When I awaken to the changes

Now I lay me down to sleep

I’ll bite down on my fears

The deeper waters taking back

potential in coming years

A path closed off forever now

no longer mine to keep

I’ll try to give it willingly

as I lay down to sleep

I have two arms to hold what’s mine

I have one heart to share

Two arms for two should be enough

So why am I still scared?

These murky waters forcing change

and ebb at my belief

but gently they will hold me there

and wash away my grief

Three hearts that I have kept inside

Three hearts are all I’ll hold

Two hearts to treasure for all time

One heart does as it’s told

I pray the Lord, my soul to keep

and teach my heart to shine

when I awaken to the changes

I pray the Lord, my soul to guide.

 

Patience. Ug.

Virtues of a successful writer? Talent? meh, yes-ish. Thick skin? getting warmer. Education? sometimes. Humility? sure.

But more than anything else, I have come to realize, a successful writer needs patience.

Damn.

This is the virtue I have most often tried to bypass in my long years of writing. Because I don’t have much of it. But it is, quite frankly the most unavoidable attribute of a writing career.

And it sucks.

I don’t think it’s just me. When an idea flares to life in the mind of a writer and spills onto the page, we cannot wait to share it with the world. It is new, it is exciting, it is burning up our souls!

But even when it is written, it is not ready. Then we need to edit. And edits take time. And patience.

And then we need to have our peers read it. Get feedback. We’re tempered by someone elses schedule. That fire starts to dwindle. Especially after weeks or months it comes back to us with notes all over it and we realize it’s still not good enough.

Here we go in several different directions.

We might put that story on the back burner. Pursue a new flame. It may be years of this process, many many finished stories, articles, manuscripts that just aren’t good enough before we feel confident enough to push forward.

We might forge ahead, edit more, rewrite, and then submit to agents, publishers, the world. And we wait. Agents can take months to respond “No” or maybe not respond at all. For the self published, a book can languish on the e-shelves of amazon, waiting for the right person to discover it.

We go back, we rewrite some more, we edit some more. We give it to more readers.

Or low and behold we get an agent!!!!!

Then we wait. We wait for the agents notes. We edit. We change. We wait. We wait for the agent to sell our book. We wait for the publishers notes. We edit. We change. We wait for the book to be published.

In the mean time, this process has taken years. YEARS. That first flame, that first novel that took a year to write has pushed you into a process that has taken at least three more years to get to the point you’re at. (It was probably closer to ten).

And it sucks. Really. Because that flame burnt so strong and so bright and so insistent and you have had to push it down again and again. You have been forced to be patient. All excitement has dried out into dust. Everything you thought “This is it!” you have been knocked down with another wait of weeks, months, years.

So why do we do this to ourselves? Why this awful exercise in the art of patience?

You already know. I already know. Learning to be patient is infuriating. But the alternative? Not writing? Not putting our work out into the world?

That is just so much worse.

Keep writing friends. Keep that flame burning, even if it just a small ember in your heart. Patience sucks, but what you have to offer the world is worth waiting for.

Twitter for writers

If you haven’t joined twitter with a writing account, you are missing out. While twitter can seem intimidating and difficult to navigate initially, it is invaluable for writers in all stages of their career.

Here are a few things twitter can offer:

GIANT writing community

Indie writers, unpublished writers, bloggers, traditionally published writers, pretty much everyone is on twitter supporting each others. Under hashtags #amwriting, #amediting, #amquerying you can connect with other writers in the same stage as you. There are also weekly challenges such as #1linewed where you share a line from your work in progress and #Sundayblogshare where bloggers share their work. The more you explore, the more you will find to connect you with others who support share your passions.

Pitch Contests

Run by editors, agencies, and other writers (Shout out to Brenda Drake) pitch contests give writers an opportunity to connect with agents and editors who are interested in their 140 character pitch of their story. Some pitch contests connect you to mentors who will help you clean up your manuscript, some win you prizes like edits or agent reviews. Keep an eye open for any and all pitch contests to see which ones will be best for you.

Manuscript Wish List

Now with a new website to back it up manuscriptwishlist.com, the hashtag #MSWL is where agents and editors post the book they would really love to find in their inbox. Some are very specific, “Latin Fairies plot space mission to escape from ghosts”, and some very broad “Really scary horror!” but going through the post can help you see what the industry is looking for and narrow down your search for agents.

Agent Twitter accounts

Some agents provide a wealth of knowledge to those who follow them. They participate in organized open discussions with writers, they post things like #tenqueries where they address what is good or bad about queries in their inbox. They link articles that they feel are important and relevant to the industry.

In short they tell you exactly what they are looking for and exactly what will discourage them from choosing you. Every agent is different, but you can learn a lot about who to query and when from following feeds.

