Sunday, January 29, 2012

Writing Accountability

At the beginning of January, I wrote a post about how I kept procrastinating starting the sequel to Being Human. In the comments, I had someone talk about how when she was younger in her bible group they had Bible sponsors and it was their job to encourage everyone to read the Bible every day. She said something like that for writing was something she'd like to do. I told her she may be on to something. A few days later, Gwen emailed me and said she had been serious and wanted to know if I was.

Thus the start of the Are You Writing Now? Accountability Group. We hashed through the details, asked friends for group name ideas. I came up with Are You Writing Now? Was thinking about that cell phone commercial, Can you hear me now? Anyways, the goal of the group is simple, we buddy up and hold each other accountable.

Now, the details are still fresh and may have a few bumps, but so far this is what we have:
  • You sign up and at the end of the month, starting February, post your writing goals for the next month. Everyone visits each others links and posts some encouragement. Also, the post can be about goals you've met. Celebrate achieved goals! We were thinking of giving award badges and are looking for suggestions on how they should look.
  • You buddy up with two or three people and exchange twitter and/or facebook accounts and throughout the month, you tweet and post encouragement, or ask your buddies for encouragement during rough patches (like writer's block.) We figured two or three buddies would be better than one. That way, the hope is if someone doesn't participate for whatever reasons, you're not stuck with a silent buddy. Although, that may change depending on how many people show interest. If the group is small, we can all easily encourage each other without buddying up.
  • There will also be a hashtag for twitter, which is the group's name. #areyouwritingnow or even shorter since we only have so many characters #aywn. That way we can easily search out tweets for the group. Follow both Gwen @GwenTolios and I @patricialynne07 on twitter. I also made a list on twitter for easy access to participants. https://twitter.com/#!/patricialynne07/aywn-tweeplez
  • Genre or writing skill doesn't matter. Anyone can join. YA writers can encourage Romance writers, Sci-fi writers can cheer on history writers, new writer can cheer on seasoned writer. The only requirement is to cheer each other on.
To show your support, Gwen made a badge that you can display on your blog or website. I will keep this post open for sign ups at the top of my blog. Also, we're both new to this, so we're open to any suggestions you have to make the group run smoothly. I'll start the sign up now, so there will be plenty of time to think about your writing goals for March.

Photobucket



Code for Badge:



Thursday, January 26, 2012

Why I like Cheerleaders

OK, let me clarify. When I say cheerleader, I'm not talk about the perky teenagers jumping around at high school football games. Or Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders. I'm talking about MY cheerleaders, and yes, I have some. I have about five, I think, and each one rocks.

You see, not that long ago I was struggling to write. I was trying to get the first draft of Being Vampire written and it just wasn't happening. I had writer's block and in a bad way with no idea how to get past it. Taking a break hadn't helped. All that accomplished was a few skull scarves - which isn't bad because they were sold and that's why I knit. Anyways, I was blocked and feeling quite hopeless.

Then, my friend, Lor, came up with a brilliant idea. She decided to start roll playing as one of my vampires on twitter. She would 'sit' outside my window while I wrote and ask questions that would make Tommy proud. It really got the words flowing.

But it wasn't just her, other friends jumped on the cheerleading bandwagon. My friends, Kat and Aija, were rooting for me. My bestie, Vic, when I said my writing was just me typing up stuff I had written long hand said words were words and that totally counted towards my word goal. My writing partner, MB - who I gushed about in this post - added her encouragement. Suddenly, I was surrounded by people rooting me on.

And it worked!

Being Vampire now sits at over 40K and I no longer fear I'll never get it written. My trusty cheerleaders are ready on standby with their pompoms... well, they're ready to tweet *\o/* when I need it. Because that's why I was struggling so much. There was no encouragement and that allowed my fears and insecurities to stand in my way and grind my writing to a standstill.

No more. *\o/*

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Determination

This is a follow up post to my Authors Vs Reviewers post. I wrote that because of all the disturbing stories about authors reacting badly to low reviews. Then I got my first low review for Being Human. A two star review.

