#FF One Word

Freedom.

I read blogs and laugh, cry, smile, read more like I’m drinking your words and I love it so much, it hurts. To all the writers out there, thank you for giving me this sense of elation I need on a daily basis. You’re my spiritual foundation, my fountain of youth, my elixir, my thrill and my inspiration. Without your words, I would vomit nonsense.

Sorry for the image, I was trying to be poetic. Anyway…It’s Friday, and I’m working on releasing 32 Seconds, and re-releasing Stories From The Underworld because I want paperbacks!! Who said hard/soft cover books were dead? My shelves feel extremely lonely and I can’t fathom the sight of a bookshelf empty of books. My bookshelf (from IKEA – I love that s***) is supposed to hold books, and not all the past week mail I didn’t bother to open yet.

Therefore, I will flood you with my thoughts, and no, you won’t say “enough!” because heck, my thoughts may contain prizes. Hehe.

Hopefully the weekend treats you well. Sleep, eat, do whatever you feel like doing (just don’t kill anyone), and see you next week! Oh and one more thing:

STAY TRUE TO YOURSELF. :)

Labor-Day-photos

#FF Download Your Brain…Or Not

When I have time to kill, I like to read other people’s blogs. I especially love the ones that get a lot of views, because DUH!! It means they’re doing something right. One thing I’ve always wondered when blogging, was how to write about stuff and not sound like I’m whining, or talking about stuff no one cares to read about, or like I like to call it: download your brain.

At the very beginning of my writing journey, I used my blog like a journal. And for some strange reason, people didn’t walk away! They actually read my stuff. Shucks, that tells you when you really work hard at something, results always pay off. But after a while of journaling like a crazy lady, I took a break and asked myself: why should I blog? Why should people read my stuff? Am I trying to teach them something? Am I trying to sell more books and reach a wider audience? Am I still using the blog as a journal, or have I evolved? Can I really do this????

*Deep breath*

One: yes, I can do this. Two: I will write about writing. Three: Writing about writing (hehe) can be about my upcoming book, my struggles as an author, my tips and tricks, my thinking process, my ramblings, and bam, why not post a cute picture of my cat?

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Alright, I got this one off my chest. One thing I’m not going to blog about, is my brain download. Because brain downloads are just not cool. Let’s say it how it is. You don’t care to hear about every single thought that crosses my mind. It’s none of your business, and it’s boring.

The issue with brain download is that it can affect all of us at any given time. I have brain download when I work on my novel. It’s a diarrhea of thoughts that have no purpose but fill out some space. Just like when you try to do NanoWrimo and your 50k words consist of pure gibberish. Brain download should be reserved for special forums where it’s welcome. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of such forums, but in today’s world, anything’s possible, so I remain open-minded on this one.

Blogging is great when the message is clear, the style is neat, grammar is proper and vocabulary is diverse. I don’t do convoluted paragraphs of complex words that don’t belong together in one full sentence. I don’t do effed up imagery. I don’t do lack of punctuation. I don’t do clusterfuck of ideas.

Once I start working on a blog post, I realize it’s more than just pouring thoughts on the screen. And the same process that happens to a book, should happen to anything I write.

My blog is an accurate representation of myself if I stick to the basics, which are:

- stay true to myself

- don’t overdo it

- keep it short, simple and clean. And when I say clean, I don’t care about profanity, I’m talking about clutter.

I’ve seen blogs that are a mess of icons, pictures, widgets left and right, oh gosh, where the heck have I landed? These blogs remind me of cars covered with stickers. You don’t really know which direction the author was going for but he/she sure loves sticking random crap on his/her site!! Therefore, as much as the brain download is a no-no, gathering all sorts of stuff on my page is a no-no either.

I’ve read somewhere on the internet sphere a blog post should consist of a catchy title, text and picture(s). Whether it’s a photo album or just a thumbail, I don’t really care about pictures. If the text is good, hell yeah, my cherry (and hopefully yours too) has been popped! The title doesn’t necessarily make the post good, but it doesn’t hurt to attract crowds with something that sounds good.

Have I omitted anything? If I did, let me know your thoughts!

Have a great weekend, folks!

