Essays, Misc

I Got My Mojo Back: Writing Growing Pains

I’m excited! It’s been a while since I’ve felt this pumped about editing a manuscript. Don’t get me wrong. I love writing, except I think all the hours of writing, networking, keeping up with friends on social media, participating in any and all writing challenges I could to hone my skills, etc., were finally taking their toll. Burn-out and fatigue were creeping in and writing began to feel like a chore. Even sifting through my G+ stream to touch base with people and to check out new sites sent thrills of anxiety through me. “Am I doing enough?” “Am I working hard enough?” “What am I missing? What new site can I visit to help me get better?” When that nonsense went on long enough, I said, “Enough’s enough, girl. This is supposed to be fun!” I mean, yes, there’s a whole part to writing that involves not so fun things like marketing and trying to get your work out there, but the core of it all, the passion for writing, has to be maintained. And for a while there, it wasn’t.

Why? I dunno. I think I got too competitive with myself and started second guessing my creative choices, trying too hard to figure out what people expected or wanted from me. And a part of that is normal. We strive to improve at the craft, and we write blogs and maintain websites to make ourselves accessible to readers, as well as to get feedback from them. And I really dig all that. But there’s always the danger that the desire to please can become a burden and, I think, lead to burning out, or at least, to diminishing our passion for writing.

doll

So, what changed? A mental slap in the face to refocus, for one. Also, reminding myself that it’s important to be aware of what people like and expect but to keep that in perspective. A writer can’t please everyone at all times; it’s possible (likely) to write something no one will like. Egads! What did she say??? Yes, it’s true, and I had to accept that, too, lol But the idea is freeing; learning through one’s failures is often the best of teachers, and so giving myself the freedom to fail shed the burden of always wanting/needing to be perfect.

In the end, I remembered that my job as a writer is to write, to be true to the stories bubbling around inside me and to do it to the best of my ability. Once I reminded myself of these simple things, I got my mojo back. Regular Show says, “Ye-ah!” (For those who don’t know the show, just smile and nod.)

Like everything in life, writing is a journey. Our skills grow and develop with us, just as we have the ability to stunt or release our creativity and ability by how we approach it.

Please drop me a line and tell me what you think or about your experiences/challenges with growing with writing. 

Happy writing everyone! 

Author Interviews, Essays, Guest Blog, Misc

Author Interview with Romance Writer Michelle Abbott

Romance author Michelle Abott

Over the last few months, Dropped Pebbles has had the privilege of interviewing authors from various genres. Today we have the great pleasure of featuring Michelle Abbott, our first Romance author! Please take a few minutes to read more about Michelle and why she is so passionate about writing and her preferred genre, Romance.

It’s so great to have you with us today, Michelle. Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I live in the countryside in the UK. I’m mum to two adult boys.

Are you interested in other forms of artistic expression besides writing? Where does writing fit in, and why are you drawn to it? What keeps you motivated/inspired?

I occasionally knit, I don’t know if that counts as artistic expression.  I enjoy photography. Writing is something I’ve always been interested in. I used to write poems as a teenager and I kept a diary, though that was mostly full of proclamations of love for whatever boy I had a crush on at the time. I had pen pals across the world and I’d hand write every letter. I’ve always found it easier to express myself on paper than in person. My love of writing is what keeps me motivated, I genuinely enjoy it.

Ah, yes…I remember writing similar poems back in the day…

What forms of writing (short stories, poetry, novels, essays, etc.) and genres do you prefer and why? What can you never see yourself writing?

I prefer to write novels or novellas and right now, my genre is romance because it’s what I love to read and I enjoy exploring emotions and feelings, romance seems to be the best outlet for that. I can’t ever see myself writing horror.

As a reader, what do you think makes a good story? What’s one thing a ‘bad’ book taught you to not do in your own writing?