Now, maybe I was able to keep my cool because it happened soon after my previous post. I can't really say. But I did. Sure, I got my hubby and two of his friends to come pick me up so I could get drunk with them. I said in my whinest voice possible, "I got a two star review." I messaged my writing partner to show him. Sent a DM to a friend who has been cheerleading me on the link and a giant WAAAAHHHHH! Lastly, I declared on twitter I was going to kill stuff on xbox.

And that was it. There was no ranting or raving. Not even any crying. I felt like crying, but I refrained because I didn't want red eyes. (There was some drunk tweets, but only to friends.) I even talked with the reviewer about a book we both read and had enjoyed. The next day, we emailed a little about his review. Yes, I know, some of you are cringing. I had asked this guy for the review, and he had warned me he was a tough critic. I said, that was fine, I still wanted him too. I wanted to at least thank him for giving my book a chance and say, "Holy Long Review Batman!" We talked back and forth a little, about reviews in general and how every book gets low reviews. I have to admit, I felt a bit bad for the guy. That's got to be tough contacting the author to give them your low review of their book that they requested. I would definitely rather be receiving the low review than giving it.

Mostly, what I learned from this was it just makes me determined. I had another review, a three star. The person said she wanted to love Being Human, but just liked it. Both reviews left me wanting to try harder. To do all that I can to improve my ability to write and tell a story. So when they read the next book, they'll say, "This author has improved." or "I could not put this book down." or "I'm so glad I gave this author another chance. Five stars!" (We'll just ignore the fact that the next book will still have someone that won't like it. I'm trying to be motivational here after all.)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Authors vs Reviewers

I don't really do posts on authors being professional because if you read my twitter stream, you will see I am a complete goofball. But there are professional lines I know not to cross, and one I have been seeing others talk about a lot recently: Authors behaving badly about reviews.

When someone decides to publish their story - their baby - they know a certain level of criticism will be involved. The story needs to go to editors or beta readers, people who read it with a critical eye and point out flaws. The end result (hopefully) is a flawless book. But we all know no book is perfect. Still, we put our book out into the world in hopes that people will enjoy it.

Not everyone will though, that's a fact of writing life. When reviews start flowing in, not all of them will be glowing and shiny. Some will claim your book was all right, while others say it wasn't for them. Then there are the reviews were a person gives the book one star and completely bashes the book. I dread getting my first one of those. So far, I have been lucky. My low reviews, the reviewers were polite and honest and did not tear me a new one.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The value of a good writing partner

I am quite the wuss. No denial there. Things like scary movies give me nightmares, not even comedy horror is safe for me. Editing is another thing I can be a giant wuss about. Sure, asking a writing partner to read my WIP is easy peasy. But getting those edits back... I definitely procrastinate looking. Mostly because I get on an emotional roller coaster when I go through edits. This edit I'll agree with. That one will make me go WTF? While another makes me pull my hair in frustration. Doesn't my partner get what I am trying to say??? Up and down, up and down. It's quite exhausting.

But writing partners are valuable tools. For one, they save money. They do it for free after all. (Of course, the downside to that is they may not be speedy. Other things can take priority over your WIP. Can't always blame them. A bit heartless to get mad at a someone when their grandma is in the hospital and they don't have the time to read.) They give great insight, point out plotholes, find missed words, and help you make your WIP that much better.

If I could just find the guts to open the edited file.

Fortunately, my writing partner, Marybeth, has made it easy for me. She's made it fun. Yes, you heard me right. Fun. Let me give some examples of her notes.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Interview with Best Selling Author Vicktor Alexander... and His Characters

NOTE: Vic and I changed the give away up since it seems everyone has ebooks of his best sellers. Now, the give away will be for signed paperbacks of Unassumed, book 3 in the Tate Pack Series, Unthinkable, Inconceivable, and A Very Tate Christmas.

It's been a long time since I've done an author interview, so I figured it was time I introduced you to an author whose writing I quite enjoy. Of course, I may be a bit biased seeing how Vicktor Alexander is one of my besties. But he must be doing something right for his debut book, Unthinkable to hit number one on ARe's best seller list (Yes, I took a screen shot when it hit number one. I was proud.) with Inconceivable, book two in the Tate Pack Series making it to the list too. So let's jump into the interview and try to keep both our characters from hi-jacking it. (If you stick with us, there is a give away.) *Vicktor glares at me for bribing the readers and I smile innocently.* Just making sure they keep reading.

