Sunday, October 25, 2015

Sometimes You Just Gotta Cover Your Ears and Say "Nah-Nah-Nah" #AmWriting #MondayMotivation

Monday Motivation


I'm always lurking in various writers' online forums. Sometimes I participate but mostly I observe. That sounds much creepier than it really is--trust me. 

Lately I've seen an over-abundance of writers talking about the word "over-saturation" of the market place and lamenting their inability to gain any traction. This annoys me on many fronts, mainly because I've been making a living as a writer and editor for a long time now and don't like hearing such discouraging remarks that aren't necessarily true. 

Here's the reality: Yes, this business is hard. No, not one person holds the magic key that will unlock your stardom. Yes, you need to think big picture at all times or else you will become frustrated. Yes, you need to try a lot of different things until you find what resonates with you--and, no, that may not be what your best writer buddy is doing. Yes, you need a thick skin. No, rankings that change by the hour aren't important. No, you probably won't be a one book wonder that takes the world by storm. No, you really don't need an agent to succeed. Yes, you do need an editor (even an editor needs an editor--there's nothing better than a second pair of eyes looking at your work objectively). Yes, you will make mistakes. Yes, you will recover from whatever mistakes you're making (unless it's being an asshole or a plagiarist--those mistakes are almost impossible to recover from). No, just because you think you're creative on all fronts doesn't mean you can design your own cover--find an artist, preferably one who doesn't suck. No, you don't need to give your work away for free (this one is a pet peeve of mine--writers are artists and need to value their work)

Listen, you can do this. If writing is in your blood and is the passion that burns hot in your heart, you can do this. Publishing isn't a get rich quick scheme. You need to always be thinking big picture rather than being stuck on the small details (like rankings or reviews). I know too many authors who are making livings as such to be dissuaded by the people in the online forums talking about how the market is so over-saturated that they are considering giving up. I sometimes suspect that these people are posting to hear all the comments urging them not to quit--but I'm asking you not to be that person. 

Yes, there are a lot of books out there, that's true. It can feel daunting to look at the abundance of new releases every day. If you happen to know a lot of authors, you may feel competitive about so-and-so's new release. Don't. Remember: quality over quantity. 

Quality always rises to the top. Always. It may take time, but if this is truly your calling, you won't give up even if you are crippled with doubt from time-to-time. We all are. It's our nature as sensitive creators to feel doubt--which is why I'm bothered by these forums that are meant to support and only end up spreading discouragement. 

Work on your craft. Concentrate on making each book better than the last one. Know your big picture goal. Don't rush yourself because of some imaginary competition going on. The only things you should ever be worried about is your own editorial calendar and being better than you were yesterday. 

Write on!
Amber Lea Easton


Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published author of nonfiction, thrillers, and romantic suspense. A professional editor and freelance journalist for nearly two decades, she created Mountain Moxie Publishing Services to assist authors in mastering the writing craft. Her memoir, Free Fall, is dedicated to spreading suicide awareness, has topped international best selling charts, and has been named by Dr. Prem as fourth on the "Ten Most Inspiring True Stories Everyone Must Read" list. Easton is also a speaker regarding parenting through trauma and suicide awareness. To discover more about Mountain Moxie Publishing Services, please go to http://www.moxiegirlwriting.com. For a list of all of Easton's books, articles and interviews, go to http://www.amberleaeaston.com.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Creating a Memorable Cast #AmWriting #WrtingTips

When you've met someone for the first time, it's easy to make your own assessment of their personalities, but seeing them interacting with others seals the deal about our overall impression of them. Can we see ourselves being this person's friend? Is there something compelling about them that makes us want to learn more? Are they charismatic? Shy?

These same impressions apply to our fictional characters. We as the author may know exactly how our main characters are at their soul level, but we can't clearly demonstrate that to readers unless we've created a memorable cast of secondary characters.

The cast of your novel is very important. Not only do they support the main characters, but they interact with them to give us a sense of who they are outside of of the current plot. If a character has an awkward relationship with their siblings where they become nervous or the interactions become stilted or more relaxed, this portrayal adds a layer of characterization that is almost subliminal to the reader. The same goes with co-workers, new friends, or childhood buddies. How our main characters interact with their supporting cast helps the reader formulate a bigger picture of who they're dealing with--and if they are likable or not.

