Please, Don’t Be Afraid by Harley Randy Green

Photo Credit: dryhead on Flickr

Hello, this is Briana! I’m on vacation in West Virginia this week, so I’m publishing some wonderful guest posts. As soon as I’m back, we will return you to your regularly scheduled programming. Until then, enjoy!

I wrote my first novel back in 2004, which I put into a book with my other short stories from past years. I never really read it after I was done, so I had no clue how good it was or even if it was readable. I really didn’t want anyone to read it. I was more concerned with a short story I wrote being acceptable for publication.

Finally, I allowed my then wife to read my first novel, fix the words here and there, and maybe critique it for me. I found out the book was worse than I had imagined. Even today when I try to fix it with my own editing process, I realize how bad of a story I had previously written. However, if it were not for asking someone else to read it, I would not have learned from my experience, and my next novel would probably be just as bad as the first one.

You also can’t learn from mistakes if you are all afraid to have others read your work. Remember, your first rough draft is not an instant American classic, and you don’t have professional editors at the ready to fix the book so it’s ready to go; so the more insight from others, the better to learn. Find yourself alpha and beta readers, people you might know a little or others you just met with many different creeds and ages in their background. This is also a great way to learn about what demographics your work lands.

Find yourself an editor, please—specifically, an editor who you believe is reasonably priced and you can get along with. Now I know this may be difficult, but they are indispensable in the creation of your final draft. Like alpha readers, editors always find things you’ll miss. They fix them and make them better so you look like the smartest person in the room. I found mine by using a short story of mine that I knew was good but needed an editor’s touch. I find it’s a lot easier than just giving them your baby and “ripping it to shreds!” The right editor won’t do that.

Finally, you believe the book is done; now it’s time for the critiques. This is the hardest point because you have no idea you’ll get a good review. Amazon is a prime location, but not a perfect one, for this. Don’t be afraid to ask for those more established with widely read blogs or even columns to give your book a go.

But none of this happens unless you ask. Don’t be afraid to ask and find your thick skin. What people say, you should use constructively, not negatively unless they are just brutal and give you absolutely nothing to work with so you can fix the writing. Remember, you alone are the end all; be all to your story, but in order to get there, you cannot be afraid to ask.

The author was born in Port Huron, Michigan where he still resides. He has had a long time fascination with science fiction, fantasy, horror, and speculative fiction.  H.R. Green has written three novels, Daemon, Shifter, and Machete Mauler, and one compilation, Listen Like Fiends.  You can visit his website here. Thanks for writing this post!

When it comes to writing, what are you most afraid of?

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Are you afraid to put your writing in the world? @daemondelall has something to say about that fear. (Click to tweet)

Bookish and Literary Uses for the Bullet Journal by Coryl o’Reilly

Hello, this is Briana! I’m on vacation in West Virginia this week, so I’m publishing some wonderful guest posts. As soon as I’m back, we will return you to your regularly scheduled programming. Until then, enjoy!

The bullet journal. It seemed to come out of nowhere. For some people, it may be too much flexibility and not enough structure. For others, the flexibility means freedom and creativity.

If you’re new, the official bullet journal website outlines the basics. Give it a quick read. I can wait.

Read it? You know what “Collections” and “Migration” are? Good.

The beauty about bullet journaling comes from the customisation. The basics really are the basics: there are no limits to what you can include. My system has changed often since I began at the end of March as a to-do list and day planner. I’m now rethinking what I include. My brainstorming led me to ideas for bookish spreads to re-focus on writing and reading!

Calendars

Calendars can range from one month to multiple years, depending on your needs.

New release dates: Don’t forget that amazing book coming out in eight months! See at a glance when you need to start saving for those new books.

Deadlines and due dates: Mark your writing deadlines—from drafting to editing to marketing—so you can try to avoid procrastination and last-minute anxiety. Also avoid overdue fines from the library by writing books’ due dates.

Collections

Although I don’t use collections, I won’t discriminate!

Plotbunnies: Jot down your random ideas. Seeing them all in one place can help find ways to bundle them together. Expand to bits of dialogue or description.

Quotes: Inspiration, motivation, great lines… You name it, you write it.

Books read: Goodreads can feel so impersonal. Jazz up your reading history by doodling a bookshelf of empty book spines. Go simple with just the title, author, and date you started and finished.

Book statistics: How many female and male writers? How many indie authors? Make a chart to see your own reading habits and trends.

Trackers

Trackers are a simple way to see how often you do something. The scope can range from daily to weekly to monthly. You can fill in boxes, use checkmarks for successful days and X’s unsuccessful days, or try the sticker method Briana raved about to encourage you!

