Ordinary Heroes | Extraordinary Times

Remembering 9/11: Dedicated
Image by IslesPunkFan via Flickr
Monthly Fellow Writers' Blog Hop ~ Hosted by the Gladiator's Pen

Topic for Tuesday September 13th:  Remembrance 9/11  

This is the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on America.. What effect did this have on your writing, if any. Was it short term effect or  from that point on. Or write story, poem, song, or a remembrance or dedication to those who were lost and the heroes that rose to the occasion during this frightening time in our country and seen around the world. 

~~~~

 

Ten years ago, this week, an extraordinary tragedy devastated the city of New York but the horror and shock ricocheted around the world. It was one of those events in history that we can all remember exactly where we were and what we were doing. Over the last few days I have been watching footage and documentaries on the fall of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Centre and the events that happened just prior and just after this horrific event. That day changed countless lives in so many ways. It scarred the skyline of Manhattan, New York and it broke the heart of the modern world. This was not only a nation that was affected but all around the world the emotions so raw and so vulnerable echoed in all our hearts.

 

On the day it happened I was millions of miles away but in my heart I was right there as shocked and horrified as anyone.But for me, what stands out in my mind of that day is not just the devastation but the small mercies and bravery of humanity. I remember the ordinary heroes that stepped up in the hour. I remember the countless heroes that walked into the heart of devastation to save who they could. As I watched the events unfolding I wondered what would happen if I were thrust or someone I love were thrust into that situation. How would I react? How would they react? I was also rocked again by the realization that tragedies, large and small, happen every day and that we cannot stop them. But how we react and how we act in the face of these tragedies is the living legacy?

 

Did this affect my writing and how?

 

Yes, it did. It made me realise that even very ordinary people one would not notice can become extraordinary heroes. I write a lot of poetry when I am faced with dark emotions and those days just after 9/11 I was assailed by images that were forever imprinted upon my mind and emotions that were imprinted on my heart. But when the human heart encounters tragedy, we have to find something to hope for and to live for. I also realised that words are powerful, whether spoken or written. 9/11 caused me to start sharing my poetry with others. I have always written poetry as this is the way I handle events in my own life. Call it my personal therapy. But before then I had not shown anyone my poetry. I had written it down and hidden it away. But 9/11 made me realise that we are all human beings. We all experience tragedy in some form in our lives. We all must fight darkness with light. This is the human condition. But human beings need solidarity with each other. We are social creatures who need compassion, empathy and mercy. I realized that although my own dark moments may be personal to me, the emotions evoked and felt are universal. When I saw and heard about the ordinary heroes making a difference after those events, I wanted to be able to reach out in solidarity. My method of communication is words. I needed to use my words to convey emotions. So from that day I vowed that I would share what I had written because people need to know we all know both darkness and light in our lives. But it is the light that gives us hope and faith to continue. Emotional vulnerability is not a weakness but a strength because that is how we learn empathy.This is one of the poems I wrote soon after 9/11.

 

Falling Free © Kim Koning 2001

I used to be afraid of just one thing

Fear of falling from great heights imprisoned me

I imagined stumbling then falling, never waking

I used to dream about falling and breaking on rocks far below

I was always taught the only way to overcome fear is to face it,

I needed to look deep within and find that courage

Our family had looked at death so many times, 

How could a mountain overcome my faith in courage

Climbing mountains I found my place of peace

But looking down a mountain made my hands slick with sweat

How ironic that the same place that offers you peace

Can freeze your soul in a prison with gates of fear?

Then one summer’s day with the sun burning down on my mountain

I took the first step to facing my greatest fear

My skin was clammy with cold, rivulets of fear dripped down my back

I watched as crazy people threw themselves off the mountain

Suddenly I found myself sitting on the hot rock

Someone was tying straps and chains around me

I had sudden visions of being bound and chained

Thrown from my place of peace, how could I fall free, chained?

Then a voice broke through my reverie and told me to step out

I opened my eyes and looked down, nothing but empty blue sky was before me

My legs were swinging and there was nothing but cool air there

My vision spun and I thought I was going to faint, I stepped off onto a ledge

There is a time in life when you face mortality and know you are not strong enough

As you stand suspended, a reflection of weakness stares back at you

Covered in shame, you have two choices staring back at you

Jump or step back and accept your weakness

I was in that time standing on that mountain ledge

Looking up, I found myself surrounded by jagged peaks, windswept grass

I saw an eagle far above me flying free and I reached my place of peace,

With my heart in my throat, I stepped off the ledge into blue sky

I felt wild and free, I was falling free, This might be the end, This may begin

I learnt the truest lesson that day, fear is but a ledge you can choose to

step off

 

May we never forget 9/11 nor the events after that day. My heart goes out to the countless people affected by the tragedy of that day. May the Grace of God cover the scars that will always remain with those affected and those that witnessed. May we never forget the ordinary heroes that acted when they needed to without thought for their own safety. May the courage of New York’s ordinary heroes be an extraordinary inspiration to us all.

 

Live your life from your heart. Share from your heart. And your story will touch and heal people’s souls. – Melody Beatie

 

Related articles

Patti Larsen | In the Spotlight | Run or Hide

 

Patti Larsen is a middle grade, young adult and adult author with a passion for the paranormal who writes a great deal of horror for someone who is afraid of the dark. She lives on the East Coast of Canada with her very patient husband Scott and four enormous cats. (That’s the official bio.)

Kim: Patti, congratulations on the release of both Run and now Hide – the first 2 in a 4 part YA series.

I know Patti as a friend with a wicked sense of mischief, an uncanny ability to cut through the BS, loyal and supportive and a mind as dark as my own is at times. Yesterday I reviewed Run and promised that I would introduce you to the imagination behind the characters. This is one INDIE author to watch because she has plenty more tales in her. When I say that the HUNTED series is the next YA hit – I meant every word. But for those who think that YA is a tad tame for your taste…let me introduce you to Patti and her HUNTED series. I dare the “grown up” kids amongst you to not be terrified, fascinated, shocked and riveted by the HUNTED series. This series is not for the timid. But if you like characters that are in as much inner conflict as outer conflict, you will love each of her characters in this series…both the good guys and the bad guys.

So without further ado I am going to let the lady who is never short of a wry comment tell you about herself and give you some teasers of RUN and HIDE: the first two books in the Riveting HUNT series.

Patti, Congratulations on the release of Run a couple of weeks ago and Congratulations on Hide’s release which gets released today. I am thrilled to have you on Dragonfly Scrolls.

~~~

Kim: Tell us a little about the writer that penned these incredible novels. 
Patti: I know you don’t want the shiny, polished version, right? (Knowing you P, I would not get it…no, we want the real version.) I’m a writer by choice and passion, a cat lover extraordinaire. I adore summer above all other seasons if only we could get rid of bugs. I’m a blonde and always will be no matter what Mother Nature thinks. I work far too much and love every second of it. (Believe me, this woman is a machine when it comes to getting the words out! Hard working is an understatement.) And I’m addicted to the voices in my head. I joke about wishing they would leave me alone, but I really love having them around.
Kim: What draws you to YA?
Patti: I was always a hard-core sci-fi and high fantasy girl growing up. That’s what I read and was exposed to, thanks to my father. But when my niece introduced me to Harry Potter and, later, Twilight, I realized my inner angsting teenager had been yelling at me for years to let her have a go. And despite the fact I have a few adult works I’d like to get to eventually, the pack of under eighteen’s in my head won’t let me go there just yet.

Kim: Does this series have an Omni-Premise? What is it?
Patti: No one is going to save you. You’re the only one with the power to do that.(A message we all could hear and heed.)

Kim: Reid, your main character, is also your POV throughout these two books. Where did Reid come from?
Tell us how he introduced himself to you.
Patti: I often receive my inspiration as flashes of images, almost like movies playing in my head. In this case, Reid appeared as he ran down a nighttime forest trail. There was just enough moonlight to see the terror in his face when he stopped for a minute. He turned and looked up. I could see his breath just puffing white in the cool of the air. Somewhere in the distance, something howled. Reid instantly panicked and ran on. I can still hear the sound of his sneakers on the hard dirt path and it will always give me goosebumps. (Bbbr…I just had a shiver down my spine.)

Kim: Both of these novels are emotionally intense as the reader is swept into the turmoil of Reid running and hiding.
Tell us about the process for writing such an emotionally intense storyline. How did you release your emotion?
Patti: Writing the series was a wild ride, I have to admit. All four books came out of me over about fifty days, with only a month of actual writing time and another 20 days of edits and breaks. It was like there was no stopping the story from coming out. I actually first thought there were three books, only to find out by the end of book two there were four!

I found I had to take days off in between writing binges to rest my mind from the constant conflict and turmoil. Reid is a tough kid, though, and he got me through it, though I’m not sure I’ll ever write that much that fast again.

Kim: Your antagonists in this series are as strong as Reid’s voice. Where did the inspiration come from for the “bad guys”?
Patti: I have the most over active imagination on the planet. I have trouble sleeping often because I’m afraid of the dark. Yup. Sad. But makes for great monster fodder.

The silver eyes came from a dream. The claws are very velociraptor–Jurassic Park still gives me nightmares.

I also have a pure and panic-laden phobia of sharks. Thus the teeth. But I always think monsters who look more human than creature are the scariest of all, which is why they retain their man-like shape. (That definitely makes them scarier…we don’t want to face a man-like monster..that is just cutting to close to home.)

Kim: If you could give Reid one piece of advice at the beginning of the series, what would it be?
Patti: Don’t panic. You’re going to be okay, I promise. Mostly. Maybe. Okay, just run.

