Monday, July 7, 2014

Manuscript Wars – The Writer’s Block Strikes Back

Or, “...come into the light, Carol Anne”

  • Words, mix-mastered into a jumble of nothing.
  • Ideas that fail to ignite.
  • Commitment is a bad word.
  • An engine that stutters and dies.

So many euphemisms for the miasma of writer’s block, that loud screech of tires on pavement coming to a full and
complete stop. It’s not a matter of if it happens, but when. And what to do when it does.

I’ve given and received much advice. When I hit the fog of manuscript blues this time, the tried and true solutions failed me. Walking, driving, writing it out in long-hand: Nothing worked. And I stopped creating. 

The words of JRR Tolkien come to mind, in speaking about the long process of writing:
“...and I plodded on, till I stood by Balin’s tomb in Moria. There I halted for a long while...”
Mine is not such a journey as his and I do not in any way pretend it is. The mental picture he paints is rather cool though.

At any rate, the third book in The Magic Withheld series is roaring along now. Fresh ideas are stirring and boiling. Book two, Mage Revealed, is in the oven while Spirit Mage is coming on with grit teeth and fire in its words.


Thank the Lord for those half-asleep moments when strange ideas pop into a writer’s head. It's the only thing that broke me from the dungeon of Writer's Block.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

IWSG - Disappointment


IWSG—Insecure Writers Support Group, coming together on the first Wednesday of every month for a virtual pat on the back. 





Did you ever look forward to a much-anticipated book only to be sorely disappointed when it fell short of glory?

It happened to me. Twice in two months.


Two great series—one by a hero of mine and the other book written by a new author who I had put on a pedestal—went thunk in my literary opinion.

It sure is a killer when a book doesn’t live up to my anticipation. And not just the wasted money. But the eagerness, the counting down the days until the release date, opening that fresh cover, turning the page that’s no one’s turned before. Then, half way through the book, you know it’s...blah.

As I’ve said before, giving bad reviews isn’t my style. Not anymore. I prefer to let someone else slap them upside the head. I can’t. It hurts too much when I receive them. How can I do it to other authors?

I hope my literary hero starts a new series. I think his MC has been-there, done-that. The other author has a third book in the series that I won’t buy. The second was just that bad.


So, is there a book that you desired greatly thinking it would quench your thirst only to find a damp palm to lick instead?


****
Insecure Writers Support Group: The Final Frontier.



These are the continuing voyages of the Ninja Captain, AJC. His mission, to explore all new writing venues, to seek out new authors and new blogs. 

To boldly go where no blogateer has gone before.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Don’t Comment Before Reading...

 ...all of this post.

I stumbled into a discussion of the group Fantasy Writers on Facebook. A writer posed a question that garnered over 200 comments.

Here is the question. But remember, read all of it including the points before formulating an opinion:

Ladies! I need your input here since I'm not fond of the idea of physically asking strange women at a bar lol. 
If you were forced to get naked, not in a good way, and then told to put clothes back on. What would you put on first and why? 
The scene is a man who is to train an unruly and difficult woman in martial arts. She has to be broken mentally so this exercise is designed to break her further by making her realize that she has no control or power over anything, even her own body.
He gave these points:
  • This is a training exercise, to "break her further" and watch ‘for any frailties’.
  • There is nothing sexual about this training procedure. Nothing.
  • She is "also a mother of a child that the state is trying to take away from her. The man is trying to help her so she can prove to the state she is adult and able to care for her child".
  • The trainers "role in this book is to define the MC, which is the woman, and to further explain the Order of the Mages".
  • The training is "the same way knuckle heads get trained in military boot camp. Sometimes you have to knock heads around make the points clear".
  • Shaming her isn’t the goal. "The goal is to break her spirit so that she can receive the training well. So that she can understand. Because she is so stubborn the male (trainer) understands this and knows it has to be done to save her and her child.
  • The goal isn't sex and the motive was never sexual in nature.
  • The training is voluntary, requested by the woman
I took it as a training exercise to break the MC's inhibitions and school her to *listen* to the trainer, just like a bootcamp.

Other writers went a whole nuther way. They were greatly offended. It was sexual, it was demeaning, it was rape. How could the author "...possibly understand how terrible it was since he wasn't a woman...."

Insert my *confused face* here. 

I found the different views fascinating. Even with the author's explanations in the comments, still people expressed their disgust to what they determined was sexual and demeaning in nature.

