Monday, December 10, 2018

Writing When You're Running Out of Steam

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash
One of the hardest things to do as an author is to write when I don't feel like it. It happens more often than you think. Putting my behind in the chair and my hands on the keys despite not really having any idea how to move forward is so important. I believe it is a major skill in writing professionally.  Not quitting just because its hard is something we all struggle with so I thought I'd share a few ways I encourage myself to tough it out. Hopefully these tips can get you through the holidays without pulling your hair out.
Write or Die is an online program designed to get you through writer's block by providing and timer and stimulus as an incentive during word sprints. There are a few modes...alarms if you fall behind your wordcount, flashing lights, or the softer more pleasant reward mode that gives you pictures of puppies for achieving your goal.  That one is my favorite. You can even get an app for your phone or computer.
Do something creative that has a side connection to writing. For instance, I like to bullet journal. So I find doodling while listening to my book's soundtrack or a writing podcast helps me to think about my story in another way. I almost always works.
Last, but not least, I saw this on Twitter during NaNoWriMo. A woman wrapped some fun gifts for herself in nice paper and labeled them with word counts. So at 5K she got a box of chocolates, at 10K she got a new coffee mug, etc.  I am not above this at all. I can totally be bribed and cheaply, too.
Finally, know yourself and when you write best. Optimize your success by choosing times that work best for you.  Are you a night owl like me? Then set time aside and guard it like a dragon with their horde of coins.  Don't slip something else in you 'should' be doing instead. Your writing time is important and for others to treat it that way you need to as well.

Hopefully you will find one or more of these suggestions helpful. If you have any tried and true tricks to get back on track then feel free to share them in the comments.  Until next time...happy writing!

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Remembering with Celebration

I lost my mother a few years ago. It wasn't sudden. She'd been sick for a while, but it was devastating nonetheless  and I think of her every day.  So much so that I often avoid even talking about her because of the immediate ache in my throat.

This year, her birthday fell on Dia de los Muertos and I thought that maybe going to the festival with my family would help me to think of her in a different light. Not one of loss or sadness, but with happiness and hope. I hadn't celebrated this way since I was a very young child and visiting my Nana (grandma) in Texas.

The idea came to me because I've been working on a new series and the main character is Mexican like me. She works with her entire family, cousins and all, on a daily basis. So all of the craziness, fighting, eating and celebrating  is very personal to me. It is what I grew up with and what I reach back to for comfort. 

My community is in southern California and so there is a huge Dia de los Muertos festival near me. There are processions with people dressed as Aztec warriors or as the calacas and calaveras (skeletons and skulls) dressed in formal wear, as well as various depictions of death.  All of it done in festive bright colors with flowers and smiles. 

Ofrenda note I left for my mother.
Lost loved ones are depicted as happy, dancing, and having fun. Often we make and eat their favorite meals, listen to their favorite songs, and talk about happy memories with each other as we remember those we lost.
My mother loved dancing cumbias or Columbian dances. So I was determined to get out on the dance floor and dance with my family. We had a blast.
The real emotional part was in the park. Away from the dancing, food, music, and laughter there is a path that leads into a dark park lit by hundreds of candles on tables.

Traditionally people will set out 'ofrendas' or offerings which are photographs, favorite objects, foods, and drink that remind them of those they lost. Some of the tables were amazing with strung lights, handmade tissue flowers, cutout banners, painted sugar skulls or candies, etc.

I do not do an altar or offerings. Its not part of my own family's tradition. But I did leave a note to my mother on the community offering table. I told her that I miss her and that we are all doing well.

This year I think that celebrating my mother's life and thinking about her surrounded by family and laughter was really what I needed. I came away from it all with a smile on my face and great times to remember with my own children.

I want to incorporate more of my family's traditions and customs into my writing.  I hope that it gives others a nudge to explore their own heritage with their family.

I think this will be a new family tradition for us.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

WIPjoy Wrap Up - What I Learned

Day 15: Genre of Art That Best Describes Your WIP
As you all know, I took part in #WIPjoy this month. It is a Twitter event that celebrates your Work In Progress and helps authors to connect and encourage one another.
Aside from the social aspect, the part of the fun of the event is that I find most helpful is that it forces me to look at my story from angles I wouldn't necessarily see otherwise.  The amazing Bethany Jennings @simmeringmind  and S.D. Grimm at


did a flat out awesome job at coming up with the daily prompts.
Some of my favorite ones included other types of art that best describes your story. So for Veridian's main character, tech hunter, Elara Savoya, I used the future noir graphic arts.
Day 29: Fall, food, festivities, and family.

We were also asked to share our writing playlist which was a lot of fun. If you'd like to check it out, its on Spotify here: Veridian Playlist
But it was the more personal questions that really served to help me solidify my main character in my head. 
There was  a question about what my main character's loved about fall.
Or what childhood dreams she had that will never come true...that was a really hard one!
It made me think about her outside of the story...outside of the high stakes drama. What was she like at home?
Day 23: Elara dreamt of the stars.
She loves her family. They drive each other crazy because they work together in the tech recovery game.
I realized they may fight a lot...but they fight best together.
Graphics and playlists aside, I feel like I learned a lot more about my characters and story through this event. 
Overall I feel pretty excited to head into next month's craziness of NaNoWriMo. 
If you are taking part in the race to 50K add me as a buddy. I'm under Raquel Byrnes on the site.
As a reader, do you like to see more than the books? Do songs, art, and other fun stuff get you excited for the story? 
I'm off to plot for #NaNoWriMo. Wish me luck and see you soon!