Saturday, August 31, 2013

Nine Ways to Meet Writer Friends: A Guest Post by Lauren Claire

Hey everyone! Lauren Claire, a young writer friend, of mine is back with another blog post! Here she is!

I know, I know. If you have a sense of humor, you’re probably thinking this: Lauren, the online hermit that is almost never seen outside her little circle of websites, actually has friends? Well of course I have friends! Do you know how many friends I have in characters alone?

All joking aside, today I’m going to share nine ways that YOU can make friends with not one writer, but many. Yes, I have made writer friends through almost all of these methods. Let’s start with the hardest category to conquer: the in-person friends.

In Person Method -
Before I begin, there is one key thing you need to keep in mind with this method. Any contacts made are useless unless you exchange some kind of information to stay in contact. This may mean phone numbers, it might be emails. It might even be a plan to meet up semi-regularly for an informal writers’ group support session.

1. Talking – The majority of my writing friends have NOT been made by any of the other methods listed below. Instead, some of my best writing friendships have occurred because I was open about being a writer. People, writing is important to you. It’s okay to talk about how you’re struggling with writing a chapter in groups of people. You never know…another writer might be in the group with you!

2. Local College Classes –
If you haven’t already, check your local community college to see if they offer creative writing classes. Most colleges will allow community members to take the class at a higher tuition rate. But hey–it’s sixteen weeks of in-depth lectures with not just writers, but LOCAL writers. Say hello to easy accountability and coffee writing dates!

3. Writers’ Conferences –
I cannot advocate this enough. Go to a writers’ conference. You will make FRIENDS. Find one now. End of conversation.

4. Coffee Shops –
Writers, as a stereotype, love coffee. It only makes sense that they also love coffee shops. Make a habit of spending time in your local coffee shop (even if it’s only a monthly reward for meeting your writing goal). It’s inevitable that you’ll eventually meet writer friends…especially if you’re brave enough to do one of the following: a) be brave enough to shout, “Are there any other writers here? or b) ask the hostess if she knows of any frequent writers.

5. Library Events – This is one of those things I haven’t tried, mainly because I’m too lazy. Keep an eye on your nearest library though. It might surprise you how many authors live in your area (yes, even rural farming areas), and local authors LOVE to give back to their community. If you have one, they might host a book-signing there.

Online Methods - When using these methods, you need to realize that you’ll never truly become writer friends with somebody without contacting them via email or Facebook message. You need to stay in contact with them, and be every bit their cheerleader as you want them to be for you.

1. Stalk Your Favorite Authors –
Yes, I said STALK. Like their Facebook page, follow them on Twitter, sign up for email on their blog. Visit everything every single day. You get the benefit of picking up their personal writing secrets, and you’ll get the benefit of meeting other writers who also stalk your favorite author.

2. Facebook/Linked-in Groups –
This is a great way to get quick responses to your questions, to get sympathy for your writer woes, and to help develop plots. It’s also a good way to make friends with writers who have similar tastes and interests.

3. Forums – Just like the groups, finding a writing-based forum is one of the easiest ways to make writer friends. For one thing, private message systems allows you to keep some anonymity compared to the other methods I’ve mentioned before while still becoming close to other writers. You may also find (through option #1) that there is a sub-forum for writing in an author-based message forum.

4. Blogs – Honestly, this is not my favorite method, but I have made a couple of good friends through this. The real trick to this is NOT to just follow the blog, it’s not just to comment on the blog, it’s to EMAIL the author. It doesn’t hurt to follow their Facebook pages and Twitter feeds, either. Anyways, if you take the time to actually have a conversation via email with a blog writer, chances are you’ll have a great friend and buddy.
How have you made writer friends? Have any of these methods worked for you? Do you have any questions about making writer friends?

Lauren Claire is a young writer with a passion for God, life, and her young friends. She knows that there are many kids in the world that have nobody to talk to about the problems they face, so she strives to write real stories they can identify with. When she's not writing, Lauren is busy with College, Camp ministries, and going on adventures.
Check out her blog!
Help support her writing dream on Facebook and Twitter!

