Sunday, April 29, 2012

Appreciation and Feedback: Liebster Blog

Writers, at least most of the ones I know, are always unsure about their writing. Is it good or bad? Will others like it? And the answers I give myself are always changing.

Sometimes I look at what I've written and think, "Wow, this is absolutely genius! I'm gonna win endless awards with my innate ability to put words together in awe-inspiring ways!!"

Then, five minutes later, I'll look at that same passage again, and think, "This is absolute garbage! I'm completely worthless as a writer and I don't know why I ever attempted to put words on a page."

Then, I'll read it through again, and wonder, "What will everyone else think about this? Will anyone like it?" It's so hard to gauge how others will view your work, especially when you can't decide what you think about it yourself.

So, I was absolutely thrilled to find that I'd been nominated by Ann Stanley for the Liebster Blog!! I looked it up and liebster means "beloved". I'm so happy to know that at least one person out there enjoys reading the words I put together. She even went as far as to say this about my blog, " I always enjoy her lightness of spirit and the fun range of topics and occasional bits of fiction." I'm a little in awe. Thank you so much, Ann, for your thoughtful appreciation.

The Liebster Blogger Rules are:
1. Thank the one who nominated you by linking back.
2. Nominate five blogs with less than 200 followers.
3. Let your nominees know by leaving a comment on their sites.
4. Add the award image to your site.

Since I've already thanked Ann, I'm moving on to my nominees. This was a lot tougher than I thought it would be. There are so many fun blogs out there that I wanted to list here. But, alas, I could only pick five, so here they are for your perusal and pleasure.

1. Dana Dampier's Crazy, Poetic Life - Dana writes great poetry and has three kids (like me) so I like her a lot!! ;)
2. Lara Britt's Writing Space - Lara lives in Hawaii and posts about local stuff on Fridays. She also posts about writing nooks, which are my favorite places to be!!
3.Lauri Meyers's Your Imagination is the Limit - Lauri has a great voice and I often laugh out loud when reading her posts.
4. Kelly Williamson's This is Mine...Seriously - Kelly has been writing about tough times with a mental illness in the family. She's in the process of changing up her blog and I, for one, am excited to see where she takes it.
5. Linda Hatton's The Whatnot Shop - Linda posts about lots of different topics, all interesting.

Okay, now I have to go and comment on these sites and let them know. ;)

Oh, and here is my ROW80 update:
This only thing I accomplished last week was my blog post on feeling overwhelmed. Not a very productive week at all. I'm starting off a little better this week. Hopefully, I can keep it up. ;)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Melancholy... and Overwhelmed

Hey everyone...
Lost in the Fog
I'm not sure why, but I've been feeling kinda melancholy lately. I haven't had much time for writing and platform building. I had a great weekend, though. I got to spend lots of time with hubby, which was a lot of fun. He usually has to work weekends, but didn't have much that had to get done. We went shopping with the kids on Saturday, and then got a sitter on Sunday and did a little more shopping. (Shopping is one of my favorite hobbies!!) But I didn't get any writing done, or even those things that aren't writing, but somehow make me a better writer, like reading craft articles, checking awesome blogs, and interacting with other writers on social media.

So, now I'm 6 or 7 days behind on MNINB challenges, didn't post an update for ROW80 on Sunday, didn't post a blog on Sunday, haven't done any writing, editing, or even reading for almost a week now, and am feeling a little hopeless. I figure the first step in the right direction is figuring out how far behind I am, but when I see the actual list, I just sigh and want to go back to bed. I'm feeling a little overwhelmed. Okay, I'm feeling a lot overwhelmed. I HATE long to-do lists. I need short, quick tasks so I feel like I'm making progress quickly. Only I don't feel like doing anything today... It's just one of those days, I guess.

Well, at least I posted on my blog... and got my ROW80 updates up, only two days late...

How do you deal with feeling overwhelmed? What are your strategies for getting caught up? How do fight off the hopeless feelings? I appreciate any and all feedback. Interaction is what this life is all about.

Happy Writing and Platform Building!!

ROW80 Update #6: for April 15-21st 

Writing: 1720/1500 words. First time I achieved this one.
Reading: 1/4 books. On track for this.
Editing: 4/10 pages. Still way behind. I should be at page 30, but I'm only on 20.
Blogging: 2/2 posts. Got this one.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Platform Building

Lots of you guys might be aware of the April Platform Challenge going on over at My Name Is Not Bob, a new addition to my Awesome Blogs. It's a great challenge with a new task everyday to help writers get started on building, or maintaining, a platform for their work. If you are interested but not involved yet, you can see all the past challenges in the archives on the MNINB site. It's turned out to be the start of a great community of writers, as well. BONUS!

