Ten Songs That Started My Day

I often start my days off with music. As mentioned in the previous post, it gets my mojo flowing by allowing me to brainstorm or just relax and collect my thoughts. Therefore, I decided to share 10 songs, plus a bonus, that got my day going:

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The cover reflects the simplicity of the musical arrangement. Just a guy and his guitar.

The Beautiful People by Lee DeWyze – “It’s not your fault that you’re always wrong. The weak ones are there to justify the strong.” Wow, what a statement. This song makes me think of politics, but more so economic systems, especially with lines like, “capitalism has made its way, old fashioned fascism will take you away.” Hmm. The downside of capitalism. Obviously, in a free market society, you’re going to have haves and have nots. That’s just the way it is. However, if the scale tips where there’s a massive economic downturn and the have nots turn into don’t have shit, then scapegoating and hateful ideologies rear their ugly little heads (having a middle class is important). There are plenty of examples of that in world history. Anyway, I would love to know what his inspiration was behind this song.

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Blackbird Song by Lee DeWyze – Clearly I was feeling Mr. DeWyze this morning. In celebration of the premiere of the new season of “The Walking Dead” this coming Sunday, I decided to play this song. It was featured on an episode on one of the previous seasons (for those who watch, I think it was the scene where we saw what Bob was up to before coming across the group). His raspy voice is quiet alluring and I love the folksy, bluesy sound of the song. Also, whoever played the fiddle in this song played the hell out of it. It’s one of my favorite aspects of the song.

 

She also kind of reminds me of my grandmother.

She also kind of reminds me of my grandmother.

La Guarachera by Celia Cruz and Tito Puente – This is currently one of my favorite jams! Wow! Ok. So sadly it really wasn’t until I took a Caribbean cultures class in college that realized the African diaspora extends well beyond the U.S., Jamaica, and Haiti (who knew Brazil had the highest population of people of African descent in the western hemisphere?). As such, I discovered salsa in general and Celia Cruz in particular. The foundation of salsa music is the drum. This song emphasizes that to the max. I love the drum solo towards the end of the song. Freaking amazing. (On a side note, listening to music in español also really helped me learn vocabulary and syntax when I was a Spanish major once upon a time.)

 

His blank expression conveys a lot.

His blank expression conveys a lot.

If I Ruled The World (Imagine That) by Nas featuring Lauryn Hill – I’m sure you can imagine from the title what this song is about. Basically, if Nas had his way, there wouldn’t be social or economic injustices and the have nots will, well, have. I don’t think I need to elaborate more. “Black diamonds and pearls… living for today in these last days of times.”

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Uninvited by Alanis Morissette – Ha! So you know how you’re just kind of doing your thing, not really looking for anyone, and then… BAM! Someone comes out of the blue and you’re like “wow, I’m really feeling him/her” but then you think about how you don’t want to like said person because you don’t want to get screwed over in the end (ergo, that person is uninvited). Yeah. Ms. Morissette nailed that in this song. Additionally, the instrumentation is sick! I love the rock mixed with the classical orchestra. It’s heavenly music to my ears.

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Work That by Mary J Blige – “Just because the length of your hair ain’t long and they often citizen you for your skin tone, go on and hold your head high because you’re a pretty woman…” Awesome! This song is just great. It’s all about appreciating your given beauty and flaunting what you have, no matter what society says about you. Don’t bleach that skin. Don’t feel pressured to straighten that hair (unless you’re on an interview for a job, lol) or wear those extensions. This song is all about self-esteem building. It’s also an ode to diversity. Without it, life would be monotonous.

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There For You by Damian Marley – “Vexation of spirit is a waste of time, negative thinking don’t you waste your thoughts.” Now this is a great opening line! Ah! If I were a smoking woman, this is one song that I would smoke one to while listening. It’s just a really relaxed, chill out song. It also makes you think about all the people who have supported you throughout your life and how you should appreciate them being around, even when you’re at your darkest. Well-said Jr. Gong.

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I love her smile!

 Daydreamin’ by Lupe Fiasco and Jill Scott – So, this song is definitely a gaping metaphor about a robot where the robot represents life, particularly urban life. Lupe makes tons of critiques on society. One of my favorites is where he’s speaking ironically about rap videos and all the “props” they should have (e.g. scantly clad women, guns, coke, blunts, “bling”, etc.) It’s been awhile since I’ve watched a video so I’m not sure if those same mainstays remain. However, something tells me that they’re still there and have probably gotten worse over time.

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Love of My Life (An Ode To Hip Hop) by Common and Erykah Badu – Yet another metaphorical song. I love the allegory of hip-hop as a woman, or a relationship in general. When you love whatever craft or hobby you have, it kind of does feel like you’re in a relationship with it. There are ups and downs, good and bad, and sometimes you just need some distance from it to see if it’s something you’re really into, or, to find much needed inspiration.

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You’re So Vain by Carly Simon – I find this song to be hilarious! Clearly Ms. Simon had to get some things off her chest about a certain someone who screwed her over in the past. What better way to vent than to write a passive aggressive song about the bane of your existence (at the given moment)? Gotta love the arts!

 

The Legend!

The Legend!

