Thursday, March 22, 2012

6 Benefits of Blogging

1. To make real connections. Suze at Analog Breakfast tagged me for the Versatile Blogger Award. I've been following Suze for quite some time now and I think of her as a friend. Her posts range from intriguingly philosophical, to wonderfully random and delightfully silly. Plus she feels comfortable enough to call me Lynnie, which is a win. Please visit her and find out for yourself what a great person she is. 

2. To support each other. Three cheers for Nancy S. Thompson who recently signed a book deal with Sapphire Star Publishing for her debut novel, The Mistaken, an adult psychological thriller. Please pop on over to her blog to congratulate her. 

3. To gain a web presence. I can think of a few bloggers who have gained a spectacular web presence. Alex J. Cavanaugh is a stand out. Arlee Bird, the founder of the A-Z Challenge is another. Are you taking the challenge? 

4. To hone the writing skills. Blogging may not be fiction writing, but I'm a firm believer that all writing benefits the writer. In just under two years I've written 250 posts on writing and social media. Those posts have helped to clarify my thoughts, improved my proofreading skills and pushed me to do better. Other great bloggers who offer fab posts related to writing are Carol Riggs at Artzicarol Ramblings, Rachna at Rachna's Scriptorium and Angela Ackerman at The Bookshelf Muse. 

5. To gain opportunities. All my critique partners have been found through blogging. The last two anthologies I successfully sent stories to were found through blogging also. I recently picked up the arc of A Spy Like Me by Laura Pauling because of blogging. I've just started reading it and it's great. I also won a copy of the Australian novel, Ellenvale Gold by Amanda Deed via Michelle Dennis Evans. Thank you so much. Plus there are many more opportunities that crop up through blogging.

6. To meet new friends & just relax. I don't know about you but I love visiting some sites which have nothing to do with writing. I might not have found them if I weren't blogging in the first place. They are fun, informative and often bring a smile to my face. A special blogger I want to mention here is Dezzy at Hollywood Spy whose site keeps me up to date on all the happenings in the film world. 

What benefits have you found through blogging?

NOTE: In preparation for the A-Z Challenge I will be taking next week off from blogging. I will return on April 1st when I will be posting six days a week.


Monday, March 19, 2012

Why I'm Against the Tinker Bell Theory

The Tinker Bell Theory: If you wish hard enough, the thing you want most will happen.

Sure, positive thinking is an empowering frame of mind. The potential of changing the world through attitude alone is enormous. But it can't stop there. It can't be the only factor that drives the change.

Hope won't get you published. Wishful thinking won't push your book into number one.

When we throw all our energy into building a positive attitude, we won't have anything left to set realistic goals, to hone our skills, to learn all there is to learn about the industry. We may even start to think that the positive energy we're burning is enough so we won't need to make vital connections, expand our support network, or spend the endless hours polishing our stories, getting second opinions and polishing again.

Just because I have a dream, doesn't mean I'm entitled to it.

What are your thoughts on the Tinker Bell Theory?

Elle Strauss has announced a new cover for her YA timetravel novel, Clockwise. I do recommend the book. It's a great read. Check it out here.

Thank you to Nick Wilford at Scattergun Scribblings and Honey at Stories to Share for the Sunshine Award. My favourite colour is purple and favourite animal is a dragon.

I've also been tagged by Angeline Trevena with the Lucky 7 Meme. Thank you so much for the tag. I'm supposed to post seven lines from my current WIP, but those lines are decidedly unpolished. I hope you'll forgive me.

And finally The Grumpy Bulldog tagged me for a Star Wars Trivia Challenge turned Blogfest. I'm supposed to post 250 word fanfic where a character from one of my stories is trying to write a Star Wars story. To maintain my rebel reputation, I cheated and made a Star Wars character write a flash fiction:  01100101001110101001111010101
Can you guess which one?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

How to Fight Distractions

Distractions are a writer’s worst enemy. They slow us down, they break our train of thought, they stop us from doing the one thing we were born to do: write.

So, how can we fight these distractions?

Find the best time to write. This varies for every writer. I write best in the morning when my brain is still fresh. The neighbour’s kids have gone to school, my husband has gone to work, and the house is mostly quiet. I guard this time carefully.

Find the best place to write.
I have a writing office and desk and spread my mess out there, but I'm more comfortable writing on the couch. In winter I open up the front windows and the sun pours in.

Use music. If it’s horrible noises distracting me, then I put some great writing music on. It helps me focus. I can’t use any music with lyrics because the words distract me, so I’ve made up a playlist of instrumental background music. It depends on how bad the outside distractions are as to how loud I turn up the music. Sometimes I even have to go so far as to use my headphones to block everything else out.

Fight temptation. Don’t tell yourself you’ll only watch 30mins of TV if you know it will likely end up being an hour or more. Don’t get yourself a snack if you know you are only eating because it’s a distraction. Don’t start a job if you know you can’t finish it before your scheduled writing time begins.

Decide not to be distracted. The mind is a powerful thing. We can deicide against anything that lures us away from our writing. I can write this piece without allowing the sound of a chainsaw outside to grab at my thoughts. I don’t have any music on either because I made the decision that I would write now.

Allow the distraction. This might sound strange since we are trying to fight it, but sometimes we must give distractions our attention. Children can’t be ignored. A kitchen burning down can’t be ignored. A cat demanding a pat can’t be ignored. Often we feel better after giving these things some time. Often our minds are clearer and we are more able to write.

