Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Do you get the dreaded summer doldrums??

Every summer this happens.

Does it involve lying halfway on the floor, moaning? Yes, yes it does.

I call it the summer doldrums.

And not even ice cream cake can save me from it.

My creative spark shrivels up like a worm on a hot sidewalk, and writing turns into a hair-pulling exercise in willpower and patience.

It sucks.

I mostly blame the heat and the angle of the sun as it slants through my window. Yeah, I know. That sounds nuts. Captain Nemo thinks I AM nuts.

Me: "I can't write because of the heat!"
Captain Nemo: (calmly) "Turn down the thermostat."
Me: "But also--the sunlight, it has a weird glow in the summer, there's no slant! It's too bright! It messes with my muse!"
Captain Nemo: *shakes head*
But there is something about the Georgia summer that makes my desire to write (along with most of my good ideas) just go *poof* ... it's like magic. Very, very bad magic.

Does this happen to anybody else? How do you cope?

So far my methods have been "plant butt firmly in chair, force self to write." But despite my best intentions, the words trickle out of me like the last couple of drops in my watering can.

*Sigh* At least in the South we have A/C.

I am really looking forward to fall!!

Friday, July 22, 2011

If You Liked ... ?

Beth Revis did this great post a few weeks back about recommending books, which basically talked about how just because someone liked a book with zombies doesn't necessarily mean they'll automatically like another zombie book, because there are multiple elements to each book that you can use to make recommendations. She did a cool little chart that broke it down and everything. Mostly I think she was focusing on how you can't also recommend one book based on one similarity, because not everyone liked the first book for that reason, but I loved the idea of breaking down the various elements and relating them to other books--or even movies--like that.

It's kind of like Netflix or Pandora for books.

Anyway, I liked it so much I thought I'd start doing it whenever I recommend something to you guys. I decided to try it out first with my book, The Curse Girl.

(Although yes, some of these things are movies).

If you liked . . .

Resourceful, sassy heroines struggling to break a curse?

A whimsical, magical modern world?

A romance where the guy and girl fight their initial attraction to one another with lots of sarcasm and witty banter?

If you liked any of these things, you might also like The Curse Girl

Thursday, July 21, 2011

My 5 Tips for Writing Every Day

These are 5 tips that work for me in my quest to write at least a thousand words a day (my goal for the rest of the summer). I've been using a lot of them lately, and thought I'd share! 

1. Write before you get online (or watch TV, or whatever you do to unwind and waste time). Set a daily goal and be firm--make yourself write X number of words before you can log on to Twitter, Blogger, Facebook, etc. If you have time to be on social networking sites, you have time to be writing.

2. Read before you write. This one may not work for everybody, because I know some people don't read while they're working on a novel, but for me, it ends up being very helpful creatively if I soak myself with other people's words before producing my own. Reading reminds me of why I write--a love of stories and beautiful verbal expression--and helps me get in the right mood for handling words for a few hours. Stephen King advises that writers read 1 hour for every 2 they write, and I wholeheartedly concur.

3. Listen to music beforehand. I usually have a playlist for each WIP, and it helps me to sit with my eyes closed and just listen to a few songs that capture the mood of the scene I'm working on before I start. That way, my creative juices are flowing as soon as I start, so I don't sit there staring at a blank page.

4. Leave something for tomorrow. Don't write until you're completely drained of ideas. That's the best way I know to get writer's block. Leave something to think about and chew over creatively, so when you sit down to write again, you're mentally prepared to start. Usually for me, the story takes over from there, and I don't waste a lot of time sitting around staring at the screen.

5. Eat ice cream cake! (or whatever comfort food you prefer) I find this very helpful for difficult scenes.

What helps you write every day?

Monday, July 18, 2011

First Draft Frustrations

Right now I'm working on the rough draft of my next novel, and I am at that point where I'm ready to tear my hair out.

This is how my SOUL feels right now. This.

I think some of my frustration stems from the fact that I'm trying to get it perfect the first time (haha). I'm trying to nail every character, every scene, every line of exposition before I move forward. This is a mistake I make with a lot of manuscripts, unfortunately.

I gave myself a stern lecture about it last night. What I need to do (or at least, what has worked fabulously for me in the past) is write as fast as I can, getting down the bare bones of the story, writing the necessary scenes, capturing the raw emotions as best as I can, sketching out the setting--but not worrying about making it perfect yet. Then I can go back, reread, take stock of what I've done, and add what I need to strengthen and clarify the characters and the story. 

This take-off-running-and-don't-look-back strategy is how I manage to write a first draft quickly. It's also how I avoid copious amounts of stress (because that agonizing-over-perfection thing KILLS me) and it's how I keep from stalling out and never finishing the book.

I found this marvelous quote on Twitter today, and it is perfect advice for me right now:

"No thinking - that comes later. You must write your first draft with your heart. You rewrite with your head. ~Finding Forrester

I just need to write with my heart, I guess. Get all that emotion down first.

But UGH. It is HARD. Hard, I tell you!!

