February, 2011

Monday Musings: Writer’s Block

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When I first started writing seriously I had an endless flow of ideas and I wrote them all down as quickly as possible, scoffing at writer’s block.  But now I’ve noticed with the more I’ve learned the harder it is to actually write.   I’ve still got the ideas, but it’s more difficult to get them down on paper. 
I’m pretty sure it’s because I’m constantly trying to outdo myself.  Not to mention I’m finding it more and more laborious to turn off that internal editor, to just “write the damn story” and fix it in subsequent drafts.
I’ve found that the harder I struggle, the worse it gets, so I’ve to just let the muse take me where it wants to go, when it wants me to go, instead of striving to wrestle it into a bottle to sprinkle it out over the course of the year.
It may mean frantic days and nights of dirty dishes and laundry piling up as I write feverishly, but my best stuff seems to come from those frenzied hours.
However, it doesn’t stop the worried thoughts of never writing again, so I want to know…what do you do to counteract writer’s block?

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Tip Thursday: Tips from the Masters

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Writing Tips

1. Cut the boring parts

I try to leave out the parts that people skip. ~Elmore Leonard

In other words, write what your readers want to read. If it’s boring, cut it.  That’s why beta readers and CP are so important.  They’ll let you know if it’s boring.  If enough of them concur, then you might want to cut it.  

2. Eliminate unnecessary words

Substitute “damn” every time you’re inclined to write “very;” your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. ~Mark Twain

Very, really, et cetera are qualifiers that don’t make your writing stronger, they make them weaker.  More often than not, you don’t need them.

3. Write with passion

Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart. ~William Wordsworth

This is actually one of my favorite quotes and I don’t think needs any more explanation.  

4. Paint a picture

Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass. ~Anton Chekhov

A perfect example of show vs tell. And also a great imagery tool. 

5. Keep it simple

Vigorous writing is concise. ~William Strunk Jr.

This goes back to point one.  If it’s concise, it’s probably not boring, since it’s not probably not long and drawn out.

6. Do it for love

Write without pay until somebody offers to pay. ~Mark Twain

Another favorite quote of mine.  Most writers couldn’t stop writing if we wanted to, so I don’t even think we should have this on the list.  😉

7. Learn to thrive on criticism

You have to know how to accept rejection and reject acceptance. ~Ray Bradbury

Writing feels like part of our soul by the time we’re finished with it. So rejection can be hard and acceptance can sometimes be even harder. We just have to remember that our writing is not ourselves.

8. Write all the time

Quantity produces quality. If you only write a few things, you’re doomed. ~Ray Bradbury

The way you define yourself as a writer is that you write every time you have a free minute. If you didn’t behave that way you would never do anything. ~John Irving

Need I say more?

9. Write what you know … or what you want to know

If any man wish to write in a clear style, let him be first clear in his thoughts; and if any would write in a noble style, let him first possess a noble soul. ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Learn as much by writing as by reading. ~Lord Acton

When a reader starts a book they want to be able to trust the author to tell a good story.  If they can’t trust you, they won’t read.  So make sure to get the simple things correct.  😀

10. Be unique and unpredictable

I owe my success to having listened respectfully to the very best advice, and then going away and doing the exact opposite. ~G.K. Chesterton

Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative. ~Oscar Wilde

Zest. Gusto. How rarely one hears these words used. How rarely do we see people living, or for that matter, creating by them. Yet if I were asked to name the most important items in a writer’s make-up, the things that shape his material and rush him along the road to where he wants to go, I could only warn him to look to his zest, see to his gusto. ~Ray Bradbury

List assembled by pickthebrain.com

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Writer’s Wednesday: Book Review-Nightshade

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Nightshade by Andrea Cremer
Publisher: Philomel (October 19, 2010)
Paperback: 528 pages
Reading Level: Young Adult
Rating: 5 of 5 feathers
Source: Purchased
While other teenage girls daydream about boys, Calla Tor imagines ripping out her enemies’ throats. And she wouldn’t have it any other way. Calla was born a warrior and on her eighteenth-birthday she’ll become the alpha female of the next generation of Guardian wolves. But Calla’s predestined path veers off course the moment she saves the life of a wayward hiker, a boy her own age. This human boy’s secret will turn the young pack’s world upside down and forever alter the outcome of the centuries-old Witches’ War that surrounds them all.

REVIEW:   This is another book I bought simply because of the cover. Honestly, I was over werewolves at this point, and I was pretty sure the only werewolf stories I wanted to read were the sequels to books I’d already read.  However, I couldn’t resist having such a beautiful cover on my bookshelf (yes, I know. I’m shallow.  J )  Anyway, since I bought it, I decided to give it a go.  And I couldn’t put it down.  I actually read it in one sitting, pretty much.  Minus the obligatory self-care times.  ; ) 