Tori here. I hope you all enjoyed this post! As always, thanks for reading! :)

Saturday, August 24, 2013

My Entry For S.J. Aisling's Art/Writing Contest!

Hey! A fellow blogger is have an art/writing contest over at her blog. The due date is incorrect, but she needs more entries! Check it out here!

And here is my entry featuring my character, Brian and S.J. Aisling's character, Catrio! Hope you like it, S.J.!

Note: An Every is like an iPad/Computer/Phone. It's a creation of mine featuring in my sci-fi series Subsapien, Brian's home-book. ;)

Catrio (left) & Brian (right)
If you liked this post, come back every Saturday for more writing advice, character interviews, book reviews and more! On Sundays I have Soundtrack Sundays where I post a new score piece, Tuesdays are Tea Tuesdays with tea reviews, Wednesdays I have Wonderful Word Wednesdays where I post a new vocabulary word, and Fridays are Fan Fridays where I post tags and other goodies. To help support my dream to be an author follow this blog, like me on Facebook, watch me on deviantART, and follow me on Pinterest and Twitter. If you want to know more about my books check out them out here. Thank you! :)

Twelve Rookie Writer Mistakes and How to Mend Them

For the past couple of weeks I've been critiquing several young writers' works. I like helping them out, and it helps sharpen my eyes for critiquing my own works. But while I was doing it, I noticed some errors common in all of them and were also very common in my own past writing.

When I sent some critique back for a friend, she liked it when I explained how to fix each problem. To me it's easier when I'm shown exactly what's wrong then I'm shown exactly how to fix it. So that's what I'm going to do for you all.

I'm not a professional or anything, but I've been seriously studying writing for four years, including attending four writers conferences. I hope these tips can be helpful. :)

1.) Telling of the Senses: Saw, See, Look, Heard, Listen, Felt, Knew - These words are cumbersome to sentences. They slow down pacing. 90% of the time they can be cut. There are a few instances where they are necessary, but if you use them over and over they get repetitive. They're an easy fix and they make the point of view deeper.

Incorrect: Cora walked along the road on the side walk. She saw a dog cross the street.
Correct: Cora walked on the wet sidewalk. A dog crossed the street.

2.) Telling Emotions - I see this a lot. Telling emotions doesn't allow the reader to be as immersed in the story as much as she/he could be. A lot of common ones I've seen are: sadly, angrily, and surprised. This is a little bit tougher to fix. You have to think of how to show the emotion, but it's possible and your reader will feel more connected with your characters. Sprinkle in some interior monologue if you have to.

Incorrect: "You stole my boyfriend!" I said angrily to Lana.
Correct: "You stole my boyfriend!" I yelled at Lana and clenched my fists. How could my best friend do this to me?

3.) Crowding the Dialogue - A lot of times I see a line of dialogue with someone else's action at the end or even more than one action. That's incorrect. Every character needs his own line for speech. Sometimes it gets very confusing especially when there are a lot of pronouns and the reader doesn't know who is doing or saying what.

Incorrect: Casey giggled. Laura's cheeks burned. "That's so mean." She said as Clara walked into the room and sat down. Why does she have to say things like that? Coco the cat jumped up on her lap curled into a ball.
Correct: Casey giggled.
Laura's cheeks burned. "That's so mean." Why does Casey have to say thing like that?
Clara walked into the room and sat down. Coco the cat jumped up on her lap and curled into a ball.

4.) Comma-ing Action Beats - This error is very easy to fix, but a tough habit to break. I know I did this one a lot when I was younger. An action beat is an action placed next to dialog to define the speaker and to show emotion. When you connect the dialog and the action beat with a comma that's incorrect. You can't "throw the ball" your words. Let me show you.

Incorrect: Jace threw the ball, "Catch it!"
Correct: Jace threw the ball. "Catch it!"