Kim: Can you give us a teaser from Run and from Hide?
Patti:

Run: Alone, Reid gasps in one deep breath, another. It hurts his ribs, his lungs. He manages to roll over on his right side and regrets it. His shoulder screams in protest. Still, he is finally able to wriggle his numb hands loose from what holds him and claws at the cloth around his eyes.

Darkness. But not complete. The moon is up. Trees loom over him, the smell of spruce and fresh air so sharp it almost hurts. He jerks at the plastic ties around his ankles while. his vision swims through a veil of pain-laden tears. He manages somehow to force his screaming hands to work the ties loose and he is free.

Sixteen-year-old Reid thinks life is back to normal. His sister Lucy pulls herself together and cuts him free from a year of foster care. She promises to take care of him, that her new boss and her new life are what they both needed to start again. Until Reid is taken in the middle of the night, dumped in a wild stretch of forest far from home with no idea why he is there. Lost and afraid, he learns to run from the hunters who prowl the darkness, their only pleasure chasing down kids like him. And killing them.

Hide: “There’s no way out,” Milo says like it’s a death sentence. As far as they all know it could be. Everyone falls so silent Reid can hear the buzzing of the light bulb as it flickers its life away.

“You heard him,” Marcus says. “Time to move on. You,” he points at Cole and the boy perks, “keep an eye on that line.” He jerks his thumb at the electric cable. Like it’s going anywhere. 

Laughter bubbles up in Reid’s chest but he manages to hold it back. Somehow he doesn’t think Marcus would appreciate it. And not that Reid really cares but he’s too tired and wrung out to do anything about it if the other guy finally decides to challenge him.

Reid isn’t sure if he’s grateful to be alive. He’s managed to save a small group of kids from the hunters, but only by trapping them all underground without food or water or a way out. If starvation doesn’t kill them, thirst will. Still, they are out of the hunter’s reach and that’s something. Reid refuses to stop trying, even when the kids find out they aren’t alone in the mine after all.
Kim: Where can readers buy Run and Hide?
Patti: Amazon.com is my favorite place to buy and sell books! They are also available on Smashwords in a variety of downloadable formats

Kim: What are the other books in the series and when and where will they be released?
Patti: Fight is book three, coming out September 15th and Hunt, the final book, is scheduled for release on October 1st. (Readers will be waiting with bated breath for the last two to be released.)

Kim: Would you like to give a message to the readers of this series?
Patti: Read them at night alone in the dark. And hang on. Oh, and the nightmares? Sorry about that… (Um..now that you mention it…some of the nightmares I had after reading your books almost sent me to therapy…now I know where to send the therapy bills. 😉 )

Thank you Patti for an insight into your world and into Reid’s world. You are an inspiration in creativity and self-discipline to your friends, fellow writers and readers all over. We wish you all the success possible for many sales and many new readers/fans. Congratulations again!

You can find her at

Her Website: http://www.pattilarsen.com/

Her Writing Blog: http://www.pattilarsen.blogspot.com/

Her Book Blog: http://www.pattilarsenbooks.blogspot.com/

On Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pattilarsenauthor

And On Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/ – !/PattiLarsen

You can find Run HERE (http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/82356) and HERE (http://www.amazon.com/Run-The-Hunted-ebook/dp/B005HZJX9W/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1314734322&sr=8-2)

You can find Hide HERE (http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/85195) and HERE (Amazon is still to be released in a couple of hours so will add the link then..)

Hide is now LIVE!

Get it here….

http://www.amazon.com/Hide-The-Hunted-ebook/dp/B005K0EFZQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1314887009&sr=8-1 

(Aside: On the 1st of October I will have the pleasure of Patti’s virtual company again when the last book of the series is finally released. So mark your calendars to come back on the 1st. Now…go to your nearest Amazon/Smashwords and buy RUN and HIDE.)

Run | Patti Larsen | This year’s Next YA Amazon Hit

run

Sixteen-year-old Reid thinks life is back to normal. His sister Lucy pulls herself together and cuts him free from a year of foster care. She promises to take care of him, that her new boss and her new life are what they both needed to start again. Until Reid is taken in the middle of the night, dumped in a wild stretch of forest far from home with no idea why he is there. Lost and afraid, he learns to run from the hunters who prowl the darkness, their only pleasure chasing down kids like him. And killing them.

My Review

Heart-pounding….

Pulse-racing…

Blood-pumping…

Nerves-Jumping….

Stomach-churning….

Nail-biting….

Teeth-clenching….

You will look over your shoulder.

You will tense at every sound.

You will wonder when they will get you.

Step into Reid’s shoes and you will be turning the pages as fast as the hunted can run.

Imagine your worst nightmare…release the monsters of dreamland horrors….and you will also want to RUN!

Patti Larsen has created a world that will disturb you, haunt you and change you. As she literally asks you to jump into her character’s shoes, you will be faced with a world where everything you ever knew just got spun on its head and spat you out.

The conflicts are finely crafted and taut with tension. The voice will cut you with emotion.

For fans of The Hunger Games Trilogy, get your hands on this story. You will not be disappointed.

You will not be able to forget these characters.

You will not be able to put this book down but you will not want this story to end.

If you want to know more about this incredible writer and her riveting Hunted series – stay tuned – tomorrow I will be doing an interview with the author herself. There will be teasers as well as upcoming news on the 2nd book in this Hunted series.

To Pitch or not to Pitch?

Delivery of the baseball from the pitcher to c...
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Pitch 101

(Aside: This will be a long post but you may learn a new way to pitch your next story. Let’s find out how to hook that agent/editor.)

Recently, I attended a writing conference. Now, why do writers attend writing conferences? For the camaraderie of fellow writers. For the many workshops on offer. To meet and greet your favourite authors, editors and agents. Yes to all these reasons. For me the biggest draw-card of a writing conference is the opportunity to talk to agents and editors about your book/s and your writing. This is when the inevitable question will present itself to writers:

To Pitch or not to Pitch?

How many opportunities do you get to pitch your WIP face to face with either an editor or an agent? If you answered zero to none, that would be pretty accurate. So if given the opportunity to pitch, why would you say no?

There is a clichéd saying that you should not look a gift horse in the mouth. The same could be applied to the Pitch appointment. The first rule when offered the opportunity to Pitch is:

  • Take the chance. Take the Pitch.

What is a Pitch? Is there a right or wrong way to Pitch your WIP?

A pitch is basically your sales pitch for your WIP. This is your chance to sell your story. I think a lot of writers have confusion around Pitching. Yes, your WIP is your baby. But that is only while you are writing it. When you start the editing process your “baby” needs to become your “product”.

A year ago I wrote a post on my creativity blog called:

Publishing your book: Be market savvy. Be reader savvy. 

“Your WIP is finished and is perfectly edited. It is submission time…Suffice to say, the creative end of the process is basically complete but now the business end of the process begins. Your precious WIP that you have spent hours of grueling energy over is now just a “product” in the “shop of publishing“…Writing your book is a creative and personal process. Submitting your book for publication is a marketing game. Publishing your book is a sales game…”

So the biggest disservice you can do to both your WIP and your pitch is to still think of your WIP as a “baby”. But I hear you say that you have never been a salesman; that you don’t know how to sell your book. Have you ever gone for an interview? Have you ever applied for a loan? The chances are you have done at least one of these things. Which means you have sold something: you sold yourself as an investment product. Aren’t you trying to get an agent or editor to take your book on to publishing? Then you’re selling. You are the best salesman for this job. After all nobody knows this manuscript like you do.

So is there a right way or adversely a wrong way to pitch your manuscript? I think that there is a right way that will at least get the agent or editor listening to you intently. I am going to teach you how to sell your WIP to that next agent or editor that you pitch to.

F.A.B.G.

  1. Feature
  2. Advantage
  3. Benefit
  4. Grabber

This little acronym is one that is well known to the sales industry across the world. It is an acronym that I used to train people in selling and turning “lookers” into “buyers” when I was in the sales industry. But this is also an acronym that you can use in the Pitch session. So do you want to know what this acronym means and how it will change the way you look at Pitching? Well I am going to tell you anyway. So if your WIP is your product, how are you meant to sell it? This is how.

  1. Feature

Your book is your product but it is not your feature. Your feature is that one aspect of your WIP that will make an agent or an editor want to take this book on. So you have to figure out what your feature is. It may be the specific genre, it may be your intended market, it may be your plot, it may be your POV, it may be your characters. Your feature is that one feature of your book that makes your book marketable and readable. So find out what your feature is.

Example: Product = Pen  | Feature = Ball-Point Pen

  • Advantage

The advantage is what advantage does your book’s main feature have that will have an agent/editor peering up with interest. This must relate to the feature you have chosen to sell/pitch. 

Example: Product = Pen | Feature = Ball-Point Pen | Advantage = Ball-Point pen with a Fine writing tip

  • Benefit

The benefit will make the difference in whether your WIP is the right manuscript for that agent/editor. In other words, how will the feature’s advantage benefit the customer. The customer in this case being the agent/editor.

Example: Product = Pen | Feature = Ball-Point Pen | Advantage = Ball Point pen with a Fine writing tip | Benefit = writes legible words with ink that will not run on most surfaces.

  • Grabber / Clincher

The grabber is that last GRABBER of a selling pitch. It is what will make the agent sit up and start nodding his/her head without even being aware that they are agreeing with you. The Grabber is basically a summing up of feature + advantage + benefit rolled up into a short, concise and assertive statement.

Example: Product = Pen | Feature = Ball-Point Pen | Advantage = Ball-Point pen with a Fine writing tip | Benefit = writes legible words with ink that will not run on most surfaces | Grabber = Don’t you want your pen to be able to write on most surfaces without running?