**Bonus: Thriller by Michael Jackson – Because who doesn’t need a little MJ to start their day off! We’re getting closer to Halloween and this video was a Halloween staple. I remember seeing it on Mtv as a kid and being terrified. With my adult eyes, I now marvel at the choreography and the concept behind the entire video. Definitely avant garde for the time.

Well that’s what got me going today and inspired this post. What are some songs that get your day going? Leave a comment below. Who knows? Maybe I have it in my iTunes as well.

 

 

Meet Dicey Grenor

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Spicy Dicey! Dicey is one of the few people I’ve actually met on Twitter first. I don’t remember how, but I think it was probably from either one of us tweeting or commenting on something. Dicey writes “spicy” novels that she describes as “sexy, wild, daring, and risky.” I read one of her novels, Best Friends, Fantasy Lovers, and enjoyed it. Not only did I learn a little something about the BDSM subculture (I’m one of those rare women who did not read 50 Shades nor saw the movie), but it also reminded me of my undergrad years at the University of Tennessee (and no, not because of the kinky stuff, lol).

I participated in a foreign exchange roommate program where I lived with ladies from abroad. One of my roommates was Irish and she was a riot! I had a blast hanging out with her. I learned things about Ireland and about British culture in general (including a band called The Streets). When I discovered one of the main characters in the story was Irish, and that she stayed true to British slang and syntax, I was hooked! I suppose nostalgia has the power to do that.

Any who, what’s cool about Dicey (aside from her jokes and the fact that she balances writing with being an attorney, mom, and wife… whew!) is that she’s always supportive; she retweets random stuff from my timeline and she always comments on something I say, which was especially nice in the early days of my Twitter experience since I didn’t have many followers; I didn’t feel like I was talking to myself. Lol! Get to know more about her below:

 Question 1. Name one surprising thing about you.

Answer 1. I love Marilyn Manson. Anyone that knows me knows this, but new friends always find this shocking. I even went to my first mosh pit experience to see him perform a few weeks ago. Best rush ever.

Q2. What’s your favorite food?

A2. Shrimp. I enjoy seafood.

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Q3. What was your inspiration behind Best Friends, Fantasy Lovers? 

A3. My infatuation with Robert Sheehan’s character, Nathan Young, on Misfits (BBC). I thought he was hilarious, gorgeous, and was an all-around compelling character with a hot Irish accent. It was hell trying to nail a culture/nationality I knew nothing about, but when the muse hit, I had to succumb. I ended up building a whole world around his personality. Since I was going to lots of rock concerts at the time, it just naturally evolved that his character would be a rocker. *insert universal rock sign* [S.M. side note: Tommy is quite the hilarious character and she freaking nailed the culture!]

Q4. Is there a message in your novel(s) that you want your readers to grasp?

A4. I’m not preachy about any particular message, but I’d love for people to feel how diversity, love and acceptance for all is a driving force behind my characterizations. I deliberately channel characters that aren’t mainstream, because I like for traits that society sees as “weird” or different to just be another thing that makes us special. I’d like for our differences to be celebrated. I’m attracted to characters that teach me something new about the world from a perspective I don’t naturally see things. I’d love for readers to feel that too.

Q5. When and why did you begin writing?

A5. I’ve been writing since I was first able to hold a pen…or at least that’s the story I’m sticking with. I didn’t get serious about writing fiction until 2009, when I needed the outlet. I like to craft my words to sound as intelligent, hip, snarky, or consoling as I intend them to be. Writing is a healthy form of therapy. Fiction lets me do it creatively.

Q6. What is the hardest thing about writing for you?

A6. The hardest thing about writing for me is finding time to do it. There just isn’t enough time to get it done. I already stay up late and get up early. I operate on little to no sleep just to get my daily tasks done. The only time I can write is somewhere between eleven at night and two in the morning. As you can imagine–I’m tired by then. But I do what I must.

Q7. Did you learn anything from writing your books? If so, what was it?

A7. I’ve learned A LOT. 1. My writing continues to improve with each story. All the more reason to keep doing it. 2. My target audience is even smaller than I expected. That means I don’t take my readers for granted. I make sure to respond back to each email, each text, each call, FB message, blog post, Tweet…you name it. I make sure my readers know how much I appreciate them. 3. My books must become films in order to garner more attention. I love films, so that works either way. 4. I love interacting with fans so much; I feel like they are friends. In that regard, I’ve learned that being an author is sharing pieces of my soul with everyone that reads my books. It makes me vulnerable, not just to criticism, but to the good and bad connections I develop with my new friends/readers.

There’s so much more. I also learn a lot from other authors (good and bad) and lot of cultural nuances while researching for my characters.

Q8. What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk, if any?

A8. My manic writing phase is pretty insane. The characters speak to me loud and clear, and they write the story. I probably struggled through the beginning of the story to find the right voice. Then BAM. My fingers just move. I eat, sleep, and breathe the story until it’s done. During one such manic phase, I actually wrote fifty thousand words in one week, including editing. It was a finished product by the time I was done. [S.M. side note: I’m similar. I can get manic when the flow is running strong.]

Q9. What do you think makes a story good?

