“It’s been so busy at work!”
“I had a family emergency!”
“Family life is just so stressful!”
“The President grinds my gears!”
These and more things I have heard when it came to the question “Why aren’t you writing?” from friends or generally on social media. No judgment from me at all, it’s all legit. Promise!
Though when I am confronted with that question, none of the things above is applicable. I got no job, or family or even a president. My reason is much simpler, and for the very same reason more shameful to me, because I can’t blame anyone.
My reason is myself.
Sure there are some legit reasons here too like that I’m fighting with depression or get sick, have a bad writer’s block, sometimes there is a lot on my plate but most of the time it’s something else. So this is me:
“But I want to play a game!”
“Friends want to play Overwatch and I don’t wanna miss out!”
“Oh this show I found on Netflix is awesome, let’s binge!”
“Wohoo, the plot in Roleplay is so much fun, let’s write this instead!”
So basically, the person standing in the way of writing is me! Now that sucks doesn’t it? Because that means that I’ll have to kick myself in the ass, and suckerpunch the distractions to get things going. So that’s what I’m doing now. I did some writing for my roleplay, I did some playing of Overwatch, I even watched a show today. So now I’ll sit down for an hour and write.
But boy, that kick still stings!
What is your enemy? Yourself? Family? Work? Time? Motivation? Did the muse visit your neighbour but shunned your house? Share your experiences with me down in the comments and don’t forget to join my email list on the right side to get a FREE short story prequel to my Ashwood Falls series!
The internet is filled with advice, must haves, must dos, should dos and checklists on what to do to write a novel, short story or even blog posts. Hundreds or even thousands of blog posts and articles about how to plan, how to outline, how to write, even how to edit your writing. The truth is: there is no ONE way. For every author, you ask what they use you might get just as many different answers. Something that works for me, might not work for you and the other way around. As sucky as that is, everyone needs to find what works for them and then stick to it, or adjust it until it feels natural, perfect for YOU.
You do You!
I’ve been listening to several podcasts recently (including The Journeyman Writer and Self Publishing Podcast) and I did find that a few things worked for me while others didn’t but worked just fine for others. In one of the Journeyman Writer episodes, Alastair Stephens and Lani Diane Rich talked about the tools they use for their writing and that made me think about what I use. So I thought I’d share a little of that with you!
Yep easy as that. No matter what I am looking for that is where I start. Be it images, articles about certain subjects and more.
Pocket Pocket is a nifty little add-on that I use way too often. When I find a site that I believe to be helpful I pocket it. That means it lands in the app waiting for me to read later. Kinda like bookmarks but to me, it goes faster, and once I don’t need it anymore I just click the little “read” button next to it and it gets removed from the list. And the search function makes it much easier for me to find the article again. I use it on Firefox, but I saw that Android, iPad/Phone and Kobo apps are available as well.
Outlining and Writing
I started writing when I was really young and the only way I could write was on paper. Throughout the years I moved that to Microsoft works, then Word and Libre Office. I’m a huge huge fan of local copies, so I never made the jump to Google Drive for my writing (I use it just not for that ;)).
But last year a dear friend of mine told me about Scrivener and I thought it was awesome. I grabbed the trial and tested it, and fell in love. Then for my birthday, I received it as a gift and I’ve been outlining and writing in it ever since. I know some folks have trouble with it because it gives you a lot of options and frills, but I enjoy to be able to mark scenes by Point of view, keywords, move them around, make these little cards with summaries of the scenes, move them around if I have to and so on.
The whole folder for Character bios, Location sourcing and what not is fantastic and helps me personally to keep an overview. Before starting to use Scrivener I had a whole folder with subfolders for everything on my hard drive, but now I have them all in one program and it is way easier for me to look things up.
I have told you about Evernote in another blog post and I still use it on my kindle, since I can’t put Scrivener on it when I want to write while being out of the house (haha as if I left the house) or in bed. The ability to sync the Kindle app with the desktop app to get my writing from one to the other makes it really easy.
This is one of those things that seem to be different for everyone else. Some need quiet, some want music that pulls them into the scene or character. Me? I need my TV running.
I can’t deal with quiet, then I start to think, and stop writing and start to look around… and I stop to write.