What have I missed? What do you find most valuable on twitter for writers?

 

Methods of Creation: Writing Fleshed out characters

You’ve read flat characters. Seen them on TV. You know who they are. They don’t act consistently. They don’t have any established personality. They do whatever is most convenient for the story line. They adhere closely to stereotypes.

Don’t do that. As a writer, you already possess a unique talent for observation and creation. Use those talents to make your characters vivid, complex beings that readers feel like they could have a conversation with, not flat cardboard props.

Having a little trouble fleshing out your characters? Here’s four methods to help you out.

Create a character profile

Write out their backstory, their flaws and assets, their myers-briggs personality type. Write out the way they talk, their looks, their beliefs. Get complex and deep until you feel like you know them really well.

Cast their role

Go online and look up actors and actresses. Who would play your character in the movie? When you have the perfect person chosen, grab a picture of them and paste it into your notes. Look back at it as your character whenever you need to ask “What’s your motivation?” For whatever reason, having a visual can really help make them more real.

Let them ripple out from their most important scene

You have a scene in mind. You know what your character needs to do in it. Sometimes authors will get to that scene with a fully developed character only to find their character doesn’t want to do their job. So they force them through the scene and the result is stiff at best and infuriatingly inconsistent with their characters personality and motivations at worst.

Starting with that scene, even if you plan to rewrite it later when you get to it in the story allows you to establish the roots of your character as you want them. You get a feel for them here and as you write the rest, that sense remains through out the story.

Let the character reveal themselves

Don’t go in with any concrete sense of who the character is. Is she funny? Is he grouchy? Gay or straight? Aggressive or meek? Not quite sure, lets ask them.

Through dialogue and action the character’s personality comes through strong and, more important, unique to them. I wouldn’t suggest this method when you are just starting out. It is too easy to get inconsistent and/or be swayed by other writer’s characters, but if you have your own strong voice established, give it a whirl. I have discovered quiet a few very interesting characters trying this method.

Featured Author: Lucas Mangum

It’s been years since Lucas Mangum’s metal band would share a show with my punk band at the smoky local dive bar. When I recently reconnected with Lucas and found out he was an author now, I wasn’t even remotely surprised. Especially when I saw he wrote horror.

And I immediately got his info to feature him here.

FB_IMG_1438259184003Lucas Mangum is an author living in Austin, Texas. He enjoys wrestling, cats, wrestling with cats, and drinking craft beer while crafting weird stories. Visit him at lucasmangum.com or follow him on Twitter @LMangumFiction.

FB_IMG_1458050347934

Flesh and Fire: Todd left the love of his life to die, for the life he thought he wanted. Now in the midst of a midlife crisis, he is haunted by her memory. When Chloe escapes Hell in search of the peaceful rest that has eluded her, a demon named Samael is on her trail and she needs Todd’s help. While on the run Todd and Chloe face demons real and personal, soul-threatening danger, and their long-buried feelings for each other.

 

Get it at Amazon

 

Check back for an interview with Lucas on his writing process and his publishing stories.

 

How to publish a children’s book?

butterfly

I am sure I am being naive. I know what is involved in publishing an adult novel (and how very very hard it can be) but yesterday, while playing with my daughter I got a flash of inspiration and wrote a first draft for a children’s book.

It’s pretty cute. It’s about dragons. It’s exactly the kind of story my kids would love and I would love to read them.

My minimal research in the children’s book industry said not to get the illustrations done yourself but as soon as I wrote the first draft, I knew I wanted to collaborate with my mother Patricia Allingham Carlson.

Her vivid colors and fantastic style is all I can see for this book. So I know if I pursue publication I may need to go a non-traditional route.

But aside from that, nope. I don’t know a thing. Can anyone help out?

#WQWWC – Change

As change and I are currently shacking up together, I thought I should jump back into the Writers Quote Wednesday Challenge this week after taking some time off.WQWchange

The changes in my life right now are not what I would choose for myself. Not what I would choose for anyone, but I have come to believe that in order to make room for good changes, bad things must sometimes happy. Things must be lost in order for better things to be found.

Some people constantly seek out change, believing it heralds some sort of brighter tomorrow. They change their hair, they change their home, they change partners and ideologies and possessions. They are seekers and what they seek is somewhere to belong, a lasting state of happiness, an image or thing that is going to make them comfortable with themselves.

I learned a while ago that all those things can only exist within ourselves. If we cannot still our hearts to accept and examine who we are at the core, we will never fully belong anywhere, because we always take this body, this soul of ours with us.

