How many have you been away from your writing life for a while? The Covid-19 shut down shop for more than just regular jobs across the world. It took it’s toll on writing as well. So how do we get back to where we were?
Draw Up a New Schedule.
Are you a schedule person? I am. I love to have lists of things to do on my list. I make one for my writing as well as chores for the home and outside. Your regular job might require a list to help you sort out where to begin there as well. You might have fallen out of routine and a quick adjustment will square you away.
Schedules help us to see things. We can glance at them and organize things for the better. What’s more, coming up with a plan gives us a vision on where to go. That instantly improves my mood. I feel empowered. Ready to go at things that way. I wish I could say I worked this way since youth but no, took me a while to even try the lists. Now, I won’t go back to the disorganized way of living I did years ago.
Try a Timer or a Certain Number of Words.
Set the timer for five minutes. Keep the word count realistic. You’re not going to be able to do five thousand when you can barely string two sentences together at first. Let yourself build up each time you write. That way you don’t burn yourself out or aggravate yourself to the point-of-no-return. Each session should start with a warmup and proceed to the real investment of your time. Doing things this way will give you a path to climb.
While you’re climbing, don’t forget to celebrate your small successes. Each little toe-up matters. No one goes to the top overnight. You work your way there day-by-day. When you do reach the top level, you’ll be glad you put in the time because it doesn’t end there. You always need to keep reaching higher, proving to yourself you can do this.
Form Good Work Habits.
If you want something, you put in the time. However, unless you only want to write one book in your life, you’re going to have to keep at it. Over and over, you’ll need to challenge yourself. Don’t keep on the same path with each story but expand to something new, something brighter. If you push yourself to keep on going ahead, your career will be amazing and satisfying.
It’s those that get stuck in the rut of writing the same thing over and over that fall by the wayside. Now, I’m not saying write a science fiction one book and a romance the next. You can vary your genre but try to stick to one for at least three to five books before spinning to the next. This will build your knowledge of that particular genre and give you a boost when you go to another.
Beyond that, have fun. Experiment. There’s a whole lot of world out there to explore and even more in your imagination. Always be trying to do better than you have previously, that’ll give you good stock to work with. Work with others when given the opportunity. Co-authoring can be fun. Keep your integrity. Don’t compromise who you are. Now, that’s not saying, you don’t listen to the advice of your editors. By all means, learn from them. There will be times you agree and times you disagree. It’s all part of the growing. Good luck.
Writerly Things 6/22/2020: Does War Bring Out the Best in Our Characters?
You’ve seem numerous battle scenes. Men and women walking toward their doom or into victory. The question is: does war bring out the best in our characters?
Does It Make Them Stronger Individuals?
For some perhaps. Others, it makes cowards of. The cowards seem to slink off in the midst of every battle but still bray about their prowess to any who would listen. Now, I’m not saying when one of the armies about to clash realizes their outnumbered and to save their people, they retreat and regroup for another day. But when a person repeatedly uses others as shields to get away for the sake of their own lives, that shows cowardice.
To become stronger, the person must face their fate and fight to survive it. These become heroes. Legends. It’s what makes kingdoms stronger. Having a brave warrior or king who won’t back down. With few to support them at times, they stand against the darkness. Shield up, they wait for the fight to come to them and then give it their all.
Does It Make Them Better Heroes?
Heroes defend. They don’t hide. They press into battles with odds against them. Knowing their people will perish if they fail. Their world might cease to exist. They do everything in their power to win. Sometimes they stumble, a lot of times, they fall. But even on their knees, they do not yield. They live to fight another day.
What brings them back when life is ebbing from their bones? Their loved ones. Their friends. Hope. A dream. Give a hero a cause and he will rush into battle despite the cost. Or because of the cost not to do so. They care. Sometimes they gamble. At times, they plead. Never do they surrender.
Does It Break or Support Their Lives?
Think of The Last Kingdom. Uthred fights on. Even with his wife gone and his children hostage. He’s lost everything. Again and again. Still, he stands. He rushes into battle. And he saves for the good of all. Does he get honor in return? Lands and riches? Not from his King. Time after time, he loses. He is forced into giving his oath to one who never rewards him. A good man would lose hope. He does not.
In LOTR, Aragorn is a man filled with shame over what his father did. He learns throughout his journey that he does not need to fill those shoes. He can make his own path. Take back the sword and overcome the darkness that pierces the kingdom. He brings honor and hope to all even in the face of sure defeat. When he wins, so much the better for who he becomes.