And music has the effect that I want to sing along, or in the case of instrumentals hum along, then I start to google about the artist, the lyrics, the sheet music… you get the drift.
But TV, I can have that running all day (actually I do) and write without being distracted. I know what I wrote and still know what has happened in the show I ran in the background. I might have to say that both is on the same screen. I have no physical TV, I have Netflix and I only have one monitor. So Netflix is in a small window in the upper left corner, while Scrivener is open across 3/4 of the screen. I also have learned to write blind with the typewriter so I can write and at the same time watch the show. Though I don’t do that often. Mostly I listen and when it sounds like something’s happening I look up to the small window and that’s it.
For many, it would be confusing or pull them out of the mood, but I need it to get really into it.
I love working on graphics myself. Be it locations, characters or my covers, I try to do as much as possible myself. Not only because I’m broke af, but also because I have loved doing that for many years. I use graphics not only for covers but also for visualisation. Not that helps me to get into the mood and character.
Poser & Photoshop, Illustrator Poser is a program in which I can put scenes, and characters in a 3D environment and render them. In Photoshop I do the rest.
My last project of making a map for Ashwood Falls was started in a program called RPG Citymap Generator, but after the initial 5 minutes with that program, I spent several days in Photoshop to make it mine.
Illustrator is another graphic program, basically the Photoshop of Vector images. I don’t use that as often as Photoshop but for example, the “Enemy of my Enemy” cover was made in there.
And sometimes I use stock sites. These are sites that provide stock images to use in your own pictures. Some need to be paid, others are free. There are way too many to list here, but when you google for Stock images you will have a lot of results including websites that list 10, 20 or more of the best ones.
My friends and partner
At the moment I don’t have beta-readers (hope to get them, though), but I have friends I bounce ideas off. When I get stuck or need another set of eyes to know if a plot works they are the ones to get bugged by me. I feel lucky to have friends who don’t sugarcoat things and tell me if something I wrote sucks, otherwise that wouldn’t be any help. My partner even reads through my whole draft in that little time he has to find plotholes, inconsistencies or anything else that jumps at him.
I’m forever grateful for their support.
That is pretty much my writing tool cabinet. Does it look anything like yours? If not what would I find in your cabinet? Let’s chat and let me know in the comments!
I grew up with Star Trek – The next Generation. As it was aired for the very first time in Germany I was 8 years old and was hooked from the first episode, despite the strange Cheerleader attire of Deanna Troi. I remember running home from school to not miss the episode that would start at 2:30 pm, only minutes after my last class. I made it every time. After that, the story just went on with Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and even Enterprise. The only show I didn’t really get into was TOS, but I loved the movies – so that’s something.
Of course, it didn’t stay with Star Trek. Series like Lexx, Firefly, Stargate and many more followed but for the most time of my life, Star Trek was my bae. And then came Doctor Who. I had never seen the original series at the point or even heard of it – yeah Germany is lacking great geek stuff. I was hooked from the first episode – again. While we were waiting for new seasons we had to get our Who fix and watched the movie, borrowed Jon Pertwee episodes from a friend and enjoyed them thoroughly. I have loved every Doctor I have seen so far, even the “unpopular” ones.
While I watch a lot of TV and movies, these two shows have shaped my life. They were teachers, friends, lifelines and more to me, the characters became a second and then third family. And I still am fully immersed through my cooperative writing Star Trek Role-playing Group Starbase 118. When thinking about how I started my writing to where I am now I can honestly say, that these two shows helped me with my writing. But why?
Those of you who know the shows might know already. Both Star Trek and Doctor who have strong characters with their own plot-arcs, developments, and goals. And then there are characters without these elements so you can see the difference right away. For example, Worf had much more story than for example Geordie. Or Doctor Who’s Mickey has more of an arc than Donna’s mother. And I am a huge fan of character development and stories. So observing the series’ ways to develop their characters has been a huge help to find ways to do that.
These shows also have relatable and likeable characters, just as much as characters that we can really hate on. I believe that Star Trek and Doctor Who both have fantastic plots that develop and evolve characters throughout single episodes, seasons and the whole show. The writers even managed to bring in Villains that we can relate to, that make us understand how they tick, why they became who they are. Who wouldn’t understand the intentions of Gul Dukat when it comes to his daughter, while at the same time hating on him for it. One of the favourites among my friends was Garak the Tailor, who was dubious and loveable at the same time. Who did not shed a tear when realizing the true driving force behind The Master, while being shocked by his maniac attempts to take over Earth? Or when Rose finds out what is in those Dalek tanks, I admit I cried and felt sorry for them. That is some great villain writing right there.
