Let’s talk about: Tools of writing

 

Writing is a really personal process.

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!

 

Research 
Google.com
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
Scrivener

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.

Evernote
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.

 

Background Noise
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.

 

Graphics
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.

Stock sites
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!

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How Star Trek and Doctor Who improved my story telling

I’m a huge geek.

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.

Assimilation² Cover crop
Part of the Assimilation² Cover. The copyright of this image’s publication belongs to IDW Publishing, under license from CBS Paramount Television and/or Paramount Pictures.

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.

Doctor Who - David Tennant

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.

And while you are at it, hit the subscribe button to get notified when new posts hit the blog!

Update time! What have I been up to

progress update

 

It is about time I update you on what I have been up to! Because I’ve been busy! Things had slowed down last year, but for Black Friday I had the chance to obtain a Kindle Fire for a good price. That helped me to write more again, as I was not bound to my desktop anymore. Most of the time when I’m in bed already and can’t sleep I just whip out my Evernote and write a few lines. Makes me feel incredibly productive. 😉

If you’ve been following along you know that I wrote a Sci-Fi Novella in the “Blood in Space” Universe called “Enemy of my enemy“. The same universe now got a little more love from me. Jonathan Snyder is putting together a collection of short stories and I had the honour to add one of my own. It is called ‘Extinction’ and will once more return to the proud Atelak Warriors. This time though we witness an event within a different tribe that will later end up a story, used to teach children to not lose their temper. Why you ask? You can find out once the collection will be released. You’ll hear about that right here when it’s time.

I have also continued with the second book of my Ashwood falls Trilogy. The first 8 chapters are in its first draft and I am excited to continue with the story around Alana and Leandrus.

The very same universe gets a little more love in form of a short story I have started to work on as well. This short story will shed some light on Leandrus’ past and how he landed in the void he was pulled from. For this short-story, I am catching up on some fun Tudor-era research and am having a lot of fun with showing another side of our favourite demon of the series. Once that short story is done it’ll be a Mailing list subscriber exclusive, so join the list and you won’t miss it. 🙂

That was it from this side of the screen for now. How about you? What have you been up to? Want to share your current projects? Are you excited about something? Let me know down in the comments. Let’s chat. 🙂

 

Let’s talk about – Short stories

Letstalkabout

 

Did you ever do something many many times and it is deep in your bones and blood and you could do it in your sleep? Then you try something else and it works really well but you go back to do that old thing and you fail over and over? That is me with short stories. I used to write them a lot. But ever since I wrote my first novel I have real trouble with them.

That wouldn’t be too bad if I wouldn’t want to write them. I have several ideas for stories that are not meant to be as long as a novel or even a novella. So short story it is. Well said. Tell that to my 50 attempts to write one. I tried it with outlining, making keynotes, pre-planning … nothing. I keep running into a wall and believe what I wrote sucks big hairy sweaty donkey balls. Eeew, I know.

I am usually a big fan of research and reading articles to help me going, but in this case, it just makes me nutters. It feels like everyone knows how to write a short story but I don’t. And I don’t know you but I become obsessive about this. Trying even harder and falling with my nose flat on the concrete floor.

So next I’ll try to throw out the outline and plans and write that short story by feeling and using my gut instinct. Let’s see how that goes!

How are you with writing short stories? Are they hard? How do you deal with the struggle? Or are they smooth sailing? How did you get there? Share your experiences with us in the comments and don’t forget to subscribe 🙂

 

How Can I Help My Author Friend? | Dave Butler Writes

I’ve seen this today from a fellow writer and I just had to share with you guys!

