New Blog Post Series! Intro

I love writing stories but it can be hard work; I like to switch things up and try new things to keep the mundane away. I wish I could find more blogs by writers who share the silly little tools and thoughts that randomly help them write. So, I’ve decided to be that blogger myself instead. Today I’m introducing a new blog post series:

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While I’m unsure if this will be a weekly or bi-weekly thing, the point is that every once and while I’d like to share a resource, a YouTube playlist, a blog post, a quirk, or just something that I’ve found helpful with my own writing, in the hopes that it might help along someone else’s creative journey to.

I’ll mostly be focused aiding writers of fiction, but bloggers and anyone who enjoys creativity of some kind shall hopefully find good things here too! 😀 If just one person finds this blog series helpful, I will consider it a grand success! (And I’ll be able to always go back to find them again here.)

Well, just so for some fun (and because I’m curious) I thought I’d try a poll today! What Helps You Write? (If I didn’t include something that does help you, please let me know SO I KNOW YOUR SECRETS. XD )

Hope you all are having a nice Friday!

~Jamie

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To-Read: Part 2 || Topic: Creative Writing

Today I’m posting Part 2 of my To-Read list of creative writing books. I’m still so excited to have found so many wonderful books from the library and I can’t wait to read them all. (I shall try to pull together my to-read list of fictional books soon). Check out Part 1 here if you missed it!

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20 Master Plots and How to Build Them by Ronald B. Tobias. I’ve read several chapters in this already and it has completely changed how I look at plots! The book is focused how to write classic plots successfully; such master plots include Action, Quest, Rescue, Love and Underdog! I will definitely be returning to this book in the future since it’s been great so far. Highly recommended!

Advice to Writers: A Compendium of Quotes, Anecdotes, and Writerly Wisdom From a Dazzling Array of Literary Lights complied and edited by Jon Winokur. This book is all advice that look like quotes or foturne cookies, organized under categories like Characters, Dialogue, Genres, Money, Reading ect. I’ve skimmed the book and it’s neat; different advice from different people will often contradict each other, which is pretty funny, haha. This is another book I wish I could underline with pen or set on fire with highlighter ink!

A Writer’s Book of Days: A Spirited Companion & Lively Muse for the Writing Life by Judy Reeves. This is one of those “use for the entire year” books–and I think those books are really neat! This book is wide and flat, covers each month, and discusses different aspects of writing with a tiny writing prompt for each day. I really wouldn’t mind going through this book one year in the future!

Getting the Words Right: 39 Ways to Improve Your Writing by Theodore A. Rees Cheney. This one definitely looks deeper then just your regular “creative writing” book, especially since the author is an editor. The author zeros in on 39 specific subjects to talk about, such as keeping a unified tone throughout your story, when to delete a chapter, and how to use figurative speech. Definitely excited to read this one and apply its advice on my current story!

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How to Write Your Life Story in Ten Easy Steps by Sophie King. (This isn’t really on creative writing, but I got so excited about it that I have to include it. XD ) I’ll DEFINITELY be using this book as a guide to capturing my life on paper later in the future. It’s full of suggestions on how to remember things and recount them well. I’m so glad this book exists; simply looking through it made autobiography-writing feel easier–I highly recommend this to those wanting to write about their life!

Thinking Write: The Secret to Freeing Your Creative Mind by Kelly L. Stone. This one looks kinda neat as it has more of a relaxation/meditation approach to discovering creativity. I’ve really not seen another creative writing book like it. This one definitely has me intrigued to see what it has to say!

Vex, Hex, Smash, Smooch: Let Verbs Power Your Writing by Constance Hale. This book is pretty thick with smaller text, so it looks rather daunting to me. However, it’s also full of examples and verbs that look really helpful. And I love verbs. So. I’ll give it a try. 😀

Where Do You Get Your Ideas? A Writer’s Guide to Transforming Notions Into Narratives by Fred White. First off, I grabbed this book because of the cover; vintage, personalitiy, and turquoise, lol. This book looks pretty neat, as it guides you through the story’s idea, plotting on paper, and then writing the first draft. As a panster who could use help with actual plotting before writing, this could be a good read that I’ll definitely give it a go.