1)Naturally, my first question is how was the Tate pack created? What was the spark that gave way to their creation and lives?

Vicktor: Actually the Tate pack started when I was living in California, but it was totally different than how it started. At the opening of Unthinkable, Richard is saved by Vernon "Vet" from almost being hit by a truck. Originally that was the opening for another plot that I'd had about a dancer and the celebrity who'd saved his life. I'd started writing it while I lived in San Diego and then when I moved back to Florida I stopped writing it because where I lived, it wasn't really conducive to me writing M/M romance. I met some really awesome people (authors and readers) and before I knew it I was writing the book as a web story and instead of it being about a dancer and a celebrity it was about a dancer and a shape-shifting cowboy with triplets. And the whole plot for the story came about because I'd been teasing my friends about the different ways I was going to meet Shemar Moore and how the two of us would fall in love. Him saving my life was one of them. *Shakes head* I was very silly....you know a year ago.

Richard: Let's be honest....you got the idea because you have a very unhealthy obsession with cowboys.
Tommy: And crossdressers.....
Vicktor: Shut up you two.
Tommy: Oohh testy, testy....you'd think he was the boss of us or something.
Vicktor: *rolling eyes* I am. Besides, Richard don't you have some kids to take care of? And Tommy, don't you have some....clothes to try on.
Richard: Spoilsport.
Tommy: Fine! I'll leave, but know this, no one "created" me, I created myself. *Turns and walks off in a huff*
Vicktor: Sorry about that....where were we?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

WTF Humanity?

Every so often on the Internet I stumble across something that blows me away. Usually, it's a good blow me away, something that has me rolling with laughter. On occasion though, I stumble across something bad, something really bad and I can't get it out of my head. Today, I had one of those moments in a bad way.

I was innocently browsing my facebook feed when I came across an image a friend posted. This image is forever burned into my brain. It was bad, really bad. It was so bad, I quit browsing, went over to twitter and had a WTF moment. If you follow me on twitter, you probably know what I'm talking about. My friend had shared a picture of a German Shepard, who had it's muzzle blown off by a couple of drunk teens. And that's not the worse part. The worst part is the dog didn't die. It was alive for five days before someone found it, and in the end, put it down because there was nothing to do.

That image made me cry.

I'm not much of a crier, in fact, I hate doing it, especially in public. But that image made the tears flow. Hell, that image deserved the tears. All I could image was the pain and suffering that dog endured. (And you can tell too by how the dog's ears droop in the picture. It is suffering big time.) How cruel it was for someone to do that, to think it was fun or funny? WTF times ten!

Well, maybe it's a hoax, I thought at one point. I went to google and did a little searching. The story was on forums, people were talking about it, but no real articles. Finally, I found this. Hoax-Slayer.com and they had an article on it. Note, there is no graphic image in the link. It just tells the story and confirms it's true. The site also gave me a clue as to why there wasn't an article on it. In Bosnia, where this happened, they don't have great animal cruelty laws, so the kids responsible for this act weren't punished. WTF?

This story tears me to pieces. It boggles my mind how horrible we, as humans, can be to animals and to each other. Sad thing is, it takes an incident like this to get people to notice. It takes tragedy. Look at all the outpouring of support that happens after a natural disaster.

I feel helpless as well. No amount of tears could have saved that poor dog. Hoax-Slayer has links to a petition asking for signatures to help pressure the Bosnia government to create stricter animal cruelty laws, but who knows if that will have any effect. In the end, I have to rely on others. I'm not the only one who knows what happened to that poor dog is very, very, very wrong.

Maybe that's enough. Maybe the next time someone sees someone being cruel to another living creature, he or she will step up and stop it. And maybe that will affect the person who was being cruel and they'll realize how wrong what they were doing was. Maybe it will keep spreading to more and more people. Nothing will happen if we stay silent, so I'm going to speak about this.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Fear the Sequel

We are into the second week of 2012, and let me admit, my writing is still halted. I've done some. Finished a short story along the same lines of Influence of Love, but as for Being Vampire? I keep pushing it off. At first, I wasn't sure why I kept finding excuses not to start typing it up. I know it will unblock me. I'm not the type of writer to write out of order, so the fact the story got out of order has ground me to a halt. Writing it in order will fix that.

