Posted in Guest Author, Writing

Please Welcome Linda Ransom!

 

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. Today, I’ve invited a guest to stop by and share her story with us. Her name is Linda Ransom and her book looks wonderful. Give Linda a big hand! Take it away Linda!!

 

REINVENTING  THE FLYNNS

A few years back, I decided to participate in NANOWRIMO, or National Novel Writing Month. The goal of NANOWRIMO, for all of its many participants, is to complete 50,000 words by the end of November, the chosen month for the writing competition. I decided to write a story I’d been making notes for, called Smoke City Heroes. It centered on the Flynn family, a group of six siblings who lived with their eccentric Uncle Baron after both of their parents had passed away. The kids decide to become super heroes after witnessing the many crimes and gangs overtaking Smoke City, where they live.

I absolutely loved the idea. Two notebooks were filled with characters pictures and information, and information on the city itself. November came and I started writing, eager to see the siblings develop into crime-fighting heroes.

Long story short, as they say: the story tanked around 200 pages, and I didn’t hit my 50,000 word count. I liked what I had written, but the story wasn’t flowing like it should, and my main characters, the Flynn family, didn’t seem to be enjoying it, either. Being a writer who doesn’t outline her stories (at least, not more than a few sentences), I count on my characters and the story itself to direct where it’s going. When that doesn’t happen, everything hits a brick wall.

Giving up on the Flynns, I moved on to an epic fantasy story that I completed and sent to a publisher. That story was rejected – it’s being rewritten and will be my next series after the completion of The Flying Ponies trilogy – and I needed something new to work on. In August of 2016, I was browsing my Pinterest home page, and came across a picture of an antique carousel horse that hadn’t been restored (as of the picture’s date). I started thinking about that old horse, and what would happen if he was endowed with ancient magic.

From that idea, the Flying Ponies Grand Carousel was born. Built in the early teen years of the 1900’s, the horses on the carousel were given magic by their owner and placed on Coney Island. After the carousel was removed, it ended up in the Michigan woods. With the story set in our modern time, I needed characters to help the story develop. Remembering how much I had enjoyed writing the Flynn family, I got out my old Smoke City Heroes notebook and looked at their character sketches again. Deciding to take them out of their old story setting and place them in this new one was the best thing I could’ve done, for them and for me.

That idea about magical flying carousel horses turned into Lift, first in The Flying Ponies trilogy. It released in April 2018 from Wicked Whale Publishing. Book two in the trilogy, Tilt, was emailed to my editor earlier this week, on December 10th.

The Flynn family (and Smoke City itself) helped make Lift the book it is. If I had drawn up other characters I don’t know as the story would’ve evolved in the same way. Charlotte, the main character in the trilogy, bonded with the carousel horses and became a stronger character than she could’ve been in Smoke City Heroes. The same is true for the rest of the Flynns; they all grew and became better as a result. For a writer who is concerned with story and character over plot and its many devices, watching characters get up and walk around and become real people is mesmerizing, and that’s what happened after placing the Flynns within the structure of Lift.

If you have characters you love but their stories didn’t pan out the way you wanted, or they hit a brick wall like my initial story with the Flynns did, try placing them in a new story, a new situation. Characters are funny creatures; we as the writers create them, but once they have a space of their own, they become real and want to run the show themselves. While that might seem scary if that’s not how you usually write, it’s an amazing thing, and it can make your writing leap off the page and take twists and turns you never see coming.

           

 

Lift is available as both a soft cover and an e-book on Amazon here: (click the link below)

Available on Amazon

Author bio:

  1. M. Ransom lives in West Michigan with her husband, son, and daughter. She also shares her home with two crazy Dachsunds, and her heart with two naughty ponies. L.M. is a librarian by trade, and an author by passion. She draws from her lifelong love and obsession with all things equine to spin tales about nefarious carousel horses.
    A self-professed geek girl, L.M.’s fandoms span the galaxy from Tatooine to Gallifrey, and back down to the seedy streets of Gotham City. As a Christian, she feels a calling to tell clean, intriguing stories for readers to escape into. You can find L. M. on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and lmransom.com.

 

 

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Posted in Writing

Dealing with Self-Doubt

 

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back after a long week of studying for an exam. I passed! Yay! But enough about that.

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Unbeknownst to me, November 1st was National Author’s Day. I’m bummed that I missed it, but I was still trying to recover from studying for my exam, so I have a legitimate excuse.

Because I missed a Day that is near and dear to my heart, I thought I’d write about dealing with the self-doubt all writers deal with when they’re creating their stories. It can be crippling.

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So crippling that many writers don’t finish their work. They linger between rewriting and editing what they’ve already written and stopping their writing all together because they’re paralyzed with fear.

Part of this fear is that tiny negative voice in our heads that tells us we’re not worthy of our dreams and goals. It’s hard to block this voice out, but you must to continue your work.

So how do you drown out that voice that stops you in your tracks when you’re writing? That voice that makes you feel like every word you’re writing is drivel.

Well, the first thing I do is go for a walk. That’s right, I walk away from my manuscript and get out into nature. I’ve always found a hike through the forest is good for my soul as well as my body. Did you know that walking through the woods is good for your health? So, not only are you solving your plot holes, you’re also taking care of yourself.

