue that it’s impossible to get noticed/famous from blogging. Two things here. First, it’s difficult but not impossible. Second, that only matters if that is something important to you. Some people do not want to be massively famous. They do it for fun or for a service. I know several people who garden. They post their garden photos to social media frequently because they want to share what they’ve accomplished. It’s not a priority for them if they get one view or a million views (although a million probably would make them happy).

These are some things that just skims the beginning of blogging. Each point could be broken down further. If blogging is something that you’re interested in and you would like to read more of this type of post, let me know in the comment section.

Don’t forget to pick up a copy of my new steamy, sports romance, Ice Gladiators, guaranteed to melt the ice. It’s the third book in my Locker Room Love series. Available at https://amzn.to/2TGFsyD or www.books2read.com/icegladiators.

Taz has problems: a stalled career, a coach threatening to destroy him, a meddling matchmaking roommate, and a thing for his other roommate’s boyfriend. The first three are manageable, but the last… well, that’s complicated. Because as much as Taz is attempting not to notice Liam, Liam is noticing him.

IG GC AN

Missed the two books in my sports romance series? No frets. Out of the Penalty Box, where it’s one minute in the box or a lifetime, out is available at http://amzn.to/2Bhnngw. It also can be ordered on iTunes, Nook, or Kobo. Visit www.books2read.com/penalty. Defending the Net can be ordered at https://amzn.to/2N7fj8q or www.books2read.com/defending. Crossing the line could cost the game.

2777b4e8-45db-46a1-b4ac-257a218ff424

Life’s Roux: Wrong Doors, my steamy romantic comedy about what could go wrong on vacation, is available at Red Sage Publishing. To order, follow the link to http://bit.ly/2CtE7Ez or to Amazon at http://amzn.to/2lCQXpt.

Life_s Roux- Wrong Doors

For more of my stories, shenanigans, giveaways, and more, check out my blog, Creole Bayou, www.genevivechambleeconnect.wordpress.com. New posts are made on Wednesdays, and everything is raw and unscathed. Climb on in a pirogue and join me on the bayou. If you have any questions or suggestions about this post or any others, feel free to comment below or tweet me at @dolynesaidso. You also can follow me on Instagram at genevivechambleeauthor or search me on Goodreads or Amazon Authors.

Until next time, happy reading and much romance.

 

How to Self-Edit

Self-editing is a task that I absolutely have a love-hate relationship. I love knowing that at the end of the process, I will have a much better story. And of course, my main aim is to produce quality work. I despise it because it is tedious and, at times, seeming impossible. It can be a daunting job to tackle. In fact, some writers get so entangled in editing that it is the sole reason for them never completing their novel.

I need to stop here and point out that there are different types of edits and different styles of editing. There is no right or wrong other than omitting it completely. That’s a no-no. Some writers choose to edit as they go. Some choose to edit at the end. Some do a hybrid. What I’m writing about today is the process of self-editing. Self-editing should not be the only editing that a writer does. I realize that hiring an editor is expensive, but think of it along the line of having your car serviced. There’s nothing that says a person cannot change his/her own car oil. Having a professional do it is simpler in many ways. For shorter works, only doing self-edits may be feasible or even wise. However, professional editing versus self-editing is a controversial discussion for another day.

I’ve previously written posts about editing. Those have been some time in the past. I’m sure that much of the information may be repeated, but I’m sure that new stuff is included here. Also, a refresher never hurts.

Briefly, let’s discuss the type of book editing. (NOTE: The types of editing are listed in alphabetical order and not necessarily in the order that most writers do them. It also should be noted that some will argue that there is no order for these edits to be conducted or that all of them are necessary. However, it makes practical sense that some types of edits occur before other types of edits. Otherwise, the writer will waste time doing double work. For example, what is the point of doing line edits when the entire section of work needs to be deleted/omitted?) Furthermore, the following list of types of edits are not exhaustive. However, these are some of the most common ones.

  1. Copy Editing/Text Editing: This type of edits focuses on ensuring clarity and consistency by looking at issues such as capitalization errors, filler words, grammar, dangling participles, dialogue tags, industry-standard writing style (APA, CMoS, MLA, etc.), pacing, passive voice punctuation, sentence structure/parallelism, spelling, story inconsistencies, typos, verb tense, and word usage. This list is not exhaustive.
  2. Developmental Editing. This also is commonly referred to as structure editing. Developmental editing usually occurs at the onset of a writing project. This heavily focuses on plot and direction an idea to help shape it into an organized story.
  3. Fact-Checking: This is exactly what it sounds like. This type of editing may be covered in other types of edits, but sometimes, it is good to do this as a separate edit. When a writer focuses on one aspect, he/she is likely to find more errors or items that need to be corrected. Quick aside: I once was working on two manuscripts at the same time. In the process, I accidentally mixed up a character’s age. It seemed to be a small thing, only the error caused another aspect of the story to be factually inaccurate. Honestly, I probably wouldn’t have caught this error, but I’m sure readers would have. It was a significant goof on my part. Luckily, my fact-checker caught this.
  4. Formatting: Again, this is self-explanatory. A formatting edit focuses on the manuscript looking the way it should. This edit is especially important when a manuscript has been edited by multiple people. It is easy for a tab to be hit or button click that causes a formation error. A tip I use to assist with formatting issues since I write in MS Word is that I turn on formatting symbols. At first, I found this feature to be annoying. But as I advanced in my writing, I’ve come to appreciate that it helps me quickly see extra spaces, inadvertent page breaks, and other formatting problems. For example, if I’m having difficulty with a section, I may put it in red or bold. When I get ready to turn it off, I may not select everything. Then, when it prints or I add something, it’s the wrong color or font.
  5. Line Editing: This is very detailed work that examines a story’s content and flow in-depth the content. This carefully scrutinizes characterization, pacing, and the point of view from which the story is told. A line edit is an equivalent to a microcopy edit. If this edit is done properly, it can elevate a story from good to great.
  6. Proofreading: Proofreading is the last edit that is performed typically. This occurs when the manuscript has been finished and is about to be submitted for publication. The purpose of a proofread is to identify any typos, inconsistencies, and/or formatting issues before the novel is printed. Consider this the last call of writing that ensures that every possible mistake is found and corrected.

Now, that the type of edits has been identified, it’s time to look at how to go about self-editing. The best way I know how to do this is to discuss my self-editing process. Editing is one of those things that is very personalized. Each writer will need to determine what works best for him/her.

Keep in mind that I’m a panster. That makes a difference in the order and how I edit. For me, a developmental edit isn’t something that I do initially. I write the first draft. Most times, I write scenes as they come to me which means the first draft usually isn’t in the order it needs to be. So, it’s only until I have the complete first rough, rough draft to I attempt a structure edit.

I do light copy edits as I write. For example, if I complete a chapter, I may read through it and correct typos, grammatical errors, or note errors in pacing or plot. I also write notes about what needs to be added or deleted or something to keep in mind. Something I recently started to do is to write down the characters’ names. I have this habit of changing a character name, and when I get to the end, I may have multiple names for the same character. I also do this for location. By having this list, in the end, I can do a search and replace. It makes life easier.

By this stage, I do another structure edit. This time I’m looking for pacing and if I created new plot holes after shifting around the text. I look at flow and chapter transitions. I check to ensure that I’ve included all key elements that I want to be included and be sure that I have all the necessary story beats. I don’t have to have any of this perfected at this point. I only need it to be workable. At this point, I’m still working in sections, and I’m noting any problem areas that I don’t have an immediate solution. By the end of this, I should have a true first draft.

Here is where I differ from many writers. Now, would be the time for my first read through. If the structure is good, I do a very heavy-handed copy edit. I refer to this as a line-by-line edit. Basically, I look at everything. I clean up as much as I find, whether it be grammatical mistakes, formatting issues, plot holes, character development, or whatever. This is the version that I will use as the foundation. I won’t make major changes to the structure or the characters. If I were a plotter, this would be my outline. All essential elements will be in this draft. I critique every sentence. This perhaps is the most brutal of all of my edits. But I don’t do just one line-by-line read through. I make several passes, evaluating if the changes that I made work. My line-by-lines tend to be in some people’s opinions as “obsessive.” I usually make more than a dozen passes, each pass focusing specifically on a certain aspect. For example, one pass I may be looking closely at the dialogue. Another pass I may be focused on location descriptions. Here is when I stop counting my draft numbers.

