News Day?

Seriously. Is it Thursday already?

Man… I feel terrible for just disappearing, but this week has been a tough one. And…

Well… I don’t see my workload as getting any better in the near future.

Which, of course, means that I won’t be able to do a News Day either. So. I think I’m going to let it fall away. Instead, I’ll try and post one or two interesting links whenever I find something worth sharing.

I’m really sorry to do this, but I just need to make life easier on myself somehow.

BUT! For now, the Paying Forward Awards and the Word Master Challenge will be continuing for now.

Here’s a recap, for those of you unfamiliar with these two events.

Paying Forward Awards

The Paying Forward Awards are basically a way for the blogging community to make some of its members’ day. We do this by recognizing and rewarding excellence. But I can’t do this alone. I need your help. If you have anything that you think will make someone’s day that you feel you can give as a prize, please become a sponsor. When I say anything, I mean anything. From query crits to care packages to vouchers to beta reads to e-copies of books and everything in between. Nothing will be turned away and nothing will go wasted. Also, I’m willing to reciprocate by hosting guest posts and/or interviews to promote your book or blog etc. 
If you are interested in taking part, please contact me at mishagericke(AT)gmail(DOT)com with “Paying Forward” as the subject. You have until 23 June 2013 to volunteer. 
Please note: I can only take gifts offered by e-mail, as I can’t always reach everyone through the comments. 

The theme for May/June is:

Famous Adaption

Take your favorite famous book. Write a scene from it. In a totally different genre.

Bonus points if the reader can guess the original book without you telling us. More points if you can do the scene without it strictly being from the book itself, but we get the same sense from it.

Word Count: No more than 300 words.

Closing Date: 30 June 2013

Prizes: $10 Amazon Voucher or a 10 chapter critique by me or a query critique by me.

PLEASE NOTE!!! Don’t enter your link until you’ve written your entry. I want to be linked directly to your Word Master Challenge Post. NOT to your blog’s home page. Also, please make it clear that the entry is in fact for the Challenge. I don’t want to wonder about this later. Easiest way to do this is to copy/paste the badge above. Or to start the post’s title with “Word Master Challenge“. Go to this link to enter.

So yeah… that’s me for today. I’ll be having to rethink my blogging now, because I need to fit it into many many other necessary activities. Any suggestions? 
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Writing Every Day by Cher Green

Hi all! Today, I welcome Cher to my blog. She’s one of the awesome people sponsoring prizes for this month’s Paying Forward Awards. Thanks again for stopping by!

 Thank you, Misha, for allowing me to write for your blog and share my thoughts with your wonderful readers.


One of the best bits of advice I’ve received as a writer is to write every day, following through with this is another story entirely.
Over the years, I’ve tried my best to write every day. It may last for a while, but it never fails eventually I falter and it takes a while to get back into the rhythm once again. It’s so easy to simply say, “I’ll do it tomorrow,” or “I’ll start again next week.” The problem is once you leave the routine for too long, it’s hard to get back to writing every day, especially if it was a difficult fit in the first place.
Once you begin understanding what it means to write every day, you can relieve most of the pressure. Some of the questioning issues I’ve run into have been:
  • What type of writing can be contributed to my status of writing every day? Does my blog count?
  • If I’m in the editing mode of a novel, does that count as my writing for the day?
  • How long do I need to write?