Writing habits: See how often you’re writing. Daily? On weekends? In spurts? Track it!

Word counts: Set a word count for that day, or decide a minimum word count per day. Check it off when it’s reached.

Pages read: I can read a book in a day or go weeks without reading. I want to improve my reading habits by tracking a set number of pages or time spent reading each day.

If you’re afraid to commit to a notebook, use a sheet of paper to experiment. Pinterest and Instagram are fantastic places to inspire layout designs. I’ve definitely lost sleep admiring the creativity in the BuJo community. . .

So, have I converted you? Give it a shot—there’s nothing to lose but some ink and paper.

Coryl o’Reilly is a Canadian writer, artist, and LGBT and mental health advocate. She intensely loves lemons, Studio Ghibli, and poetic prose. You can find her on Twitter, Instagram, and her blog. Thanks so much for writing this post, Coryl!

What do you think about bullet journaling?

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If you’re interested in bullet journaling, you NEED to read this post by @coryldork. (Click to tweet)

6 Tips for Defeating Writer’s Block by Louise Matchett

Photo Credit: mikkime on Flickr

Hello, this is Briana! I’m on vacation in West Virginia this week, so I’m publishing some wonderful guest posts. As soon as I’m back, we will return you to your regularly scheduled programming. Until then, enjoy!

You should be writing. And yet whenever you open your manuscript and write a sentence you delete it, rewrite it and delete it again. Just like that you’re stuck, your mind goes blank and your character voices that live in your mind, who have always been there whispering to you, have fallen silent. And whilst you sit there your deadlines are creeping up on you, getting ready to pounce.

Writer’s block. Hitting a wall. Falling out of sync. These are some of the many different names we writers come up with for one common problem and that problem is when you can’t make the words pour out onto a page, whether it’s a page in a notebook or a page on a computer screen.

So what can you do to get the juices flowing once more? (Aside from making a sacrifice to the muses)

  • Sometimes all it takes is a re-read of the last paragraph or chapter you wrote to remind yourself of what might happen next. Though the urge to re-write a whole chapter can be tempting try to focus on just reading and not editing.
  • Take a break from your current project and start something new, it could be a blog post or even a competition piece. Anything that can wipe your creative palate clean.
  • Take a scheduled break from writing altogether, spend time with friends and family. But fix a deadline so that you know when that day comes you have to return to your current project.
  • Do something new. Is there a place you’ve always wanted to go, a new sport you’ve been wanting to try or maybe it’s something else. Whether it’s crossing something off of your bucket list or just following an impulse, give it a go. Take photos. Make the occasional note. If it doesn’t spark your imagination it can always make a great blog post.
  • Pick up your favourite book and read the first page, just the first page though. Done it? Now ask yourself questions; what makes me want to turn the next page? What do I learn from this page? Why is this book my favourite? This helps you identify what you find important in a story and if you apply these elements into your book it might help you get back into your writing.
  • Change your location. No I don’t mean you have to move house, what I mean is identify where you normally do most of your writing, then change location. You do most of your writing sitting in the living room? Try the kitchen. You write whilst lying on your bed? Try sitting on the stairs.

I hope these tips can help you push through your writer’s block and get the words flowing once more.

Louise Matchett is an author and photographer. You can visit her website and follow her on Instagram and Twitter. Thanks so much for writing this post, Louise!

What tips do you have for defeating writer’s block?

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Feeling stuck? Check out @louisematchett8’s post on defeating writer’s block! (Click to tweet)

24th Birthday Giveaway

Photo Credit: Felix on Flickr

Woohoo! It’s Friday! Happy birthday to me! I can’t believe I’m 24 now! I feel like I just had a birthday yesterday, but somehow, it was a whole year ago? Is that how birthdays work?

Anyway, I know my age may come as a surprise to some of you, and I’m aware that 24 is still pretty young, but it still feels strange, you know? This time last year, I was in a different, darker place. My position in life was pretty precarious for a while. I had some close calls, in terms of mental and emotional breakdowns. It was rough for me in Florida.

But I digress. Today should be happy, so let’s do happy things. I know usually I’d be the one receiving presents today, but I’d much rather give you guys something. This past year has been amazing for me. I’ve overcome and accomplished so much, and there’s no way I could have done it without your support, encouragement, and motivation. Seriously, people. I love you all so much. I feel like the luckiest girl in the world, and it’s all because of you. So in honor of my gratitude, and of turning another year (hopefully) wiser, I thought I’d put together a little giveaway.