  • The second rule is: Dance according to the tune.

This means knowing who you are pitching to and what you are pitching. This means doing your homework before the pitch session. Find out what other mss this agent/editor has signed. What do they like? What don’t they like? This also means knowing where your WIP fits in when compared to other books in the same genre. If you are writing a YA, you do not want to be pitching your book in a monotoned professor-like voice (actually in most instances you do not want to be pitching like that). Pitch it in way that it will appeal to Young Adults. This is what will make your pitch stand out in the agent’s/editor’s mind. 

  • The third rule is: First Impressions count.

Be professional: in both grooming, attire and body language. Be punctual. If you do not have an appointment, pitch at an appropriate time – not in the bathroom. (Don’t hijack the agent/editor. The right time will present itself usually by them being interested in you while chatting.) Be concise in your pitch. Be market savvy: if the agent/editor asks you who is the market for this book, you need to be able to answer without hesitation. Be assertive. Be confidant but not arrogant. Sell not preach your book’s idea/s. Be gracious.

  • The fourth rule is: Short but Sweet.

Be salient and succinct in your pitch. Use only the most necessary plot points and talk about only the protagonist and antagonist in your story. At most pitch sessions, you have 10 minutes to pitch your WIP. Use that time wisely. A writing partner gave me the best advice:  sum up your story and the main conflict + climax in 1 sentence. If you have picked the correct sentence, the agent/editor will ask you to elaborate and if you get to that stage, half the battle is won already.

Good Luck with your next Pitch. Just remember that once you are at the Pitch stage, your book is no longer your “baby”, it is now your “product” and you have just been made a salesman. Other than that, you need to realise that it is still up to the agent/editor whether they want your particular WIP. Do not despair if your pitch failed. It may be that it is the right story, wrong time. Keep on persevering. Keep on pitching. Those are the most important rules of thumb.

Share some of the insight you may have from one of your pitches. Why have some pitches been more successful than others?

[Aside: At the conference, I followed my own advice and had one successful pitch and one pitch that didn’t take. The one that didn’t take was simply because it was not the genre/market that the editor was looking for. Again, this publishing industry is all about timing and what’s hot and not. You won’t know unless you pitch. Most editors/agents will give you some good feedback. Of course just because a pitch is successful, does not mean the end of the journey. It is only the second step. The first was finishing a full novel in the first place.]

My visit to Rachna’s Scriptorium

Interview

A couple of weeks ago my good friend and one of my writing partners, Rachna Chhabria, asked if she could interview me on her lovely blog: Rachna’s Scriptorium. Rachna and I became friends through an online writers group called Scribblerati that we both belong to. Very soon we were Facebook friends and this year we became writing partners.

For those who follow my creativity blog, Dragonfly Scrolls, you will be aware that I am usually the one asking questions in the interviews. Asking the questions is the easy part. Rachna turned the tables on me this week and put me in the “answer” chair.

The interview will be posted in 2 parts. In this first part, posted today, Rachna asks me about my writing process and the NZ publishing scene. My thanks to Rachna for a lovely interview. If you have not visited her Scriptorium before, bookmark her blog because one visit will soon turn you into a fan.

Part 1 – My visit to Rachna’s Scriptorium.

nVrkvW2

Tales of Fantasy | Tim Ahrens

Today I have the pleasure of writer, Tim Ahrens,  in the interview chair. 

Please join me in giving him a warm welcome. Make yourself comfortable well we talk about fantasy, the importance of strong characters and the tales that have inspired him over the years.

Welcome Tim…

girl with a quill: If you were a character in a story, how would you describe yourself in 6 words?
Tim: Short in stature, strong in heart.

girl with a quill: How long have you been writing for?
Tim: I have been writing since I was about thirteen. That would make it about 33 years I think.

girl with a quill: Who or what influences your writing?
Tim: Oh I go way back. Lets see there was Ray Bradbury, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Robert Jordan, Stephen King, among others. What got me writing was the urge to tell stories that would spirit others away on new and wondrous adventures. Much as the writers I have mentioned did for me.

girl with a quill: What aspect of the writing life do you find the most challenging?
Tim: Finding the energy to write. I work full-time as well as care for my mother and my home. I try to squeak in what little time I have to continue my writing.

girl with a quill: Do you have a Write time of day set aside or do you write when the inspiration strikes?
Tim: Both, On my days off I read what I have completed and get inspiration from that. On work days I wait until the sun has set and the house is quiet so that I can slip into the world I am weaving.

girl with a quill: Tell us what inspires you as a writer?
Tim: The tale itself is what inspires me. Really I am sometimes as eager to see what will happen next as my readers are.

girl with a quill: Do you have a Muse?
Tim: Music and mood is my Muse. I can sometime start and finish an entire chapter just based on one song I am listening to or the mood I am in at the time I start to write.

girl with a quill: Where do you write? Describe your place of writing to us?
Tim: It a room about ten feet by ten feet. I have taken great pains to fill this room with things that I have grown up with as well as figures and posters and such that I have collected over the years. An oak desk sits against one wall of the room giving me a view of everything within it. A computer sits on the desk, with a large stereo near by. The floor is carpeted in grey shag. On the walls there is a star-scape painted.

girl with a quill: Are you a pen and paper writer/typewriter/digital writer?
Tim: I use a computer and word processor. I am hopeless without my spell checker as anyone who knows me will tell you lol.

girl with a quill: Do you have any writing superstitions or traditions that you follow?
Tim: It has to be dark outside and I have to have a hot cup of coffee near my right hand at all times.

girl with a quill: What genre do you write in and why?
Tim: I love fantasy. But I also write some sci-fi, horror, and contemporary. I try to keep my hand in a little of everything just so I don’t get stuck writing only one genre. It also keeps my mind and writing nimble and fresh.

girl with a quill: What genre would you like to write in but have not yet? Why?
Tim: Mystery. I really don’t think I have any talent for that genre.

girl with a quill: Do you have any beta readers or critique partners? Do you think they are a necessary resource for writers?
Tim: Yes I do. Several close friends as well as a few great friends on Facebook give me their take on how things are going. I think this is very necessary! Even if you do not end up taking their advice you do get a look at what you have written with fresh eyes.

girl with a quill: Would you describe yourself as a pantser or a plotter?
Tim: I would have to say pantser. I have a rough outline in my head when I begin a tale. But never really know where it’s going to go until I am in the meat of it. I think it’s more fun that way.

girl with a quill: Tell us about your process of getting a new idea for a novel or story?
Tim: I first create the type of character that I want to write about. I then build his world around him or her based on the type of person I have made him or her. From that point I fill in the people and place around him or her. Then when I have a complete picture of who he or she is what he or she looks like and who is most important to him or her I set up the reason for the need for his story to be told. The character is everything for me. If they to not live in my mind at the time I am writing the story then there’s no point.

girl with a quill: Are you working on anything now? Can you share a little about your latest WIP?
Tim: I am trying my hand at an epic. It will have seven central characters not including the villains. Its fantasy and will take place in several countries with the central characters being drawn together to do battle with a massive foe. I am shooting for something at least as big in scope as Lord of the Rings was. I hope 🙂

girl with a quill: What publishing market are you aiming for?
Tim: All of them. I want as many people who like my style of writing to have a chance to read it.

girl with a quill: There is a lot of talk right now about Digital Publishing (Ebook) versus Traditional Publishing?
What are your thoughts on this debate?
Tim: Although I like the feel of a real book in my hands, as well as the sensation of the pages being turned; I can understand that not everybody has the space or the money to buy a real book. In that case I feel e-books are just fine. Anything to get the written word out to people who enjoy reading a great book.

girl with a quill: What is more important to you: Story or Character? Why?
Tim: Character. They create the story in my opinion, not the other way around.

girl with a quill: Who is your favourite character that you have created and why?
Tim: His name is Torg Stumpchewer. He is my favorite because he is half-human and half-troll. But accepted by neither group. Although he has a massive and somewhat hideous appearance he is still a kind and heroic figure on the inside. It’s kind of my way of saying don’t judge a book by it’s cover.

girl with a quill: Who is your favourite character in the literary world and why?
Tim: His name is Dar-elLan-Martak. He is from the Cenotaph Road series. By Robert E Vardeman. Not only is Dar a heroic and steadfast hero. He is also thrown into the situation he find himself in by accident. With only his companion, Man sized spider, to help him he travels to unending world on the Cenotaph Road. Trying to find his purpose and his way home. What’s not to like?

girl with a quill: If you could throw a dinner party and invite 5 famous creative people, who would they be and why?
Tim: Ray Bradbury, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Robert Vardeman, Edgar Allen Poe, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I have learned how to write what I like and how to build a great character all by reading their wonderful work. In short without them and many others I would not be published today.

girl with a quill: If you could throw a dinner party and invite 5 of your favourite fictional characters, who would they be and why?
Tim: Super girl (from the comic) Ayane (from D.O.A.) Inyx (from the cenotaph road) Sassafras one seven four ( from the story with the same name) Circe ( from remnants of the gods) What a party they would make!

girl with a quill: If you could give yourself one piece of advice at the beginning of your writing career, what would it be?
Tim: Never throw anything out!!!!

girl with a quill: What is the one piece of writing advice you could give your future self, 10 years from now?
Tim: See I told you, you were a good writer!

girl with a quill: What do you want your lasting legacy, as a writer, to be?
Tim: That anyone can pick up one of my books and escape into a world of wonder.

girl with a quill:Tell us where we can find you and your work on the World Wide Web?
Tim: Please look for my book, The Salvation Of Tanlegalle, at any fine online book store as well as Amazon.com. You may also find it as well as my self and more samples of my work at www.Creative2at.com/client/tim-ahrens/home.html

Character Recipes | Spices & Secret Ingredients

Shop with spices in Morocco

Image via Wikipedia – Spice shop in Morocco

Do you love cooking?