I even participated in my first Twitter chat last night with the group. That was pretty fast paced and hard to follow.  And one of the reasons I started a Facebook group. Typically, I'm not very good at organizing, but hopefully managing this group will help with that. Because you can't grow inside your comfort zone, right? If you read my previous post Tagged, you know I'm terribly shy when it comes to social interaction. Seems like I've been venturing out of my comfort zone a lot lately.

Lots of writers participating in the challenge have started groups/lists/circles on Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. Actually, I just started the Facebook group last night. :) It's called MNINB Platform Challengers. Go join up if you are a writer. It's gonna be a place for writers to chat, recommend resources, help each other with any issues/questions, and/or just hang out. I'm hoping it turns out to be a pretty helpful group. If you have any suggestions or things you want help with, comment below or in the group!! It's a writer's group and we're starting off with posting goals and accountability, but I also want it to be a place writers can share resources and support. I hope it will become a place that writers feel comfortable asking questions (about writing and anything else) and just sharing with each other. Post a link to your latest blog or share a craft article you found helpful! Post a piece of your latest WIP in the Docs section and ask for feedback! Just make sure to give feedback and answer others' questions if you know anything about it!! I want it to be a community where everyone can help each other grow as writers and/or social beings!!! (I'm excited about it, in case you couldn't tell...)

What do you guys think about the group? Any ideas or suggestions? I appreciate any and all feedback. Even if you think this sucks, as long as you tell me why you think it sucks. I can't wait to hear from you guys! Interaction is what this life is all about.

ROW80 Update #5: April 18th 

Writing: 485 words on this Platform post
Reading: One down, three to go!
Editing: Now on page 20!! WooHoo!
Blogging: Platform post, plus update!

Happy Writing and Platform Building!!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

How I Write: Description and ROW80 Update

The Senses

The Five Senses

Everyone knows the five common senses: sight, smell, taste, touch, and sound. You want the reader to see, smell, taste, feel, and hear what your character does.

Another Two

There are also "senses" that are not physical or neurologically based, but more like perceptions. The two I like to use are time and space. When trying to convey one of these senses, you have to incorporate one (or more) of the main five. Usually, it will be sight. The position of the sun in the sky can give your reader a sense of time. But sound is helpful in showing a sense of space, such an echo in a large room. 

Which Words??

Ask Questions

There are so many words available to get the world you are writing about across to the reader. To figure out which ones paint the clearest picture of your scene, ask yourself some questions about the experience you are trying to give your reader.

Is it good or bad? Lots of words have connotations that help convey a feeling with your description. Be sure to use adjectives that mesh with the overall idea you are going for. If you are trying to show the reader an upper class woman in a good way, for example, you might use words like slender, elegant, and exquisite. You wouldn't want to use words like skinny, snobby, or hoity-toity, since these words give a negative feeling. 

Is it strong or weak? With a weak scent, you might say, "A slight trace of roses lingered in the air." For a strong odor, you might say, "The repugnant stink invaded my nostrils, instantaneously invoking my gag reflex."

What does it remind you of? What is something common that you can compare it to? If you are working in science fiction or fantasy, the thing you are describing may be unlike anything your reader has ever experienced. In this case, try comparing it to something common that your reader will be familiar with, then tell how it's different. Speaking of different...

How is it different than other things like it? When describing something common, like a chair, don't tell us what we already know. Don't say: it has four legs, a back to lean on and a seat for your rump. Everybody already knows what a "chair" looks like. Tell us what's different or unique about this particular chair. Maybe the back was carved from a dark, shiny wood to resemble vines climbing a trellis, or the seat is upholstered in the softest grey fabric you've ever had the privilege of running your fingertips across. 


Personally, I like to use alliteration in my descriptions. I feel a repetition of consonant sounds makes the words flow off the tongue and leaves the reader with a lasting impression. This is especially true when describing sounds: A cacophony of crashes called me into the kitchen. Okay, that might be pushing the limits a little, but you get the idea. ;)

My Example: The Beach

Here are some examples from the beach. I give one sentence for each of the seven "senses" I listed previously. See if you can tell which sense I had in mind when I wrote each sentence. 

