Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Art of Writing and Living

Hello!

Sorry for the silence. I’ve been working on The Manicheans Trilogy, and am about to finish the draft of Book 2. I started writing this epic tale in 2010, only to take a break to focus all my efforts on Stories from the Underworld and 32 Seconds. I thought taking a break was a bad idea, and publishing The Manicheans was a pressing matter. I, however, thought wrong.

The story evolved into something much bigger, and much funnier too. I needed the experience of working on two other projects before diving into the trilogy again. I needed a fresh pair of eyes. I also needed to feel inspired again.

Not feeling inspired is the worst thing that can happen to any writer. Yet, it happens. I had to deal with the “no inspiration” phase for several months. I even questioned whether I wanted to keep writing. I stepped away from Twitter, Facebook, and focused on other projects. I needed to find my balance. I needed to find my rhythm. Life had changed for me, and my free time to write had become extreme luxury. I asked myself if I still loved writing, and I honestly had to take a good look at myself and my goals, before saying yes, I love to write. anne-rice-advice

Here we are a few months later. The draft of Book 1 was finished fast; Book 2 was more laborious. Book 3 will probably feel the same way, although I enjoy the prospect of completing the tale and editing it, preparing it for publication and releasing it for your reading pleasure. I know some have been waiting, maybe they forgot about me a little too, because I wasn’t in the spotlight as much. Trust me, I’m still here. My silence is only evidence of my dedication to the craft. True passion is only tested during harder times.

I’ve learned to be gentler with myself, and not stress over my work as I used to. I’m not trying to become the next bestselling author. I wanted to at some point, but not today. I only seek to write stories that resonate with me, that make me laugh, and cry. I leave the commercial stuff to authors who want to write commercial stuff. I have the freedom as an author to choose what I want to write about, why should I burden myself with topics that mean nothing to me? Just for the money? I don’t even have that state of mind with my day job anymore. I love my day job today, and in the past, I didn’t. The money was there though.

imagesAll I’m saying is don’t limit yourself by what you know, and think will make you happy. As an artist, as a human being, you get to experiment. Take advantage of this gift! Don’t let money dictate everything you do. Remember, what happens after publication is not in my power.

I can only worry about so much. I’ve written daily, a little bit, sometimes three words a day, but the work keeps growing. I give it my all anytime I can, and I live, I live life and experience it without guilt, without regret, because living makes me a better writer and a better person. The days where I didn’t sleep enough, where I had my head buried in the computer, hurrying, pressuring myself to release a book because I had convinced myself this was what I needed to do, are over. I take my time today. I have this luxury. This doesn’t mean I don’t do the work. I just enjoy it more. I don’t do it like a chore. I can’t. Writing must come from the heart. If it doesn’t come from the heart, then it’s a waste of time.

You’ll see me around soon enough. I can’t wait to share The Manicheans with you all.

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Today #getinspired 

Today is a good day. I wake up with a smile on my face, I feel grateful, words toggle down and I am inspired! Inspiration is such a gift. I thought I had lost it for a bit, and this thought made me fearful I had lost my creativity. 

Many unexpected events happen in life, that’s why it’s called “life”, and the art of writing can be impacted by so much. Doubt is the biggest enemy! Don’t ever doubt yourself. It doesn’t matter what you do, how well you do it, as long as YOU DO IT! And these words are extremely important. I overlooked them. I thought I had all the time in the world to write my perfect book. 

Well guess what? Every day that passes by, I lose a little more of that time instead of taking full advantage of it. And why am I looking for perfection? Because I am always doubting myself. I am dissatisfied. I am way too critical, which can be beneficial when I edit, but not when I write. 

Therefore, drop the bullcrap and get going. Write like you breathe. Don’t second guess yourself. Follow the spark. Don’t look back. 

Get inspired.  

 

Writing and Marketing – how I simply can’t pursue both #writingcomesfirst

Hi folks,

I have been out of pocket for the past few months. Life got busier, and the social media environment has changed so much over the past year that it has become a real battle to figure out which platform is more efficient for marketing purposes.

The truth of the matter is, they’re all efficient if someone spends a great majority of their time using them. Facebook is great when the content of a page attracts so many real likes that it jumps in the feed and becomes number one page to be advertised, and therefore clicked on. Instagram is amazing to showcase a brand. Twitter is awesome to run flash marketing to a wide audience. These three players are the biggest ones in the social media universe, there are obviously hundreds of tools to choose from.