Or do you prefer baking?

Personally I love cooking. In baking you have to be very careful to follow a recipe to the letter. You have to be precise with times, temperatures and measurements. The smallest variation could be disastrous. Frankly the thought of baking leaves me cold. I tend to leave that to the experts like my clever CP who is a baker extraordinaire and my amazing mother who is the world’s best baker. Cooking however, is something I love and something I thrive at: especially when it comes to making my own tasty recipes where the only rules and limits I need to stick to are the boundless limits of my creative imagination.

The art of creating a memorable character has more in common with cooking than baking. You have your standard ingredients as your base but the rest is up to your creative skills as a writer: you are the chef in your own Character Recipe. So what’s my Character Recipe? What spices do I use to flavour? What secret ingredients do I use to make the character breathe with depth and emotion? What is my inspiration for the recipe? This brings me to the topic for this month’s Tuesday Blog Hop.

Topic for Tuesday August 9th:  Character Recipe 

Alphas, betas, helpless Hannas we all have characters we love and those we hate.

But how did we create them? What’s your character recipe? 

 

The best cooking is rich with spices, sauces and exotic flavours. The best dishes are when you, the cook & chef extraordinaire, can come up with a new twist on a well-known dish. Writing a story is very much like this. Just by changing the spices in a dish you can create a whole new flavour explosion. Characters are the spices that writers use to flavor their own dishes: the stories.

Very few plots are completely original. I read a quote this week that your story is either a Romeo & Juliet or a David & Goliath but just in different variations. In just the same way most cookery dishes are just new twists or different variations on the old tried and true favourites. But the difference between each dish is the combination of spices, herbs and sauces that add the final WOW touches that create an EXPLOSION of taste-bud orgasm that leaves you breathless and wanting more. We have all had those moments where we have had a plate of food put in front of us that may have looked similar to a well-known dish but the moment a forkful is put in your mouth: Your tastebuds just melt in submission of a flavor EXPLOSION that is happening in your mouth.

Creating characters is like adding my favourite spices, herbs and sauces to a dish. They are the WOW factor in a dish that will make you begging for seconds, thirds and fourth helpings. For me characters are what I love or hate about a story. Sometimes it is even  a question about loving to hate the bad guy/girl in the story. They often are the most memorable. Just like a great spice they might be sharp, spicy-hot or colourful. I have always had a soft spot for the villains in the piece. Maybe it is because they are limitless and in-your-face with their attitude and their lack of moral or ethical restraints. They do what we may in our deepest parts dream to do but dare not.

In my current story I have two Main Characters and a shadow character that binds them together. I have quite a few beta characters and secondary characters but these three characters that I mentioned are the heart, gut and backbone of this story. I am going to write an individual post for each of these three characters. So let me start today by introducing you to the character who started it all.

My favourite character in the story is actually my antagonist or villain. Her name is Eliza Chambers. She is also the inspiration for the whole story. The story is really her story and all its complications. She isn’t the easiest of characters to work with and in the beginning she was quite stubborn and reticient in sharing with me. But I am equally as stubborn and with a lot of persistence I managed to tease the story out of her. She lives in Victorian London in the suburbs. She is the eldest daughter of a very well known and high society family. But she does not fit the mould of either her society’s view of a woman nor her family’s. She is feisty, headstrong and incredibly independent. Her heroes of the day are the many inventors of the Victorian age, starting with her father. She also sees and communicates with spirits. This starts getting her in all sorts of trouble and soon trouble is brought to her own doorstep  in the form of deadly family secrets & skeletons that force her to face her own capacity for rage and scorn. The twist is that she ends up confronting her worst self and she becomes the family skeleton & secret.

One of my betas told me they found her creepy. I loved that reaction and that description. It meant that I had interpreted Eliza correctly and done her justice even though justice is the last thing she has coming. The story is about ghosts, family secrets, cursed love affairs, revenge and redemption. Without Eliza Chambers there would be no story. She will give you the creeps but she will also fascinate you as she has me. I love writing all her chapters because it stretches my skills and my imagination. Because she lives in a Victorian time I had to think, speak and act like a Victorian woman. She starts off very stubborn, secretive and austere, even cold at times. But as the complications ensue, passion and scorn transform her into a woman bent on revenge and seething with rage. Hell hath no fury like Eliza Chambers being scorned. In the end this is a woman who even ghosts & spirits fear to tread with. I think women will understand her even though they will swear they have nothing in common with her and men will fear her. She has given me sleepless nights many a time since I first met her last year in October.

Where did she come from? I really don’t know. One day she just appeared and started telling me her story. It was all I could do to grab a pen and start writing down the bones of this story. Perhaps she came from my fascination with ghosts & the afterlife which usually co-exist with family secrets & skeletons, both literal and figurative. I am also in love with the Victorian era and often believe that is my true era. I also like strong women who don’t always fit the mould. Are there elements of me written into the character? That is a difficult one because when you create a character there is a fine line between yourself and a created personality. Would I behave in the ways Eliza does? I would hope that I didn’t. But in the same manner, I can sympathize with her. The fun part of a mean & vengeful character is that you get to act out without actually acting out.

Eliza Chambers will remain with me for a long time even after this story is finally put to bed. She is a complex individual who chooses the wrong turns. Her story is an extreme story of cursed love, taboo relationships, betrayed secrets, broken hearts, revenge and thrown together with large helpings of the supernatural. But the one reason why I do respect her is that she never apologizes for who she is and above all she stands up for her views of right and wrong, good and evil: even though her views may be slightly skewed and twisted. Do I like her? Yes, there are many parts of her I like. Do I like her actions? No, although understandable, they are extreme and usually bent to her own agenda which is tinged with revenge, scorn and rage. But all of these same characteristics make a great story and create a multi-faceted person who you will either love to hate or hate to love.

 Eliza Chambers

is the spicy pepper,too hot chilli and pungent garlic to my, or should that be her, story: The Raven’s Court.

Kim

August Attitude

Attitude (EP)

Where has the time flown? The eight month of 2011 is here. August is the waning of Winter in my Southern Hemisphere and the waning of Summer in the Northern Hemisphere. I don’t know about you but August and April tend to be times of planning for me. Perhaps it is because they are both “in-between” months – neither are quite Summer or Winter. But this year I have decided that August is going to be my Attitude Month.

What does this mean? An Attitude Month?

An Attitude Month is a month where no excuses or procrastination is allowed to rear their heads. An Attitude Month is a month when I get real with my writing. If self-doubt, perfectionism or procrastination come looking I am going to rebel with Attitude.

So for August I have decided to submit the current WIP that has been holding me ransom these last few months. Then the plan is to start on Book 2 of the series. I have given myself deadlines until December 2011.

Deadlines are only effective if they are met and if someone holds you accountable.

So over the next few months I will be working on and finishing:

  1. The Black Prince (15/09) – Book 2 in the Raven Chronicles (Supernatural Horror)

  2. The Ring of Fire (15/10) – YA Dystopian

  3. The Gemini – Mythological Fantasy  (15/11)

  4. The Dream Catcher – Fantasy (15/12)

At the same time I am going to be forging ahead with Shadows, my suspense thriller with an end date of 01/12.

First task at hand is to finish polishing The Raven’s Court (Book 1 in The Raven’s Chronicles) and submit by 18/08. My betas are chomping at the bit to get their claws on Raven’s Court so I dare not leave them waiting.

How will I be attaining these goals? Word Count! Word Count! Word Count! I am going to aim for 6 days writing per week with a minimum goal of 4000 words per writing day. Another way that I am going to forge ahead is by taking up my Morning Pages again. I have been very lax this year with Morning Pages and after the very strange dreams I have been having lately I realised that I really need to get into that daily habit again of “stream-of-consciousness” writing. But this month I am going to be doing it longhand with the old fashioned pen and moleskin method. Tried, tested and true. There is something magical that happens when your pen scratches away on a blank page.

As for procrastination I am going to employ Anti-Social. This is a nifty little download (unfortunately only available to Mac users at the moment) that shuts off Twitter and Facebook for a solid 8 hours. Four of my projects require intensive research so I will be leaving the internet on but will not be able to access the social networks for at least 8 hours every day. During which time I will be working on my writing goals.

Then on the third weekend of the month I will be attending my second writers’ conference. I am looking forward to this year’s conference because of the focus it has. Both the three authors attending and all the workshops are geared towards suspense writing, fantasy, paranormal and YA dystopian fiction. I am also looking forward to this year’s conference because I am not the newbie. I know what to expect and I know what to look forward to. On top of that I get to attend with one of my favourite people and dear friend. Conferences are so much more fun when you get to share the experience.

So that is what my August looks like so far.

We all have the same 44,640 minutes this month. We can choose to waste away or procrastinate the time away. Or we can choose to use the best of that time to run for our goals, achieve our dreams and form our own path to success.

What are your goals for August?

What are you going to do with your 44,640 minutes?

What is your August Attitude?

Today’s thought ~

Attitude sealed with concrete determination is the brick that lies in the foundations of success.

Kim

Bringing back Fantastic SuperHeroes | Jack Hessey

Joining me today is a fan of all things fantasy and dreams of creating superheroes the reader won’t forget. Jack Hessey is a writer that I met in an online Facebook group called Fellow Writers. Like all the writers that belong to this group, this is a man devoted to creating fantastic fiction. So pull up a chair and make yourself comfortable as we discuss all things writing and how to create great characters that live on in the reader’s imagination.

