Sensational Music to Make You Write: Part One

Everyone who sits themselves down to face off with their manuscript, short story, essay, or other, has their own preferred setting. Some are incredibly specific and strict in what they require in order to fill a page with their words, either the time, tools, the place, the silence, or the music. Others may have their preferences but can generally make do with circumstances at hand, whatever they may be. Then of course, there are some that don’t think and just do, sometimes it’s the same, sometimes they deviate from their norm. The point really is that everyone is different. Today though, I speak to those that enjoy or even use music as their inspiration when it comes to their writing.

Personally, when novel writing I do enjoy listening to music. Many times I intend to listen only as inspiration before I start, but there are often times that I my fingers just start flying while the musical spell is still at work. Truly, music is an experience in itself when given the time it deserves. Sometimes I get too into music and I feel like I’m about to combust because my physical body cannot hold everything a certain note or song makes me feel…but anyway, I thought I would share some music that has fueled me while writing or given me inspiration before diving in to my world of words.

2Cellos

If you’re familiar with my blog you can hardly be surprised that 2Cellos are on this list; I got to experience a sensational concert and watch them play live. But here are two particular favorites to write to.

Celloverse

Something about this melody (and the background of the video if you watch it) just invite movement, action, creation. I’ve often found myself swaying along to the music only to realize that my fingers are dancing across the keys.

Hysteria

If you follow me on social media at all, there’s a good chance you’ve seen me share this at least once if not more. The plaintive and hauntingly beautiful notes in this evoking song strike a chord within me that cannot be easily explained. This song often sets my fingers aflame and results in pages of emotionally charged words.

 

Lindsey Stirling

Shadows

I love watching Lindsey Stirling play just because of how much she enjoys it. This song in particular always puts me in mind of a hero or heroine on a harrowing journey, but determinedly on their way with spirit and drive. So, that’s often what I write when looking to this one for inspiration.

 

Irish Party in Third Class and Johnny Ryan’s Polka

This duo of songs will get you up and moving no matter how the day has started. I love writing a fun and merry scene, jovial talk, and dancing feet to this sprightly tune. I happen to also love this type of music and have many characters that hail from such hills and moors these songs call to mind.

 

Apocalyptica

Hall of the Mountain King

No matter how many times I hear this song by Apocalyptica, I get chills and as if I will explode without somehow channeling the energy this song builds within me, into something else. When I write to this song, I think of intense scenes of an epic tale, escape, loss, perhaps even battle or war, but the writing comes fast and I’m always a little breathless when I’ve finished.

The Path

The alternating pattern and charged energy in this song put me in the mind of opposition; the cellos seem to be answering each other as they play against their own shadows, so I enjoy listening to this when there’s controversy or something unexpected may happen.

 

Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star from Dead Space

I may not necessarily listen to this while writing, that greatly varies, but one thing I can be sure of, this song inspires eerie imagery and macabre scenes that make your spine tingle and pull your blankets close at night.

 

Pentantonix

White Winter Hymnal

I’ve been a fan of Pentantonix for a while now, I have a hearty appreciation for well-done a cappella, but this song in particular really enchanted me. When I close my eyes and listen, sometimes I focus on the lyrics themselves and others I just float along with the melodic voices and move with the rhythm, feeling the energy and the beauty without the words; from that I see visions of fairytale forest chases and snowy woods, red capes whipping in the breezes with the snapping of trees’ fingers…

In effort not to overwhelm anyone, I’ve decided to split this post into…however it many it takes to share all of the soul tinging music that makes this writing soul surge. These are some long and recent favorites that can really help me with a mood or a scene, or even give me an insight to a character. It truly is amazing what the power of music can do. I hope you’ve enjoyed!

What do you think of these? Do you have a go-to song, band, or type of music when you’re writing?

 

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Sensational Music to Make You Write: Part Two
My First Writing Workshop and Pitch: What You Need to Know

 

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A Drop of Magic: Introducing Typewriter Tuesday

I remember being about seven or eight years old and begging my mother to let me play with her typewriter. It came in what looked like a massive hard backed suitcase, and the moment it opened and that beautiful machine was placed on the desk, my fingers practically sizzled with electricity and anticipation; I remember the smell of metal, ink, and paper, the smell of magic…

Maybe it’s the sounds, maybe the way the keys feel as you press them down with purpose, the way you have to use the carriage return to move to the next line, I couldn’t say, but ever since I can remember, I’ve been fascinated with and loved typewriters.