5.) Action & Reaction -  This is a writing technique error. Action and reaction means when you sense something then you react to it. You can't react to something then see it/hear it/sense it and neither can your characters. It's out of order. These are a little harder to root out, but you'll get the hang of it. :)

Incorrect: I gasped and ducked. The wolf leaped toward me.
Correct: The wolf leaped toward me. I gasped and ducked.

6.) Massive Paragraphs -  I used to do this so bad. I'd have massive paragraphs ten lines long. I know we've seen it done in old books or we just do it because ... well we don't really know why it just kind of happened ...

But for modern day writing it's a lot better on the eyes if you trim these big babies down especially when there's a lot of them in one place. I like keeping mine to an average of four or five lines. I've seen some people go a little bit longer. But if you make one that's half of the page use your enter key a lot.

7.) Caps -  Using caps in blog posts and chatting and texting is fine, but using them in writing looks amateur. I've seen them used on rare occasions, but using them too much makes you look less professional and sometimes it just gets annoying. :P Italics can easily be used to replace caps if you want to emphasize a word (but don't go crazy with them like I'll discuss in the next tip), but using them for yelling is unnecessary.

Incorrect: "I am NOT going to do that!" Steven yelled. "YOU CAN'T MAKE ME!"
Correct: "I am not going to do that!" Steven yelled. "You can't make me!"

8.) Overuse of Italics - 
Italics are used for letters or writing like that in books and also for emphasizing a word, but if you emphasize every other word italics lose their power.

Incorrect: "You are going to go take out the trash right now or I'm taking away your video games for a month." Mom said slowly. "Stop giving me back talk."
Correct: "You are going to go take out the trash right now or I'm taking away your video games." Mom said slowly. "Stop giving me back talk."

9.) Which & That - These words have their use as with any word, but a lot of times they're not needed and just bog down sentences. They often lead to long sentences that'd be better off chopped in half or thirds even. Do a word search for these as with some of the previous words I'm mentioned to see how often you use them. You can be amazed how many will show up.

Incorrect: Jamie walked to the Tom's with Sam and Ty, which was her favorite ice cream parlor. She purchased Pistachio, that was her favorite.
Correct: Jamie walked with Sam and Ty to her favorite ice cream parlor, Tom's. She purchased Pistachio, her favorite flavor.

10.) As & -Ing - This little word and this little suffix are used to say two things are happening at the same time. The thing is I've seen them used and the things listed can't happen at the same time. It just isn't possible--even for Superman.

Incorrect: Putting on his suit, Superman flew to Metropolis and scooped up Lois Lane out of the jaws of the alien monster as he ate a taco and watched the Yankee game.
Correct: Superman put on his suit. He flew to Metropolis and scooped up Lois Lane out of the jaws of the alien monster. After he returned to Smallville, he and Lois ate tacos and watched the Yankee game.
(Note: This is a lot of telling, but I couldn't help the Superman thing lol.)

11.) Was, Were, and Went - These are weak and vague verbs. If you can avoid using them do so. Omitting them as much as possible also allows for stronger verbs. These words are sometimes the only words that can do the job, but if another one can do it better, type in that one. Sometimes you'll have to consult a thesaurus, but it'll make your writing much more powerful.

Incorrect: There was a box resting on my doorstep. I went over to it.
Correct: A box rested on my doorstep. I walked up the driveway to it.

12.) Passive Writing -  This is another place where "Was" likes to crash the paragraph party. Passive writing slows down the pacing. of your story and gets tedious.

Incorrect: Lucy was killed by John.
Correct: John killed Lucy.

Do you catch yourself doing any of these? Do you have any questions about them? What are some other common writing errors you've noticed?

