Monday, June 25, 2018

Reasonable Writing Goals and How to Stick to Them

For many of us, writing every day is a necessity, not just a goal.

But some days, our schedules don't allow any time to write. That's when we need to set goals--to make time! Here's my advice:
  • WHAT'S YOUR SETTING? - I can write just about anywhere: waiting rooms, baseball fields, the pool, or anywhere I can find a quiet corner. Whether you need silence or sound in the background - we all have a special setting that helps us produce the best writing. How about you?
  • WHAT'S YOUR TIME FRAME? - How much time do you need to feel like you've accomplished something? And is it reasonable to carve that much time into your schedule?
  • WHEN DOES YOUR BRAIN WORK BEST? - Are you a crafty night owl? Or an early bird setting a trap for that worm? Pick the best time you can manage to steal!
  • WHAT'S YOUR PRIORITY? - Do you have a deadline? Or can you freestyle? Sometimes, when we get that hallowed writing time, we spend half of it deciding what to work on. To save time, I jot down a list and revise it as I go, but sometimes I can write away and ignore it. It's your writing time, use it as you see fit!
  • DON'T WASTE IT! - Stay off social media! Unless you are specifically using your writing time to research, organize, advertise, or publicize, DO NOT SURF! Save that for your other down time. We have work to do!
Now put all your answers together and set aside some time for YOU to WRITE. Voila! A customized, doable goal. And don't worry how much or little writing you get done--just keep at it!


And for this week's SHOUT OUT... The fantastic Fable Writer,

I have been friends with Angela forever! She's positively perky, she always tells it like it is, and she's an excellent source for all things YA - especially dystopian and urban fantasty. She's published NEVERLOVE and THEY ALL FALL DOWN of the Shadow Jumpers series, FRAILTIES OF THE BOND and ATONE of the NEO Chronicles, and Coming Soon: BEACON, published by Evernight Teen publishing.

Recently, she's completed Fable Ranger II, in her MG Fairy Tale mashup series. Great stuff to look forward to!

She's also a part of Untethered Realms - a supernatural compilation of anthologies by a stunning group of authors - check it out on Goodreads.

Hope you have a great week!

And don't forget to enter my fun summer GIVEAWAY!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, June 18, 2018

10 Terrible YA Stereotypes and How to avoid them

I've been dealing with my own  teens and teaching teenagers at school for over twenty years...

My 2nd son's prom group

*granny voice* Back in my day... our phones had cords, and our parents couldn't trace us. Heh, heh!

Ahem. Yes, that made me feel really OLD. Even though I often act like a kid more than my kids do! It's funny how technology changes, but kids and their growing pains don't.

So, I feel qualified to say, I know teens. And after reading some good and some bad YA, I'm here to tell you what works and what doesn't (IMHO) And some other avenues to try...

10 Terrible YA Stereotypes -
  1. They hate their parents
  2. They think parents and teachers are clueless
  3. They hate school and authority
  4. They all want to drink and smoke pot
  5. Jocks and Cheerleaders are dumb
  6. Smart teens are weak and shy
  7. They have no direction
  8. They like to show off
  9. They're all promiscuous
  10. They're all reckless drivers
Now, sadly some teens do fit a few of these stereotypical behaviors. Some of us remember acting this way when we were young, eh? But these overused images need to be broken. Sure, you can have a supporting role with one or two, but to give these traits to a main character? Stop yourself write there! You can do better.

Hints and Suggestions on Avoiding the Teen Tropes -
  • Many of today's teens are under tremendous stress - their schedules are usually overloaded with extracurricular activities, sports, and jobs in addition to their homework and social life. They don't get a lot of sleep and they really need it. This could be a major cause of their snarkiness. And many of them know exactly what they want to do in life.
  • Being so busy and responsible, many teens avoid bad behaviors that could get them fired or keep them from getting scholarships. But there will always those who like to break the rules, too - or think they know better - or try to work around the rules...
  • Most teens love their families, but seem to take them for granted for meals and necessities. They like spending time with the parentals, but prefer the company of those their own age going through similar stuff. And those conversations can run deep.
  • Give characters unexpected characteristics, the tall kid loves chess not basketball, the chubby girl is the most popular of the group, the fullback is a great babysitter, and the nerdy girl drives a Harley. Twist it up!
  • And if you must use a stereotype, show the reader there is a reason for it. Don't assign a characteristic and walk away - like, that's just how she is. Make them own it. Then they can face it and fix it (character arc!)
  • One trope that holds true and carries over to adults is Phone Addiction - so many of us walk around checking our phones every few seconds! Go ahead and use this one. But if you want a twist, write a character who doesn't have a phone or quits cold turkey - that would make a great story!
Now, bear in mind, these are all my opinions based on my experiences and observations, no collected data or researched stats. Being a teen is exciting and excruciating all at once. If you can tap that emotional roller coaster, you're golden.