A few years ago, in a series of circumstances that screamed fate to this fiction loving fiend, including my birthday coinciding with finding a beautiful (incredibly priced), Royal Typewriter from the 20’s with the original typewriter handbook and included a new ribbon in addition to the one in the still working typewriter.

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As an author, I find it fun to sit down at this beauty on occasion and type whatever comes to mind. It’s one of the few times free writing works for me. There’s something about a typewriter with a waiting page that invites the fingers to strike the keys and watch the paper come alive.

I’ve sat down a time or two to type out some nonsense here or there just to play with the keys and the carriage return, to have a reason to hear the clicking, smell that ink and paper perfume. But then, I thought, perhaps I could do something a little more constructive with this typewriter love of mine.

My thought was to start a series of posts where I would take a few minutes and type out a few hundred words and see what comes out. After writing and putting together a couple of posts before launching (you know, adulting!), I started wondering how many others out there might have a love of typewriters and writing too! How many might even have a working typewriter and want to write a post of their own?

So I posted on Twitter to see who might be interested but on further thought, it might be easier to explain and see who might actually wish to participate here than in 140 character spurts on Twitter. Not all things work best with brevity.

So what am I looking for in a post?

  • Written on a typewriter (obviously); it doesn’t matter the year of the typewriter, or if it’s electric, no snobs here, just love of typewriters!
  • No minimum, but up to one full page
  • Topic and genre don’t matter; fiction, nonfiction, prose, poetry, send it all! (Please no extreme gore, unnecessary violence, or hate)

The rest is up to you! Surprise me, surprise yourself; let those fingers fly! I am not sure what to expect and have no idea how many people may have interest in or access to a functional typewriter, but I’ll never know without trying! So, starting next week (March 8th) I will launch my first Typewriter Tuesday Post!

I’d like to invite anyone and everyone with interest to send in your own typewritten piece to be posted on my blog.

Those interested should send:

  • An email to dmg@dmgbyrnes.com with the subject: Typewriter Tuesday
  • A Word document (or copy into the body of the email) with your post (for readability purposes)
  • A picture/scan of your typewritten post (both will be posted together)
  • A short bio (less than 50 words), a photo to go with it, and link to your website (if you would like)
  • A photo of your typewriter (optional)

I have no idea what to expect, but I’m excited about the possibilities!! 😀 Next week I will post one of my own to kick things off, but please send whenever you wish! There will be a weekly post every Tuesday, and one random guest each month with guest posts will be featured in my monthly Newsletter!

Please feel free to ask any questions, and of course to share with anyone you think might be interested. I’m looking forward to seeing what you’ve got!

Remember, this is just for fun, something to get the writing muscles warmed up. Use time on your typewriter as a spring board for your creative juices, try something new, explore a character or setting, you decide! There’s no pressure, just a fun way to write and use typewriters, because

typewriters are cool doctor

Are you a typewriter fan? Why or why not?

 

 

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Typewriter Tuesday Post 1
Typewriter Tuesday Post 2
Typewriter Tuesday Post 3

My First Writing Workshop and Pitch:What You Need to Know

February 20th marked a milestone on my writing journey, and that was attending my first writing conference, and pitching in person to an agent for the first time. If you’re familiar with my blog, you know that I’m speaking of the Atlanta Writing Workshop, and it was definitely an experience.

The Workshop

This particular conference consisted of five talks that were reminiscent of college lectures. Each of the topics covered a different aspect of  a writing career, but each were intended to give knowledge, suggestions, and options to writers in every stage of the game; I will say that someone just starting out probably would have gained the most from attending this conference, but there’s always something new to learn.

The subjects covered at the Atlanta Writing Workshop were publishing options (traditional and self/e-publishing), information about querying and pitching to agents, a critique on a handful of randomly selected first pages, marketing and how to build your platform, and finally writing practices to help you succeed as a writer.

Though I was unable to stay for as much as I would have liked, even being there, by myself, was a huge deal for me. It honestly reminded me of college days where I had a presentation to give in front of the class, as far as what the nerves felt like while waiting for my time to pitch.

I arrived more than a little early (they were setting everything up), but it was lucky I did, in Hyatt-House-Atlanta-Cobb-Galleria-P002-Exterior-Daytime-1280x427large part due to parking. The hotel parking lot was not particularly big and there were no other marked lots nearby for parking, though there was a “helpful” sign that said to ask the person at the front desk….the woman I spoke with was of little help and cared even less, her response being to tell me to “be patient and wait for someone to leave”…I even remarked about the fact that more people were coming to the hotel as we spoke for the conference that I was there for; she also seemed completely unconcerned when I mentioned that I had a disability and couldn’t walk from another lot across the street (which was my second option, according to her), so I was not overly impressed with the hotel staff.