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Saturday, August 17, 2013

A Book Review of Replication by Jill Williamson

Buy from Amazon!
What if everything you knew was a lie? Martyr---otherwise known as Jason 3:3---is one of hundreds of clones kept in a remote facility called Jason Farms. Told that he has been created to save humanity, Martyr has just one wish before he is scheduled to 'expire' in less than a month. To see the sky. Abby Goyer may have just moved to Alaska, but she has a feeling something strange is going on at the farm where her father works. But even this smart, confident girl could never have imagined what lies beneath a simple barn. Or what would happen when a mysterious boy shows up at her door, asking about the stars. As the reality of the Jason Experiment comes to light, Martyr is caught between two futures---the one for which he was produced and the one Abby believes God created him to have. Time is running out, and Martyr must decide if a life with Abby is worth leaving everything he's ever known.

Genre: YA Science Fiction
Publisher: Zonderkidz (January 3, 2012)
Page Count: 304

What I liked: This was a neat and creative book. I enjoyed the Alaskan setting since its not shown much in books or other media. The characters were neat and developed and I especially enjoyed one of the main characters, Martyr. He was really cute. The book also carries a good message about sacrifice. It was very intense near the end. I enjoyed the writing style. It had several twists I did not expect coming. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys science-fiction with some teen romance laced in. :)

What I didn't like: I didn't like that this was a just a single book. I wish there was more. I would have preferred a little more fighting action, but that's my personal preference.

Content Cautions: There was nothing too severe I can think of.

Overall it was good read with a good message. :) I give it four stars.

About the Author: 

Jill Williamson is a chocolate loving, daydreaming, creator of kingdoms and the award-winning author of several young adult books including the Blood of Kings trilogy, Replication, the Mission League series, and the Safe Lands trilogy. She lives in Oregon with her husband and two children and a whole lot of deer. Visit her online at her blog, where adventure comes to life.
You can find her on her websiteFacebookTwitterPinterest and Goodreads.

Other books by Jill I've reviewed:
A Book Review of Go Teen Writers: How to Turn Your First Draft Into A Published Novel
The Safe Lands Book 1: Captives

If you liked this post, come back every Saturday for more writing advice, character interviews, book reviews and more! On Sundays I have Soundtrack Sundays where I post a new score piece, Tuesdays are Tea Tuesdays with tea reviews, Wednesdays I have Wonderful Word Wednesdays where I post a new vocabulary word, and Fridays are Fan Fridays where I post tags and other goodies. To help support my dream to be an author follow this blog, like me on Facebook, watch me on deviantART, and follow me on Pinterest and Twitter. If you want to know more about my books check out them out here. Thank you! :)

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Harnessing Pain for Your Writing

So this week, I decided to get a little serious. This post was put on my heart so I decided to be out with it. This time of year is a time for changes for everyone: school, work, possibly new schools like college or from middle school to high school.

On top of that, we also have the baggage of things that've happened to us over the summer or even over the past few years. That's a lot on a person and lately I've been really weighed down with drama plus looking for work plus a myriad of other problems that have been bogging me down for a while--and I know I'm not the only one out there.

As writers, sometimes it's tough to write with all of that in your head and priorities tugging you this way and that, but I think as writers that we have something special we can do with all this pain we've gone through. We can use it for our characters. All that hurt and stress we're feeling can be applied. What we go through can strengthen and deepen our writing.

The past three years have been tough for me what with moving from the place I'd lived for ten years, changing from a high schooler to a young adult and a bunch of family issues. But since then my writing has gotten better because of those things. Because I can feel more of what my character's feel so I can be in tune with them. Trials can hone you. As a Christian, I've had Jesus with me and though sometimes it feels like He's silent, I know He's beside me.

Through our writing, we can connect to other people feeling the same thing as we do. It's such a comfort knowing you're is not alone. That's one thing I want my writing to do: is to touch and help the people who read it. I believe that writing is what God is saying is my ministry to others. I'm not very good at talking in front of people, but I feel like in writing I can reach out.

So when life gets you down remember you can harness pain for your writing too. It will make it stronger and help you to be a better writer. I hope this post can be encouragement to those who read it.

How have you harnessed pain for your writing? Have you had a bad experience you've used to deepen your characters?

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