Write Now Prompt for August 4, 2015

Write_Now_Plane

At Today’s Author, our first goal is to get you (and us) to write. Write Now is our own collection of prompts to help you do that. With Write Now we’re not talking about writing, or trying to teach anyone how to write. Write Now is all about putting pen to paper.

Today’s Prompt:

It was strange to think about it, but even mobsters needed to take their kids back to school shopping at this time of year.

Now_Write_Plane

How to play along with our Writing Prompts

  1. Write in any format or style you wish: short story, poem, script – whatever you like.
  2. Write for at least 5 minutes. There is no time limit – write for as long as you wish!
  3. Editing is not required, though we do recommend that you run a spell check at least.
  4. Post your work to your blog and include a link back here so your readers can find other writer’s work, too.
  5. Come back here and provide a link to your work on the Write Now! prompt for which it was written.
  6. Read other authors’ posts and leave constructive comments.

Important Note: When you post a draft of your work online, it may be difficult to find a publisher who will accept it, as many see an online document as being previously published. It may also be ineligible to be submitted for certain writing competitions. Always check publisher’s and competition guidelines before using a draft you put online.

The Writers Circle: Remodeling Your Blog

TWC
One of our goals here at Today’s Author is to help all of the writers among us to do what we love to do: write. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by talking to each other and learning from each other.  Our Writers Circle series is designed to do just that – provide a chance for us to discuss writing, editing and publishing questions.

This week’s topic is:

How often do you change the look-and-feel of your writing blog? What happens to make you think or know it’s time to update the look, or do you just do so every so often whether it needs it or not? How much time and effort do you put into maintaining the way your blog looks versus how much time you put into providing content for it?

 

Discuss this topic here in the comments or head on over to the forums to start or engage in a more thorough discussion.

Write Now Prompt for July 31, 2015

Write_Now_Plane

At Today’s Author, our first goal is to get you (and us) to write. Write Now is our own collection of prompts to help you do that. With Write Now we’re not talking about writing, or trying to teach anyone how to write. Write Now is all about putting pen to paper.

Today’s Prompt:

The expensive cars and fancy clothes were really not his style.

Now_Write_Plane

How to play along with our Writing Prompts

  1. Write in any format or style you wish: short story, poem, script – whatever you like.
  2. Write for at least 5 minutes. There is no time limit – write for as long as you wish!
  3. Editing is not required, though we do recommend that you run a spell check at least.
  4. Post your work to your blog and include a link back here so your readers can find other writer’s work, too.
  5. Come back here and provide a link to your work on the Write Now! prompt for which it was written.
  6. Read other authors’ posts and leave constructive comments.

Important Note: When you post a draft of your work online, it may be difficult to find a publisher who will accept it, as many see an online document as being previously published. It may also be ineligible to be submitted for certain writing competitions. Always check publisher’s and competition guidelines before using a draft you put online.

Dirty Little Reading Secret

aceRL9ggiAs bibliophiles, we’re often held to a higher standard when it comes to the novels we spend our time reading. Friends often assume that because I’m well read, and because I write, that I not only have good taste when it comes to the books I read, but also that I exercise that taste with every single book I read.

But the fact is, that like everyone else I like to unwind. Sometimes I like a book that isn’t challenging, has no deep meaning, no mysterious plot twists or characters that challenge my preconceptions.

But…I may not always carry that book quite as openly as most of the books I read.

So, tell me…what is your Dirty Little Reading Secret?

For me, I have an affinity for Star Wars novels. Specifically, the straight-to-paperback, starfighter-pilot-oriented series that have come out in recent years. The characters are one-dimensional, the plots are templates and the bad guys never quite die off. For me it’s the reading equivalent of television wrestling.

So…am I alone?

Follow your heart?

Not long ago, I had a three book deal with a traditional publisher. Even though sales for the first book were great, they didn’t do anything to promote my second book and I decided to get out of my contract with them.

In the months since I launched A Long Thaw on my own, I’ve wondered whether that was the smartest way to go. Some writers I knew told me I was crazy to walk away and I wasn’t sure if they weren’t right. Other people encouraged me to “go with my gut” or “follow my heart”. I might have rolled my eyes at the platitude but ultimately, that’s what I did and I’ve been second guessing myself ever since. I wanted control over how my work was marketed but I didn’t really know if I could do it by myself. Back in March, I proclaimed to my blog audience that I was going to: “rerelease the book my publisher didn’t promote and see if I can do a better job.”

I’ve spent these months working. I got book reviews and beefed up my Amazon page and did guest blogs and ran twitter contests and facebook promotions and deals on kindle. I was never sure if any of it was working. But I just counted up my sales and the reports are in: I’ve already sold more books in the past four months than the publisher managed to sell in an entire year. I guess I’m done wondering if I made the right decision. This is turning me into someone who gives the annoying “follow your heart” advice. It can be hard, but sometimes it’s all you have to go by.

