How to Brainstorm Your Next Novel in 8 Easy Steps.

Brain

From my notebook-brainstorming and outlining Everlasting

Hello once again, readers!

So … on Wednesday I will be making my first appearance at a high school as an author. Branford High School to be exact. I am going with a few other authors (including my bestie Sonya Loveday) to discuss the different phases of writing. My topic is the brainstorming phase. I figured I would write here what I plan on saying, that way I get my practice in and have a general idea of what to say.

I’m OCD like that.

Any who, so here are the key points I will be discussing on brainstorming:

  1. Who is your Main Character? The first step is figuring out who you are writing about-the main character. You can’t have a story without one. To start this, I work off a character sheet with standard questions (physical appearance, personality traits, etc.). It’s very important that you figure out who they are and what their back story/driving force is before you enter in to the rough draft phase, because you need to understand their actions and know how they will respond to the tough situations they will be placed in.
  2. Who is the Supporting Character/s? In my line of writing, I lean towards romance, so once I have the main character in mind, I need to figure out who their counterpart will be. I go through the same steps-using the character sheet with questions, and figuring out what their back story.
  3. Who is the Antagonist? You can’t have a hero/heroine without an antagonist (be it a person or a goal they must overcome). So who are they? What do they want? How will they affect the main character’s growth? About this time, I also have a faint plot in mind. At least, what the main goal is, be it a machine they are both after, one needing to stop the other from destroying something, etc.. It’s all vague and I try not to set too many limitations for myself so I have freedom when working through my rough draft.
  4. Family Trees. After I have the most important characters, I try to write out family trees. You could do this step in the character drafting stage, but I like to have all my players out before I get deep into their family web and how they will all twist into one another. This also helps me in developing who my characters are, and sometimes gives me new ideas on how to deepen their back stories. Basically, I want to get as much figured out about the characters as possible before I write.
  5. World Building. When the characters are solid, I move on to world building. I focus on the setting (where the story takes place) and then research that area. It’s good to know everything about the places you are writing in so your descriptions feel real. Google maps is awesome for seeing and walking the streets without actually having to go there.
  6. Research. Because I write in paranormal and fantasy, I also research different types of magic/casting/spells/armor/weapons/supernatural beings. I like to get as many ideas as possible so I can build on what is there and make it my own. Some things though are better left unchanged. Those are things you want to have facts on. You want to have some familiarity for your reader to grasp onto the idea of what you’re writing about, while trying to maintain a fresh POV. Fantasy gives you that freedom.
  7. Plot Structuring. Once I have that all figured out, I start my plot structuring. I am very brief. I don’t even use a plot line. It’s been suggested to me that I should, and it might help, but I believe everyone has their own way of doing things, and even if I make it harder on myself, the discovery of the world you are building is half of the fun when writing. There’s no way to walk into a project knowing every angle/every scene that will transpire, unless you plan chapter by chapter.
  8. Rough Draft. When I have a good understanding of my characters, the world they are in, and the goals and sub-goals they are trying to reach, that is when my brainstorming ends and my writing begins. That’s not to say it ends completely, because I am always tossing ideas in my head. I could be in the middle of a conversation and be thinking about how the next scene I will write should go.

Hopefully these tips help you. They aren’t necessarily right, they are just my way of doing things. Like I said, the important thing is not to limit yourself. If you’re feeling stuck, take a step back and walk through the scene. Think about how you can make it more difficult for your character. What can you throw at them? How can you get them one step closer to personal growth and reaching their goal?

Hopefully I can get this all out in my five-minute timeframe and sound like I have a brain in my head lol. Actually, I’m not worried about meeting the timeframe, I’m worried about getting all nervous-silly and stumbling over my words. I used to be so good with speaking in public, but I seem to be moving backward in that aspect of my abilities.

That being said, I will let you know how it goes and hopefully have some pictures to show for. Wish me luck!

Echelon out ♥

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How To Juggle…Literar-ally…In Five Easy Steps.

404586_303785663062640_671061421_nHello once again, Readers!!! How are you this lovely morning? I am freaking fantastic! I just received the first mock-up for the Embracing the Flames cover! I can’t wait to see the finished product!!! I also found out that the possibility of print is not too far off! It’s in the works!!! *squeal*

But I digress.