Wired for Story: The Writer’s Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence by Lisa Cron. I love this idea for a writing book. Readers use their brains to read but how does the brain work and how can we take advantage of it to get them sucked into our story? Before I publish, I hope to read through this book and use what I can in my story. I love psychology anyway, so understanding a bit more in the world of my craft would be fantastic!

Are there any books on creative writing that I should read? Please recommend one in the comments!

~Jamie

The Authorly Bucket List

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Well, I’m going to list a few authorly things I’m not that good at doing, and then I’m going to list a few things I’d like to try in the future. I’m suppose to keep it to about three to seven things each. 😀

Things I’m Not Very Good At:

1. PACING. This is my number one problem as far as I’m concerned–my last book was meant to span years, and it ended up spanning a week and a half. For 60,000 words. *headdesk.* I promise I’m working on it.

2. Romance. A decent romance is hard for me to write. I’ve tried and it’s always come out extremely obvious and annoying. Although I’m picking up some stuff from anime, I don’t know if I could imitate it in my writing very well yet. (This is why I’m avoiding using  romance in any of my current books.)

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3. First person POV. I’ve almost always written in third person, where I can jump into any character’s head for a second before moving to someone else… I’m not sure what you call that in authorly terms. So, I need more practice in writing from the view-point of one sole character. (Thankfully, I have some practice from all this blogging, so it’s not a completely foreign feeling. 😀 )

4. Plot threads. I’m always dropping plot threads, and that’s because I don’t “plot” very well. *headdesk*

5. Complete Endings. I’ve completed books, but I’m not often happy with how they end. I need to learn how to wrap everything together and create a cohesive ending that doesn’t rely on a sequel soon to follow.

Things I Want to Try:

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A. A memoir/self-help book. Not to be written now, but some day.

B. I’d like to tell a story from an animal’s perspective. I read several stories from this perspective when I was twelve and it’s stuck with me ever since (and why aren’t there more stories like Black Beauty?!)

C. I’d love to write a good old-fashioned chick flick–you know, girl friends, gossip, coffee houses, scandal, musician boyfriends, tears, secrets, the works! I’ve never written one before so I think it would be great fun. XD

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D. I want to write a historical supernatural mystery set in gas lamp England. I actually already have a plot: it will follow a band of professional crooks who become indebted to a mysterious foreign upperclassman–not telling other details yet. 😛 However, this story feels very vivid to me, so I can’t wait to write it!

E. Pirates. Oceans. Maps. Gold. Sword fights … Pirates.

F. I want to write something in the Slipstream genre. Weird is my middle name, after all… or at least I desperately want it to be. I think it’d be a great challenge to master on day.

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Other genres I’d love to attempt flexing my muscles in include Gothic Romance, a Cozy Mystery (makes me think of Miss Marple!) lots and lots more horror (happy to say I’ve already written a Zombie novel,) Steampunk combined with another genre still un-chosen, and Urban Fantasy among many other genres.

If you’d like to explore different genres and subgenres, check out this genre map I discovered while creating this post. It’s super cool–I spent an hour perusing and looking up book recommendations!

This writer’s tag was happily stolen with zero regret for the sheer fun of doing it. If you would like do this tag on your own blog, please help yourself immediately! 🙂

~Jamie

To-Read: Part 1 || Topic: Creative Writing

I haven’t done a list in a while, so I thought I might as well blog this year’s To-Read lists. XD Currently, I have each of these books borrowed from the library and am peeking into each of them–so this list is something of an impressions post. I think it would be handy to record my thoughts on them, since I won’t be able to read them all at once.

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Bullies Bast#rds & B#tches: How to Write the Bad Guys of Fiction by Jessica Page Morrell. This looks like a good read, with certain chapters covering the different types of villains. While I think I need more help writing compelling, realistic heroes (more practice, is more like it,) it never hurts to learn more on the baddie topic. They can also be tougher to write.

Crafting Novels & Short Stories from the editors of the Writer’s Digest. THIS book looks like one I might personally buy just so I can underline and dog tag pages. Just from the Getting Started intro I wanted to mark up a dozen different lines. It looks sharp, smart, and to-the-point. Definitely high at the top of the list to read!