After the line-by-line, I do another overall structure edit. This is to ensure that I didn’t accidentally shift or delete something crucial to the overall plot while being nitty-gritty with everything else. I check for inconsistencies and most of all fluff and flow. If I’ve done everything as I should, this is the easiest of my editing, and I am able to quickly move on.

The next step for me is fact-checking and polishing. I refer to my notes and reach out to critique partners to ask questions. For example, I wrote a story that the protagonist was a firefighter. I contacted someone I knew who worked at the fire department to double-check if what I had written sounded authentic. Polishing, as I like to call it, is when I go in with my personal touches. This is when I make the writing sound like me. It’s getting deep into character and breathing life into the words on paper. This is the most fun of the edits.

After the polishing, I do several more line by line. For these, I use a check sheet. There are some errors that I make no matter what I do. I specifically check for those mistakes as well looking to pick up any others. (Search and replace is my friend!)

Finally, I tackle formatting, but I need to be honest. I’m probably very loose on this. I mean, I do clean it up as best as I can, but generally, by this time, I’m sick of looking at my manuscript. I can’t see any errors because my mind is allowing me to see what I want to see whether it is there or not. In short, I’m incapable of seeing my mistakes. I’m more relaxed on this edit, only because I know it will be heading to a professional editor at the publisher.

I’m traditionally published, and my manuscript will go through several professional edits by different editors. Typically, it will have a structure edit, two copies (at minimal), one fact (usually mixed in with the structure), one formatting, and two proofs (one from the editor and the final from me.)

Hopefully, reading my editing process will help other writers discover a writing process that works best for them. Again, editing is very personalized. So many writer friends have told me that my way of editing would never work for them. A plotter friend told me that if I outlined, I wouldn’t need to do so many passes. WHATEVER! I say to him, “Mind your business.”

Let me know in the comment section about your editing process. Was this post helpful?

Don’t forget to pick up a copy of my new steamy, sports romance, Ice Gladiators, guaranteed to melt the ice. It’s the third book in my Locker Room Love series. Available at https://amzn.to/2TGFsyD or www.books2read.com/icegladiators.

Taz has problems: a stalled career, a coach threatening to destroy him, a meddling matchmaking roommate, and a thing for his other roommate’s boyfriend. The first three are manageable, but the last… well, that’s complicated. Because as much as Taz is attempting not to notice Liam, Liam is noticing him.

IG GC AN

Missed the two books in my sports romance series? No frets. Out of the Penalty Box, where it’s one minute in the box or a lifetime, out is available at http://amzn.to/2Bhnngw. It also can be ordered on iTunes, Nook, or Kobo. Visit www.books2read.com/penalty. Defending the Net can be ordered at https://amzn.to/2N7fj8q or www.books2read.com/defending. Crossing the line could cost the game.

2777b4e8-45db-46a1-b4ac-257a218ff424

Life’s Roux: Wrong Doors, my steamy romantic comedy about what could go wrong on vacation, is available at Red Sage Publishing. To order, follow the link to http://bit.ly/2CtE7Ez or to Amazon at http://amzn.to/2lCQXpt.

Life_s Roux- Wrong Doors

For more of my stories, shenanigans, giveaways, and more, check out my blog, Creole Bayou, www.genevivechambleeconnect.wordpress.com. New posts are made on Wednesdays, and everything is raw and unscathed. Climb on in a pirogue and join me on the bayou. If you have any questions or suggestions about this post or any others, feel free to comment below or tweet me at @dolynesaidso. You also can follow me on Instagram at genevivechambleeauthor or search me on Goodreads or Amazon Authors.

Until next time, happy reading and much romance.

How to Develop a Writing Plan

It’s been a while since I did a writing post, and I figure I’m a bit overdue. Actually, I’m probably overdue on a lot of things, and I’ll be doing a bit of catch up here, soon. However, today what I would like to focus on is how to develop a writing plan.

A writing plan is simply an outline or statement about what a writer hopes and expects to accomplish. Consider it a detailed syllabus of what is to happen with one’s writing. It’s probably best to write this down somewhere (electronically, pen and paper, audio, or a combination) just to serve as a reference and a reminder. How long or detailed a writing plan depends on the writer. However, the more detailed the better. The important thing to remember about a writing plan is it is a guideline and not an absolute. It can be altered whenever necessary. It also does not have to always be followed in order or on a specified timeline. There is much flexibility in a writing plan. However, caution should be given that if one strays often and consistently, then the writing plan likely is not going to be very helpful. If one finds himself/herself regularly drifting from the writing plan developed, chances are the plan needs to be revised or restructured to better fit the writer’s needs.

  1. The first step in developing a writing plan is defining what the writer hopes the writer should make a list of all the things one hopes to accomplish and the writer’s definition of success. Will one define success by sales, accomplishment, readership, completion of a manuscript, etc.
  2. The second step is brainstorming. This means making a list of what must be accomplished in order to achieve step number one. Things listed here could be daily writing goals, procuring writing materials (e.g., computer, flash drives, dictionaries, writing guides, etc.). It may also include identifying locations to write or times that one can write. It could include compiling a list of writing competitions or professional writing organizations to join.
  3. Third, set realistic goals. Sometimes, it’s difficult to know what is realistic and what isn’t. Therefore, it is best to start small and work from there. A beginning writer may not have hours each day to write. Therefore, he/she may need to settle for writing an hour a day.
  4. Once the first three things are done, the writer should create a way to hold himself/herself accountable for adhering to the writing plan. In the past, I used to publicly post my quarterly writing goals on my blog. To avoid embarrassing myself, I did strive to meet those goals. The reason I stopped writing those posts was that my goal timeline conflicted with my posting timeline. Therefore, my goal updates were always going up late and looking confused. However, it did work well for a while. Currently, I use my critique group to hold me accountable. I tell them what I’m working on and what I expect to accomplish. When I’m slacking, I get phone calls, emails, and texts lighting a fire under my feet to get moving. A friend writes a contract to herself, and in that contract, she makes restrictions on herself for not meeting goals. She also rewards herself for meeting goals.
  5. Next, set a schedule of when you’re going to work on your writing goals. Not having a solid plan is the best way not to fulfill goals. It’s too easy to push things to the side and not work on them without some type of schedule. The schedule does not have to be rigid, but it does have to exist.
  6. In addition to a schedule, one needs to make a note on that schedule of deadlines. Using a calendar is extremely helpful in making a visual of when events need to occur and to avoid being sidetracked by other projects. It is easiest to note deadlines first and then prioritize what needs to happen around those deadlines.
  7. Write down ideas. Many times, a good idea will come at an inopportune time. By the time you’re able to begin writing, the idea or motivation is lost. Having a place to quickly jot down ideas allows one to have something to reference at the time that is more convenient for writing. I use a notebook to write in when I can’t use my laptop or phone. If I’m driving, I use the recording app on my phone. There’s no rule that dictates one can’t utilize multiple ways of tracking ideas and thoughts.
  8. Some writers are able to multitask. However, for many, it is beneficial to focus on one project at a time. Many full-time writers split their day into areas. For example, the first three hours may be spent editing a manuscript that has been completed. Then the next three hours may be dedicated to writing new material. The next three hours may focus on marketing. And the remainder of the writing day may be spent on all the other things associated with writing such as responding to readers, updating social media, cover art, itemizing for taxes, ordering writing supplies, researching, etc.
  9. Do the research. Be sure to include research in the writing plan. Many good stories fall short of being great stories due to a lack of research. Think about books or movies when you come to a section and are thrown by something in the text that isn’t plausible or is known to be incorrect. Details can yank a reader straight from the story. This is not to say that writers do not have artistic freedom or creative license. However, it has to make sense of the story.
  10. Look at what other writers use as their writing plan and modify it to meet your own needs and requirements. There are many videos on YouTube of writers imitating the writing plans of popular/famous writers. For instance, there are videos that use J.K. Rowling’s method of writing. The problem is that this works for J.K. Rowling. It may not work as well for other writers, especially writers whose primary source of income does not come from their writing. But again, writing plans are intended to be flexible and should always be personalized. Therefore, it is possible for a writer to use another writer’s writing plan as a guideline to create one that is personalized.
  11. Update frequently. A writer should be sure to keep writing plans updated. The world is constantly changing. Writers need to adapt. Equally important is writers grow. Their growth may warrant a new writing plan. For example, one of my favorite subgenres to write is sports romance. I have written several around hockey. Over the years, the rules of hockey have been changed by the sports commission to make the game safer for players. Stories that I wrote ten years ago could not be published in today’s market unless they were published as retro stories. There is nothing wrong with writing period pieces as long as they are identified as such. Consider the comic, Superman. In the 1950s, Clark Kent dashing into a phonebooth to don his superhero ensemble is not as plausible in 2020 as most places no longer have public phones due to the invention and commonplace of cellphones. Additionally, the public phones that do remain, many are freestanding and not in a booth.
  12. Writers should research all the elements that need to be included in a writing plan. Writing as a hobby and writing professionally is different. Likewise, writing short stories is not the same as writing novels. The industry standards and guidelines often are different for the various genres and types of writing. Thus, when developing a writing plan, these guidelines should be considered so that all elements are included.
  13. Writing plans do not have to be perfect. Spending too much time on developing a writing plan may be counterproductive. The purpose of a writing plan is to act as a guideline to assist writers in writing. However, if all a writer’s time is devoted to perfecting a writing plan, that writer is not spending time writing.