 

A skeletal and non-exhaustive list, offered with no comment. You can:

  • Buy her book.
  • Buy more copies, and give them as gifts.
  • Share on social media that you’ve bought the book.
  • Reshare your friend’s announcements about the book.
  • Reshare great reviews of your friend’s book.
  • Post a review to Amazon, Goodreads, or other sites.
  • Share your review on social media.
  • Feature her cover art on your “wall” or other social media platform. Provide a link.
  • “Like” good reviews of her book.
  • Review her book on your blog.
  • Invite her to post about her book’s release on your blog.
  • Suggest her book to your book club.
  • Write and share a filk song based on her book.
  • Ask your library to order a copy.
  • Ask your kids’ school to order a copy.
  • Attend your friend’s book launch.
  • Offer to host a book launch for your friend.
  • Pass information about public speaking opportunities (at libraries, schools, conventions) to your friend.
  • Cosplay your friend’s characters at conventions.
  • Tell other people verbally about the book.
  • Sell copies on consignment in your place of business.
  • Suggest your kids do book reports on her book.
  • Leave a copy lying prominently in your house for people to notice and ask about.

Source: How Can I Help My Author Friend? | Dave Butler Writes

Self publishing #3 – Editors

As I have promised you in my most recent blog post about beta readers, we are going to look at Editors in this post. As usual I am going to tell you what I did and then tell you what I should have done. I’ll also explain a bit about different kinds of editors and give you a few sources about how to find them and what to watch out for.

Ready? Yes? Let’s begin.

When I wrote my first Book “Sra’kalor“, it was quite an adventure. It was my very first book that I’ve finished, and also the very first book I wrote in English. Since it’s my second language I’m naturally making mistakes. That just means I’ll have to learn more, but until then I definitely need someone to check what I write for grammar, spelling, possible misuse of words and so on. I went through my book four times until I couldn’t find anything wrong with it any more. Believing it was great, I sent it to my partner and he checked once more. He found a bunch of things that could be improved and a pile of spelling and grammar mistakes. I fixed these as well believed to be done, because we had worked a lot and hard on it. So I published the book and began to send it to reviewers, bloggers and the like.

In the coming weeks I received reviews that mentioned grammar and spelling mistakes, that the language sounded as if English wasn’t my first language, that it sounded too formal and some words were misused. You can possibly imagine the punch I felt in my stomach. For a while I even thought I should stop writing if it is that bad, but thanks to some encouraging friends that feeling didn’t last long and I decided to want to improve instead of giving up – yay me. One of my friends has an editor in their family and connected us. I sent my book to her, she took the time and effort to edit it and did not only mark the parts that were wrong, but also explained to me why. That helped tremendously. So I revised the book and feel much better with it now.

No matter how well you write, how much you work on your book, how many mistakes you find and correct, having an editor go through it for you and bring the best out of it is very important. That is something that I absolutely underestimated in the beginning but have learned until now. And if you work with Beta readers – as mentioned in the previous post – you would first write and edit as much as you possibly can and then send your work to your beta readers and after they took it apart and helped you to make it even better it’s the editor’s turn. Not the other way around.

What would an editor do for you? That depends on the kind of editor.

  1. Content editors/developmental editors – They check your book for structure, plot holes, parts that go too slow, others that go too fast, inconsistencies (what we call goofs in movies) and so on. It might happen that they change something in your story to make it flow better, change the way you wrote sentences or whole scenes. They work directly with the content of the story and help authors to find their writing voice.
  2. Copy editors – These make sure your book has a high readability, that it’s written smooth and has a consistent style all over.
  3. Line Editors – They focus on grammar, spelling, punctuation, verb tenses and so on. You know all these little things that we do not see any more because we know our story and our brain reads them correctly even though they are misspelled.
    1. Copy and Line editors are often one person nowadays but sometimes they are still different people. And you might even find someone who does all of the above but not that often.
  4. Proofreaders. After all editors went all through your work and you made sure to fix mistakes and rewrite what needs to be rewritten, proofreaders go through the book again and find all the little things that everyone else missed. Yes that can happen. Editors are humans, you are human, so mistakes happen. Even the most famous works still have mistakes here and there, but imagine them without going through all that editing work.

 

How to find editors?

Since I did not have to find an editor, thanks to my friend, I have done a little research about where to find editors.