For me to enjoy a story, I have to believe in the characters and feel their emotions as if they were my own. The things ‘bad’ books have taught me, is not to describe every little detail. I hate it when I have to skim pages because I’m bored, or when a book is super long because an author has taken twenty pages to describe something that could have been said with one page. Also to show rather than tell the readers what my character is feeling. I once read a fictional book that involved abuse and when I’d finished I honestly felt nothing, I didn’t care less about the character because the author hadn’t shown me what the character was feeling, instead just telling me what had happened to her. It may just be me because that particular book has rave reviews.

No, I don’t think it’s just you. I think most people prefer to be drawn into a story for the experience, rather than to be ‘told’ what they should be feeling.

As a writer, what elements do you find are the most crucial to include in your stories? What are your strengths and weaknesses?

I’m all about emotion, I want my readers to feel what my characters are feeling, so I always try to show that and I believe it’s one of my strengths. My weakness is probably that I don’t include enough of a back story. I like my stories to be fast paced and not bogged down with what I consider to be unnecessary details.

Who/what are the biggest influences in your writing? How do they influence what your write?

I can’t name anyone in particular, but no doubt I’ve been influenced by the many good romances I’ve read over the years.

What draws you to your preferred genre? What do you think makes your genre unique? And why is it so popular? (Or perhaps less popular than it could be?)

I’m drawn to romance because it’s a genre I love to read and because it has maximum potential to explore emotions and relationships. I’m not sure that romance is unique because other genres can have romance in them too, it’s just not the main focus of the story. Romance is one of the most popular genres, and I guess that may be because readers can escape from reality and experience falling in love all over again.

Can you tell us about your books? What other projects are you working on?

In Chains is a dystopian style romance, book one of a series. It’s not Ebook JPG - Copytechnically dystopia because it’s set in the world as we know it, with one major difference; those with Neanderthal DNA are kept as slaves. It’s legal and government run.

My heroine, Savannah, has just escaped a violent relationship, she has self-esteem issues. My hero, Kayden, is her brother’s slave. They are both ‘damaged’ and they give each other love that neither of them has ever known before, but Savannah’s brother does not want his sister involved with someone he sees as property, he’s determined to keep them apart.

locked together

I’m currently working on the sequel, Locked Together, which I aim to publish at the end of September 21013. It continues Savannah and Kayden’s story and brings it to a close.

They sound great! I hope everyone reading will dash out and buy them! Readers, click on the books covers to see where they can be purchased.

Why is promoting other writers important to you?

I know how difficult it is to get noticed in such a big pool, so I like to help other writers when I can. Of course I also hope that people visiting my site to read about other authors, will notice and be intrigued by my own book.

What do you find is the most difficult aspect of writing and how do you cope with it?

When I know what I want to say but can’t find the right way to explain it. When that happens I just write it the best I can and continue with the story. I come back to it when I edit and usually by then I can re-word it in a way that pleases me.

Who are your favourite writers and why?

My favourite writers are those that write characters I can believe in, like, and become attached to. I like writers whose characters are flawed in some way, or who have had a hard time. I can’t possibly name all my favourites but a few that spring to mind are C.J. Roberts, S.C. Stephens and Jamie McGuire.

What advice would you give to new writers, especially those looking to break into the market?

I’d say write the best book that you can. Learn from writers whose books you enjoy. Promote, promote, promote, it’s not enough to just write a great book, the market is flooded and readers need to be able to find your book amongst the many.

How can readers get into contact with you?

My website: http://www.michelleabbott.com

Email: michelleabbott@michelleabbott.com

Twitter: http://twitter.com/MichelleAbbott4

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/MichelleAbbottRomanceAuthor

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/michelleabbott

Michelle, it was a pleasure getting to know you today and I wish you all the best with your books. Readers, if you enjoyed this interview as much as I did, please leave Michelle a message below. Or, visit her at one of her sites. I know she’d love it.

Have a great week, everyone!

