Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Anthology News ~ Tales of Tinfoil


Some crazy cool things have been happening behind the scenes with my writing career. And I haven’t shared because I guess it’s just taken me a while to process. Well, I’m done processing. At least with one mega piece of news I cannot wait to share with you today. Last fall, editor extraordinaire, David Gatewood, reached out to me to see if I’d be interested in writing a conspiracy-related short story for an anthology he was working on.

Would I ever!

Let me back up. I read and reread the email. David explained how he edits for Hugh Howey (you know, bestselling author of WOOL, etc.) and I kept having to convince myself David actually meant to email me. Yes, I’d independently put a few of my novels out into the world. But how the heck had he discovered one and liked it enough to invite me to be a part of this irresistible project?

Deeply honored, and always up for a challenge, I signed on.

And I couldn’t be more thrilled. David is a phenomenal editor and I recently had a blast connecting with several of the talented authors included in the anthology during a recent podcast.

In future posts I’ll go into more detail about what it was like to craft a short story verses a full-length novel. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed everything about this experience. There’s such a rich, genuine camaraderie among indie pubbed authors.

So . . .

Love conspiracy theories? Science fiction fan?
You won’t want to miss TALES OF TINFOIL! Releases THIS FRIDAY!

*Eric Tozzi created this excellent video

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Four Necessities for Creative Completion


Did you ever abandon a treehouse as a child?
I abandoned about three or four. The neighborhood kids and I gave it a go a few times. Starting off we were so determined. But after a few weeks, planks were left hanging from low branches. Nails jutted out of random places in the bark. And nothing ever came of the treehouse. It didn’t even earn the name tree shack.
We often have the best intentions with our creative work but something comes along and hinders us from finishing. Lack of energy, distractions, stress, doubt . . . all kinds of excuses land on the branches of our best intentions. But when we quit, we miss out on the rewards that only come from following through.
I’ve experienced this with numerous projects through the years. A mosaic that resembled broken pieces of a plate (well, that’s what a mosaic is). A shed I dreamed of fixing up from top to bottom. Nothing got fixed but the middle. Finally, other than the dozen I’ve completed, I’ve given life to a handful of other novels that died by the halfway point.
If there’s something we are truly passionate about finishing, how do we go about staying the course?
Let’s think back to treehouse building days as I give you . . .
 
The Four Necessities for Completion

The Right Tools
You can’t build an entire treehouse with a hammer and a few nails. It’s essential to research what you’ll need. And even who you may have to ask for help. It takes a courageous person to admit that sometimes you can’t go it alone. I know my career in publishing has been drastically enhanced because of the fellow authors who’ve prodded me along.

A Stick with It Commitment
If you go into a project halfhearted, you’ll likely come out of the project that way. Prematurely. Tell yourself there is no alternative. This will get done. Get used to funneling positive messages through your brain. I’m always blown away to witness the powerful effects of mental fortitude.

Goals & Game Plan to Do the Work
Write down your goals. That way you can go back to it and see your progress. Base floor up by May. Walls by June. Complete by July. Get even more specific. Then dash out notes how you intend to meet those goals. Base floor up by May—buy tools, work two hours five days a week, ask tall neighbor for help securing boards, etc.
Then put on your Nike T-shirt and get out there.

Determination to Fight off Obstacles

You should expect obstacles going into any project. Know there will be times when you’ll purchase the wrong paint, the windows won’t fit, the paint might strip off, or the characters just won’t talk. Expect internal obstacles as well. What was I thinking building a treehouse? I have no idea what I’m doing. It’s too big of an undertaking . . .
Shut them down. As soon as the doubts creep in, smother them. Don’t give them a voice.

And as far as the more tangible obstacles, view them as a way to exercise creativity and patience while in the midst of a project. Some of the best inventions have come from unexpected circumstances. Take Penicillin, X-Rays, and fireworks for example.

 So, there you have it. Why didn’t you finish your treehouse as a kid? Do you have a grown-up equivalent of that treehouse?

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Q&A with One of My Favorite People

If you haven’t encountered Jill Kemerer yet online or in person, you’re missing out. I’ve known her for eight years. We’ve critiqued each other’s work, encouraged each other through the highs and lows of the industry, and witnessed changes together with awe and fortitude.

It is a great honor to tell you Jill has recently released her first book. She has been patient like no other and I was seriously impressed with how my dear friend added to the romance genre with her newly released book, Small-Town Bachelor.
 
I love watching her dreams come true.

Watch out world, Kemerer knows romance & she’s here to stay! 

Our Q&A 

W. What inspires you as a novelist? You've written so many books. How do you continue to come up with so many story lines? 

J. Little things inspire me. An ad in a magazine. A funny line in a television show. A minor character in a book. I spend a lot of time walking through local parks, and ideas come to me then. If I stopped walking, I probably wouldn’t have new stories!

