How to Brainstorm for NaNoWriMo

Today, I’m continuing my How to Prepare for NaNoWriMo series by talking about brainstorming. What to write about? It is a real question, and a question for writers must answer before they can get down to the nitty gritty of writing. Fortunately, there is not a right or wrong answer to this question.

The place where a writer will start and process of how to begin will vary from writer to writer. An excellent starting point would be to first select a genre. By selecting a genre, this will narrow one’s focus.

Next, select a theme. Some writers will become stalled at this point, and the brainstorming will begin here. This is a particularly difficult place to be stumped; although, it should be noted that a writer may become blocked at any point in the writing process. And trust me when I say, there is not minimal amount of time a writer can be blocked at a single point. Some writers have been stuck for years. Most times, sitting around awaiting a resolution to magically pop into one’s brain doesn’t happen. It’s not impossible, but it’s just rare. And awaiting an organic solution is rather passive. Being active will likely produce a solution faster. This is not to say that a better organic solution will not occur later. That has been known to happen, too. However, if the writer has a theme in mind, then his/her task has been made even easier and narrow down the brainstorming even further.

 In previous posts, I discussed genre (specifically the romance genre) and tropes/themes at length. I’ll try not to duplicate too much here. To read my NaNoWriMo prepping post regarding genre and tropes, click on the following link.

So now, let’s move onto brainstorming. What is brainstorming? Braining storming can be defined as a problem-solving technique that a person (or group of people) list/contribute spontaneous ideas to devise a solution that increases productivity. There are many forms of brainstorming. Some people outline while others make bullet lists. Some people use a mapping or association technique. Some people time their brainstorming sessions while others may collect ideas over several days. Again, there is no right or wrong answer to brainstorming as long ideas are being formulated. Some ideas my be farfetched or nonpractical. During the brainstorming stage, none of that matters. The objective is to create as many options as possible.

Now, if everything in this post is sounding pretty basic at this point, it is because it is. Often writing is a building process. Each step is additive. One of the reasons I failed at NaNo so many times is because I never started at the basics. I thought because I had an idea in mind (or even the beginning of a story), I would be fine in achieving a goal. The problem was… well, honestly, there were a couple of problems. First, I’m a pantser which is self-explanatory when it comes to how I feel about outlining and plotting. Being a pantser works well for me but not when I only have thirty days to work with. As a pantser, I sometimes… (who am I fooling?)… many times, write myself into corners that take me a few days to work out or backtrack. Rarely, do I write a story in order from start to finish. I also tend to be wordy, which again works for me because I get all the fluff out in editing. However, when one only has thirty days, that time spent text that is going to be cut is a waste of time.

Okay, brief aside here. I know some may be asking why write something I know will get cut. Well, at the time, I don’t always know that it is material that needs to be cut. For me, it’s sometimes a think on paper moment that I need to have the story happen or shape itself. Later, I won’t need it. For example, I may spend far too much time on a character’s backstory or begin a story far sooner than it should. Heck, sometimes, I just change my mind about something that changes the entire story. This is my process. It works for me and not for everyone.

So, getting back to my point, staring with basic information a writer to address any areas that may trip him/her up in his/her journey to being successful. It also highlights which areas a writer needs to include or omit from his/her preparations. Besides, reminders never hurt. Now, let’s dive a little deeper.

My biggest problem with brainstorming is the inspiration itself. I remember in grammar school, the teacher would say we should brainstorm a topic, and literally, my mind would go blank right then and there. The teacher would instruct to name the first thing that came to mind, and I’d say something like ice cream cones and the topic would be the Byzantine Empire. It would be a complete and utter disaster and the teacher would chastise me for attempting to be funny when in reality my brainstorming skills flopped. I didn’t understand why this was and disregarded brainstorming as useful. This brings me to the first point.