The robin's egg blue sky stretched forever, meeting the navy blue ocean at the edge of infinity.
The gritty sand rubbed the skin between my toes raw.
The waves crescendoed, culminating in crashes interspersed with the calls of the seagulls.
Exquisite, lime-tinged Corona slid down my throat, leaving a bittersweet residue on my tongue.
The air swirled around me, bringing with it a heavenly mixture of salt and coconut tanning oil.
The toddler's neon pink bikini was in clear contrast to her pale, ivory skin and butter-colored curls.
The pink dawn and orange twilight were the perfect bookends to a beautiful day.

For practice, make up a sentence of your own for each sense and post it in the comments below. I'd love to see what all of you creative writers come up with. How do you write description? Any great ideas that I missed? Let me know!! I appreciate any and all feedback. Even if you think this sucks, as long as you tell me why you think it sucks. I can't wait to hear from you guys. Interaction is what this life is all about.

Also: ROW80 Update #4 April 15th 

You can see my goals here.
Writing: 233 on my "Tanka" post Friday, and wrote on this a little more before posting.
Reading: One down, three to go!
Editing: Still only at 6 pages overall. Gotta work on this! Seriously.
Blogging: This post, with update!! Plus my "Tanka" post on Friday. ;-)

Friday, April 13, 2012

Challenge: Tanka

Challenge Accepted!!

I find writing challenges extremely inspiring. I love a good challenge. They are fun to try, even if you don't submit your entry. I believe anything that gets you to put words on paper (or screen) is a good idea.

Yesterday, I found a wonderful poetic challenge from Robert Lee Brewer from Writer's Digest! Go read it here. A tanka is a Japanese form poem. It has five lines, each with 5, 7, 5, 7, and 7 syllables, respectively. I had never heard of tanka before, and I was intrigued. So I thought I'd give it a try. I went through my pictures for inspiration. Then I wrote a tanka. Enjoy!

Peeking through the clouds
Shining bright, into my eyes
A day is born with
Endless opportunities
If only I accept them

So, I'm throwing down the gauntlet. I challenge you to find a challenge!! Ironic, huh? If you can't find one, write a tanka. If it's short, post it below in the comments. If it's longer, post it on your blog, then come back and link to your post in the comments below. Be sure to tell what the challenge is first and link back to it so others might be inspired. Actually, do that even if you don't want to post your writing practice for public consumption. The more challenges the better!! Good luck and remember to have fun!!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Tagged: 7 Facts

Apparently, I've been tagged by Juliana Haygert here. I am supposed to list 7 facts about myself and/or my writing and then tag 7 others to do the same.

When I saw this, my first thoughts were, "Oh, no. I hate talking about myself! How on Earth am I going to come up with seven facts about my writing?? And if that's not bad enough, I have to force this horror on seven other people??"

So now, I'm sitting here typing this post, hoping the facts will just appear on the page as my fingers fly across the keys without any conscious effort.


Well, that didn't work, but I'm not one to give up easily. So, let's see what I can come up with.

1. I've always been a seat of my pants kinda writer (pantser), pretty much. I'll have an idea of the way I want a story to go, but I've never really written down any kind of notes or outline. So I went and read up on planning and outlining. Now I can't write. Ironic, huh? All I can think about is trying to figure out my plot points, turning points, climax and resolution. And all I get is BLANK. I've been trying to write short pieces from prompts and it seems to help me write without overthinking it.

2. I'm a perfectionist. This is a terrible hindrance to my writing. Sometimes I will spend all day writing, and rewriting, and rewriting, and then rewriting some more, on a single paragraph. I try to move on and tell myself that I'll come back and edit the whole piece at once later on, but I can't think about anything else until that paragraph is exactly the "perfect" way I want it.

3. Description is my favorite thing to write. I'm working on a post now about how I do it and what I think about when writing description. Watch for it!! ;)

4. I like to write dialog. Pick your jaw up off the floor. I have a lot of fun with it. When you know your characters really well, and you let them do the talking in your story, sometimes it really surprising what comes out of their mouths.

5. I have trouble finishing. I tend to start a project, get distracted by another project, and never get back around to it. I'm trying to work on shorter pieces til I get my project endurance down.