Thankfully, someone else moved and I was able to grab one of the last actual parking spots in the hotel lot before things got hectic. Once getting into the conference hall, I managed to find myself a good seat near the front on the aisle where I could leave for my pitch, and near a door so could I slip out mostly without disturbance. Also, from my vantage point I was able to hear and see who was speaking much easier.

I joked briefly with a few of the other first comers that were waiting for the sign up table to be setup to grab our folders and sticker name tags. Someone else spoke to me first (of course) while waiting for 9:30 to roll around and the talks to start. We had a brief chat that caught the attention of another author. We all conversed, I shared some information with them, and my cards, and chatted until Chuck Sambuchino grabbed up the mic and started talking.

I didn’t do much other networking or chatting than that after my pitch, which I’m a bit sorry for now, but at the same time, I was honestly drained. I left soon before lunch, and not too long after my pitch; between being an introvert out in a crowd of people outside of my comfort zone, and the fact that I have multiple chronic illnesses and a myriad of issues that come with them (add two herniated discs from a car accident), I was worn out and tired with a migraine starting. (I know, it’s super lame, but do what you can, right?)

So what are some things I learned?

  • Get there early– I live by this rule, probably too much, but at least I’m usually thankful for the positives that being early provides such as parking and good seating. Plus, I like to get the lay of the land, take a few minutes to collect myself.
  • Know your schedule beforehand– While you might get some handouts and information about the schedule of talks the day of a conference, it’s best to know your schedule before the day arrives. I say your schedule specifically because, if the event is big enough, there may be more than one panel or discussion happening at once, and if you don’t know ahead of time what you most want to attend, you are bound to kick yourself later. This was not the case so much for me, but it’s good practice. However, I did need to know when my pitch was before I got to the event so I could leave the lecture in time.

Some takeaways and things to remember:

  • There is no “right” way to publish– If this wasn’t already clear (and I was considering taking a dual route prior to this conference anyway), it was vehemently stressed at the very beginning of the conference that there is no right way to publish, especially these days. That doesn’t mean you should take an “anything goes” approach to what you publish or how, but self/ebook publishing are just as viable as options as traditional publishing these days. Chuck Sambuchino even said that anyone telling you otherwise is selling something, so remember that.
  • Pricing mysteries– A random tidbit about pricing eBook mystery  novels(and something to keep an eye on in other genres too) was that 0.99 is too low, it won’t sell well at this price; this is because of a tendency to believe that a novel priced at 0.99 must not be very good, but $1.99, 2.99, even 5.99 seems to produce better results…food for thought.
  • Start small and early on platform- This is one of those things where you kick yourself a year later, wishing you’d started then; you’re always going to have wanted to build your platform sooner rather than later (though importance of platform differs between fiction and nonfiction; vital for nonfiction, by the way). With fiction though, starting your platform is also how you can begin to build your writing community; you don’t need to be published to need and deserve your writing community, so start soon, start simple, take it one step at at time.

Between the speeches and the handouts, which were basically outlines with some additional information such as site links, I learned a smattering of things I didn’t know before. But I have to admit that my pitch is what took up most of my mind.

The Pitch

How did it go? The room was surprisingly small and there was a good team of agents present. Add in chairs and a table between agent and author, and you had a packed room. It seems obvious, but it became incredibly noisy in a heartbeat once everyone started talking at once.

I think I did pretty well for my first pitch ever. I feel I can be proud of myself, not to mention the fact that I ultimately achieved my goal, which was to be invited to query. I gained experience (I leveled up!!!), as well as knowledge about the genre my book mostly fits in. I also gained an opening with the agent I spoke with, not just about my novel, but a picture book I’ve been working on as well.

Even though I didn’t ask all I’d hoped (ten minutes goes by fast!), and even though I mumbled a bit (at the start), stumbled, and bumbled, for the most part I got through it well enough. Some things you should know?

