Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Calling It In

Last week my husband had a terrible head cold. He had a fever, a cough tearing through his chest and enough misery to fuel a concentration camp. I begged him to call in sick to work and rest until he got better. He didn't. Instead, he got up early every morning, went to work and hung on until the weekend.
This week, I have his cold. More than anything, I just want to call in sick.  My kids still need to be sent off to school, I still have to answer e-mails, work on my book and keep my family going. My husband is my inspiration for why I can't just throw in the towel.
So what do we as writers do when writing is our work and we feel like calling it in?
Sometimes we do. Sometimes we curl up in a ball and focus on surviving. That's Okay too. You can't write anything if you're dead.
However, if you feel something, anything, good, bad, or ugly...write it down. Maybe you'll end up with a character who is sick, depressed, grieving, recovering from a drunken brawl, or whatever you're going throu. Its all fodder for the mind.
I had a kid, who was suffering from the same disease I do, diabetes. His parents wanted to get through to him and make him understand that he needed to take care of himself. The problem...they didn't understand. No one can understand something they've never been through. I wrote down some memories I had from my own struggle and sent them to him. I don't know if it helped him, but it did wonders for me. At times when I think I'm too tired, or too sick to work. I write down what it feels like. It creates story ideas, connections from physical sensations to words and helps me get better at expressing myself.
Today I'll leave a part of this piece, what I wrote about beeng a diabetic at 13. If you need a character who is sick, a teenager, or diagnosed with an incurable disease, it might help. If not, take this challenge.
Take a difficult moment from your childhood, your past, your workday, or even the last few hours and write it down as if you're interviewing a character. Really try to connect with the emotion, whatever it is good, bad, or ugly and keep it on hand for inspiration. The next time you feel like calling it on your determination to make something good of it instead.

      Save Me?!
They’re lecturing to me again. “Don’t you realize the damage you are doing to your body?”
The speeches sound like the piercing whine of my little sister when she throws a tantrum. Its just sound…annoying…but useless.
They don’t know. They don’t feel what I do. All the speeches and lectures are just adults who know everything, and nothing. “You’re going to kill yourself acting like this.”
“It just takes a little control.”
“I know it’s not easy, but in the long run you’ll thank me.”
And they wonder why I roll my eyes. All their talk about kidney damage, blindness, heart attack…blah, blah, blah. I’m thirteen. That’s not happening to me. Maybe in a billion years when I’m an adult and I have to worry about it, but not now. Right now most days are fine. Today my biggest problem is telling them my blood sugar. It’s like a test. If I pass they just want my numbers to never be high again. If I fail they get mad. My dad’s face looks like he’s the one with the high blood sugar. Mom gets this look in her eyes like the color is trying to form the words ’I told you so.”
They want me to care about what my blood sugar is doing to my body, but how can I when their panic and disappointment is the only thing hurting me.
My head hurts. I swear there is a monkey in there screaming his head off and trying to break my skull open with a jack hammer. The insulin will bring my blood sugar down and it will get better, but man I wish I could kill that monkey.
It feels  like I have steam coming out of my ears and a vise tightens around my chest when I try to breathe. I’m so thirsty I want to stand under a 400 foot waterfall and let the cold water pour through me until the dry cotton feeling in my mouth is gone. It won’t be though. No matter how much water I dump down my throat, I’m still dying of thirst. My tongue sticks to my teeth and my throat tears open every time I swallow.
I would go get another glass of water but my back and legs hurt so much I swear a live electric wire is sending burning jolts up and down my arms and legs. My back aches and I can’t curl up tight enough to make the throb go away.
I’m so tired. I hope the insulin works in the next few hours.
Good Luck and keep writing!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Do You Have To Be A Believer?

Every author seeks an audience for their work. For some the audience is wide...The World.
For some, the audience is specific...Young Adults.
We all hope to reach our target audience and then reach beyond to others who don't 'usually' read a particular genre. Today's guest post is from Author Lawrence Elliot.
Elliot's target audience for his book, Practical Proverbs For Everyday Living, is focused on Christians. Today he tells why he writes and who he hopes to reach with his book.