Welcome Jack.

girl with a quill: If Jack Hessey were a character, how would you describe him?
Jack: I’d be the comic relief I think. I’m a bit clumsy, forgetful etc and often make a few smart remarks. Maybe the bumbling sidekick for the main villain, the guy who gets given the easiest jobs in the world to do yet still ends up messing them up.

girl with a quill: How long have you been writing for?
Jack: About 4 years now. The first few attempts at writing a novel failed, then in late 2009/early 2010 I finished my first novel, Steam Queen.

girl with a quill: Who or what influences your writing?
Jack: I don’t really have any inspiration. I just think of an idea, characters and such and write.

girl with a quill: What aspect of the writing life do you find the most challenging?
Jack: This may sound odd but I’ve always found the query letters to be the hardest. It’s so difficult to condense a hundred thousand word story into a few little sentences and make it sound interesting.

girl with a quill: Do you have a Write time of day set aside or do you write when the inspiration strikes?                                                                                                                                  Jack: I just write when the inspiration hits. I try to write at least for an hour a day when I have an ongoing project.                                                                                                        

girl with a quill: Tell us what inspires you as a writer?
Jack: Nothing really, I honestly can’t think of anything that inspires my writing.

girl with a quill: Do you have a Muse?
Jack: Nope

girl with a quill: Where do you write? Describe your place of writing to us?
Jack: My bedroom. It’s just a plain old bedroom with the usual bedroomy things like a bed, a tv, a PS3 a stack of comic books etc. It’s a bit of a mess but really it’s the only place in the house where I can find the quiet I need to be able to write since downstairs there will be my dad and brother watching television and talking which would be distracting.

girl with a quill: Are you a pen and paper writer/typewriter/digital writer?
Jack: Digital! Writing with pen and paper hurts my hand after a while and I like the option of being able to correct things I wrote if I mess up.

girl with a quill: What genre do you write in and why?
Jack: Anything fantasy. I guess it’s because it’s what I mainly read. Another reason is that it allows me to use all of my imagination without being shackled by what is or is not possible in the real world. By writing fantasy, if I want to include strange, mystical creatures of my own device (I haven’t yet but maybe one day I will!) or magical weapons and superpowers and cool things like that I can do.

girl with a quill: What genre would you like to write in but have not yet? Why?
Jack: I’ve always fancied dabbling in horror. I like horror stories but I honestly don’t think I could manage writing a good horror story. I have more of a fantasy imagination than a horror one.

girl with a quill: Do you have any beta readers or critique partners? Do you think they are a necessary resource for writers?
Jack: I don’t have any so of course, I don’t think they are necessary. I can see how they can be useful though.

girl with a quill: Would you describe yourself as a panster or a plotter?
Jack: Plotter, definitely. I can’t just wing it, I need a clear of idea of where my story will end up and what will happen next. Although sometimes the story does surprise me and takes an alternate route than planned!

girl with a quill: Tell us about your process of getting a new idea for a novel or story?
Jack: Whenever I get the workings of an idea I write it down and go back to it if I think I can develop it into a novel. At the moment there’s a folder on my laptop with 4 or 5 potential story ideas that I may get round too. After I’ve got an idea I think of characters, a storyline and plot out each chapter.

girl with a quill: Are you working on anything now? Can you share a little about your latest WIP?
Jack: A sequel to True Hero? Anyone currently reading or planning to read True Hero? Might not want to read further since it spoils the True Hero? Ending a bit. (warning – contains spoilers**) It follows where True Hero? Left off with Stella, The Fist and Enigma about to carry out their plans of taking on the corrupt superhero team, The Empire. The new major enemy for Stella to face are a group called Trinity. A trio of villains who have secretly being pulling the strings of The Empire and are responsible for the experiments, the cover-ups, the deals with super villains etc that the superhero team have done. **

girl with a quill: What publishing market are you aiming for?
Jack: I’m not sure to be honest. Any who want to read my book!

girl with a quill: There is a lot of talk right now about Digital Publishing (Ebook) versus Traditional Publishing?
What are your thoughts on this debate?
Jack: I like E-Books. They’re much more convenient really. I went away to Sri Lanka a few weeks ago and it felt so much more reassuring to carry around 50-60 books on my kindle than having to try and make the 2-3 books I usually cram into my luggage last for the whole trip!

girl with a quill: What is more important to you: Story or Character? Why?
Jack: Character. I can read a poor story if it’s got fun characters but I can’t read a good story if it’s got characters who I don’t like or don’t find interesting.

girl with a quill: Who is your favourite character that you have created and why?
Jack: Erica from Steam Queen because she’s a complete psychopathic nutcase. She isn’t a good person at all and readily admits to that. I think it’s quite unique because in Steam Queen she does end up doing good deeds but it’s mainly for selfish reasons and, although the deeds she does do help a lot of people she doesn’t exactly do them in a heroic fashion.

girl with a quill: Who is your favourite character in the literary world and why?
Jack: Ohhhh, this is tough one! Gonna have to go with Samwise Gamgee from Lord of the Rings is a fantastic character. He’s the true hero of the story since without him supporting and helping Frodo, Sauron would have got the ring in a week. He was just a brave, loyal, likeable character. Others that I’ve got a soft-spot for are Luna Lovegood and Professor Snape from the Harry Potter series and I loved Iorek from His Dark Materials.

girl with a quill: If you could throw a dinner party and invite 5 famous creative people, who would they be and why?
Jack: J.K Rowling, Philip Pullman and Philip Reeve because they are my three favourite writers. Emilie Autumn because she’s an amazing singer and just seems like a really interesting person too. I can’t think of a fifth person to be honest. Maybe George Lucas so I can serve him cold food for messing up Star Wars?

girl with a quill: If you could throw a dinner party and invite 5 of your favourite fictional characters, who would they be and why?                                                          Jack: 1) Luna Lovegood: She would make the dinner party quite entertaining, she’s awesome. 2) Molly Hayes from Marvel Comics: She’s an 11 year old girl with super strength who once threw Wolverine out of a church and once punched The Punisher in the gut. What’s not to like? 3) Sam Gamgee: So I can serve him a special meal for saving Middle Earth! 4) Yoda from Star Wars: He’ll have some fun stories to tell. 5) Spiderman: I’ve always been a fan of Spidey, he’s just a chilled, funny guy who seems like he’d be cool to hang out with. girl with a quill: If you could give yourself one piece of advice at the beginning of your writing career, what would it be?
Jack: Edit edit edit! I didn’t edit enough when I wrote Steam Queen and it shows with some of the reviews I’ve gotten where reviewers have picked up on errors

girl with a quill: What is the one piece of writing advice you could give your future self, 10 years from now?
Jack: I don’t know really. I’d like to think in 10 years time I’m still writing, maybe “Stop being lazy and write instead of getting distracted all the time?” I could do with following that advice now to be honest.

girl with a quill: What do you want your lasting legacy, as a writer, to be?
Jack: To be THE author when it comes to superhero stories. You know how when people say horror they think of King, fantasy they think of Rowling, Tolkien and  Pratchett, vampires they think of Rice etc? I want when people think of superhero stories to think of Jack Hessey 🙂 Hopefully it’s not too ridiculous a goal. Superhero fiction is a pretty empty market so hopefully I can make myself known in the genre. Preferably make a bit of cash in the old bank account too whilst doing that!

girl with a quill: Tell us where we can find you and your work on the World Wide Web?
Jack: My blog and my website.

Www.jackhessey.com   and  http://stellastargirlblog.wordpress.com/

Visions of creativity in words & pictures | Tina Hoggatt

Today I interview a lady who brings a triple threat of creativity: writer, artist and illustrator. It never fails to amaze me at the endless talent and creativity of the warriors that I interview on this blog every week. Tina Hoggatt is another of these super-talented ladies. She has not allowed bias or criticism to encroach on her dreams, instead she forges on ahead. Having had a successful career in Art she has recently gotten back to her original creative dream: writing. She has also managed to meld together these two creative pursuits in the guise of an illustrator. She has kindly allowed me to include a few illustrations here in this interview for your enjoyment. Without giving too much away, I will allow Tina to do the talking for herself. So pull up a chair and make yourself comfortable as Tina and I sit down for a one-on-one chat. 

Welcome Tina Hoggatt….

 

girl with a quill: Ernest Hemingway famously wrote a six-word story. Tell us a bit about yourself in 6 words. Who is Tina Hoggatt?

Tina: Seriously fun, loves words and pictures. 

girl with a quill: When did you decide that you wanted to be a Writer?

Tina: Early on – I didn’t make novels as a child but I did write stories and was fairly clear about it as an identity by the time I was eleven or so.

girl with a quill:How long have you been writing for?

Tina: I was committed as a writer in middle school and had a writing group with a few girlfriends but was discouraged by a mentor at thirteen. This had sexist overtones (‘there are no truly famous women writers; only men are serious writers’ etc ) which I knew were both wrong and incorrect but at the time I lived in between two happily married women painters so I thought I’d pursue art. Who needed the grief?  I wrote in my twenties and then committed to an art career, which actually worked, but I have come back to writing in the last five years or so and have been very focused for the past few years.

girl with a quill: Besides writing, what are your other passions / hobbies?

Tina: I make paintings and prints and have been working in porcelain enamel on steel recently, which I adore. I have a letterpress shop in my studio and don’t use it enough. 

girl with a quill: Who or what is the greatest influence on you as a writer? and Why?

Tina: The greatest influence on me as a writer were my parents being who read to their children twice a day for the whole of my youth. From this I learned that there needed to be music in the language and that story was king.

girl with a quill: If your life story were a novel, what genre would it be and what would be the story-arc up to this point?