So Then, Why Not Bring the Battle to Your Character? Let Them Show Their Stuff?
You might be surprised at the methods they will come up with to win. The distance they will go to save. And the hope they will inspire in those around them. Why do you think the sidekicks exist? To show the heroes spirit. To show what they’re capable of. To make a mark of their own.
Writerly Things 6/8/2020: Your Hand Upon This Door
Since I was young, I’ve always had the vision of the world’s people as one. That’s why I try to write stories with diverse populations. We can always walk toward a better world, a better option. Peace for women and men. Since the beginning of time, we’ve always fought against some authority. At times we were wrong. Others, we were right. Some fell along the way, others rose up. We fought against injustice, crimes, and let’s face it, brokenness.
Today’s world is no different. There are bullies. Heroes. And those just trying to survive. Only the bullies and heroes tend to get mentioned. Regular folks just live their lives. Pushing through the heartbreak, horror, and insignificance that we often find from those with power and wealth. There are amazing people out there who’ve faced death, destruction, and personal attacks and find a way to come back from that.
Should we turn our heads aside? Ignore what has been done? Courts were supposed to give us a fair chance to tell our side but that doesn’t always happen. The poor can’t afford very good attorneys. And those in power know it. They depend on it. It is their way of keeping the match burning. We die out and another generation comes of age to take on what has gone before. Except the cycle repeats.
We need to listen to the anguish, the pleading for a better way of life. We need to stand together and not allow our voices to thin out.
Writerly Things 5/25/2020: How Chores are Like Writing
Everyday, we do things we like to and things we don’t like to. Most of the “don’t like to” falls under the category of chores. I know there are those obsessed with their lawns (like my neighbor next door). He mows continuously even on days when it rains. Living out in the country, I suppose I take a more relaxed approach to chores, lol. To be truthful, I’ve always put off things if I can get away with it.
How is This Like Writing?
When you first start a new project, you’re excited, on fire with the idea. As you go along, things start to wane, and you find yourself avoiding the writing chair. Sometimes it’s because you know you took a wrong turn in the story somewhere. Sometimes, it’s just that you don’t want to put the work in. But putting the work in is a must. The more you practice, the better the chances are that you’ll get published.
I hate to mow but the grass looks so much better when it’s done. Putting off the work doesn’t help us. In fact, it makes it harder in the end. When the grass is too tall, the mower stalls. And cutting the lawn is extremely aggravating. On the one hand, I’d like to relax on the swing set but then trouble steps in outdoors. Or all over the place as many things add up.
Doing it When it’s Manageable.
That’s the secret to keeping up with things. Not waiting. Simply, grinding through. If you’re having trouble getting to the next point, re-read what you have (or a portion of what you have, namely the last chapter to get your mind set on where you’re going) and then proceed. Sometimes a simple rereading of the material will strike up a new idea or a solution to where you’re at. Once you get going again, check your guidelines of your story and make sure you’re where you want to be. Unless the new idea has opened a new route that fits it and you hadn’t thought about it previously. If it works into the story, go ahead. If it warps the story beyond recognition, stop and consider what you’re trying to tell the reader. Is this the story you want to pursue?
The point is: when you chip away at the story daily, you’re going to see the whole picture. Where you’re going, where you’ve been. You’ll put all the angles to the test and figure out if it’s the direction you want to take. If you keep putting it off, it’ll go nowhere, and you’ll end up with a whole lot of weeds. Take care of what you can today and tomorrow will be easier to face.
But just when we think we are in the midst of a Stephen King nightmare, along comes a hero, a savior, a defender of all that is good and decent and pure: the praying mantis!
How appropriate that the vanquisher of a grotesque insect villain should turn out to be an insect of another sort—one that humbly supplicates to the Creator before chomping the brains of its adversary.”
“Surely I am not the only soul who still works with a typewriter,” the correspondent wrote. “Possibly it’s because I’m eighty-eight, but don’t accuse me of being completely out of touch.”
Well, no. Not exactly. It has little to do with age. After all, I just finished reading William Zinsser’s lovely memoir, Writing Places, published in his eighties, in which he describes the limits of his technological advancement while still maintaining a prolific output in the age of computers, blogs, websites, and ebooks.
One can be a Luddite without being a lunkhead.