A9. Compelling characters and unpredictable plots. Even if I don’t like a particular character, if the character’s development is good, that will make me feel something. If I feel something, it’s a good story. If it has a plot that I can’t guess what’s going to happen next, that suspense makes it a good story for me.

Q10. How can readers discover more about your works (e.g. Goodreads, Amazon, website, etc.)?

A10. I’m everywhere under Dicey Grenor: Goodreads, Amazon, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Google Plus. My website is www.diceygrenorbooks.com.

Meet Michael Stephenson

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I met Michael, once again, on Google+. Actually, I think we met from the same “venting post” from which I met K.G., but I’m not entirely sure. I just know that Michael has detailed and insightful information on anything I pick his brain about (you’ll soon see). He’s even left some thoughtful comments on some of my prior posts (which I greatly appreciate). Another thing that’s cool about Michael is that he’s funny. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m super, super silly and that I LOVE a good laugh/joke. I’ve gotten a hearty chuckle from his Twitter comments (when he hasn’t disappeared, hibernating with his multiple projects). Get to know more about him below:

Question 1. Name one surprising thing about you.

Answer 1. I had a constant and persistent headache that didn’t go away for years only increasing and decreasing in pain. As a by-product, it’s made me a little crazy and I think I’m psychic. Seriously.

Q2. What is your favorite movie and why? 

A2. The favorite movie thing is like asking what’s my favorite dessert or food. It depends highly on my mood. Forrest Gump is up there because it tells the story of America and its people and how badly we all want love in this world. Shawshank Redemption is also high because of the brotherhood, and how even in tragedy good things can come. There are some others I enjoy like Curious Case of Benjamin Button and The Dark Knight, and The Sound of Music and It’s A Wonderful Life but again, it is highly concentrated on my mood.

Q3. Who is your favorite author and what is it about his or her work that resonates with you? 

A3. “Art is the righting of something, the ability to tell its truth.” A teacher once said that to me—she may have been paraphrasing someone else at the time, but didn’t say who. With that said, Stephen King is one of my favorites. I enjoy his writing because even though much of it is horror with outlandish plots, it rings true. The characters, the settings, how they interact, even their foibles all feel real. I think, unlike other authors, he allows his characters to be more human and make mistakes and do illogical things. There’s not always someone doing the expected thing in his stories, which is refreshing.

Q4. What do you think makes a story good?

A4. Hell, if I knew that, I’d be a millionaire. What makes a story good is up in the air. I’m not often too sure what I think makes a story good. I find not only myself but others seeing or reading something and connecting with it but not knowing why. Most people, most authors especially, would jump to “it’s the characters, the characters!” which is a nice sentiment, however, that doesn’t really explain the allure of things like fairy tales and old time stories so ancient they seem not to have any identifiable characters. Think about the story of Cinderella. Before Disney came in, she didn’t have much character to her at all. Sure, she had circumstances that affected her, but the core story could be changed and manipulated to have her be a thousand different things and a thousand different ways.

Then, there’s the actual story. I consider myself more a storyteller than a character analyst (not to say that the characters are thin). The story has to draw in the reader in my opinion because the characters might not be likable or alive for a long time or even be identifiable to the reader (ex. Song of Ice and Fire: Game of Thrones series). But if the story draws them in, they can withstand an evil character with no redeeming qualities or someone they can’t relate to so long as they are engrossed in wondering what happens next.

Good story is determined highly by the current prejudices of the reader. My prejudices can vary wildly from month to month.

Q5. When and why did you begin writing?

A5. It happened when I was eleven. I always had a great imagination and saw myself in the film and entertainment industry. I wanted to act. And then I learned that if I wanted story input, I had to be the storyteller, so I wanted to direct and produce but even that wasn’t enough. Getting the worlds that existed in my head onto paper was naturally the last step. Eventually, I will achieve all of these things… I’m psychic, remember.

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Q6. What writing projects are you working on at the moment?

A6. Warning! System overload. Asking me that question is like asking the Pope how Catholic he is. Very! He’s very Catholic. Uh… hmm! That actually wasn’t as great of an analogy as I thought it’d be. Put it this way, I’m working on a lot of stuff.

First, I have the comedy “Yep, I’m Totally Stalking My Ex-Boyfriend” which is about a 30-something woman who is, well, you know. She’s stalking her ex-boyfriend. Come on people, keep up! That’s in editing and will be out in early October.

Next, I have an as yet untitled YA project, tentatively titled “Ghosting”—though that’s probably not going to be the title… but it could be the title. That won’t be out until next year. That is in the late stages of development (two weeks from primary typing).

There’s “The Man On The Roof,” a mystery that will totally be a bestseller (again, psychic!) which I will be trying first to take the traditional publishing route. That is currently in typing and will continue throughout the rest of the month.

There are all my other late editing projects: “The Maiden’s Cocoon” (drama/mystery), “The Knowledge of Fear” (mystery), “Cavity” (horror/humor), “A New Low” (the long-delayed sequel to A Dangerous Low), “A Negotiation of Sorrows” (long-delayed sequel to the Erotica/Legal drama A Negotiation of Wounds), and “The Writer.” The Writer’s first season is completed and currently has 12 of its 15 episodes out and online at Amazon (check the link below or search The Writer Michael Stephenson). Naturally, I think all writers and readers should read it especially since it has kicked into overdrive. It is a character-study of sorts. I’m not going to bore you with the details here, as I could talk about it all day. And finally, I am working on my most painfully personal work, Unrequited. It starts with the story of a girl I once fell in love with. That will be an actual serial novel (as opposed to an episodic novella series like The Writer) sometime next year.