  1. Don’t discount brainstorming as a waste of time. Having this attitude will guarantee the task will be a failure. Many writers are eager to begin writing but then sit clueless in front of a blank computer screen or worse, write a bunch od dibble. If you’re baffled for story ideas or the direction a story should take, set aside time for a brainstorming session (or more than one if necessary) and have confidence the process will work. Write down random thoughts, ideas, and interests.
  2. Environment. Ensure that your surroundings are inducive to creativity. In short, visit places that inspire you or is known for creative energy. These may be places such as art galleries, concerts, plays/theatre productions, movies, beautiful countrysides, beaches, monuments/parks, mountains, festivals/carnivals, etc.
  3. Activities. Do things that you know cause you to be more creative. Some people get ideas while exercising or cleaning. Listening to music, eating certain foods work for others, meditation, and visualization methods that work for other people to increase their creativity. Just don’t become so involved in the activity that you forget to think.
  4. Bookstores. Walk around a bookstore in the genre you’re interested in and view subgenres. There may be topics that you’re interested in but hadn’t considered writing. Or maybe…
  5. Personal Wishlist. I’m going to use an adult word here that is likely to stir up a bit of dandruff, but don’t come at me too hard. Bear with me and hear me out. The word is fetish. Hang on. Don’t run off. It’s not what you’re probably thinking. (Or maybe it is.) According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, one of the definitions of a fetish is an object of irrational reverence or obsessive devotion. This sounds pretty negative, and for that reason, many people keep their fetishes a secret. But when the number of people with fetishes are added together, that number is not small. They may not share the same fetish, but they have a desire that isn’t mainstream and that isn’t being discussed. In the same light, there are books that aren’t written because the subject matter isn’t in the mainstream. Someone proclaimed that no one wants to read that type of material (whatever the subject material may be). However, there is an audience for everything. So, if you have a desire to write something, write it. In the words (kinda) of Field of Dreams, if you write it, they (readers) will come (read). Thus, write what you would like to read. Brainstorm what interests you personally.
  6. Uniqueness. Don’t worry about producing for trend unless what is on trend is truly a passion. I’ve discussed this subject in past posts as well. In short, when a writer chases a trend to make a quick sale, there are several issues. Writing for a trend can backfire. To break this down for NaNo where writers are attempting to complete a 50,000 manuscript in thirty days, if the writer is not into the story because of passion towards the story, he/she may stumble writing a unique story. In short, he/she may find himself/herself regurgitating a book already published. Take the Twilight series. There were plenty of books written about vampires before it. However, the author, Stephanie Meyer, created her own unique spin on vampires. The success of her series made the vampire trope very on trend. As a result, there is a barrage of vampire books many of which uses Meyer’s formula. Of course, publishing houses are going to pump these books out because they are in it for the money. Many of the books are quality, but some are poorly written cash-grabs. The market becomes saturated, and after a while, readers bore of it. And what new readers must remember, if first impressions mean a lot. Branding means everything. If someone says Stephen King, what is the first word that pops in mind? For me, it’s a book or movie that about to scare the crap out the reader/audience. If a new writer publishes a vampire book because it’s on trend and the then his/her next book is about a civil defense attorney fighting a corrupt nuclear plant that is polluting a town’s water system, that is going to convolute branding for that writer. Readers like to know what to expect from authors. That’s what makes a lot of readers return readers. Thus, when brainstorming, formulate ideas that will be unique to you and not what is on trend. Besides, by the time you complete the manuscript and have it polished for publishing, the trend may be at its end. Then, the writer is stuck with a book that’s not going to generate much interest.
  7. Dream Journal. This isn’t exactly a part of brainstorming, but it’s worth mentioning. Dreams are a wonderful source of writing material. The issue is that many people do not remember their dreams. One way to help remember is by keeping a dream journal beside you bed to immediately write down any dream before it fades. These dreams may be a jumping off point for brainstorming.
  8. Questions. Ask yourself questions. What is it that you want your story to say? What point of view do you want your story told? Do you want it to be dramatic or humorous? Where (location) do you want your story to take place? What is the time period? Who are the characters? What is the main plot? What is the subplot? What events happen in the story? Think of all the questions you will need to answer in order to be able to write your story, and answer each of them thoroughly.
  9. Internet. Aw, I’ve come to that unspeakable demon seed that I cannot exclude. The internet can be helpful to developing ideas for a story. It is perhaps the grandest of all brainstorming techniques/tools. However, it can send you into a spiral of unproductivity. I need a Pinterest intervention group. And let’s not even talk TikTok. But if you’re someone who has much self-control, there are many websites that list story ideas. Read through them and see if any spark interest.
  10. Research. As a pantser, this is an area that will grab me in a chokehold death-grip in a heartbeat. I may come up with what I consider a brilliant topic and begin writing a story. Then, I realize I don’t know a certain element that I need to know in order to make the story authentic. For example, when I wrote a medical romance about an ENT, I realize there were some aspects of procedure that I did not know. I thought I did because I’d seen many movies with ENTs. The one day, I watched a broadcast about one of my favorite movies whose main character was a first responder. Many of the scenes revolved around his job and coworkers. And do you know this broadcast had the audacity to point out factual flaws in the script? I say that sarcastically because this broadcast was spot-on correct. I hit up several ENTs and questioned the procedures in the movie and quickly realized that I couldn’t go on what I’d been watching. The reason I bring this up in the brainstorming prepping phase for writing is that putting off research can slow the writing process. If I need my ENT to talk about a medical condition, I need to know about the medical condition. I write sports romance. Occasionally, rules change, and those changes may be important to a story. Now again, because I’m a pantser, it doesn’t bother me to stop writing to conduct research. However, having only thirty days to complete a story throws a monkey wrench into the mix. There have been times when it has taken me several days to find the proper answer to a question. Finding some answers is like searching for a needle in a haystack. And when the answer is finally discovered, you may need to brainstorm the answer further.
  11. Garbage. No brainstorming session is garbage even if it may seem that way on the surface. Do not throw away any brainstorming ideas. Sometimes, a writer will have a good idea that does not click with him/her at the time he/she has the idea. However, later it may come together. I once found that I had two story ideas but get kept getting blocked in writing either one. I later realized that my two main characters belonged in the same story as adversaries. I didn’t have two stories after all.
  12. Don’t Put the Cart Before the Horse. I’ve mentioned this previously in this post, but it’s worth mentioning it again. At the brainstorming stage, do not evaluate or critique the validity or substance of ideas. It’s too soon in the process for that. You’ll have plenty of time later. The purpose of brainstorming is to create ideas, not to eliminate them.
  13. Grouping. Once a writer compiles a list of ideas, he/she should group them together or combine like ideas or concepts. Many ideas may overlap. This may be a good thing because the it may reveal what interests the writer most. It also reduces the number of ideas, making it easier for the writer to focus.
  14. Word Association. Write down a series of topics/subject and list words that you associate with them. The more associations once can make, the stronger the concept becomes.

And those are my tips on brainstorming and what I’m using to prepare for NaNo. I’m sure there are plenty more out there. Did you find any of these helpful? What strategies do you use? I’d love to here your opinions and suggestions in the comments below.