 

#TT – Trigger the Muse

Ah yes. My muse loves to tell me what to do!! Sometimes though, she’s very silent and I need to trigger her so I can write.

screenshot-museThe internet gave me this cute little how to jump-start your muse list. The website it came from promotes a hypnotic writing wizard software – apparently, with a few hypnotic tricks, your mind will open like a flower and you can write a book at the speed of light.

Alright, I laugh at the idea. I mean come on. First, let’s look at this list. I don’t play the guitar but I do talk to myself all the time, and play with my cats every day. Pretend you are rich…nice one. Write nonsense. Take slow breaths. Mmmmmmmmm. Take a break? Shut up!!!

If there’s one thing I know, my muse doesn’t come over if I scratch my cat’s belly or if I believe my bank account balance is over one million dollars. For the hypnotic tricks, I don’t know about you, but I think hypnosis works great when you want to quit smoking, give birth, or travel back in time so you can get inspired. Maybe that’s what this software is about. Inspiration. And a great way to make money off gullible people who think they can write a book in three days without doing any research.

I’m gonna save my money because I don’t believe in shortcuts when it comes to writing. If you’re dedicated to writing, you’ll spend the necessary time to craft a great story.

To jump-start my muse, I do the following:

- I meditate

- I eat chocolate

- I play video games – or watch walkthroughs on YouTube

- I read ANYTHING

- I watch a movie

- I take a walk

- I go to work

- I talk to people

- I listen to people

And this list could go on and on and on…We all have different methods. My muse gets particularly cranky when I don’t give her the attention she deserves and leaves me dry, and I can’t write anything. Being a writer isn’t supposed to be a one-trick pony. I’d love to press a button and my muse would purr like a Ferrari engine. Maybe in another life.

How do you jump-start your muse?

 

#WW How To Write A Solid Plot

Happy hump day!!

Plotting. Ah yes. I will scratch my head for hours trying to come up with the best strategy. This morning, I stumbled upon this on Pinterest: ff4f16af3d852a03a290e46d1e12cce7

Oh. That makes my life easier. I was a total nube when it came to plot, and structure my story in a logical way. I was very much like J.J. Abrams in Lost – I’d give you a million clues and not a single answer. LOL (sorry J.J. but it’s true).

Following this five step roadmap is easy. It really is. Until you realize your main character has more than one problem to solve, and the resolution of the story might not be so clear to you as you thought it would. When you tackle a trilogy, or a series, one main plot will encompass several sub-plots, and sometimes, sub-sub-plots. So here’s my personal trick to make things easier.

Just reapply the five step roadmap to each plot. It’s gonna be less confusing than trying to manage all the characters and plots under one main roadmap. But here’s where the writing process is gonna hit another roadblock. You wrote your plot, and subplots. You defined your characters, and made sure they’re going to follow a certain path and evolve accordingly. Now you write.

6fa15a0b59b1aeac1af8aed7274cef78Thanks again Pinterest for this lovely picture. Your first draft will not be final and your plot will change, which means your subplots will too. Your characters might evolve so much, you have to revise their role in the story, possibly eliminate them or move them around like pretty chess pieces.

And here comes the famous question: why the f*** did I decide to write a novel?

As you put together the puzzle pieces and try to obtain a big picture, you need to focus on the main roadmap – not the subplots, but the general thread that keeps your book together. Without that main plot, you’re royally fried like a chicken nugget.

I talked the other day about how to stay focused and how to follow one word in order to avoid too much frustration when writing. Well, my friends, this is it. This is the moment where your entire story needs to be summarized to one word.

Here’s the process I went through when I started working on 32 Seconds – which wasn’t titled 32 Seconds by the way.

Initially, I wrote about a girl who had anger issues. Because I wanted to go YA and fantasy, I made her 17, a rebel teenager, filled with angst. Nothing crazy here. Then I transported her into a fantasy world I hadn’t really thought hard about. I just sent her to a time where Mayan pyramids still existed, and then I made her eat magic chocolates, because why not? I put a weird wizard in the middle, and some strange supporting characters, and I thought, okay, my job is done.

If you asked me the first time to summarize this story with one word, the first thought that came to mind was: clusterfuck. And it was. There was no main thread holding the story together. The girl has anger issues, and we didn’t know why. She didn’t seem to want to work on those issues, and her journey into this parallel universe seemed absolutely pointless. To think that I released thirty thousand words of mere clusterfuck and people actually enjoyed reading my story told me I didn’t suck so bad as a writer, but I definitely had to step up my game a bit. So I rewrote everything.