Pitch Tips:

  1. Know your pitch times– no one is going to call your name and escort you to your pitch, you have to know when you need to be where.
  2. Do your homework– know who you’re meeting, know what they’re looking for, know who they work for, etc.; this helps you as much as them.
  3. Speak up– I had this same issue with public speaking in college. I have a soft voice (which I forget), and I dislike loud noises and raised voices so my inclination is to talk calmly and softly; this does not work in a pitch session. You don’t want to project across the room, have mercy on the others trying to be heard by their own agents, but remember to speak up enough that the person you want to hear you, can.
  4. Index cards– It’s best if you remember what you need to say and can have a conversation with the agent you’re speaking with instead of having to read off of index cards, but they’re a life saver in that gut wrenching moment your mind blanks and you’re grasping for any collection of words you can think of. If nothing else, they’re great for practicing before your pitch, when you’re nervous and anxious and need something to focus on; write down important info about your novel, questions you have for the agent, important info about the agent, etc. The key is to have them there as back up…and something to do with your hands
  5. Practice– Whether it’s with someone else, by yourself in front of a mirror, or just alone and out loud, be sure to PRACTICE your pitch! You need the words to feel natural on your tongue and be the default setting of your brain (or try anyway). This makes it easier to feel like a conversation about something exciting than recalling facts you have to share with the class.

Have you been to a writing conference or had a pitch session? Tell me about your experience. If you haven’t yet, what’s something you’re looking forward to and maybe a bit scared of about attending your first conference or having your first pitch session?

If you want some more fantastic tips and information about writing conferences, take a look at the fabulous Kat McCormick’s blog where’s she’s still releasing the last couple of her 7 part series!

 

 

 

My Amazing Night at The Fox: 2Cellos

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, or are familiar with my blog, then you might have heard me mention 2Cellos a time or two. More often than not it’s me sharing a song that’s inspiring me, creating fantastic images in my mind that I have to write down; sometimes I just love watching them play and then fuel that same passion and love they have of playing their music, into my own writing.

When I was writing my novel for NaNoWriMo, there were many pages hastily written after listening or watching Luka and Stjepan play over and over again. In the midst of my frantic search for more of their work and information on them because I was curious (they’re from Croatia, which endeared them to me all the more; a friend of mine that died a few years ago was also from Croatia), I found that they were playing at The Fox Theatre in Atlanta in February, on the 9th.

I had little hope of being able to go, The Fox not generally being in my price range, but I had vague hopes and intended to try. To my surprise, my mother, at the persistence of my sister (thank you both!), gave me a wonderful Christmas present: Two tickets to see 2Cellos when they came to The Fox!!

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So last week, an old friend of mine joined me, and we went to see 2Cellos at The Fox!! I have never been to The Fox, despite having lived in and around Atlanta most of my life. The entire night was an experience (especially for this homebody introvert.)

So how was it?

At the end of the night, I absolutely enjoyed myself, which was in great part due to my friend, Grim, who took the anxiety of driving in the damned city and need to budget the energy for it out of the equation for the night, which was wonderful and helped a lot.

We arrived, in the freezing cold with wind quite capable of blowing me off course mid-step (no exaggeration), at The Fox, a solid 45 minutes before show time because you never know what Atlanta traffic will do…and parking…parking can be a nightmare. We were able to park across the street from the theatre, which was infinitely grateful for, and we arrived.

We bustled through the doors amidst the throng of other freezing people vying to get in. We each had our tickets ready, following the crowd through this large hall until meeting another set of doors. Through here was the carpeted theatre lobby, at the foot of the large staircase that would lead us up to our seats.

We went straight to our seats and had this fantastic view while we waited:

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We were there early, so we spent some time taking pictures of the theater around us from our seats.

 

And of course:

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We were there early, the show started 15 minutes late, and the theatre slowly became packed with people. It was interesting to hear snatches of conversation, see people who recognize each other from seats across the aisles; I was enjoyed some people watching while we waited, what author doesn’t?

By 7:45, the lights dimmed, and Luka and Stjpan took the stage with confidence seen in people following their dreams. Their smiles lit up the theatre, the bright lights were unnecessary. They greeted the audience and regaled us with the last time they played at The Fox, it was opening for Elton John. After saying that they’d made it back to the same stage on their own, they claim that Elton John will be opening for them next time they return 😉

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It was a joy getting to see some part of their personalities; they had a fun sense of humor, but more than that, there was the love of their music, which was intoxicating and uplifting. Soon after their greeting, the fingers were flying at the strings and they warmed up with a little classical, showing off their years of skill and technique.

Things didn’t take long to heat up, Luka and Stjepan’s bows shredding as they played; I cannot begin to describe the awe and appreciation I have for such skill and talent and such love and enjoyment of music as shown by 2Cellos.

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In between some of the songs, Stjepan or Luka would take the mic and speak to the crowd. Often time it was to make the crowd laugh. Stjepan, in his dramatic and rugged way repeatedly mentioned how “beaut-i-ful” the music was, and as the flirt he is, dedicated the beautiful music to the beautiful ladies in the audience.

