DO YOUR CHARACTERS APPRECIATE THEIR AUTHOR?

What a puzzling question? This came to me as I was revising some pages of a new novel in process. I read through and decided this needed to be changed, the flow might fit better if these paragraphs were moved to another section, and for some reason my character’s name became a prominent area. During the writing process, my character had grown up and was not happy with her girlhood name or nickname. Why hadn’t I noticed this before? Because my character and characters were quiet, letting me take them into uncharted areas. Not anymore.
As I attempted to revise, making notes as I changed a scene, I found my fingers did not flow over the keys. I misspelled words, left words out, and forgot dates that at first were SO important. My characters did not just play with me, they turned obstinate. I felt their heels dig into the page and no amount of pressure on the keys made them move. Giving them some room to realize their stubbornness, I paged forward to another chapter. Same scenario. Why do you hate me when I am trying to bring you to a new story and become ALIVE?
Now what? I’m one-hundred pages into this new novel, research done, a critique partner okay with the first fifty or so pages, so I saved this version and started a new version with a different title.
The story line I kept in tact, but changed the location Hey my fingers are flowing over the keys. Next, my main character showed up without an invitation and began crawling through my thoughts. I listened and learned she did not like her name, the color of her hair and was NOT a teenager any longer. When had she grown up? Because this was MY story to write and she was only a character. WRONG. At the beginning, I created her, but as the story proceeded into new and different areas, I forgot to grow my character and it was retaliation time again.
We took a trip together and became writer, character, and friends again. She let me know with keystrokes what she wanted  and if now, well you guessed. . . . my fingers hit the wrong keys. Sometimes, it is so hard to be a creator of characters, an author who follows some of their wishes, and in the end makes the story shine.
Make sure you give your characters a wide array of choices and let them lead your fingers to the ‘write’ keys. This keeps everyone happy and your story will flow from author to character and from character to author.
HAPPY CHARACTERS.  HAPPY AUTHOR.  HAPPY STORY.  HAPPY WRITING.

 

 

 

 

 

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IS YOUR WELL DRY?

Have you ever sat down to write and nothing happens? The screen stays blank. You continue to stare at all the white space without seeing even a squiggle or a flicker. Why? You are ready to write and write and write, but you feel you have a leak in your head. Everything up there is escaping. Air whistles in your ears like a locomotive on the railroad tracks, but does not send thoughts into your fingers. “I’m lost,” and you decide to turn the computer off and give up. WAIT! Not so fast. Let’s take a look at some of the possibilities and causes of this dry well. It did not happen overnight.
Sometimes, we have so much in our minds, on our to-do-lists, problems at work, problems with the vacuum cleaner, problems forgetting to say ‘no’ that we are over extended. But, you need to get the submission out, you forgot to answer an email, and you listen to your overloaded mind give you all the excuses you want.
Yes, you are right. We do all of this to ourselves to get more done, more completed, more new thoughts, more new beginnings . . . and you can name them for yourselves. But, does this get results or more problems?
We are not machines. We load so much into our thoughts, we need a mental reprieve. Stop for just a moment and ask yourself what is the worst that can happen, and then take a deep breath, throw your shoulders back, and look around. Better yet, get up and walk around. Your space might be huge or extra small, but a few steps, with the knees lifted high, is better than sitting in a chair with our legs crossed, tension running up and down our spine. Get up and take a walk in the rain, snow, cold sunshine, and if you have a pet, this would be a great time to walk the dog. Do not hurry and observe everything you see, hear, feel, and smell.  We get so bogged down with writing, we forget to be human. Our chores become routine, and before we know it, they take over our lives. Guess what? The well goes dry. This little walk, refresher period, or nothing time becomes the most important part of your day.
Think about how the air smells. Do you detect a scent of cinnamon, a big juicy burger, or strong caffeine from a coffee shop. In this short time, you bring your senses forward, your listening sharpens, and your head feels less empty. The well is working, not at full speed, but working.
Back home, do not go directly to your computer, but feel your body come alive with new thoughts and new senses. Tomorrow, you will watch your fingers fly over the keys with words you never imagined.
Never get bogged down again. Take a much needed walk. See. Feel. Smell. Enjoy. The well will fill up again.
Happy Walking. Full Well. Happy Writing. Happy Reading.
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A Happy YOU

