Writing Tips from Authors

It’s always fun to look around and see what writing advice authors have.  To start with I found an article about what authors who won the Nobel Prize for Literature had on writing. I found two helpful ones.

1. Make people believe in your story.
The Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982. The celebrated author of novels such as A Hundred Years of Solitude was also a journalist. When asked about the difference between journalism and writing fiction, Marquez answered thus:

‘In journalism just one fact that is false prejudices the entire work. In contrast, in fiction one single fact that is true gives legitimacy to the entire work. That’s the only difference, and it lies in the commitment of the writer. A novelist can do anything he wants so long as he makes people believe in it.’

2. Don’t focus on being done.
Of all the writing tips from authors, the advice John Steinbeck gave remains some of the best. In the Fall 1975 issue of The Paris Review (excerpted by The Atlantic here), Steinbeck wrote:

‘Abandon the idea that you are ever going to finish. Lose track of the 400 pages and write just one page for each day, it helps. Then when it gets finished, you are always surprised.’

Source: 8 Writing Tips from Authors Who Won the Nobel

I decided to keep looking and found a few more that are ones I find extremely helpful to my situation. They are as follows:

Protect the time and space in which you write. Keep everybody away from it, even the people who are most important to you.” — Zadie Smith

“Always carry a note-book. And I mean always. The short-term memory only retains information for three minutes; unless it is committed to paper you can lose an idea for ever.” — Will Self

Be your own editor/critic. Sympathetic but merciless!” — Joyce Carol Oates

“The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.” — Neil Gaiman

“Work on a computer that is disconnected from the internet.” — Zadie Smith

“The nearest I have to a rule is a Post-it on the wall in front of my desk saying ‘Faire et se taire’ (Flaubert), which I translate for myself as ‘Shut up and get on with it.’” — Helen Simpson

Source: 20 Writing Tips from 12 Fiction Authors

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What Did You Call Me?

Have you heard of these authors?

  • Robert Galbraith
  • J.D. Robb
  • Anne Rampling
  • Richard Bachman

They are all authors you know well, but you can’t place their names. That’s because the list above gives the pseudonyms or pen names for very famous writers.

Robert Galbraith is J.K. Rowling.
J.D. is Nora Roberts.
Anne Rampling is Anne Rice.
Richard Bachman is Stephen King.

Pseudonym is derived from the Greek word pseudonymon which literally means false name. They are used to conceal one’s identify in many walks of life from business to criminal activity to fashion or sports, literature, religion, acting, etc. You can probably list a few you know right off hand.

Here’s a quick list I compiled. The person’s legal name is in parentheses. Source

Al Capone (Alphonse Gabriel Capone)
Babe Ruth (George Herman Ruth, Jr.)
Billy the Kid (William H. Bonney; born William Henry McCarty, Jr.)
Butch Cassidy (Robert LeRoy Parker)
Caligula (Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus)
Coco Chanel (Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel)
Elizabeth Arden (Florence Nightingale Graham)
Estée Lauder (Josephine Esther Mentzer)
Kirk Douglas (Issur Danielovitch)
Malcolm X (Malcolm Little)
Mother Jones (Mary Harris Jones)
Mother Teresa (Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu)
Prince (Prince Rogers Nelson)
Rocky Marciano (Rocco Francis Marchegiano)
Shirley MacLaine (Shirley MacLean Beaty)
Sugar Ray Leonard (Ray Charles Leonard)
Sugar Ray Robinson (Walker Smith Jr.)
The Sundance Kid (Harry Alonzo Longabaugh)

So Why Use a Pseudonym?
Your name doesn’t fit the genre. Particularly in romance or science fiction, you may consider using an abbreviated name or something that doesn’t draw attention to your true identity. If you want to write erotica, this is true as well.

You want to conceal your real identity. When I started writing paranormal fantasy and the majority of my stories were about vampires, I elected to create a pseudonym. I wanted to be able to promote and discuss my books without posting anything about it on my social media pages. My family and friends have an idea of how weird I am, but they don’t know the overall range I bounce around in. 😛 Thus Ally Thomas was born. (In addition to a few other pseudonyms I write under.)

Your name is too hard to pronounce or spell. Before I married, my maiden name was difficult to spell. It was so bad, I had to create a story to go along with it to show how to put the name together.

You’ve been given a truly bad name to start with. Sometimes our parents don’t realize what they are doing with they give us an odd or unique first name or we happen to have an unusual family name. I happen to know one friend who named her first some after a demon and I’m not talking about the kid from the movie, The Omen.

You want to expand into other genres. It’s not really a well-known fact, but many male authors write romance or erotica. You wouldn’t guess that because they don’t use their legal names or a male pseudonym.