So, those are my tips for developing a writing plan. I hope they are helpful? Tell me what tips you have in writing your plans? Are there things I missed? Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Also, don’t forget to pick up a copy of my new steamy, sports romance, Ice Gladiators, guaranteed to melt the ice. It’s the third book in my Locker Room Love series.

Taz has problems: a stalled career, a coach threatening to destroy him, a meddling matchmaking roommate, and a thing for his other roommate’s boyfriend. The first three are manageable, but the last… well, that’s complicated. Because as much as Taz is attempting not to notice Liam, Liam is noticing him.

IG GC AN

Missed the two books in my sports romance series? No frets. Out of the Penalty Box, where it’s one minute in the box or a lifetime, out is available at http://amzn.to/2Bhnngw. It also can be ordered on iTunes, Nook, or Kobo. Visit www.books2read.com/penalty. Defending the Net can be ordered at www.books2read.com/defending. Crossing the line could cost the game.

2777b4e8-45db-46a1-b4ac-257a218ff424

Life’s Roux: Wrong Doors, my steamy romantic comedy about what could go wrong on vacation, is available at Red Sage Publishing. To order, follow the link to http://bit.ly/2CtE7Ez or to Amazon at http://amzn.to/2lCQXpt.

Life_s Roux- Wrong Doors

For more of my stories, shenanigans, giveaways, and more, check out my blog, Creole Bayou, www.genevivechambleeconnect.wordpress.com. New posts are made on Wednesdays, and everything is raw and unscathed. Climb on in a pirogue and join me on the bayou. If you have any questions or suggestions about this post or any others, feel free to comment below or tweet me at @dolynesaidso. You also can follow me on Instagram at genevivechambleeauthor or search me on Goodreads or Amazon Authors.

Until next time, happy reading and much romance. Keep safe.

Finding Happy Employment

Ask an author what is the most frustrating thing about being a writer, and he/she likely will say that people devalue the profession and think anyone can do it. Writing is a very difficult and complex discipline. The really good writers only make it appear simple. It’s a job, craft, and skill like any other means of employment. There is a difference between someone who writes as a hobby and a professional writer. When a person makes a living from writing, he/she must put in as much time and effort as a traditional nine-to-five job, even if they work a day job. Basically, those writers have two jobs, and they must find ways to divide their time to give their writing adequate attention.

No, writing isn’t like a job that requires physical labor. That doesn’t make it less of a job. Most accountants, attorneys, and computer software developers aren’t required to perform extraneous physical labor. Yet, their jobs are very real. Books aren’t going to write and edit themselves. It takes time, self-motivation, flexibility, and the ability to wear multiple hats. Many people begin writing a book but never finish, and many more proclaim they will write a book but never start.

Writing is an art like painting, dancing, acting, or singing. I like to think of it as the outward illustration of creativity that has been shaped and developed either formally or informally. I write because I enjoy storytelling and entertaining others. I love bringing a smile, giggle, or even cause a person to blush. In a world where so much goes wrong and many negative events headline the news, I enjoy being a part that brings a sliver of happiness. I had one beta to tell me my character was an expiative and she hated him. I howled with laughter and did an air fist-pump. This brought me so much job because it meant I had gotten it right. The character was intended to be dislikable. He was the antagonist. The reason she disliked him was because of his actions towards the protagonist, which meant she was relating and sympathetic to the main character. My writing provoked emotion in her. That is a writer’s success. There is no better feeling and makes all the frustrations associated with writing worth it.

Another thrilling aspect of being a writer is being able to meet the readers. Oh, I know this may sound cliché, but for me, it really is the most. This is such an awesome experience that I can’t express it in words. I’m an extrovert; thus, I enjoy meeting people any day of the week. Meeting fellow booklovers is amazing. Each reader has a different experience. It is exciting to hear how each has interpreted a story and hearing their stories. When readers communicate the types of stories that they want me to tell, the connection allows me to become an improved writer in the future. After the release of Defending the Net, readers informed me they wanted more action and bigger passions. In Ice Gladiators, I responded to the feedback. I do what I do for my readers. But it’s not just my stories I want to discuss with readers. I enjoy listening to them tell me about their lives, passions, and hobbies.

If I’m unable to meet readers in person, the next best thing is when they reach out to me on social media. Now, I don’t profess to be the most computer savvy person. I used to be decent at it, but I declare, I believe all my electronic devices have declared mutiny in the last year. Emails disappearing and going to spam is a regular headache. Therefore, it may take several days before I discover emails or messages to reply to, but I do reply once I find them.

Another fun aspect of being a writer is just learning to horn the craft. Writer workshops and conferences are great experiences. They allow me opportunities to meet my writing peers as well as gain skills to enhance my writing. Writing can be an isolated profession if one allows it to be. It’s refreshing to be able to share with others who are making a similar journey.

Being a writer has what I call happy perks. If I’m having a horrendous day where everything is sourer than the inside of a pig’s belly, I can create a world to escape to on my computer. I can type out frustrations, rewrite real live situations to have positive outcomes, or add laughs to depressing situations. After all, what are books than small manmade fabrications that allow readers and writers to temporarily divert their attention to something more pleasant or to alleviate boredom? In this day and time, many could use some diversion and positivity. Lately, much of social media has not been anything pleasant—filled with death, dying, and ghastly tales. Some people purposely stooping to publishing sensational lies or misinformation for profit. Now, I’m not speaking of any type of political conspiracies or personal views. I discussing people who are mean, borderline evil, on any given day of the week. I have a coworker who never checks her sources before reposting articles on social media. For example, she’d post articles about celebrity deaths, businesses closing, and chain letters. Many of these posts contain links to harmful spyware or computer viruses. When called out on these posts, her response is always, “I just reposted.” She always fails to accept responsibility for her part in spreading these harmful posts. What’s worse is that she refuses to stop.

She’s also one of the persons who read the title of posts but never read the content. She’s actually reposted some pretty foul stuff. When accused of supporting something awful, she’s quick to say, “Oh, I don’t know about all that,” and blows it off as being not important. I know this about her, so I never share anything she posts, even in the event that the information may be accurate. It’s important to be diligent in maintaining integrity and truth.

Fiction allows one to drift into fantasy or land of make-believe with no detriment to others. Readers understand from the beginning that what they are reading is created. It is clearly communicated that the events are not real and the imaginary world of words that they enter allows them to be transported from their real-life problems even if only for a short period of time. Books and stories can offer hope and reprieve. I enjoy being able to create works of fiction in my novels as well as provide self-help tips in my blogs. And feel free to discuss how you’re feeling in the comments. The bayou is a community of supporters.