And also, don’t forget to pick up a copy of my new steamy romance, Ice Gladiators, guaranteed to melt the ice. It’s the third book in my sports romance 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. Grab your copy of Ice Gladiators at https://amzn.to/2TGFsyD or www.books2read.com/icegladiators.

Missed the first 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.

Locker Room Love is a steamy standalone gay romance/ MM romance series revolving around professional hockey players. Set primarily in the Cajun and Creole bayous of south Louisiana, these love stories have a diverse cast of characters. These sexy athletes are discovering their own voice and the best romance of their lives, even if that isn’t their intention. Find tales of friends to lovers, enemies to loves, billionaires, bad boys, forbidden romance, first times, gay for you, and more. These alpha males are guaranteed to work up a sweat and melt the ice.

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 (with bonus posts sometimes on Mondays), 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 or BookBub.

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

How Not to Be Led Astray by a Writing Group

For the most part, being a part of the Writing Community and writing groups is positive. However, there are pitfalls, and these pitfalls can be dangerous. This post is a cautionary tale. Before I begin, allow me to preface this post with a disclaimer. What I’m about to write is not indicative of all writing groups or members of writing groups. The intention of this post is NOT is bash writing groups or discourage persons from joining them. I strongly encourage anyone currently is a writing group of considering joining one to do their own research and ask other members who may have a different perspective. The information, herein this post, has been my (or close colleagues) personal experiences and may different from others. Some statements may be opinions, and opinions are not facts. Each person views situations differently, and diversity is the spice of life. Therefore, feel free to leave any comments of disagreement in the comment box at the end of this post. All I ask that you do so respectfully with no foul language or rude remarks.

In short, be wary of the advice received from writing groups. As many know, I’m a member of several online writing groups and have critique partners. My first go-to is always my critique partners. I tend to ask very unusual questions (cos I write myself into very unusual corners) and sometimes, my critique partners collective brains are unable to come up with a solution. There may be several reasons for this. First, we have worked with each other for years and have learned each other’s’ quirks. This is both positive and negative. The positive is that we can give advice to guide in the direction we know the writer was trying to achieve. We are aware of the writer’s strengths and weaknesses before beginning reading, and, therefore, know what to look for in that writer’s work. There are some errors I consistently make, although, self-editing for them. My critique partners know to check behind me for these types of errors.

A negative is that we sometimes are similarities prevent us from seeing a situation is a different light. For example, we’re all from the same region. If I write something that is known only locally or regionally, they may not catch it because it poses no problems for them. Case in point, in my last book, Ice Gladiators, there is a scene where Taz, the main character, is outside of his apartment. My editor flagged what she deemed to be a discrepancy the location. Her comment was legitimate. Most people unfamiliar with the region (unless an architect or someone having an interesting in historical buildings) would not have thought it was an inconsistency, too. None of my critique partners mentioned it, and it was something that I needed to clarify.

My critique partners are good, but they aren’t flawless. And they certainly don’t know everything. Sometimes, they are stumped. It is in these instances that I may seek out the advice from members of a writing group. If one chooses to do so, proceed using extreme caution.

Here’s a bias about me. I believe if I can ask a question, there is a real solution to it. And not only is there a solution, there is a CORRECT solution. I don’t believe in lazy writing. I believe that any writing worth reading is also worth an investment. I’m always trying to better my craft by learning. So, when I ask a question, I take all answers seriously and scrutinize them against what I know to be facts. Many answers given in writing groups can lead a writer so far off the correct path that he/she is lost in the writing woods like Hansel and Gretel. Do not eat that gingerbread.

As I mentioned previously, I tend to have complex writing questions. It’s not that I’m boasting that I’m so superior of a writer that I don’t ask dumb questions. I have dumb questions all the time. However, I use style guides regularly and am able to look up many of my questions without having to ask anyone. Other mistakes, I’m unaware that I’m making until my critique partners or editors point it out to me. Naturally, if I don’t know I’m making a mistake, I don’t know to question it. When I do ask someone for help, it’s because I’ve exhausted all of my resources unsuccessful or it is something that is not found in a style guide. And that is where I found myself. I decided to pose question to a writer’s group. Was I sorry? Most definitely. So, here’s what happened.

I explained my question, that this point was something important to plot, and then gave an example. I always like to give examples (if you haven’t noticed) for clarity. However, it never fails that someone gets wrapped up on the specific example and can’t move beyond it. They can’t generalize the example. For example, if I say a person can’t cook simple foods such as eggs, the person I’m posing the question to gets hooked on the eggs. Well, there’s other simple foods besides eggs. Eggs just happens to be ONE of the simple foods that can’t be cooked. Other comments were to leave omit it. I got lots of, “I wouldn’t do it if it’s not important to the story.” Didn’t I state in my question that it was important? Then, there were those generic that they couldn’t advise without more context. No, more context wasn’t needed. I gave perimeters in my original post. I was asking a style question, as in how stylistically is something done. An appropriate answer would have been, “I’ve seen it done this way” or “such and such author did it this way,” or even referring to me to a reference source. Heck, just point me in the direction that I need to go, and I’ll do the work to find my way. But no, that’s not how that happened. Two days later, and I have a stack of crap to sort through.

Now, in all fairness, I did get some very helpful responses in the group, and I appreciate each and every one of those responses. And also, not all groups that I asked in gave me these off answers. So, there are my tips how not to be led astray by a writing group.