When writing for a Christian audience, an author can write from a perspective of encouragement, correction, inspiration, motivation, rebuke, and so forth. The book can be written from a single perspective or a mixture of perspectives. Whatever aspect the writer decides to write from, the writings should align itself with the word of God. In almost all cases the work has to be well researched. If a person is promoting the truth, what he or she has to say should be correct.  A Christian author’s message ultimate goal should be, for the readers of his or her book to become more advance in their Christian journey. Progress is what God desires in every believer. Although every believer has God in their life, we all need to learn more about his character and principles. As we learn more, we should apply what we have learned.
“Practical Proverbs for Everyday Living” was not written only for a Christian audience. It was written for anyone who wants to live a life of purpose, fulfillment and peace. Many people are not aware that while they live in a chaotic world, they can still have a life filled with joy and true success. This book has many wisdom keys to unlock the mystery of how to obtain a life full of peace, purpose and prosperity. The wisdom principles in this book are designed to help the reader navigate through life’s ups and downs, to obtain results of living victoriously.
A believer in God who reads a Christian book should have grown spiritually from that experience. The objective of a Christian book is to inform the reader that God wants you to succeed in the plan that he has for your life. In writing to a Christian audience, authors should know that no one person has all the information about God. Subsequently, his or her contributions are necessary to humanity for the advancement of the kingdom of God on this earth. Writers, especially Christian writers should know that every human being has treasure trapped inside of them. Once this principle is realized, it should be easy for a Christian writer to pour their treasure out into the world. Some people treasure is in sports, others are in singing or writing, or speaking or business or flying and the list goes on. The ratio of accomplishments is greater for non-believers than it is for believers. This should not be the case, because believers have direct contact with the creator of the universe. Subsequently, writers for a Christian audience should tap into this spiritual connection, so that they can release their God given treasure. The world is waiting on the countless releases of our treasures. When one writes to a Christian audience, they are not only writing to believers, but their writing affects non Christians as well. Whenever someone does something good to another person because of something that they read in a book, in Gods eyes, the writer is credited as well. We were placed in this world to sharpen one another. This means to help each other to become better.
In releasing my treasure by writing this book, my passion is to genuinely help people to live the abundant life as Jesus taught in the scriptures. Too often I see people from both sides of the spectrum, (saved and unsaved) living below their potential. It is my sincere desire to help people realize their potential, find their purpose for existence and live abundantly in every area of their life. God Bless You.

To find Lawrence Elliot's book, tour sites and social media links go to The World Of Ink Network and check out his tour banner and information. Look for a review of Practical Proverbs for Every Day Living coming in April.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Author Review: Jamie Hoang

Marketing on social media has always been a portion of writing I struggle with. Twitter, especially doesn't result in a lot of concrete evidence that I'm making progress. That is until...NOW!
While checking my twitter feed, I happened on a link to a book with a message; What would you do if your doctor told you you'd go blind in 6 weeks?
I immediately responded-"Been there, Done that"
I purchased the book: Blue Sun, Yellow Sky, by Jamie Hoang
Hoang's work immediately drew me in. Her story is not the struggle of a sighted person to become blind. It is the struggle each of us has when our ever changing lives surprise us and we must dig in our heels and dream a better dream.
Through Aubrey's travels with her best friend around the world, Hoang lets us see the complex, and yet at times distant worries Aubrey is avoiding. Her heart, her career, her future are always part of the journey and her friends guide and support her along the way, but Blue Sun, Yellow Sky is a poignant tale of a woman becoming. Her struggles result from a devastating diagnosis from her doctors but her life emerges from her courage, heartbreaks, and stubbornness to be more than a traditional 'blind person'
Her descriptions and character development were natural during the journey and the ending seemed more like real life to me, than a fictionalized 'Happy Ending' offered by most women's literature.
You can find Jamie Hoang's work at:Goodreads:


Barnes & Noble: 

or you can contact Jamie herself at:

Twitter: @heyjamie



To watch the book trailer go to:

HTML: <iframe width="560" height="315" src=""
frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Hailed as “One of the best technical painters of our time” by an L.A. Times critic, 27 year-old, Aubrey Johnson's work is finally gaining traction. But
as she weaves through what should be a celebration of her art, a single nagging echo of her doctor’s words refuses to stay silent—there is no cure. In
less than eight weeks Aubrey is going blind.

