Posted in Guest Author, Writing

From the Writing Trenches with Linda Ransom

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you! Today, I have a guest post from author Linda Ransom and she’s writing today about how to deal with anxiety and self-doubt. Take it away, Linda!

A Post from the (Writing) Trenches

            Writing is difficult. What I have found, however, in writing a young adult fantasy trilogy and now moving onto another young adult fantasy series, is that the anxiety and self-doubt that accompany the written word are even harder to manage.

            Anxiety and self-doubt are things most writers learn to deal with as they go, but that doesn’t mean those things go away. In fact, they usually get worse the more books you write and publish. This seems odd, you might think, and you’re right – it is odd. I can only speak for myself, and from my own experience, of course; some writers may never feel pressure about their work.

            With each book I write and publish, I wonder if it’s good. Will anyone want to read it? What if my characters aren’t compelling enough? What if no one cares about them as much as I do? All of these questions, and countless more, roam randomly through my mind every day. Mind you, sometimes not as loudly as other days – sometimes the questions are mere whispers that I’m able to ignore. Other days, like right now, as I’m writing this, they roar. The doubt and anxiety shriek inside my head so much that I want to go back to bed and never, ever, write again.

            What causes the stress and the doubt?  Sometimes, it’s bad reviews. More often than not, though, it’s my inner critic. Every writer has one. The IC lives to tell you how terrible you are. It loves to nitpick every single thing you write. On a writer’s best day, she can tell it to be quiet. Or, you know, yell, “SHUT UP!” at it. Those days, it’s easy to believe in yourself and your work. You love your story, your characters.

            And then there are the other days. For me, that’s today. My next series, The Traitors’ War, is one I’ve been circling around and working on since 2005. I have numerous notebooks and Pinterest boards devoted to it. I’ve written the first book several times; it’s never been right. But I just finished what is probably the fifth or sixth draft of it (I’ve lost count by now), and it’s good. It’s right.

            Or, I thought it was, when I finished it last week (September 5th). Today, when I’m almost a week out from it? The Inner Critic is telling me how bad it really is, how no one would ever want to read it, and that my time spent writing is wasted.

            On my best day, I don’t hear my IC. On a good day, a normal day, I can keep its buzzing voice down so it’s not that noticeable. And on a day like today, I just listen to it, because maybe it’s right. Maybe my time would be better spent doing something else, like a reading a book by one of my favorite authors, a writer who knows what she’s doing.

            But the thing is, does she? Do any of us who write? Or do they do what I have to do: plow ahead anyway, pretending like they know they’re decent, maybe even good, writers?  One can only hope. I know I’m not alone in this struggle with the IC. But even if I am, there’s nothing to be done for it but to keep writing, because I’ve discovered over time that I can’t not write. I can’t let my fantasy world I’ve built up over the last fifteen years waste away out of fear that I’m not good enough for it.

            That’s really the root of the thing for me. I love Imperium, my fantasy world, so much, and the people in it, that I’m afraid I’m not the writer it needs. I’m afraid it needs a better, stronger, smarter writer, that it deserves one. But I also believe that stories find the one meant to tell them, too. I believe Imperium came to me because I can handle it. I believe the same of my Flying Ponies trilogy, too. Those antique magical carousel horses and the Flynn family wanted insignificant me to tell their story, and I did, to the best of my ability. Another writer could’ve done it better, I’m sure. I’m still learning my craft. But they chose me, and I’m so glad they did. That was a marvelous adventure, and I know I’ll have many more with The Traitors’ Warif I don’t listen to my Inner Critic.

            So what’s a writer to do when the anxiety and self-doubt set in? I think the answer is, it’s different for everyone. Every writer is unique. Every story is different. And your IC is specific to you, too, and the kind of stories you write. Writing all of this down, getting it all out – it helps. Will it help you? I don’t know. But once you find what works for you, what keeps your IC at bay – use it. Do it. Why?

            Because no one can tell your story but you.

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It’s time for the final round-up. Charlotte Flynn has fought enemies, battled monsters and fallen in love. Now, with the help of Black, Dante and her family and friends, she will face down Penumbra and his herd one last time. Penumbra’s power has grown. Summoning all the loose magic to himself, the dapple-grey has become almost invincible. Only a few Flying Ponies, including Dreadful and Chieftain, can withstand his call. Knowing time is running out, Charlotte and her allies make a stand at a run-down amusement park. There they hope to trap Penumbra and strip away his magic. But little do they realize how truly dark his magic has grown, or how strong. Charlotte will have to unite her family and ally with her enemies if she has any hope of defeating Penumbra and unifying the Flying Ponies for good.