Luddite is a term borrowed from early 19th-century English workmen who destroyed laborsaving machinery as a protest. Today the word is used to describe someone who is generally opposed or resistant to new technologies.”
During quarantine, my family pushed pause on activities and the daily grind. We found some comfort in the slower pace of life, dealing with the negative impact as best as we could. As many parts of the world begin reopening, let’s not forget the writing we have accomplished so far.
As always, I am inspired by history. There have been other pandemics, and great works have come from them.
I doubted my ability to even get out of bed this morning, but I made it around 7:00. I think the Woodford Reserve helped last night, because I slept like a baby.
Frankie was a little shit most of the morning. She’s really smart and calculates things. She wanted Otto to play outside with her, but he’s figured out her nonsense. She spots an imaginary squirrel, then paws the door with urgency. She runs out all excited, but he watches from the doorway.
Now she’s added me to her game. It was cold, but I’d let her out enough times that I left the door open so she could come and go. She started coming to me in a lather. She stomps her front feet back and forth, makes a Chewbacca noise, then runs to the door… but the door is open.”
2. https://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/5-tips-to-help-you-find-a-blog-topic/ “Finding a blog topic is always a struggle for me. I’m lucky to get to share the writing of this blog with my fellow Books & Such agents, so I don’t need a new topic as frequently. I know many of you run your own blogs and you need to post multiple times each week. I’ve found a few methods that help me to come up with topics and maybe these will help you, too.
1) Watch on loops and in groups, like ACFW, a Facebook writing group, or your critique group, for common questions or concerns that other writers are having. Use these topics and questions to spark a post.
2) Get personal. Connect something in your life to publishing or to your books. A lot of readers would love to hear little details about their favorite authors so even if the personal story you are sharing doesn’t have much application to your story, it might still be a good idea to share it. (Just be careful to be safe with the details you are putting online.)”
5. https://acoup.blog/2020/05/22/collections-the-battle-of-helms-deep-part-iv-men-of-rohan/ “This is the fourth part of a series taking a historian’s look at the Battle of Helm’s Deep (I, II, III) from both J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Two Towers (1954) and Peter Jackson’s 2002 film of the same name. In the last part, we looked in some depth at the organization of the host of Saruman and the seeds of ill-preparation, leadership and cohesion which will bloom as poor performance in the fortress assault at the Hornburg. This week, we’re going to keep that approach going, but turn our lidless eye on the army of Rohan: how is this army organized and what makes it function? How does it cohere? Why is it able to stick together, when Saruman’s more imposing army falls apart?
As before, if you like what you are reading here, please share it; if you really like it, you can support me on Patreon. And if you want updates whenever a new post appears, you can click below for email updates or follow me on twitter (@BretDevereaux) for updates as to new posts as well as my occasional ancient history, foreign policy or military history musings.”
Some Things More Serious:
1. https://writershelpingwriters.net/2020/05/conflict-thesaurus-running-out-of-critical-supplies/ “Conflict is very often the magic sauce for generating tension and turning a ho-hum story into one that rivets readers. As such, every scene should contain a struggle of some kind. Maybe it’s an internal tug-of-war having to do with difficult decisions, morals, or temptations. Or it possibly could come from an external source—other characters, unfortunate circumstances, or the force of nature itself.
It’s our hope that this thesaurus will help you come up with meaningful and fitting conflict options for your stories. Think about what your character wants and how best to block them, then choose a source of conflict that will ramp up the tension in each scene.”
If you’d like to take a look back at the previous posts in this series, please click on the links at the end of this post.
So, here’s Part Nine: An overview of your KDP Dashboard.
So, after my last post ( HERE), you now have a KDP account set up. Today, we’re taking a look at what your KDP dashboard looks like, and what the different options offer. Below is an image of your dashboard area >”
It was a wonderful experience and we learned that over the last twenty years, the park has cared for and raised more than forty elephants. These animals cared for by the park include relocated animals, orphaned calves, elephants rescued from culls and ex-circus animals. Some remain long term and become part of the resident herd, while others are eventually moved to other reserves and facilities in the Western and Eastern Cape. The decision as to whether to keep an animal at the park permanently or find another good home for it depends on the animal’s personality, bonds with other animals and welfare needs.
You can find out more about the Knysna Elephant Park here:”
They are summoned to a cryptic meeting with a secret society, where they meet other people with enhanced skills. It turns out someone, or something, has been tampering with the world’s vaccine supply. The goal doesn’t appear to be political or financial, but biblical pestilence.