Let me expand on this answer because I know people are freaking out and rolling their eyes, saying, “that’s too many projects. He can’t be working on all of them right now.” Actually, I am working on all of them concurrently. At any one given time when I am not on vacation I have at least 5-8 projects on which I am actively writing. “Well, you’re not gonna get all of them done.” Yes, I will and most of them by the end of the year (and that’s not even including the scene book for season two of The Writer coming Summer 2016 nor the scene book for another episodic novella series entitled Extraordinary coming sometime next year). Plotting and things of that nature I do in my down time after finishing primary writing. This is a way for me to never have writer’s block, keep mentally sharp, and change my mindset enough to figure out if a scene works or doesn’t and what I want it to accomplish. And no, I don’t have ADD. God, I hope that didn’t sound like bragging.

Q7. Where do your ideas come from?

A7. Just from my imagination and dreams. Very rarely will I pull from something else. Exceptions are: Unrequited is reality/fantasy, The Provocateur was assigned to me to write, and Darker, while essentially a highly influenced Stephen King work, did not originally start that way. Now, it stands as an updated version of Carrie dealing with current racial tensions. Outside of that, everything else is imagination, and only becomes “inspired by” or “based on” during the marketing phase.

Q8. What is the hardest thing about writing for you?

A8. Grammer. Its got two be that and sumtimes mispelling words. On some occasions, I have been too fixated on the proper English words and phrases and their construction that I rip the voice out of a character. Oddly, many editors I’ve had have done this as well.

Q9. What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk, if any?

A9. I don’t believe I have any writing quirks. A quirk to me is something that is odd, like people who can’t start a novel without a glass of Merlot or people who put that big glob of sunscreen on the tip of their nose. You can’t rub that into your nose? Seriously? Or is that just the only place you put it. Like, your nose is gonna be the very first thing that gets sun burnt or that skin cancer will only attack the nose. And while we’re on the subject, what in the world is up with these sunburn tattoo designs? Who the hell said that was a good idea? You know what, I’ve gone off on a tangent. What was the question?

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Q10. What has been one of the biggest lessons you’ve learned from your experiences as a writer?

A10. There are many, but I’d actually list three:

  • Take writing seriously.
  • Be open to new writing experiences (whether it be in genre or with partners, etc.)
  • For self-pub writers have a clear goal of where you want to take it.

The first is clear, just take your writing seriously. This is a business. As much as you may be in it for yourself, your main job still is to entertain the audience that will buy your stuff.

The second is to be open to new experiences. Because of my desire to write for film, I had to learn a few lessons early. One of the biggest: partnership. I would actually recommend writing with a partner for every self-pub author at some point. Why? For one, I sincerely think this will be the trend for the independent market in the near future. Think about it, you do a few of your own independent works, then come together with another writer who has done the same. Each of you get to expose your writing to a wider audience. You partially ride the success of another. That’s why I say for writers I know to be ready next year when I write my bestseller ;).

Also, writing with someone else challenges you out of your comfort zone. You get to see how someone else works, how they process information, etc. It can force you to grow as an author. I always try to stay open to writing with others, though it is exceptionally difficult. But, again, seeing how someone else works can really ignite your own fire to tackle your writing as a business. It can also spur you to figure out if this is something you really want to devote your free time to.

For all authors, but self-pubs especially know what you want. I find many self-pub authors don’t have a plan after publishing their first, or second or even third book. What’s your end goal? Just a few years ago many self-pub and vanity authors wanted to sell enough to take the figures to a real publisher and maybe get a deal (a la John Locke). Now, that sentiment has partially faded and there is no real plan. What if nobody wants your self-pub books, what then? Do you want to be read or just published?

I always take the 50/50 rule. The rule goes: as a writer, you should aim to write between 3 and 5 books a year and self-pub two. The other books should be the ones you submit to publishers as your best work. Tons of writers will take that suggestion badly and think that I’m only publishing my inferior stories. No. You should think that all of what you write is good enough to publish. If not, don’t publish it. But you must also be judicial enough in your writing to take a less emotional look at your stories and see which ones would be the absolute best. Those, you set aside for query. Also, forget the whole “self-pub will ruin your chances at traditionals” theory. If you actually have readers, reviewing it and wanting to read more already, publishers might frown upon your indie exploits, but in the end they still want to move books, and just like in film, a built in audience is a surefire way to get real sales.

Q11. What is your writing process like?