These are just a few suggestions. Perhaps you can think of some more? What are your worst distractions? What do you do to fight them?

This is a repost that I've edited. It's the 3rd post I ever wrote on this blog and it got a grand 4 comments.

Monday, March 12, 2012

How to Handle Criticism

It's every writer's dream to find success in publication, however, be prepared. When you write for publication, you go public. You put your talent, skill, personality on the line and open yourself to criticism. While it's not always easy, here are a few things to help you handle criticism when it comes your way:

Discern whether or not it is criticism. For example, rejections aren't criticisms. They are simply a part of a writer's life. They don't mean your writing is terrible.

Use criticism as an opportunity to learn and improve. If the criticism you hear is valid, then take the opportunity to consider it and learn from it.

Don't get defensive. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and not everyone has the skill to give those opinions without sounding like an attack.

Don't react. Let your critics say what they need to say, but don't publicly respond no matter how much you feel the need to justify yourself. Without fuel to feed the criticisms, they will pass on soon enough.

Don't dwell on the negativity. Negativity isn't worth your time or energy. Don't make it your problem.

Remember it's not always about you. The fern frond image you see above is one I created for a 3D art contest. When I won, I didn't expect the backlash that followed. Many of the competitors felt my image didn't encapsulate the official "Rebirth" theme. Although much of what they said came across as a personal attack, I had to remind myself there was nothing personal about it. They were angry at the judges, not at me.

Be confident. Being confident will get you through many situations in life. Even if you are quaking inside, pretend to be confident. It's empowering.

Have you ever experienced harsh criticism? If so, how did you deal with it?

A big shout out to Komal Lewis. I won a $15 Amazon gift voucher in her generous giveaway celebrating 100 followers. Thanks, Komal.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

How to Write Like You Can't Fail

Scarlett tagged me with 11 questions a couple of weeks ago and one of the questions she asked resonated with me: What would you dare to do if you knew you could not fail? When I read the question, my first answer was writing. Of course, I immediately wanted to slap myself because I am writing. The problem is that I don't always approach it as if I couldn't fail. And that's a mistake. So I spent some time thinking about ways to write like I can't fail.

Believe in yourself. To stop those hesitations and second-guesses you need to believe in yourself and accept not only your calling as a writer, but accept who you are as well. Only you can write your story. The moment you stop trying to be like everyone else, your writing will shine.

Accept help. Writing isn't as solitary as many may think. You might be the only one who can write your story, but many can help you improve that story. The best writers have the best editors behind them. They also have great critique partners, fabulous beta readers, and fantastic writers' support groups.

Learn the craft. Every profession requires training of some sort, so too with writing. Sure, anyone can type out a few sentences and call themselves a writer, but to do it well you'll need to master the nuances of language.

Know you can't please everyone. Accept that not everyone will like your work. It doesn't mean it's not worthy. Rejections happen. Bad reviews happen. They don't make you a failure as a writer.

No matter what, don't give up. Writing takes time to master. In many ways it's a lot like life because you'll never stop learning, never stop improving, as long as you keep moving forward. 

When the fear of failure strikes, how do you get over it?

This post was written for the Insecure Writers' Support Group.

I was also tagged by Nutschell with 11 questions, one of which asked what my favourite writing book is. It is The Art of War for Writers by James Scott Bell. It's a fabulous book with lots of tips and tricks and wisdom on the art of writing. I definitely recommend it.

Thank you to Melissa Maygrove for the ABC Awesome Blog Award. Please visit her blog and say hi from me.

Monday, March 5, 2012

9 Tips for Writing Comedy

During a writers' festival last year, I heard Oliver Phommavanh, author of two children's novels, speak about how to write comedy. Below are some of his quick tips:

1. Be yourself. The closer to that, the funnier you'll be. So you'll need to inject your personality into your writing.

2. Think of your audience. Ask yourself, what is relevant to your audience, what would they respond to? What might be funny to one group of people may not be as funny to another.

3. Use universal targets. While still thinking of your audience, broaden the appeal by choosing comedy targets that most people will be able to relate to. For example: family, relationships, authority figures.

4. Avoid offense. Comedy is most effective if it gives the audience permission to laugh. If you are comfortable about making fun of yourself, or the character you are writing about is comfortable about making fun of him or herself, then the reader is also.

5. Use sympathy. The readers should feel a certain amount of sympathy for the characters. However, along the same lines as the previous point, there is a fine line where the reader sympathises with the characters, but doesn't feel bad for laughing at them.

6. Base comedy in realism. There needs to be truth in comedy. For example, start with something real and then do the unexpected.

7. Exaggerate the truth. Start with the truth and then exaggerate it. For example, "It was this big…" or "My mum's so cheap that she'd drive across town to save twenty cents."

8. Heighten conflict. The more conflict there is in a story, the more opportunity for an amusing situation. For example, if a character hates long queues, then put them into that situation. The more the character cares, the more likely he'll do something crazy to get out of the situation.

9. Be aware of timing. When writing a joke, make sure the last thing you write is the funniest. Putting the punchline in the middle waters it down.

What are some of the funniest situations you've written or read in a story? Who are your favourite writers who include humour in their work?

Oliver has a new book called Punchlines coming out on March 21st. It's about stand up comedy. Check it out here.