Every episode has its own timeline. The introductions, getting to the meat of the story, continuing with a plot twist (something happens that causes them trouble) and the way to get out of it, and then the fading out/resolution. But as every fan of almost every show knows, there is not only the timeline of each episode. But a timeline of the season, or series of episodes that belong together. Writers do the same, nobody wants to give away everything too early, or drag things out too long. If you are writing a series, you want to make sure that the first book doesn’t resolve the problem already. Star Trek TNG did not have it that much, other than multi-episode plots, but where you can see that really well is in Star Trek Deep Space Nine, especially in the last season. And Doctor Who has a lot of that as well, even more so.
Another element that I really enjoy is returning elements, be it bad boys or allies. In Star Trek, we have the Borg, Klingons, Romulans, the Dominion, Cardassians, Breen and many more of these returning baddies. In Doctor who we see the Daleks, Cybermen even the Autons return a few times, and not to forget other characters like Bonny, Mickey, The Master. To me, it is the element of “Oh hey I know them!” that connects different stories together making it all obviously the same universe. It brings together the whole history of the show.
And last but not least, movies, as well as TV-Shows can teach us a great deal about pacing and structure of a story, for single episodes, multi-episodes and seasons. We learn about stages in the story (introduction, twist, climax, fade out), for short-term plots and long-term plots. We learn how to foreshadow, how to bring in surprises and how to come to a satisfying conclusion (at least most of the time).
When you start writing, one of the advice pieces you’ll get over and over is to read a lot. Who wants to write, needs to read. And while I agree with that, don’t underestimate the teaching power of some great Television.
Do you have favourite shows that do this for you? Maybe some other shows or movies taught you a lot about writing or helped you to put your story to life? Tell us in the comments, maybe you’ll bring a gem into the lives of other writers like my friend brought Doctor Who into mine.
Some of you know, that I am a resident of a virtual world called Second Life. A world by the people for the people, when it comes to the world itself. Everything you see from items, houses, clothing, skins, hair and what not has been made by residents. I’m one of these content creators as well but today I want to talk about a different part of this world.
For about 6 years – I think – I am part of a theatre group in that virtual world: The Jewell Theatre. We are a group of people enjoying the art of theatre and bring it to different places to entertain the audience. We also meet at least once a year to participate in the 48 hours machinima festival, in which we make short machinimas in competition with other teams. We are having a ton of fun with this and can’t wait for the next time.
Why am I telling you this? Because our theatre writer and director Karen Wheatley has written a machinima for this festival 5 years ago called “The Lucid Journey”. Just recently for Second Life’s 13th birthday, she rewrote it to make it into a play to perform during the festivities. It came out so well, that we also went on tour with it.
In every culture there have been legends regarding the relationship between our dreams and travel. Suppose our dreams are more than random scenes from our waking lives? Lewis Liddell is missing presumed dead, and his wife is left to unravel the mystery of what’s become of him. Her journey to find him will take her into our shared dreamscape and beyond.
During the tour while looking at screenshots of the play, an idea was born. What if we made a Graphic Novel out of this story? Yeah, what if? I tell you what. It’d be awesome!
We had a photoshoot in which I shot about 400 snapshots. Karen and I work on sifting through the script to make sure that we only have the necessary parts in the graphic novel, and I can check something off my bucket list. I always wanted to create a Graphic Novel but never knew about what and how, since I can’t draw for my life. So this is super exciting for me, Karen and the members of the Jewell Theatre. The first pages are already done. I just love seeing how it comes together!
If you are interested in hearing more about the Jewell Theatre you can follow the Twitter account. If you are a Second Life resident, you can visit the sim and join the subscriber to be informed about new plays.
Have you ever created a Graphic Novel or worked with someone on one? Do you like Graphic Novels or do you prefer regular novels? Share your experiences with me below in the comics. Let’s have a chat!