Tina: Contemporary fiction. Late bloomer finds husband and confidence, experiences setbacks and family turmoil, emerges in midlife with clarity and urgency to kick some serious ass.

girl with a quill: Tell us about the place that you write? What do you fill that space with?

Tina: I have two office spaces and a studio and mostly sit at the kitchen table when I write so I can watch the birds at the feeders and see the garden. I also write every day on the bus during my commute.

girl with a quill: Tell us about your writing process from that magical moment when the story’s idea / character voice interrupts your thoughts…what happens next?

Tina: I often see a scene, a character in a place with some very simple action. I may write a page or so that becomes the nut of a story. I’ll write a huge hunk of it, then finesse the plot.

girl with a quill: Are you a plotter, a pantster or a little of both?

Tina: I come from an honest pantser background and have been dragged into plotting, at which I frankly suck. But I’m working on it. Plotting is a time saver and time is what I don’t have enough of.

girl with a quill: What genre do you write in and why?

Tina: I write YA and MG and have created illustrated books. In adolescence crossroads are reached that force a choice about both action and character – defining moments. These happen with much more frequency than in adulthood, at a time when emotions run high. I’m interested in exploring those points and in speaking to them for the reader.

girl with a quill: We all have little habits and quirks that make us individual. 

What are your bad habits in writing? What are your strengths in writing?

Tina:

  1. I have a tendency toward complication and complexity that can get in the way of fluid storytelling.
  2. My visual training and art practice make me a good observer. I think this comes out in the writing. Also I’m pretty good with dialogue and its integration.

girl with a quill: If you could try your pen at another genre, which genre would you choose?

Tina: Biography. 

girl with a quill: Can you tell us a bit about the book/s you have written?

Tina: I have contributed essays to two books edited and published by fine letterpress printer Jules Remedios Faye, The Ladies Printing Bee and Fallen Angels. What is the Panda to You? an artists’ book in a tiny edition was a collaboration with artist Jeffry Mitchell. I wrote the text, printed the book and collaborated on illustration. I’ve made several other similar editions as well.

I’ve illustrated several books for mainstream publishers, My Jim by Nancy Rawles and Home Field, a collection of essays on baseball edited by John Marshall. I also have some manuscripts moldering in virtual space.

girl with a quill: What is your best sentence you have written?

Tina: Gray and quick and flipper slick, here and gone – yoohoo!

Is it the best? Maybe not, but fun.

girl with a quill: Are you working on any WIP now? Can you tell us a bit about it?

Tina: I’m working on Clickstream, a YA book I’m calling contemporary para-scifi. Boy recovering from the death of his brother is visited by the ghost of his dead dog and a shimmering particle stream of a naked girl from the future, discovering that his brother’s essence has been preserved in an experimental chip developed by his dad, who is working to retrieve him. Complications ensue. It’s about bringing back the dead, bicycles, friendship, comic books and love. Also it’s funny.

girl with a quill: First drafts are for the writers themselves. Who reads your work after you?

Tina: I work on my first drafts with two writing groups in real life and one online group. These are my beta readers for finished work. Also, my mom is an invaluable reader.

girl with a quill: Why do you write?

Tina: At this point it’s a practice, and without a creative practice I turn into a real creep. 

girl with a quill: Do you have a common theme or Omni-Premise that threads its way through all your writing? If so, what is it?

Tina: Despite life’s emotional hardships there is friendship, unexpected wonder and joy to be had in this life.

girl with a quill: Do you believe in Muses? If you do, who/what is your Muse?

Tina: My muse is a donkey whose tail I hold as it leads me through a darkened room. Sometimes I bump into the furniture. Sometimes I get a glimpse into another room.

girl with a quill: If you found a golden lamp with a genie and he told you he could either make one of your stories come true or that you could become a character for a short time in another author’s book, which option would you choose and why?

Tina: It has to be a character in another author’s book, to spend time with people I have come to know and love, and see their places.

girl with a quill: What is more important to you: Story or Character? Why?

Tina: My writing is character driven, but without story there is no sustained engagement. I’ve proven this, actually, to my chagrin.

girl with a quill: Who is your favourite character that you have created and why?

Tina: Right now I’m very fond of the ghost of a dog named Gus who is taking time out from a pleasant afterlife to help out a messed up boy here on earth. 

girl with a quill: Who is your favourite character in the literary world and why?

Tina: Mary Russell, from the genius mind of Laurie R. King. Scholar, sleuth and wife to Sherlock Holmes – who is no slouch himself. 

girl with a quill: If you could throw a dinner party and invite 5 famous creative people, who would they be and why?

Tina: It’s a dinner party, right? There has to be synergy. Mark Twain for sure – he was funny, told fabulous stories and always wore a white suit – at least in his later years. So right there you have a keystone. He’s going to have to smoke outside though. I’ve been in love with Myrna Loy my whole life and Twain would love her brains and sass, as well as her legs – so Myrna’s next to Twain. I’d invite Dorothy Parker but she was a mean drunk and you know there will be drinking. Julia Child’s in the kitchen. She makes great conversation and she’ll sit at that end of the table so she can check the miracle sauce at regular intervals. This dinner will need a poet and a fabulist. Pablo Neruda may feel a little shy at first but he’ll warm to the northerners, and he can recite for us in Spanish. And I think Joan Baez would round out the table nicely. She’ll put everyone at ease and tell surprisingly funny anecdotes, imitate Bob Dylan and lead the singing after dessert.

girl with a quill: If you could throw a dinner party and invite 5 of your favourite fictional characters, who would they be and why?

Tina: All sleuth dinner: Mary Russell, Sherlock Holmes, Nancy Drew (I wanted to be her), Yashim the eunuch and Maisie Dobbs.

girl with a quill: If you could give yourself one piece of advice at the beginning of your writing career, what would it be?

Tina: Don’t quit, it’s a waste of time and talent.

girl with a quill: What is the one piece of writing advice you could give your future self, 10 years from now?

Tina: Don’t quit, it’s a waste of time and talent.

girl with a quill: What do you want your lasting legacy, as a writer, to be?

Tina: The first book you reach for on the bookshelf of a summer cabin.

girl with a quill: Where can we find your book/s for sale?

Tina:  You’ll have to wait for a year or two.

girl with a quill: Finally where can we find on the web?

Tina: My blog: http://tinahoggatt.wordpress.com/

My website: http://tinahoggatt.com/

  

 

Dragons, Romance, Vampires & a Demon Cat | Diane Nelson

 Today I have the honour of inviting the Hilarious and Mischievous Diane Nelson. Creative Director of an Indie Publisher, Fantasy & Romance Author, Equestrian, Fantasist are all apt descriptions for this talented author and publisher. I had thought to serve coffee and be all respectable but this soon changed to margaritas served with a side of much laughter. I would have to say that this has been one of the most entertaining interviews I have held on this blog. So you can add humourist to those descriptions of Diane. So pull up a chair, take a martini glass and enjoy the chilled margaritas while Diane talks about her love of all things fantastical and gives us her nuggets of wisdom on Indie publishing and first submissions. Oh I almost forgot, her muse Rowan and her Demon Cat will be sitting in on the interview as well. From Diane’s own accounts both are never too far from her side.

Welcome Diane…


girl with a quill: Ernest Hemingway famously wrote a six-word story. Tell us a bit about yourself in 6 words. Who is Diane Nelson?
Diane: She loves to tilt at windmills.

girl with a quill: When did you decide that you wanted to be a Writer?
Diane: As with most writers, I’ve never ‘not written’. There was a time—long long ago, in a land far far away—when journals, diaries, and letters were the essence of communication and self-expression. Telephones were multi-line devices with nosy neighbors listening in and per minute charges that strained a family’s budget. Television was a modern miracle doled out in small doses, not the time hog it is today. I grew up on the tail end of that period and on the cusp of the electronic revolution. The advent of ‘email’ was a revelation, an opportunity, a gift for someone like me who communicates best through the written word. Friends and family are far-flung so keeping them abreast of my latest adventures evolved into stories. To my surprise I found out that people were saving my writings. Eventually those same people said: when you retire, you will write full-time.

girl with a quill:How long have you been writing for?
Diane: My professional career as an x-ray diffractionist (think physics with a strong creative bent) involved a substantial amount of technical writing, something that instilled discipline and an appreciation for economy and clarity that translated well when I turned to fiction as an outlet for my creative energies. It did not, however, shake me free of a propensity for run-on sentences. One must have obstacles to overcome … always. (And to answer the question: 35 years.)

girl with a quill: Besides writing, what are your other passions / hobbies?
Diane: My passions and hobbies are life style choices. I live in the country, reveling in the rhythms and demands of equestrian pursuits. I have competed in dressage, eventing, hunter-jumper and endurance/competitive trail. I ran a boarding stable, trained riders and horses, gave clinics for 4H and Pony Club, managed horse shows—a total immersion in all things equine. My grandmother, a Russian emigrant, taught me needlework. I lived on a sailboat on the Chesapeake Bay and to this day the experience remains a source of inspiration for my stories. I love the cinema and theater (and television). I read, a lot. I have evil chickens and a Demon Cat and a parakeet with, um, certain propensities that are blush-worthy.

girl with a quill: You are also creative director of Pfoxmoor Publishing, an independent press. How did this role come about?
Diane: As is my habit, I did a lot of research on the publishing industry, the hoops writers are forced to jump through to get noticed, if at all, and the incredible lag times between securing that first contract and eventually having one’s work reach the light of day. Since I came late to the fiction publishing side of the equation—and because by nature I am Type A, take charge of my career—I did not wish to waste precious time. I also analyzed my own reading preferences and how the major publishing houses were overlooking new authors offering fresh voices in favor of a tired formulaic approach. I felt compelled to seek out and champion those authors being overlooked because they do not fit into a convenient mold. Along the way I discovered a community of amazingly talented individuals who embrace a similar philosophy.

girl with a quill: As an indie publisher: Where do you see the future of publishing going? 

