encouragement

Find Your Freaks

tribeWe all have things that make us a little…strange. Most of us keep our weirdness a secret. Some are just desperate to fit in with everyone else, convinced if we just try hard enough we can look normal. But deep down we know that we are just hurting ourselves in the end because there is something so fabulous about being your true self. What’s even better? Finding that special group of crazies that are freaks just like you. That’s when true freedom takes over, that’s where the magic is.

I am what you might call a late bloomer. It took me years to embrace my weird, to admit it even to myself. I was a closet writer (sometimes literally writing in a closet!) and my beliefs about the world make it hard to always fit in. I am a Christian, but I believe the Bible is true in the most literal sense which makes even my fellow Christians uncomfortable. (Honestly, it makes me uncomfortable, too! Have you read this book? Some of it sounds crazy!) I love fantasy and paranormal fiction, movies, and tv shows. I play World of Warcraft, homeschool my kids, use essential oils, have vivid dreams, find inspiration in trees, and write fantasy books for teenagers. Oh yeah, and I have a secret affection for dubstep. My life is weird and not in any way normal. The truth is, there aren’t a lot of groups where I “fit in” because there aren’t that many people who are weird like me. But that’s okay. I have found a few here and there who let me be weird, who even seem to like me for it, and that’s all I need. Sure, I’d like to be the queen of nerds in my own little corner leading a group of like-minded freaks who can all have a secret clubhouse with a club motto and a secret handshake, but until then, I’ll be content with a few friends who cheer me on and challenge me to be the best me there ever was. And in return, I vow to cheer on the freaks I meet along the way.

Tomorrow I get to introduce you to my brand new series chock full of freaks you are going to love (and maybe a few you’ll love to hate.) But today, I am celebrating the freaks in real life, the brave beautiful people who aren’t afraid to stand up and be themselves. Let’s cheer on the fabulous freaks around us. Maybe your voice will be the one that gives them strength to be who they were always meant to be. So, who are you cheering for today?

encouragement, Indie Authors, Share the Love Scavenger Hunt

Share the Love for Your Favorite Author

Heather headshotAll month long we’ve been sharing the love of books and our favorite indie authors with our Share the Love Scavenger Hunt. If you’ve been following us on Facebook, you know that the authors are sharing some too and that means FREE books!

Most of us become authors because we have a story to tell. Before we were writers, we were readers, and even now the writers I know are passionate fans.  The discussions and debates over books in a group of writers can get downright…lively. So, if you ask us what we think about a book or an author, we’re happy to tell you! And that is the best thing any reader can do for an author they love – Tell someone!

With that in mind, I thought I would share a few tips on how YOU, dear reader, can share the love with your favorite authors.

Share a Review
This the most powerful way to shout your love from the rooftops and tickle your favorite author’s fancy. A review is a public declaration of your affections. It not only cheers your author on to greater things, it sells books! That’s right – YOU have the power to help your author succeed. In the end all the work we put into our books is still worthless if our readers don’t share their enthusiasm with other readers. We rely on you to tell friends and family and anyone on the street with an iPhone or Kindle that we have a story worth reading. A positive book review is even better because it’s permanent and posted for all to see. Book reviews sell books!

While I was preparing for this post, I hopped over to Amazon to check out the changes they’ve made (They’ve recently nixed “likes” and “tags” which used to be easy ways to help readers find your favorite authors.) I stopped by the Amazon page for A Light In the Darkness and found a new review had been posted. My heart began to race and I nearly squealed with delight (yes, I really do this!) A new review filled with thoughtful opinion and cheerful enthusiasm can carry me afloat for the rest of the day and drives me back into the arms of my worrisome “work in progress” so that I struggle through another round of edits just to satisfy the desires of my readers who leave comments like, “I can’t wait for her next book in this series!!” Want to see more books from your favorite author? Leave a review telling everyone why they should read the author’s book and end it by cheering them on to keep writing. At the very least, maybe your review will help sell a few more books, pay another bill or even fund the next book in the series. Remember, reviews sell books!

Share a Link
Do you follow your favorite authors online? Another simple way to share the love is to join an author’s Facebook page, Twitter following, and blog and then share the links with friends. This is twice as fun when you are a fan of indie authors because most of us have a lot more time on our hands for fan interaction than the big names do. As a matter of fact, even when we don’t have a lot of time, we are likely to respond because most of us opted for indie status in hopes of connecting with our readers in a more personal way than traditional publishing allows. We’re fan girls (or boys) too, for the most part, so we get it. You want to know what’s up with a certain character or when the next book is coming out? Wonder how they were inspired or why the book writing is taking so long? All of that is usually shared in social media if you’re keeping up. So, if you have groupie tendencies, join the fun. Then, share the love by retweeting or sharing links to the posts that fascinate you and might interest your book loving friends. Who knows, you might even become actual friends with your favorite author! Wouldn’t that rock?!

 Share the Love
Now that you know how to share the love with your favorite author, it’s time to get busy! Come back later for today’s Share the Love Scavenger Hunt clue! 