And someone else who knows about teens is my Shout Out of the week:

We're just in time for Elizabeth's new release and giveaway!

by Elizabeth Arroyo
Dystopian, Science Fiction, Young Adult

Survival Rule Number One: Eat before being hunted.

Too bad sixteen-year-old Zoe is an expert at breaking rules. With abilities she can't explain, Zoe has survived a world infected by violent hybrids. She's also had help from an unexpected ally, Morph--part of the Arcane: an elite force of teenagers from an Alliance of space stations.

After the Arcane are destroyed in an explosion, Morph is sent on a new mission: to capture a dangerous hybrid, but is torn between duty and his attraction to Zoe. With threats to the planet, Morph knows Zoe’s chances are limited. Trying to save her, he could betray the Alliance.

When Zoe recovers memories of her past, she realizes Morph might be the real enemy. For Morph and Zoe, the world is more dangerous than ever. And trusting each other is the key to them living to see another day.

Elizabeth spent most of her younger years as an avid reader with a wild imagination which led her to write her first manuscript at the age of fourteen. Elizabeth enjoys spending time with her family, listening to music, and binge watching her favorite shows. Influenced by the gamers in her household and her love of action adventure, Elizabeth delved into the realm of science fiction and wrote her first full-length science fiction/dystopian YA novel—BEFORE DAWN. Elizabeth is also the author of THE SECOND SIGN and THE SECOND SHADOW, a dark YA paranormal romance series, and DARKNESS, a YA paranormal thriller.

Personally, I've been friends with Elizabeth for ages. One of my first blog friends and so glad we still are. We've come along way in this supportive community! And make sure you enter Elizabeth's Giveaway!

Not to mention, my Beastly Summer Fun Giveaway. So much free stuff is awesome!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks for stopping by & Have a great week!

Monday, June 11, 2018

Keys to Breaking the Block

You're writing, writing, writing, then...


BAM! Writer's block. Why are my characters here? Where are they going? And how do they get there?

Fear not! Writer's Block is all in your head - and so are the answers to each of the above questions. Instead of forcing them out, try these easy steps to clear your mind...

from yarn
Then, when it's prodigiously empty enough, the words will flow again!

Breaking the Block:
  1. Take a walk
  2. Have a snack
  3. Phone a friend
  4. Read
  5. Watch a movie
  6. Take a nap
  7. Work on something else
  8. Clean or organize
  9. Play a game
  10. Draw or doodle
There are so many distractions that can take your mind off your Block. It's like when a couple is trying so hard to have a baby, then they give up, maybe even adopt one, and Bang! Preggers! (I have several friends who've had this happen) It's because the stress is gone. Relax, stop worrying, and good things will come.

Please note I didn't say get on social media. I never recommend it for inspiration. Social media is like a narcotic painkiller - it's okay in small doses, but use it too much and it's addictive leading to abuse.

Now back to our Blockage. If you've tried a few of these things and you're still stuck on how to proceed, here are some methods for figuring out your characters' next moves...
  • First, how far are they from the goal? Do they need to overcome more obstacles? Have you tortured them enough? If not, go to extremes. What's the worst that could happen? You will either argue with yourself or you'll use it.
  • Next, ask some random questions, like: What's going on around them? Do they need to lose or find something to move on? How do they feel? Are emotions getting in the way? Do they need a surprise or shock?
  • And lastly, ask yourself: What would you do if you were with them? Would you be snarky? or helpful? or tricky? or encouraging? or what?
Questions, What Ifs, Trial and Error - those are a Writer's Block's worst enemy. Ask enough questions and you'll be back into your story in no time!

~ + ~ + ~ + ~

Now for this week's shout out...

Diane is insanely talented and hard-working! She conducts seminars on promotion, leadership and goal setting. With loads of experience and credentials, she travels the East Coast for interviews and speaking engagements, maintains several websites & blogs, offers book formatting consultation, and does sessions for schools.

Her latest guidebook is How to Publish and Promote Your Book Now! She also recently published an an inspirational self-help book Overcoming Obstacles With SPUNK! The Keys to Leadership & Goal-Setting with seven other authors which features the five keys to success.