If you want to enter to win a $15 Barnes & Noble gift card, just fill out the widget below! You have until Friday, June 23, 2016 at 11:59 EST to enter! Once the giveaway closes, I’ll announce the winner via another blog post. Good luck, everybody!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

How myWriteClub Helps Me Write More

I’ve mentioned before that myWriteClub is one of my favorite writing resources. I first heard of it over on Ava Jae’s blog, where she wrote a post about it. Since then, I’ve used mWriteClub to track my progress and keep myself motivated to finish my projects (follow me!).

If you’re not using myWriteClub, you really should be. It has a commenting feature where people can provide encouragement and spur you onward, a nifty colored bar that fills up as you write, and an amazing new feature I never would have known about without Ava Jae–myWriteClub supports personal and global word sprints!

For those of you unfamiliar with the term word sprints, I’m talking about writing in short bursts, setting a timer for say, fifteen minutes, and writing as much as you can without stopping until the timer goes off. Word sprints are an excellent way to get through a first draft, and I never would have been able to finish writing Blood and Water without them. Before MyWriteClub, I used either a physical timer (which was okay) or Write or Die (which wasn’t great, as I’ve since learned I don’t do well with negative stiumli). For some reason, timed writing leads to serious productivity for me, so myWriteClub’s word sprint feature is an absolute godsend.

Just this past week, I used myWriteClub’s global sprinting feature to write 2K words in less than an hour each day. How amazing is that?? And the cool thing about myWriteClub (well, one of them) is that the program gives you a star for each 100 words you reach. Positive reinforcement! I love it.

It’s free to sign up for myWriteClub, and it’s only in the beta stage, but it looks promising! If you give it a try, let me know what you think! And feel free to add me. 🙂

How do you feel about writing sprints?

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Are you a fan of writing sprints? Find out how @brianawrites is using them and myWriteClub to write more! (Click to tweet)

Sunshine Blogger Award

Hi hi hi, lovely people! Today’s post should be an interesting one. We’re changing things up a little bit. The bright and bubbly Lo-arna Green nominated me for this award! I haven’t done a tag in a while, and the questions looked great, so I thought I’d give it a shot. Thanks so much for tagging me in this one, Lou!

The rules are as follows:

  • Answer the eleven questions from the blogger who nominated you.
  • Nominate up to eleven wonderful bloggers and write eleven (possibly fiendish) questions for them to answer.

That’s it! Without further ado, here are the questions and answers.

1. Have you ever gotten in to trouble with the law?
Nah. I’m a little too boring for that nonsense.

2. Can you wink successfully?
Oh, yes.

3. What is your mantra when you feel like throwing in the writing towel?
Don’t get it right, get it written.

4. What is something random about you that not many people know?
I don’t know how to ride a bicycle. I’ve just never learned.

5. What is the earliest memory you have?
Sitting in a sandbox in North Carolina, shoveling sand into a baby bottle.

6. What is your nickname?
Bri, The Smoll, Mrs. Gatsby.

7. What food do you love the most?
Chipotle, probably.

8. What food do you hate the most?
Salad. Some vegetarian I am.

9. Can you give a rundown of your writing process or do you like to change it up?
My “process” usually involves a whole lot of caffeine and crying. Lately, I’m all about self-doubt. Technically, I think I’m a plotter, though I haven’t quite gotten the hang of it–you know what? Let’s just say I change it up. That’s so much easier.

10. What is your favourite season?
Autumn. No contest.

11. Who is your favourite tv character, past or present and why?
Rupert Giles from Buffy. He’s smart, handsome, loyal, and fiercely protective. Also, he’s kind of my dream man, okay?

I’m half-asleep right now and about to go to bed, so I’m not tagging anyone. Feel free to answer these same questions on your own blog if you’d like! And if you do decide to answer them, go ahead and link me to your answers in the comments. 🙂

Are you going to participate in the Sunshine Blogger tag? How would you answer some of these questions?

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Have you heard of the Sunshine Blogger Award? See @brianawrites’ answers to @loarnagreen’s questions. (Click to tweet)

Cover Reveal: KILLER POTENTIAL

Happy Wednesday, everyone! Today’s post is going to be a little different. Today, I have the pleasure of revealing the cover for BookFish Books’ July 19 release, Killer Potential! I’m so excited to read this book, and I love the cover, too!

Keep scrolling to see it.

TA-DAH!

Title: Killer Potential

Author: After Brook Szymanski

Publisher: BookFish Books

Genre: YA Psychological Thriller

Release Date: July 17, 2016

About Killer Potential

Seventeen-year-old Yvette Gibbs was just admitted to the hospital psych unit in handcuffs as the main suspect in a murder case, which she refuses to talk about.