  1. With large groups, it is difficult to know all of the members. Thus, there will be members with varying levels of writing experience. Some will be extremely knowledgeable, while others may not know how to construct a sentence. Therefore, a writer may be unaware of which is giving the writing advice. A good rule of thumb is to be a member of a group for several weeks before posting questions asking for writing advice. Instead, be a spectator (troll), and observe which member respond more often and appear to be respected by the group. However, do not be disillusioned by likability. Just because a member is prolific in posting or aimable does not mean that member is knowledgeable. A person who post advices frequently can be just as dingy batty as anyone else. Watch how others react to that person and if others are also in support of the advice. Sometimes, a person will give their credentials or list their website. Pay attention to these things and vet the person for yourself. It is not stalking if you’re viewing public information to get a feel for if this is a person that can be trusted.
  2. When posting your question to a writing group, keep the following in mind. A.) Be brief because many members are not going to read your question all the way to the end. B.) Spell check and proofread your question before posting. There are some members who are only there to tear down and become too absorbed in your typos to answer the question posed. C.) Use short sentences and simple words to ask your question. Remember that writing and reading comprehension are two different things. There are members who if presented with a compound sentence mind will explode. You can literally see it happening in the answers they give. I’ve screenshotted stuff to ask members of my critique group if I was writing in hieroglyphics or something. If women are from Venus and men are from Mars, some writers must be from Neptune. D.) Have a strong glass of something alcoholic handy when reading the response. I’m just saying this will help.
  3. Understand that you may not get an answer at all. Sometimes, posts get lost in the shuffle of other post. Other times, members are not interested. I’ve noticed in some groups that the post that get the most responses are not questions that require the person responding to have a knowledge of writing. Instead, it’s posts like “when did you first know you wanted to be a writer” or “when did you write your first story.” It’s questions that ask other writers to talk about themselves or their work.
  4. Addressing a question to certain members of a group may narrow down who responds and yield better results. For example, asking only editors in a group to reply followed by a technical question will likely be seen as a questioning coming from a serious writer. In one post, I explained how I was having difficulty understanding a grammar rule. I listed the rule as well as the sentence I was struggling with. I had several very knowledgeable people to help. What was better was others who were struggling with similar questions got in on the discussion. The post ended up being very long with so much useful information, more than I even asked.
  5. Before posting any questions to a group, do your best to find the answer yourself. Search engines are convenient, but they don’t always produce accurate results. Professional journal articles are a good source. Researching the old-fashioned way by going to the library and finding books on the subject is another good way. Here’s the rub on most libraries. Self-publishing has come a long way and has been the venue for many good writers to begin their careers. But there are some books that get published without editing or fact-checking. Many libraries are selective about the books they shelf. Therefore, it’s less likely that one will find a book in a library that is going to have these issues. And even if one does, there are plenty of other books there that will quickly dispel any errors. The library is free to use, and librarians are available for assistance. They also hold videos/movies, periodicals, and a host of other resources. When you find the answer on your own, you’re more likely to remember it in the future as well as gain other useful information in the process. When I was writing Out of the Penalty Box, I needed information about a hockey rule. In my research, I learned that some of the hockey terminology had changed. While that was fine for an old-head like me to use an outdated term, my hockey player characters would not. I likely would have not received that additional information had I posted my question in a group.
  6. As questions in advance of needing answers. I know that sounds weird, but hear me out. It can take days for your question to be posted to a group. This I understand as a necessary evil but find to be extremely inconvenient. Because some members spam groups, ask inappropriate or controversial questions, and bully others, many writing groups screen posts. Because most group moderators have lives, a question may be left in the que box for days. This is very problematic if the question asked is one that a writer needs to continue writing. For example, a friend was writing a story that required police procedure that she hadn’t considered she’d need when outing. If she continued writing without this information and got it wrong, she would have to chunk it all. It took three days for her question to post. Because she mainly wrote on weekends, by the time she got back to writing, she’d lost that energy she’d have previously.
  7. Before posting a question to a group, scroll to see if the question has already been asked and answered. Many times, the answer will have been given, and you can acquire it without the headache of sorting through a mess of incorrect answers and trolls. And trolls…
  8. Do not have a writing group as your first line of resource. Remember, some members of a writing group will have good intention but still give bad advice. However, there are some members who intentionally spew bad advice. Why? No one really knows. Some people are rude and hateful. Some people will comment on a post just to be nasty. They will make fun of the person asking the question for not knowing.

So, those are my tips. I hope you find them helpful. Share your opinion below. What kind of experience have you had posting to a writing group? Also, comment below if you enjoy this type of content and would like to see more. While you’re there, give this post a like and consider subscribing to this blog if you haven’t already.

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.

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.

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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 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 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.

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.

 

Practical Tips for Writers

And here is why writers should develop their own process and take advice with a block of salt.

On my current Work In Progress (WIP), I’ve been struggling with story block. Well, some time ago, I learned that there was a distinction between writer’s block and story block, and I determined that what I was experiencing was most definitely story block. Story block, you wonder? For those unfamiliar with the term, basically, writer’s block is an inability to develop ideas for a project. Story block is having a story idea but lacking the ability to produce content for a particular story.

Anyway, writing on my WIP has been a struggle for months. Mainly, I would write a paragraph, scene, or chapter, and then, I’d get stuck. Where does the story go from here? How do I advance forward? Am I hitting arc beats as I should? Now, the last isn’t a question I normally ask myself, and I didn’t start asking that until I notice I was receiving a consistent suggestion in reader feedback. Quick aside…Bear with me. It plays a part in the points I’ll later make.