With the new year, more opportunities and ideas have flourished. Book three, From the Embers, is almost 50k in! I’m thinking another month or so and I will be ready to start edits! Conventions are being looked at, marketing is being attacked full-force, and another project (the one from NaNo) will be completed!

Wooh!

That’s a lot, right? Sometimes it almost feels impossible or unattainable. But I have a problem with going after the unattainable.

GET TO THE POINT!

Okay! One of the hardest parts of being a writer (I have discovered) is not being patient (because I have mastered that), but finding balance. I have to balance my home life, squeeze in time for writing, and find time to market. That’s barely touching the scope of daily responsibilities and unprepared-for incidents that occur. It’s not an easy task, but it is doable. And I am here to give you the steps you need to help you along!

  1. Find a caffeinated beverage and STICK with it! Yes *raises hand* I am a Red Bull addict, but only because it gives me wings! How else am I supposed to multi-task?
  2. Speaking of multi-tasking, learn to do just that. Plan your days around things you can do simultaneously that will eliminate time misuse. As a fulltime author, it is not just about locking yourself away and writing non-stop. Unless you have a huge marketing team backing you, you have to be sociable and branch out. Meet new people, extend yourself, help others, ect.
  3. Form a routine. For instance, my mornings are spent researching, marketing, answering emails, and eating a granola bar (with a Red Bull). If I can, I squeeze in a blog post too. Mid-afternoons (nap time for my daughter) is where I shut everything off and zone into writing. Roughly two hours worth. Then I have to grab my son from school. I clean, prepare dinner, and try to fit in exercise around this time (late-afternoon). Then I usually finish up my writing and social media stuff and call it a night. It’s not the best, but it keeps me on point and not feeling scattered.
  4. Take a break if you become overwhelmed. Nothing is more thwarting than feeling tired and bummed out. That is your body’s way of telling you to take a break.
  5. Write! No matter what, you must find time to do this. You must devote yourself to it if you want it to happen.

Point is, balance is something you work for, just like everything else. You have to find it. You have to apply it, even when the unexpected happens. Some of you know this and have probably mastered it, and some of you may be like me, searching through piles of laundry, trying to find it. Don’t give up. Some days will be easy and others will be hard. Isn’t that what balance is all about?

Now to leave you with a question: How do you deal with stress and writing?

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Echelon out, Peeps ♥

How To A Write Villain In Ten Easy Steps

427589_3088424762840_582736245_nHello once again, Readers!!! AHHHH! Darth Vader is back…again!!! Oh no, what should we do? Run? Hide? But where do we hide in the cyber world?

I know! Disney!!! Let’s all go to Disney since they bought out Star Wars. Maybe Mickey will become Vader! That’s not so scary, right?

Huh?

I digress. So I wanted to write a post today about writing Villains, hence the photo of me with Vader. Why you may be wondering? Well, because in From the Embers, the last book in the Born in Flames trilogy, I am really digging deep into my villains character.

Zordon. Ooooooh, say it again. Zordon.

Yes, that is the name of my evil, scary villain. But what I have found as a writer, is that it isn’t always easy to write a villain, especially if you aren’t the evil sort. But then again, as a writer, aren’t you a lot of every sort?

Any who, you have to dig deep when writing about a complex character such as a villain. In some ways, a villain can be more complex than your protagonist. They have to have a reason for going dark. That reason has to be deep and twisted. It’s sad really. You spend all of your time building up your character, only to break them down again and again.

Get to the point!

My point is, I’ve been Aurora and everyone else for so long, I have to ensure that Zordon’s voice is unique. I have to be dark instead of light and that’s not easy for me. I have to become Zordon. How do I do it?

Well…here are ten steps that I came up with. Steps that will make even the boogeyman scream!

  1. Put on all black. Black is scary. Well, it can be scary. If you have a trench coat, that would work even better!
  2. Practice your evil laugh. Muhahahaha! No, try again, I wasn’t moved by that. MUHAHAHAHAHA! Okay, now we’re talking.
  3. Try answering every question, just for the day with, “Off with your HEAD!”
  4. Watch really deep, dark movies. Pay attention to the antagonist and how he/she responds.
  5. Listen to somber, angry music.
  6. Sneer…a lot.
  7. Eat all the marsh mellows out of the Lucky Charms and leave it out for some innocent person to eat who just wants me lucky charms.
  8. Change your salt shaker out with sugar. Make sure you snicker when you do this.
  9. Poke holes in all the umbrellas and then rub your hands together evilly.
  10. Swiper yes Swiping instead of Swiper no Swiping. For those who are stuck watching Dora.

