My Windy City Debut

So I made the big crazy move to Chicago. I got here in one piece, more or less, my poor kitty in tow. He handled the plane better than I thought he would, but I did take him to the vet to get a mild sedative before I left.  It truly is a different world than what I am used to. I’m from a small town with a majority senior citizen population, and everyone drives everywhere. Here everyone walks or rides the transit everywhere, and everything here is big.

I mean, really big. I now live in a 16 story building, and it is dwarfed by the buildings on either side.

Finding my way hasn’t been easy, and my roommate has been really patient with me, guiding me wherever I need to go.  I don’t have a lot of pictures yet, because I haven’t done any sightseeing of any kind. I sometimes wonder if I have done something insane. I probably have, but Eff it! I’m here. I’m going to make it work.

With that in mind, yesterday I joined a new witting group. This was my first time venturing out alone in the big city, unless you count the coffee shop a couple doors down from my building. And of course, I had to go to an evening writing group, because I never make anything easy on myself. Navigating home in the dark, luckily, was not scary at all, since one of the folks in my writing group lives in the same part of town as me, so I walked with him.  I am in a reputable part of town, so it is unlikely I would be mugged, but still. I like the statistics better when I’m not on my own.

Like everything in this foreign time zone, this group operates differently than the ones I have attended in the past. In this group, peer review has nothing to do with it. First they write independently of one another for about two hours give or take, then they gather for a discussion. My writing groups in the past would read six pages of a manuscript, then have a discussion where critique and review was offered, and then we would read the next manuscript. I even had one group that had a writing prompt at the beginning of every session. But hey, new city= new life + new method.

I have to admit, reader, than I have not been inspired to write at all lately. Mostly I’ve been feeling overwhelmed. First with the last minute decision to uproot my whole life and move halfway across the country, and the chaos that ensued in my household. Then, the day after I got here I came down with a stomach flu. YAY. Also, I don’t have internet in my apartment, so I have to go downstairs to the coffee shop. Their Wi-Fi only seems to work in the front half of the building, which is always packed with laptop-mesmerized patrons. I lucked out on Monday and got a spot, but I couldn’t update my blog because I needed to use my precious internet time to apply for jobs. Nobody seems to use paper applications here anymore. So don’t be surprised if there are interruptions in my regular postings. I will try, but life happens.

My friendly editor has the first draft of The Gatestone Chronicles: Fayling. I have some more work to do on the ending, but we are nearly there. Provided, of course, that I can find my way back to the world it takes place in. Hopefully things will settle down soon, and I can get back to my usual groove.

Kristin Swartfager is working on the art for Timmy Tommy Tum, our collaboration project for kids. There have been a few delays with that, but never fear, we are still working at it.

Well, that’s all that’s new in my world.

Happy writing!

Advertisements

What If. . .

what if

 

This quote was posted on The Writer’s Circle, a group that posts about writing stuff on Facebook (click the picture to go to their page). It inspired a conversation among my writer friends, in which one friend told me about a “what if?” writer’s conference she attended. The speaker gave them the following writing prompt:

  • In 12 words or less, starting with “what if” ,  charismatically describe your book so everyone will want to buy and and read it.

Sounds simple enough. But here’s the funny bit-it’s not. 

Here is what I came up with for The Gatestone Chronicles: Fayling

  • What if you were the only person who could fix magic?

It isn’t a bad sentence, but would it sell my book? It doesn’t really hit at the real story, does it?

Okay, let’s try again.

  • What if a human could save the universe from fairies?

Hmm. I like that one better. Closer to what the book is about, but it vilifies the fay a bit too much.

One more time.

  • What if saving one life could magically alter the course of fate?

Okay, well it isn’t perfect, but to be fair I have to keep it to twelve words, so it will do.

 

What about you reader? Tell me what you came up with in the comments below. Happy Writing!

Opinions, and Where to Put Them.

As you know, I live off in my own world, full of fairies, monsters, and creatures of my own invention. I like living this way, and I have no intentions of my work reflecting anything that isn’t me.  I’m weird, and I’m aware of it. It showed through in Tilted Tales, and it will shine equally as bright in Fayling (my pending novel).