What to watch out for when choosing an editor

  • What kind of editor are they?
  • Do they work in your genre? That is especially important for content editors. You wouldn’t want a magazine column content editor to edit your romance novel. These are completely different genres and styles. If it only is about spelling and grammar, the genre that editor worked in might not be that important.
  • What is their experience? Who have they worked with?
  • Do they offer a trial page or chapter so you can see their style?
  • Do you click? You work closely with your editor if you can’t stand each other it’ll make it difficult.
  • What is their rate? Editors are not cheap. Even those with affordable prices might be out of your budget. So check how much you have to pay and how much you can pay.
  • How many authors do they work with at the same time? Do they have the time for your book it deserves?
  • Remember not every editor might be the right one for you. You might have to kiss many frogs… wait wrong subject. You might have to try out several editors before finding ‘the one’.

These lists are by far not complete, but do a google search for editors and you’ll find a ton of results. Not only editor pages but also articles about how to find them, what to watch out for, questions you should ask yourself and so on.

Two of these sites are

There is so much more but this article has been too long already. If you managed to stay with me until now – Congratulations you are a patient human being! And thank you for sticking with me.

Do you have any more invaluable tips and tricks when it comes to editors? Where did you find yours? What experiences do you have with your editor and did your first find end up to be ‘the one’? What did you do when your choice wasn’t the right one? Please share your stories with us in the comment box below! Until next time and stay creative!
SelfPublishing#3

Self publishing #2 – Beta-readers

In my first post about my journey of self publishing, I have written about the first step on the journey: Buildling a base like a blog, website and so on. I am not going to tell you how to write. That has two reasons.

Number one is that everybody writes different. Be it style, voice, length, process and so on. It’s a thing that everyone has to find out for themselves. The other is that I’m still finding my own voice, my own style, so to tell others what they should do -especially since there is no ONE way to do it right- would be just hilarious. So we are skipping that point and assume that you are writing your book, your story, what is in your heart or head. What now?

Well here we go again with the thing that I did and what I possibly should have done. So ready?

I wrote the whole book, went through it two more times for edits, rewrites and polishing. Then I gave it to my boyfriend. First of all I wanted someone to read the story who didn’t know it yet and who could tell me if it is BS or not. I’m one of the lucky ones to have that support and honesty that he’d tell me that. I have gotten a couple of great suggestions from him, have been made aware of plot holes and things that didn’t work out. He also is better with English grammar and spelling than I am, so he could find a lot of mistakes I made. We both went through the book two more times, changing things here and there, correcting mistakes until we couldn’t find any more. And then I published the book.

Now to what I should have done. All of what I have done. But then instead of publishing, I should have found beta readers and an editor. I will split this into two posts so this won’t be too long. The first part of this will be about beta readers! The next will talk about editors.

While having my boyfriend as a sounding board was a great thing, it cannot hurt to get opinions of more than one person, even if that person is brutally honest with you. Tastes and preferences are different from person to person. It also could have happen that despite being really careful, you still miss something.

So what are beta-readers? I haven’t had any but from what I ready they are something like test readers, sounding boards and opinion givers. They receive your work and give you their feedback, about things that might not work, are just bad, are good and so on. Some also might be really good with langauge and give you pointers in that direction. It really depends on the beta-reader or what you expect from them. Of course not everything beta-readers tell you will be something you want or hear or change. It is at you to see what you do with the information you get from them.

Since I have not worked with beta-readers before, I am going to post you a couple of links to articles that I found interesting and helpful for future endeavours and hope they’ll help you too.

The big question now is how to find beta-readers. I found a bunch of articles about that. Some talk about networking, making friends on platforms like twitter, facebook, goodreads and so on, because people are more likely to help you, if they know YOU. You can read about this that on smallbluedog.com or jamiegold.com for example, but google has many more results to check out.

Another way is to join groups on platforms like facebook, goodreads, wattpad and so on to connect with beta-readers and find them. You can find more links on where to find them in the jamiegold.com article. But to be honest, even if you go that route, networking and making friends sounds like a great idea.

NOTE: Many beta-readers do this for free, but there are also ways to get beta-readers if you pay for them. I have not looked much into that so far, but I saw it mentioned.

Another great post that I’ve found was on  thebookdesigner.com which gives out free advice about what to know about working with beta readers.