Google+: https://plus.google.com/108843127772064472946

Author Interviews, Essays, Guest Blog

Author Interview: Adrianna Joleigh, Psychological Horror Writer

Adrianna Joleigh, writer, blogger and promoter of other writers
Adrianna Joleigh, writer, blogger and promoter of other writers

I have no idea how to properly introduce today’s psychological horror writer. Literally, the entire multi-verse knows of Adrianna Joleigh, and if some sorry dimension out there doesn’t, well they soon will. 🙂 I guess I’ll just have to make it up as I go, lol

Adrianna’s quickly become an extraordinary friend, always ready to engage in some crazy shenanigans–some of you know what I mean, lol. Irreverant yet dear, thoughtful and lovable, she’s one of my favorite people around. As you’ll soon see, she has many talents and so much potential–she may actually rule the world one day, and soon. But it’s her drive and talent for writing which caused me to interview her today. So please stick around to find out more about this fascinating lady, what writing means to her and why she’s so passionate about it.

Welcome, Adrianna!

Can you start by telling us a little about yourself?

Oh goodness. I’m 25 years old (cough-hush-cough). I was born in the USA, and now live in Eastern Europe. I’m a published author and travel editor for STeeL Magazine. The ocean, no matter where I am, is my favorite place to visit.

I’ve always been an ambitious and impulsive person. When I do something, I go all the way without hesitation, sometimes drowning myself, lol. I’m an ex-model, ex-firefighter, rescue specialist and pilot, among a few other things. I’ve gone to school for Criminal and dabble in International law. I enjoy reading or theorizing physics. And I can make a man cry just by looking at him. 😛 Talk about talent!

Hmmm. You might have to teach me that last trick, Adrianna.

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Are you interested in other forms of artistic expression besides writing? Where does writing fit in, and why are you drawn to it? What keeps you motivated/inspired?

Yes! I am interested in painting. I’ve this craving to take up painting. I’m eager to see what I can do with the strokes of a bush. My writing career fits in between my running around after my twin daughters. They are a lovely handful, so I find it a challenge to write. But when I do write, it’s at night while they are sleeping. My motivation for writing would have to be my daughters along with my need for sanity. My writing, whatever form it takes at that moment, is my therapy. I think many people out there can sympathize with that. I was at a very dangerous point in my life last year, before I began a diary, and once I started to write, I felt the pieces of me heal a bit at a time. So, I continued. Little did I know I’d be where I am today.

Congratulations on your hard work and determination paying off!

What forms of writing (short stories, poetry, novels, essays, etc.) and genres do you prefer and why? What can you never see yourself writing?

I’m still getting use to the craft, and what it has to offer. There are so many options. I’d like to try all of them at least once to see if it’s something I’m interested in. Right now, I enjoy writing long stories and poetry. I call it poetry, but there are times when I view it as a unique prose, perhaps.

I cannot see myself writing non-fiction. I’ve thought about a memoir, but then I’d only end up giving myself some tragic ending so it would at least seem appealing to read. Lol. I can ALMOST not see myself writing comedy or romance. I’m not saying that I won’t try, but I don’t see me successfully executing that project. I’m a gloom and doom kind of gal. Sure, I’ll put a man and woman together in a story, but I can tell you this, one of them will lose a limb, their mind, or just shoot each other in the end. Lol. My cynical view of love perhaps shines through my writing.

My poem Victims of War  won an honorable mention for poetry in the Darker Times Fiction Magazine.

As a reader, what do you think makes a good story? What’s one thing a ‘bad’ book taught you to not do in your own writing?

To me, a good story pulls the reader in and allows them to develop a relationship with the main character. Without that, my mind will go to sleep. I need immediacy. Lingering descriptions make me want to rip my leg off and hit myself with it. Give me the information. Give me the action and make me feel every bit of it. I’ve read some bad published books and I’ve got to say that the biggest no-no, and usually irritates me to no end, is a book that calls for an active voice and ends up in passive.  

As a writer, what elements do you find are the most crucial to include in your stories? What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Real characters. Make them believable and able to sympathize with. I hope that’s what you were asking for. My weaknesses are abundant. I have a quick mind. I can’t focus well. So, when I write, it’s quick and confusing. What takes a person probably an hour to write, takes me a week. It’s frustrating.