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Another way, I deal with the self-doubt that leads to writer’s block is exercise. I go for a run or do some yoga. This physical activity releases those wonderful endorphins that make every situation easier to deal with and it really does dull that incessant voice in your head.

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The third thing I do is get together with friends and put my writing aside because staring at a blank page or rewriting the same chapter over and over again isn’t productive.

There’s an underlying theme here and that is self-care. Taking the time to step away from your manuscript and taking care of yourself is a sure-fire way to dull that nagging voice in your head. So, do what works for you. Take a bubble bath, cook an awesome meal, or binge watch something on Netflix. Whatever, your go to activity is do it when you’re feeling low and uncreative. You’ll reawaken that creative muse and you’ll be on your way. So, how do you deal with the self-doubt that plagues us all at times? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Writing

Take your time

 

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a hot and busy week of writing and kids. I’m loving this summer weather. It’s hot and sticky which is perfect for this time of year.

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Today I’d like to talk about writing and the importance of taking your time with your projects. I tend to get a great idea and rush my story because I’m so excited about it. That excitement is okay because I get my rough draft down fast, however, by doing it this way, I end up missing little details that make my writing special.

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When I slow down and take my time, my writing is so much better. It may take me longer, but I’ll have a better chance of writing a story that will resonate with readers if I take my time, and I’ll have a better chance at finding the success I’ve been searching for as well.

I’m dating myself here, but remember that old slogan, “We will sell no wine before its time?” That’s the kind of attitude I need to apply to my writing. Why? Because with the self-publishing boom there are books released on to the market that aren’t ready.  They need editing or they lack structure and that means the reader is going to put it down.

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What this means is if you want to make it in the publishing world you have to write an amazing story. There are a lot of mediocre stories out there and if you want an agent, you have to make your story shine. You have to write a story that grabs their attention.

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For me, that means I have to slow down and ignore all the books that are getting published and trust my process. I don’t need to hurry and get my story out there. I need to trust that my characters will lead me in the right direction. I need to do this to take my writing to the next level. The level where I’ll get agents and publishers to pay attention to my writing. Oh, and my story has to be that good, too.

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When I say that, what I mean is it has to resonate with readers. It has to be a significant story, not one that’s predictable and boring. So take your time and develop your characters. Make them interesting and achingly human. Those are the kind of characters your readers will relate to and those are the kind of books that sell.

Then make your plot interesting and spine-tingling. Make it so the reader not only falls in love with your characters, but they’re cheering for them to reach their goals. Those are the books that sell.

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What about you? What are your thoughts on this? Leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Writing

Do you Self-Sabotage?

 

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after an amazing Memorial Day weekend. We had awesome weather and we were on the lake, listening to the waves lap the shore and the far off buzz of jet skis and speed boats. The scent of grilling meat filled the thick, hazy air. It was almost summer. It was so idyllic. We haven’t had that kind of a weekend in a long time. I also got some writing done. Boy did that feel good.

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But enough about that. Today I’d like to talk about something that we all do to some extend or another. We self-sabotage. Why do we do it? In my opinion, we do it because we don’t believe we deserve to be successful, whether our goal is to be traditionally published or make the New York Times Bestsellers list. There’s an underlying belief deep in our subconscious that we don’t deserve to make our dreams come true. We sabotage ourselves in a variety of different ways. I’ve listed a few below. See if you recognize yourself.

The Procrastinator:

This person truly believes they want to accomplish their goals, but in reality, they find fifty million other things to do besides their writing. They’ll do housework, read Tarot cards, or just plain hang out on Facebook until all their time is sucked away.

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To remedy this situation, recognize when the procrastination bug hits you and stop. Take a deep breath and look at why you’re avoiding your writing.  Are you at a spot that’s difficult? Are you stuck? If so do something to get yourself moving again. Sometimes it’s best to step away from the project and go for a walk to clear your head. I’ve worked out many plot holes while traipsing through the woods and you can, too.

 

The Waffler:

 

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This person also believes he wants to accomplish his goals. He’ll even seek out advice from Critique Partners and other experts in order to bring his writing to the next level. However, he won’t accept any of the advice given to him because he disagrees with it. He likes his story just the way it is. He’s not really looking to make his story better, he’s looking for someone to tell him how great he is.

To remedy this situation, you first have to recognize that you’re doing it and admit it to yourself. That’s the hardest step. Then you have to take steps to really listen to the advice from the experts you’re working with. As uncomfortable as that may be, that’s the only way you’re going to grow as a writer.

 

The Ego-maniac:

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This person believes his story is the best and even though he seeks out advice from experts he never ever takes it because they just don’t get his vision for his story. Sometimes that may be true, but not all the time and if you fall under this category you may want to take a step back and reexamine the feedback you’re getting. If more than one person is giving you the same advice, you need to consider it.