It started off with a bang and didn’t let up until it was over and had me begging for the next book!  Every one knows, I love me a good love triangle and Andrea did a great job with this one.  I’d compare it to the one in Personal Demons, except I know their crit. Partners so that’s probably why. LOL.  While I do know I prefer Shay over Ren, it was a close call.  They were just so hard to choose between.  Especially toward the end when Ren started showing his true feelings and not that of what was expected of him.
It starts off with the suspense of Calla (the MC) running into a hiker in the woods who is badly injured.  She’s in wolf form, so we aren’t sure what she’s going to do.  Kill the hiker boy?  Or save him.  Since it’s already stated in the blurb what happens, I’ll say she saves him, and, in turn, shows him what she really is.  She thinks it’ll end there, until he shows up at her school the next school day and is determined to get to know her better.
There was a great romantical element of the book and the characters couldn’t keep their hands off each other.  While I do like those kinds of things, they have to be done well to be enjoyable.  Most YA books steer clear of this, but not here and Andrea does an excellent job of showing it without overkilling it. 
The only negative I saw was that Calla was supposed to be the alpha female, completely in control of her pack, but she didn’t seem that alpha until the end.  She doesn’t know certain things about her brother and her best friend that I was sure she should have, being their alpha and all.  And while she does stand up to Ren a few times, it felt like it was only for show.  I understand that she was filled with indecision about certain things, but I felt I should see the alpha in other parts of her life and I didn’t really see it as much as I wanted (this is just a personal pref. BTW, others probably feel differently).
Otherwise, this is def. a must read for anyone, even those who don’t normally read the paranormal genre, but love a good romance.  Though I will say, that if you don’t normally like romances, this probably isn’t the read for you.  There is a LOT of it in here.  And while I don’t think it took away from the book, I love me a good romance.
Characters: All of the characters were strongly developed and I enjoyed them very much.  We’ll start with Calla, since she’s the MC.  She had a lot of great qualities.  She was strong, sweet, relatable and had a heart of gold. Shay was just awesome.  Honestly I couldn’t find a single fault in him, though if I re-read it a few time, I probably could if I looked hard enough. LOL.  And Ren?  He was the perfect flawed alpha male.  Loved every bit of him, too, even if I wanted to strangle him a few times.  Like in the dance club.  WTH was that Ren?  😀

Cover: As I mentioned before this was the reason I purchased this book. It’s perfect and beautiful. Stunning really.  With the frosted purple look and the girl that fits Calla perfectly. Plus the obviousness of the Calla lilies (my favorite flower, in case you were interested.), and the blood drops in them.  Absolutely perfect!
Honestly, this was probably in my top ten books I read in 2010.  I cannot rave about this book enough.  So just go out and buy it, will ya?  LOL. You won’t be disappointed.
Find Andrea Cremer

Purchase Bad Girls Don’t Die

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Teaser Tuesday:

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Just like before, here’s an excerpt from one of my newest favorite books.  Since it’s Valentine week, I’ve picked a section that is a little hot and heavy, and most def. swoon worthy.  At least, in my opinion. So I don’t give away which book this is from, I’ve gotten rid of all names and replaced them with pronouns.  It won’t detract from the scene.  Promise. ; )

The kiss started slowly, a sweet, tentative searching.  The soft touch of his mouth mesmerized me.  I parted my lips for his, letting desire draw me down. 

[His] kiss deepened; his hand ran along my back, tracing the length of my braid, sliding beneath my shirt to stroke my skin.  I felt like I was drinking sunlight.  My fingers moved from his chest to his neck and stroked the line of his jaw.  I pressed into him, wanting to know more of the mysteries he pulled so easily from my body.  More of this freedom, this wildness.

[He] grabbed my hips and in a swift motion turned us, pinning me to the floor.  His hands moved beneath my shirt, his body pressing hard against mine.  I could smell his rising desire mixing with my own, our feverish need infusing the air like lightning about to strike.  Instead of being pulled down into him, I was rising up, legs wrapping around him.  His fingers moved carefully, tracing my curves, lingering in places tht stole my breath, binding me to him and yet setting me free.  My own gasp of pleasure against his mouth brought the world hurtling back. 

The room spun as I pulled out of his embrace, stumbling toward the table.  My heart rammed against my ribs, insistent and painful. 

I can’t do this, I can’t.  But I wanted to.  More than anything.


So…what did you think?  😀  Also, can you guess what book this is from?  Stay tuned tomorrow for the answer. Along with a review of the book.

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Happy Valentines Day and 250 Follower Contest

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This contest is now closed.  Please stayed tuned for the winners announcement.

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!  I hope everyone has someone special to share this day with, even if you don’t celebrate it (DH and I don’t.  LOL But our anniversary is three days from now, so no need.)  Anyway, today is also my contest for reaching 250 followers. 
Prizes: 
1st Across The Universe by Beth Revis
      Bad Girls Don’t Die by Katie Alender
      Personal Demons by Lisa Desrochers
      Bonus for writers: 50 page MS + Query critique
2nd Matched by Ally Condie
       Beastly (your choice of covers, original or movie tie-in) by Alex Flinn
       Bonus for writers: 25 page critique
3rd Gone by Michael Grant
      Bonus for writers: 10 page critique
  
Prizes will escalate for every 50 followers I get for this contest so make sure to spread the word.
Rules:  You MUST be a follower of my blog to enter and you’ll need to fill out the Google form.  Otherwise, that’s it.  Open internationally.  Contest ends March 1, 2011.
Extra Entries!

  • +5 Old Blog Follower {Follow Publicly}
  •  +4 New Blog Follower {Follow Publicly}
  •  +5 Networked Blogs Follower
  •  +3 Follow me on Twitter (@jasouders)
  •  +2 “Like” me on Facebook
  •  +1 tweeting about it (1 entry per day until the contest ends) (please place direct link in comments section or @ me in the tweet.)
  • +1 Blogging about it (link to it in the comments section.)
Good luck!  And happy reading!

 

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