What do you find most rewarding in your profession? What helps you to escape? Let me know in the comment section. Also, if there is a topic you would like to see covered, please let me know.

And also, don’t forget to check out my new steamy, sports romance, Ice Gladiators, guaranteed to melt the ice. It’s the third book in my Locker Room Love series.

Taz has problems: a stalled career, a coach threatening to destroy him, a meddling matchmaking roommate, and a thing for his other roommate’s boyfriend. The first three are manageable, but the last… well, that’s complicated. Because as much as Taz is attempting not to notice Liam, Liam is noticing him.

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Missed the two books in my sports romance series? No frets. Out of the Penalty Box, where it’s one minute in the box or a lifetime, out is available at http://amzn.to/2Bhnngw. It also can be ordered on iTunes, Nook, or Kobo. Visit www.books2read.com/penalty. Defending the Net can be ordered at www.books2read.com/defending. Crossing the line could cost the game.

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Life’s Roux: Wrong Doors, my steamy romantic comedy about what could go wrong on vacation, is available at Red Sage Publishing. To order, follow the link to http://bit.ly/2CtE7Ez or to Amazon at http://amzn.to/2lCQXpt.

Life_s Roux- Wrong Doors

For more of how I write, my stories, and my shenanigans, giveaways, and more, check out my blog, Creole Bayou, www.genevivechambleeconnect.wordpress.com. New posts are made on Wednesdays, and everything is raw and unscathed. Climb on in a pirogue and join me on the bayou. If you have any questions or suggestions about this post or any others, feel free to comment below or tweet me at @dolynesaidso. You also can follow me on Instagram at genevivechambleeauthor or search me on Goodreads or Amazon Authors.

Copies of my romance short stories, anthologies, books, and novels are available in paper, eBook, and audio on Amazon, iTunes, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble. The links are listed on my Writing Projects page (http://bit.ly/2iDYRxU) along with descriptions of each of my stories or novels.

NEWSLETTER! Want to get the latest information and updates about my writing projects, giveaways, contests, and reveals first? Click https://genevivechambleeconnect.wordpress.com/newsletter/ and signup today.

Don’t forget to visit Creole Bayou. New posts are made on Wednesdays, where no Creole, Cajun, or Louisiana topic is left unscathed. Plus, get how-to self-help tips, how to writing tips, and keeping the romance alive and fresh suggestions. If you have any questions or suggestions about this post or any others, feel free to comment below or tweet me at @dolynesaidso. You also can follow me on Instagram at genevivechambleeauthor or search me on Goodreads or Amazon Authors.

Finally, take the fear out of rush/pledging. If you or anyone you know are interested in joining a college Greek life organization, check out my special series posted each Monday for everything you wanted (and didn’t want) to know about college fraternities and sororities. In these posts, you will find information about both formal and informal recruitment for both NPC and NPHC organizations. Don’t know what NPC and NPHC are? No problem. It’s all explained in this series. This series also provides loads of information for parents who are unfamiliar with the processes, what is expected of parents, and how to be supportive. Visit Sorority Bible Table of Contents to view any or all of these posts.

Until next time, happy reading and much romance.

How to Build Relationships and When to End Them

It’s the first Wednesday of the month, and typically, that means I post a writing-related blog. I haven’t decided if I will strictly adhere to doing that in 2020. Let me know in the comments if the writing-related post on the first Wednesday is something you would like to see continue.

The reason I’m considering switching it up is the same as the title of this post. It boils down to growth– both inward and outward—and relationships developed over the years as a writer and as a friend.

Relationships between writers are not that different than relationships between friends or coworkers. First, they should be based on mutual respect. If there is no respect between people, the relationship will never be successful. Some people find respect hard to define, as they feel people must agree on everything for respect to be present. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. Two people may have widely different opinions and still maintain mutual respect. According to the Oxford Dictionary, respect is a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements and due regard for the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of others. As can be seen in that definition, nowhere is mentioned or implied that being in agreement is a condition. Respect is based on the recognition that another has value and worth and should be treated with dignity.

Building relationships begin by reaching out to others. It also involves taking a genuine in the person and not just what a person is able to do for you. Building relationships means investment. It is giving part of or opening yourself to another person. It means having trust and willing to give of self.

Second, both (or all parties if polygamous) people in the relationship should give equally. It is not okay for the relationship to be lopsided. While it true one partner or writer may benefit more than the other, each should invest the same amount of time and effort. This is one reason why writing collaborations may not be successful. Take, for example, two writers agree to do a blog post swap to grow their readership. One writer may have 100 subscribers compared to the other’s 10,000 subscribers. The smaller writer, on the surface, may receive more distribution to the larger audience. However, he/she is also providing content for the writer with more followers. Let’s break that down for closer inspection.

Without the smaller writer’s contribution, the more established writer may not have anything to post. He/she may be too busy with other projects or be experiencing writer’s block. Without content, the writer with more subscribers may begin to experience a decline in subscribers because there’s nothing being offered to readers. This does not mean the decline will be permanent.

Likewise, it is important for the smaller writer’s contribution to be dynamic, on-point and well written. Poor writing skills or ill-prepared posts may negatively affect the more established writer’s following. Around Halloween, I watched several videos on the making and background of the classic horror movie bearing the same name. Reportedly, the first film, being low-budget, was not expected to be as big of a hit as it was. However, it had directors with a clear vision of what was wanted to be accomplished, talented actors, and creative editing (among other things). Not saying that future films were not as great as the first, but some of the movies in the franchised struggled. One of the main reasons that are cited for audiences not responding as they had previously was the directors and the writing. While more money was being invested, scripts were straying from the original (cannon) film. Thus, it is important for guest writers to be mindful of the more established writer’s audience preferences and likes in order not to offend them. Furthermore, if the more established writer has requested certain guidelines for posts to be followed, the smaller writer should honor those requests and not go rogue. Additionally, the smaller writer should be cognizant of upload times and not submit at the last minute. This allows the owner of the blog to review pieces without feeling pressured by time constraints to upload something subpar. Again, this is an element of respect.

Next, there should be reasonable expectations on both ends. Just because one writer has a larger readership does not mean those readers will be interested in what the smaller writer is releasing. As a result, a smaller writer may not grow. That is not the fault of the more established writer, and the smaller writer should not become disillusioned or bitter in this situation. Remember, the more established writer has worked hard to develop their readership and has earned their standing. It is not the established writer’s responsibility to build the smaller writer’s audience. The smaller writer must be diligent in building his/her own. It is unrealistic for him/her to expect to piggyback off more established writers to build their entire audience. Each writer must do his/her due diligence.

And just because a writer has large numbers does not dictate engagement. Many bloggers and vloggers have massive numbers, but their number of views is nowhere close to their number of subscribers. Additionally, some writers who may appear more established have purchased followers or their numbers are inflated by bots. These will not generate followers for smaller writers who are using the more established writer’s platform(s).

The flip side of that is the larger writer should be transparent about his/her numbers. If one has high subscribers but low views that should be communicated. I know of an anthology debacle that after six months authors were allowed to remove their stories. So many chose this option that the anthology began to fail. Granted, the remaining writers could remove their work as well. The problem is that all the stories were tainted as previously published. Once removed, the authors may not have another place to put them.

Finally, if a collab is taking away or stifling a writer’s growth, it is time to dissolve the collab. For example, say a beginning or mid-grade writer who typically writes novels spends many hours a week working on a short story for an anthology hosted by a well-established author instead of working on his/her novel and the short story is rejected.

Because the story has specifically been written for the anthology, and the beginning/midgrade author does not have a backup market for this short story, the author is left having wasted time on an unpublished work to collect dust. This time could have been spent in more productive areas or on a project with a better likelihood of publication. Before investing time in this type of situation, the writer should make note of all the pros and cons. And if it fails to work, regardless of the reason given, careful consideration needs to be given before venturing in similar situations.

At the end of the day, writing is a business. Collaborations should benefit all parties involved. Sometimes, they don’t work out, and that’s okay. It’s not necessarily anyone’s fault. There doesn’t have to be a villain. It’s life. There are lessons in everything. Take each opportunity as a positive to learn and grow. Sometimes to expand, one must leave the familiar behind to travel another path. This may be scary but necessary. Always be grateful.