“With a positive attitude, any goal can be achieved!” 
- L. Diane Wolfe, Owner of Dancing Lemur Press and Freedom Fox Press

~ + ~ + ~ + ~

Before you go--I have to tell you about these 2 GIVEAWAYS!

To celebrate my just-signed contract for Beast World #3 - WINDY HOLLOW, I set up a Giveaway on Amazon for 2 winners to receive paperback copies of #2, CRADLE ROCK. But naturally, that was over in less than an hour. I don't know how that happens!

So, since I haven't done a Rafflecopter in a long while, I thought I'd do one of those too. This one has loads of prizes and will be open for a month.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

(Or if you'd like to review it, I'd be happy to send you a free e-copy. Just ask!)

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, June 4, 2018

How to Create Compelling Characters - the Wild Child

This week we have the Insecure Writers Support Group meeting.
With my new format, I try to encourage writers and give writing advice. But the IWSG is also a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, or a crash-test dummy to smash if you need to let out frustrations. I actually did all of the above last week in my Really Real Housewives post, so I'm feeling much better.

My problems also took backseat perspective when I read some other way more serious circumstances of writers I'm friends with. I'm praying for C. Lee McKenzie (who just released a book and was struck by tragedy) and Cassie Mae (who's been a beloved example of finding joy in life and thankfully still with us). These  are blog-friends I've known and worked with for a long time. They're going through extremely rough patches and could use the support. Thank you.

And if you need to vent or celebrate - I'm listening!

~ * ~ * ~     ~ * ~ * ~     ~ * ~ * ~

Now, for my Character Advice...

Whether they know it or not, readers want to connect with characters. Readers love a book because they can relate to them. This connection steers the success or failure of a book. If readers don't like the characters, they don't care what happens to them and they'll put the book down, or not buy it in the first place. But how do we write good, quality, jump-off-the-page characters?

Here are my humble suggestions for traits of Compelling Characters:
  • Use qualities that remind readers of themselves or those close to them - keep characters realistic. Ask the question: "Would someone really do that?" And if your character does it anyway, they better have a darn good reason--motivation other than just moving the story along.
  • Not all good guys are perfect - they have flaws; not all bad guys are evil to the core - they have redeeming features. Just like in life, some traits are hidden, but come out eventually!
  • Characters act the way they do for a reason - they aren't just nice or mean for the sake of the scene, there's got to be deeper roots to their personality traits. Readers see through fake, flat characters - like "B-movie actors," not worth their time or money.
Example: The WILD CHILD
This week is my middle son's 18th birthday - can you believe it? I certainly can't! He's my Wild Child, the Act-first/Pay-later, no risk too great Daredevil. His "Wonder Years" have been a complete saga, and we keep wondering if he will survive Part 2: Life In the Real World.

We pick up as the saga continues... My adventurous son has decided to forego college (for which he got a nice scholarship) and join the Army. He's been a "Me do it!" kid since he was two, so once he's made his mind up, there's no convincing him otherwise. It was unexpected, but not a complete shock. We've learned to just go with it, for the most part. We support whatever choice he makes and hope for the best.

I say all this to introduce him as a perfect Wild Child main character: He's hilarious, smart, and handsome - with zero thought for consequences. This has led him into trouble many times - perfect for an action movie with tons of pitfalls he has to figure his way out of. He's super sweet with an innocence about him, yet so mischievous and ornery. A lady-killer who hates to be told what to do and has trouble admitting when he's wrong. Like Han Solo or Peter Quill. That's my Logan.

And I love every bit of him, wouldn't change a thing. When he calls, you know it's serious -- I just cringe and bear it. One of these days, I'll write his action hero adventure story - I've got so much material!

~ * ~ * ~     ~ * ~ * ~     ~ * ~ * ~

And of course, I need to give my weekly SHOUT OUT!

We've been friends from the beginning--blogging beginnings, that is. We've helped each other through tough writing blocks, first book publishings, and dealing with not-so-friendly situations. Meeting Heather in person is definitely on my bucket list - as well as she lives in New York, a place I suppose I have to go sometime as the birthplace of the publishing industry in the US, right?

Heather writes Romantic Thrillers, starting with the juicy Maguire's Corner series, One Good Catch and Already Home. I'm not big on Romance, but Heather's got talent and kept my attention! She also shares the load as an Insecure Writers Support Group admin, as well as a caretaker of some unruly gnomes. A truer writing confidant you'll never find. So glad I know her. Stop by her place and say hello - she'd love it!

Have a great week, you guys. Thanks for stopping by!

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