6. I like to write Fantasy, but Romance is my true passion. I crack myself up sometimes, lol.

7.  People who know me find this one really surprising. I'm EXTREMELY shy around people I don't know. Just the thought of public speaking causes me to break out in hives and hyperventilate. Just speaking to people in public scares me speechless (again with the irony, I know). I know this is something I need to work on getting past. I believe it stems from low self-esteem. I just can't imagine why anyone would want to listen to anything I have to say. So I feel like talking to people is somehow forcing misery upon them. I know this is ridiculous. Really, I do. I'm a fairly intelligent person, and I know that I can, occasionally, offer valuable insight and even just be fun to hang out with. I never said this was a RATIONAL fear.

So, because of this crazy shyness, I can't bring myself to force this on anyone, or even imply that they should do it. So, if you feel so inclined (and I hope you do, cause I love reading odd and/or random facts about people, and they are great places to pick up quirks for your characters), post a blog on your site and share seven facts about you and/or your writing. And you can even tag seven others to do it also, if you want. Then, in the comments below, please post a link to your page of answers so I can check it out.

Good luck in all you do. Happy writing!!

Also: ROW80 Update #3 April 11th 

I know, I'm a little early. But I should have posted on Sunday, so really, I'm a little late. Oops.  ;) 
You can see my goals here.

Writing: Sunday/Monday - 666 words on my description post, Tuesday - 747 words on this post
Reading: One down, three to go!
Editing: Still only at 6 pages overall. Gotta work on this!!!
Blogging: This post, with update!!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

ROW80 Goals

Hello, all you wonderful people out there!!

I've decided to participate in A Round of Words in 80 Days, Round 2 for 2012. If anyone wants to know more about this program, you can check it out here: ROW80. Basically, it's a group of people agreeing to set a goal (or goals) that's reasonable for them and checking in on their progress twice a week for 80 days. They do four rounds a year, and the second one for this year starts April 2.

I'll be setting weekly goals. I like the idea of weekly goals better than daily since you get a little more wiggle room to fall behind (or get ahead) early and make it up (or chill) later on in the week.

Without further ado, here are my goals for the next 80 days so you can all help hold me accountable.

1. I will write at least 1500 words a week. This may be on my fantasy novel WIP, romance novel WIP, short stories, or blog. Ideally, I will write at least 500 words a day, at least 3 times a week. I know, I'm aiming low, but I've had higher goals in the past and always fall short, get discouraged, then give up. So, we'll start here and see what happens.

2. I will complete a short story and submit it by the end of this round. This is a big one for me. I've just started writing seriously in the last six months or so, and I haven't completed any works yet. (Shocker, right?) I get lots of ideas, and have started a few projects, but have yet to finish a story so I don't really feel like I'm accomplishing anything. Therefore, I will write a short story, 1500-4000 words, and edit it into something I feel fantastic about and submit it somewhere it could potentially get published.

I will edit one chapter, or at least ten pages, a week of a full novel manuscript I'm editing for a critique partner. It's much more work than I first thought. (Show me your shocked face again!) But, surprisingly, it's also much more fun than I had thought. I love going back and reading it after I've made a whole bunch of little punctuation, spelling, or word order changes and seeing what a wonderful difference it's made, how much more smoothly her words flow and how much more easily it is to understand the wonderful story she is telling. And the best part is that she appreciates it!! I've found that helping others is immensely satisfying, when that person is truly happy with and thankful for your help, of course.

This was my favorite thing to do before I started writing and my biggest inspiration. Now, I almost never do it. I have about 50 books on my reading list and haven't read for fun in forever! Ugh! I love to read! Why am I not doing it more?!? I feel like I should be doing more productive things, like writing, cleaning (yuck!), or (gasp) playing with my children. But I need to make sure to give myself some fun time too. I don't really watch TV, although I do waste WAY too much time on Facebook (I know, another shocker). So, anyway, my goal is to waste less time surfing the 'net, and read, let's say, four fiction novels during this round. That's about one every three weeks and should be doable.

Blog/Check In
I just started my blog about a month or two ago, and I've only made a couple posts so far. For ROW80, I'm supposed to check in twice a week on my blog to share my accomplishments. I don't want to just post an update on my goals, though, cause that just seems a little boring for those (few) people who follow it. So, my goal is to post an entertaining, thought-provoking, book-reviewing, website-suggesting and/or absolutely amazing blog, with a short ROW80 update at the end, every Sunday. This seems a little overzealous for me, and I anticipate having the most trouble fulfilling this goal, but we shall see...

I appreciate any and all feedback!! What is your experience with setting goals? Do you aim high and push through? Or do you set 'em low so you don't fail? Or do you aim high, then fail miserably? Let me know! I can't wait to hear from you guys! Interaction is what this life is all about!

Becca ♥