Creole Bayou is a blog that is constantly evolving. I plan to add more content. The response has been overwhelming for the posts on sorority life and mental health/ mental illness. If I incorporate those regularly into my blog, it may alter the current schedule of topics. Unfortunately, this may reduce some of my collaborations. Nothing is set in stone.

As for when to dissolve a relationship should happen, it is when a relationship becomes unhealthy. If one half of the relationship is causing the other to be unhappy, harbor negative feelings towards self, or feel belittled then the relationship has become toxic and either needs counseling or to be resolved.

Ice Gladiators

Taz has problems: a stalled career, a coach threatening to destroy him, a meddling matchmaking roommate, and a thing for his other roommate’s boyfriend. The first three are manageable, but the last… well, that’s complicated. Because as much as Taz is attempting not to notice Liam, Liam is noticing him.

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Enjoy sports romance and athletic bad boys? Check out my adult romance, Defending the Net. It is the second in my hockey series and guaranteed to melt the ice. It is sold at Kindle, Apple Store, Nook, Kobo, !ndigo, Angus & Robertson, and Mondadori Store. DTN is the second in my gay sports romance novel series and guaranteed to melt the ice. Order a copy now at www.books2read.com/defending. Crossing the line could cost the game.

Missed the first book in my sports romance series? No frets. Out of the Penalty Box, where it’s one minute in the box or a lifetime, out is available at http://amzn.to/2Bhnngw. It also can be ordered on iTunes, Nook, or Kobo. Visit www.books2read.com/penalty.

2777b4e8-45db-46a1-b4ac-257a218ff424

Life’s Roux: Wrong Doors, my steamy romantic comedy about what could go wrong on vacation, is available at Red Sage Publishing. To order, follow the link to http://bit.ly/2CtE7Ez or to Amazon at http://amzn.to/2lCQXpt.

Life_s Roux- Wrong Doors

Copies of my romance short stories, anthologies, books, and novels are available in paper, eBook, and audio on Amazon, iTunes, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble. The links are listed on my Writing Projects page (http://bit.ly/2iDYRxU) along with descriptions of each of my stories or novels.

NEWSLETTER! Want to get the latest information and updates about my writing projects, giveaways, contests, and reveals first? Click https://genevivechambleeconnect.wordpress.com/newsletter/ and signup today.

Don’t forget to visit Creole Bayou. New posts are made on Wednesdays, where no Creole, Cajun, or Louisiana topic is left unscathed. Plus, get how-to self-help tips, how to writing tips, and keeping the romance alive and fresh suggestions. If you have any questions or suggestions about this post or any others, feel free to comment below or tweet me at @dolynesaidso. You also can follow me on Instagram at genevivechambleeauthor or search me on Goodreads or Amazon Authors.

Finally, take the fear out of rush/pledging. If you or anyone you know are interested in joining a college Greek life organization, check out my special series posted each Monday for everything you wanted (and didn’t want) to know about college fraternities and sororities. In these posts, you will find information about both formal and informal recruitment for both NPC and NPHC organizations. Don’t know what NPC and NPHC are? No problem. It’s all explained in this series. This series also provides loads of information for parents who are unfamiliar with the processes, what is expected of parents, and how to be supportive. Visit Sorority Bible Table of Contents to view any or all of these posts.

Book Reviews Are Not for Authors

Let’s talk book reviews and open the Pandora’s Box of horrors. True or false. Authors shouldn’t read their book reviews. Well… I dare say that most people would answer that as being true. And there certainly is enough evidence to support why it should be true. But I’m climbing out on that proverbial limb over a pool of quicksand and will answer false. Yeah, y’all knew I was going to say that, huh?

Okay, so let’s dive into it and dissect this thing like a rotting piece of flesh loaded with microbacteria it can become. I see both sides of this issue. The purpose of a book review is for a reader who actually has read the book (and that’s an important point to make because some don’t) to leave an opinion to help other readers (who haven’t read the book) decide whether or not they want to read it. Ideally, that is how it supposed to work. Unfortunately, it does not always work that way.

I love when people review my books. It doesn’t matter if it’s a good, bad, or meh. I hope and want to get good reviews, but if I don’t, that’s okay. As a writer, I put myself out there, and that leaves my work open for criticism. I understand that my books may not be for everyone. It would be unrealistic for me to expect that all readers will fall in love with the characters I create. A reader may like one of my books but not another. Not everything is going to please everyone all of the time. The negative reviews, if they are constructive, I use to improve my next work. I listen to my readers. Here’s the truth of the matter. It is you, my readers, that allow me to do what I do. If I’m not giving you want, then I need to know that. I also need to know what I’m doing right and what I should do more. It is the constructive criticism from my editors, betas, critique partners, and readers that allow me to grow and improve. Literally, Ice Gladiators would not exist if I hadn’t received so much feedback from readers stating they wanted more sports romance.

That isn’t to say that negative reviews don’t sting. They can and often do. However, a writer shouldn’t lose perspective. I once received a negative review years ago from someone who obviously hadn’t read my book. Being a fairly new author, I didn’t know how to react. What bothered me about the review wasn’t that it was negative. It was because it was wrong. No, I don’t mean the reviewer’s opinion was wrong. Everyone is entitled to have an opinion. What was wrong what the reviewer wrote. She had characters confused and wrote things that sounded like it might happen from the blurb but never happened in the book. The timeline the review described was out of order and the plot summary completely incorrect. Frankly, it left me baffled and scratching my head. Now, had this been my only review or I had multiple reviews saying similar things, I would have thought that the story was not clear. But this review was an isolated incident. Even others who did not jive very well with the story did not list those types of discrepancies. My concern was if other readers read it, they would think my story was a hot ass mess.

So, how did I deal with it? I let it exist. What else was there for me to do? Make a big deal about it? Get into a cyber argument with someone I didn’t know over something I knew to be false? Stalk the person through social media and begin a bullying campaign until I got an apology? Contact the site and have it deleted? (I don’t know if that last was even possible.) No, my response was to treat myself to a double scoop of ice cream because I had other reviews, which meant some readers actually did read my story. Some readers did enjoy it. One reviewer called one of my characters an obscenity, and I got such a kick out of that. Why? Because that was how I had written the character, and I had managed to communicate that effectively through words. I accomplished my goal. That was a positive.

Another thing I see happening with reviews is that instead of a reader offering an opinion, he/she gives a summary … with SPOILERS. Oh, man, that blows when that happens. But it happens. This is one of the reasons that I rarely read reviews for other author’s books that I’m interested in reading. I don’t want to know that Jane is really Sally’s mom if that’s the twist. As an author, I do sometimes worry that this type of review may ruin the reading experience for some. However, I think many people reading the reviews will see a spoiler coming and stop reading. Some reviewers are kind enough to list a spoiler alert tag on the review.

Authors should remember that reading reviews is a choice. There is no law or declaration that mandates authors read their book reviews. And even if an author decides to read their reviews, they are not obligated to read all of their reviews. Some sites offer settings that allow authors to hide negative reviews from themselves while allowing the public to see them. It is important to remember that book reviews are about the book and not the author as a person. Authors who fail to make a separation from themselves and their stories will surely be disappointed. A few reviewers may make it personal, but most do not. Reviewers are people who enjoy reading books. They leave reviews because they have taken the time to read (hopefully) the author’s book and wishes to share his/her thoughts with others. What is written is about what was read and the effectiveness of the person writing the story. That being said, there are some reviewers who are trolls. Their purpose is to maliciously attack authors. Personally, I believe this is a very small percent of reviewers. However, if a reviewer does cross the line, an author does have an option to report that review to the site for violating the terms of service. This only should be done if the reviewer truly has crossed the line and become disparaging or threatening and not simply because the author dislikes what was said.

It is important that an author not allow a negative review to hinder his/her creative process. There are many stories about how famous authors, playwriters, and screenwriters have been rejected and heavily criticized in their early years. Can you imagine how the person who rejected Stephen King or J.K. Rowling feels now? They didn’t prevent a small dose of negativity prevent them from striving forward. There is the old adage: that which does not kill makes one stronger.