 

FEAR OF FAILURE

unicorn danceYes, we all want to be successful in whatever field we choose. Success is just two steps away. You can feel it, but something happens and you remain in the same spot. Why? Behind the big forceful smile, a thought lurks. “What happens if I become successful and fail?” Like many others, you get back on your feet, start over, and try again. But this would mean getting out of your comfort zone and the self-imposed prison you created. Take a look at all the times you stopped whatever you were doing because the prison felt better than knowing what was on the outside.
Fear is such a short, four letter word, and we panic at the thought of getting out of our comfort zone. This is no easy task. Start small. Watch a baby wobble from the knees and try to move forward. The child makes quite a few wobbles. Back and forth. Back and forth until it becomes familiar and the hands and knees will move together. The baby discovers table tops that need to be checked out. Soon the hands reach up and the feet become still as the legs straighten up. There is so much more to see standing up. Then comes the fun of running and each room has something new to explore. The big world outside is next.
What’s so different with ourselves? Failure will always be a part of living, but it does not have to consume your life or your world. Start small and keep going forward know matter if the steps seem huge to you.
Find ways to break down your fear and try it on again and again. But, you do not feel you are good enough, smart enough to continue. Why? This is where you talk to your fear with conviction in your voice. Stand in front of a mirror and state all the reasons why you can do anything your want, within reason. Does the mirror crack? Does the person in the mirror split apart? No. Guess everything is okay. Face your fear and you will defeat the thoughts rolling around in your head.
Fear is only distress, anxiety, panic, worry, and terror. All of these can be overcome with a little practice in the real world, but remember you will always have the mirror to help you.
Fear can destroy your employment, your friends, even your family. Yet fear can be a good feeling as it sometimes trips the alarm inside you. Always listen to yourself and your feelings. You know yourself better than anyone else. Rely on these feelings.
Now, put fear to bed and learn something new. Walk into a room of strangers and come away with new ideas and new friends. you are on your road to FREEDOM OF FEAR.

 

HAPPY FEARLESS YOU.  HAPPY WRITING.

 

WHAT DAY IS THIS?

The OtherlifeThis is the look of my days, not quite night, definitely not morning, and my eyes are red from writing and reading. Sometimes, I feel like there is no in between and it is hard to decide upon AM or PM. One thing for certain, the challenges for each day push me forward into uncharted territory.

This past Saturday, I attended my Georgia Romance Writers meeting and came away with new thoughts, new visions, and new ideas. Why? I was surrounded by writers. Some struggling to keep everything together and some celebrating new books and trying to balance their time and others hitting the blank spot of the brain. I realized none of us have it all together and this made me feel good. Do I like it? Nah. But, we keep surrounding ourselves with other writers and gather support. This is so important when you are struggling with a page, a chapter, a thought, and know you have others you can bounce these thoughts out there and get feedback.

I have found out that writers jump on the wagon and either pull or push you forward. It is the momentum from their hard work that propels new writers forward. Then, it is our turn to do the same to other new writers. Writer friends are friends we turn to in times of questions and they understand our problems. Why? Because, most of them have been in the same situations and managed to break through to publication and above.

Make certain you have life-lines to throw out to all of your writer friends, and they have the same coming your way. Beta Readers, Critique Partners, and Writing Groups are the best life-lines writers have. They may not be perfect, but it is a starting point. Be kind. Be thoughtful. Be yourself. But . . . never compare yourself to another writer. We are all different and our needs are different. Keep your avenues open for everyone. Make sure your bridges to others are always open.

My big happening this week, I received my book in print and can hold my ‘baby’ in between my hands. And, it was not an easy birth, but I am busy on two other books. Maybe these will be a little easier to produce. No matter what happens, I will continue to write, write, and write. And you, as a writer will continue to write and write and write. Once a writer, the need to write, share, and publish never goes way. Good Luck to all of you writers.