I became a writer to entertain others. I’m constantly striving to improve and advance my craft. I 100% listen to reader feedback. So, when readers inform me they want something specific, I’m going to try my best to give it to them. This may not be without challenges or hurdles. Thus, the fact that I was adding something to my non-routine routine was throwing me. See, I’m not a plotter. (Oh, don’t start with me, plotters.) For me, intentionally adding specific elements require a certain degree of planning. Well, my avid (and vocal) plotter peers attempted to convince me that my panstering ways were the culprit of my story block dilemma. (Uh-huh!) And they almost had me convinced until I analyzed my situation further. Now, back to the regularly scheduled post.

So, it’s Wednesday, and I wake up early to a good start. Of course, Wednesday is when I post on my blog, and it tends to be my busiest day of the week. Posting rarely goes smoothly (always a tech glitch), and I end up getting the post uploaded close to the wire. Today, I had seven minutes to spare, which I think is a record for me. Even when I call myself doing it early, it always comes down to having to do something on Wednesday morning. And as is par for the course, things start to get stupid busy. I’m suddenly sleepy even though I’ve had a restful night, and I’m making all sorts of mistakes—I mean mistakes I generally don’t make. I tell myself I need to take a few minutes to break, wake up, and regain my focus. I take the break, but it doesn’t help much. However, I’m able to get the post uploaded. My intention is to return to working on my WIP, but I can’t. Story block is in full swing. Each word I try to write is a mumbo jumbo to my eyes. I can’t make sense of the text I’ve written. The story isn’t making sense. I’m not liking the scenes. So, I stop and decided to do the unspeakable. Edit. Yes, I’m going to start editing what I have before it’s close to being finished.

Editing as I go is nothing new to me, but it seems to be taboo—just ask my critique partners who nearly stoked out when I informed them what I was doing. Every time I have mentioned it to a writer friend, I’m dragged through the gutter for it. It’s a carnal sin to edit as one writes. Who knew? Fortunately, I don’t listen well. However, before I begin editing, I decide to give outlining one last-ditch go. Dumb, dumb, dumb! The small functioning part of my brain convulsed and died on the spot. I was in worse shape after having attempted outlining that when I was staying in my panstering lane. So, this is where it gets interesting.

I printed a hardcopy. Normally, I don’t print hard copies until I’m double-digit drafts in and close to sending it to my publisher who will ship it off to editing. On the title page, I attempt to map out the arcs for the two main characters. OMG! I was so lost. I went to YouTube and watched fourteen billion videos. None helped. I couldn’t see how my characters plugged into the model. They probably did (do), but my brain doesn’t function that way. Desperate, I began writing the things that I did know about my characters to see if I could make any of that fit into some type of outline. Nope. The only thing I was doing was wasting more time and creating more chaos. I needed to do something productive. Therefore, I began editing.

On the first page, I didn’t find many corrections. Granted this is a draft, so missing something at this point isn’t a big deal. I’ll go over it plenty more times. But on the second page, there was a sentence that popped out. I asked, “Should this character know this?” I highlighted it and moved on. A few pages over, there was a paragraph, and I asked “Should this be the behavior of the assigned character?” Next, I saw mention of a minor character that I completely forgot about but makes total sense he would be there. And slowly, it began to make sense as to why I was struggling. I have small gaps in the flow. (Stop it, plotters. I know what you’re thinking. That wouldn’t have happened if I’d had an outline. Oh yes it would have because I wouldn’t have realized the problem in outline form, either.) The overall story works, but these small gaps are what’s making it difficult to go from A to B. My writing needs to stop, and I need a full edit of what I have so far. The elements that were requested in feedback that I’ve been trying to work in, can plug in the gaps.

The takeaway is each writer needs to develop their writing process from scratch and not be convinced there is only one correct way. Do not allow others to convince you that your process is wrong if it has been working for you. The snarky remark that I received from one writer that being a panster wasn’t working for me couldn’t have been the farthest off base. It wasn’t working because I had altered it into a form that no longer worked. I changed my panstering which is natural (to me) to intentionally (i.e., plotting which deviates so far from my norm) to include certain requested elements. It was the attempting to force add (i.e., plotting) that was tripping me up. By editing, the elements will organically fit into what I’ve created instead of me attempting to create the situation for these things to occur—chicken or egg. I can’t explain my process to others well. I only know when it works and when it doesn’t work. I know editing as I go is something that works well for me. When I get stuck, I edit. It clears out the garbage and gives me a cleaner slate. I look at it like cooking.

When I’m cooking, I have all the bowls, utensils, and ingredients spread across the counter. As I use and dirty them, I set them aside. If I run out of counter space, I wash them at that time. I don’t wait until I’ve completed the entire meal before I do the dishes. I clean up as I go along. By the time I’m finished cooking, there’s little cleanup left. I like it when I finish my first draft that it is pretty good shape. In editing, it allows a different part of my brain to work. I’m not creating something. I’m improving what already exists. It allows me to refocus and sense a new perspective. I know to stick to my guns. Why I wasn’t doing that early on, I have no idea.

So what is the takeaway?