If you’d like to take a look at my debut, Monsoon Season, it’s being sold by Hachette. My next book, Finding Charlie, will be out in the coming months.

Write Now Prompt for July 28, 2015

Write_Now_Plane

At Today’s Author, our first goal is to get you (and us) to write. Write Now is our own collection of prompts to help you do that. With Write Now we’re not talking about writing, or trying to teach anyone how to write. Write Now is all about putting pen to paper.

Today’s Prompt:

She was startled to see the police officer standing outside of her front door.

Now_Write_Plane

How to play along with our Writing Prompts

  1. Write in any format or style you wish: short story, poem, script – whatever you like.
  2. Write for at least 5 minutes. There is no time limit – write for as long as you wish!
  3. Editing is not required, though we do recommend that you run a spell check at least.
  4. Post your work to your blog and include a link back here so your readers can find other writer’s work, too.
  5. Come back here and provide a link to your work on the Write Now! prompt for which it was written.
  6. Read other authors’ posts and leave constructive comments.

Important Note: When you post a draft of your work online, it may be difficult to find a publisher who will accept it, as many see an online document as being previously published. It may also be ineligible to be submitted for certain writing competitions. Always check publisher’s and competition guidelines before using a draft you put online.

Interview with Author JL Fontaine

I recently read The Mark and was lucky enough to get the author JL Fontaine (aka: Judith Williamson) to answer a few of my burning questions. This is the first book Williamson has had published and I was so impressed by her ability to get me to empathize with her deeply flawed characters. I find it really interesting to hear other writers talk about writing. I hope you do too!

KO: My first question is one that hit me in the middle of the night. I think I read a review that suggested the title was a reference to the biblical ‘Mark of Cain’ and Liam’s struggle to overcome his complicated history with his brother. But as I was thinking more about it, isn’t Laura ‘the mark’ because she is so vulnerable to the con? Or is it both or neither or purposefully ambiguous?

JW: Yes, there are two meanings to the word ‘Mark’. One is the Mark of Cain which according to the Bible, God placed on Cain after he killed his brother. But, also, Laura could well be a mark, in the sense of a conman’s singling someone out to trick them. So, purposefully ambiguous.

KO: How long did it take you to write this and can you talk a bit about how your real life influenced the creation of these characters?

JW: I started writing this book years ago, when my fourth daughter was aged four and she’s now thirty. I wrote it and rewrote it on and off over the years. Then I put it on Authonomy and it made the Desk and I subbed it a few times, direct to publishers, and then kind of put it on a back boiler and moved on. I then did a rewrite after the Editor’s Desk review, but didn’t do anything else with it.
The character of Danny was very much based on people I met during my time working as a sessional supervisor on a young offenders group. This was extremely interesting, if challenging, work, as the group consisted of men aged between eighteen and forty who had offended, been in prison and then re-offended. Instead of being sent back to prison, they were referred to the Probation groups. Danny’s cheeky attitude and sense of humour, coupled with very real and ever present aggression, I took from several of the group members.

A few years later, when counseling former drug addicts, I met a conman who was the most frightening person I’ve ever known. Liam is very much based on him.

KO: How did you find your publisher and has this experience been what you expected? How so or how has it been different? Is this something you always dreamed of or something that came as a surprise? How did you celebrate the book launch?

JW: I think, at heart, every writer wants to be published, either by a publisher or doing it themselves. We are story tellers and need an audience. I had submitted The Mark to several publishers and also tried to find an agent, but to no avail. A friend of mine had been published by Holland House and so I submitted to them and was taken on. That was a big surprise, as I really wasn’t expecting it at all. Strangely, after dreaming for years of being published, I felt very weird and distracted by it. I felt wrenched out from my cosy, anonymous little haven behind my computer screen and exposed to reality. It was quite scary, at first. I wanted to scurry back into my lair. There was a lot of editing to do and discussions over the artwork and as the whole thing took shape, I began to be excited about it.

The book launch took place in an independent bookshop, City Books, in Brighton, UK. Robert Peett of Holland House Books organised it and the evening went very well. I had family and friends there and even some fellow Authonomites, who I hadn’t met before. I felt very supported by everyone coming and taking part. It was an evening I’ll never forget.

KO: Tell me about your writing process. Are you self-taught or did you study creative writing in school? How do you come up with story ideas? Your dialogue is particularly excellent- how did you learn to do that?

JW: I haven’t studied creative writing at all, beyond the ordinary English lessons at school. I have always written stories and when we were young, my sister, who is six years younger than me, was kept awake many nights while I told her the latest one.

Story ideas come out of the blue. I don’t plot them out, they grow organically. One book I wrote grew from a moment when I was crossing the road and a man in a car smiled at me, admiringly. I suddenly thought, ‘What would it be like to be sitting in a car and to see an angel walking along the street?’ (not that I looked like an angel!).