Secondary characters don't necessarily need their own storylines unless you plan on creating a sequel or unless it's relevant to a sub-plot. If the latter is the case, don't forget to tie up all the loose ends by the end of the story. Mostly, however, the supporting cast comes and goes, woven into the story to support the main character's agenda. When you've done it right, readers will most likely comment in reviews about how they wish so-and-so would have their own story one day or how so-and-so was such a bitch that they felt sorry for your main character. You get the idea. They will notice the interactions, the friendships, the dysfunction or the humor without it subtracting from your main character's identity; rather, a successful secondary character enhances the plot whenever they make an appearance in the story.

I wrote an important word in that last sentence--enhance. As with every word that makes it to the final cut of your novel, make sure that each secondary character has a purpose for being present in the story. There have been times when, upon revision, I've combined two secondary characters into one after realizing that it sped up the pace and created more impact. I've also killed off a few that no longer served a point mid-way through and their deaths not only helped me get back on track but also provided me with a great plot twist. No matter how much you may like the secondary character because they make you laugh or maybe because you simply enjoy writing him or her, if he or she isn't adding something useful to the story, then you need to reevaluate your manuscript as a whole.

No one exists in a void--not even a recluse who interacts only with his dog. The dog, in that example, is a secondary character. Their interactions would be vital clues to the reader about the inner workings of the recluse's mind--perhaps revealing longing or anger or self-pity or love.

This all goes into the show and tell aspects of writing. Interactions with others shows the reader what your character is like in his world.

Look at your manuscript. Who are the main characters' key relationships? Who makes up the supporting cast and are they all relevant to the plot? Do they drive your story or are they dead weight? Are there two that are fundamentally the same and can they be combined?

Each part of your book--from every word in every sentence to each cast member--must serve the plot and main character development. Doing this well not only delivers an excellent read, but it also leads to loyal readers who say things like, "I felt like I knew these people and hated to see it end. I can't wait for this author's next book!"

Write on!
Amber Lea Easton
http://www.moxiegirlwriting.com
http://www.amberleaeaston.com 

Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published author of nonfiction, thrillers, and romantic suspense. A professional editor and freelance journalist for nearly two decades, she created Mountain Moxie Publishing Services to assist authors in mastering the writing craft. Her memoir, Free Fall, is dedicated to spreading suicide awareness, has topped international best selling charts, and has been named by Dr. Prem as fourth on the "Ten Most Inspiring True Stories Everyone Must Read" list. Easton is also a speaker regarding parenting through trauma and suicide awareness. To discover more about Mountain Moxie Publishing Services, please go to http://www.moxiegirlwriting.com. For a list of all of Easton's books, articles and interviews, go to http://www.amberleaeaston.com

Monday, October 12, 2015

When Every Word You Write Sucks #AmWriting #MondayMotivation


We've all had moments where we look at what we've written and absolutely hate it. We threaten to quit, never write again, burn the manuscript (I've even printed a manuscript out just so I could burn it--very dramatic of me, I know), tell ourselves that we're writing crap, and then pout for a few hours (or days).

But then we start again.

Are we crazy? Yeah, probably, but at least we're somewhat functional in the world, right?

If you're ever at the point of hating what you're writing, here's a trick to find that flow again. Save a tree and don't print out your manuscript just to burn it so you can feel better while you watch the pages curl up with flames. Instead, take a scene from your manuscript and write it from another character's perspective. Better yet, switch it from third person to first or vice versa. This is a "for-your-eyes-only" writing exercise designed to snap your mind out of a funk and back into creativity.

It is sort of like tricking yourself, actually. Think about it: if you're sitting there hating what you've written, what better way to prove to yourself how bad you are then to write it over again from a different point of view? Maybe you can even be snarky or go way over-the-top to the point of absolute absurdity. When you're finished, you'll have done something productive (writing) and you'll more than likely realize that you don't suck at all. Because think about it...how many people are adept at doing what you've just done? Not many.

Only a crazy author would or could write the same scene from different perspectives--or make fun of themselves through literary effect.

You're a F'n genius!

Now get to work.

Write on!
Amber Lea Easton
http://www.moxiegirlwriting.com
http://www.amberleaeaston.com 

Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published author of nonfiction, thrillers, and romantic suspense. A professional editor and freelance journalist for nearly two decades, she created Mountain Moxie Publishing Services to assist authors in mastering the writing craft. Her memoir, Free Fall, is dedicated to spreading suicide awareness, has topped international best selling charts, and has been named by Dr. Prem as fourth on the "Ten Most Inspiring True Stories Everyone Must Read" list. Easton is also a speaker regarding parenting through trauma and suicide awareness. To discover more about Mountain Moxie Publishing Services, please go to http://www.moxiegirlwriting.com. For a list of all of Easton's books, articles and interviews, go to http://www.amberleaeaston.com.