Strengths? I’m not sure. I would say it’s my imagination. It’s vivid and odd. If only I could grab it and write proficiently. If I can manage to hammer myself down to a chair to sit still and focus, I can write a pretty descriptive scene and make you uncomfortable. I could probably manage the same outcome by just staring at you. 😛  

Too true. You’re making me squirm right now! (Lift cue cards to cover my face)

Who/what are the biggest influences in your writing? How do they influence what your write?

Edgar Allan Poe. He was the first poet that I seemed to understand, and the most complicated. His symbolisms and wording of sentences, to give you a different meaning with each read-through, is impressive. When I write, I keep him in mind, and hope I succeed in executing my stories with such talent. Also, Jane Austin. The way her stories unfold and how she has you falling in love with the characters from the beginning takes my breath away. I’ve not read anything of hers that I didn’t like.  

What draws you to write in the horror genre? Why do you think it’s so popular?

I didn’t choose the genre. It chose me. Something that I don’t speak about is my imagination. I may give a general idea, but no one knows what truly lingers inside my head. I live in a constant nightmare, but only inside my mind. On the outside I’m completely different. I sat down to begin a diary, and out came a lot of scary thoughts. Things I forgot happened. So, I continued to write. The more I wrote, the more I saw a story that had to be told. When asked what genre I write, I had to sit and think about it, and then it hit me. I write psychological horror. I think it’s a popular genre often because many do not experience what they see in films or read about. It’s usually their greatest (unrealistic) fears coming to life. That tease, and thrill or adrenaline of being forced to the limit of fright and terror is like a drug for some.

Can you tell us about your book? What other projects are you working on?

Well, it’s titled Nadia. It’s a psychological thriller. Some have gotten a glimpse of it but I’ve kept the writing hidden for some time now. Nadia experiences something horrific as a child, losing both her parents right before her eyes. After finding her father dead, she loses her mind.  Twenty years later in an asylum, she wakes up frightened and not sure why she is there. A voice in her mind drives her to do horrible things to others. Between the horrific treatments she undergoes, and the demon within, taunting her constantly, she grows weaker and slowly deteriorates. On a desperate journey for a solution to stay alive, she understands more about herself and her demon, learning to cherish the evil with the good. In the end she realizes that the only way to live is to kill the only person to ever really care for her. I will leave it at that.

I do have other projects waiting for a beginning, another psychological thriller but through the eyes of the demon. I have a tragic love story that I’m always mapping out as well. Who knows! Could I possibly be a romance novelist?

You also like to promote other writers on your blog. Why is that so important to you?

It’s a great marketing technique. I see new writers that have much talent, but are either too shy or inexperienced to promote their own work, so, I thought what better way to help than to feature them on my page. In the end they get the attention and more people learn about them and their work at the same time. Not to mention when someone is featured, the readers tend to want to read others.  

What do you find is the most difficult aspect of writing and how do you cope with it?

Not to edit while writing is difficult for me. Prior to joining the writing groups here on G+, I didn’t know anything about writing or editing. I just wrote from within and managed to write a chapter a night, at times. Now that I know what to look for and the ‘dos and don’ts’ of writing, I’m my own nightmare. I catch myself editing while writing, and it hinders my ability to hold a thought and just write without distractions. I’m still learning how to cope with it. I try to just sit and not think too hard but watch the film in my own head and write as it comes. Or have some wine. 😉  

Girl, wine is an underated miracle! Cheers! *clinks glasses* 

Who are your favourite writers and why?

As mentioned before, Jane Austin. Her writing style is unique and timeless. Again, writing styles. King is blunt and to the point. Screw what others may think of what he writes, he writes for himself and lets his unique twisted ideas out without hesitation. I hope one day my ‘unique’ mind will be that much appreciated and accepted.  

What advice would you give to new writers, especially those looking to break into the horror or suspense genre?