Five Things Never Put in Writing

If you work in an office and send emails throughout the day, you may have an idea of what to include in an email and what to leave out. You may notice that people may say things over the phone that they would not put in writing. At the same time, you may document things in an email you want to be sure the other person can read and acknowledge.

It’s an interesting shift in our society to see how we subtlety use these forms of communication both professionally and personally.

That’s why I thought I’d research briefly what businesses suggest to never, ever put in writing.  As a rule of thumb, I would think this goes for personal emails or online chat and text as well.

1. Criticism, even in jest, of any person you know at your business or in your life. If you can’t stand someone you work with or have issues with your mother-in-law, tell your cat — don’t send an email message about it! You may accidentally sent it to THAT person!

2. Your romantic thoughts or fantasies about anyone — whether they work with you or not. Try not to even write it down in your journal unless you plan on burning it before you kick the bucket. (I plan on having a very large bonfire when the time comes.)

3. Gossip in any form or fashion. Here’s a great article to read – How to Avoid Gossiping. Remember the Golden Rule? Think how hurtful it is if you’re on the receiving end of that gossip.

4. Jokes or humorous stories that someone may consider to be inappropriate or demeaning to another toward any group of people. Can we say sexual harassment? Take a look at Title VII of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964. Acts, not act. There’s more than one that is part of the federal law.  Here it is in a nutshell –

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a federal law that prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, and religion. It generally applies to employers with 15 or more employees, including federal, state, and local governments.

This is also a reminder to anyone who puts up with a lot of s**t from co-workers or bosses when it comes to the above items.  There’s a law against it. You have rights too!

5. Discussion of illegal activities. If you’ve flipped out and kidnapped your boss or mother-in-law, it’s probably not a good idea – it’s certainly not a good idea – to go on aol chat and share that with your online friends or post a photo on Facebook of your person tied up in the basement.  Best plan? Just don’t do that.

Stay safe out there and be kind to one another, especially your cat!

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/lizryan/2018/01/29/ten-things-never-ever-to-put-in-writing/#30f7b474264a

Weekend Writing – 3 Steps

Who’s writing this weekend? If you’re like me, you likely have just a few hours or minutes – here and there – through the week to write. Having a full-time job is annoying sometimes, but it does pay the bills. When the writing is paying the bills full-time, then we can let the job go. Right?

Until then…

So the plan this weekend is to get some writing done. The project I started a few weeks ago is still going, but slowly. I’ve gone from having 0 words on the page to having over 5,000. That may not sound like much. Of course, it’s not the length of a full novel, but it’s a start. Also it’s a good start for me considering in the past couple of years, I write out an idea and after getting 2,300 words written, the idea sort of falls apart.

That’s why…

I’ve decided to get organized. I always thought since I had to be very organized with my full-time job, I could pull back from that with my writing. I could simply just sit down and write. In the beginning, that did work for me. But now I feel like it’s more complicated than that. Or it really needs to be more thought out and planned.

If I want to think of my fiction writing being a full-time job some day, now’s the time to start treating it like a full-time job.

Step 1 – Plan it out…

Over the past two weeks, I’ve been thinking a lot about my story while I commute to work. It’s helped me to summarize in my head what I want to write about the next time I sit down at the computer. It can be one simple scene or an idea for the overall plot.

I’ve always dreaded looking at the blank page when I sit down to write. Now with having an idea already planned about what I want to get done in the 30 minutes or an hour I have, I can actually do that. Remember thinking is a lot like planning. If jotting out your ideas on paper first helps you formalize your plan for what you want to write, that can work too.

Step 2 – Keep writing and planning…

 

When I started this experiment, I thought I needed to write every chance I got. I’m learning that it’s a good option to give myself a brief break as well. I’ll write for about 30 minutes in the morning. Then at lunch I’ll take my journal with me and write 10 or 15 minutes as well. Having a set day each week to write a blog here has helped too.

Since we live in a society that keeps us over-saturated with information, I have found that I need the break to just think. I’m trying to get better about not checking my email or social media as much on my phone, and instead devote that time to brainstorming about my story. I’ll email myself a scene idea or string of dialogue I want to use the next I write.

Step 3 – Be patient with your progress…

As I’ve mentioned recently, I tend to be impatient with what I dream of doing and what I end of doing. I regret not been more prolific the past couple of years, but that’s not going to help me now.

Instead I’m being patient with myself, doing something each day or every other day that gets me closer to my dreams and my goals.

Keep Writing, everyone!