From what I have read in several articles the steps are as follows:

  • Find beta-readers and make sure you clarify what kind of feedback you want from them.
  • Don’t send them a draft. This came up over and over. Make sure you finish the book as much as you possibly can. Edit, fix, rewrite, polish until you believe it is the best you can make it. Your beta-readers deserve to read it that way and if they really like it and work with you on it, they might tell their friends about it as well.
  • Make sure they get the format they prefer your book in – for example some prefer kindle format, others are okay with pdf, again others would like a version they can print and so on.
  • Feedback sometimes stings, especially if it is negative. But if you feel hurt by it, take a step back, breath, think about it. Are they right? Is it something you should change and adjust? Will changing that one thing make the book better? Don’t pick a fight over it, but instead thank them for the input even if you do not make the change.
  • Remember that while every feedback is valuable, that not every feedback needs to be put into action. Some things are personal preferences, you decide what works with you.
  • Remember to thank your beta-readers for their work. Reading takes time, writing up feedback as well and just like you when you write, they take it out of their free time they could spend otherwise. Beta-readers are valuable and do this by choice not because they have to. So thank them, be nice, treat them well and mention them in your acknowledgements.

It is quite important to know that beta-readers, be they as brilliant as they come, are not the same as editors. Beta-readers will help you to make your book as great as your combined effort can make it. The editor will receive it afterwards.

Self publishing #2 - work with beta-readers

What is your experience with beta-readers? Do you have any? How is it for you working with them? How did you find them? Do you have any extra tips for us? Feel free to comment below and share your stories!

I hope this was helpful. Next time we’ll take a peek at editors!

 

 

Re-blog Brian’s Writing Tip #3: Write like you talk

I saw this yesterday and it made me think. I sometimes write too formal. Not because I want to sound formal, but because I am not a native speaker. But i realize that I rarely write how I speak. So maybe I should try that next time I start writing.

What do you think? Should we write how we speak or can that be a problem? Comment below and tell me what you think. 🙂

 

Source:  Brian’s Writing Tip #3: Write like you talk (3) Brian’s Writing Tip #3: Write like you talk | Writing Tips | Pinterest

Self publishing #1 – The start is not what you think it is

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.

 

SelfPublishing#1

 

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!

How To Write A Great Story – Pixar rules

Source: How To Write A Great Story – The Meta Picture

Writing and writing more!

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!

Let’s talk about … rewriting

Letstalkabout

Today I want to talk about rewriting. Now that is some scary stuff right there. You have a story in your mind, a poem, a speech – anything really – and somehow it doesn’t work out. I don’t know about you, but that completely blocks my mojo and it can happen that I stop writing for a while, breaking my brain on how to make it work.

Well, just recently, while writing on my first draft of the second part of my book series, I stumbled over that problem. I kept reading the last chapter I had written, but I was still blocked. So I did something that proved to be the first step in the right direction: I questioned what I had written. The reaction of Alana getting some news just seemed wrong, despite me feeling it was alright when I initially wrote it.

So what do you do in that situation? I don’t know what you would do, though I’d love to know, but I asked some friends. I explained the situation and asked them how they would react. The answers were eye opening. Only one of them told me what I have written, the others all had the an answer similar to another, but it was the opposite of mine. So I decided to rewrite the whole chapter.

It might sound strange to some, but that is an extremely hard thing to do. A story is like a baby to me as writer, so changing or even deleting it is tough. To be honest, while it is difficult I do know that it is for the best. It will make the whole situation more believable and I am excited for that and the added development it will provide. Of course I cannot tell you what situation that was, because that would give away an important part of the second book. It is important though, which I keep realizing and learning over and over again, to not be afraid to change things up, to delete scenes if needed, or to adjust them. I want it to be more realistic, so I’m getting on that. Cross your fingers!

What is your experience with this? I believe every writer had to go through that at least once, if not even more often. I’m curious to hear your stories, so share them in the comments. 🙂

Snippets – Prompt #3

It is past time for another Snippet! For those among you who are new here, here is how this works:

I am posting a Snippet below. It is something I wrote down at some point and did not develop, but I would love to see get its own life. Then you go and write whatever pops into your mind. You can make it a story about how it came to this, or maybe it is the beginning or the middle. You can write a poem, or anything else that is inspired by the Snippet. If you want, you can share it in the comments, because I would LOVE to see what you did with the Snippet, and show it to everyone. Easy enough, right?