With just these questions, one can find themselves lost, confused, and deflated. I’m sure there are many more questions to be pondered. And multiple answers to go with them all. Do I have the answers for you? No, but I can give you my answers which may help clear some of the stress you might be feeling.
I’ve found on most occasions any writing can count toward your daily status. But, you must be very careful with this. If you blog every day, and you put this toward your status, trust me, you’ll skip on the creative writing more than once. The same goes for journal writing. I’m not saying not to do either of these daily, especially the journaling, which is extremely helpful to clear away some of the cobwebs produced by stress. Just consider these activities outside of your daily writing.
Editing mode should be considered part of your daily status. You may not be actually writing, but you are putting time in on a project and making progress. The only way around this is if you are working on multiple projects, and have time for both, an editing session and a writing session. But not all writers have multiple projects in play. In the end, if you are putting time into your work, making forward progress, then you’ve written for the day.
Another mode I like to include is pondering sessions. If you are thinking about your story and getting somewhere inside your head, well that’s writing isn’t it? You’re working, even if it doesn’t make it onto the page, even if the results are jottings on a napkin. Trust me. You are making progress with this simple task.
Now for the million dollar question, how long do you need to write?
This is the trickiest issue, but the simple answer would be as long as you can. If you have the sort of life where you can write for two hours per day, I’m jealous, I really am. If you are working a full-time job, have kids at home, you will need to work hard for your time, but it can be done. I’ve heard of many writers accomplishing their dream in the midst of chaos.
But, if your time limit is scarce on most days, try short sessions, ten to fifteen minutes per day. The progress will be slower, but you’ll be surprised by how much you can actually accomplish in this short period. And, when you have an hour available, you will already be geared toward the story. You can get some writing done, instead of using the first thirty minutes to get back in line with the story.
The most important part is to keep you creative muscles in shape. Daily writing, whether it’s a project or a free flow session, will keep your brain active and your muse from abandoning you.
And, don’t forget to read. Another bit of good advice. Writers evolve with each word they write, and they grow with each word they read. There’s no way around either of these. To be a writer, you must read and write.
Do you write every day? What are your answers to some of the questions mentions? Do you have other questions which bother you dealing with this topic? Have you received a piece of advice that you’ve found invaluable?

About the Author

Cher Green writes in many genres, spanning from horror to romance. Her work has appeared in various magazines and anthologies. She has also authored two paranormal romance novellas, Escape to Love and Seduced by Darkness. For more information on this author visit: www.chergreen.com
Other available links: Footsteps of aWriter (blog), Twitter, Facebook, and eTreasures.
Her latest publication, The Sacrifice, a children picture book, released early last week and is available for purchase at eTreasuresPublications.

Blurb


Angelina must travel to the castle to protect her sister, who is marrying the king of the land. But who will protect Angelina on her journey when she encounters a troll and other unexpected obstacles? Luckily, she carries her precious and powerful medallion. She will need it, for even after she reaches the castle, all is not as it seems.

The Sacrifice is a fairytale-like story of a young woman’s journey to save her sister.

Heroes and Villains

Today’s the day I’m supposed to list my favorite heroes and villains for the Heroes and Villains blogfest.

But, when it actually comes down to actually writing names, things aren’t that easy.  There are so many characters that I’ve loved that narrowing them down to a few names becomes a bit of a chore.

So, I’m going to share the one thing that my favorite heroes and villains have in common.

Complexity. I don’t want saints. I don’t want pure evil. I want a saint with a tough side. Or evil with a charming smile. Even better… Evils with a personality so cool, that you can almost imagine yourself making friends with that person. Almost.

So… some characters I’ve loved, be they heroes or villains (keeping it to the classics)…

Sherlock Holmes
Phantom
Rocheford
Milady
Athos
The Artful Dodger
Huck Finn
Jean Valjean
Javert

Who are your favorite complex characters?

(Sorry about News Day, lovelies. The break-in threw me for a loop. Will be back to normal next week. Promise!)

Insecure Writer’s Support Group

Insecure Writer’s Support Group is exactly as the name says. Hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh and co-hosted by Sheena-kay Graham, Suzanne Furness and Laura Eno this month, writers come together every month to share their insecurities and support each other. 
Today, though, I want to remind you about an aspect to writing about which we all should be insecure. 
What happens if someone steals my computer? Or my house burns down. Or my computer over-heats and melts all the inner workings. Or a meteor falls out of the sky and destroys my book? Am I really safe? Really? 
The reason why I’m asking is that someone broke into my house this morning. They only went as far as the office, but stole every single laptop in it. 
Before I went to sleep last night, I’d thought about leaving mine there too. Luckily, I decided to get some late night blogging in and took it to my room. 
Because NONE of my edit rounds since signing that contract have been backed up. Not. One. I would have had to start again. 
So the smallest of mercies saved me the trouble, but I should have been prepared for that eventuality. 
This morning, I bought myself 100GB on Dropbox so I can back everything up remotely. And I really want to make a point of regularly backing up my whole computer. 
But since I know that we kind of forget those resolutions later, I want to ask you. 
GOT BACK-UPS? 

