Writing and #Cats

Raven is helping me introduce my post today. For those of you who are new followers, Raven is my rescue cat, adopted the end of September. Recently, it’s been brought to my attention (ahem….you know who you are 🙂 ) that my blog has suffered an appalling lack of cat photos.

So, today Raven is the guest presenter for my post at Story Empire. She was camped out on my desk when I wrote What’s Your Preference? and thinks it’s pretty good. But then Raven likes ripping apart stuffed lobsters (and I don’t mean the gourmet variety).

This is my predatory hunter with a cute red lobster I found on Amazon. See it peeking out from beneath her belly?

Raven with lobster (black cat with stuffed lobster toy)

The picture was taken on the day I opened the package. Today, the lobster has no tail and the right eye is barely hanging on, just one of her many toy casualties. What she did to the stuffed mouse is too gruesome to mention, but what can I say? She’s a cat and cats are hunters.

Like any cat, she also knows how to pose. The second photo is the one that was posted on the rescue site when she was placed for adoption. The moment I saw her, I was smitten. Seriously—who could resist that face? She was so tiny! I used to be able to hold her in one hand.

The final photo is Raven now. Look at those eyes! Her birthday comes up the middle of May when she’ll be a year old.

Raven on rescue site, black kitten

And now that you’ve had a chance to see what a gorgeous girl she is, I hope you’ll join me at Story Empire as I ruminate about writing habits, CPs and professional organizations.

Who knows…there might even be a cat photo or two :)Raven Eyes black cat with legs tucked under body looking at camera

The Monday Buzz from Story Empire

old world type map with script writing laid over top and words Story Empire set off as a bold headerIt’s my turn in the wheelhouse at Story Empire today. With tax time in full swing and April’s deadline looming around the corner, I thought I’d share some thoughts on writing as a business versus a hobby. At some point or another we all have to cross that line. When I signed off on the dotted line of a publishing contract in 2012, the writing venue transitioned from hobby to business and I found myself faced with a whole new set of information to track.

I’m sharing a few things I’ve found helpful in establishing the business side of my writing. I’d love to get your input and any tips you may have too and invite you to join me for Writing: Business or Hobby?

Welcome Teri Polen with Sarah and #WritingTechinques

I’m so happy to introduce new friend, Teri Polen, who writes YA fiction and has recently released her debut novel Sarah. Teri and I met when she hosted an October/Halloweenish promotion for multiple authors on her blog and was kind enough to include me.

Since then, I’ve come to realize we have many common friends in the blogosphere. In addition to that, she held me glued to the pages through Sarah, a spooky YA novel centered around a vengeful ghost. You can find my five star review for Sarah on Amazon, but before you go gallivanting off, check out Teri’s post on writing techniques. The character quirks section really made me stop and think!

~ooOOoo~

Epiphanies (for me) in Writing Techniques

I’ve never had any ‘formal’ training in writing – both of my degrees are in business, and learning how to interpret balance sheets was worthless when it came to crafting a story.  Over the years, I’ve taken advantage of the free writing workshops at the annual book festival where I live (and discovered how horribly wrong I’d been doing things), attended numerous webinars, and read Stephen King’s On Writing so many times I could probably recite some passages from memory.  Once my brain had been rewired with the basics, I had to sift through various techniques to discover what worked for me.

One of my online classes required me to complete an extensive questionnaire about my characters – things I’d never thought about, like boxers or briefs, nervous habits, did they like long walks on the beach, and fav flavor of pop-tarts.  Okay, maybe not exactly those questions, but they seemed just as obscure at the time.  All I saw were pages and pages of homework – but once I started interviewing my characters, everything changed.  The deeper your understanding of your characters, the easier it is to breathe life into them and make them come alive for your readers.

Outlining – your either love it or hate it, but it seemed like a waste of time when I already had the general plot direction in my head.  Then I’d wind up in places I’d never planned, wrote myself into corners, found minor characters leading the story, and had no idea how I’d gotten there – raise your hand if those surroundings look familiar.  But I wasn’t a complete pantser either, so when I came across the Basic Beat Sheet at http://jamigold.com/, I knew I’d struck gold (pun totally intended).  A beat sheet is the road map of a story broken down into three acts that include the inciting incident, pinch points, midpoint, crisis, climax and resolution.  After typing in the projected total word count for your book, it calculates the page count and word count where these plot points should occur – which also helps with pacing.  You can print it out and fill in the blanks from there.  Every writer has their own process, but this one helped me focus and stay on track.

It all comes down to personal preferences and motivations and can be trial and error, but researching, talking to other authors, and reading about the craft of writing will help you find your path – there’s no magic formula to writing a novel.  And keep in mind, the learning never stops – there’s always room for improvement.  Now head to your writing caves!

Author, Teri Polen, outdoors and smiling for cameraAuthor Bio:
Teri Polen reads and watches horror, sci-fi, and fantasy.  The Walking Dead, Harry Potter, and anything Marvel-related are likely to cause fangirl delirium.  She lives in Bowling Green, KY with her husband, sons, and black cat.  Sarah, a YA horror/thriller, is her first novel.  Visit her online at www.teripolen.com

Connect with Teri at the following haunts:
Website

Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads 

~ooOOoo~

Book cover for the novel SARAH shows girl with long black hair hiding her face crawling down steps from attic doorBook Blurb for SARAH:
Seventeen-year-old horror fan Cain Shannon thought helping a ghost find her killers would be the supernatural adventure of a lifetime. Now, he just hopes to survive long enough to protect his family and friends from her.

A bet between friends goes horribly wrong, resulting in Sarah’s death. When she returns to seek justice against those responsible, Cain agrees to help her. But when he discovers Sarah has been hijacking his body, he realizes she wants retribution instead of justice.

Terrified of what could have happened when he wasn’t in control, Cain commands Sarah to leave his house – but exorcising her isn’t that easy. She retaliates against her murderers in bloody, horrific ways, each death making her stronger, then sets her sights on Cain. With the help of friends, Cain fights to save himself and his loved ones and searches for a way to stop Sarah before she kills again.

Purchase SARAH from:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble

 

Mae Clair Presents: Common Writing Mistakes

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? I’m disappointed I couldn’t work it in this year, but from past experience, I can say it’s a huge motivator. I wrote most of A THOUSAND YESTERYEARS during NaNo two years ago, and that book is now under contract, scheduled to release in April of 2016. I’m presently knee deep in book two, A COLD TOMORROW, which is why I opted out of NaNo this time around.

I know many of my friends are participating and I’m cheering on each of you! Rah-Rah!
I thought as the month winds down, you might find these writing tips from Grammarly helpful. They’ve put together a snazzy infographic in honor of November’s writing fest. Check it out:

Five Mistakes To Avoid in Your NaNoWriMo Novel Infographic
What do you think? Do these five common mistakes trip you up now and again? The bane of my existence is the dreaded comma. I’m always misplacing those buggers or skipping them altogether. Fortunately, I have a great editor who keeps me in line. Hopefully, I’m gaining a better grasp on the pesky things.

Which mistake trips you up the most?

*Infographic provided courtesy of Grammarly