I was an avid Twitter fan until my Twitter feed got so polluted with crap, and my automated TweetAdder app got disabled by Twitter, that I literally can’t spend several hours a day manually setting up tweets, or screening the feed and retweeting anyone’s content. Among other things, I would have to reset all my lists, and tweet users on these lists, with the hope that I gain lifers.

My Facebook author page is a waste of space at this point, and I’m highly considering deleting the whole thing. I can’t attract organic likes without gaining a high number of likes, and the high number of likes I have gained aren’t real, because Facebook gave them to me from clicking farms. I honestly don’t want to pay for more fake likes, because why make Facebook richer?

Instagram – I’m slowly getting used to it, and trying to brand myself there too, but it’s taking time.

It’s very difficult to balance everything, and I’ve come to the point where my love for writing is faltering because of the marketing involved in my indie writing career. I don’t want to lose my love and passion for writing because of this. I will remain an avid word lover, and crafter, but at this point, I have to take a step back and rethink my entire marketing strategy – and this will come at a point in time where my books have been finished, and published. I can’t do multiple things at once.

This blog will remain, as I still find that blogging is the best way I have to connect to people. I’ll post here again once my schedule frees up a little.

Thank you for the following, and I’ll be online soon.

#FF How to create a successful #arc for your character #plotting #writing

Hello folks and happy Friday!

The other day I blogged about conflict, and the all and ever familiar (or not so familiar) concepts of internal and external conflicts. Today, we attack the character’s arc.

Every character has to be as realistic as possible to be believable. The psychology of a character plays a really huge role in the plot and the overall quality of the story. Many timeless tales have shed light on a character’s evolution throughout a perilous journey by diving into the character’s mind. His/her internal conflict, coupled with the external conflict, gives depth to the plot, and more room to play to create a beautiful arc.

The arc is your beginning and ending point. Each character has its own arc. The story itself has an arc too. The arc can be huge, if your protagonist is the main player, or it can be very small for secondary and tertiary characters. The size of the arc doesn’t matter. 😉 The arc will act as a measuring stick for the character’s evolution throughout the story.

Let’s take an example: Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. There are many characters in this book with many arcs. Let’s focus on two of them, Javert and Jean Valjean.

Beginning of the arc for Jean Valjean. A good man, trying to do the next right thing by stealing bread for his sister’s children during a time of economic depression, Valjean is sentenced to spend years in prison. He becomes this despicable character in the eyes of society. The world sees him as a bad person, unworthy of trust and love. Picture his arc growing from the ground up.

Javert is depicted as the ultra self-righteous police officer who doesn’t believe in forgiveness, and redemption. His arc actually starts high and gradually goes down.

Valjean will mature, and evolve, to become this man everyone loves and respects, even when he tells the truth about his past acts and demands to be brought to justice.

Javert will turn into a bitter individual, bloodthirsty for revenge, becoming the super villain everyone will hate. Javert will realize that his sense of justice was wrong, and Valjean, despite being a criminal, was a better man than him all along. He ends up taking his own life because he cannot accept that truth.

Valjean and Javert represent the sides of the same coin, and their arcs certainly bear similarities. But as Valjean’s arc goes toward good/order, Javert’s arc goes toward bad/chaos, his sense of justice morphing into abuse of power and personal vendetta.

Readers will root for Valjean. Who doesn’t want the underdog to win? Javert could have earned some stripes if Hugo had decided to shift his arc upward toward good again. But he didn’t do that.

A well executed arc will manage to draw the readers in and keep them glued to the pages like it’s cocaine (it’s actually an expression I heard from fellow authors when talking about books they devoured in one sitting).

The arc offers thousands of possibilities, shapes and directions. There can be a million plot twists, which will shape the arc with multiple peaks and valleys. The arc can never be a straight line (because a straight line doesn’t show evolution). That’s why an arc is called an arc, and not something else. 😉 Ultimately, the arc will reach its high or bottom. However you want the character to evolve, a powerful arc will resonate with readers and make them addicted to the story and the character. Bear in mind that a character can evolve while not radically changing his/her point of view. The storytelling will guide the character to a cross-roads (climax of the plot): change or remain the same but there must be evolution.

I’m pasting a link to a great article about the character’s arc, and a few diagrams with links to other very helpful blogs below. Please feel free to share!

That’s it for today. Have a lovely weekend folks!