To remedy this situation, you have to again recognize yourself in the behavior and check your ego at the door. Establish a relationship with another writer and ask them to be your critique partner. You also might want to explain to them about your big ego, that way they won’t get frustrated with you when you argue with them over the changes they think you should make in your story. Then follow their advice. 🙂

 

The Doodler:

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This person is someone who writes but it’s more social than anything else. They join all the Facebook groups on writing and engage in all the Twitter chats and even belong to a writing group that meets once a week or once a month. They talk about the story they’re writing, but they rarely finish the story they’re working on. They just like talking about it.

To remedy this situation, you have to make the decision on whether you really want to finish your story or not. If you just enjoy the social aspects of talking about your work, that’s okay there’s nothing wrong with that, but if you do want to finish you’ll have to cut back on the socializing and put your nose to the grindstone.

So there you have it, four types of self-sabotage. Do you recognize yourself? If so what steps are you going to take to remedy the situation? Leave a comment! I love hearing from you!

Posted in Writing

The Faleena Hopkins Saga

 

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. It’s Mother’s Day Weekend and I’m excited to celebrate my mom.  We’re all gathering at her house because she’s lives kind of in the center of all of us siblings.  That means I won’t be able to spend as much time writing as I would like, but it’s always like this at the end of the school year.

Anyway, today I thought I’d talk about a big blow up in the writing community.   This is one of those stories that is stranger than fiction and it’s totally true. We’ll call it The Faleena Hopkins Story.

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To get the full scoop check out Jenny Trout’s post on it here.   She has written so eloquently what everyone in the writing community is feeling and she gives you the facts on how it all came about. I’ll give you a quick run-down. Faleena Hopkins is a self-published author who has a series on the market with the word “Cocky” in her titles because her characters are the Cocker brothers. She has trademarked the word “Cocky.”

Now everyone in their right mind knows they can’t trademark titles or even words for that matter.  Because if you can, I’m going to trademark the words “The” and “And.” Do you see why you can’t do this?

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We all know Faleena is mistaken.  Her biggest mistake is that she doesn’t understand the difference between her brand and her title. “Cocky” is a word she is using in the title of her books. It is not a brand. Titles cannot be copyrighted and neither can names of characters.

To protect her “brand” she has sent cease and desist orders to other authors with the word “Cocky” in their titles. This has caused quite an uproar in the writing community and we have to question her motives. After all, I’ve never heard of Faleena Hopkins until this transpired. Now, all of a sudden her name is in blog posts and tweets have exploded on twitter discussing this issue. Could this be a publicity stunt that has gone hopelessly awry?

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No. I don’t think it is. I believe Faleena actually believed she was protecting her brand. She misunderstood what a brand was and unfortunately, this misunderstanding has hurt her writing career. Most likely ruined it. I know there are many readers who’ve been put off by Faleena’s actions. So if she’s hoping to ever get a traditional publishing deal…yeah…well that bridge has been burned.  The RWA (Romance Writers of America) has joined this battle to help some of these authors who now have to engage in costly legal battles to keep their titles.

We can all learn from Faleena’s mistake. When you start marketing your books, set some goals and figure out a way to reach them. If you have questions on how to do this, talk to other authors who are doing it. The writing community is filled with people who are willing to lend a hand. It’s such an amazing group of people and for God’s sake make sure you understand the difference between a brand and a title. It’ll save you all kinds of money in legal fees if you do. To get more info on the saga just follow the hashtags #cockygate and #ByeFaleena on Twitter. It’ll be interesting to see where this all goes.

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Thanks for stopping by and reading my post. What are your feelings on the Faleena Hopkins saga? Leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Writing

Taking It to the Next Level

 

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Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m knee deep in editing and revising two manuscripts and I’ve got a third one sitting on ice, waiting for me to get back to it. Then I had another idea just pop into my head this week. I’m letting that one percolate while I revise and then I’ll plot it out.

 

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But enough about that. Today I’d like to talk about what it takes to get to the next level. Whether you’re a writer or an artist or a salesman, there’s that moment where you plateau. You can’t go any further without making some changes.

So the first step is realizing that you’ve reached that point. You’ll recognize it because you’ll feel like a hamster caught on a wheel. Churning out the same product and getting the same results. You know you’ve got to make a change, but you’re not sure what that change is.

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Once you reach this point, you have to find a mentor. I believe in any type of enterprise, mentors are essential to the success of the business, whether you’re a salesman, author, or artist. You need someone who’s going to tell you the truth. I know it feels good to have someone lavish your work with compliments and tell you you’re awesome, and they may actually feel that way, but you need someone who’s going to help you grow. You need someone who’s going to take you past the mediocre point so you can become great. That’s what mentors do.

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I’ve found in business and in the creative field that the chance for success is increased greatly if you have a mentor helping you with your weak spots. It’s not always comfortable working with someone who’s critiquing you. Sometimes that criticism is hard to take, but it’s necessary for you to grow.

You also must make sure that mentor is credible. There are many people in the world who believe they’re experts. Not all of them are, so you need to do some research. Find someone who has a great track record. Talk with people who’ve worked with them in the past. Look at their history. Are they a best-selling author? Are they a top salesman? If you can answer yes to these questions and they’re interested in being your mentor, I say go for it. Remember the old saying…

 

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Thanks for stopping by and reading my post today. What are your thoughts on taking it to the next level? Leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you!