Monday, September 23, 2013

642 Things to Write About: Live at IKEA

"642 Things to Write About: You have been evicted from your home, but rather than live on the street you go to IKEA. At night you hide in the bathroom until the janitor leaves. Write about your life."

I like to move around a lot. I'm never content in the same house with the same boring decor. I'd move to a new apartment every week if I could, but it turns out that's not in the budget. In fact, staying in the same place isn't in the budget either. My landlord posted an eviction notice on my door today. I didn't care. I was bored of that place anyway. I should've been furious or terrified, but as I sat on my cappuccino colored love seat going through the IKEA catalog, a brilliant idea struck.

Sunday, September 22, 2013


The highlight of my week was starting the sequel to my first book! So far there are only two pages written, but I'm very excited about the new plot line!

The low: I haven't heard back from an agent who requested pages early in the week.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Unnecessary Dialogue

Writing unnecessary dialogue can be a lot of fun. It's a way to get to know your characters. You can see how they might react in a different situation. Although, boring readers with unnecessary dialogue is never a good idea. I have cut so many scenes from my manuscript because they were unnecessary and that was much more challenging for me than I care to admit. The writing in the scene might have been great, the characters could have been witty and very entertaining, but it ultimately did nothing to advance the story so it had to go.

Still, I don't regret brainstorming or writing scenes with unnecessary dialogue. If anything, thinking about and writing those scenes helped me grow my character and practice my editing skills. Realizing that those types of scenes were unnecessary and a.) learning how to make the scene/dialogue relevant or b.) cutting the scene, helped me become a better writer and editor.

So, don't worry about writing unnecessary dialogue. Write it anyway, if you realize it doesn't work later, scrap it!

What's the best scene you've ever cut from your novel or short story? Tell me in the comments!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Amateurs Wait, Experts Write

I'm sure we can all say we're guilty of sitting and waiting for inspiration--I know I am. As much as I love to write, it's also a lot of work. Lounging around until I feel like writing or until something sparks my attention is so much easier than getting up and writing something. There is a reason that each individual sits and waits for inspiration. I don't know what your problem is, but I know mine. I'm a perfectionist. Sometimes the idea of starting something (without inspiration) scares me. What if it's a huge mess or embarrassingly lame. I don't like to fail--I don't know who does.

This ties into the doubt that I posted about a few days ago. My need to be the best and the brightest holds me back. I know that I should be comfortable writing anything at anytime, but I'm not. I'm still learning to be confident in my writing. I and all of us writers need to be confident enough in ourselves to realize that mistakes don't equate to failure. As a perfectionists, if I doubt my ability to do something well, I tend to shy away from trying at all. This is a mindset that I've been slowly letting go of over the past year and a half. Though I've left some of my perfectionists ways behind me, it can be a struggle to move forward.

I don't want to be the amateur that sits and waits for inspiration. I want to be the expert who gets up and goes to work. I think most writers can agree with that. I still want to be the best and the brightest, but I and other writers out there with this mentality have to be willing to try and risk failing horrendously before we can achieve success. 

How do you find inspiration? Tell me in the comments!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Trolls, E-bullies, and Pot-stirrers

We've all been there. It started on the playground with the meanie-head that pushed you off the swings because they didn't like your pigtails. Now bullies are much more aggressive and utilize emotional abuse. Trolls, or people who search the Internet looking for a fight, are some of the worst offenders (of bulling and using emotional abuse). E-bullies (electronic bullies) are equally menacing. However, the culprit usually knows his or her victim. Pot-stirrers, well, they are a combination of trolls, e-bullies, and so much more. They like to create, manipulate, and expand problems that do not really exists.

Now that bullying has left the playground, it becomes a relevant topic for any venue, the writing community is no exception. I belong to a writing community called Figment. I have been a member for about 13 months. Within my time there, I have not encounter many trolls, e-bullies, or pot-stirrers. However, there were and still are instances of bullying on this site and others.

Bullies don't want their victims to feel good about themselves, or in our case, about our writing. But here's the thing: bullies attempt to terrorize their victims because they are lacking something, in our case, probably writing skills, or it may be something completely unrelated. Either way, it doesn't really matter what their problems is--what matters is the problems they create for you and how you respond (mentally/emotionally, not actual electronic communication) to them. For someone to mercilessly attack someone else or their work indicates that they have a problem--I know I already said this, but it's important.

So, how do you respond? For starters, ignore them. They're not worth a moment of your time. Ignore their negative responses and influence. Don't obsess over the hurtful words of one person. Instead, look at the wonderful reviews and responses that you have received on your writing.

Don't worry, we've all made the mistake of trying to help the trolls, e-bullies, and pot-stirrers understand the errors of their ways. Try to avoid any contact with them--they are not worth your time. Put their negativity and arrogance aside and do what you love. Write!

There will always be critics of your work. Positive and constructive criticism is an amazingly helpful tool and should not be ignored. But the 'advice' from the trolls, e-bullies, and pot-stirrers in your life are not worth a second glance.