Traveling on a one-way ticket around the world with childhood friend Jeff Anderson, Aubrey is in complete denial. But a blindfolded game of tasting foreign
foods in China jolts her into confronting the reality of her situation. So begins her quest.

In this adult coming of age story, Aubrey struggles to make sense of her crippling diagnosis. But on her journey she finds a deeper understanding of herself
and her life—sometimes fragmented and complex, but always with relentless truth.

 By the way...Happy Birthday Jamie!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Part III: Beat The Sheet or Break The Glass

In our last two discussions about using a beat sheet or sculpting your novel into a unique container of your own, we covered the benefits and downfalls of using both approaches. Those two posts are found in the archives under the titles: Beat The Sheet or Break The Glass and Part II Beat The Sheet or Break The glass.
Today, our final discussion on the concept will cover; How?
First...let's take a look at the 15 beats on the beat sheet from Save The Cat, by Blake Snyder.

1. Opening Image (Page 3

2. Theme Stated (Page 15 

3. Set-Up (Pages 3-30

4. Catalyst (Page 36 

5. Debate (Pages 36-75

6. Break into Act Two (Page 75 

7. B Story (Page 90 

8. Fun and Games (Pages 90-165 

9. Midpoint (Page 165 

10. Bad Guys Close In (Pages 165-225 

11. All Is Lost (Page 225 

12. Dark Night of the Soul (Pages 225 

13. Break into Act Three (Page 255  

14. Finale (Pages 255-330 

15. Final Image (Page 330 
There are deeper explanations of what belongs in each beat and how to create them but its complicated and you should read the book for full understanding.
With this pattern comes predictability and often times crams a story into scenes and plot points that don't seem to support the story itself. I read a book with a great character and for the first 35 pages of the book it was really good. refer to the above list...
This is the point where the author is setting the scene, introducing the characters and getting the reader ready for the story. There is quite a bit of flexibility here.
As soon as the story needed to follow certain steps in the beat sheet though, the book became unsteady. The sequence of scenes stopped making sense. The character was doing things the story didn't want to do. The heroine went from strong and in control, to weak and needy. She got a boyfriend who had no use in the story, a masked rescuer that diminished the danger she was in, instead of increasing it, and had her playfully enjoying a school dance in the middle of running for her life. All because the beat sheet told the author to put the story in that order.
I don't know the success of this particular novel, but I know as a writer and reader, I won't buy any more of this author's work.
So...why do authors stick to the beat sheet so strictly, if it doesn't always lead to success?
Because the important occurrences in the novel are important. They just don't necessarily need to be in the order or on the page number the beat sheet demands.
If your character wants to start with a catalyst moment that flings her normal life into chaos. Let her do it.
If your dark night of the soul happens before the bad guys close in and the character readies them self for a battle like they've never faced before, let them do it. Let the story go where it wants to go, just always be aware of the characters or plot driving the story into a corner. As the story unfolds and you find yourself in the middle of something you don't know how to get your character out of, then back track. You may change one scene or add a single character to a scene and suddenly you have the way out. The story needs to begin fluid, in motion and unorganized to some extent while you get it to the point where it has satisfied its telling. A lot of writers don't like to do this because its months worth of work that may be deleted, forgotten or tossed out during revisions. However, if you are patient and nurturing of your work, learning all the places the story could have gone but won't go, makes it the perfect story by the time you're there.
I have only my own experiences to illustrate this to me. My first novel was about 20 K longer but was edited down to fit the publication criteria. Maybe it was too wordy or it took side trails it shouldn't have. Publication was fast and maybe it just wanted something different. My second novel took two years to finish. I went down roads that never appear in the finished work. I delved into background scenes that will never be seen, but developed the character in the final book.I've been letting my urban fantasy try to tell me where it wants to go for almost five years now. Every time I attempt to cram it into some kind of pattern, it rebels. Hence the reason its taking so long.
Research and work on figuring out how to be a better writer has taught me so much about how to be a better story teller. I refer to the beat sheet when my story stalls, but only to find the road map for where it wants to go next. Not to follow the pattern. Shattering the traditional wine glass to craft my own container has brought my stories to life in my own thoughts a little more each day I learn. I hope my next novel will show my reader, writer and family fans that. Mostly I hope to let you all enjoy the wine, not talk about drinking it from the wrong glass.
In the meantime, I'll keep working and you keep writing!