A saying, I believe in and maybe you will too, is from Eleanor Roosevelt.
“The future belongs to those who dream.”

Happy Dreams. Happy Writing.

BLOWN IS READY TO LAUNCH – MAY 19, 2015 IS THE DATE

AuthorChuckBarrettThis is the author, Chuck Barrett, of another powerful novel, that will grab you by the hand, take you by the throat, and not let go. By that time you are exhausted. Barrett is an Amazon bestselling author of the Award-winning Jake Pendleton series:  The Savannah Project, The Toymaker, and Breach of Power.  Somewhere in between all of these novels, he  added his personal information and seminars to the art of self-publishing, Publishing Unchained: An Off-Beat Guide to Independent Publishing. He has put together his Book Launch Advocate Team, and it has been a “Blown” away experience. So, for my part, I asked him if he could answer some questions for all of his readers. Not many, but enough to let the reader know  little more about the author. How long have you been writing?  I started writing in 1998 and my first book, The Savannah Project, took 12 years and six rewrites to complete. And, I’ve been writing ever since. What attracted you to writing?  It was that mid-life thing, I think. I felt it like it was something I not only wanted to do, but needed to do. And I love it. There is nothing more exciting than watching a story unfold in front of me and being surprised by each twist and turn. I’m talking about as a writer and not a reader! Where did the idea for your story come?  I guess the catchy answer is from the gremlins in the attic. Reality is most ideas come from newspaper articles or real-life stories. That’s the spark and it gets my imagination going. Then I try to draw (or create) a nexus between the stories and spin a twist tale of intrigue. How did or do you figure out what to name your characters?  As morbid as this may sound…the obituaries are the best source. I mix and match first and last names until I have something catchy. Occasionally, I use a name verbatim, but not very often. One of my characters is named after a cemetery. I’ll keep everyone guessing on that one. What is your favorite thing about writing?  The twists and turns. A surprise around every corner. I typically write as a panster (by the seat of my pants) in the first few chapters knowing only where the story will ultimately end. After about 25,000 words, I use plot notes a few chapters ahead, just to make sure I don’t get off track. Only plot notes. No in-depth outlines. What is your least favorite thing about writing?  Editing. Do you have a favorite quote?  “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” Benjamin Franklin. If your story was turned into a film, what Hollywood stars would play the two main characters?  From the Jake Pendleton series–Jake:  Chris Pine is a hands down ringer. From the Gregg Kaplan series–Gregg Kaplan is a much tougher pick. Probably…I’m thinking a scruffy Clive Owen. What is your favorite book?  Stone Cold by David Baldacci. It was the first Baldacci book I read and was enthralled with the characters that made up the Camel Club. Wonderful character interplay. I have since read all of Baldacci’s books. What is your least favorite book? Why?  I’d rather not say. Do you have an odd quirk that not a lot of people or a lot of people) know about?  I’d normally say I have no quirks, but my wife would insist otherwise. She says I’m slow to respond to her questions…like even days betting around to answering. She says it’s annoying, I say I’m processing all the outcomes before giving her an answer. BLOWN This is the book that will send you into another spin. My first words …two to the chest, one to the head, works every time. Some other comments have been..not just an oath, but a trust not to be broken..Once in, never out. Thanks, Chuck, for taking the time and letting all of your readers  and now, soon-to-be readers, know a little more of you the writer. Now, it is time for you to find your own words after reading this new novel and share your reviews online. All of Chuck Barrett’s books are available in print and e-book. Go to http://www.chuckbarrettbooks.com and find out more about Chuck and his writing. Don’t forget about the Publishing Unchained, if you are interested in doing your own publishing. Check out his line-up of events on his website and enjoy a taste of Florida and the heat of the book.

PUBLIC SPEAKING – WHO ME?