Is anyone else going through first draft frustrations right now? What works for you?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Please Advise!

So, guys, there's something weighing on my mind. I'm not sure if it's a problem or not, or if it could be potential problem in the future, but it's stressing me out a little (easy to do with the OCD, I'm afraid) and I wanted to ask your opinions.

(Note, since nothing on the internet is private, and lots of people have google alerts on their names and stuff, if you guys think this post is somehow in poor taste, since it is going to obviously involve names and there's no way of getting around that, I will take it down after I get some advice. I'll try to be classy.)

So basically, I write under the name Kate Ellison. I'm a pretty brand-new author, and my book has only been out about 6 weeks now. But a few weeks ago, another book popped up in the Amazon search list by Kate Ellison. Curious, I clicked on it and saw that there's a book available for preorder by someone with the same name as me.

Obviously this sort of thing happens, two people with the same name, and it stands to reason that there could be two writers with the same name. That's all fine and dandy. And technically my book is out first, but whatever. I did an author search to make sure there weren't any Kate Ellisons before I used the name, and maybe she did too, or maybe she didn't think about it (and didn't know I was going to use it) ... either way, I now feel like I'm in some kind of game of chicken. Who's going to flinch?

So what I'm asking is this. Do you think this could cause problems down the road, for either her or me? I don't want to screw someone else over, and I don't want to cause some kind of author feud. I also don't want to confuse readers. If one of us starts selling well and getting known, won't that be extremely inconvenient for the other? (Or profitable, but still annoying, to have to constantly clarify that you're "the other Kate Ellison?")

I can think of several solutions:

1) Change my name by adding a middle initial, or a middle name.

2) Hope she changes hers before her book comes out.

3) Leave it be and see who becomes more successful (and therefore more recognized for the name?)

Does anybody have thoughts or advice? I am really uncertain about what the right move is, and I would like to address it soon. I have two books that I hope to have out in late summer/early fall of this year ... by the time her book comes out, I'll probably have 4-5 books out. I would like to figure this all out before then.

I also do not want to confuse readers, especially if our books end up being very different in style and tone. That could really annoy people who buy something thinking it's by one of us and accidentally getting the other's work.

What should I do?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Ten Faces for Writing a First Draft

1. The "I just had a great story idea" face

2. The "It's a really, REALLY good idea" face

3. The "I should be able to write this in a week, tops" face

There will be zombicorns, and readers will LOVE them.

4. The "I must think of an ending" face

Also, did I eat lunch today?

5. The "This is proving harder than I originally thought" face

6. The "Is this writer's block? I refuse to believe in writer's block so it can't be true!" face

Why is the ice cream cake gone?


8. The "I should have been a dental hygienist" face

Do not hold to hope, for it has forsaken these lands ...

9. The "I had an idea, it might work, but I'm afraid to hope ... I'll try it and see" face

I MIGHT be a genius ...

10. The "I'm a frickin' genius!!!!" face

It's official. Genius.

I'm in the first draft of a new book, and the second draft of an older book right now. I've been making a lot of these faces lately.

I'm pretty sure this could all be solved with ice cream cake.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Stuff That Makes Me Cry

Lately I've been reading lots of inspiring writing stories and they've been making me cry (yes, I wept while reading the part in On Writing by Stephen King where they're broke and then he sells Carrie for $400,000).

This keynote speech by Sherrilyn Kenyon was no exception.

I'm not sure why I've been so emotional lately. Perhaps it's just life events--I've had a lot of things happen to me in the last few weeks that were hard (but good), things that made me confront my own neuroses and face my fears. I'm in a good place right now, but I'm also feeling a little raw about it all. But at the same time, I've never felt so empowered.

It's a good feeling.

In other news, the super secret book is coming along well. I ended up rewriting about half of it, and I'm making great progress. I'm hoping to start showing covers and blurbs and such in a few weeks. (!!!)

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Power of Social Media

I saw in the news today that the newest book by genius writer John Green, The Fault in Our Stars, is #1 on Amazon AND Barnes and Noble right now (or at least it was when the article was written) ... and it is about nine months away from being released.

The article talks about how JG announced the title on Twitter, did a live show on Youtube, and promised to sign every copy of the first print run, and how everything escalated from there. People started pre-ordering and tweeting and sharing information on Tumblr.

(I was SO excited when I saw him announcing the title on Twitter. And he read the first chapter in the live show, which judging by that chapter alone, this will be my favorite of his books. It was amazing--I laughed out loud probably a dozen times, and I also got a tiny bit misty-eyed. All in the first chapter).

Seriously, social media can be a POWERFUL thing.

Anyway, hope you guys are having a good holiday weekend. My week (a whole week of family reunions, traveling, and all kinds of drama) has been enlightening, taxing, frustrating, and inspiring. Actually, I think I can distill it all down to a single adjective: exhausting. I have a fairly serious and personal blog post percolating in my brain that I hope to share Tuesday.

Have a lovely and safe 4th of July, everyone.


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