So here we go, the newest snippet for you guys:

Snippet3

I can’t wait to see what you are coming up with. Please share your stories in the comments, I would LOVE to read them!

Let’s talk about …

Letstalkabout

Some of you might or might not know, that English is not my first language. If you hadn’t noticed until now: Surprise! So yes, while my grasp of the English language is better than many other Germans can pride themselves with, I do not know everything. Obviously. There might be the one or other grammar mistake even in my blog posts, but I try my best. Either way today it is not about grammar or spelling.

Today we are talking about windows.

Windows? Yes! Windows. Well more about the fun to find out about more of them. So me being a non native speaker I had a moment of “OMG I do not know how to call this” while writing a new chapter of my book. And there are usually three or four ways I try to find out which word I am looking for.

  1. I ask the all knowing man of my dreams, who is usually sitting two meters behind me, just waiting to be able to shine with his knowledge.
  2. Checking the dictionary – I know for some that is the first step but oh well I like hearing his voice more than checking myself.
  3. Type a description of what I am looking for into google and hope that there is something even relating to it.
  4. Ask my native English speaking friends online.

To my utter surprise the first three items on that list failed me, when I tried to find a certain word relating to windows. In German we have a certain word for when the window is opened this way:

Tilted Window

In German that would be “gekippt” or “auf kipp”. Now I could have thought it would be cracking a window, but to write ‘She looked at the cracked window’ could have given a completely wrong impression of the condition of said window and we cannot have that. The direct translation of ‘gekippt’ would be ’tilted’, but as always in situations like that, there is no guarantee that a direct translation is the correct word.

So I went to my online community and asked them. And boy, did I learn things about windows. I was surprised how much we could even talk about that subject. And surprisingly there are way more window types that I knew existed. Now look at this:

Window Types

A few of those I have seen before, others were completely new to me, and not all types of windows are in that graphic either. Either way, according to this the type of window I mean is a Hopper. Now imagine I would write “She looked at the Hopper window.” Maybe for those knowing the name of that specific type that would be good, for me though, not so much. I’d imagine a window with bunny ears hopping around in my house. Yes, not so good, but highly amusing.

So among all the fantastic information about types of windows, in different languages and from all walks of life, the consent was with either “opened” or “tilted”. Oh look my old friend is back. Opened to me looks more like this:

Open window
Open window – Source http://www.shuttersandsunflowers.com

So after everything I went back to where I started and chose tilted. But who would have thought that talking about windows could be not only a long discussion, but also interesting? I have not, but I was wrong.

Anyone out there been going to search for window types for their stories before? What have you found interesting about it? Or have you had other interesting searches for the right word to share with me? I certainly would love to hear about it.

When the pain fades…

For a couple of days I have been sitting here with severely sore muscles. It can be quite painful, as some of you know, when you make your muscles do stuff, that they are not used to. For me that happened on Friday and today is the first day without pain, so it took a while. Now I know not everyone is like me, and only go on for a day after that or maybe not at all, but it made me notice something.

sore muscles

I have read so many books and stories, in which the characters so things to their body, they are not used to. They run, jump, fight for their life or do the “horizontal dance” (later often explicity mentioned as being the first time at all or the first time in ages). Either way, I do not remember once that they had sore muscles or any other side effects from it (even wounds and injuries heal smoother and absolutely painless). I would expect them to at least be so beat afterwards, that they do not want to move for a day, oh well maybe hours.

As far as I remember none of the books I read had that little detail. The characters asked the most of their body and went on right into the next event without a break. How are they doing it? Is it magic? 😉

Do you remember a book or story in which the characters have pain or sore muscles or similar for more than 5 minutes? I’m really curious if there are writers bringing in details like that. Or do you think that writers should not include that type of realism into their stories? If not, then why?

I would love to hear what you think, feel free to comment below.