Diane: Ah yes, crystal ball time. Well, I do believe the future of publishing is digital. And no, I don’t think print will ever go out of fashion. We are in a state of flux. While the eReaders are truly revolutionary devices, there will be wonders and marvels and apps galore in the upcoming months and years. Reading will become interactive, embracing audio, video and who knows what else. The author who simply commits words to paper (how quaint) or a Word/Pages document will be left behind. It is no longer enough to simply express oneself through a novel, short story or poem. The reading public expects, demands, a level of interaction that transcends everything that has gone before. The publisher will continue as one conduit amongst many options to bring new content to the public. But the paradigm is changing and publishers must be nimble enough to change, sometimes rather drastically in a short amount of time. Smaller, stream-lined niche publishers who are in a position to analyze and understand their market, and are willing to respond, will be the most successful. 


girl with a quill: In the unique role of being on both sides of the industry, writer and publisher, what are 3 pieces of advice you would give to a new writer about to submit a manuscript?
Diane: 1) I learned this the hard way: find a professional editor to fine-tooth your masterpiece, someone willing to give you the tough feedback you need. This goes way beyond snagging typos and misspellings. A good editor will nail your inconsistencies, will help you understand your characters and their motivations, will give you reasons for and against particular choices. And yes, it is expensive. You get what you pay for. But if you are committed to your work, then you simply must be committed to making it the best it can be. Trust me, you can’t do this alone.

2) Whoever you submit to—read their submission policies carefully. Does your work fit into what they specialize in? Who else do they represent? Make your first three chapters absolutely, positively error free. Write a proper query letter. That means researching, taking classes, attending writer conferences to learn how to do it. I have seen one, exactly one, properly constructed query letter. Learn how to do a synopsis. An agent or a publisher wants to know everything, right down to the spoilers. Clever cliffhangers will not engage an editor. If they say they want a 3-4 page synopsis, then this is what you give them. Once you’ve learned to do that, then learn how to condense that into a single page, three paragraphs, one paragraph and finally a single sentence. 

3) Understand that even with independent, ‘nimble’ publishers, the sheer volume of content crossing that desk is daunting. Everything takes three times longer than you might expect. Understand that a ‘no’ doesn’t necessarily mean you are a bad writer. It may simply mean that the content did not appeal for a host of reasons. This is a totally subjective business. And always, always write a thank you note (even if the rejection hurt and was perhaps not as kindly worded as it could have been). This is the professional thing to do and will leave the editor/publisher/agent with a positive attitude toward you as a person, even if they had a more negative reaction to your work.

girl with a quill: Who or what is the greatest influence on you as a writer? and Why?
Diane: I am an unrepentant geek and a purveyor of all things popular culture. Joss Whedon walks on water, Marti Noxon rips my heart out of my chest and hands it to me on a platter still beating, James Cameron had me within the first three minutes. I follow screen writers/directors/special effects guys like the worst fanboy/girl. I love scenes with cinematic appeal and I adore writers who write to that. It is not easy. And it is easily overdone. Basically every person I’ve ever met is a story waiting to be told. People, and the odd quirks of fate that make us who we are, are my inspiration. That I choose to occasionally travel down a dark path is a testament to my own checkered history, one that requires cathartic venting to keep me on an even keel. And to help me appreciate the incredible gifts that surround me today.

girl with a quill: If your life story were a novel, what genre would it be and what would be the story-arc up to this point?

Diane: Something between a Stephanie Plum and a Midnight Breed novel. Though noirish seems more suitable at times. I’m rarely one plot line or story arc. I am the Phoenix rising from the ashes.

girl with a quill: Tell us about the place that you write? What do you fill that space with?
Diane: Generally the living room sitting in a ratty old recliner with a small round table to hold my Cherry coke and a tilt table holding my laptop. Throw in an iPod and Bose headphones and Demon Cat on my lap.

girl with a quill: Tell us about your writing process from that magical moment when the story’s idea / character voice interrupts your thoughts…what happens next?
Diane: A song title, musical phrasing, a snippet of conversation, virtually everything is fodder for a story. Frequently I will dream an entire novel—on those occasions I can’t get to the laptop fast enough in the morning. A little gal from a middle school choral group once asked me how I come up with ideas. I told her that I have all these people who rent apartments in my head. And sometimes they sublet and don’t tell me. Then, when I go knocking on that door, expecting to talk with the tenant, this stranger will answer, invite me in for tea (it’s a tweener, so I kept it ‘clean’) and a story. She loved it because it made sense in a skewed way. What she didn’t know is that every word was true (except for the tea).

girl with a quill: Are you a plotter, a pantster or a little of both?
Diane: Pantser. Dyed in the wool. It is a blessing and a curse. It makes me a better short story/flash fiction writer than a novelist (I think).

girl with a quill: What genre do you write in and why?
Diane: Fantasy, but that encompasses a wide range of themes. I love paranormal because of the freedoms it grants to explore different worlds, different states of being, different choices and consequences.

girl with a quill: We all have little habits and quirks that make us individual.
(a) What are your bad habits in writing?
(b) What are your strengths in writing?
Diane: a) Oy vey, that‘s easy: really dense, economical phrasing and complex sentence structures that can challenge even a graduate level reader

b) really dense, economical phrasing … it’s how I write. And I know it’s not for everyone. I’ve been called a very ‘sensuous writer’ with an extremely strong voice. Whether or not it’s because of that ‘really dense’ propensity, I haven’t a clue.

girl with a quill: If you could try your pen at another genre, which genre would you choose?
Diane: Literary fiction. First I need to figure out exactly what that is. But it sounds tres cool and much of what passes for that genre involves … really dense, economical phrasing…

girl with a quill: Can you tell us a bit about the book/s you have written?
Diane: I am perhaps proudest of my YA fantasy Dragon Academy, published by ireadiwrite Publishing under my real name, Diane Nelson. I wanted to write about normal kids in a world where dragons exist as a matter of course, where they make mistakes and learn to deal with issues without being pummeled by dysfunctions and all the ugliness that has invaded YA literature today. My other pride and joy is Sculpting David, published by Red Sage under my pen name Nya Rawlyns—a sophisticated contemporary romance set in the shark filled waters of NYC’s art world. In November I have a new novel coming out from Red Sage titled Hunter’s Crossing, another contemporary romance which draws on my equestrian background. I also have a 4-book series in progress titled Portals under my other pen name T.S. Bond. Book One, Spar with the Devil, is out and will be followed shortly by The Devil and the Falcon. This is a dark urban fantasy, action-adventure tale of two families/cultures at war, a saga of love denied and betrayal.

girl with a quill: What is your best sentence you have written?
Diane: Honestly? I haven’t written it yet.

girl with a quill: Are you working on any WIP now? Can you tell us a bit about it?
Diane: Someone said, at RWA, that ‘vamps are dead’ with apparently no pun intended. We were discussing the glut of vamp stories on the market and wondering if readers have gotten tapped out yet. My gut feeling was ‘no’. So I decided to write a vamp story that will be a three-story arc titled Hunger Hurts. The first book is Acid Jazz Singer which features a vamp transvestite who was turned mid-sex change transformation. The vamp is not the actual main character but rather the catalyst around which the action happens. The story is, um, evolving given my pantser nature. In truth it’s going to strange and wondrous places and I can’t wait to discover how it turns out.

girl with a quill: First drafts are for the writers themselves. Who reads your work after you?
Diane: I have beta readers for my dark urban fantasy. Sometimes I will post a chapter on FB or on my website to gauge reactions. I also belong to GLVWG which has quite a number of critique groups depending upon genre. They are an invaluable resource. 

girl with a quill: Why do you write?
Diane: Why do I eat? Why do I breathe? I simply must do so.

girl with a quill: Do you have a common theme or Omni-Premise that threads its way through all your writing? If so, what is it?
Diane: That each of us carries demons within us, whether by nature or by circumstance, and that the process of exorcising those demons or wrapping them in close embrace, is what makes us who we are.

girl with a quill: Do you believe in Muses? If you do, who/what is your Muse?
Diane: Oh, do I ever. In fact my muse has his own fan club. His name is Rowan and his exploits are legendary. My son used to explain to folks about his mother having an ‘imaginary friend’. Now he isn’t so sure about that.

girl with a quill: If you found a golden lamp with a genie and he told you he could either make one of your stories come true or that you could become a character for a short time in another author’s book, which option would you choose and why?

Diane: Well, since in my own mind my stories are true, then being a character in someone else’s novel would be a treat. The opportunity to wreak havoc, sow dissent and otherwise make a nice character having a bad day even worse off? Oh yeah.

girl with a quill: What is more important to you: Story or Character? Why?