Okay…again…maybe these aren’t the serious tips you are looking for. But I have a hard time being serious! Especially when tips are mostly opinions. I can guarantee that you will get a good laugh though. :)

On another note:

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Hahhahahaa!

Now to leave you with a question: What evil, scary advice do you have?

Echelon out ♥

How To Find Your Mojo In 12 Honest Steps…My Way

Layout 1Hello once again, Readers!!! It’s a new year and a whole new me…wait…what?

Okay, so I’m still the same Red Bull drinking, music blasting, rebellious thinking writer that strives for more (or a little too much at times). I don’t really have any resolutions for the new year besides finishing From the Embers. It’s not because I’m not striving, it’s just that every day is a new day and a new chance for me to be better. I don’t need to wait for a new year to do that.

But I digress.

So for those of you who don’t know what MoJo is, watch ‘Austin Powers’. No seriously, it is that special spark inside of you that makes you who you are. It gives you your funk…your edge…your appeal….your, well, your uniqueness.

And I feel like I have lost my MoJo!

“Wwhhhhhhyyyyyyyyy!!!!!!!!????????” I cry as I fall to my knees and hang my head in despair.

Well because ever since the publication of Born in Flames, I have been distant from my blog and distant from what I used to write about on here. As most of us know, you don’t sell if you don’t market. And then holidays snuck up on me. So now I am sitting here, wondering what in the heck could I possibly have to say to you that would keep you interested in me?

This is what my brain came up with:

See all that blank space? That’s exactly right, my friends. A whole lot of nothingness. That is what I came up with. This in turn, led me to wonder: What happened to my freaking MoJo!!!??? After freaking out because I couldn’t find it or any Red Bull in the fridge, I decided that I had to figure out how to bring it back. But I don’t like ordinary. I don’t like following the many (usually the same) ideas that you can find out there in the blogging world.  Not because they aren’t good, but because I am difficult and hard-to-please. I either write from my head, or nothing at all.

“Shut up and spill it already!”

Sheesh…okay…you don’t have to yell! What I am about to share with you is the up most top-secret, highly coveted, teeny bit of information that happens when my hands touch a computer. People…you can’t buy this in a book store. It’s magic. It just happens. So prepare yourselves, because you are about to be blown away!!! This is how I found my MoJo.

  1. First, stare at your computer for an ungodly amount of time…maybe until you drool. That should be a key sign that you have stared long enough.
  2. Type your opening line.
  3. Delete your opening line.
  4. Re-write your opening line, followed by a few more sentences that cause you to cringe in fear of having nothing viable to say.
  5. Save your empty draft and walk away rather than throwing your computer.
  6. Watch Indian Jones (because he is AWESOME). Heck, watch all the Indiana movies.
  7. Turn your computer back on and check your email.
  8. Then check your Facebook.
  9. Pretty much do anything besides what you should be doing: finishing your blog post.
  10. Feel like a loser because you can’t come up with a blog post and then log into WordPress because you refuse to be a quitter.
  11. Finish your post without the pressure of caring whether or not it is clever and appealing.
  12. Click Publish.

Oh wait….you wanted me to give you 12 steps that were helpful, not share what I just did today before finishing this post. Sorry. That’s the reality. There is no magic solution. Sitting down, not over-analyzing what you are trying to write, and simply writing is the only way to make it happen. Some of you are blessed with ideas and the dedication to put them down everyday. I know because I get the emails containing all your knowledgeable posts and think, Man I need to write more.

Now for a drastic change in subject, I noticed recently that people have found me by typing the following in their search engines:

  • cat why don’t you love me
  • fairy shadowbox
  • knoebel obsession
  • kobo punching bag
  • feisty personality
  • I have been in such a rut lately I really need something good to happen before I go crazy
  • anger is unproductive
  • I love you but you wont find it out
  • fire poker walmart
  • is the sentence correct I am only but clay in his hands.

Wow.

With that being said, I haven’t even left you with a question in like god knows how long! So it’s time to bring that back!

Do you have any serious helpful tips to writing a successful blog post?

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Just because I love the original commercial…hahhaa.