Authors should also remember that when they decide to publish a work, they are putting it out there for public consumption. They want people to read and talk about it. Well, reviewers do read and discuss what they read. There was never a guarantee when the work was being published that all that would be said about it was positive things.

So far, I’ve mostly been discussing negative reviews. Yet, something needs to be said for positive reviews. If one is not careful, positive reviews can be destructive. A few years ago, I was in a writing group, and a writer posted an excerpt and asked for feedback. The work was atrocious. Now, as a fellow writer, I do not say that lightly. This work was worse than some of my very first drafts. One of the biggest issues was the writer was writing to market in a language he was not fluent in speaking or writing. Okay, so, let me just let this elephant straight out of the closet. I am not saying that a writer cannot write in a language not native to him/her. What I’m saying is, that the writer has to learn the language. That writer cannot and should not expect readers to overlook poor writing. Writing is a job. It is a discipline. Anyone deciding to make it a career must make the effort to do the work. So, when the negative reviews/critiques started pouring in, some members thought the criticism was too harsh and bullish. I was going to offer an opinion but didn’t because I didn’t want to be accused of being an elitist snob. But the work was incomprehensible. Spelling was like solving a word jumble puzzle, and once you got that solved, the sentence structure was so screwed up it made no sense. There was no formatting and limited punctuation. One couldn’t even tell where thoughts began or ended because there also was no capitalization. Verb tenses were all over the place, which didn’t help since he was head-hopping. My suggestion would have been to write it in his native language and then hire a translator. But as I said, I kept my opinion to myself.

But wasn’t I supposed to be discussing positive reviews? I’m getting there. So, after several hours of back-and-forth, writers who legitimately were attempting to help, went radio silent. What was left was coddling reviews that were neither truthful or helpful. They stroke the writer’s ego and encouraged that his writing problems were not severe. Some went as far as encouraging him to self-publish without further editing because he would get better the more books he wrote. Like hell! Okay, I don’t generally flip out like that, but that really worked my nerves that someone would intentionally publish a subpar product. In my opinion, that reflects poorly on the entire writing community, especially self-published authors. Although I am not self-published, I can respect the journey indie authors have taken. For years, they were branded as “fakes,” “wannabes,” and “second-rate.” They have struggled to prove themselves and carve a place in the writing world. Some invest thousands of dollars to ensure that they create the best book possible. And here, someone basically snubs their nose at industry standards due to unwarranted and inflated feedback from reviewers.

Even if a work is good, positive reviews must be kept in perspective. Egos must remain in check. I read a magazine story about a famous author who felt she had become beyond criticism. When she received negative reviews from readers for one of her novels, she stated that the persons posting were either jealous or incompetent. The book was profitable because it sold on the power of her name. For her next novel, she decided she didn’t need professional critiquing either. She refused in-house editing. This book sold as well. However, if her book sales are analyzed, it’s obvious that her later works are considerably lower than that of her early works. She is losing readers. I can’t speak for her or read her mind, but it appears that she does not care about the loss of readers. She continues to have an enormous fanbase. That’s not the case for most writers.

So, that is my two-cents on book reviews. As previously mentioned, I do enjoy reading all the reviews. If you pick up a copy of Ice Gladiators, please consider leaving me one Amazon or Goodreads or both. Reviews are one of the best ways for readers to help authors get their books into the hands of readers. I thank and appreciate everyone who has ever left me a review.

 

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Enjoy sports romance and athletic bad boys? Check out my adult romance, Defending the Net. It is the second in my hockey series and guaranteed to melt the ice. It is sold at Kindle, Apple Store, Nook, Kobo, !ndigo, Angus & Robertson, and Mondadori Store. DTN is the second in my gay sports romance novel series and guaranteed to melt the ice. Order a copy now at www.books2read.com/defending. Crossing the line could cost the game.

Missed the first book in my Locker Room Love sports romance series? No frets. Out of the Penalty Box, where it’s one minute in the box or a lifetime, out is available at http://amzn.to/2Bhnngw. It also can be ordered on iTunes, Nook, or Kobo. Visit www.books2read.com/penalty.

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Resources

Sports Romance Writing Tips: How to Write Sports Romance

All this month, I’m celebrating the release of my sports romance, Ice Gladiators. In the spirit of the release, I’m sharing posts of all my passions and how they are related in some way to Ice Gladiators. Regulars of Creole Bayou, my blog about anything and everything Creole and Cajun related as well as romance and writing, know that I dedicate the first Wednesday of every month to a writing-related post. I do not wish to disappoint today. Today, I thought I’d write about what I found useful in writing a sports romance.

Sports romance is something that I began writing about three years ago. It’s interesting because it was not my intention to write a sports romance initially; although, it did seem like the logical thing to do. What truly prompted me to attempt writing in this subgenre was I met a writer who stated he wrote rock fiction. I like to refer to it as music fiction because according to him, any type of music (e.g., classical, punk, blues, country, etc.) can be used and considered rock fiction. Basically, a story in this subgenre is based on a song or a cluster of songs, and the influence of the lyrics of that music can be seen throughout the story. This fascinated me.

Rock fiction entails more than being inspired by music. Therefore, writing rock fiction is much harder than it sounds. Music is the principle story even if is not apparent in the story’s plot. The characters may have the names of the musicians or the setting is a place sung about on the song. The title may even be the same as the music title. It’s all intricate, and I do not claim to be an expert. I attempted to write a rock fiction story and failed. The story turned out decent, but in the end, it wasn’t rock fiction, which just goes to illiterate again on another level how difficult fiction writing can be.

When I learned that music could be used to write stories this way, this further encouraged me to combine my two loves of romance and sports. I found this to be a niche for me and a genre that I could write organically. I have dabbled in multiple other genres for challenges and not all of them have turned out well. And while I believe a person could learn to write in any genre of choice, it’s my philosophy that writers tend to have natural talents in writing some genres. As the saying goes, they take to it like a duck to water. And I also will say that some writers have this natural ability to write in multiple genres. When I speak of natural ability, this is not to discredit or diminish education or learning. Many writers have discussed how they began writing in one genre but over time discovered they were better suited in another. However, that is slightly off-topic. My point was that learning about rock fiction solidified my ideas about combining the two passions that I love.

But prior to one jumping in to write a sports romance, there are a few guidelines to consider. Again, I would like to note that while some people use the terms guidelines and rules synonymously, there is a difference between the two. Guidelines are suggestions that are optional to follow. Rules are agreed upon standard practices by experts, lawmakers, and/or the general public that when deviated from will result in some type of consequence (e.g., fines, jail, criticism, rejection, etc.). These are more rigid. Grammar has rules. Writing stories, in general, mostly has guidelines. The following are guidelines that I have found to be useful.

  1. There is a difference between writing a story with an athletic main character(s) who falls in love and one where the sport has a role in the story. In other words, if you can change the character’s profession to any other profession and it makes very little difference, it isn’t a sports romance. For example, many 1950s family sitcoms portrayed a working father, stay-at-home mother, and 2-3 school children. The sitcom focused on the family. Although the father worked, many times the father’s job wasn’t specified or shown. That’s because it wasn’t crucial. In a sports romance, sports should have a part to make it noticeable in the story. Sports romances are, first and far most, a romance. Therefore, they follow all the normal rules of the romance genre. However, there are some differences that writers should be aware.
  2. It is important to know the sport you are writing about because your readers will. Funny aside. I began writing Ice Gladiator’s before I finished all of Defending the net final edits. I accidentally mixed up a detail about two of my characters. That minor mix-up caused me to write a line that broke a hockey rule. The rule was one that many readers wouldn’t have paid attention to, and it had snuck past a lot, including two editors. But one did, and I was busted. The silver lining is it was a beta who caught it. The correction involved changing two words.
  3. Knowing the sport really allows the story to sound more authentic. Readers want credible stories.
  4. That being said, if your work is fiction, there is room for creative license. For example, in you wanted to add a fictitious team to a national league, you can. If you want your favorite team who lost the playoffs to win, you can rewrite in your story that they did. Of course, someone may call you out for it. You can add and omit rules. It just has to clear to the reader that the change is intentional.
  5. While sports need to be present in the story, it does not need to dominate it. There must be a balance. If the sports overshadow the romance, then, it’s no longer a sports romance. It’s a sports story with a romantic subplot.
  6. Don’t make it too technical. Readers are coming for the romance. They may not be very knowledgeable about sports. Any noncommon sports jargon needs to be explained in order to avoid ostracizing readers. Use simple language and get through the explanation quickly. Readers want to feel included without feeling inadequate. However, don’t exclude all sports talk.
  7. On the flip side, do not dummy it down to the point of dribble. Readers do not enjoy feeling patronized. Do not assume your audience knows nothing or is a novice. Instead, consider that most are not “experts” but that they have a general knowledge of the sport.
  8. Have fun with it. People watch and participate in sports for entertainment. When writing a sports romance, the writes should have an equal amount of fun.
  9. Be sure that you acquire editors and betas who know the sport. If you make a mistake, then you want that to be resolved prior to publication.
  10. Have diversity in your players. They shouldn’t all sound the same. Avoid making them typical or a cliché. Allow them to be more than one note.