Second draft, I decided to call my story The Truth Within. Ah here I came with a plan. The main character had anger issues and wanted to solve them. She still landed in that weird world, but I began to think of a purpose for her. She had super powers, and was supposed to save the world.

Again, nothing new here. But we’re making progress.

Third draft, I changed the title again!! Now we have 32 Seconds. First, I think the title sounds great. It’s catchy, and makes you think of an action-packed story. Something a la Mission Impossible mixed with horror elements and some romance because we all need some love after all. I keep following my idea of this main character and her anger issues. She lands in a parallel world (no more Mayan pyramids) after eating an enchanted chocolate. The supporting characters help her understand why she’s angry, and why she needs to change. The plot takes a psychological turn. The main character is growing, facing challenges, she wants to change but is scared to do so. What will give her the incentive to move on? Her life is a mess. She needs to get a grip. A do or die situation comes along. If she doesn’t change, she’s gonna stay stuck in that parallel universe.

You follow my train of thoughts now. I’m within the five step roadmap and I’m not giving you clues that lead you straight into a wall of nowhere. I’m actually telling a story, giving you answers, and my character has a purpose. The world she lives in has a meaning. The supporting characters play a specific role. I had to swap them around, of course, and create new ones, while removing old ones, but together, they formed a unity.

The whole process took more than one year and a half, and approximately five full rewrites (and I’m talking 90k words).

Phew. But we made it. We’re almost there. And I am happy to say I found the word that summarizes my story: redemption.

So here’s the morale of this post. If your main thread is solid, you will spend less time worrying and more time writing. The number of rewrites won’t really change unless you follow the same formula for each story you create. Don’t give up. Keep focusing on that one word and everything will fall into place.

Alright, that’s enough for me today. Until next time, have a lovely day, folks!

 

#TantalizingTuesday – What torments you lately?

Alright, let’s play! This morning I kept thinking of a good topic for a blog post. Gotta keep things fresh around here. And my wandering thoughts took me to tantalize: torment or tease (someone) with the sight or promise of something that is unobtainable. Aha!

How unobtainable is my idea of success as a writer? original

Keep your eyes on the stars, and your feet on the ground – famous quote by Theodore Roosevelt. I don’t think it’s wrong to be too ambitious, but I gotta stay realistic. I’m tormented by the reality of my daily life – paying the bills – and making my dreams come true – writing full time. Let’s say I manage to sell a ton of books and say bye-bye to my day job. Will I be less tormented? Will all my worries vanish and be replaced by pure bliss until I die?

Me don’t think so. Nah. I am the type who’s always looking for change. New stuff, new gig, new challenge, and I gotta keep myself in check. Appreciate the moment, appreciate the opportunity, be happy with what I have and not what I want. And it’s hard. In today’s society, I always want more. More more more…Will I ever be truly satisfied?

I say this often, my primary objective isn’t to sell one million books. I have fun writing, and I do this because it’s my true calling. Of course, a part of me wants to be crazy successful. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t care to be the next bestselling author. But I find happiness in the journey. I can torment myself with silly ideas and the result will be nil. To become a successful author, and my definition of success stops at publishing a well written book, I only have to spend time crafting a great story and releasing it. That’s it. I’m not thinking of JK Rowling, Stephen King and all these folks. If I start doing this, you’ll find me banging my head against the wall.

I learned not to project too far into the future. One day at a time, one word at a time! Ambition is good, but it is like this crazy monkey jumping on your back and doing all sorts of tricks. Ambition needs to be tamed. There are lots of folks who dream like I dream and we can’t all share the spotlight at the same exact time. That’s the truth. So why torture myself? I don’t like pain. So I take a good look in the mirror, I repeat in my little head that whatever I do, I’m already a winner, and whatever comes, I’ll cherish the opportunity and will grow from there.

Have a lovely day!

 

#MuseMonday – The Art Of Staying Focused

Heya all! And a happy Monday – hopefully, a good one.