#WW #Conflict in a Story #plotting

Happy Wednesday!

This post is a small cheat sheet dedicated to conflict.

Every plot is built on:

1) The internal conflict: the character’s emotional, mental, spiritual, physical evolution/struggle throughout the story;

2) The external conflict: events happen in the world where the story is taking place and the character reacts to them. The external conflict creates the story goal;

3) The interaction between the internal and external conflicts, which will give rise to a climax, and the plot will come to a resolution.

Here’s an example everyone will relate to: Snow White.

Snow White’s internal conflict: she’s the princess and like all princesses in fairy tales, she wants love.

The external conflict: the Queen wants her dead, so she has to hide. It’s Snow White vs. the Queen. Good vs. Evil. Who will win?

Well the issue here is that love will be difficult to find if Snow White stays hidden forever. But how will she escape the evil Queen?

The death of Snow White after eating the apple is the climax in the fairy tale. When the prince finds her and the glass coffin breaks, she wakes up and tada, finds her true love! The plot resolution is good wins and evil loses.

Conflict is the structure. The interaction between the internal and external conflicts creates the meat and potatoes of the story, and each character’s arc. More on the arc in a another post…

I’m pasting a link to a very good article on internal and external conflict – definitely very helpful for every writer out there. The whole website is actually dedicated to writing so feel free to explore.

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Alright, that’s it for today! Thanks as always for reading!

9/11, Thirteen years later… Where am I? #911anniversary

Happy Thursday folks. Today is 9/11 so I have no idea how many people will blog about this because the wound is still fresh (and no, I’m not going to start a rant about politics and terrorism), but I have certainly not forgotten where I was, and what I was doing when the attacks occurred. I’d like to take a step back and reminisce a little.

Where I was: France. On September 11, 2001, I was 18 and was taking driving lessons. After an hour spent in hell with my instructor (getting your driver’s license in France is like searching for the Holy Grail, especially when learning to parallel park uphill), I pulled up to the driving school and another instructor
stormed out: “It’s like watching a movie and planes are crashing into the Twin Towers…” he said. What???? I was so in love with the United States (and still am), just hearing this made my heart bleed. Once home, I turned on the TV and bam, here it was, live. The attacks happened around 9 am, and in France, it was 3 pm. Prime time TV had some meat to chew on that day, and for many days after.

I was 18. I was still living with Mom and Dad, I was going to school, hated it but I was going, and never thought I’d be moving to New York. July 26, 2006, I landed at JFK airport, and have been living on the East Coast ever since. Next week, I’m taking my citizenship test.

Thirteen years later, I’m becoming a US citizen, I’m working in the City, I live in New Jersey with four cats and an amazing boyfriend, I spend my time writing books and dreaming greater dreams of writing full time, and I’m a happy gal. Of course, the road to happiness was paved with crap along the way, but the crap was worth it. Crap makes you appreciate the present moment (at least that’s what I tell myself every time I step in it).download

Life is so unpredictable. I never know where I’m going to land next. But it’s great. Makes the journey more interesting.

Look at the bright side, don’t step in too much crap (and if you do, well, it’s good luck, right?) and move on! Dwelling on the past doesn’t help (Julie Jones (32 Seconds) knows what she’s talking about, and so do I). Have a great day folks!

#TGIF Trip to DC and I did no writing

But got comments from my editor last night on 32 Seconds and I’m moving forward nicely. Which makes me feel really good about all the work I put in. And I’m close, very close to my goal. The trick is not to lose focus.

So I went on a business trip to DC and didn’t write. Memorial Day weekend – I didn’t write either because of work, and as much as I love the extra money, neglecting my writing makes me feel like I’m losing my mind.

And trust me I know what losing my mind feels like.

Nothing I can do about work though. I need my sleep and exercise to stay sane – that I don’t neglect under any circumstances – except tonsillectomy. But that was once.

We all have to pay our bills and my job is tough and requires I devote a lot of time to it – taking that time away from my writing. I still managed to write and edit so I must be doing something right. I wish I could write more though. My inspiration dies a little inside when I don’t practice daily.

On a positive note, I’ve reached a mindset today that allows me to juggle writing life and job without killing myself in the process. And that’s the most important thing. Without sobriety, I don’t know where I’d be. Probably stuck in some parallel universe trying to understand my true nature, like the MC in 32 Seconds.

Have a good weekend folks, hopefully next week the editing/writing will have progressed!