It was so easy to melt away in my chair listening to them play. I wished I could have done more actual watching them play, but unfortunately, the lights continued to arc right into my eyes, particularly during the fast paced songs where I pretty much kept my eyes closed instead of accidentally meeting with the brutal flares.

We didn’t stay for the entire concert, an accumulation of reasons equating to the final decisions to leave sooner than the end. A booming and sensational rendition of Thunderstruck, which included adding a drummer and some pretty serious sounding bass, heralded a switch in music style. The drummer stayed, and between the bass making my heart feel it would explode within my chest cavity, a headache beginning from the unfortunate and continued glare of lights in my eyes, and a general escalation of energy, my skin was practically sizzling and I was very much ready to be in a more reclined and relaxed position, as much as I was reveling in the music of Luka and Stjepan as they played live.

We did manage to snag this picture before heading out

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Pay no attention to the frightened animal look, I did enjoy myself!

I enjoyed hearing songs I knew, and ones I had not heard before; truly it was a fantastic experience I was not sure I would have. I cannot say enough how thankful I am to my sister for championing this desire of mine, my mother for this heartfelt gift, to Grim for joining me, and for two sensational musicians to while the night away with.

Is there a concert or show you have attended that you were particularly excited to see? Or one you’re looking forward to? Tell me about your experience!

 

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Amazing Writing Community Benefits and Why You Need Yours

 

Writing community can be narrowly or broadly defined, depending on how you shape it and what you consider to be your writing community. It can be a scary thought when you’re just starting out, before you’ve launched your first site, page or blog, before you’ve first reached out to other people. I’ll admit it, it’s still a bit scary (but I’m silly like that).

Your writing community generally consists of people that are mutually interested in each other and/or each other’s writing. It’s wonderful when it’s mutual, and even more so when there is interaction. The trademark of a great writing community involves interaction and connection with other authors, writers, and readers.

When building your writing community, don’t mistake connection for selling, there’s a very big difference, so don’t go shoving your work in everyone’s face repeatedly asking them to share, or buy while of course doing little other sharing or interacting of your own (yes, there are sadly too many people that do this).  Be sure to visit and support your fellow writers as much as you would hope they wish to do for you. Do what feels right to you, but just keep that in mind. Here is a recent post I wrote for Writer’s Digest on how to connect on Twitter without selling out your community, where sales pitches are sometimes mistaken for connection.

I was unsure where to begin myself, I’d done some research, read a few books, but actually actively seeking out people I’d never met seemed just as scary as walking into a room full of people I didn’t know…okay, maybe not as, scary, but I’m sure you understand. Regardless though, I was willing, I just wasn’t sure how to begin…

Lucky me, last fall I found the October Platform Challenge (if you’re familiar with my blog, you’ve heard of it)….where do I even start on what I gained? Not only did I learn some important and amazing things, but it’s how I formed the base of my writing community. (If you’re curious, here are a collection of the blogs from the participants of the challenge.)

When October ended, however, a few people from the challenge banded together and formed a group for those that had participated in the challenge and wanted to stay in touch, keep up with each other’s work, keep the inspiration and support going that had marked the October Challenge for so many of us.

Truly, I gained so much the day I started that challenge, and had no idea what I was getting into. The second of January, a solid chunk of our platform plathcal people spent the day sharing thanks, love and support for each other. It was, and still is, so very touching. I believe verklempt was the word of the day, proffered by Kim (one of the many friends I’ve gained as well), and felt by most if not all involved in the impromptu love and support fest.

It’s incredibly wonderful, and useful, to have such a loving and helpful writing community to turn back to, no matter how else each of our communities grows from here. If you aren’t sure what exactly you’re gaining, here are 5 benefits of a writing community, one you actively interact and participate with, not sell to:

  1. Opinions/Thoughts/Options– don’t know which title sounds better for your story? Ask your group. Think a sentence sounds off? Ask your group. Need a ruling on a name? I think you might get it by now, ask your group! They’re a wonderful source of people that have their own opinions, are possibly your future readers, know how the writing game works, and if you’ve surrounded yourself with the right people, more than willing to help. Even if you don’t use an idea offered, it can get your brain churning and you may come up with the perfect thing, just needed to stimulate your mind the right way.
  1. Resources– If you’re looking for some particular or specific information on a topic, tap your writing community for information. It’s possible someone else has gathered some really helpful resources, or you could all do a share dump day per requests for certain materials. Of course, don’t be lazy, do your own research too, know what you want some help with, don’t make everyone trying to be nice sorry because you just don’t want to do the legwork. But your community is a wonderful resource.
  1. Beta readers– okay, now it’s likely that as many writing projects as you have, everyone else in your group has at least that, not to mention everyone’s lives beyond the written or read word. However, it’s possible that a couple of your cohorts might be willing to read over a fresh short story you’re thinking of sending off, or read through your book to help make it stronger before you publish. Be as willing to help as you are willing to ask it of others, at least that’s a rule I try to follow. No one appreciates someone that only takes and never gives. A great writing community is full of givers, and beta readers can be vital in helping to tease out your best, expecting more of you than you realized was there to give.
  1. Support– Moral support can be a vital thing for an author. Writers are notoriously hard on themselves, at least the “real” ones are according to this: real writer real artist vs counterfeitIt’s hard to disagree, I’ve seen this be true first hand. The important part of that fear though, is pushing through it and writing anyway, submitting anyway, and this is where support from your writing community can be infinitely helpful in becoming the best writer you can be. Knowing how many others are going through the same difficulties, and seeing that those that keep going are the ones that achieve their goals, and encourage you to do the same, is one of the best things a writing community can do for you.
  1. Collaborators– Sometimes you find someone that has a similar style or a sense of humor that just clicks with you, or a handful of you have a shared idea. With a good writing community, you’re bound to find at least one of these, and though there is nothing wrong in sticking with a solo gig, being open to the possibility of collaboration could lead you down an amazing road you hadn’t expected. There’s no pressure, but don’t say you’re going to commit if you don’t plan to either. The point is that you have community bursting with ideas, ideas that may be fun to collaborate on.

These are only five, I don’t doubt there being more, but no matter what, the point remains the same: writing communities are a valuable part of the writing experience, and with the right people, it’s enriched by them. I will probably become a broken record on this point, but never underestimate what a writing community can do for you. I know it’s daunting to start, but it’s well worth the plunge.

Tell me about your experience with your writing community. What’s something you love (or find difficult, life isn’t all sunshine) about your writing community?

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A Special Word of the Day : Amalgamology

First blog post of the New Year and well on the way to my first full year of blogging…I can hardly believe it. So much happened the last half of 2015, and I’ve managed to find myself in an excellent launching place for the start of 2016; a lot is going to happen this year.

But first! For those that have been following and perhaps wondered, or those new and curious, a special word of the day: Amalgamology. What is it besides the name of my blog? Well, first, it’s not technically a word (as in not in the dictionary)…yet (that’s right, I’m channeling Shakespeare  and Dr. Seuss here). I fused two words together, as many words are. First there’s amalgam, which is a mixture or blend, and then ology, or simply, the study of a subject or branch of knowledge. So what does it mean? Here’s my definition:

amalgamology
Amalgamoology: the study of a mix of blend of thoughts and ideas

 

The easiest way I can explain why I call my blog this is because…I don’t do the whole niche thing. There are many fantastically talented writers that have one area their platform is known for or raised on, or one topic in particular they focus on.

I completely understand the benefits involved with having a niche and working within that scope, a lot of things become a lot easier for marketing, finding your audience, much more. However, if I tried to pin myself down to only one aspect of….almost anything, I think I might combust.

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The same thing happens when asked about my favorite book…singular

My interests are many and varied. Another way to say it is that I’m eclectic. I have a handful of useful “go-to” answers to the question of my interests, but if I were to give my full list, it would overwhelm anyone, including me.  In fact I will, most begrudgingly, admit that I probably will not have enough time to delve as deeply into everything that I want to in this lifetime…there are just so many amazing thing to read, learn, see, do!

Admittedly, a good chunk of what you will find on here is writing or literary related, but why choose when you don’t have to? I understand what is typical, but this is me forging my own path and I don’t think I should start changing that about myself now…I’ll save you any possible suspense, but me choosing one focus, topic, interest, otherwise, is not likely in the cards. I’m okay with that, I hope you are too! Who doesn’t like to shake things up occasionally? Believe me, there will still be plenty of writing related goodness (have I mentioned I’ve got plans?) 😉

If you’re curious about what topics might be on the horizon, or just in general where some of my interests in and out of writing and books lie, then here you go:

Writing– competitions, tips, useful resources, updates on my own, sharing of others’, etc. the list could go on. (stay tuned for an influx of fiction to be shared as well..plans, you know?)

Languages– this could come in many forms, I love languages and wish I spoke others as fluently as English. I know some German, a little French, bits of Russian, Italian, Spanish, Latin, ….the list I want to know encompasses and goes beyond these….(I said  a lot right?)