35 hours left of Giveaway Raffle! – ENDED

THIS CONTEST HAS ENDED! THANK YOU FOR YOUR INTEREST

There are only 35 hours left of my Giveaway Raffle for 25 (!) ebook copies of Sra’kalor, the first part in the Ashwood Falls Trilogy! giveaway raffle Everyone entering the Raffle until May 20th has a chance to win one of 25 copies in the ebook format of their choice. All you have to do is like my facebook page Journey of words and fill out the form. The winners will be chosen through a random name picker, among those who did both. LIKE the facebook page AND enter the Form. Yes, it is that easy 🙂 Here are the links to everything you need! Facebook page: Journes of words to like! Giveaway Form to fill out! Please share this with your friends, the more the merrier! And good luck to everyone 🙂

Snippets – Prompt #2

It is time for another Snippet! Thank you to those, who have shared their fantastic stories prompted by the first snippet. I really loved seeing what you did with your imagination and creativity. For those among you who are new here, here is how this works:

I am posting a Snippet below. It is something I wrote down at some point and did not develop, but I would love to see get its own life. Then you go and write whatever pops into your mind. You can make it a story about how it came to this, or maybe it is the beginning or the middle. You can write a poem, or anything else that is inspired by the Snippet. If you want, you can share it in the comments, because I would LOVE to see what you did with the Snippet, and show it to everyone. Easy enough, right?

So here we go:

Snippet2

I am looking very much forward to see what you come up with. Also don’t forget my Sra’kalor Giveaway. It’ll run until the 20th so you still got some time to enter. How to do that you can see here.

Stay creative and until next time. 🙂

Character Interview – Meet Alana

Alana1aToday I’ll have a special little post for you. I thought that, while it surely is interesting to get to know me, who writes all these stories, it would be even more interesting to meet a couple of special people. Over the course of the next few posts, you will get to know Alana, Tyler/Leandrus and Dracon, the main characters of my latest novel Sra’kalor.

 

In this first part, I have the honor of Alana visiting my humble author blog; but before I’d tell you about her, why not let her do that. Welcome Alana.

The girl wiggles a little on her stool, a nervous smile playing around her lips, as she pushes a strand of raven hair behind her ear. “Thank you. I do not really know why I am here though.”

Well my readers would like to get to know you a little. So why don’t you tell us where you are from?

A look of confusion dances across her soft features, the golden eyes rolling upwards to look at the ceiling. “Uhmm, okay. ” She takes a deep breath, before she continues. “Well, I was born and raised in a small town called Oakdale Springs.” Her face lights up as her gaze drifts to an invisible area. “A sleepy little place, with picket fences and kids playing in the streets.”

And what has brought you to Ashwood Falls?

Her naturally tanned face takes a gentle pinkish hue. “There have been some… incidents.”

Incidents?

She swallows, trying to talk about the subject in a nonchalant manner, though she tried hard enough, to give the impression that there is more than she said. “Yes. Some things flying through the air, spontaneous fires… that kind of thing.”

That sounds like pretty strange circumstances.

A gust of wind washed through the room, sending papers flying as she blurts out “Well, it was magic, that usually is ‘pretty strange'”. Then her shoulders sag and she sighs. “Listen, I just never learned to control this stuff. So I put a few things on fire, and accidentally hurt some people. But I didn’t mean it. I cannot blame my parents for sending me away.”

You won’t be trying to set this place on fire though, right?

The smile on her lips seems a little sad, though she shakes her head ever so slightly. “I cannot promise it, but I’m trying. I met some nice people who want to help me learn control it. I actually will have a lesson with Tyler right after this.”

Who is Tyler?

Once more her cheek flush, as she avoids to look at anyone. “He’s one of the Mystics of the Circle, the group that took me in. Zandra put him in charge of my magical training.”

And Zandra is?

Alana’s smile grows and her eyes sparkle, at the mention of the name.“The leader of the Circle. She’s a lovely witch and really good with magic. I always have the feeling she knows what I’m thinking, it’s a little weird. But she explains a lot to me and is really nice.”

And Tyler, is he nice too?

As fast as the blush had left, it returns to the girl’s cheeks.The golden eyes roam nervously around the room. “Yes, he tries really hard to teach me, but it is not easy. He knows what happens when things go wrong. When I first met him, I accidentally made a heavy book slam right into him. I’m sure he does not want that to happen again.”