  1. I took a moment to write about this experience because I felt it may help another writer struggling with self-doubt. However, in reality, this could apply to any given situation. You must understand your self-value and capability. Do all those clichés. Listen to that small voice inside of your head. Follow your heart. Go with your gut instinct. Believe in yourself.
  2. Another reason I wrote this is because I’ve been requested to get back to doing more writing-related posts. At the beginning of 2020, I announced that I likely would stray from doing a writing-related post on the first Wednesday of every month, as I was beginning to experience scheduling conflicts. But that was back in January, and since then, we’ve all seen how 2020 has been working out. After I meet some obligations, I will re-evaluate it this needs to continue to be the situation or if it is feasible for me to go back to the old way. Let me know what writing topics you’ll like to me cover.
  3. There are very few writing rules. However, there are plenty of guidelines. Guidelines may be helpful, but they do not have to be utilized. That being said, many guidelines are useful and should be followed.
  4. You’ll never get ahead if you’re chasing the pack. In a race, if you’re chasing the leader when you cross the finish line, you’re not in the first place. You didn’t win. You did well, but you may have done better. It is the same with writing. If a writer spends his/her time merely trying to copy an established writer, the writer copying will never produce anything original. The most popular writers are popular because they found a style unique to them to tell their stories. When readers reach for stories written by them, there is a certain level of expectation.
  5. Use everything as a learning experience. There are no bad lessons. Even if something works out negatively, there’s a value in it. You learn what to avoid and how to avoid it the next time.
  6. Forms and styles change. You will never advance your craft if you don’t push yourself to try more.
  7. It’s all about trial and error. Very rarely will a writer get it right the first time.
  8. They are words on a screen or piece of paper. They can be changed and corrected. There’s no need to become frustrated because anything can be fixed. Becoming frustrated will slow and worsen the process.
  9. Story block and writer’s block happens to everyone from time to time. Many times, it can be overcome by eliminating the stress that frees the mind to be creative. Finding ways to relax will help with writing.
  10. There are lots of videos on YouTube about popular author’s writing processes. If you don’t have a writing process that you’re happy with or that is working for you, gain some ideas of what works for others by viewing these types of videos.

**Yes, I know this article states Wednesday but it’s posted on a Monday. That is because it was uploaded for last Wednesday but I decided at last minute not to upload due to having a bonus post.**

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 Write Sports Romance – Part II

In February, I wrote a blog post titled: Sports Romance Writing Tips: How to Write Sports Romance (https://bit.ly/2U4nmav). In that post, I created a list of generalized tips that I have found useful in writing my sports romances and thought may be helpful to any writer who wishes to explore this subgenre. What I failed to realize is just how sparse the information on this topic is. Now, if you’re asking how could that be since I already wrote one post about this topic and should have discovered it then, I at that time did discover that it wasn’t a widely covered topic. However, after the first post, I began to think that perhaps I had not having conducted enough research. First, I went old school to several brick and mortar libraries (yes, they still do exist) in the area. I believe I visited six all total. I found a lot about sports and a lot about romance. I even found a good deal of sports romance novels. What I did not find was the process of writing a sports romance. Mostly, the how-to discussed how-to-write romance—which is important. However, there are some considerations that are unique to sports romance that isn’t included in general romance.

Therefore, I expanded my internet search to include more media outlets. I still did locate much. And when I searched for specific questions about sports romance novels, I came up with even less. So, I’m back with some additional information. Strap in and away we go.