Can this group of loners come together in time to make a difference when even the proper authorities are obstacles?
Check out Viral Blues, for your dose of paranormal adventure, with a strong sample of dark humor. And in recent superhero style, don’t miss the secret last chapter after the back material.”
Sammy “the butcher” Rafferty has long since kissed his playing days goodbye. Never kicking a competitive ball again was a hard pill to swallow and he’s not ready for his managerial career to come to an untimely end. The thought of forever being shut out of football makes his heart sink and feet itch.
There isn’t any choice. The cards have been dealt and you have to play the hand you’re given. Sammy grits his teeth and gets on with it. Life settles into monotony and offers only boredom and frustration …until he comes across an old football ground nestled in the back of beyond.
He can almost hear the roar of the crowd as he parks at the gates of the deserted Burntbridge Palmers, a decaying stadium on the outskirts of Bledbrooke Town. The club that won’t die could be just the place for a man who still has a gleam in his eye. After all, they’re both ghosts that won’t go away.”
With Luka in the Historian’s custody and the clock ticking down on his life, Audra only has one impossible chance: find and kill the Historian and end the centuries-old war between the Progeny and Scions at last—all while running from the law and struggling to control her growing powers.
With the help of a heretic monk and her Progeny friends Claudia, Piotrek, and Jester, Audra will risk all she holds dear in a final bid to save them all and put her powers to the ultimate test. Love, action, and stunning revelation reign in this thrilling conclusion to The Progeny.”
Monty’s epic grand tour may be over, but now that he and Percy are finally a couple, he realizes there is something more nerve-wracking than being chased across Europe: getting together with the person you love.
Will the romantic allure of Santorini make his first time with Percy magical, or will all the anticipation and build-up completely spoil the mood?”
Writerly Things 4/20/2020: Should You Pass on Real-Life Events in Your Novel or Include Them to Display Realism in your Stories?
Do you add real-life events to your stories as you go along, and they occur or do you just skip as though they never happened? Once upon a time, as a young writer, I included 9/11 events in my book. I thought it would pull readers into the story more to view the events through the characters’ pov and who knows? It might have but that’s a book I set aside. I realized the whole series needed some work.
I’ve noticed in recent releases though, there’s a lot about viruses or self-isolating and it’s just weird to me. How could they have known? Did they write that in before they published? Do the events just shadow what we’re going through?
I remember as I wrote about 9/11, it helped me to grief through the feelings at the time after the fact. I’m not sure I would keep that scene in the book now though as it kind of slices through the storyline replacing it with a story behind the story. I wonder if authors who are writing these events now feel the same or as I mentioned they were just eerie coincidences that happened in their stories?
How about you? Have you included any COVID-19 references in your books? Was it before the plague happened or as an after-fact? Which do you as a reader find more effective? Do you like to have such instances included in a storyline or would you rather it be passed by?
I’ve seen on some blogs that a few authors are rewriting their books to include the virus, and some aren’t. Which camp would you prefer to be in? Do you think it will date the book?
Keeping Up to Date with History.
Perhaps you feel, it should be told because hey, it happened. A way to give the reader an insight to how things were. The problem, I see, personally is, we’re NOT through this yet. We don’t know what causes it, how it’s spread, even if they’ll be a cure for it. Without those facts, I wonder if the references could be done justice.
How can we explain something we simply don’t know enough about yet? It’d be like trying to predict the outcome of an ongoing war. You might get lucky and pick the winning side but what if you don’t? There are just too many variables to get wrong.
I Get it. It’s an Emotional Topic.
We’re all dealing with this on a daily basis. How could our characters not get a vibe off it too? But self-isolating for us, should be different for them. They may or may not live in the same world. Their environment might be completely different and therefore the same type of virus wouldn’t happen for them. Maybe they’re a pre-tech society. Maybe they’re set in the future. Each different perspective. Robots might take care of things in the future. That doesn’t mean humans wouldn’t be the disease, but they might come in less contact with one another. In the past, maybe the conditions weren’t right for this sort of happening.
So many choices. So many instances. Things could be ripe for a virus but what if they’re not? We could introduce threads that simply don’t work for the storyline. Maybe, if you’re in a future world of today, you could mention the virus in passing. Compare it to something happening in that world then. Like the death count was comparable to the COVID-19 Virus of 2020. Just a brief mention, but it gets the point across.
Where do you stand on the choices? Have a great week, take care, and God bless!