A to Z Blogging Challenge: Signing Off
A to Z Blog Challenge / April 22, 2016

I’ll be honest with you: when I first started this challenge, I didn’t expect to make it past the first week. I’m really happy that I did as many posts as I did. But the time has come for me to admit that blogging daily takes too much time away from other things I need to do, like writing and editing. I’m going to try doing this blog on Mondays and Thursdays from now on, because I enjoy it. I’m not sure yet what I will write about, but I always find something. Until then, thank you to all the amazing new followers and especially to those who took the time to comment. Now that I’m not obsessing with getting in two blog posts a day, I hope to catch up with all of you. A to Z Blogging Admins, this is me, signing out. 🙂

A to Z Blogging Challenge: Quirks
A to Z Blog Challenge / April 20, 2016

So, I finally missed a post yesterday. Considering my usual track record (and the heavy workout my eyes got over the weekend), I’m happy that I waited until pee… er, P, to miss one. Consistency isn’t one of my strong suits. That brings me to today’s post: quirks. Whether it’s as a Writer or as a Character, quirks matter. They’re what makes a person unique. There are quirks that make a character fun and there are quirks that make a character annoying. I try to keep my characters right on the edge, like Next Door Neighbor Kid in The Annals of Bobian: Then Next Door Neighbor Kid showed up. Next Door Neighbor Kid was three or four or some other young age that The Bobian didn’t really remember and didn’t at all understand. Next Door Neighbor Kid was annoying in a way that made The Bobian want to practice acts of violence that would get him grounded. Next Door Neighbor Kid idolized The Bobian and followed him around whenever The Bobian didn’t find a way to stop him. The sandbox was technically part of the community play area, so he couldn’t tell Next Door Neighbor Kid not to play there….

A to Z Blogging Challenge: Ocular Impairment. Do Not Adjust Your Station
A to Z Blog Challenge / April 18, 2016

Yesterday was the first time since April started that I wrote no words. Zero. Zilch. Zip. Less than one. This is okay. I’ve been pretty hardcore about getting in my one poem a day and not missing any days of the blogging challenge. Yesterday, I missed my poem, but I’m pretty sure no one else will miss my attempt at a Petrarchian sonnet. On Friday, I had an event that challenged me to move 5k (walk/run) and write 5k. I got the words in, but it was a hectic day and I abused my eyes.  I also did it on four hours of sleep. On Saturday, I got to play host and I was a guest at a thirteen-hour online event. On three hours of sleep. I took one 30-minute nap, one 15-minute Starbucks run, and a quick dash to the mailbox. Beyond that, I was in front of a computer all day. Last night I tried to get a book cover finished, do a social media graphic, and write up a short story before I got to my poem for the day. I didn’t finish. By the time I got through my social media graphic, my eyes were burning and…

A to Z Blogging Challenge: No. Nope. Nyet. Nuh-uh.
A to Z Blog Challenge / April 16, 2016

There is a time when you just need to say: NO! Today is going to be one of those times. I’ve been doing relatively well keeping up on this challenge (I hate doing anything on a daily basis, so it’s been a challenge). Today, however, I am spending all day at an online event and I just can’t even. There will be days you can’t even either… or that you shouldn’t even. People are always going to want your time (or money or skills) and you only have so much. You have to know where your priorities are so you can figure out when to say “yes”, when to say “no”, and when to say “maybe later”. Blogging regularly is pretty low on my priority list, so it’s getting a “no” today. Supporting my friends for promotional events is pretty high and I didn’t even have to think about it. Sleep is important, but I can get by for one day, so I told sleep “maybe later”. Getting in the habit of labeling things this way will keep you happier, healthier, and more able to do the things you really want to do. What things do you need to say…

A to Z Blogging Challenge: Mapping It Out
A to Z Blog Challenge / April 15, 2016

Do you map things out? I’m not referring to making a map like a Tolkien book (and please don’t get me started on how geologically impossible Tolkien’s maps are in the first place). I mean, do you map out your writing journey? First, do you map out your book? Of course not, you say. I’m a pantser. You can be a pantser (or at least a plantser) and still have a map. Depending on the genre and style you’re writing in, your book needs certain checkpoints. Some people manage to get them automatically, but I find having the little checkpoints means I don’t have to stop to think about it (which means I spend more time writing). For my current WIP, I’m using “The Hero’s Journey“. It’s can also be called the three-act character arc, although I see it as four acts. Here are the main checkpoints: The starting point/ real world/ normal world: introduce things as they currently are and always have been The inciting moment/ call to adventure: something happens that gives the protagonist a kick in the pants (but he’ll refuse the call) Major plot point/ personal test/ baddie #1: the protagonist gets another kick in the…

A to Z Blogging Challenge: Losing My Motivation
A to Z Blog Challenge / April 14, 2016