Spin (The Flying Ponies) https://www.amazon.com/dp/1732058849/ref=cm_sw_r_fm_apa_i_mP7zFbKXB3SBP

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Lift (The Flying Ponies) https://www.amazon.com/dp/1732058806/ref=cm_sw_r_fm_apa_i_3P7zFb0QC7B2Y

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Tilt (The Flying Ponies) https://www.amazon.com/dp/1732058822/ref=cm_sw_r_fm_apa_i_kQ7zFbZWB3F80

Thanks, Linda for being a guest today and sharing your thoughts! It’s greatly appreciated. How about you? How do you deal with your anxiety and self-doubt? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Writing

Why We Write

 

 

Hello everyone. I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a busy couple of weeks. I attended a writer’s conference last weekend and this week I had an author night at one of our local bookstores. I’m also putting some finishing touches on my latest WIP and I’ve got another one going strong. So it’s a busy time for me.

During the writing conference we were asked to answer the question: why we write?

 

Photo via VisualHunt

There’s a different answer for each and every author. Some do it out of love for the written word. Others do it because they feel they have something important to say. Still others do it just to silent the voices in their heads. Whatever the reason, you must keep writing. We need books now more than ever.

I learned while at this conference that 40% of public schools no longer have a librarian. Isn’t this sad?  It’s just one more responsibility heaped upon our already over-extended and stressed out teachers to instill a love of reading for their students.

 

 

Photo credit: Super Furry Librarian via Visual hunt / CC BY-NC-SA

But how can they do that if there aren’t new and exciting books? That’s where we, the storytellers come in. We need to write as many quality stories as we can. We need to entice our readers to fall in love with our books so they’ll want to keep reading. This is incredibly important. Why?

Because right now ninety one million people are functionally illiterate in the United States alone. That means they can’t read, write, or use numbers sufficiently well to get along in society.  Every year at least a million functionally illiterate students graduate from America’s high schools. This is an epidemic.

We need to turn this around. It is up to us the authors to do this. The teachers can’t do it by themselves. I know what some of you may be thinking. Ninety one million people? So what? It’s their problem not mine.

Well. You’re wrong. It is your problem because you may have to deal with someone who’s illiterate in your life. Maybe at work. Maybe as a customer or client. They’re going to be difficult to work with if they can’t understand basic concepts because they can’t read.

What if one of those illiterate people somehow manages to find a position of power in our country. Do you really want him/her to make decisions for you?

 

I sure don’t.

Our government needs to stop buying weapons and invest in our educational system right now. Our adversaries won’t have to go to war and take us over with physical force. They’ll wait and let us destroy ourselves then come in and take over when we’re reeling from our own destruction.

Photo via Visualhunt.com

So writers keep writing. You’re needed now more than ever.

 

Do you have any ideas on how to turn this situation around? Leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you!

 

 

Posted in Health, Writing

Why Writers Need to Exercise

 

Hello everyone. I hope all is well with you. I’m back today and I’m kind of stuck on my WIP. I’ve got to rework a beginning and I’ve got two that I’ve somehow got to blend together.  I’m having a little trouble doing that. Sigh. So instead, I’m writing a blog post.  I know it’s avoidance at its finest. Don’t judge me.

Today, I’m writing about the benefits of exercise for writers. Writing is such a sedentary activity and it’s great for our brain, but not so good for us physically.

We all know exercise is good for our body, but did you know it’s also good for your brain?

Photo credit: A Health Blog via Visual Hunt / CC BY-SA

 It’s true. In a study done at the University of Columbia, researchers found that regular aerobic exercise appears to boost the size of the hippocampus, the part of the brain involved in verbal memory and learning. To read more on this click the link. http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/regular-exercise-changes-brain-improve-memory-thinking-skills-201404097110

Exercise also helps the brain with memory and thinking. It does this by reducing inflammation, insulin resistance, and by stimulating growth factors. Chemicals in the brain that affect the health of brain cells.

This is all well and good, but all I really need to know is I feel better when I exercise compared to when I don’t.

My sciatica was bothering me for the last couple of months, so I stopped my exercise routine to let it heal. Let me tell you, I was grumpy and just didn’t feel like myself.

I just started running again and two days into my new routine and I’m feeling great. My mood has improved dramatically, and I’m getting all kinds of ideas for my stories. That’s a good thing! 🙂

The reason we feel better when we exercise is because our body releases chemicals called Endorphins into our system. These Endorphins interact with receptors in our brain that reduce our perception of pain. They also trigger a positive feeling in the body, much like morphine.