What did you sayYou hear these words and your voice starts shaking, your knees wobble, and your body feels wet from the sweat rolling around. You are a writer and now you are an author, so suck it up.

As an author, you need to present yourself to the public. Why? To sell your book, get asked to give presentations, be a guest on a program, and be recognized as a great speaker. But, you cannot do this without practice. Fear? Yes, fear is at the heart of all speakers, at the beginning, and probably every time they stand in front of an audience.

Remember, there is no greater speaker than that of an author. Who wrote the book? You. Who knows what the book is all about? You. Who knows about the funny places? You. Who can present the scenes of love, friendship, suspense and frustrations? You.

Now is the time for practice. Volunteer at your writer meetings to give an introduction for another author. No, not you. Volunteer to do presentations at a special meeting. Get yourself up out of your chair and behind the podium or even just  in front of a group with a microphone in your hand.

But, wait. You need to know how you sound with a microphone. Is your voice too loud? Are you speaking too fast, and no one can understand you? Does your voice stay in the same tone, like a monotone and no emotion comes out? Do you slur your words?

So, what do you do? If you have a tape recorder, use it. You can listen to yourself and might not even recognize your voice. Keep trying, and trying, and trying. Are you punching some of your words? Trying to emphasize words to get attention. Vary the pitch of your voice and you will have your audience captivated. Do not forget a pause between some words. This comes when you want your audience to be with you, listen, and feel what you do. You want your audience to stay with you from beginning to end.

What about your body? No, not the size, but what your audience sees as they listen. Are you dressed for the occasion? You need to find out about the type of audience you are addressing: a sports audience and you come in evening clothes? I doubt it. Or the reverse: an evening crowd and you come in your workout clothes? Yeah, I went overboard, but this gives you a chance to think about your audience. You need to invoke emotion and interest through non-verbal communication, known as body language. Facial expressions and gestures are a neat beginning. Eye contact is another very important communication. People in the audience love to think you are looking at only them. Give them your best.

A goof-up? Hey, we all mispronounce words, forget some words, and the best recovery is to acknowledge them and laugh at yourself. Your audience will laugh with you. Be sincere and honest.

Now, that you have done some practicing at home, in front of a mirror, and practiced, practiced, and practiced, it is time to take you and your book out before a live audience. Most of all, have fun with your time before the audience. They will feel part of your presentation and you will find yourself with new fans.

SPEAK UP.  SPEAK SLOW.  SPEAK YOUR BEST. PROMOTE YOUR WRITING.

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POLISH YOUR CREATIVE SIDE

An IdeaPolish? That’s for floors, shoes, silver, tables, and cars, but we cannot hold our creative side in our hands to polish. These are tangible items, but what you need to work on are the intangibles:  imagination, thoughts, brain power. and get yourself outside for a walk or a stroll. No, we are not counting the gym you may belong to, but hitting the sidewalk, the park, or even a walk to a part of town you’ve not seen in a while.

Look around you and sense some of the things you see. Yes, even the mundane, looked at with a feeling of newness, can make your imagination work overtime. Walking, sprinting, and walking slow can increase your blood flow to your brain. When this happens your ingenuity jumps to attention, and you begin to experience a new awakening.

Now, your creative juices are  at full speed, think of some of the usual ways you use everyday items and try to find new ways to change their usage. You will be surprised at how your imagination jumps are the chance to be unleashed. What if you have a tough choice to make, whether in your life or the life of the character in your story. Instead of sitting at your computer getting upset, get up and walk around. Let your subconscious do some of the work for you. Relax, take a deep breath, and listen to your inner-self.

Okay, you have had a creative side polish and your fingers should fly over the keys as your mind bursts with new thoughts. Your imagination is ready to take over, and you let it go in high gear. Just a small break like walking around the block, doing squats in your home, breathing deep, holding, and then letting go will add to the creative polish.  You are on your way to knowing your characters better and not surprised at the decisions they make. Surprise yourself.

POLISH CREATIVITY.   TURN YOUR SUBCONSCIOUS LOOSE.  HAPPY WRITING.