How to Get Back Into Writing – 3 Steps

How do we get back into writing once we’ve lost our place? Do we just sit down and write? If it was that easy, I think we all would write. We’d write 3 or 4 books each month. We’d come up with an idea on Monday, sit down Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, etc., and write 20,000 words each day. Then voila by the end of the week, we would have a book written.

But life isn’t like that. Even in the movies, writers struggle with writing. So let’s say we don’t know what we want to write about. We don’t have the book idea flushed out just yet. Maybe we took a year off for whatever reason and we can’t get back into the groove of writing. Can we still get back to writing?

I think we can. If you’re game for this experiment I’m going to jump into, then let’s start with these steps. Remember we don’t have our book idea yet, we just want to put words on the page.

Step 1: Get Out of Your Head

Being a writer, I think I have the tendency to let the voices in my head read me the riot attack. I let self-doubt freeze me into a position of immobility. I certainly let my full-time job keep me preoccupied with tasks. Then home life takes over when I walk in the door at the end of the day, and in just a few hours my day is over.

But I’m learning that listening to self-doubt won’t solve anything, forgetting to save some time just for myself won’t make me a happy person, and working on the weekends will drain my spirit. It certainly won’t put words on the page, so that’s my first step, getting out of my head.

The Approach:

  • Envision what it was like to write – What process did I like most? Creating the book cover, editing a paragraph, dreaming up a scene, holding that finished paperback in hand?
  • Revisit a favorite place where I enjoyed writing – A coffee shop or favorite restaurant with a quiet table.
  • Find a place at home that could work as a writing spot or studio – Without really meaning to, I created a spot on our patio perfect for writing. Surrounded by plants I planted last summer, I’ve turned our patio into my summer writing spot.
  • Tell the Voices to Shut Up – When self-doubt brings up some lame excuse for not writing or for not planning your time writing, tell him or her to shut up.

Step 2: Plan a Paragraph
Getting back into writing is a lot like exercising. If you haven’t walked 3 miles recently or ever, is it really a good idea to go outside and hike off into the hills? Probably not. Same with writing. For me, I can’t sit down and write 10,000 words in one sitting. I’d love to be able to do that, but I know I just can’t.

The Approach:

  • Set a Limit and Plan Small – The act of writing is getting your brain used to thinking creatively again. This helps us shift gears and leave reality alone for an hour or so.  I’ve been practicing writing a blog post each Monday. I set a limit of 500 words to write and at least each week, I write 500 words. It may not sound like much, but let’s say I was writing on a book idea. If I wrote 500 words each week for two months, I would have 4,000 words written at the end of those 8 weeks. That’s more than what I had two months ago. Right?
  • Write Anything – Let’s say we don’t have the book idea formalized yet. It’s hard enough to get our brains into writing again. Let’s not worry about the book ideas for now. Just write. Write anything you want. Dialogue. A scene you think about over and over. What you’d do if you won the lottery. I like to re-write movie endings. After watching a movie, I like to scratch out on anything I can find handy to write on what would have happened if this had happened instead.

Step 3: Find 15 Minutes
Keep writing. If you’re like me, you spend 8 hours at work and probably at least an hour driving to and from work. Finding time to write can be challenging. That’s why I’m on an active mission to search for ways to find 15 minutes to write.

The Approach:

  • Get Tasks Done the Night Before – Make your lunch the night before lunch. Take your shower. Lay out your cloths. Do anything you can the night before work, so you’ll have 15 minutes in the morning with your coffee to write.
  • Maximize Your Lunch Hour – If you have an hour for lunch, take 15 minutes to eat your lunch in one of the nearby break rooms. The remaining 30-45 minutes you can spend writing, plotting your next scene, or creating a blog article.
  • Daydream & Drive – Commuting can be a stressful task you have to go through daily. If you can safely do it, think through your thoughts. Plan out a few paragraphs. Record those thoughts or a few key sentences with an audio recorder to listen to later. Most smartphones have a video memo feature now.

I’m going to take my advice this week:

  1. Get Out of Your Head
  2. Plan the Paragraph
  3. Find 15 Minutes

Let’s see where we are next Monday with our writing.

Small Disclaimer!
Please note this is a path I’m volunteering as a way to get back into writing. It may not work for everyone. Whatever course you are on, keep at it! Just keep writing.

Share your thoughts and approach that has worked for you in a comment as well. I’d love to hear from you and Happy Writing!

Small Space Living Anniversary

A year ago this month, I moved from a 2,000 square foot house into a 900 square foot apartment with my hubby. The decision finally came when our two income paychecks became one, and a small one at that. Downsizing became our best option and selling our lovely home became a necessity.