Oh dear. Um… don’t ever be too afraid to be you. Write from within and just let it go. Don’t listen to others as to what is ‘normal’ and what isn’t. Cherish the crazy ideas and know that no one out there is anything like you. If you are eager to learn more about how to write, read a lot, ask questions, as for constructive criticisms and take from it what you need to progress, and toss the rest to the side.

I must say, that writing Horror/Thriller/Suspense, takes a lot of guts. No pun intended. To admit that you think about murders, deaths, children kidnapped, emotional stressors that no one would willingly admit even to their shrink, takes guts. To be able to write it and put it out for the public to read and see your soul on paper, takes guts. The chance that you may be committed for it…. Awesome guts! Lol. 😉  

Covertly reaching for the phone, thumb hovering over 911…

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How can readers get into contact with you?

You are more than welcome to visit my site http://adriannajoleigh.com/

Email : Go to the author page on my site and click ‘contact’ at the very bottom.

Twitter@Adriannajoleigh

Facebook- Adrianna Joleigh  

STeel Magazine (travel section in STeeL Magazine) 🙂

Adrianna, it was great to have you with us today. I feel I got to see another side of you through this interview, and I hope our Readers also felt that way. Readers, please swing by her site and pages and get to know more of her work; it’s unique and well worth the time. 🙂

See you next week!

Author Interviews, Essays, Misc

Writer Chicks Talk Character and Inspiration

So, as promised, Writer Chicks returns with more from my discussion with author, blogger and micro-publisher TA Miles. What follows is a compilation of some of the larger themes pulled from our 8 page chat, where we touch on subjects such as where we find inspiration for our stories and characters and just what these characters mean to us…

We pick up the discussion on the subject of sequels…

 TA: Sequels in books tend to gain depth the way movie sequels don’t, lol. I think they do come more alive simply for the fact that they (the characters) and their circumstances become more familiar. They begin sharing more and in greater depth. And this isn’t just between you and them, but among themselves as well.

The inspiration for my stories seems to always be by chance circumstances. I’ll happen to be listening to a piece of music that has someone show me something in vivid detail, or I’ll look at a picture, or be out walking and I’ll hear someone’s voice or their personality will manifest. One aspect of the Bhast series was inspired by a racing video game. One of the characters showed up while I was playing it and told me that they’re an athlete. For Immarcescible, it took meeting several characters all sharing various stories (some of them on Bhast) for me to finally meet the person who all of the stories are essentially revolving around. So I have folders of pieces from different times and places, and they kind of worked me backward to the starting point. My personal interests…the things I believe draws these characters to me lie strongly in spiritualism, history, and culture along with things metaphysical/paranormal. You’ll find if you explore that ghosts, spirits, angels, and various entities appear frequently and even in worlds not Earth there’s always a lot of demonstration/presence of culture. I think the last and probably more important thing to them is my fascination with and willingness to understand psychology…not in just clinical terms, but sociological. I learn a lot through them and through myself, and through people in general. I love to observe and ponder humanity.

And now I get to ask you…what do you think draws your characters to you? 🙂

 Me: In terms of the characters…I think they are built or manifested based on the story that needs to be told. When I was thinking about the themes for The Purple Morrow, I really wanted to write about redemption and how a person comes to that place, if they can. Somehow I knew the main character had to be a man even though I had never really written from that POV before. I had no idea what he looked like really or much about him until I started to write. Then he became a hunter, was from the Wolf Clan which was a part of a Mother Clan and a sister to two other Clans. Sort of like connect the dots. In regards to Kelen, the other MC, I sort of had a ‘vision’. I was walking home from the bus thinking about what my book needed next and I knew I wanted to highlight a particular Rover to create a main villain. Then Kelen’s whole introductory scene popped into my head. I was soooo excited to write him! To this day people tell me he is one of their favorite characters. Secondary characters seem to crop up when they are needed and take form based on what the story is telling me. The more I write and the more I get to know this particular story the easier it becomes to hear each character’s voice. So, I write intuitively often starting from the beginning and writing right through to end, just making it up as I go along based on what feels right at the moment. 🙂 

