M. Pax: Caffeine Free Takes Practice

Vincent van Gogh's Four Cut Sunflowers Painting
Four Cut Sunflowers by Vincent van Gogh.
In Memoriam: Tina Downey

Caffeine Free Takes Practice

Displaying bigstock-Close-Up-Fresh-Coffee-Bean-In--67713217bp.jpgAdding to the skill set as a writer takes a lot of practice, but it can be done.

I recently had to give up all caffeine — coffee, decaf, and tea, plus limit my chocolate. Ouch, that last one hurts.

At first it seemed impossible. I was so groggy in the morning. Ginger plus a lemon ginger, yeah double-barreled ginger, did a good job of raising my eyebrows every morning. Then I found a nice cocoa tea. It had a teensy bit of caffeine, but not enough to cause me problems.

After two months of caffeine free, I noticed something remarkable. I could drink any herbal tea in the morning. I don’t need it to wake up. The afternoon crash doesn’t happen anymore. I’m more awake without caffeine than I was with it.

Learning new writing skills works similarly. Conscious effort goes into it at the beginning. After time, it becomes more ingrained. I find some become part of my repertoire easier than others.

Some new skills work out great, some not so great. I noticed some rules, if I used them too much, took away my voice. So I eased up on those. I.e., writing without any form of the verb ‘to be’. It made me sound mechanical. Striking a balance improved my writing and retained my voice. So I chose balance.

Outlining extensively from the beginning doesn’t work for me. I did find a compromise, though. Why? I can write faster and keep the story on track better. Before I start, I write a tagline, a rough blurb, and each of the main characters’ arcs. Those bits are written on the page before chapter 1. If I can outline the next 2-3 chapters with quick sentences, it can also help me write faster and better. So I now incorporate these tools.

I find reading a really rich writer’s work helps me improve my writing too. It inspires me, and I’ll work to emulate what I like about his/her writing. It’s always good to stretch our writing muscles.

One bad habit I constantly have to keep my eye on: I’m a recovering that-aholic. Do you have a writing nemesis like ‘that’?

What would you like to improve? Being more organized from the start is still new for me. Character and emotions are something I always strive to keep upping the ante on.

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Rifters blurb:

The Gold Rush trickles to a fool’s quest and a string of stagecoach heists. In 1888, Earl Blacke decides to make a new start and become a better man. He escapes into the mountains, heading north. In the wilds of Oregon, a rift inside an ancient volcano opens and sends him into the future, into the present day. It also shaves forty years off his age, forty years to live over again and atone for what he’s done.

Starting over is hard to do. In current day New York, Daelin Long’s dream job at a publishing house goes the way of the dinosaurs her sister chases. With no money and nowhere else to go, Daelin accepts the librarian position in her sister’s dinky town in the middle of Oregon. Nestled inside ancient volcanic peaks, the town of Settler holds onto many secrets. Residents roam the streets with weirdly fashioned devices, and odd lights pulse in the night skies. People whisper of a phantom outlaw and start dying, murdered and missing their heads. On top of it all, Daelin’s sister is missing, and Daelin doesn’t know who to trust.

Earl knows more than he’s saying. He shares a notorious history with the phantom, one he’ll see remains buried. Keeping Daelin’s sister’s secrets is his only chance at redemption, and the only way to keep this world safe.

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Try book one for free!

Download from: Amazon / AmazonUK / B&N / Smashwords /Googleplay / iTunes / Other

Take advantage of the preorder special on book 2, The Initiate. Only 99 cents via preorder from Amazon, iTunes, B&N, and Googleplay. Preorder

Author Bio

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M. Pax– Fantasy, science fiction, and the weird beckons to her, and she blames Oregon, a source of endless inspiration. She docents at Pine Mountain Observatory in the summers, and one of her cats has a crush on Mr. Spock. You can find out more by visiting her website: mpaxauthor.com

Enriching Characters

Hi all! Today I want to welcome my crit partner supreme, M Pax, here on a stop on her blogtour for her new release: The Backworlds. Take it away, M!

Enriching Characters

I confess character is something I was light on, something I struggled with more than other things in writing. They were great in my head, but they didn’t come off as great on paper. They were so two dimensional.

It’s something I had to practice. Going deeper, deeper, deeper, enriching my character’s lives. Writing their stories before my books begin was a huge help. I make sure the connections matter and have an impact. Real life isn’t quite that neat, but fiction isn’t real life, and everything we construct should matter and impact our stories.

My critique partners, who are better at character, constantly pushing me was another help. Eventually, it began to sink in and I made steps in the right direction. Steps became strides. Strides now become habit, and I still push myself to go farther.

Then I found this quick and dirty tool to help me add more depth and more details at an RWA (Romance Writers of America) meeting in January. It’s basically a Glasser analysis for characters. You can get more information and the worksheets at http://www.judithashleyromance.com/ Maybe I don’t use all the details, but they’re there and they help add. 

The last piece of the puzzle was taking a dvd course called Building Great Sentences: Exploring the Writers Craft. From GreatCourses.com. I borrowed the dvds from a crit partner. Writing lengthy sentences isn’t always the answer, but how it taught to let the reader in on our thought process and how to add emphasis and more and bigger and richer, was very useful. 

The benefit of all this practice, listening, and learning is my writing. The Backworlds was a definite beneficiary. The characters in this first book in my new space opera series are among my favorites I’ve invented so far.

What tools and resources have helped you to create better characters?

The Backworlds

Backworlds.jpgAfter the war with Earth, bioengineered humans scatter across the Backworlds. Competition is fierce and pickings are scant. Scant enough that Craze’s father decides to hoard his fortune by destroying his son. Cut off from family and friends, with little money, and even less knowledge of the worlds beyond his own, Craze heads into an uncertain future. Boarding the transport to Elstwhere, he vows to make his father regret this day.

Available as an ebook from: Amazon / AmazonUK / Smashwords / Feedbooks
Free on Smashwords & Feedbooks. Will be free on Amazon in a few weeks.

Sign up for M. Pax’s newsletter to be notified the moment The Backworlds goes FREE on Amazon, and when it becomes available from other retailers.

About the author:

MPaxrs.jpgM. Pax’s inspiration comes from the wilds of Oregon, especially the high desert where she shares her home with two cats and a husband unit. Creative sparks also come from Pine Mountain Observatory where she spend her summers working as a star guide. She writes mostly science fiction and fantasy, but confesses to an obsession with Jane Austen. She blogs at her website, http://www.mpaxauthor.com/ and at Wistful Nebulae. You’ll find links there to connect on Twitter, Goodread, FB and other sites.

Thank you very much for stopping by, M! All the best for The Backworlds.

If you’d like to do a GPF post, please check out how it works here and contact me. I’m looking for guests in June. Theme: Querying and Submission.