Now, when I share my work for critique, I get lots of great advice and encouragement from my fellow group members. But I sometimes get critics who just don’t like my genre. They question a characters abilities, and try to enforce real-world physics into my book. “that’s not possible,” one person will say “a character cannot be all powerful” another will say. Yes, because being able to move walls means nothing can ever harm you. It’s an ability, my friend. Not all mighty perfection. Magic is supposed to be unexpected, and put the super  in supernatural. Their problem is not with my style, by the subject matter. And that is just fine; clearly they are not my target demographic.

Thank god J.K. Rowling didn’t listen to any such advice.

Feeling the way I did about the review of my current chapters, something occurred to me. I am always encouraging other writers to seek out and listen to the advice of other writers. I may have left an important tidbit of advice out of that sentiment:

Don’t stifle your own voice because someone doesn’t like your theme. Listen to the grammar corrections, and the honest concerns about your plot. But take the opinions of the people who don’t like the subject matter (and judge the work accordingly) and place their opinion on the shelf, where it belongs. Your writing is yours. Don’t let anyone try to change that.

Writers Helping Writers

I’ve talked about socializing and networking with other writers before, and today I would like to expand on that thought.

Recently I have been helping a friend with the formatting on her poetry book (You know I will blog about it when it is released). I’m certainly not an expert, but I am fairly well versed in several different book-related computer programs. I am always volunteering myself to teach people to use Microsoft word if they need help with it, among other things. I firmly believe if you have a bit of practical knowledge you should share it. When I finished my book my friend asked for my help with hers. She was having a hard time getting her book Create Space friendly, and of course I was happy to lend a hand-especially since I had the helping hand of a good friend with my own works. I’m happy to say it is coming along nicely- and bonus: in helping her I figured out a few new shortcuts I did not know before.

I can’t say this enough: Be a member of the writing community. There are tons of resources available for free, be it a blog, book, or video. But the strongest and most beneficial help you will ever receive is going to be from one-on-one interactions with other writers.  In my case, I take important editing advice from my writing group, from other bloggers, from online writing friends I have made, and from friends and family who read my work. You never know when someone random in your life will have that touch of expertise that you desperately need. Nobody is perfect, and nobody knows everything right out the gate. For anyone who wishes to be successful at any level, you must reach out to other writers, for about a million different reasons. It would take me weeks to write down every single benefit to having writer friends. Seriously.

If you really need an example to convince you, here it is: Saving my book to be suitable for Kindle was problematic for me- the words all mushed together, and all of my carefully plotted out spacing just went up in an unimpressive, underwhelming poof. I was venting this frustration to another writer, and he told me I was saving the file in the wrong format. That’s it. Drop down menu, one click. Entire problem solved with one sentence, just because I knew the right person, and said the right thing, at the right time.

So find a group, be it online or in person, and start meeting people. You can only benefit from the social networking, and you may prevent yourself from slowly morphing into a library troll. Nobody looks good with green skin.

Happy writing!

Authors to Read

Today I would like to talk about two authors I know that have greatly inspired me. I think you might enjoy their work, too.

In my Monday writing group is an extremely talented Sci-Fi author named John Kelly. My personal favorite s is a collection of linked short stories, titled Stuck Here. In most of the stories it follows an alien stuck on earth until the world progresses enough to replace a broken space ship part.  At just under 200 pages I read most of it in one sitting. Admittedly I couldn’t put it down, even though half of the stories I had already had the pleasure of reading in group.  It can be purchased for your e reader at the low price of $0.99, or you can buy a paperback copy (which I did) at $7.65 HERE. You’ll be glad you did.

The second author I would like to share with you, reader, is Bob White.  He writes Police procedural books. I admit, I do not typically like crime thriller novels-But Bob’s writing style is so flawless that I am always riveted from the first paragraph through to the last captivating page. He already has something of a following, but just in case you are not aware of his genius, you can find his work on amazon HERE. Most of his books sell for the e reader at $2.99, or you can order paperbacks.

Not only are these two authors fantastic writers, they are awesome people. I look up to both of them, and greatly value their feedback each week on my own work. This is my way of giving them a salute, and offering my thanks for helping me believe in my own talents.

For those of you who dream of writing, I (again) urge you to find a local writing group. It honestly will help you become the best writer that you can be. Bonus, You get to rub shoulders with some pretty amazing and talented like-minded individuals.