Some of you know, that part of my creativity goes to and comes from being a member of a Star Trek Roleplaying Community called Starbase 118. I’ve written with this group of ST enthusiasts for 4 years and have met all kinds of awesome people from casual writers to fellow authors. In this community of fans and writers we also have great institutions like a podcast team! Jonathan Snyder from that team has recently interviewed me about what I do when I’m not writing for Starbase 118 and the result has been published today!
It has been my very first audio interview so I was a little nervous, but I had a blast! Of course I’m sharing it with you and hope you’ll enjoy!
What did you think of the interview? Did you enjoy the information you’ve got? Which questions would you ask me if you had the chance? Did you do podcast interviews and how did they go? Please comment below and let me know! Thank you for taking the time and see you around next time!
Some of you know about this other’s don’t (yet). I am a type 2 diabetic, as is my father, and my partner and his brother are type 1 diabetic. While most of the time it’s okay to handle, there are other times in which it is rather scary.
I just found this event through Traci’s blog “A word with Traci” that aims to raise awareness for this disease. You can read more about it through the link below. Check it out, finds new authors to obsess over and get informed! You can find dates and everything in the post (link under the picture).
Please help spread awareness and support the cause. Thank you!
I have been asked a couple of times how I went about my self publishing journey and I have tried to answer to the best of my ability. Despite having read hours and hours about self publishing, what to do and how it works, I have made many mistakes. So I decided to share my way, and not only tell you what I did, but also what I did wrong. Maybe the one or other will find this helpful. Because self publishing is such a long journey, I thought it might be more useful to split this in several parts and make it a series. So here is where we start.
If you are anything like me, you might think that the start is to write and finish the story. Boy, I couldn’t have been more wrong. After reading more and more after I have published my book, I have learned that the actual start of the process is to begin building your base, a community of people, followers, future readers etc.
But why should I do that when I don’t even have the book yet to show them? Well that was my question. But actually it makes a lot of sense. You need to get people interested in you. I have not done that when I started, so I am telling you about the things I should have done.
The start could be anything like this:
Start a blog (I personally love wordpress, but there are other platforms, depending if you want to host it on your website or not. Even if you have a static website, a blog is a fantastic addition, to allow people to subscribe and follow your new posts more easily.)
Create a twitter (unless you have one that you want to use for it already.)
Create a facebook page for your musings and book promotions
Syndicate your blog with twitter, facebook, google+ and other social media websites for maximum exposure of your blog. It helped me because it saved me the time to manually post every article over the net.
Check out online communities/forums about writing and get active (If you google for writing communities you will find a lot of sites with lists and such to help you find the right one for you. These are just 3 of the top results here, here and here.)
Read author’s websites and blogs, comment and connect. (Contrary to the whole rumour (and sometimes fact) about authors being solitary creatures, many of us actually love to interact with other writers and readers.)
You might not have a book to show yet, but you have your mind. Share your way, your ideas, interesting articles about writing, writing prompts, inspirations that make you write, quotes that you feel are worth sharing and so on and so forth. I am the first to admit that it takes getting used to. I keep thinking that I have nothing to say, nothing to share, but that is not true. I just keep telling myself that for some reason. So I’m still trying to get into the groove.
On twitter you can share these blogposts, interact with readers and writers or just anyone really. You might think that your stories are the most interesting part of you, but actually readers want to know you. They want to be part of your life so share something about you, don’t hide behind a wall of books. I know that many writers out there are more comfortable focussing on their writing, I am one of those. I really have a hard time to be active on social media, but I have my moments here and there. But mostly I think that my stories are more interesting than me. But I’m trying to get over that. 😉
But the more connected people feel with you, the more interested they become in you and what you are doing. That also means they might be more interested in hearing about your story, your book, your novel series, whatever you are writing, once you have something to share. It does makes sense. I mean would you be more interested in a book a friend publishes or in that of a stranger? Yes, the stranger can deliver a fantastic book that you want to buy – we do that all the time, right? – but if a friend tells me about their new book I’m all over that like I’d be over a meat only buffet.
So Step 1 is to start building your base, interact (even if it is hard for you it’s worth it), and show yourself.
Stay tuned for the next part soon. Until then feel free to share your beginnings. Did you start with building a base? Or did you write all the way through and started after? What are your experiences and what would you do different if you’d have to start again? The comment section below is hungry for your input!