My brain is like a train station – or an airport. Incessant traffic, noise, arriving and departing thoughts, to any outsider (and who will probe my brain, really??), my mind is busy – very busy. I have a tendency to follow tangents, think of something to then think of something else one second later, and when I write, this can be an issue. Plotting helps determine the path I choose to follow with my story, but more often than not, I get side-tracked and sometimes I get side-tracked so much, I forget what my main plot objective was.

I learned that any first draft contains only 5-10% of good stuff, and another 5-10% of reusable stuff, the rest can pretty much be tossed away and rewritten. I am trying to find a way to make my writing process more time efficient, and to that effect, am working really hard not to let my thoughts wander on too many dead ends.

One solution I found is meditation. I know it sounds corny as hell, but the art of quieting the mind and finding the one thought that will keep me focused has actually helped me a lot, first to prevent me from losing my cool, and getting frustrated with my plot, and also to provide guidance. So here’s my process. I take a deep breath, repeat in my thoughts one word, and let my mind do the rest. If I’m looking for an answer – in case I have a bad case of writer’s block – I usually get something I can reuse later. Some authors let their thoughts loose on a piece of paper, but this method hasn’t worked for me so well. I need to quiet the mind first before trying anything else. meditation

This is not a perfect exercise. I have many moments where my mind just wants to wander, and it is very difficult to shush the noise. But practice makes perfect. Julie Jones in 32 Seconds gets to experience meditation as well – and gosh only knows how much she hates to quiet her mind.

Alright folks, hope your day brings little stress – but if it does bring the inevitable “I can’t take this s*** anymore” – try some meditation. It might help (and no, you don’t have to sit in the lotus position)!

#FF How to gain more exposure on social media

Happy Friday folks!

When I joined Twitter three years ago, my newbie method was simple. Retweet all day long links to my blog posts, and DM authors and people in general whom I found interesting, create some tweepships (friendships on Twitter should be called tweepships) and go from there. It took me a good six months to gather 3,000 followers, and I was like wow, I have arrived. Using apps like Tweetadder and FollowFriday or Triberr were my golden tool to market my brand and reach new followers.

Today…well a lot of things have evolved and as soon as I stopped flooding my feed with retweets, the I Likebeloved apps I used all the time disappeared and got replaced with…well that’s why I’m blogging about it now!

First and foremost, the first thing to do is blog, blog, blog, regularly, otherwise people will forget about the blog. It’s incredible, but sadly true. I lost my touch because I can’t do everything at once!! But I gotta keep up, it’s a must.

I predominantly use Facebook and Twitter – I’m not so sure about Linkedin, given my day job has nothing to do with this job, so I’ll pass on that. I paid Facebook to get more likes on my page – does it really make a difference?? No, not really. I don’t see a huge impact although I have over 2k likes – my belief is my posts are still drowning under other people’s posts, and gosh, we know there are a ton of those; so I read on another fellow blogger’s site to click the highlight button when posting on Facebook so the post doesn’t get lost in the stream of posts. I’m gonna try that and we will see right?

Triberr worked for a while and then I lost touch with it too. I haven’t checked back in. Not really sure I want to.

Instagram is the big hottie lately. I am not sure how to handle this one, given I don’t do many pics, and Instagram is more for images than words…I thought of creating a profile for my Sphynx cat and post pics of him on there just because it’s funny. Will it help my writing career? Um. Maybe. Who knows? I gotta try or I’ll never know!

Tumblr, Pinterest, Google +. Gosh, I don’t know guys. I feel like I need to hire a personal assistant to get all my social stuff taken care of. I would seriously need to tweet and post all day long – like I used to do – but when would I get my writing done???? I gotta clone myself.

Paying for Twitter followers?? Will that really make a difference? I don’t know if reaching 100k followers will launch me into a new universe. I am not checking Twitter as often as I should, so yeah, I don’t know. I gotta see where this one takes me too…

Post pics with your posts, write something interesting, get people to interact with you…Youtube is my favorite platform to this day, but I don’t have awesome content yet to really make a solid impact. I have a channel, and I posted my book trailers on there, but I am thinking of creating my own Vlog business – food for my own thoughts really. And TIME!!! Gotta find the time to do all that.

Given 32 Seconds is being released soon, I have room to experiment. So I’m gonna go all out and see where this takes me…

Until next week, have a great weekend folks!