The Mark began with the character of Liam, who sprung into my mind, wearing a long black coat and looking charmingly villainous. I have no idea where the story came from. I do believe, though, that all my characters have an element of my personality in them. That might sound egotistical, but it’s the only way I can explain how I get into the character’s head.

When writing dialogue, I can see and hear the characters, like on a film screen. This helps me to make the dialogue more natural, maybe.

KO: Are you working on a second book? Tell us about it.

JW: My current project is a book called Stonebird. It is about a young man who has been in Care all his life and who is now living, independently, with the help of a Community, Psychiatric Nurse. It’s about the interaction between the young man, Matthew, his nurse, David and a family that takes Matthew under its wing. It is quite dark, in its present version.

(I want to thank Judith so much for answering my questions and wish her the best of luck with her next book.)

Write Now Prompt for July 24, 2015

Write_Now_Plane

At Today’s Author, our first goal is to get you (and us) to write. Write Now is our own collection of prompts to help you do that. With Write Now we’re not talking about writing, or trying to teach anyone how to write. Write Now is all about putting pen to paper.

Today’s Prompt:

When he entered the coffee shop there were people everywhere, but now it was just him and the shop’s employees making occasional conversation.

Now_Write_Plane

How to play along with our Writing Prompts

  1. Write in any format or style you wish: short story, poem, script – whatever you like.
  2. Write for at least 5 minutes. There is no time limit – write for as long as you wish!
  3. Editing is not required, though we do recommend that you run a spell check at least.
  4. Post your work to your blog and include a link back here so your readers can find other writer’s work, too.
  5. Come back here and provide a link to your work on the Write Now! prompt for which it was written.
  6. Read other authors’ posts and leave constructive comments.

Important Note: When you post a draft of your work online, it may be difficult to find a publisher who will accept it, as many see an online document as being previously published. It may also be ineligible to be submitted for certain writing competitions. Always check publisher’s and competition guidelines before using a draft you put online.

Storms and Drought

Weather and writing. More generally, weather and creativity. They are inextricably linked together through metaphor.

Throwing out ideas is a Brainstorm.

Ideas come in a flood—or sometimes a torrent.

Ideas come out of nowhere like a bolt of lightning.

Weather seems a particularly apt analogy for creativity. They both seem out of our control—random even. While weather forecasting has given us more lead time to react to weather, we still have no actions to control the air and water around us. When ideas come we are similarly expected—and we’re generally happy—to simply weather the storm.

While there are tips and tricks to keep the creative stream flowing—write every day at the same time, use handwriting in a journal to warm up, etc—we have all been struck down by writers’ block from time to time.

There’s weather for that, too.

Ideas dry up.

A chronic lack of ideas is a drought—or somewhat less frequently, a depression.

If you’re stuck in a rut and can’t get out, you’re in the doldrums¹.

While not universal, the tendency to relate our creativity to natural phenomenon is certainly widespread—cutting across several languages, and not limited to the cultures that spread out from Europe.

This close metaphorical tie has an interesting side effect. With weather there is no shortage of terms for describing when weather goes wrong, yet there’s a dearth of terms for nice things like a pleasant, sunny day, with a short rain shower for good measure. Similarly, there are few elegant ways to describe the condition of having just the right balance between new ideas and the time to explore those ideas.

This is all scene setting for the situation I’ve found myself in. While I’m not swimming in free time, I do have some. But when I sit down to write, I find myself tilling the dry, crumbly ground for even the hint of an idea.

 


 

¹ Doldrums refers to those parts of the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans affected by a low-pressure area around the equator where the prevailing winds are calm. The doldrums are noted for calm periods when the winds disappear altogether, trapping sail-powered boats for periods of days or weeks (paraphrased from Wikipedia).

Write Now Prompt for July 21, 2015

Write_Now_Plane

At Today’s Author, our first goal is to get you (and us) to write. Write Now is our own collection of prompts to help you do that. With Write Now we’re not talking about writing, or trying to teach anyone how to write. Write Now is all about putting pen to paper.

Today’s Prompt:

She opened the mailbox and nervously pulled out the unmarked envelope containing her next set of instructions.

Now_Write_Plane

How to play along with our Writing Prompts

  1. Write in any format or style you wish: short story, poem, script – whatever you like.
  2. Write for at least 5 minutes. There is no time limit – write for as long as you wish!
  3. Editing is not required, though we do recommend that you run a spell check at least.
  4. Post your work to your blog and include a link back here so your readers can find other writer’s work, too.
  5. Come back here and provide a link to your work on the Write Now! prompt for which it was written.
  6. Read other authors’ posts and leave constructive comments.

Important Note: When you post a draft of your work online, it may be difficult to find a publisher who will accept it, as many see an online document as being previously published. It may also be ineligible to be submitted for certain writing competitions. Always check publisher’s and competition guidelines before using a draft you put online.