  1. Explore sports. Many sports romances are about characters who play football, baseball, basketball, or hockey. Occasionally, one may find a story about tennis, soccer, rugby, swimming, or gymnastics stars. These are sports that have huge fanbases and are widely popular. However, there are so many other sports (e.g., lacrosse, bowling, archery, fishing, skiing, wrestling, skating, etc.) that are very underrepresented in sports romance novels. Don’t be afraid to change pace, switch it up, and bring readers something new. It may not be that readers are uninterested, but rather, writers know little about these sports. Many readers who enjoy this genre are sports lovers in real life, and they would not mind seeing other sports. For example, I’m not a huge basketball fan, but that doesn’t mean I’m not down for a good basketball romance. Why? Because there’s something about athletes and the way they approach issues pertaining to their profession. Ever been to a sports bar and notice that most of the patrons don’t care what team or sport is on the screen? Take, for example, Buffalo Wild Wings. When patrons come in, many will ask to sit in an area that their favorite team is playing or ask the screen to be switched to a game. However, if they are told that their team isn’t being shown for whatever reason, most enjoy whatever game(s) is (are) showing. In fact, many times, they enjoy watching several games while they eat. There are plenty of restaurants (many cheaper) that patrons can purchase wings. However, BWW is a popular hangout because people want to watch sports on big screens with other sports fans. They are there for the experience. Books offer experiences. Give the reader a good sports to cheer, whoop, and holler for, and they are happy. In the past, I’ve found myself engrossed reading (and watching) novels about sports I thought I had no interest in (e.g., roller derby, monster truck, and darts).
  2. Sports romance is still romance. As mentioned in my previous post, sports romances follow the same guidelines as all other stories in the romance genre. The romance comes first. If the romantic relationship between the lead characters can be omitted without altering the plot, then it is not a romance and falls into some other genre. The romance must be the focal point and not an afterthought. And a huge point of contention that it must have a happy ending. Yes, I said it. If it does not have a HEA or HFN, it’s something other than a romance. Now, does HEA and HFN mean everything is smooth and easy peasy for the main characters? Nope. They may have suffered a lot along the way and lost much on their journey. It doesn’t even mean these characters won’t have future problems. However, it does means that the two love interests are together as a couple. But what about Romeo and Juliet? What about it? It was a tragedy. Not a romance. Often, it’s listed as a romantic tragedy. I think it’s fair to say that stories such as these now are more commonly referred to as dramas. Now, I know many of my fellow romance writers will disagree with me on this point, and that’s okay. That’s why I previously stated that it was a point of contention, and I’m not here to debate the issue. At the end of the day, a story belongs to the writer. Writers are free to label and market their story however they like. It’s not my place to say otherwise. However, do not be surprised that when a novel labeled as “romance” does not have a HEA or an HFN ending, that a large portion of the readers may be unhappy. NOTE: there is one huge exception to this rule. If the writer is writing a series that the romance is spread across several books, the HEA or HFA may not occur until the final book in the series.
  3. Percentage of sports incorporated. The amount if sports included in a sports romance novel is determined by the author. This is an area that I personally find the most trying at times. There’s no secret formula that dictates a percentage or how many scenes must be related to sports. However, as with the romantic relationship, the sports element must be included and related in some way to the plot. As the romance can’t be viewed by the reader as an afterthought, the sports elements included can’t, either. Just because the main character is an athlete does not by default categorize that book as being a sports romance. Let’s take this real old school for a moment and think about the 1950s sitcom, I Love Lucy which aired from 1951 to 1957 on CBS. In the sitcom, breadwinner Ricky Ricardo was a musician who performed in a nightclub while Lucy was a housewife. Ricky’s profession was important because many of the episodes centered around Lucy wanting to be famous, perform in the nightclub, or meet a famous person performing in the nightclub. Now, think to Leave It to Beaver which aired from 1957 to 1963. Again, a happily married couple where the husband (Ward) is the breadwinner and the wife, June, remained at home. But what did Ward do? He worked, but what was his profession? Was it ever important to the storyline? All viewers ever saw was that wherever he worked, he wore a suit and carried a briefcase. He could have been an architect, stockbroker, real estate mogul, or anything. Where he worked never mattered to any of the plots. In a sports romance, the element of sports needs to be the Ricky Ricardo kind in that it must affect the story and shouldn’t be easily interchangeable with another profession. Sure, Ricky could have been an actor or dancer, and the character still would have worked because these professions remained in the entertainment field. However, what if Ricky was a politician, an accountant, or a mechanic? Many of the episodes wouldn’t have worked. Likewise, changing the main character from a football player to a baseball player may not significantly alter a sports romance (although it might due to football being a contact sport and baseball not). However, if a football player character can be switched to an accountant and the story still works, then likely there is a problem.
  4. Percentage of sports incorporated part II Continuing down this same path, it sometimes is difficult for a writer to know how many sports scenes are enough. If as a writer you’re struggling with knowing the writer balance of sports to include in your sports romance, understand that this is a common problem with sports romance writers. Do not allow this to frustrate or discourage. Write the story anyway and save those questions until you’re ready to begin the self-editing process. Often after a draft is completed, a writer is able to determine what is needed. Additionally, this is an area that beta readers can guide the writer in what direction he/she needs to head.
  5. Move forward. Each sports scene should move the plot and the romance forward. Having a great sports scene solely for the purpose of meeting a sports scene “quota/ requirement” will come across as fluff and disinterest readers who are invested in the story. This leads directly to the next point.
  6. Don’t underestimate the audience. Too much exposition on explaining the sport may be boring or put off some readers. Remember, much of the audience who read sports romance are sports fans. They won’t need the rules of the game explained to them. However, this does not give writers free-range to be overly technical. Just because a person is a fan of a sport does not mean that person knows or understands everything about the sport. There also may be readers who are completely unfamiliar with the sport. A good rule of thumb is to use as much technical jargon needed to keep the text sounding authentic and enough exposition to avoid or eliminated confusion.
  7. Sports romances can be either plot-driven or character-driven. This decision is up to the writer. Plot-driven stories are ones that external conflict happening to the characters. Often in this type of story, character development is secondary to the plot. This is not to say that character development does not occur in plot-drive stories. However, it is not the major focus. Character-driven stories focus on the internal conflict happening within the character. These types of stories tend to deeply explore the emotions and thought processes of the characters.
  8. Keep the audience in mind when writing. In previous posts, I’ve discussed the topic of writing to market. Now, for some writers, this is what they enjoy doing, and they do it well. It is not something without risk. I won’t go into those risks because that is not the topic of this blog. But when a writer writes to market, that writer is specifically making a conscious choice to write for a specific audience. When one writes in a subgenre, it very important to understand that mainly the writer is targeting a specific audience. For example, if an author writes a contemporary romance, it may draw the interest of readers who enjoy paranormal romance, suspense romance, romcom, chic-lit, etc. It’s a broad category that will interest many readers. When an author writes a sports romance, it’s probably a good bet the reader enjoys sports. That reader pool is smaller. Therefore, it essential that the readers wants and needs are satisfied. Now, that may sound like a “well, duh!” In all fairness, it probably is. However, many times, this is an area that gets slammed in beta reading because the writer did not carefully select the beta readers. I once got a really harsh criticism of a manuscript. I was truly bothered by it until I realize the person giving the criticism was unfamiliar with the topic. Things that she said were incorrect were actually things that I had verified with experts in the field. It wasn’t that her critique was incorrect, it was incorrect for me. The problem was that we lived in two different areas, and the procedures followed here were different. Think about it. Persons living along coastal lines react differently to the word hurricane than persons living in the Midwest. Likewise, blizzards are interpreted differently in the Southern US than in the Northern US. Following the advice of persons who are not interested in or familiar with sports romance may lead you astray. In short, be selective in critique partners, beta readers, and some editors.

Let me know if you found these tips helpful and if you would like more posts on this topic.

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.