W. I've had the awesome pleasure of being your critique partner for years. We've been super honest with one another. No doubt this industry can be difficult at times. What are your go-tos when the going gets rough? How do you stay motivated and determined to keep on keepin' on? 

J. Supportive writer friends (you!!) have made a huge difference. Writing is a lonely endeavor, which is fine when you feel good, but it messes with your emotions on the bad days. I’ve wanted to quit many times. I pray when I feel like quitting, and somehow God always pushes me forward. Having goals is extremely important. I know what I want. The vision for my future keeps me motivated! 

W.  What's your favorite aspect of writing romance (you do it so well!)? 

J. You are very kind! I love when an unexpected truth comes out that I wasn't expecting. It might be spiritual growth or unrealized jealousy, but those moments make me sit back and go, "whoa." Plus, I always cry writing the final chapters of my books. 

W. Why are you thankful Small-Town Bachelor is out there for the world to read? And what is difficult about that fact?        

J. I’m thankful to finally have one of my books on store shelves. Small-Town Bachelor blends my love for small towns, Michigan lakes, cute animals and relatable characters with real problems. I’m excited to have sold more books set in fictional Lake Endwell. It’s a fun town to write! The difficult part of having a book out in the world is dealing with insecurity. Will readers like it? I remind myself some people will enjoy it, others won’t, and that’s okay! 

*** 

About Jill ~  

Jill Kemerer writes inspirational romance novels with love, humor and faith. A full time writer and homemaker, she relies on coffee and chocolate to keep up with her kids’ busy schedules.  

Besides spoiling her mini-dachshund, Jill adores magazines, M&M’s, fluffy animals and long nature walks. She resides in Ohio with her husband and two children.  Jill loves connecting with readers, so please visit her website www.jillkemerer.com and find her on Facebook and Twitter.

***
Small-Town Bachelor ~ 

A Place to Call Home  

When Reed Hamilton arrives in Lake Endwell for a family wedding, he expects to do his part as best man then head back to the big city. But when a tornado postpones the wedding, the town is in shambles and Reed is injured. Thankfully maid of honor Claire Sheffield offers him one of her cottages to recuperate in. 

Dedicated to her family and her dream job at the zoo, Claire is all about roots. She's this city slicker's opposite, yet as they help the town rebuild, Reed is captivated by her stunning looks and caring ways. He can't ask Claire to leave the life she loves for him, but he also can't imagine ever leaving her behind…

Interested in buying Small-Town Bachelor? Click on http://jillkemerer.com/books/small-town-bachelor/ for links to purchase!

 My review:

Kemerer knows romance! I thoroughly enjoyed reading Small-Town Bachelor. I was quickly swept up in the story and I appreciated the depth of this novel. As someone who normally doesn’t read romance, I was pleasantly surprised at how attached I got to the characters and how much I found myself drawn in by their love story. A must-read romance selection! Can’t wait to read more of Kemerer’s books!
 
Thanks for being here, Jill. Love you like a sister! Now, go connect with her, everyone. ;-)

Monday, April 6, 2015

Spring Is Here Giveaway—9 Women’s Fiction Books, 9 Winners!


Spring Is Here Giveaway—9 Women’s Fiction Books, 9 Winners!
 

I’m ecstatic to be announcing the Spring is Here Giveaway! Please visit the Facebook author pages of the authors involved & tweet about the giveaway for a chance to win one of the 9 books mentioned.

The Books & Authors:
Palmetto Moon by Kim Boykin
Waking Up Joy by Tina Ann Forkner
Stillwater Rising by Steena Holmes
Secrets of a Charmed Life by Susan Meissner
The Delicate Nature of Love by Wendy Paine Miller
The Glass Wives by Amy Sue Nathan
Before I Go by Colleen Oakley
The Virtues of Oxygen by Susan Schoenberger
The Hatmaker’s Heart by Carla Stewart

The Facebook Pages:
 
 

Spread the word & join us as we celebrate spring during this phenomenal giveaway! April 6-20.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Which Came First, The Concept or the Character?


Which Came First, The Concept or the Character?
Chicken, egg. You’re with me.
It used to be that characters were the first to introduce themselves to me. Generally, a woman. She’d tap lightly on the door of my imagination, then peek through the windows of my cortex until I took notice. She’d often linger around my synapses, dropping a line here and there for me to write down or memorize. I’d hear her as I fell asleep or in the midst of a conversation with a friend. And she grew familiar to me, as familiar as family. At some point I’d invite her in to stay. And her story would, at that point, unravel into a novel.
But that’s not always how it’s played out. There have been concepts that have found their way to me first. A notice in the doctor’s office. A picture in an ice cream shop. The inability to identify your own face. An infallible memory. These concepts, much like spring flowers releasing their potent aromas, practically insist on being trimmed and brought inside. Or if you’re a foodie, picture old cartoons when Bugs caught the irresistible scent of cooking meat. He had to follow. So it is with a concept that lingers and conjures that no-turning-back-now pull. I’m hooked. And another completed novel results.
Writers, here’s a fun question to ask yourself if you’ve yet to do so—which comes first for you, the concept or the character? Is it the same every time?
 