 

encouragement, nanowrimo, writer's life

Write to Fight Summer Boredom

Writers are lucky creatures.  We keep entertainment at our fingertips.  So, there is no excuse for complaining that you are bored this summer like all the other kids.  Kick that rear in gear and grab a notebook or a laptop and get busy throwing some words down.  Here are a few sites to help you get moving and fight that summer boredom:

http://campnanowrimo.org/

  • What: Writing one 50,000-word novel from scratch in a month’s time.
  • Who: You! We can’t do this unless we have some other people trying it as well. Let’s write laughably awful yet lengthy prose together.
  • Why: The reasons are endless! To actively participate in one of our era’s most enchanting art forms! To write without having to obsess over quality. To be able to make obscure references to passages from our novels at parties. To be able to mock real novelists who dawdle on and on, taking far longer than 30 days to produce their work.
  • When: You can sign up anytime to add your name to the roster. Writing begins 12:00:01 AM on June 1, and again on August 1. To be added to the official list of winners, you must reach the 50,000-word mark by 11:59:59 PM on the last day of the month. Once your novel has been verified by our web-based team of robotic word counters, the partying begins.

http://junowrimo.com/

From JuNoWriMo’s about page:

JuNoWriMo is June Novel Writing Month, started by Becca J. Campbell and Anna Howard to have a slightly different take on a month long noveling adventure. For starters, you don’t have to write a novel (you can write creative non-fiction, so bring on the funny/meaningful memoirs or whatever), write a new novel (did you write 5 pages last month and you can’t get going? That’s okay, write the next 50,000 words with us!).

 

http://ywp.nanowrimo.org/

The dare machine is still running over at Nanowrimo’s Young Writer’s Program page.  Why not hop on over and give it a whirl.  It can help you power through the brick wall of Writer’s Block or at least provide a few laughs when you’re stuck in Writer’s Grump.  Make a game of it with your writerly friends.  Spin the machine and challenge each other to a dare.  You can also bum around their forums and make a few new writer friends if you are starting to feel alone in your literary world.

 

And please don’t forget to come back here for lots of writing fun.  I have more books, interviews with authors and writing exercises to get us all through the dog days of summer.  See you soon!

Heather

encouragement, writing advice

>In a Funk

>**** Congratulations to Robyn Leatherman who won the copy of TEEN Agents in the Plundered Parent Protocol!  ****

We all know that writers (and other artist types) are known for their moodiness.  The truth is writing, like many art forms, is a study in extremes.  Even without global success, writers like moi experience this phenomenon.  When you finish a story that’s been rolling around inside of you for a while, it is such an awesome high.  You feel exuberant and eager to share it with the world.  Then, eventually, you come crashing down when you realize it is obviously flawed and the world does not share your enthusiasm for the work you’ve done.

In addition to this unavoidable scenario, you, as writer, will stumble inevitably into the dreaded writer’s block.  After writing for weeks without stop, you suddenly find yourself crushed up against a wall of nothingness.  No words can be found, formed, and filled into the void that has become your latest manuscript.   It’s disheartening at the very least.  At the worst, it can be what leads to drunkeness and debauchery in so many of the world’s best artists.  I now can say I understand an inkling of their pain.

After finishing my recent novel, I found my mind aflood with imagery that needed to be expressed.  I wrote daily, almost obsessively, for months.  However, as I turned my attention to the sequel, I found myself slowing to a crawl.  I couldn’t help but focus on all the flaws in my original manuscript.  I began to worry about the reactions of those I had sent it to for feedback and review.  I thought I would snap out of this funk by shifting my attention to other writerly pursuits like this blog.  Alas, now the funk has spread. I began avoiding the computer altogether.  I find myself struggling to sit down and type even one sentence of inspiration for all of you lovely readers.

But, lo!  What do I see?  I have now finished three paragraphs.  They may not be brilliant, they are certainly flawed, but they are there.  They exist.  It’s a start.  I am reminded of a thought I recently read.  Some author more brilliant than I stated that to be a writer you must write every day.  (Okay, actually, ALL the writers I know say this, so that is no surprise.)  He goes on to explain that even if you write drivel three or four days in a row, on the next day you may write something brilliant.  This spark becomes a fire and soon enough you are writing again like never before.  What a wonderful thought!

Don’t give up when you hit that wall.  Keep writing.  Maybe you have to switch gears, write in a journal for a few days, write letters to your grandmother, write instructions on how to feed your pet gerbil.  I don’t know, but keep writing.  Write every day!  This is how you overcome, by continuing on even when life tries to slow you down.  Don’t give up.  The words will come eventually, but it is your job to be there when they arrive, ready to capture them and force them into submission.  Are you ready?

Gotta Write,
Heather

encouragement, writer's life

>The Writer’s Life: Encouragement

>****If you would like to win a free copy of TEEN Agents in the Plundered Parent Protocol by Joshua Unruh, please leave a comment below.****

 I love teaching almost as much as I love writing.  Each year I get to work with some incredible young writers as we write together during National Writing Month.  I work with writers as young as second grade! It’s fabulous fun watching them try new things and bravely capture all their thoughts and ideas on paper.  I love it!

I find middle school writers to be particularly interested in developing their craft.  However, these writers are so often easily discouraged by teachers, parents and friends when the people around them don’t see the value in the hobby they have chosen.  It’s often solitary work, that of a writer, and I think young people feel the pain of it more easily.  They don’t want to be the weird one who would rather curl up with a good book than play soccer, or hide in a quiet spot with their writing notebook instead of play at recess.  But, for those of us with this love of words burning in our hearts, we can’t deny it for long.  Eventually we’re right back in that favorite place, scribbling furiously or reading as fast as we can stand.

All it takes to keep us going is a friend smiling good naturedly when they find us hiding with our journal, or a pat on the back from a teacher, a “good job” from mom or dad or favorite aunt.  A little encouragement goes a long way.  Some of these young writers will be the next great novelist or write a smash movie script, but most will just be really eloquent as they defend their doctoral dissertation or write an encouraging letter to a heartbroken friend.   So, let’s cheer them on!  Give them a smile when they chatter to you about their writing and then show them this blog.  I hope to be the friendly voice who encourages them to keep trying, keep reading, keep writing.

If you know any young writers you want to encourage, please share my site with them, too.  Hand them some paper and a pencil on Mondays when I post a writing exercise or ask them what they think about The Writer’s Life posts each Thursday.  Challenge them to think, to read and, above all, to keep writing.

 Gotta write, Heather