A few days ago a friend of mine issued a handwriting challenge on one of the social media platforms I lurk around. It was actually supposed to write something nice, but well call it artistic freedom or something: I did my own thing. And I thought it’d ba fun to share with you, sharing why I do not handwrite my drafts.
Have you done the challenge? If not, feel free to join in! Share yours in the comments, be it video or picture 🙂
Some of you already know – the rest will learn now – that I am an avid Roleplayer. I have been filling evenings with this fun activity for over 20 years, be it Pen & Paper, IRC, Forum or EMail. For about 3.5 years I am member of the fantastic Star Trek PbeM UFOP: Starbase 118, and this upcoming Saturday, we are hosting the Ongoing Worlds: Fall Festival V.
That’s right, the 2015 Simming Fall Festival will be held on December 5th from 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM EST (1:30 PM to 10:30 PM GMT). Ongoing Worlds is proud to announce that UFOP: StarBase 118 will be hosting, with James Drysdale serving as chairman. You may remember that UFOP also hosted the 2013 festival, which was wildly successful. For a few short hours in December, the entire simming and online role playing community will come together to share ideas, role play, and join in a few trivia games–all in IRC chat rooms. James and UFOP will be on point to make it all happen.
Now why am I telling you that. First and foremost, this even it a lot of fun, and very informative with discussion chats for not only those that enjoy roleplaying, but also for writers. While the chats are based mostly on what roleplayers want to talk about, hosted by great people all over the community, some subjects can be interesting for everyone who builds worlds on paper.
I will be hosting two chats myself and invite you to join me for the following discussions:
SESSION TIME: 9am Pacific / noon Eastern / 5pm GMT SESSION ROOM: #FallFest2 SESSION NAME: Writer’s block and how to break through the wall SESSION DESCRIPTION: Writer’s block is common among writers, no matter if alone or in a group. Let’s take a look at different techniques to break through
SESSION TIME: 1pm Pacific / 4pm Eastern / 9pm GMT
SESSION ROOM: #FallFest1 SESSION NAME: Developing Relationships in Roleplay SESSION DESCRIPTION: The chat will be about developing relationships in Roleplay: romantic, friendship and even fiends
I have been quiet, but only here. That is because I have been busy and still am with working on several stories at once, that are all super exciting for me!
Of course, one thing I’m writing is the second book of my “Ashwood Falls Trilogy.” I just recently rewrote a full chapter, because I did not like how it had turned out in the first place and continued from them on. I still have a lot more in my mind for this book, so I will continue being busy with this one.
Another story I am working on is a short story I had on my mind for a while, which is actually a twist on a fairy tale. I won’t spoil you now, but I am having fun with this. Not only because I like fairy tales, but also because it is different from what I usually write.
And then my dear friend and fellow Author Jonathan Synder is working on “Blood in Space”, a Sci-Fi based Role play system, which I find super interesting and would love to play myself. I have been a huge role player for over 25 years and so I almost freaked out when he asked me, if I’d be interested in writing a novella in the world of “Blood in Space”. Of course I said yes, and I have begun to work out a story featuring one of the species he has invented for this system. I will be able to tell you more about it, as I progress. Right now it is still in its fledgling stages.
The reason I have not told you about all these fantastic developments yet is, because despite my nature to write a lot, I do keep occupied with the actual writing so much, that I forget to share the good news! But knowing that you really would like to hear more from me, otherwise you would not check in here, I’ll try to update this blog more often and share more interesting news with you!
But now I am going to return to getting the jumble of words down into my file, maybe interrupted by an hour of watching the newest Doctor Who. It’s been too long! Until next time!
Now that this is out of the way, I want to share with you a anecdote about happens on my birthday, and the day after. Well one thing is, that I become a year older, but that happens to everyone I suppose. Though someone used to tell me that women do not get older than 29, so I am not actually getting older, I just repeat it a couple of times.
The other thing I connected in my mind, when I saw the 4th of July fireworks for the first time. I was about 12. And not being US American, or any kind of American, this day does usually not have any meaning to me. I know why it is celebrated but that’s it. Now imagine 12 year old Jessica seeing the fireworks on TV. What does a child think of a Firework that is held a day after their birthday? No idea, but this child thought “OH! They do that for me!”