Did I just see you blush?

What had been a pinkish hue now turned into a bright red, and she fiddles her fingers, moving her hands from one position to the next over and over. “Ye.. no.. I .. uh.. I think I better go. Tyler does not like when I’m late. Thanks uhm.. it was a nice chat. See you around.” With that she jumps from the stool and hurries out without another word.

Well, that was a quick turn; it looks like I struck a chord with our young lady. I did not even get to ask where she sees herself in a year. Though if what we have seen and heard so far is any indication, she will either be a magical super hero, or buried under a pile of rubber that once was Ashwood Falls.

Let us hope it is the first. And if you would like to see more of what Alana is up to. Check out Sra’kalor, the first part of her three-part story and her life in Ashwood Falls. And stay tuned to get to know Zandra, Dracon and not to forget Tyler in the near future.

My way to overcome writer’s block

Writing Tips-WritersBlock

The empty page, glaring into my soul, taunting me and making faces to mock me, when I do not find words to fill it. The feeling of failure looming over my head, as I struggle to continue what I have started. My head is full of things, thoughts, worries, but nothing of it has to do with the story.

Sounds familiar?

I have been asked by some of my readers and friends, how I am dealing with my Writer’s block. Since I know, that quite a number of writers have to deal with that from time to time, I thought I’d share it here. Please note, that these methods are what help me and might not necessarily work for everyone. But let’s be honest. When you are blocked, you want to try as many things as possible to find the one thing that helps YOU.

So let’s get started.

There are several methods that I use, depending on what I need at this point. There is also my go-to method that I’ll talk about last.

Distraction
I know there are some “Oooh no, then you’ll never get anything done” voices, trying to hammer into my mind. But hear me out. Sometimes my mind is so full of so many things, that I cannot hear my creativity over them. When I distract myself, I am turning my mind off. I play a video game, watch videos on youtube, read a book, take a walk (well no, I am lazy, but it’s an option), watch a movie… whatever gets my mind to shut up for a while. After that it is much easier for me to focus on writing. But you gotta make sure that you are not in distraction mode all day long. Set yourself a max timer if you have to.

Write something different
If you do not get into the story you are focussing right now, try writing something different. Maybe that will help you to free your mind for your main project.

Changing the story
There is the kind of writer’s block that comes when you feel you hit a wall in your story. Everything seemed to work nicely so far and suddenly you’re stuck, with no way to go. That happened to me, while I was writing Sra’kalor. One thing that I did was cutting out the scene that gave me headaches. I did not delete it, but put it into a different file, in case it fits later. Then I started that chapter again, did some change to the story, and from then on it went much easier.
A note about that cut out scene: If you are sure it will not work ever, just delete it. Also, just because you put it aside, does not mean you HAVE to use it at some point. Maybe it will work in a different story, or never. That is fine. I have not used that scene later on. I actually have forgotten about it at some point, because my story went in a direction where it was not relevant any more. So I deleted it then.

Character changes
Sometimes the reason we get stumped is because a character does not work. We had an idea for it, and either they developed differently (I do not have to tell you about characters getting a life of their own, so they completely ignore our input, right?), or we have written them in a corner, or they are just feeling wrong. Do not be afraid to change them. Make them more interesting, rewind and see where things went wrong. Change what is needed to be changed, and adjust the story around that if needed. It helped me a big deal sometimes.

Outlines, Mindmaps, Drawing boards
Where do I start? Where do I go? How do I end? How will I get there? These are questions I ask myself often while writing. With a creative mind, that is in constant chaos with either too many ideas or no ideas, that can be a tough call. Helpful to me were things like outlines, scene lists, mindmaps and so on. I actually have installed an add-on called MindMeister in my google dogs, so I can put mindmaps together easily. Write down your scene or story ideas. Be it digitally or on paper, whatever floats your boat and helps you. Put them in order, that makes your story flow, think about how to connect those scenes and your story will come to life. Then you only will have to write it down.