Q11. Chaotic but concise. I go through seasons of expectation. For instance, the summer is generally my generation season. I walk a lot to keep healthy and while on my walks, I will come up with the majority of my new ideas and plots. Full scenes pop into my head, and if I find them good, then I will go back and note them down on my running outlines and ideas’ page. When I start working on them is determined by how forceful the vision is. For instance, if only one scene comes to me, I’ll jot down a few generalities, then put it on the back burner. But if a number of scenes pop into my head, then I know it’s time to actually plot it out and write it sometime within the next year; in fact, that is almost exclusively how I write. I’m not the type of person that sits and plans out the details of the scenes (there are a few exceptions, ex. The Writer). They have to come naturally for me, or else I start questioning whether those are the scenes and aspects of the story that want to be told. I feel like at some point, the stories have to naturally come and develop. The story, in most cases, tells you what it wants to say and how to say it. There are really only two times one should have a problem in the process: when you’re one-third to half of the way through and you’ve exhausted all the scenes that come to you naturally, and during the editing process.

I write fast but that doesn’t mean I’m rushing or don’t give proper care to all stories. I have tons of first draft novels waiting to be edited because I want to give them the proper care they deserve. I also don’t stop and revise/edit during writing. I separate them for two reasons: one, when the ideas are flowing, I don’t like slowing down and two, I find that sometimes you can edit and revise out something that may have been brilliant (OK, just really good; humility and stuff). I never delete anything. Instead, I will move a passage down to the end of the document onto a scratchpad because it could come in handy later in the novel. My process is fast and hectic but very concentrated on precisely what my imagination tells me should happen next.

Q12. How can readers discover more about your works (e.g. Goodreads, Amazon, website, etc.)?

A12. So many ways: Amazon Goodreads Goodreads Groups Twitter

And finally I have my own blog, which focuses mostly on TV and books occasionally, with a few recipes and off-topic posts on whatever pops into my mind at the time. It is going back into effect next week to align with the new TV season and I will be unloading a few book reviews from my summer reading as well. Check that here: http://r-u-notentertained.blogspot.com/

So, in conclusion, two tidbits that stuck out to me were  that I should get more disciplined with my writing schedule (don’t think I can) and that I should seek out a writing partner. Hmm… Now the latter is something I’d be interested in doing.

Thanks for participating Michael! Make sure to check him to on social media and check out his stories.

Sequel Update: Dealing With One Pesky Bad Boy

Jax Teller

As mentioned in a previous post, I haven’t felt like writing anything pertaining to the Twisted sequel lately. I thought that if I got my suspicions on why I didn’t feel like writing off my chest that it would help me, well, write something. Lo and behold, within a day or two of writing that post, my mojo returned. Sort of. However, it wasn’t the maniac, free flow that I was hoping for. Instead, the flow trickled; a sentence here, finesse as paragraph there. After doing that for a while, new ideas and scenes flooded my imagination and I sketched them out as best as I could at the time. While in the process of doing that, I once again focused on one of my main characters, which is not AJ (teaser!).

He’s the new guy on the block. He’s the inspiration behind the bad boys post (I see him as a personality combination of T.I. and “Jax Teller”, hence why I used Jax’s picture above) and he is still monopolizing my time. Poor AJ can barely utter a word before rude, obnoxious, and pretty damn… demanding “mystery man” inserts himself into the conversation. After enduring hours of his pestering, I finally relented to his demands and told more of the story from his POV. Still, he’s not happy with the time I’ve given him. He’s arguing that I’m not portraying his character well enough to the audience (“What audience?” I asked him. He crossed his arms over his chest and replied, “Just wait. You’ll see.” I love his confidence.) He thinks the story would be more compelling if I tell it strictly from his POV, to hell with AJ. He had his time in the first story. When I counter that there are people out there who like AJ and would like to see what happens to him from his perspective, he shuts me down, demanding that I keep spilling his prose on the pages. It’s his turn to shine, so he says. Well damn! What’s a girl to do? I’m over halfway through the story (I think) and if I were to tell it solely from his perspective, I’d have to do some major scene reconstruction (and omissions). Honestly, I’m not sure if I’m down for that. I really want to be done with this first draft. With that being said, I’m sure the story would pour out of me faster since he’s so damn demanding. He’d surely yak my ear off until the story is finished.

Now, I’m faced with a dilemma: should I keep the story in its current form (alternating POV between AJ and “mystery bad boy”), or should I tell the story entirely from said bad boy’s perspective? I’d love to hear feedback, especially from those of you who have read Twisted. Don’t act shy. I know Twisted readers stop by the blog! Should I cave to the demands of the “mystery guy”, or should I give AJ space to tell his story as well? Leave your comments below or find me on social media.

 

Meet K.G. Arndell

K.G.!

K.G.!

I met K.G. in one of the Google plus (G+) communities geared towards indie authors. I posted a mini vent/rant about how marketing on social media is a pain (you can read a piece of that here). He was one of the first people to comment on my rant. His advice was helpful and informative (take away points: there’s no concrete answer on what works, don’t stress out, and don’t stretch yourself too thin on these platforms). I really like his “live and let live” vibe. We could use more of that in the world today. What’s also cool about K.G. are the visuals he shares; he’s always posting interesting (and sometimes creepy) thought provoking artwork on G+. Get to know a little more about him below:

Question 1. Name one surprising thing about you.

Answer 1. Despite the fact that I’m primarily a horror writer, I don’t watch a lot of horror movies. I find many of them lacking in substance. There’s no there there. I want a story, not just some maniac chasing a bunch of clueless kids around with a machete. Notice I didn’t say all horror movies. One rare such exception is Let the Right One In, a vampire tale that’s almost Shakespearean in its depth of story.