Monday, October 5, 2015

Cherishing Your Creative Space #MondayMotivation #AmWriting

A writer's gotta do what a writer's gotta do...
Monday Motivation

Never underestimate the power of setting the mood, especially when you're creating. We all have our little turn-ons that trigger something inside that calls our Muse into action. Whether it's candles, incense, a certain soundtrack, absolute quiet, that special space by the window, or noise of a coffee shop, we creative professionals need a place where we can easily tap into the flow.

What does your creative space look like? Do you need to have certain "things" nearby as you settle in to work? Whatever you have in your creative space that eases you into a state where creativity snaps isn't silly. Consider it all tools of the trade.

As creative professionals, it's important for us to protect our space. If you don't have a specific area--like an office with a door--then establish a place somewhere else and honor it as your creative zone. 

I've spoken before about the importance of habits that train our brains to be 'on' at certain times. Having a designated area that is yours for writing does the same thing. Not only that, it pushes away the outside world enough where we are allowed to slip into the flow while feeling safe with our 'stuff'. 

For me, it's candles or incense paired with music. Once I settle into my desk with those elements going, I'm completely focused on writing. Nothing else matters as I slip into my own little world. I have a friend who must be at a coffee shop with the buzz of people around so he can be stimulated by their energy. Each of us has a 'thing'--and we need to honor it. 

I've found that many creative professionals shy away from admitting their quirks, at least at first. I think this has a lot to do with the naysayers that already look at us sideways for working outside the box. Saying that we're "writers" can still get us those snorts and eye rolls no matter how many books we've published or how many awards we've won. As a result, we sometimes shy away from protecting our creative boundaries.

I get it. Many, many years ago now, a snide man at my son's soccer game said to me, "Be honest, Amber, fiction writing is just fiction, isn't it?" (He must have thought long and hard waiting to use that line on me.) I looked at him and said, "It's none of your business what I do." And guess what? I spoke the truth. 

It is no one else's business what you do, especially when it comes to nurturing your creativity. 

Maybe you don't want to claim that corner of the living room because you think your family will mock you as selfish or fail to respect that area as yours. Perhaps you don't want to spend your days at a specific bench in the park that invites you to write because you don't want to look like a loon to the other parents at your kids' school. Maybe you've denied your true nature for so long because of appearances that you can't fathom having a shelf of candles on stand-by so you can burn one every night when you settle in to write your book. 

Give yourself permission to cherish your creative soul without caring one bit about what someone might say. Need to rock out when you're writing? Do it. Use headphones if you have to but, baby, crank that music! Need absolute quiet but live in a busy household? Demand your time, set that boundary, and make them respect it. Want candles? Burn them. Live somewhere that doesn't allow real candles or incense? They have the battery operated ones now that have the same flicker, do that. Claim that spot in your home that is yours alone for your writing--even if it's a corner of a room or the middle of the damn sofa. Need to write during your lunch hour at your day job yet people keep interrupting you? Find a quiet area and retreat there--you owe no one an explanation. Does nature do the trick for you? Sit on that bench, write your heart out, and don't worry about the people who may see you. Do you need a steaming glass of tea within reach? Then make that happen. 

Honor your space--wherever that may be and however that may look for you. 

Listen, creativity is a gift. Do you realize how lucky we are to have this ability? If we don't nurture it ourselves--if we're not warrior-like in our protection of it--who will?

Look at your creative space today and make it yours--whether you're sitting on a cliff like the guy in the picture or surrounded by high energy people in a busy coffee shop--if it flips that inner switch for you, own it and never apologize or make excuses for doing what you need to do to honor your creative soul.

Write on!
Amber Lea Easton
http://www.moxiegirlwriting.com
http://www.amberleaeaston.com 

Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published author of nonfiction, thrillers, and romantic suspense. A professional editor and freelance journalist for nearly two decades, she created Mountain Moxie Publishing Services to assist authors in mastering the writing craft. Her memoir, Free Fall, is dedicated to spreading suicide awareness, has topped international best selling charts, and has been named by Dr. Prem as fourth on the "Ten Most Inspiring True Stories Everyone Must Read" list. Easton is also a speaker regarding parenting through trauma and suicide awareness. To discover more about Mountain Moxie Publishing Services, please go to http://www.moxiegirlwriting.com. For a list of all of Easton's books, articles and interviews, go to http://www.amberleaeaston.com.