Some people avoid change at all costs. They keep rigid schedules, they go to the same places. When progress is suggested they fall back on the idea that “we’ve always done it this way.” To these people change of any kind is a threat. Comfort is the great distraction. Even with the potential of great joy, the risk of losing a familiar comfort can deter any and all progress.

The truth, as I see it, is this. Change itself is neither good or bad. It just is. What is exciting or terrifying about it is what ushers it in. A promotions, yay! And illness, boo. Those are the things we seek and fear, but the change that comes of those things cannot be predicted or controlled. The promotion could end up putting you in a department you hate. The illness could provoke a lifestyle change that allows for strength and good health in the future.

What can be controlled is how we face the change.

I know my life is changing. I am scared. I accept that.

But I will not let it break me. If this must happen in this way, I am going to take as much from it as I can. I am going to examine myself, what I have done right, what I have done wrong. I am going to examine what I am losing and make peace with it. I am going to embrace the potential of what is to come.

I can be scared. I can be sad. I can choose to be optimistic anyway.

Change will come. Things will happen. I can fight the storm or I can focus on surviving the storm.

Join the fun with Ronovan and Silver Threading with a weekly theme and some great writers!

Writers Quote Wednesday Writing Challenge – “Change”

First Blogiversary! Ten things

I made it a year! Yesterday was my best day for likes and this morning I hit 100 followers! Thank you to everyone who’s stopped by this past year and helped me get here.

For the first anniversary of this blog, I thought I’d share ten posts that were really important to me this past year.

 

1.Most popular post: Strong Female Characters: Fact vs Fiction

2. These authors were gracious enough to help me out, Guest Post: Author Fia Essen, Indie Author Interview: Caroline Peckham, and Featured Indie Author, Elsa Ward, author of “Finding Sanctuary”

3. I Finished the book! Of course I edited for another 9 months but this was huge after stops and starts for two years.

4. Then this happened last month. 84,500 words. 1 Month. Done. Bam

5. In between all this though, some crappy stuff happened and I reassessed my path, and the point of this blog. This poem was all I could muster at the time.

6. And later, I was shocked at how hard this hit me.

7. While I offer plenty of advice here, I also continue to learn. Mythcreants has been incredibly helpful to me, delving into issues I haven’t ever considered before with wit and some light snark.

8.My biggest challenges  Taking my own advice  and My Kids and my creativity

9. My most helpful and contributing blogging buddy Russell J. Fellows is taking some time off, but I want to give him a big thank you for his support.

10.  The best, most important thing I learned this year How to keep writing? Skip the boring parts

Overall, it has been an interesting year of growth.  I still have a ways to go but looking back over the year I realize I have learned so much and I can see the difference in my writing.

In the year ahead I’d like to connect with more writers and feature more of their work. I hope to be published myself. Right now I am dealing with an illness but I refuse to let it stop me. I hope some of my posts have been helpful to you, as so many writers I’ve connected with this year have been monumental in my own growth.

All the best, Lindsey

Writing through a crisis

I’ve read the stories of many authors, not their books, their personal stories. How they came to be a writer, how they finished their first books, how they got published. A theme has come out through all these stories.

My relationship fell apart and for a while I didn’t write

My dad got sick and I didn’t write anything for years

Our house burned down and I couldn’t bring myself to write

I struggled with illness and had no motivation to write

When a person is going through a personal crisis, often the advice given to help get through it is to write, keep a journal, start a blog, write a story, just write. But it seems with those who always feel the compulsion of the written word, a crisis can take away their greatest comfort. The well dries up and they have nothing to give the stories they love (and sometimes hate) so much.

Last year I started this blog with the intention of cleaning up a YA novel that I was going to self publish. I was knee deep in edits when my baby daughter got sick. By the time she spent three days in the hospital I had absolutely nothing to give the YA novel anymore.

I still like it. I still want it to go somewhere someday, but the crisis drained all the life right out of it. When I got some time and energy back for writing, I turned to editing a different work and preparing it for submission to agents.

Since then I’ve had ebbs and flows with my creativity and motivation. Winter didn’t help much with getting work done but come spring I had a fully edited manuscript and wrote another in a month. Then I started another, that I am so very excited about.

Two week ago? Another crisis.

I have the time but not the will. I like the premise and it is fully formed, but I have no motivation to touch it. Real life if so scary right now, I can escape into other people’s books (and have, at length) but my own work doesn’t want me.

I’ve had plenty of writing dry spells in my life. I know they all pass eventually, and I also know at some point I will probably be able to stir myself to the more technical work of editing, but creativity during times of crisis must go toward the rapid spiral of fears and worries and attempts to drag ourselves into some place resembling optimism.

I still have the ability to blog, and I am glad. Because I have plenty of things to say. But my stories, they will have to wait for now but I hope not for long.