Making a permanent move

Not me! Just News day.

I’m finding that it’s just too early in the week for me to come up with the required links. So from now on, Thursday will be News Day.

That is all.

In the mean time, just want to say thanks to everyone who stopped by and left a comment on my post from last night. I’m truly thrilled and humbled by each and every one of those comments.

Okay then. That’s me for now, I think.

And remember, if you want to add any items to my News Day post, please mail me at mishagericke(AT)gmail(DOT)com.

Moments

This might sound rather strange, but I’m stealing time to spend with God. 

It’s just as if… with everything going on in my life, my mind flies everywhere at the same time. So when I’m supposed to have quiet time, I spend more time trying to get myself to quiet down than I do actually praying. 
BUT. Sometimes, when I least expect it, there are these moments of clarity. Of just wanting to share something with him. Like… “Wow. That’s such a beautiful sunset.” Or… “Right now, I feel very lonely.” And then there’d be this wonderful conversation that comes from it. 
I love those moments. They make me feel like writing sonnets or just singing. Or… like I can go take on the rest of my day. They’re wonderful. 
It’s truly a blessing that God gives those moments for me to savor. And I thank Him from the bottom of my heart. 
Do you also get spontaneous moments of just spending time with God? 

Three Causes of a Sucky Plot

Have you ever read a book or someone’s manuscript where lots of exciting stuff happens, but the book just sucks?

You know, the one where you roll your eyes because the plot went too far, but hey, you don’t even care. Because the book is that bad. 
I’ve read a few rough drafts like that. (Not from my current CPs, thank heavens.) It has me itching to help the poor souls who wrote them, but usually I back away. 
Why? You may ask. I am, after all, a no-shit sort of person. Well… As honest a critter as I may be, I draw the line at things that requires me to mark out the same problem through the entire manuscript. After all, more often or not, writers just stare incredulously and then disregard all my hard work. 
Still, I want to help the new kids out. In the interest of doing so, I thought I’d do a short list. 

1) Cause and effect. 

This is one serious rookie error. In fact, it’s the one that got me thinking about this subject in the first place. You’d think that putting lots of exciting events into your story makes it exciting. Eh… Not necessarily. 
It’s all very good and well if stuff happens to your characters, but what causes them? If all of your interesting events are coming from seemingly out of the blue (even if it’s from some off-stage villain pulling the strings), you have a problem. 
Rule of thumb: Events must at least partially be from character decisions and actions. Those that aren’t had better be the basis of an ENTIRE plot line. Think something happening out of the blue in the beginning. What does the character do because of it? 

2) Blah blah blah… blah blah. 

Ever read something major happening to a character and… well… you just don’t care? It’s pretty annoying. 
Oh wow. This guy’s whole family is going to get wiped out.  
And then they’re going to steal his million dollar fluffy bunny.  
So what? 
No matter how high you make the stakes, people aren’t going to care. In fact, stakes aren’t raised at all unless a reader becomes personally interested in how things turn out for a character. 
Whether the characters are likable or not, make them awesome. Make their emotions visceral. Make their fears real. Set the reader up to fall with the main character. Only then will a reader live into the story enough to care. 

3) Uhm… this doesn’t fit. 

Sometimes, stories don’t fit into their formats. Epic tales are squeezed into novellas. Novels are written where a drabble would have sufficed. 
Okay, I’m exaggerating a bit, but you get the point. 
Some stories just aren’t big enough for 100+ thousand words. Others aren’t small enough for 40,000. So we readers are subjected to rambling to fill pages or unsatisfactory, stories. Usually with endings suddenly slamming down out of nowhere. As if someone had torn out entire pages and tacked an ending on. 
Don’t start writing a novel. Start writing a story. Don’t stop before or after it’s done. If you’ve already written it, take out what isn’t your story and/or put in what’s missing. It really is that simple.

Conclusion

Yes, these problems can seem daunting, but once you spot the issues in your plot, you’ll find it’s a lot easier to fix them than you thought. Don’t be scared of working on your own stories. They’re yours to improve, after all. 
So, veteran novelists, how do you solve the above issues? Any other reasons why a plot might suck?