TA: I remember hearing about how you met Kelen, which was one of the things that let me know what style writer you are. The style you and I go with I call an organic style. We just let things grow naturally. That isn’t to say that the other end of the spectrum is ‘processed’. I consider the planners and outline writers to be landscapers or architects. They envision something in advance and then build it to suit that vision. And, of course, there are many styles that would fall in between. It’s all personal and ultimately doesn’t matter because the end result is someone’s piece of art. I don’t know why people think writing is any different than any other art form. You have an inspiration or a vision, you develop a style, and you work it.

I love to start at the beginning and go, not knowing the outcome. It’s so much more engaging for me. I’m a naturally curious person and I love to solve puzzles and explore. 🙂 Currently, we have a significant mystery stacking up on us in the sequel to Blood Lilies. I have no idea what they’re going to do about it.  

BL 200x300

Me: Yes! The mystery! I’m taking a pause from my dragon story because even though I know what follows in terms of a loose outline, I don’t know how to get there yet. So I’m waiting for the story to work itself out. One day I’ll sit at the computer bursting with ideas and I’ll continue it. It’s really cool to run into someone like you who understands and can relate to the process that works for me. I suspected from the time we met on the sci-fi group that was the case. 🙂 We should start a group for ‘touchy-feely’ writers lol 

 TA: Lol! We could be our own therapy group. I had similar suspicions when we met. It’s great to stumble into a kindred spirit. 🙂 I know what you mean with having to step away for a while sometimes. It’s why I have several WIPs. Sometimes the characters in one world or story just need to take a break. I’ll go spend time with other people for a while and get back to them later. The last thing I want to do is force them. And some of them get irritated with that kind of pressure anyway. They’ll tell me when they’re ready…or when I’m ready to comprehend what they have to say in some instances. And, of course, when I’ve been away from one group of characters for a while and get back to them I get all sappy and ‘I’ve missed you guys!’….which is a good feeling and provides the energy to get writing.

Me: Oh! That’s cool. You do get it! I remember reading an article where the writer listed the pros and cons of not writing multiple WIPs at the same time, concluding that only writing one at a time was best. But not for me. I get burned out when all I do is work on the same thing for a year or more at a time, which is a truth I just discovered. Now that I have multiple things going on, granted it takes longer to finish a project, but I feel more interested and stimulated about writing. Plus, it’s fun to dabble in different styles and formats instead if just books…

What I loved about this discussion and why I chose to post it, is that it highlights the fact that everyone finds passion and inspiration in different ways and that it’s okay! It’s great to meet others who may have similar or even different ideas and be able to share on these subjects. Not just about the technical stuff but also about the heart of the craft we so love. After that discussion, I felt so energized and inspired, and even now, months later, I still feel that way. 

So what about you, Reader? Have any thoughts or comments you’d like to share? How do you go about finding your characters or stories to pen? How do they develop from your initial idea to the full-fledged final version? Who do you talk to about writing and what do you usually discuss?  

For those who wish to learn more about TA Miles and her work, you can find her at Raventide Books

Essays

The Seven Deadly Sins of Prologues

I think prologues get a bad rap. Here are some really great examples of when they should and should not be used.

Kristen Lamb's Blog

To prologue or not to prologue? That is the question. The problem with the prologue is it has kind of gotten a bad rap over the years, especially with agents. They generally hate them. Why? In my opinion, it is because far too many writers don’t use prologues properly and that, in itself, has created its own problem.

Because of the steady misuse of prologues, most readers skip them. Thus, the question of whether or not the prologue is even considered the beginning of your novel can become a gray area if the reader just thumbs pages until she sees Chapter One.

So without further ado…

The 7 Deadly Sins of Prologues

Sin #1 If your prologue is really just a vehicle for massive information dump…

This is one of the reasons I recommend writing detailed backgrounds of all main characters before we begin (especially when we are new writers)…

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