*Check back next Monday to be a part of a MAJOR GIVEAWAY!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Creativity Stealers

Restructuring around here. I’m back to posting on Mondays & Wednesdays.
Mondays I’ll focus on the Business of Creating.
Wednesdays will be all about The Love of the Craft (specific writing-related posts).
“The beginning is always today.” Mary Shelley
 
Creativity Stealers
Ever noticed how at the moment you are most inspired something is sure to swoop in and rob you of your thoughts—your focus?
Today I’m calling out several of the most annoying creativity stealers and providing ways for you to take your imagination back.
Drama Queens
Everything is a crisis. And guess who wants you to hear all about it? The drama queen in your life. Be mindful of how much time you spend investing in someone who has made a nice habit of stirring up storms and soaking others in the process.
Disorganization

Clutter. Lost lists. Forgotten appointments. Misplaced goals. My desk often looks like someone tossed my notes up in the air and let them fall wherever they wanted. I’m always thankful when I spend a few minutes before setting to work to take a moment to straighten and reorder my physical world. It has an uncanny way of translating to my creative mindset.

Black Hole of Social Media
Pretty sure this one needs no further explanation. Best solution for me is to set time limits, take social media breaks every so often, and to prioritize the value of each site and where I’m investing my time.

Lack of or Unclear Goal
Ever walk into another room and forget why you went in there? Of course you have. You’re human. This is what it feels like to start the day without taking a moment to figure out what you’re hoping to accomplish. At the very least, once a month write a handful of goals. I’ve benefited from sketching out brief lists like this every morning. It’s not about crossing every item off as much as it is about having your goals in writing.

Working Without Rewards
End of a long day you want to put your feet up, right? What’s the equivalent to that for someone who’s been diligent about being effectively creative? Treat yourself with more creative fun. Sign up for the Color Run. Kids turn to cook (breakfast sounds great). Or, I love to get inventive with recipes. How about a nature walk through neighboring woods? Get specific. What screams great job, way to stay focused to you? An hour to yourself (bathroom doesn’t count)? Nibbling the ear off that chocolate bunny? That new journal with the yellow bird on the cover? Yep, been there, bought that.

Can you think of any creativity stealers I haven’t mentioned? And how do you curtail them?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Hard Way


Restructuring around here. I’m back to posting on Mondays & Wednesdays.
Mondays I’ll focus on the Business of Creating.
Wednesdays will be all about The Love of the Craft (specific writing-related posts).
“The beginning is always today.” Mary Shelley

The Hard Way
Several summers ago, when we had a second story built on top of a portion of our house, our contractor didn’t really consider one important detail.
The vanity we’d already purchased would not fit through the doorways they’d constructed.
Which led to what happened in the picture above.
They found a way. The hard way. (Man, it was fun to watch though.)
How does this translate to novel writing? It begins with a confession. I’m not much of a plotter. I love the idea of characters being able to surprise me at any given moment while I’m writing a first draft. It thrills me knowing twists may come up out of nowhere. Think glorious blooms, not groundhogs.
However, through the years (and eleven novels later) I’ve learned it’s mighty helpful to have a few key concepts plotted. And after I spend time stewing, marinating, and plotting, I end up being rewarded twofold. During the revision process I don’t have to figure out how to hoist a 500 pound load on my back. In other words, I don’t have to work backwards and potentially rewrite three quarters of the book because it followed a rabbit trail. Or Uncle Jimmy filled most of the pages and it really wasn’t his story to tell. Second reward is that while crafting the first draft I still insist upon keeping the door open for twists to storm through. Guaranteed, there are always a few that insist upon dropping their luggage and moving in. I welcome them with open arms.
Now, I’m not claiming that once you plan your novel things always go according to plan. It’s by no means “easy” constructing a ninety thousand word manuscript. But, you save yourself from some of the pains you’d likely endure had you decided to forgo the brainstorming and plotting sessions.
So, what measures do I take before writing the first word? I make sure I have a firm handle on the basics.
The Basics
·         Introductions
I get to know the players. I do a psychological head dive to discern more about each and every character. I’ll go into more details about this in a future post.
·         Establish at least 3 Major Turning Points
Moments, events, hardships, decisions that challenge the main character, making life substantially harder for them.
·         POV (Point of View)
Who is best to tell this story? Whose story is this to tell?
·         Past or present tense?
·         Setting
·         Hook
What makes this story different than anything else I’ve read or come across? I craft a back cover blurb for every book I’m working on. I test it out on avid readers—see if it grabs their interest.
*I brainstorm twists, but I’m not rigid with this as they often grow roots and become more meaningful and developed as I work on the story.
Say no to the backbreaking way of novel writing. Don’t worry, novelist, I’ve got your back!