So what do you think? Do you take offense, judge this as a terrible scene? Or is this simply a serious question posed by a professional writer wanting feedback? And how would you answer the question?


Saturday, June 7, 2014

Top Ten Tips for Young Writers, SR Johannes

SR Johannes, writer extraordinaire, author of the award-winning series, The Nature of Grace, is an expert on the YA genre. I've met many young folks who want to write, who have the need, the innate desire to write, that makes this post so vital. 

And by golly, these tips cross into every writer's realm, from younglings to, ahem, mature.


Top 10 Writing Tips for Young Writers


Starting out can be tough. It’s hard to know where to turn when you are just stepping into the industry. It can be overwhelming at times. There are a few thinsg you can do to get started on the right track:

1. Do your research. Find out what resources can help you find your way and read them. Harold Underdown’s guide to publishing is a great book.
2. Understand what you love to write and start there. Don’t follow the market, follow your heart. 
3. Make sure you set up a space to write
4. Get in a routine. Try to start with a schedule. It might only be 15 min but if you do it everyday, you start a habit.
5. Network. Meet other writers you can write with, critique, or go to with questions. SCBWI is the best resource.
6. Understand the business side. It is important to be aware that publishing is a business. (yes I know it sucks, but it’s true). Know this and it makes rejection and the tough times less personal.
7. Seek to improve your craft – no matter where you are in the field. This may mean reading books in your genre, taking classes, doing workshops, or joining a critique group.
8. Learn to take constructive criticism. This biz if full of it and you won’t get anywhere if you are not open to it.
9. Focus on the journey – your journey and that of your book. If publishing is your only goal, it might get discouraging if it takes longer than you expect so set some milestones to help you celebrate along the way.
10. Always be professional. It will take you a long way and this industry is small.

No matter what, love this process. Love your writing. Seek to improve and believe in yourself. Be prepared for ups and downs along the way. It is a tough business but it is a rewarding one. 

And if you are a true writer, it won’t matter, because you will always write – no matter what? And that love will take you far. 

* * * *

See all SR Johannes books here. 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Holy Talking Cats! It's Unstoppable.




Unstoppable is the third book in "The Nature of Grace" series by SR Johannes. The series has won and been nominated for several awards including: winner of the 2012 IndieReader Discovery Awards (Young Adult), a Silver medalist (2nd place) in the IPPY awards (YA Fiction). She was also nominated for 2012 Georgia Author of the Year (Young Adult category), a Finalist in The Kindle Book Review’s Best Young Adult of 2012, and a YA Finalist in the US Book News Best Book of 2012. 

Kirkus reviewed Untraceable as "A thrilling story is a dramatic entanglement of mystery, deception and teen romance.  The action flows like a brisk mountain stream interspersed with rapids, holding suspense to last page."

If you like a page turner, you will love this series!


Unstoppable - Book 3 Summary

After everything that has happened, Grace moves to the Everglades to live with her grandmother, Birdee, and hang out with old man Rex, Birdee's "friend with benefits". Grace quickly befriends Dylan, Rex's nephew, and Dylan's girlfriend, Sadie, who is a die-hard teen activist. Sadie spends her time leading protests against the roadside zoos that run rampant in Florida with a total disregard for animals or the flimsy law.

One day while out in the marshes of the Everglades, Grace and her friends rescue an abused—and endangered—Florida panther. She and Birdee spend time rehabilitating the animal. But when the panther runs off, Grace follows it to Uncle Bob's, a large roadside zoo they all have been protesting. One that is illegally filled with a variety of endangered and exotic animals. Before she can rescue the panther, she and her friends are kidnapped by the ruthless owner and dragged deep into the Everglades for a hunting challenge. 

Only this time, Grace is the prey. 

During a sick game of cat and mouse, Grace and her friends are offered one chance at survival, but only if they reach civilization before being caught. With a small head start and very little supplies, only time and skill stand between the hunter and the hunted. But out in the Everglades, there may be more dangers than Grace realizes.

Against all odds, Grace must make it out alive and win, or everything she holds dear could be lost.

On Sale Now! 

Unstoppable is on sale in ebook. The paperback releases later this month. 

(Note: if you have another ereader device - see these instructions for getting a Kindle ebook converted to your ereader. It's easier than you think.)

If you haven't read Untraceable or Uncontrollable, you can get them in paperback and ebook at all major booksellers including AmazonAppleSmashwords, and B&N.








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