Thus, our small space living experiment began. Never in a million years would I have expected to have to change my life so much or that it would take a toll on me mentally and creatively. My last book was released three years ago and since then I’ve written a few story ideas and a couple of blog articles. And that’s about it. Thankfully, that is about to change.

But what do we go through when we have to “downsize” let’s say.

  • Do we have to throw away a lot of stuff we never used in the first place? Stuff that just sat in various rooms or closets, waiting to be noticed? Yes
  • Do we have to make hard decisions about what we will keep and what we will give away, or what we can sell for an extra buck? What we will have space for and what we won’t? Yes
  • Do we have to let go of all the clutter, the collections, and the “I’ll use that some day” items of 10+ years and re-evaluate what really matters and what doesn’t? Yes
  • Do we have to have to get our priorities straight and basically just start over? Absolutely

What happens to us when or if we make it to the other side of sanity?

In my case, I gave away a ton of stuff, sold the majority of my book collection to make a fast buck for moving expenses, and pawned almost all of my expensive camera equipment. I stored many items I’ll have to go through in the next few years at a storage facility and moved only those things that I needed for immediate, daily living into our small apartment. I rescued a few apartment cats last Spring because that’s a trait of mine that will never die, and I started a plant collection on our tiny patio that I like to call my Patio Garden.

What did I learn after all of it was said and done?

I learned that even though I have a personality that likes to collect and hold on to memorabilia, I have to focus on living in the present. I can’t hold on to things someday I’ll use or make scrapbooks of to remember. I can keep a few things, but not everything.

Most importantly, I learned that all the stuff that is hanging out now in my small closet, under our queen-size bed, on a few bookshelves, and tucked away in a few desk drawers means nothing compared to my relationship with my hubby, my family, and my furry babies. We’ll that’s enough of that.

Who’s ready to start writing?

Happy Monday!

 

 

 

 

Still Alive

Against popular rumors, I’m still alive and kicking.  After releasing Zombies Unleashed (The Vampire from Hell Part 6), I took a full-time job that drained my time and creative resources. Of course there is no excuse that I should disappear for over a year.  Don’t worry.  I’m not gone just yet.

8What’s in the Works?

Three more installments of the Vampire from Hell series are on the table.  Part 7 is in the works.

Other Series

I’m working on other series too that you may enjoy.  More to come!

Thanks again for checking in to see where I’ve been and what has been going on.

Follow Me on Wattpad & Discover More of My Writings

Join Wattpad and read my books for FREE there. Recently I’ve become more interested in Wattpad and I’m sharing my FREE ebooks there. I am also sharing (Only On Wattpad) excerpts from my other books, First draft chapters of upcoming books, and various short stories, and flash fiction. 

If you follow me on Wattpad, it will be your way to read first what I’m working on!

FOLLOW ME ON WATTPAD

Here’s my Wattpad profile. It’s free to sign up. You can immediately sign up through your Facebook or Twitter account. When a person you are following posts a story, an email is sent out to everyone (similar to WordPress here if you follow any blogs like mine). You’ll also discover tons of other authors you can follow and read their books for Free. Commenting on stories, voting, and connecting with other readers is the whole reason of this community. I’ve already met several authors and writers who have wonderful books they are sharing for free just for fans to read.

Medium_Part1

In the past few weeks, I’ve been able to recruit several new followers and I’m really excited about that. I went from 31 followers to now 69. I hope the list just continues to grow after that. Wattpad is a fun and easy way to read authors’ stories as well as meeting other people who love to write, and/or read. If you want to get started writing yourself, it’s a great place to begin. If you have any questions about Wattpad, comment on this article and ask me. I hope to see you there soon! Again here’s my Wattpad profile.

Books of mine that will be FREE in their entirety will be:

The Vampire from Hell: The Beginning – Part One 

The Vampire from Hell (Part 2) – A Vampire Among Angels

Love Begins in Hell (The Moon Journals: Part 1) 

Fanged Love: The Prequel

ALSO

Excerpts from The Vampire from Hell series are currently live. I have 6 of the 12 chapters in A Vampire on Vacation (Part 3) and the first 4 chapters of The Vampire from Hell Returns (Part 4) on Wattpad too.

MORE COMING SOON

My hope for 2014 is to use Wattpad’s platform as a way to write first drafts of various books I’m working on. For 2014, I’ll be working on Part 5 and 6 for The Vampire from Hell series, another part in the Moon Journals, and maybe a few new chapters for the Zombie Wolf and Fanged Love series.

If you want to get involved as I write and participate, sign up and Follow me on Wattpad. Again here’s my Wattpad profile. I hope to see you there soon!