I write parody songs. I have quite a few in my wheelhouse, in fact. Today, since I am still lacking the motivation to write anything truly useful, I thought I’d at least spawn an Ear Worm. Ohhh, to write is bigger It’s bigger than myself And it’s not easy To show and to not tell it And I want to cry Oh no, I’ve failed too much Have I failed enough? That’s me with the laptop That’s me on the internet Losing motivation Trying to keep my plot intact And I don’t know if I can do it Oh no, I’ve played too much I haven’t played enough. I thought I could write forever I thought I could write bestsellers I thought my words could make men cry. Every chapter Of every single scene I’m Losing my conviction That this is something I can do Like the words have all fled my soul Oh no, I said too much I failed to set it up. Rewording this Rewording this The novel is writing me Rewording this This book has Brought me to my knees What if all my fantasies aren’t Good to go around? Now I’ve cut too much. I’d rather…

A to Z Blogging Challenge: Kidding Around is Pretty Serious
A to Z Blog Challenge / April 13, 2016

I’m known for my comedy. Humor is my wheelhouse. Most of what I write is pretty lighthearted. But I think humor writers, in some ways, have the harder task: we have to tackle reality with laughter instead of with pitchforks. It can be trying. In my soon-to-be-released book, Beta Beware, DJ has to deal with religion in terms of how the Figments see it: “So you never have to do something in real life you don’t want?” Shiv asked. DJ slapped at his hand before he could pat her head. She wasn’t sure if he was trying to console her, but she didn’t like it. “Well, of course. That’s called being responsible. My kids call it ‘adulting’. But no one is making me.” Eric put a finger to his nose. “Not as far as you remember. But what if all those times you adult someone is moving the pieces to make a move? What if you really have no choice in the matter?” DJ was starting to really miss the snarky game text. At least she knew how to deal with it. “Then I don’t see what the purpose would be in trying. I believe in free will. If my…

A to Z Blogging Challenge: Just Write… Wrong
A to Z Blog Challenge / April 12, 2016

There is advice going around that tells new writers to just write. They’ll get better if they just write.  I’m going to go out on my own personal soapbox (which is teetering, because who needs a box of soap big enough to stand on?) and say, no. Don’t just write and think you’re going to get better. Let’s see how that works in other occupations: Just do taxes. Eventually you’ll get it right. Just treat patients. Eventually you’ll learn medicine. Just slap paint on the canvas. Eventually you’ll make a pretty picture. I could go on, but that would be silly… just like the advice. You can’t “just write” and think you’ll be a better writer. Here’s what you can do to be a better writer: Write daily until it becomes a habit. The habit will serve you well. Read about writing. If you’re not regularly reading “how to write” or grammar books, taking courses, or learning more about the craft, it’s going to be very hard to improve. Critique and edit your own writing. Critique and edit others’ writing (it’s easier to see the parts that need a rewrite when it’s not your own). Have other people critique and…

A to Z Blogging Challenge: Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery
A to Z Blog Challenge / April 11, 2016

Art imitates life. No, wait. That’s not what I meant to say. I imitate art. Probably a little more accurate. There’s some snobbery in the writing community about having your own voice. Don’t get me wrong: I do not approve of plagiarizing. However, there’s a huge difference between plagiarizing and using something for inspiration. Art students often start by mimicking the Masters. Musicians frequently try to copy their idols (why else would American Idol have made it through fifteen seasons?). When writers try out another writer’s voice, though, there’s generally some outrage. “Fan fiction is bad!” “Writing like someone else is bad!” “Bad. Bad! BAD!” Bah humbug. Copying a writer’s voice, like anything else, is how you learn. Sometimes, it’s how you make a living, especially if you’re a satirist or write parody. There are writers who make really good money as ghost writers learning to copy someone’s voice. But there should be limits. Use copying someone’s voice to a humorous effect. Parody is generally considered fair use (although I’m not a lawyer and the Figment lawyers hate me, so they wouldn’t give me any advice). Use copying someone else’s voice for practice. Whether you write fan fiction or flat-out…

A to Z Blogging Challenge: Heave Ho!
A to Z Blog Challenge / April 9, 2016

I have to admit, I have a few unfinished projects out there. In my case, it’s not terrible, because unfinished projects mean more Figments and more Figments mean new friends (or enemies). But there’s still something disconcerting about knowing I started something, thought it was a good idea, and then let it go. But maybe not every project is meant to be. I was looking through some of my old things, including my Camp NaNo project from last year. I discovered I never finished that project, so I skim-read it. Oh, right. That’s why I didn’t finish it. Sometimes a project is great in concept, but doesn’t work out. Sometimes you just can’t get into it. Sometimes it’s just not time yet. How do you decide which projects to keep and which ones to give the old ‘heave ho’? You can’t find any enthusiasm for the project. Yeah, you’re going to go through periods when you just aren’t feeling it, but if you can’t find even a twinge of interest in the project, it may not be the right project. (Unless you do this a lot. Then you may need to work on your follow-through.) You (or someone else) keeps…