And so it was born. Ever since then, every year on July 4th I pretend enjoy the celebratory fireworks in my honour. Why they do it a day after my birthday, you ask? Easy, out of respect to not pull any attention from my friends and family who celebrate with me. So we have the 3rd for us and the 4th the sky all over the states lights up for me.
Well I do of course know that it is not the case, but a girl may have some dreams, right? After all, my 12 year old self should not be disappointed.
Do you have something like this? Events that happen completely unrelated to each other but you put them together in some way to make it more awesome? Share with us, I’m curious to hear about them, since I cannot be the only one, right? Right?
Once upon a time in a land far far away, lived a hat, crocheted by the most beautiful lavender yarn. A special honour had befallen on it, as it was the prize for a generous give-away by a kind hearted yarn-enthusiast. Our lavender hat was really excited, because it would throne on the head of the lucky winner. The day came when the winner was chosen, and the hat wondered, where this strange sounding land named ‘Germany’ would be.
It watched as its maker prepared the details for the travel and it saw that there was a big water between its old and the new home. A long travel, it thought, what a fun that will be!
It didn’t take long when it was bedded carefully in a passed envelope and made itself a temporary home in the cozy folds. Carefully it held on the smaller envelope that had been added inside for the lucky winner across the globe. It could not wait to get on the way and just the next day its journey would start.
When the shaking and wobbling began it peeked through the crack that had been left open, just little but enough to see, and saw it was moving. An exciting tohuwabohu of black moving rubber bands, catapulting so many of its brethren – smaller, bigger and the same – through huge halls, sorted and brought to big trucks, filled and loaded with more of them. It saw a big sign, that said Phoenix and he looked around searching for the fiery bird. But before he could search properly, the big box closed and with a loud rumbling noise they began to shake and vibrate, moving to their next destination. And this happened a few times. It was excited to see all these places with their funny names like Chicago – where did chica go, and who was chica? Was it a letter too? – or Detroit – was it of metal like that shiny golden one with the little beeping friend?.
But it got even more excited when it saw the change from the big boxes rolling over the streets to an even bigger rounder box. It was long and had windows, and wings! The little lavender hat was jumping of joy. It would fly!
For the longest time, almost a full day, it watched the sparkling diamond crusted ocean beneath them, waving at them from afar. The clouds surrounded the big round box like cotton balls, keeping them safe, catching them on their softness if turbulences occurred. When the sparkling blue vanished out of side, the little lavender hat was not sad. It knew more was to come. After the big round box found its way back to the ground the hat heard strange sounds and words, it did not understand. But the big sign above the building let it know that it was in a place called Amsterdam. It giggled listening, they sounded funny. Or maybe they had a cold, the little hat was not sure.
It did not have much time to listen or to watch everything, but soaked in every little bit of its journey. Just a little big later, it was already back on the way, back in another round box, crossing land, green and yellow and small sparkly blues. More funny sounding voices greeted it at the other end, similar to those in Amsterdam but different. And the next morning, the big day was there! It felt the hands grabbing, placed into a bag, not a big box any more. Gently wobbling as it was carried through streets. More hands, as it was handed to someone else, which began to increase the crack in the envelope.
Carefully it was pulled out of the comfortable padding, fingers feeling its softness. With a joyous cry it was lifted to the head of the lucky winner, soft long hair carefully placed between its loops it finally rested on its finally destination. And it could see the smile, a happy one, on its new owners face as she looked into a mirror, placing it carefully, and said “You have seen more of the world that I have. I think you have a lot to tell me!”
So yes, I won a giveaway of a hat, that was the kind of hat, I had wanted to have for a long time. Already as a younger girl I saw these and thought how beautiful they are. So when I saw the giveaway I had to enter, and was surprised to be the winner. I have to thank Brie, the lovely maker of ‘The hat that saw the world’ for making my girlhood dream come true. And of course I cannot not write a little story, right?
(Excuse the poor quality, my webcam isn’t the best 😉 )
Brie makes beautiful things with her crocheting, hats, dolls and more. You really should check out her FB page, she also does giveaways – obviously – and she should be known much more than she is. She’s the sweetest and kindest, and a lovely friend of mine. Thank you, Brie. It did not make pictures but the stories it has to tell…