Q2.What is your favorite movie and why?

A2. The Shawshank Redemption. It’s just a great story. It has elements of horror, suspense, mystery, and humor. I love the idea of Andy Dufresne’s struggle against, and eventual triumph (albeit bittersweet) over the injustice done to him, and the commentary on the evil that men do. The Godfather is a close second.

Q3.What advice would you give your younger self?

A3. When it comes to your dreams, don’t listen to the naysayers, the people who don’t have skin in the game. They’ll lead you astray more often than not, then be conveniently absent when you’re left to deal with the results of their advice/criticisms. It’s your life, not theirs. Live it your way.

Q4.Who is your favorite author and what is it about his or her work that resonates with you?

A4. This is a tough one. But I’m going to have to go with Richard Matheson (The Incredible Shrinking Man, Somewhere In Time, What Dreams May Come). He was so versatile and eclectic in his storytelling, from horror and sci-fi, to fantasy and suspense. His imagination was boundless. He was one of a kind. Stephen King said that, without Matheson, there would never have been a Stephen King.

Q5. What do you think makes a story good?

A5. People. To be more precise, making the reader care about your characters. Whatever the genre, a story will fall flat if nobody cares what happens to the people in it. They have to be real in every way possible, they have to live and breathe. A character’s reaction to the monster is more interesting than the monster itself. Another thing that makes a story good, in my opinion, is to introduce as much realism as possible in the beginning, so that it will be easier for your reader to suspend disbelief later on.

IMG_2537Q6. What writing projects are you working on at the moment?

A6. I’m always writing short stories. At the moment, I’ve got a number of them on the burner. I also plan to release a collection of short horror stories, called 13, in the not-too-distant future. And I’m up to my neck in my novel, Threads, right now. It’s the story of a reluctant hero who finds himself with the ability to move between alternate realities, and who must use his gift (although it’s more of a curse) to prevent the destruction of the multiverse. I know it sounds a little mystical, but the story is based in the real world, with all the grittiness and problems that entails.

Q7. Where do your ideas come from?

A7. L. Ron Hubbard. Just kidding. I think the best ideas just come from life. The things that go on around us every day. From watching people on the street, or listening to the news, or even reading other people’s books. We’re all influenced by our heroes. Of course, you have to have a bit of imagination and a lot of curiosity. And you have to always be paying attention, always staying alert.

Q8. What is the hardest thing about writing for you?

A8. Getting started. It takes a lot of discipline to begin a task when you don’t have someone looking over your shoulder. But waiting for inspiration is a waste of time. The muse comes when you’re working. I’ve found that to be consistently true over time.

Q9. What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk, if any?

A9. That’s a good question. I wish I had a good answer. But I’m pretty average, even boring, when it comes to any kind of writing ritual. The only thing I can think of is that I prefer isolation and silence when I write. I know some writers like to listen to music, but I find any outside noise distracting. I like to be in my head.

Q10. How can readers discover more about your works (e.g. Goodreads, Amazon, website, etc.)?

A10. My blog is at kgarndell.com, where I mostly write about the horror and dark fantasy genres, events and ideas that inspire my stories, and where I write the occasional book review. My work is also available on Amazon and Smashwords. Just search K.G. Arndell.

Thanks for participating in the interview K.G.! Check out Stones (pictured above) and his other stories if you’re in the market for a good horror read.

Meet Andrea Rose Washington

Andrea!

Andrea!

Meet Andrea Rose Washington, author of The Veiled Truth.

I met Andrea on Twitter. I believe one of our initial conversations was about our like of crime/police procedural television shows (e.g. Numbers, Flashpoint, and other syndicated shows on the Ion channel). What’s cool about Andrea is that she’a always tweeting comments or questions in order to actively engage fellow authors. I don’t think a day has gone by where she hasn’t asked “what are we writing today?” or something else pertaining to writers and their writing goals. Get to know a little more about her below:

Question 1: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

Answer 1: Umm it was at a young age. I started to write fanfictions for books and movies that I read or saw in the past. I had to be around 11 or 12 when it hit me this was what I needed to do for the rest my life.

Q2: What would you say is your interesting writing quirk (if any)?

A2: I talk to myself…a lot. It is how I plan out all of my stories, I play out the scene to get a feel of how my character would act in that situation. It has helped me figure out if an emotion, action or reaction is believable or needed in certain scenes.

Q3: What do you think makes a good story?

A3: Honestly, an interesting plot. The plot needs to be well planned and thought out. Having good writing skills helps but it’s in my opinion that it is not needed in the beginning. The story needs to be there first.

IMG_2495Q4: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

A4: Never give up. I want anyone who reads my work to know it doesn’t matter what is thrown against you, what you know or do not know. I want them to feel empowered to go after any goal.

Q5: Do you have a specific writing style (e.g. outline vs. free flow)?

A5: I do a bit of everything; I outline, free write and plan out every detail. I can never stick to just one method. I will say outlining does work best for me!

Q6: Did you learn anything from writing your book, if so, what was it?