Awareness/Causes– many issues that could use attention including mental illness, abuse in all its many forms, Lupus and a few other medical issues close to my heart, etc., posts to raise awareness, combat stereotypes, offer help, and more are likely candidates.

Art– paintings, drawings, sculptures, mixed media, photography, artists I know, artists I’ve newly found, and more! Any way that I can slide some art in, you can bet I will.

Travel– it’s a big world out there, so much to see and experience, so much to learn! Places I want to go, sharing interesting tidbits from research, either for my books, or my own inte-…okay same thing, my interests, varied as they are.

Books– anything to do with books, reviews, suggestions, etc. also this and travel may overlap in the area of libraries, but you can definitely expect books.

Crafting– this could involve sewing, knitting, jewelry, clay, stuffed animals…anything that comes to mind when I’m in a crafty mood.

Anything!

Really, I could probably be here all day but you get the picture: I have lots of interests, and I couldn’t choose just one or even two to focus on. If I end up doing so naturally, that’s perfectly fine, but I won’t purposely restrict myself to a few topics to suite a niche. That feels too limiting.

Thus, Amalgamology is the name of my blog (if you were curious). Does your blog have a specific name, word, or phrase for a reason? Please share what you named your blog and why in the comments.

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Slay the Monster: 10 Things to Try When You Want to Cry from Writer’s Block

There’s a bit less than two weeks left before the final day of NaNoWriMo, the day you enter your final word count, and take a well-deserved break…but right now, you’re probably still doing what I’m doing if you too have taken on the challenge: alternating between maniacally typing out pages of work, then desperately preventing myself from deleting more than 2/3’s of them, only to once again believe that maybe I do have talent for this writing thing, and return again to banging my head against the keyboard begging the words to come out, or essentially, this feeling:

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Now that we’re nearing the home stretch, one of two possibilities usually arises: a mad dash to finish off those last 10,000 in a night because you downed all the peppermint flavoring mixed with all coffee you could find and now feel colors through your ears as you pound out one word after another…..or you meet that boogeyman of every writer’s nightmares, writer’s block.

Every writer knows it, fears it, and has or will experience it in their lives, though that is of little comfort when within its clutches. Knowing that you will eventually be able to put words to page again doesn’t help when it’s hours or days since the last time you typed out a paltry “the” or have yet to do even that, and that’s not including dealing with a deadline. Sometimes it’s hard not to pout in your pajamas before your computer screen wishing your imaginary friends would come back.

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You could Google all day till your finger’s fall off and you would still see new articles and ideas for how to beat writer’s block…and this post shall be added among them. Perhaps you currently do or have used some of these before, but hopefully at least one will be something new to try for when the words just aren’t meeting paper the way you hoped or intended. Some are best used to keep the spectre at bay, while others when navigating the murky depths, but here are 10 things you can do to move past your writer’s block:

  1. Take a walk – A change of scenery (and hopefully you get a chance to enjoy some nice weather), a chance to find a new place to read or picnic, the chance to breathe some fresh air. get your body moving, and your idea generator generating. Truly the wonders a simple walk can do cannot be expounded upon enough. I must admit I, personally, have trouble with this one, not having the energy I used to and needing to avoid the Sun, but on an overcast day, or if the weather is right and the area is shaded, I too can stretch my legs and enjoy a walk outside. There are really no downsides here, and if you’re an artist too, use the chance to soak up some more inspiration, or bring your art supplies and enjoy!
  2. Exercise– Yes, technically you could put these two together, but I see them as separate things. When I’m going for a walk, it’s to enjoy a walk, not generally to exercise. For exercise, I do things like yoga, hula-hooping, or 4-minute workouts. I choose these, a) because my body is less likely to throw a royal hissy fit,  b) they’re simple to do just about anywhere (…okay maybe not hula-hooping, but it’s still worth it!) and c) they all get your blood pumping and your body moving, not only in some way, but each in different ways. Ideas can only be generated to a brain that’s effectively functioning, and there is tons of research reporting the benefits of exercise on the brain, including creativity stimulation! You don’t need to commit 30 minutes to a treadmill or gym, just take 10 minutes and do a few stretches, jumping jacks, or pushups, dance around to a fun song, let your cat control the red dot for once…whatever your choose, let it be what works best for YOU!
  3. Coloring books– You read that right. Coloring books. Load yourself up with them, grab some color pencils, markers, or crayons and let yourself loose! All of those that proclaim lack of artistic talent can still enjoy adding tint to some of the fantastical coloring books out there, and some even specifically for adults. You would be amazed ata709ce4b8789f4b7426a48051a082253 what 20 minutes of coloring can do for your creativity, not to mention your stress…plus…it’s fun! Also, it gives you a solid reason to build a blanket fort to color in. I don’t care how I old I get, blanket forts are cool, but I digress. Anyway! Coloring books! Who says no to an excuse to color? A few minutes of color a day can boost your creativity, and if I am able to find the article I read supporting this, I will be sure to include it.
  4. Change of scenery– Take your laptop, notebook, sketchbook, whatever have you, and go somewhere different to write. Try some new outdoor scenery (I like to sit on my balcony), or go to the cliché coffee shop (just because it’s cliché doesn’t mean it doesn’t work), or a bookstore, anywhere that you don’t see every day, or haven’t been sitting in the last 10 hours straight. Even if it’s a room in your house you never use, give it a try, sometimes the shift in scenery in your peripheral can start generating some new ideas.
  5. Watch where you stop for the night– You’re trying furiously to make word count, and you tell yourself you can be done for the night if you just finish this chapter…which you do, because you’re awesome, and you pack up for the night and head to bed. This is exactly what you shouldn’t be doing, or at least some people shouldn’t. Nothing is harder than diving back into a novel when you’ve rounded off whatever you were in the middle of. Essentially, it can feel like starting on the first word of the first page again when returning to a project only to need to start off the next chapter. If you stop, however, when you’re excited about a scene and have ideas of what to do next (by all means jot them down, I keep a running notes document for mine, personally…until I utilize Scrivener properly, but that’s another story), so that when you wake up, your mind has been marinating in your ideas all night; sometimes you wake up with the exact line of dialogue or a great segue to the next plot point delivery; the point is, you aren’t cutting your legs off the night before every time you stop, you’re giving yourself a spring board to dive back in.
  6. Different project- It seems counterintuitive to put time and effort into a different project than the one you’ve been working on that has a deadline, but if you’re in the midst of writer’s block, sometimes redirecting your focus on something else (oh, say a blog entry *cough cough*, or an article, an email asking for an interview, etc.) can do wonders. If you happen to have a mind like mine, just because you’re working actively on another project doesn’t mean ideas for your main project aren’t just soaking until your return to them…because that’s definitely what happens with me, I just sometimes forget this works. So switch gears and try getting some other work done, still being productive, and it may help more than you think.
  7. Try a different scene- Maybe you’ve written yourself into a corner and just don’t know how to get out of this particular situation. You have ideas for the next scene, next chapter, the ending, whatever have you, just not the scene you’ve been staring at the last 45 minutes. Now, doing things out of order may naturally work for some people, but it can seriously mess with the wiring in my brain pan, however, I cannot deny the fact that sometimes, if you’re feeling a different scene, you should just go ahead and write it down, it’s still progress, and if you’re inspired to write, then do it! Who knows, maybe while you’re finishing off that resolution, the dialogue you’ve been practically weeping in frustration over may suddenly come to you. Just have to try.
  8. Take a break- It’s a duh, but it needs to be said to stubborn you refusing to take a break when you HAVE to get at least another *insert word count* done. Maybe you’ll feel like this is a horrible idea since you might as well have been on a break all day since you got nothing done. That is not a break, that is hours of you berating yourself for not magically finding the words today. A break involves being away from your writing, perhaps your computer, maybe even your home, but you need to get away from your project. When you fight, sometimes you need space to breathe, it’s no less true of a writer and their craft.
  9. Movie homework- If you really feel weird about taking a break, tell yourself its movie homework instead. How many times have you had an amazing idea while watching a movie? Not to mention, if you’re just finding yourself in a bit of a bog with your setting, characters, or story, find some movies that make you think of a character or a feel you’re trying to present in your book. What things do or don’t work for the movie, what elements may be used in application to your novel? Possibilities abound!
  10. Read-I saved the best for last because it’s my favorite pastime and go-to suggestion to most of life’s issues…regardless of the fact that it rarely helps solve them, reading makes me incredibly happy and puts my anxiety at ease. Reading is inspiring, thrilling, and it can teach you a lot about your own writing voice; questioning something you may have done differently, or if you would had a character behave differently than the author. Do I really need to go further? You can never go wrong with reading.

 

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Hopefully you’ve taken yourself a breather and are ready to jump back into the fray! One of the hardest things to remember when you’re frustrated with writer’s block is that you will eventually be able to move past it, even if you don’t believe it right now. Now get to work (or take a break), you can do it!!!! (And here is a compilation of some other NaNoWriMo resources and help from Kat McCormick! Thank you Kat!)