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

Writer Meeting Their Characters

Writing is fun, but it also has its odd moments. I recently asked some of my writer friends if they meet their characters. After being side-eyed, one finally fessed up that she did. I smiled at the rest because I knew they were holding out on me—cause that’s just how my friends are. They like giving me a hard time and have me thinking I’m off my rocker. And I suppose for the non-writing world, this does seem odd. So, I’ll explain what I mean.

As I’m creating a character, that is what he/she is—a creation in my head, a piece of fiction or an image that does not exist. Sometimes, it isn’t even an image, but rather, an idea in a shapeless, faceless, voiceless form. My characters usually transpire from a concept. I wouldn’t call it a plot because it is too vague and abstract. For example, it may be something as simple as a person laughing on a porch. I’ll start thinking about the porch, the kind of furniture there. Is it in the country or city? What season is it? Is it day or night? As the scene begins to flush itself out, that’s when the character develops. What kind of person would sit on this porch? Is it a man or a woman? What is he/she wearing? What does this character physically look like? Eventually, the character is given a name, but I don’t put much stock in that. I usually change a character’s name five, six, fifteen times before I settle on one that I believe is fitting to his/her personality. Because at this stage in writing, names aren’t important, and they will come in time.

What’s interesting, though, is sometimes I will write an entire story, and I’ll have a vivid picture of this character in my mind. Then, while I’m out gallivanting around town, I will see a living, breathing, walking person who I’ve never laid eyes on previously, and that person will be the spitting image of one the characters in my mind.

That recently happened after I completed Ice Gladiators and had sent it for editing. I kid you not, I was sitting in bed, channel surfing late one night. I ran across a movie I’d never seen advertised (which isn’t all that shocking for me). The scene was of two business partners disagreeing, with one on the verge of a temper tantrum. I paused to watch the meltdown play out and determine if it would be something I’d be interested in occupying my time watching—and also to determine if I would be able to pick up on the plot since I’d missed no telling how much of the beginning. It did not take me long before I was hooked. A few scenes later, I literally stopped breathing for a second and had to blink. On the screen was my Liam Jolivet, in appearance and mannerisms. He even sounded like I thought my character would sound. It gave me a sense of deja vu. There wasn’t much off about the character on the screen and the one that imagined, other than their motivation and personalities. Well, personality is a big deal; so, allow me to clarify. Much of their personalities were the same—their easygoingness and playful nature. However, the screen character was far darker than the one I envisioned for my character of Liam. And my character was slightly more modern with a different motivation and outlook on life. So, the two characters were not replicas, but it just goes to show how real characters can become to the writers who create them.

There were no other similarities between the movie and Ice Gladiators. And honestly, this is not the first time I’ve experienced this. I’ve walked into coffee shops or looked over while waiting at a red light and have seen my characters’ doppelgängers. Rarely have I ever spoken to them. That’s really very weird, and if I have, I never deluge it. I mean, how would one work that into a conversation? Besides, it may freak the other person all the way out. Heck, it freaks me out. Plus, I wouldn’t want someone to get it twisted and believe that a character is based on him/her. As I said, in the case of my Liam character, Ice Gladiators had been submitted to the publisher for weeks prior to me seeing the movie. Not only that, I had never heard or seen the movie advertised until that night. I guess it’s no different from a screenwriter who creates a character and then the casting director finds an actor who embodies or is reminiscent of the character. It just sounds really bonkers when spoken aloud.

Now, I know some people are going to ask me what was the movie. Well, I’m not going to say because I do not want people to make comparisons between the two. I think that would only serve as a distractor to both stories. And as I said, the characters’ personalities are very different. They’re also one key physical characteristic that is different between the two as well. I would like to think of the screen character as my muse, but being that I didn’t see him first, that can’t be the case. I am slightly surprised that Liam was the character that I found, though. I would have guessed it would have been another character. But then again, I spent a great deal of time developing Liam. Although it is not seen in the story (because it didn’t have a place), he has a lengthy back history. His character is complex, and there exists a certain consistency to his behavior that makes him unpredictable. I know that sounds contradictory, but once Liam is seen in the story, it makes sense.

One of the things I frequently advise other writers when we’re having a conversation about writing is that before allowing anyone to edit, proofread, critique, or beta read is to know one’s character. I firmly believe and follow this. When a writer intricately knows his/her characters, that writer is better equipped to accept and apply critiques and criticism. That is because the writer knows what he/she wants to say and the only question is the application of how its expressed. When I saw the screen character, it made me confident that I truly heard my character’s voice and envisioned his style. I knew for certain how he should come across the pages to readers.

This brings me to another point. Some writers argue that authors should reframe from providing too much detail and allow readers to fill in details for themselves. That works for some writers, but not this chic. No, I don’t want a blank canvas or even a paint by numbers. I want the reader to see what I see. As the writer, I want to create a world that readers enter and simply enjoy. I’m not going to say there’s food on the table. I’m going to details the sights, aromas, feel, and tastes of the buffet. This does not mean I’m going to bog down a story with purple prose of useless fluff. But I’m not going to leave the reader wanting for anything, either. Since I tend to write deep point of view, the reader experiences what my main character experiences, and most people don’t exist in fill-in-the-blank environments.

If you’re a writer, have you ever seen one of your characters in real life this way? If yes, how did it feel? Where were you? What was the experience like? Have you ever discussed this experience with anyone? Were you surprised? Do you generally write characters about people you know or people you know of (e.g., actors, musicians, etc.)? Have you ever introduced yourself to a stranger who reminded you of one of your characters? Let me know your experience below by leaving a comment. I look forward to reading them.

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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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Writing 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.

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Writing Guides