Echelon out, folks ♥

12 Writing Tips For 2012

281317_10152376913075601_2032062248_nHo Ho Ho, Readers!!! What!? There’s a baby with a finger stuck in her nose on my blog!? What in the-!? How in the-!?

Yes…that would be my lovely daughter Scarlett with her finger shoved up her nose. She’s cute even when doing that! How am I ever supposed to discipline such cuteness!?

I digress.

In light of the ending year, I figured I would share 12 writing tips I gathered in 2012. This past year has been one crazy ride. I quit my job of five years to stay at home with my kids, I started up an art business with my best friend, and most importantly, my first novel ever written, was published by 48fourteen.

To say that I’ve obtained a lot of knowledge in a short amount of time is an understatement. It’s funny how much we change in a year. A life lesson can be found in every action we make. But a wise person recognizes this and grows because of it.

Any who, let’s get to the tips, shall we? Now, keep in mind that they aren’t anything that will change your life. They are only things that stand out to me as I reflect on this past year.

  1. The only way to see a novel through is to simply write it. Sounds easy right? Well it’s not. Distractions surround us…especially writers who have access to internet and social media. But if I’ve learned one thing from this insight, it’s self-discipline. Only I can make it happen.
  2. Editors are a must! You know that saying, “It takes a village to raise a child”? Well, our novels are our children. One person simply cannot do it alone. There is no shame in that either. If you are planning on self-publishing, please invest in an editor. I can’t tell you how much my editor has taught and helped me with both of my novels. Sometimes being so close to the project blinds you from the truth.
  3. If you stumble on a scene that doesn’t sit well with you in your novel, trust your gut. Don’t overlook it because it’s the easiest thing to do. Yes it’s hard to delete your work, but if the scene was they way you wanted it, then you wouldn’t have had that feeling in the first place. I experienced this with a couple of scenes in Born in Flames that ended up being pointed out by my editor. I left them because I wasn’t sure, when I should have just went with my gut in the first place and deleted/fixed them.
  4. Criticism is not always a bad thing. Although you do find those who bash just to bash, try to find the good in every remark. Criticism keeps you humble and it gives you insight into what readers are looking for in that particular genre. They might also bring to light something that wasn’t caught in editing.
  5. Marketing is very time-consuming, but necessary. The key to success is to use what’s available. Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, ect. Also, Google blogs that read your genre and ask them if they’d be willing to review your copy. Every blog has followers and this is how you will expand your audience. Any exposure is good exposure.
  6. You must give yourself time away from your projects or you will burn out.
  7. Any idea, no matter how anemic it may seem, can be turned into something magnificent if you want it bad enough. All you have to do is believe in yourself.
  8. Publication takes time. Lot’s of time. Editing, cover art, more editing, formatting, more editing…don’t rush it. Let things fall how they are meant to fall. But also, for those who have never published, understand that it does take up to a year. Don’t get discouraged!
  9. Success doesn’t happen over night. It happens with word of mouth and plenty of time. Patience (the one thing I have worked on as my new years resolution last year) is the only thing that will get you through it. And marketing.
  10. Not everyone will like/understand your work. Writing is like coffee. Taste buds vary.
  11. READ! Read as much and as often as you can. Reading is a writer’s food for thought.
  12. Don’t give up. When you feel down, alone, lost, confused, discouraged, worthless, not-good-enough…just take a deep breath. We all go through these emotions. Even the best of them do. It’s human nature to question yourself. It keeps you humble. But no matter how bad the emotion, don’t give up. Keep the fighting fire within you alive.

So that’s it. I know…it’s nothing spectacular or grand. It probably won’t change your life, but they are my lesson’s learned this year. I can only imagine what I will learn in 2013. Maybe my dream of being insanely successful will come true…lol. One can dream, right?

I finished approving my editors edits a week ago, so hopefully the cover art will be next. I am very excited about Embracing the Flames. I built up a whole new world with a bunch of different races, while letting Aurora simply…be. I can’t wait to share it with the world. I am only a quarter of the way through on From the Embers. I kind of slacked off during NaNo and then through the holidays.

That will be a New Years Resolution for me.

Any way, I hope everyone has a safe and happy New Year!!! Be sure to put a coin on your doorstep before midnight and then pick it up after midnight. It is said to bring you good fortune through the year. You won’t go a day without a dollar in your pocket.

Echelon out ♥