A6: My grammar sucks! I am amazing at coming up with great ideas but the actual writing part is so bad. To improve I have started to take some courses to help improve my writing as well as my story telling skills.

Q7: Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character(s) from your most recent book?

A7: To be honest I haven’t thought about it. (Googling) I like Zendaya for Sasha and Abigail Breslin for Cassie, I like their work and I feel they would do the parts justice!

Q8: Where can you see yourself in 5 years time?

A8: I hope still writing, lol. I would like a bigger following and fans. (I mean who wouldn’t) I hope my writing has grown enough to allow me to write semi-full time!

Check out her blog here and follow her on social media:

Twitter: @AndreaRoseW

Facebook: Andrea Rose Washington 

Next week will be the gentlemen’s turn when I interview authors K.G. Arndell and Michael Stephenson.

Why?

For the love of all that’s good, why?

Y’all get a twofer today.

I don’t feel like writing. I don’t know why. I’m not having writer’s block; I can think of plenty of things I want my characters to do or say. I pretty much know what direction I want my story to go. Yet, for some reason, I really can’t seem to put words down on the paper (or tap letters on the keyboard). Therefore, I started typing this to see if I can flush out what’s holding me back from stringing together some words that will develop into subsequent paragraphs, pages, and chapters:

Pressure/Fear. Do I feel pressure that my sequel needs to match, if not surpass the quality of Twisted? Am I fearful that the few precious readers who bought and enjoyed my story will be disappointed in the follow up? Hmm. Those sentiments probably hinder the progression of my manuscript. A part of me thinks, that shouldn’t prevent you from writing. Just tell the story you want to tell. As long as you enjoy it, others will too. Ok. I think that’s true, however, if I want to do this for a living, having readers is obviously critical. So, of course I want my story to be good, regardless to how subjective “good” is. From this perspective, being a writer is analogous to an athlete not being able to preform under pressure. When the pressure is on, some athletes cave, yet others soldier through, effectively separating the good from the great. Damn. How does Serena Williams do it day in and day out?

Distractions/Procrastination. Why am I avoiding finishing the first draft of my sequel? Perhaps it’s because I’m finding convenient distractions everywhere I look. “Oh look, someone on G+ commented or posted something that sounds interesting. Better check it out.” Or, “someone chatted me up on Twitter, better respond instead of working on this story.” If it’s not social media diverting my attention, it’s something else. Time to work out. Should I venture outside, or stay indoors? It’s a good time to wash my hair. Did Djokovic really get pushed to a fourth set? He’s been damn near outstanding all year. Anything but focusing on what I need to focus on.

I frequently chatted with someone on Twitter. One day, he disappeared. Poof. Not a peep from him. When he finally reappeared, I asked him where he’d been. He replied that he took a break from social media to really hammer out his writing projects. Maybe I should take a page from his book and unplug until I get this first draft finished.

Not in the mood/zero motivation. Perhaps I’m in an extended period of just not wanting to write? It wouldn’t be the first time. I abandoned Twisted for a period of time before picking it back up (I think it was about a year). I don’t think this is uncommon for writers. We go through writing moods, or rather phases. Sometimes I can go on a tear and succinctly write what I’m thinking. Words and scenes pour out of me effortlessly. Other times (like now), I’m like a tennis player whose serve has abandoned her in the last game of the final set. I can’t get anything done and nothing hits the paper. Maybe I’m just in one of those slumps where I’m not feeling the story at the moment, AT ALL. If this is the case, I’m really hoping my mojo returns quickly.

Anyway, I’m sure my inability to barely craft a f*cking sentence stems from a combination of all three of these theories. Anybody have any suggestions on how to overcome pressure, reject distractions, and/or get motivated? Let me know here, or find me on social media.

Meet Angela J. Ford

Angela and her debut novel

Angela and her debut novel

As promised, here is the kickoff to the new section on the blog dedicated to cool people that I’ve come across on social media. Please meet Angela J. Ford, author of The Five Warriors. Today is her birthday! 🙂 I first met Angela on Google+ in one of the writer communities. Now, she’s one of my favorite positive, motivating peeps on social media. Get to know a little bit more about her and her book below:

Question 1: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

Answer 1: It just happened! Growing up with four sisters we were always telling stories with our toys, reading books and making up all kinds of entertaining tales. Then one day instead of saying those stories out loud, I started writing them down, and short stories turned into novels, and novels turned into a series. When I was 12 I finished the first draft of “The Five Warriors” and after that, the books continued to pour out of me. I knew wanted to publish them, it was just a matter of when. 14 years later, now it’s finally happening!

Q2: What would you say is your interesting writing quirk (if any)?

A2: One of my quirks is always writing the end of the book first, then all the action scenes and finally, I get down to chronological order once I have most of the book written. It makes it a lot of fun because I’m generally writing the parts I’m super excited about, and it comes together like a puzzle.

Q3: What do you think makes a good story?

A3: Of course, everyone has their interpretation of what makes a good story but I enjoy unexpected plot twists, characters that make me think, and well written prose. I enjoy the way words blend together like music.

Q4: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

A4: Live life, enjoy the moments, take risks, and go on your own adventure. At the end you don’t want to look back with regrets.

