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!

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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!

Posted in Writing

Random Thoughts on Creating Characters

 

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after taking a week off for Spring Break. We didn’t go anywhere but we did have a nice week away from school and work even though it SNOWED.

 

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I was so disappointed when I woke up to snow on April 3. We were supposed to go up north, but when the snow hit we decided to wait until it was a little warmer because we’re tired of winter.

So to make sure my kids didn’t get bored we arranged a couple of sleepovers and one of them was with their cousin. When he was over, they stumbled across the show “The Office” on Netflix.

 

OMG! This show is hilarious. When I watched a few episodes when it first came out, I didn’t get into it for some reason. Probably because my kids were small and I didn’t have time for TV. Since I’ve been reintroduced to the series, we’ve been binge watching it over this cold and snowy weekend and the whole family enjoys it.

It’s a great show to watch from a writer’s perspective. I’ve been working a lot on creating characters and it’s so interesting to see how the different personalities in this show interact and conflict. My favorite character is Jim. He’s so easygoing and plays practical jokes on all the others. It’s fun to watch how the different characters react especially Dwight.

Speaking about shows that have incredible characters, there’s “Breaking Bad.” One of my all-time favorites. If you need a good representation of character arc, just take a look at Walter White and see how he transforms throughout the show. It’s amazing and totally believable.  It’s not a comedy like “The Office,” and it’s incredibly intense, but it’s an awesome show to watch.

I’ve been working on developing my characters so that they’re more three dimensional because that’s what readers want, right? So I’ve been working on their strengths, their flaws, their goals, and their quirks. Humans are so interesting and they’re full of contradictions. So our characters should also be that way. Wouldn’t you agree?

When you’re creating your characters dig deep. Find their strengths and weaknesses and create other characters that have strengths and weaknesses that conflict with your main character. Because all of us writers know that the greater the conflict the greater the story. Right?

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Just a few writerly thoughts on a cold, snowy spring day. How about you, how do you determine the personalities of your characters? Leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Parenting, raising kids, Teen, Writing

Protecting Our Kids

 

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back after a busy week of revisions and editing. My revisions for my first MS have been sent off to my beta readers, and I’ve started editing my rough draft of my second one.  I’m crossing my fingers. The characters in these books have made me work hard and I’m proud of the results. Let’s hope the Beta readers like them.

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But enough about that. Last week I wrote a post about finding your passion because I’d done an author visit at one of the schools in the area. I received some emails from some of the students who enjoyed my presentation and I thought I’d share one of them with you.

 

Hi Lisa,

Thank you for coming to our school and talking to us 6th graders about your awesome books! I got the second book from the Super Spies series, and I am so excited to read it! Thank you for answering all of our questions. We learned a lot about being an author and how to write good stories!

Thanks Again!

 

When I get feedback like this, it makes all the hard work and sacrifices worth it. I love inspiring kids to step out of their comfort zones and pursue their dreams. After my presentation last week, some of the kids gathered around me and told me about the stories they were writing. Their enthusiasm was overwhelming and sparked my resolve to keep going with my writing.  It’s funny all it takes is spending some time with kids, and it urges me to keep pushing forward.

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Our kids are our most valuable resource. We need to protect them. It seems like our world is getting more and more dangerous and our kids are the ones suffering because of it. We have human traffickers, mass shootings, and child abuse.

 

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How do we protect our kids?

 

To protect our kids from human traffickers and child abuse we parents must be involved in our children’s lives. Most predators target kids who come from low income homes, whose parents are busy trying to make ends meet. They also target kids with low self-esteem. Kids who don’t have a role model to look up to. So in a nutshell, we have to do a better job at parenting.

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As for Mass shootings, better parenting is only half of the answer. We also need to have stronger communities. For those families whose circumstances aren’t ideal, the community should pull together and support them. Make sure the children don’t fall through the cracks and become victims of bullying and other stressors that affect teens. Once we’ve got those support systems in place, then we can move forward from there.

My next question for everyone is this. How do we go from an idealistic kid like the one above to a kid who’ll take a gun into a school and shoot up his classmates? If we can answer that question, we’ll be moving in the right direction.

Let me know your thoughts. Leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Family, Writing

Finding Balance in 2018

 

 

Hello everyone. I hope all is well with you. I’m back today and I’ve gone through the edits on my latest MS. It’s coming together and I’m excited about this story! I’m going to go through it one more time before I start the query process so wish me luck!

 

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I don’t know about you, but lately I’ve been struggling with finding balance. I’m devoting as much time as I can to my writing, but it’s hard when you only have so many hours in the day and so many goals. For example, I’m trying to be the best mom I can be, the best writer I can be, and live my best life. Sometimes my goals compete with each other, and I have to choose.

I always put my kids first, but when I do that, I have to put my writing aside for later, but when I do that I ultimately skip my exercising for the day, and let’s face it, that’s not good for my health. Then I have to deal with the guilt of not taking care of myself.

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So to avoid that, and the frustration I feel if I don’t spend time each day writing, I’ve worked out a schedule where I focus on one goal at a time and I give myself permission to focus on that one goal. This is important, giving yourself permission because it alleviates all those negative emotions like guilt and frustration.

 

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I’ve also whittled my goals down to three. This is a big step because sometimes the reason we can’t find balance is because we’ve overloaded ourselves. So I’ve simplified them and shrunk them down to three broad ones.

I want to be the best mom I can be and that means being present and taking care of my kids’ emotional and physical needs. However, to be the best mom I can be, there are times when I have to take care of me, too. So I’m going to make sure I take time to exercise and eat healthy and every once in a while take a little time to just be instead of do.

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I also want to be the best writer I can be so I’ve got to take time to do this. I’ve got to hone my craft and write incredible stories. 🙂 I’m doing this by working with critique partners and mentors. I want my writing to move to the next level and the only way to do that is to improve.

 

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I also want to live my best life. To do that I have to take care of my relationships with my hubby and my kids and my extended family and friends.

This is how I’m going into 2018. I’m simplifying and focuses with a laser instead of a flashlight. How about you? How are you approaching the New Year and what do you see on the horizon? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!