Now it's your turn! Let's talk about the success stories of overcoming bullies and/or how your writing has improved through constructive criticism in the comments!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Doubt Kills Dreams

Karim Seddiki

We've all been there. The literary industry is a tough business to break into--that is, if your only goal is to publish. There is nothing wrong with wanting to publish your work. I'm right there with you; I would like to publish my manuscript. I've had a one track mind for the past few months. I worked so hard on my manuscript that (under the guise of wanting to publish the first before writing the second) I doubted my ability to write another book. Friends, family, and Figment followers (the online writing community I'm apart of) have told me they love my book, the characters are compelling, the plot is interesting etc. Receiving feedback like that from about a hundred people (both family/friends and unbiased reviewers) should have been enough to set aside my doubts. However, doubt is a powerful motivator.

Doubt causes inaction. Questions like : 'Why did I think I could do this? What makes me the right person to write this novel?' start to swell over you. The thing is: if you doubt yourself too much to try, then you have already failed. You only fail when you stop trying your best. Doubting yourself and your abilities is never going to get you anywhere. Be confident in your abilities. Doubt will keep you from writing and if you don't write you won't improve. Your work might not be ready to be published or even ready for human consumption (outside of review groups), but that isn't failure. That is a sign that you need to believe in yourself and continue writing. Don't give up, have faith that you will improve!

Have you struggled with doubt? Tell me your success (or your fall-on-your-face-failture if you like) stories in the comments!

Sunday, September 15, 2013


The high point of my week was when I started coming up with ideas for a sequel to my book.

The low point: my favorite agent (who requested the first 30 pages of my manuscript) sent me a form rejection letter on Tuesday.

Though the rejection was disappointing, I am not ready to give up so soon. Many great authors struggled to find representation after sending out hundreds of queries. Having only sent out around 30 query letters, I feel hopeful that I will find someone who loves my characters as much as I do! And if I don't, that's okay too. Writing my manuscript was one of the best things I have ever done--no regrets!!

How about you? What was your high/low of your writing life this week?

Saturday, September 14, 2013

How Soon is Too Soon?

My writing has been on standby since I finished editing my manuscript. I've been writing prompts and little stories, but nothing substantial. I've been waiting for the responses and hopefully offers (to represent my book) to roll in. However, so far, I have received a partial request and a whole lot of rejection letters. I didn't want to start something new until I felt like my manuscript was finished. Now, I am convinced that my manuscript is finished, but I still feel apprehensive to move forward.

Yesterday, I started thinking of starting a more serious writing project. I've come up with a couple of ideas for sequels to my first book. I feel like my characters have so much more to tell, but at the same time, starting a sequel to a book that doesn't have representation might not be a great idea. Or maybe it is a great idea--who knows? Seriously, if anyone knows, feel free to comment below! 

Anyway, I realized I was thinking from a publisher's view instead of a writer's view. I'm a writer. My character's stories feel like they are growing and evolving, but I've been ignoring their voices because (from a publishers standpoint) writing a second book may not be the most best idea right now. 

Since I am a writer who writes to write and not to publish, I think I will start working on a sequel (or at least coming up with ideas for one). 

What do you think? Should I start a sequel? Tell me in the comments! Or tell me about your struggle with sequels and/or writing to write verses to publish!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Rejected? How dare they...

You know how parents fawn over their children. In their eyes, their children are the most wonderful and perfect little creatures to roam the earth. They can do no wrong and everyone else should love and adore them. The thing is: no one can love a child as much as their parents. Okay, I'm nobody's mom, but the bond between a mother (or a father) and a child is similar to the bond I have with my characters.

Today I got a personal rejection letter that really surprised me--partially because I sent it several months ago and assumed my work had been passed over. However, that is not what I found most shocking. About five lines into the email, the assistant of the agent I queried explained that they "read my query with interest," but they "weren't drawn in by the pages." Along with my query, the agent requested (in the submission guidelines) the first ten pages of my manuscript. Now, I have rewritten my query several times since I sent it to this agency and looking back on the draft I sent them--it just wasn't great and it certainly wasn't perfect. Here's the thing: I always assumed that I would get rejected because of my query letter alone. I thought this because, of course, my manuscript pages were a work of genius that no one could possibly dislike. Okay, be honest: half of you readers are nodding your head because you've made the same mistake and the other half of you have a furrowed brow, narrowing eyes, and the words "What an idiot. Who would think that?" rattling around in your head.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Vocabulary 101: Talk

There are as many different ways to talk as there are people in the world. Okay, maybe that's a bit hyperbolic, but finding the right word to describe how your character talks can make all the difference. My characters rarely talk. They would rather be chatting, gabbing, gossiping, negotiating, debating, schmoozing, chattering, or even yammering. 

Does your character exchange witty banter with a best friend? Backtalk to their boss? Spout blarney to their brother? Whisper sweet nothings to their spouse? Confess to their Twitter followers? Confer with a colleague? Or quip with a stranger? If the answer is yes, you are well on your way to creative writing!