Pep Talks, Warnings & Screeds: Indispensable Wisdom and Cautionary Advice for Writers by George Singleton. This one looks awesome. Everything is in short paragraphs which are quick to read and to-the-point. Some of them are like fortune cookies–I like honest writing advice in this format. There are also cute pictures dashed in too. I wouldn’t be surprised if this one became a “want-to-buy” as well.

The Daily Writer: 366 Meditations to Cultivate a Productive and Meaningful Writing Life by Fred White. I’ve actually borrowed this about four years ago so it feels pretty new to me, lol. There’s a page for each day with a prompt at the bottom. I love the cover and the layout and the diverse topics for reading. Another possible “must buy”.

The Pocket Muse and The Pocket Muse: Endless Inspiration by Monica Wood. I LOVE. THESE. BOOKS. Their pretty small but are bursting with inspiration. Between each cover they’re filled with images and prompts set up in unique ways to inspire a creative spark! I own “Endless Inspiration” but I think I’ll need to get the rest of the series too! (Not pictured.)

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Writing: A User Manual by David Hewson. Already sent this one back, but I think once I get through some of the others I’ll come back to it…looked a little like dull reading, but who knows for sure. XD

Word Hero: A Fiendishly Clever Guide to Crafting the Lines that get Laughs, go Viral and Live Forever by Jay Heinrichs. Full of colorful words that aren’t too ridiculous, this book is exactly as it says it is: how to use words in a memorable way! I look forward to reading through this one to widen my vocabulary and use those words well! I have high hopes for this one!

Writing Monsters: How to Craft Believably Terrifying Creatures to Enhance Your Horror, Fantasy, and Science Fiction by Philip Athans. I’ve read the foreword, intro, and the first chapter, and the author seems to have a great perspective of what exactly a monster is or can be, so I have very high hopes for this book. I love that in the beginning there’s a section for filling out details for your monster, immediately equipping me as a writer! This book looks fantastic, and I’ll be reading through this one first as I need monster ideas and tips for my video game novel.

Write Starts: Prompts, Quotes and Exercises to Jumpstart Your Creativity by Hal Zina Bennett. I actually own this one already, I ordered it on Amazon to reach the free shipping level, lol. More short chapters with neat exercises and prompts! I hope to get some good creativity spurts out of this one!

Writing 21st Century Fiction: High Impact Techniques For exceptional Storytelling by Donald Maass. The title itself made me pull it off the shelf. Sometimes certain how-to-write/publish books are becoming dated as the style of storytelling changes, so I like to find a book that’s aware of the times. Hopefully it will be worth the time to peruse through the pages.

That’s the end of part 1 (yes, I have a second stack of books just from the creative writing section.) Have any of you read/used books on writing, prompts or publishing that were helpful? If you do/don’t read these types of books, why or why not?

~Jamie

3 Things I Thought Difficult but Actually Aren’t

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Making my bed.

Most of my life I never made my bed; A) because I slept on the top of a bunk bed, and B) I wasn’t expected to make it. When I was eighteen I started sleeping on a twin by myself– it became more central to my room, influencing how the rest of it felt. At first, straightening blankets and pillows felt so hard, but when I actually attempted to do it, I found it made my room feel so much cleaner all by itself. And it’s not actually difficult! Surprise! (It’s the same when I open my window curtains! What a world of difference!)

Drinking enough water.

I’ve almost always liked water anyway, but it always seemed very hard to drink as much as you need every day. However, I started making time to drink right before bed and as soon as I got out of bed. It’s not actually difficult at all! I feel a world’s difference too! (Plus, drinking right before bed ensures no sleeping in! XD )

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Making time to write.

I’ve always loved writing, and had lots of time for it growing up. On top of a year or so when I was either tired emotionally or mentally OR I just couldn’t click on the word document button, my time seemed to get gobbled up more quickly by other things. However, this past NaNoWriMo, I exceeded the 50k word count by 10k in a month– a record for me! I realized the deadline had forced me to find time without being brutal. I’d determined, “I will make this word count, and no one is going to stop me from fulfilling it, not even myself.” It turns out, it’s not hard to make time to write: you just need to want it bad enough.

How about you? Are there things you thought were hard and then discovered they weren’t? Has someone cracked it for washing dishes?!?!?!? (I have not, and probably never will, because the activity of washing dishes is my mortal enemy for life. XD )

~Jame