Drugs and depression claim her family—leaving Yvette to fight her own demons alone. Adopting the skill of master of passive-aggressive vengeance lands Yvette in the psych unit with no family support, unless she cooperates with her therapist to clear her name, also a convicted murderer.

Yvette wants revenge on the world that taught her to be afraid, claimed her mother to depression, hid her father in a fog of job hopping, turned her brother to dealing drugs, and swallowed her sister whole, but to achieve this she must lie, manipulate, and most of all survive. Pitting her dead sister’s shady friend whom she fears against the man who reminded her she’s not immune to victimization, is her perfect solution to all life’s hassles, even if that means she ends up with blood on her hands. Until everything backfires.


About Aften Brook Szymanski

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Aften Brook Szymanski, at the age of five, once fell on her bum looking out a large picture window while eating a pickle and people laughed. She thought she was funny, life has never been the same. She’s obsessed with LEGOs, cozy reading nooks, and over-the-knee socks. A graduate of the College of Southern Idaho with an Associate of Arts degree, Brigham Young University with a Bachelor of Science degree, and the University of Utah with a Master of Education degree. Learning is more fun than testing, sometimes we have to endure both.

She lives in a very cold Wyoming valley with her husband, three kids, and one unhappy cat, where they are being cryogenically preserved for all time—thanks to how cold it is.

Find Aften Online

Blog: http://aftenbrookszymanski.blogspot.com/

Tumblr: http://aftenbrook.tumblr.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/aftenbrook

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aftenbrookszymanski/


Preorder Killer Potential or Add it to your TBR!

Goodreads

Amazon Preorder

There you have it, folks! It’s no secret that I love thrillers, and this is one I can’t wait to get my hands on. Keep your eyes peeled for an upcoming review of it! Congratulations, Aften, and good luck with your release!

What do you think about this cover? Are you excited to read the book?

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Do you love thrillers? Check out the cover for Aften Szymanski’s new novel KILLER POTENTIAL! (Click to tweet)

Vlog: A Whole New Wall

Hi, guys! It’s been a while since I uploaded a vlog–far too long, in my opinion. Today I’m fixing that. In my most recent blog post, I talked about hitting a wall in the first draft of my WIP Reflections. I thought I solved that problem, but… now there is a whole new wall.

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What advice do you have for getting unstuck? How do you approach plotting a novel?

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Plotting is hard. Watch author @brianawrites talk about her plotting struggles. (Click to tweet)

On Hitting the Wall

As someone who prides herself on her (insane) work ethic and productivity, it’s hard for me to write this post. Still, I believe in transparency, which I why I’m “coming clean” here. I hope you’ll hold me accountable and encourage me to finish strong.

I should have been finished with the first draft of Reflections by now. According to my self-imposed timeline (which I have since revised), it should have been finished in April or May. But now it’s nearly June, and I still have about 15K more words or so to go. Normally, I would say the hardest part is finished and I should be able to plow through with no problem. Normally, everything would be just fine.

But I’ve hit a wall.

Looking back, I’m pretty sure the same thing happened to me with Blood and Water. I tried to pants the whole thing, then stopped cold and froze in my tracks about halfway through, when I got seriously stuck. I knew where I needed to go but had no idea how to get there. And instead of taking the time to sit down and work through the tangled mess my plot was in, I stubbornly avoided dealing with the issue. I didn’t go back to the MS for days. Even though I knew I had some serious work to do, I ignored it. That was easier.

Now I’m in a similar bind with Reflections. I started off with something like an outline, and then I ditched it in favor of pantsing (again). I’m 40K into the first draft now and I have hit a massive wall. I don’t know where I’m going. I know (mostly) what needs to happen next and how the story will end, but I don’t know how to get there. And, again, instead of just sitting down and taking the time to figure out what to do, I’ve been avoided the blank page. I’ve been walking around with my fingers in my ears and humming in an effort to block out the novel’s siren song.

But that ends today. I’m taking some advice I’ve gotten from some wonderful people on Twitter and rereading this post on Ava Jae’s blog and I’m whipping my plot into shape. I’m going to write a synopsis from where I am now in the plot and moving forward. Then, I’m going to transfer everything to the cork board on Scrivener and hope for the best.

Once I know where I’m going next, I’ll get this bad boy written.

What do you do when you feel like you’ve hit a wall in your writing?

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Have you hit a writing wall? In this post, @brianawrites shares her struggle with her current WIP. (Click to tweet)