That wraps up this post. I hope that this information is helpful. Now, I’d like to know how many of you are writers of sports romance or are considering writing a sports romance. What is your favorite part of the genre? What are your dos and don’ts in sports romance? What is your favorite sport to see in sports romance? What sport have you not seen in a sports romance but are interested in seeing? Please leave your comments below. As always, I enjoy hearing from readers and will answer any comments or questions. Don’t forget to check out my giveaway that is going on this month. The details for entry are listed below.

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Enjoy sports romance and athletic bad boys? Check out my adult romance, Defending the Net. It is the second in my hockey series and guaranteed to melt the ice. It is sold at Kindle, Apple Store, Nook, Kobo, !ndigo, Angus & Robertson, and Mondadori Store. DTN is the second in my gay sports romance novel series and guaranteed to melt the ice. Order a copy now at www.books2read.com/defending. Crossing the line could cost the game.

Missed the first book in my Locker Room Love sports romance series? No frets. Out of the Penalty Box, where it’s one minute in the box or a lifetime, out is available at http://amzn.to/2Bhnngw. It also can be ordered on iTunes, Nook, or Kobo. Visit www.books2read.com/penalty.

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Resources

Writing Learning Lessons

Hello again. Today, I was reflecting on my journey to completing Ice Gladiators, my new sports romance that is being released on 02/15/20. Every time I finish a book, it is never the same. I feel that with each book, I grow. I thought I’d share with you some things I learned along the way. Hopefully, some of these may help you or spark ideas if you are a fellow writer. Some of the items can be applied to life in general.