Physical activity also stimulates the release of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. These brain chemicals play an important part in regulating your mood. These chemicals also play a role in combating depression. To find out more clink this link healthline.com

This is good for anyone who has to deal with depression, and I know a few authors who have to deal with that.

 

Photo via VisualHunt

Taking care of our bodies is really quite simple. I know what you’re thinking. Simple, yes, but hard to do, and time consuming. I know. I hear you. But once you make it a habit, then it’s not so bad. You can build your daily schedule around your exercise routine.

One thing that goes hand in hand with exercise, is eating right. I know you’ve heard this before, but I’m an author. I know how easy it is to get lost in your Work in Process and if you’re like me, you don’t always eat right. I no longer keep a bowl of chocolate by my computer when I’m working. I make myself take breaks and fix healthy meals. Sometimes, it’s hard to do, but it’s better in the long run.

Photo credit: vitamina.verde via Visualhunt.com / CC BY

 

So, writers, authors, and bloggers take time out to exercise and eat right. Get out of that chair! It’s good for your body and your brain. 🙂

Thanks for stopping by and reading my post. How about you? Do you have any exercise routines you’d like to share?

 

Posted in Writing

Writing for Different Publishers: Nell Dixon

Hello everyone! I hope all is well with you. I’ve got Nell Dixon here as a guest and she’s explaining what it’s like to write for different publishers. I’m sure you’ll enjoy her thoughts! Take it away Nell!

Writing for Different Publishers

 

Photo credit: sullen_snowflakes via Visualhunt / CC BY-NC-ND

I didn’t begin my writing career intending to write for lots of different publishers. Back in 2006 when I sold my first book I sold two books in one week. My first was to a small – now sadly defunct – US sweet romance specialist, Moonlit Romance. That was on the Monday, on the Friday I sold another story to a UK print company. I went on to sell several books to Moonlit Romance and then they asked if I could write something short for an anthology for their Inspirational sister company, By Grace. So of course, I did. This took me up to three companies.

I still had rights from my UK print sale, so I sold large print rights to another UK print company and e book rights to Samhain. It helped that the book, Marrying Max, had won a major UK prize. Samhain also bought one of my chick lit titles too. By then I was up to five different companies in two different countries and three different formats. I began to worry, maybe it was better to concentrate just on a couple of companies. I was told it made it easier for readers to find my backlist.

Other authors told me it was good to diversify, to spread my risk in case anyone folded. I’d just sold my first single title to Little Black Dress, part of the Hachette publishing group when Moonlit and By Grace folded, returning my rights to me. It looked as if the diversify group were right. I went on to sell four books to Little Black Dress who in turn sold my books into Turkish, Bulgarian, German, Spanish and Indonesian before that line too closed.

Undeterred, I’ve since sold to Myrmiddon, Freya’s Bower, Clean Reads and E-Scape Press and in audio format to Audiolark. I also had an agent for a while but at this point in my career it isn’t what I need right now. As publishing houses and lines closed and different rights returned I launched my own press house.

Brierley Rose Press publishes some of my stories and some for other authors. It also acts as a promotional company and helps other writers find editors, cover artists etc. I now have twenty-nine books in various formats, I have won two major UK national awards and several US awards. Some of my titles have been Amazon best sellers having hit the top 100. What have I learned from all this?

Photo credit: danielmoyle via VisualHunt.com / CC BY

Check your contracts carefully – always look to see what rights you are selling – if the company wanting them aren’t going to do anything with them then keep them and sell them yourself. Large print, audio and foreign rights can be lucrative. Check that you can get your rights back if the company folds. Check the standard of editing, book covers and marketing. Make sure you understand cover price, gross and net and third party sales.

Don’t spread yourself too thin. You need time to meet deadlines, promote properly and ensure the quality of your writing. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice from other authors. Always remember that money flows to the author and not the other way round. Be realistic about setting your advertising budgets. Most of all enjoy the ride – you’ll meet some great readers, bloggers, reviewers and fellow writers on the journey.

 

Fliss is running away from her past. Jack isn’t looking for anyone in his future.
This short novella was first published in the anthology 2003 Hardin Way

Click here to buy.

 Nell Dixon is a Black Country author, married to the same man for over thirty years she has three daughters, a tank of tropical fish, a crazy Cockerpoo dog and a cactus called Spike. Winner of the RNA’s prestigious Romance Prize in 2007 and 2010, she writes warm-hearted contemporary romance for a number of publishers in the US and the UK. Her latest titles include Christmas Ever After, A Chance to Heal and An Uncivil War. Her latest release, A Chance to Heal is available from Amazon for just 99c or 99p You can find her on Twitter, Facebook and all over the internet. Stop by and say Hi.