It does not have to be perfect
One of the biggest problems many writers I know have is, that they want to write the perfect chapter right away, while they actually are in their ‘First Draft’ phase. Your first draft is exactly that. A draft. Your first written proof of a story that spooks around in your head. It is rough, like coal, and needs work. But you wrote it down, it’s a huge step. And after that you begin with editing. Not the kind that an Editor does, but your run through of fleshing out the story. That part is where you add things to explain, where you take out stuff that is redundant, where plot holes are filled and so on. After that I work on descriptions, make things sound prettier, which by then is my third or fourth round of writing. Once I am happy with that I go through it again, to check for spelling and grammar. After that I will give it to my proof reader, who will find more mistakes, plot holes, points that make no sense and have to be improved or changed.
What I am saying is. Write and do not be afraid to not be perfect. You don’t have to be. Do not put that pressure on you. Making your story into the book that you can be proud of is a progress, not an instant ‘must do’.

 

Now my go-to method. It actually is a method that I have learned from a friend (Thank you Karen!) and I have been using it ever since. Her simple advice was “Write”

I can imagine that you might either say “I knew that!” or you wonder if I am crazy. “How am I supposed to write, when I have a block. That is the problem, didn’t you listen to me?” That is what I thought when she told me that in order to get over it, I gotta write. Things become easier when make them a habit, so if you have the habit of writing, you will get into the groove much easier. Now you might think, that this is easier said than done, BUT there is method in this chaos, in form of an exercise.

What you need for that is a timer, alarm clock, your cell alarm anything you got that rings a bell or something when time is up. You also need your writing utensils. If you want to use a computer, pen and paper, napkins, pig skin, whatever is up to you. Just do not use permanent marker on another person’s skin okay?

Now follow the following instructions:

  • Give your clock 5 minutes to run. After 5 minutes the alarm goes off and you are done.
  • Turn on the timer and begin to write and do not stop for corrections (Remember, does not have to be perfect, it can be riddles with spelling and grammar mistakes, this is not a test)
  • When the alarm goes off, stop writing.

But what should I write about? Everything, nothing of consequence, words, sentences, anything really. For me it usually began with random words. Any word that popped into my mind. Words turned into half sentences, later into full sentences. The sentences or words were not connected to each other, it looked like a looney wrote down every single thought that popped into their mind, which was exactly what had happened.
To my own surprise, after a little while of verbal doodling, I had begun to write things that belonged together. And I ended up with a paragraph, that made sense and could have easily been the beginning of a story.
I had not forced it, I just went with what came out of my mind and into my fingers. Which was good, because we know that forced writing is not enjoyable, neither for you or for your reader. The outcome was not always that great, nut sometimes, and it became more and more often, the more I did this exercise.

Ever since I have started this, I made sure that I put aside at least 5 minutes a day to write. Be it the exercise itself, a writing prompt I found online or got from a friend, a diary entry, the blurb for an idea that popped into my mind or whatever else I found there. Most of the time it ends up to be much longer, like an hour or two. But 5 minutes a day is all it needs to form a habit, that will help you on your journey.

For example: Right now I am writing this blog post as part of my daily writing and for overcoming a block. Tadaa surprise!

There for sure are many many more methods for overcoming writer’s block, but these are the ones that have worked for me so far.

Thank you for taking the time to read all the way through this long post and I hope that this is useful for someone out there. If you run into a writing wall again, I hope that you will find the method/s that do the magic trick for you!

Do you have any experience with overcoming writer’s blog? Did you try any of the mentioned methods and did they work for you? Do you have more methods for us that I have not mentioned? Comment below and share your story! Subscribe to this blog for more writers tips and more in the future and share it with your friends!

 

writersblock

Author & Book Spotlight at “Read between the Lines”

If you do not know the book blog “Read between the lines”, you should definitely head over and check it out. The lovely Anna, founder and owner of the blog is an avid book reader and she is one of those wonderful souls that offer reviews, Author & Book Spotlights and blog tours for authors.

I am very excited that she took time out of her busy schedule to post an Author and Book Spotlight post about Sra’kalor and me. I have just received the link and it made my day. It was totally worth being super nervous while answering the interview questions 😉

If you want to know more about me and the background of Sra’kalor, head on over to “Read between the lines” and read the full story. And while you are there, check out the rest of the blog too!