Q5: Do you have a specific writing style (e.g. outline vs. free flow)?

A5: My style is certainly free flow and unrestricted. I always have the general plot in mind but unexpected scenes are always popping up and those are woven into the story.

Q6: Did you learn anything from writing your book, if so, what was it?

A6: Practice, practice, practice, the more you write the better you become. I know I’m not the best writer, my grammar gets away from me, and sometimes I don’t dig deep enough into my characters. But practice makes perfect, so I’m going to keep doing it, whether I write for 10 minutes a day or 10 hours.

Q7: Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character(s) from your most recent book?

A7: Oh, this is a hard question. One of my main characters is Alaireia the Lightfoot, I can see Zoe Saldana playing her role.

Q8: Where can you see yourself in 5 years time?

A8: The Four World Series will be complete and I’ll be writing the further adventures of various characters, digging into their life and times in the Four Worlds. Hopefully by that time some of my books will be out as movies or television series!

Thanks Angela for taking the time to participate in the interview! I hope you have a great birthday! I’ve linked Angela’s book to Amazon above in the intro. Check it out! Also, you can follow Angela on social media:

Google+: Angela J. Ford

Twitter: @aford21

Instagram: aford21

10 Random (Yet Comical) Writer Memes

Writers memes

You’ve heard the joke before. Writers are big time procrastinators. In fact, they procrastinate so badly that you wonder how they even get any writing accomplished. (On an anecdotal note, I tend to get my best writing done in spurts. For example, I won’t write anything for two or three days and then I’ll go on a random ten-hour bender.) I was ecstatic when I saw these recurring jokes online. After all, I thought that I was the only person who stared blankly at a screen for ten minutes or so before deciding to check Twitter or G+. However, this seems to be a common thread that I share with fellow writers. So, on a morning chocked full of procrastination, I decided to make another lighthearted post. Sit back and postpone your musings for a minute or so. Here are ten comical memes pertaining to writers:

writing meme 4

Hmm…

10. Accurate. Sometimes it seems like my characters are telling me the story and I’m just the scribe. Other times, I’m trying to dig deep into my creative reservoir to see what I can come up with. When the latter happens, it’s time to hop on Twitter or G+.

Writers meme 8

Try insulting a writer at your own risk

9. Need I say more? Don’t mess with a writer and her keyboard (and sometimes pen and paper).

writers meme 3

Beware of plot holes and crazy story logic

8. Anyone who examines a plot and sees gaping holes (be it movies or novels) will tell you why the aforementioned meme is spot on. Or, if the story just doesn’t make any sense, this meme is also appropriate.

Writer's Meme 9

Procrastination at its finest.

7. Ha! Story of my life while in the middle of any writing project. I even remember going through these same categories while procrastinating for school work.Well, maybe not the comparison piece.

writer's meme 7

Are you ready to go yet?

6. What can I say? I’m a little introverted. However, listening to others socialize can yield great ideas for future storylines or characters.

writer's meme 5

Ha! Where’s my tribe?

5. Anybody who’s read this post will and this post understand why I selected this meme. The struggle is real!

writer's meme 2

Well, is it?

4. Ha! More of an inside joke for myself. I wear my satin bonnet whenever I’m parked in the house for the day.

large_Memes_from_Writers_Write4

Happens to me all the time.

3. I actually find these conversations beneficial. I really get to know my characters and it helps me keep them authentic throughout the course of the story. I particularly enjoy interviewing them. Or, I could just have multiple personalities. Am I crazy or nah?

Writer meme 6

Another thing that happens to me more times than not

2. When I have those ideas on the tip of my brain right before I fall asleep, I jot down notes in my cell before tossing it on the nightstand and rolling over. Sometimes, I’ll even dream about those ideas. When I wake up, I’ll get the cell and jot down the details I remember.

1.  I love this meme, which is why it’s number 1! I think it’s an accurate description of different people’s perception of who writers are and what we do. What are your favorite memes? As always, leave a comment below or find me on social media! If you liked this post, please don’t be afraid to share the love! 🙂

Yep!

Yep!

Targeting An Audience

You got those readers I need?

You got those readers I need?

Ok guys. If you’ve been following my independent author journey, then you know that the struggle is real! The biggest obstacle by far is marketing and trying to zero in on who exactly is my intended audience. Who in the hell would be interested in reading Twisted and how can I reach out to them?

I attended a Twitter conversation yesterday about branding yourself in the market. (I find the live Twitter conversations fascinating, but kind of hard to keep up with. Questions and answers are rapidly flying everywhere!) I asked the moderators what branding techniques authors could employ to promote themselves. One of the moderators asked who my audience is. That’s where I drew a blank. I have no idea! Initially, I thought it would be millennials who enjoy reading fast-paced thrillers (I’m not so sure it’s just millennials now). I told the moderator as such. She suggested that I whittle that down. Ok. Whittle it to what though? I honestly have no clue.

Therefore, dear reader, I’m asking your opinions to get more ideas on a target market. For all of y’all who’ve read Twisted or the free sample on the blog, who do you think would most enjoy reading this story? I’d LOVE to hear your comments here or on social media! Oh, and a big shout out and hugs to my teacher readers! I really appreciate the support and engagement!