So why do I keep procrastinating?

Putting it bluntly, I'm terrified. It wasn't until the other day when I was fretting and worrying over something, and like all things that really worry me, eventually turning that worry on myself, did I realize why I was struggling so much. I'm scared to write this sequel. Let's face it, in movies, most sequels are never as good as the first movie. A few recent movies come to mind. Sherlock Holmes 2. While I enjoyed it, I didn't think it was as good as the first. The Transformers movies. The first one was amazing, the second one okay, and the third was horrid. I complained through the whole movie.

The thing is, with books, it tends to be different. The series usually get better as each book is released. And that's why I'm so worried. I'm scared the sequel won't be as good, and my struggles to get it written don't help. Getting this first draft out has been one struggle after another, and it's still not finished!

I don't want to let people down. If you look at my reviews, they aren't half bad. A few end with "Read this now." while other people have told me Being Human made them cry. Can you see the pressure to make the sequel just as good, if not better, building? It's really hard not to think about, and each time I think about how I need to start typing Being Vampire out, I find yet another reason not to.

In the end, I know I'm just going to have to suck it up and start writing. Maybe a few good kicks in the butt will get me in gear. Or some tweets guilt tripping me into action. Comments cheering me on. Anyone want to volunteer?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

First Insecure Writers Support Group post of 2012

All right, it's a new year and time for the Insecure Writers Support Group to meet as well! What better way to kick off the new year? I wasn't sure what I was going to talk about this month. I didn't have any new gripes to unload... well, nothing I want to discuss publicly. It wasn't until I was in the shower that I realized what I wanted to talk about.

Last month, my mom's side of the family got together for our Christmas party. During it, my older sister took a moment to hand out a picture she had taken of her two sons. I've talked about Arik and Emmet before, showed them off in another post. But for those of you who don't know, Arik was born with a cleft lip and palate. When he was five months old, he went in for surgery to have his upper lip fixed because, well, he didn't have much of an upper lip. Later, when the party was over and hubby and I were home, I was looking at the picture of my nephews. Arik has this goofy little smile on his face and it made me think.

Arik's problems didn't end with the surgery he had. He still needs his palate fixed, and he has other issues his mom needs to worry about. He sees about a million doctors, gets poked and prodded, scanned, and examined. For being only nine months old, he has already been through so much.

And yet he smiles!

I have never seen a baby smile so much. At the party, he was nothing but smiles. (Except when he was being fed and had to be burped. Then he cried a bit.) When I went down to help my sister out when he was born, he was all smiles. Every time I see him, he is a smiling, happy baby. Most of us couldn't imagine what it must have been like for him to go into major surgery at such a young age. We'd say it's probably good that he was so little and won't remember. But still, just thinking of all he's been through, and all he has to go through, it's amazing.

It humbles me because I know I'd be a whining, miserable mess. It makes me grateful that my biggest issue when being born was I came out backwards. It makes me want to fight harder when life seems to be working against me. If my little nephew can smile after all he's been through, I can keep fighting when my life hits a bump. I can keep writing and working when my book looks like it's languishing in obscurity and going unnoticed.

I can smile, just like he does.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Back to work to before the world ends

It's been a little less than a month since I declared I was going to take a break. It wasn't a complete break. I still talked to friends on twitter and replied to comments on the blog. I also scheduled a bunch of tweets to keep up on book promotion. I was here, just not as involved, not letting myself worry about keeping up.

And it was so nice! Instantly, I felt more relaxed. One less worry. I think part of the problem was it was the holidays and I was fretting over getting gifts with my limited money while thinking "If I could just sell this many more books, I can get this present." Very stressful. Especially when I have friends excitedly telling me how their sales are doing and mine are limping along. It didn't help my stress levels that I am not a holiday person. I love decorating for the holidays, but once that is done, I could care less about anything else. Best part of New Years Eve was when it was over! I was busy though, knitting up a storm.

I made these three hats.