Diane: Most of my work is character driven. Without characters you care about, the story, the message, the lesson, will not matter. But then, without a story you are left with store-front mannequins. It’s a chicken-egg question, after all.

girl with a quill: Who is your favourite character that you have created and why?
Diane: Rowan, based on my muse’s tortured past. This is in the third book of the Portals series: The Devil and the Shaman. I wrote this one from first person point of view—this allowed me such deep penetration into the character’s psyche that it was at once liberating and terrifying. This was one of those times when I truly opened a vein.

girl with a quill: Who is your favourite character in the literary world and why?
Diane: Would you laugh hysterically if I said ‘Ranger’ from the Stephanie Plum series? He’s Cuban, he’s hot and he says ‘Babe’. I mean, really, um, ‘scuse me while I go stand in front of the open freezer for a couple minutes…

girl with a quill: If you could throw a dinner party and invite 5 famous creative people, who would they be and why?
Diane: Joss Whedon (see above), Rockne S. O’Bannon because he was the mastermind behind the best SciFi show ever: Farscape, James Cameron (come on, you need to ask?), Michael Bay (because he blows shit up better than anybody) and Charlaine Harris because her ‘Verse has captivated and enthralled me for years.

girl with a quill: If you could throw a dinner party and invite 5 of your favourite fictional characters, who would they be and why?
Diane: Oh my, tough one, this. Atticus Kodiak from the series by Greg Rucka. A unique character who grew and made some tough, uncompromising choices that took me to uncomfortable places. Along the same lines I’d have to include Elvis Cole and Joe Long from the series by Robert Crais—again, these characters grow, evolve and must deal with a world in which their choices are often morally compromised. From Charlaine Harris’ ‘True Blood’ Verse, Eric (do I have blood in my hair?) and Pam (is it because I wear too much pink?). Humph, that’s five and I’m just getting started. Must call Wegmans to order a larger shrimp platter.

girl with a quill: If you could give yourself one piece of advice at the beginning of your writing career, what would it be?
Diane: Write every single day.

girl with a quill: What is the one piece of writing advice you could give your future self, 10 years from now?
Diane: Edit every single day.

girl with a quill: What do you want your lasting legacy, as a writer, to be?
Diane: I don’t write so that everyone will love me. I write for that one person for whom my story resonates, made a difference. If I am someone’s favorite author, then really what more can one ask?

girl with a quill: Where can we find your book/s for sale?
Diane: The usual suspects: Amazon, Kindle, B&N, Smashwords, OmniLit, Red Sage

girl with a quill: Finally where can we find you on the web?
Diane: As a publisher: http://www.pfoxmoorpublishing.com, http://www.pfoxchase.com.

Website: http://www.romancingwords.com and http://www.idancewithwords.com

Running with Words

I am a runner. There is nothing as contradictory as running. It is energizing, muscle-hurting, lung-stretching and a rush. In my time I have done quite a bit of gymming and different sports but I am dragged back to running each time. There is something liberating about running alone. The air is crisp, your muscles are burning as you push yourself past your body’s limits and your lungs are expanding with air while your heart pumps fresh oxygen into every vein and artery of your body. There is nothing like being outdoors in the fresh air, you against your own muscles. For every person who runs, no explanation is necessary. Running is a sport of obsession and addiction.

“Running is the greatest metaphor for life, 
because you get out of it what you put into it.”

Runners fall into two main groups:

  • Sprinters
  • Marathon Runners

You may think all running is the same but this is not true. Sprinters and Marathon runners are two entirely different creatures. If you compare the physiques of the two different types of runners, the differences are immediately visible and noticeable.

The real purpose of running isn’t to win a race; it’s to test the limits of the human heart  – Bill Bowerman

Sprinters are built up in their torso and have heavy muscular thighs. Marathon runners on the other hand sport physiques that are more sinew than muscle, long and lean limbs with powerful calf muscles.

“Running is 90% mental, the rest is physical.” – Anon.

In running, I have always been a middle distance to Marathon runner. For me there is an art form to Marathon running or long distance running. The runner needs to know their own body rhythms exceptionally well. This means being in tune with your heart rhythms and knowing your body’s stressors or stress points. Unlike sprinting where the minute the gun fires, you are off at a mad rate to get to the finish line at full power, marathon running takes patience. You have to start off pacing yourself. You have to plot your race from start to finish in your mind even before you begin the course. You need to know at which point you will increase speed, which points you will pace yourself and at which point you will finally push through with all your strength until the final resting point. Sprinting is pure exertion and physical power. Marathon running is as mental as it is physical. Most sprinters are in it for the competition. For a marathon runner it is about pushing yourself past your last burning point and forging on. It is a competition of your mental will vs your physical ability.

Writing for me is Marathon Running with Words.

Writers and runners are the same creatures. They require hours of solitary focus, mental and physical endurance, a paced rhythm, obsession and intense self-discipline.

“Running makes you an athlete in all areas of life…trained in the basics, prepared for whatever comes, ready to fill each hour and deal with the decisive moment.”
– Dr, George Sheehan, runner/writer/philosopher

Why is writing like Marathon Running and not sprinting?

Some forms of writing are like sprinting but most forms share more in common with marathon running. Writing is hard work. For those who don’t write, they may believe that writing is physically an easy activity. But every writer will tell you that this is not so. Writing is physically taxing. It involves pushing past your exhaustion boundaries to get that last scene down before the inspiration vanishes. It is also physically draining to sit in front of a computer and type. If you prefer long hand typing, any writer will show you the calluses that cover their fingers, palms, elbows.

Writing is a question of finding a certain rhythm. I compare it to the rhythms of jazz. Much of the time life is a sort of rhythmic progression of three characters. If one tells oneself that life is like that, one feels it less arbitrary.” – F Sagan

Writing a novel, like marathon writing, is a long process. Like a marathon, the writer must plot a course to follow. Even if the writer is a pantser who does not plot, they will still follow some sort of a path from beginning to climax to resolution. The writer needs to keep a steady rhythm flowing  to keep the words going. When the going gets tough, the writer needs to forge on ahead. The essential element in writing is to Keep Writing no matter the circumstances or the mood.

“For a sprinter the thrill is going fast, but for a distance runner it is the journey in between the start and the end.” -a coach

A marathon runner will run in all weather; rain, sunshine, fog, cold, heat. When you are in that particular mental zone during a run, all of the external factors like weather and screeching muscles seem to float away. You enter a zen like place where the only thing that counts is to keep on putting one foot in front of the other without breaking your body’s rhythm.

In just the same way, writers will and must write in all their weathers; emotions and moods. If a writer only wrote when  they were in a happy mood or felt inspired, then the actual writing would be minimal. Our emotions and moods are as unpredictable as the weather. Just as a runner has no control over predicting what the weather is going to do, a writer has no control over predicting their emotions or moods. A runner cannot always wait for perfect sunshine with not too much heat and the right degree of wind factor to run. A writer cannot always wait for inspiration to hit and their mood to be 100% positive.

To climb steep hills requires slow pace at first.”                                                         – William Shakespeare

A marathon runner must be able to pace themselves throughout the run. You have to know when to speed up and when to power down. You have to know how far away the finish point is and calculate how much energy you are going to need to make the final push in the last 300 meters.

Pacing is all that makes the flow, the balance, the rhythm of the story. – Denise Leograndis, Fluent Writing: How to Teach the Art of Pacing

A writer must also be able to pace their writing. There will be those scenes where they must power up and surge ahead but there will also be points where they will have to slow down and pace themselves to build a new resource of energy. Their words and writing will reflect their pace. There needs to be an ebb and flow just like the steady pacing of a marathon runner. If they forge ahead with too much power, both the runner and the writer will burn out before they have even reached the half way point of the run or story.

The secret … there is really no secret to the Kenyans’ success. It’s discipline. You have to love what you are doing. It has to come from your heart. You have to like the training … the running … the races. Then you do it from the heart.”  – Mike Korir

Marathon running requires great elements of self-discipline. Nobody is going to make you run. There are going to be days when you just don’t feel like running. These are the days when you push yourself past those mental nay-sayer barriers and forge ahead in spite of them. There are days when you are going to want to spend indoors vegging out on the living room couch.

For me, writing is a discipline, much like playing a musical instrument. It requires constant practice and honing of skills. For this reason, I write seven days a week.” – Dan Brown

Writing too requires great elements of self-discipline. Writing is not glamorous. It is lonely and can often times be draining. Writing is also not something that everyone in the writer’s life understands or even tolerates. Writing steals your time and it locks you away in other worlds that you have created in your own imagination. Writing like running isolates the writer from the outside world.

There is a strength of a quiet endurance as significant of courage as the most daring feats of prowess”                                         – Henry Tuckerman

The great equalizer between a runner and a great runner, a writer and a great writer is Endurance. A marathon runner does not begin running 100kms in a day. This would be unfeasible. Rather they start with 5kms then build up to 10kms then 15kms and so forth. It is through steady pacing that endurance is built.

Writing too is a thing of endurance and practice. You cannot write a novel in a day. Instead you have to pace yourself and slowly build up your daily word count. You start off with a vow to write 1000 words a day. Then slowly you build that up to 2000, then 3000 and before you know it you are doubling that and churning out perhaps 6000 words per day. But your standard of a minimum 1000 words is what started this pacing, this endurance.

As you continue running every day your levels of endurance will be stretched and your muscle strength will grow. In the same vein, as you continue writing every day, increasing your word count a little more each day your level of endurance will also grow.

Beyond talent lie all the usual words: discipline, love, luck — but, most of all, endurance.”                                                                      – James Arthur Baldwin

Writing is Marathon Running with Words. Use the same lessons you have learned in running to forge ahead in your writing. If you are not a runner, then  ask someone who is a runner to tell you what they do to keep focused and to push past their boundaries to reach the finish line. Or even better, think about taking up running. Writers can learn a lot from runners.

But at the end of the day, the element that most counts in a runner’s success is to: Just Keep Running no matter what.

It takes a little courage, and a little self — control. And some grim determination, If you want to reach the goal. It takes a deal of striving, and a firm and stern-set chin. No matter what the battle, If you really want to win. There’s no easy path to glory, There’s no road to fame. Life, however we may view it, Is no simple parlor game; But it’s prizes call for fighting, For endurance and for grit; For a rugged disposition and don’t know when to quit.” – Anon.

So for writing success: Just Keep Writing no matter what.