Don't settle for talking when a wisecrack will do!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Vocabulary 101: Look

You know the saying, the eyes are the windows of the soul? Well, I'm not sure exactly how I feel about that. However, the eyes are great tools and indicators in fiction writing. Telling readers that a character is 'looking' at something or someone is fine, but showing them how a character sees the object or the person is much more powerful.

Let's say your character looks at someone across the room. That statement tells the reader absolutely nothing about how the character feels when they see that person. Showing the reader how the character feels requires a more extensive vocabulary. Let's say your character gawks at someone across the room. This tells us a little bit more. Your character is most likely attracted to the person. Word choice can be taken even farther here. A character who is typically shy might gawk at someone they are attracted to, while a more self-assured person may ogle. Is your character an awkward teenage boy gaping at a young woman? Is your character a creep? In that case, they might be leering at the person across the room.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Vocabulary 101: Walk

Readers will easily tire of plain words. One of the biggest and most boring culprits is the word 'walk'. There are so many ways and styles of walking. Each of them convey a more detailed understanding of the characters state of mind. For instance, some characters meander, others stroll, and the really confident ones strut. Clumsy characters stumble, sneaky characters tiptoe, angry characters trudge, others sashay, stomp, trample, roam, lumber, hoof it, bounce, wander, trot... you get it--there are many words that easily replace 'walk.'

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Importance of Community

If you tuned in yesterday, you may have seen that my highlight of last week was when my favorite agent requested pages. I haven't heard anything yet, but I thought this would be the perfect time to tell you how I got this far as a writer. As I've mentioned before, I started writing my manuscript a year and a half ago. After six months of writing, I was ready to share my ideas with other writers. The only problem: I didn't know where to start. I spent a couple of weeks researching various writing communities before I stumbled on Figment. "Figment is a community where you can share your writing, connect with other readers, and discover new stories and authors" (Figment, 2013).

Sunday, September 8, 2013


The highlight of my week: my favorite agent of all time requested the first 30 pages of my manuscript!

The Low? The day before my favorite agent requested pages I was feeling a little discouraged. Needless to say, my week shaped up after receiving such great news!

How about you? Tell me the highlight or the low point (or both!) of your writing life this week in the comments!

Reference (because plagiarizing isn't cool)
Jessi. (2013, Februaryr 11). Naptime diaries. Retrieved from

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Show Me All About It

We have all been there. It is so much easier to say something like: The woman sat in her doctor's office with a worried expression on her face. As writers, we must resist the temptation to tell our readers what is going on in a scene when we should be showing them. We should say: The woman teetered on the edge of her chair. Her eyes fell from the clock to the door as she waited for the doctor to enter. Her brow furrowed and she bit her quivering lip as her narrowing eyes glanced towards the clock once more. Showing the woman's fear is significantly more powerful than simply stating the facts.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Waiting for Inspiration?

What are you waiting for? Go write!

Not sure where to start? How about the comments section?

How do you find inspiration to write?

Reference (because plagiarizing isn't cool)

Poynter, D. (2013, March 21). Writers on writing continued. Retrieved from

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Accepting Judgement

When I started writing my manuscript in January of 2012, I was writing it for me. It was nothing more than a personal project. A story of two best friends and a mysterious stalker filled my mind until it practically busted onto the page. After six months of writing, I reached out to other writers. That is when I realized I wanted to share my story with the world. Now, a year later, I am composing dozens of drafts of query letters, piecing together a synopsis, and searching for an agent. When I first started writing, I was not familiar with Erica Jong's quote, but I am glad my story started out as a personal project. If I had tried to write my story for the world, it may never have been finished.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

A Leap of Faith

Writers deserve hazard pay. By definition, our chosen profession is unpredictable and full of risk. A successful writer cannot cling to safe topics and homely characters who always do and say the right things. Instead, we give our characters gray hair, a less-than-endearing stutter, and a midlife crisis at twenty-five. 

Monday, September 2, 2013

Character Back-Story: On the Corner of Frustrating and Fun

Developing a character and giving them a detailed backstory can be tremendous fun. It can also be a horrendous nightmare. I love knowing everything about my characters, but it can be frustrating when I cannot share that with my readers. I started writing my manuscript in January of 2012. I finished writing about a year later and after six or seven months of editing, my manuscript is publication ready (or at least I think so). Even though my book is complete, I know my journey with these characters is not. Each character I have crafted has so much more to tell. I have only scratched the surface of their potential. If you have written a book or a short story, you know exactly what I mean. We invest so much of ourselves, our time, and our energy into creating these fictional people. Sometimes leaving them or taking a break from writing is the hardest thing we have to do. I hope some of you are nodding and thinking to yourself, "Oh good, we're not alone."

Sunday, September 1, 2013

A Tough Goodbye

Like most writers, I am a reader. One of the hardest things a writer or a reader has to do is say goodbye to beloved characters. On September 17th, Ally Carter's final installment of the Gallagher Girls series, United We Spy, will be released. Though all of her fans are counting down the days and hours until it is released, reaching the last page of this compelling series and saying goodbye to Cammie Morgan and her friends will be difficult.