  1. Writing about a passion or love helps the writing process go smoother. I didn’t actually learn this. It’s more like I rediscovered it. But I could really get into my character and story organically. What I mean is, I’ve written for contests that have a designated topic or subject that I wasn’t all too crazy about. Now, why would I enter a contest about a subject I’m gaga over, one might ask. Well, I like pushing myself, and I love a challenge. I’ve actually surprised myself with some of the work I created. But oftentimes than not, I fall flat. It’s a story, and that’s about it. But when it’s a topic that I’m into, I can bring it to life. Ice Gladiators characters will skate right off the page and into readers’ imaginations. Readers will sit on the bench with them and be in the midst of every fight.
  2. Back everything up daily, multiple times a day. So, here’s a not so funny story. When I was working on “mega beast”, My computer crashed twice just as I finished and was about to back up. So much work was lost. It’s one reason why it remains unfinished to this day. But don’t fear, it is on my to-do list. I’ve just had to put other projects ahead of it to meet deadlines and obligations. However, it is coming. From that experience, I learned to backup regularly. Fast forward to Ice Gladiators. I was writing on my hard drive and backing up to flash drives when I heard my computer beeping. Of course, I went to the search engine to investigate the noise and it possibly could be my motherboard going out. Naturally, I freaked. Luckily, I learned it wasn’t the motherboard, but the battery. A co-worker in the IT department replaced it for me for twenty bucks plus the cost of the battery ($3.00). One might call that fortunate, but I got a very dumb idea. I thought, why not write directly to the flash, not thinking that a flash drive would break. Yup. Fortunately, most of the documents were backed up. The final copy of Ice Gladiators before sending to the publisher was not. However, since I had emailed the entire manuscript, I had a copy. But there were other documents that I had worked on, including a new WIP, that were lost. Once again, I headed to my IT coworker for the rescue. So, my lesson to myself is to backup every two hours regardless of where I’m saving initially.
  3. Don’t be afraid to go there. I’m usually not, but this had more to do with style than content. My writing process for Ice Gladiators was different than any other project. For once, I wrote it in order and didn’t move a single chapter. I was mindful of word count as I wrote, which allowed my chapter to be the same length approximately and reduced my need for slashing words to make quota. (But don’t think this means I didn’t have to cut because yes, I did—just not as much.) I did kinda write one scene out of order, though. I began a scene (in its proper place) but couldn’t get it to flow. In my head, I knew the scene that came next, and it was working out. So, I wrote that scene instead and later hopped back to the previous scene. By the time I had finished the second scene, the scene that I struggled with became workable. Now, when it comes to writing, I’m a creature of habit, in that, I write as the scenes come, which mostly is out of order. Changing my chaos to something more organized, well, that was scary. I’m a diehard panster. Outlines, whiteboards, scene cards…none of that works for me. Why? Because it’s the actual writing that moves me to the next place. A few ideas jotted down on index cards leave me with a stack of WTF? I’ll never get it in order or have enough ideas to fill out the cards. But when I construct a sentence and another and that becomes something, it sparks the next sentence and the next. Finally, I have a scene. And that scene may be floating unattached to any other scene. But once I read it, another scene will spark, and soon it begins to melt together. That’s where the shuffle comes into play and I begin moving scenes around. It’s not uncommon for me to move a scene multiple times. I know it belongs, but I don’t always know where. For me, this method works.
  4. There is always something to learn about the writing process. I’m a firm believer that the more one writes, if he/she pays attention, the better writer he/she will become. I noticed in Ice Gladiators that I consciously was paying attention to errors I’d made in writing previous books. Being aware of those made editing a little less tedious. When I say a little, that is because I find ways to make all new kinds of mistakes. So, I started making a list as I wrote about patterns of errors that I made. Then, after completing writing for the day, I’d go back and clear up as many of those errors that I saw. Later, at the end when I began my overall editing passes, I looked for these errors again. And I found them… again.
  5. “Confusion” is something not just in my fortune cookie. This boils down to style: APA, MLA, CMoS, etc. Most fiction writers use CMoS. The CMoS does change its guidelines from time to time. I found this change when looking up a particular issue. What threw me for a monkey wrench is when I looked at some of my other edited manuscripts, the editing didn’t match up with the CMoS. Well, that was because publishers have preferences in format, too. When sending out queries or manuscripts, always be certain to read the publisher’s guidelines and style changes. For many, this may not be an issue. For me, this became an issue only because I forgot a grammatical rule and my grammar check kept pinging it. (BTW, it was giving me an error for CMoS’ way.) I tried looking it up, and wouldn’t you know APA, MLA, and CMoS all had different guidelines. Then, I discovered, CMoS had a vague clause as well as a change in the rule. I asked in writing groups and got an array of answers. That’s what prompted me to look at my final edits and publications.
  6. I’m about to get slammed, I know, for what I’m about to write next, but I don’t care. Writing guidelines are just that—guidelines. They aren’t rules. Grammar does have rules. Rules must be obeyed. Guidelines, well, those are optional. Now, it’s not good to deviate too far from guidelines, but as long as a writer is consistent, then, it’s more acceptable. There are some guidelines that I refuse to follow. Well, one. That’s placing an apostrophe after an S followed by an S (e.g., walrus’s flippers or clowns’s shoes). Nope. Instead, I write without the final S (i.e., walrus’ flippers or clowns’ shoes). I had an editor (not my editor) become really upset when I said this. But as a writer, I do have a stylistic choice. And if push comes to shove where I’m required to use that final S, I’ll change the word completely. I did that in one of my books. I changed a character’s name to avoid that final S. To me, that looks like shenanigans. I don’t like it, and I don’t have to accept it. And that leads to my next point.
  7. Editors all edit differently. Here’s another quick storytime that isn’t so pretty. I used to work in an environment that after I completed an evaluation, it was passed to three editors—a secretary, a person who didn’t have a title, and a licensed supervisor in that order. After each one received it, the document would be returned to me for corrections before moving to the editing chain. Now, to put this into perceptive educationally, the secretary had secretarial training. The person with no title had nearly the same credentials as mine; although, I held more licenses, postgraduate endorsements, and specialized training. The supervisor had both more years of formal education as well as additional licensures. I point this out, not because I’m an education snob, but because the secretary was allowed to edit technical material. The person without a title would change both what the secretary and supervisor changed. Then, the supervisor would scream that the document was incorrect. Well…DUH! The first two had different editing styles one using APA and another using MLA, not to mention the horrors that were being churned out with the technical stuff. Other employees in my same position had the same issue. Paperwork was backlogged, and the evaluators were the ones doing extra work and being verbally chastised and abused. This went on for years, until finally, matters came to a head, but not as one would think. The secretary and the person with no title disliked each other. When the person with no title took an extended sick leave, evaluations began getting processed faster. The supervisor took notice and began to listen to what the evaluators had been saying all along. Finally, the secretary was eliminated from the process as well, and wouldn’t one know it was smooth sailing from there. My point is, in writing, it is very useful to have multiple editors. However, not only do the editors need to be competent, they need to have different areas of expertise. That way, they will not trip over each other.
  8. This next is a bit shallow and superficial, but I noticed that I write more when my nails are manicured. Looking at ugly nails is not inspiring. They serve as a distraction. I find that as I’m typing (or writing longhand) when my nails are unmanicured, I stop several times to file them, clip a jagged edge, or push back an unsightly cuticle. Several weeks ago, I somehow injured my thumbnail. I’m not sure how, but I noticed a yellowish discoloration in the center forming close to the cuticle. Turns out, it was a crack/cut, and the top layer of the nail began to peel off as the nail has grown. The length of the crack has expanded horizontally almost the full width of the nail and is very noticeable (and slightly painful). It’s obvious that in a few weeks, a portion of this nail will be lost completely. However, it was this damaged nail that brought my attention to how much time I waste on nailcare when I should be writing. Perhaps it is due to looking at the keyboard or down frequently when writing when I have a break in thought, have a typo or need to use the function keys. It’s a small thing, but I think many writers may have small distractions that they do not realize. Identify any distractions and find a way to eliminate them.
  9. Getting ahead of the game is easier when you know what to expect. When I first began publishing, I knew that there was a lot of work involved after the manuscript was completed. I didn’t realize how much. When my publisher started requesting different documents and materials, I had to scramble to create them. That six-month lead between acceptance and publication can fly past. The thing I learned is if you’re traditionally publishing, do not wait to begin working on that six-month plan while the manuscript is out to publishers for a decision. Begin forming and creating a marketing plan. Yes, even with traditional publishers one will be needed. Make to-do lists. Get as organized as possible so that once the manuscript is accepted, you can put your plan into motion. Have ready the items your publisher will want when then they ask instead of having to create them. If you’re unsure what those documents may be, read the publisher’s guidelines or ask other writers. I know my publishers had a laundry list.
  10. I know I said I was a panster, but the misconception is that pansters are unorganized. That isn’t true. While my writing technique may seem on the surface unstructured, there is a method to the madness. It’s difficult to explain to non-pansters, but trust me, there is organization. Having all the needed materials at hand before sitting down to write saves a lot of time. That is items such as flash drives, pens, paper, clocks, music, or whatever material are needed to do the project. It also includes having a productive environment. For some this may mean a quiet space. Others may feed off the energy of areas with lots of activity and movement. Whatever gets your juices flowing, make sure that the place is secure. One place I like to write is the library. There are three in my area. One is absolutely horrendous. The other is great, and everyone knows it. It’s large but often crowded, and it’s not uncommon for me to find that my favor writing nook is occupied. The good thing about the library is that spaces can be reserved in four-hour blocks. What most people don’t know is that if no one else reserves the spot, the library attendance will allow you to extend your reservation for as long as you need. So, when I know I will spend a full day writing, I make sure to reserve a space. I also am sure to take with me bottled water and light snacks. As long as one doesn’t make a mess and remains in a certain area, food is allowed. Many college students study there during their lunch or dinner hours, and the library attempts to accommodate them. I also take a jacket because it’s usually chilly inside and tissue because something generally flares up my allergies.
  11. Some online groups are more helpful than others. Okay, real talk. This isn’t to bash but to just put out there a reality. Some writing groups are only about numbers. They are large with a diversity in membership, which is good. However, many times, there’s an inner clique that sway the atmosphere. Newbies become stands in an attempt to become part of the inner circle, but it is pointless. The skill levels of writers vary. Often, when a writer asks a question, the responses are snarky, off-topic, unhelpful, ignored, or just plain wrong. It’s important to know the quality of the writing group as well as getting to know the members. Just because someone says they have published twenty books does not mean that person is knowledgeable. Some people just want to tear others to shreds just to be mean while others are too sensitive to offer any type of opinion. Some members may be quiet because if they give an honest opinion, they are called out as bullies if the opinion isn’t glowing. In writing, we all have moments where what is written is pure garbage. I have gone back to discarded projects and cringed. Constructive criticism is a writer’s best friend. That is how one advances to the next level. And it’s important to know the distinction between what is constructive and what is rudeness. Some groups are loaded down with rude people. Many times, other members will call these people out. Unfortunately, if that person or people happen to belong to the inner circle, the group is just a pit of vipers. When joining online writing groups, read previous posts and hang out for a while to get a feel for the group. Remember, there is a group for everyone, and not all groups are bad.
  12. Ignore what people say about not allowing friends and family to critique your work. As a general rule, I would say this is not a good thing. However, there are exceptions. I’m a member of a writing critique group. We are friends and have been in the group together for years. Each of us has areas of writing “expertise”, for a lack of a better word. For example, one member is the chief editor for a local newspaper and has been doing the job for years. Another member is a professor of creative writing at a university. I would be crazy to ignore their experience and knowledge because they happen to be friends. The fact that we have been together for so long, they do understand my writing aesthetic, and that is a good thing. And here’s why. If they know what I’m going for, they can tell me when I miss the mark. I queried one publisher who sent a rejection stating that my manuscript was “unrealistic”. Now, the section that she specifically referred to in the text actually was created by me with the assistance of a professional who is a member of my critique group and who allowed me to shadow him for several days. He all but dictated to me the procedure. When I sent him her comments, he pulled procedural records of how it is done in this area. Did he steer me wrong because he’s my friend? No. If I had screwed up the procedure, he would have been the first to call me on it. There is nothing wrong with receiving help/advice from friends. I should add that one thing I do to ensure that I’m balanced is I do get advice from others who are unfamiliar with my writing style. I do this for clarity, to check if my writing is clear to someone completely objective. Again, one must be careful. Having a beta who has a different reading preference can be disastrous. For example, I enjoy using foreshadowing in my writing. Often what may seem like a stray bit later has a larger role. Readers who do not enjoy investing in subtlety may not enjoy my work.

And that is it. Well, not really, but this post is getting long. I hope that you find some of these tips helpful, and it gives you one more inside look to Ice Gladiators.

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Enjoy sports romance and athletic bad boys? Check out my adult romance, Defending the Net. It is the second in my hockey series and guaranteed to melt the ice. It is sold at Kindle, Apple Store, Nook, Kobo, !ndigo, Angus & Robertson, and Mondadori Store. DTN is the second in my gay sports romance novel series and guaranteed to melt the ice. Order a copy now at www.books2read.com/defending. Crossing the line could cost the game.

Missed the first book in my Locker Room Love sports romance series? No frets. Out of the Penalty Box, where it’s one minute in the box or a lifetime, out is available at http://amzn.to/2Bhnngw. It also can be ordered on iTunes, Nook, or Kobo. Visit www.books2read.com/penalty.

 2777b4e8-45db-46a1-b4ac-257a218ff424

Writing Guides