Tag Archives: inspiration

April Showers Bring Writing Flowers

This is your month. I don’t care if you’re a writer who makes words every single day or a reader who loves the story-telling process. If one of these ideas sparks your interest, start writing. There is no better way to express your love of a story than by writing your own.

Even if you never share it, try it out. And if you find after you’ve written your idea and it surprises you with its wit, its humor, its drama, its strong character development–send it to me at Amyoung0606@gmail.com by April 26th and I will publish it on this blog for everyone else to enjoy your hard work.

1. A young girl and her mother walk to the edge of a field, kneel down in the grass, and plant a tree.

images (1)

2. A mama cat gives birth to a litter of four gray tabbies and one little orange runt.

DSC_2452

3. Inspired by Jurassic Park, a biological engineer is committed to recreating dinosaurs. While researching ancient dinosaurs, the scientist stumbles into evidence that fire-breathing dragons once soared over the land and decides to recreate those instead.ZZ3DC6E0A6

4. A man who sees ghosts checks himself into a mental institute, not realizing that the facility has been closed for almost thirty years.

medd_01_img0059

Don’t waste another minute thinking these negative thoughts:
I haven’t written since high school/college-if you are inspired the writing will flow. It doesn’t matter how much technique you know/don’t know. If you are passionate and inspired it will work out in the end.

I don’t think I could make a story from an idea someone else is giving-every idea comes from someone or something else. A person you’ve met, something you’ve seen, a past experience. These prompts are just here to facilitate inspiration to get the writing going. You don’t have to do them exactly, you can just borrower the idea, twist it, change it to your own liking and make a story all your own. These prompts are just tools to help.
I read a lot, but I don’t know if I can write- you will never know if you don’t try. Again no one else has to see it. You owe it to yourself to try a part of story-telling. You may appreciate stories even more.

Just give it a shot, if you do and don’t like it. Feel free to tell me. Or suggest something else you’d want to see. Perhaps you’d benefit more from learning about plotting or talking about ways to incorporate different writing techniques. I will be happy to give my readers more than just prompts to help their writing blossom.

Happy reading and writing!

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Breaking News, Idea of the Day

Not So Trivial Pursuit of the Perfect Novel: Finding Your Work Space

Fotor0524173818My week has been a whirlwind of emotions, far too numerous to describe without boring you all in the first sentence. It began like any other week, until I realized that my beloved Bengal is paws deep in liver problems. I will spare anyone the TMI details, but I’m one worried cat momma.
So, here I am, filling my days with tear-laden phone calls and binge-eating caramel popcorn, and there is no better time to write a blog post. One of the most difficult accomplishments of any unpublished and published writer is finding the right work space. At the local library, at Starbucks, in a locked office, or at your lunch break—any place is a good place to write.

What makes it the right place is what I hope to show you on my journey to the perfect novel. Before I reveal this newly-minted work space, I want to express how important the work space can be to your writing. Over the past two years, I have found that the best place to write is at work, where I have a limited amount of time on breaks and fewer distractions. And that is not a permanent fix for a career.

I needed a desk. I needed to completely devote a space to my writing and fast! There has been so much time wasted by my lack of direction, and my deadline is coming up fast. Officially, I have seven months until my final semester. Unofficially,I have one month if I plan to let Alpha readers and a copy writer to tear my novel apart.

CYMERA_20140519_132218

I REALLY needed a desk. And the writing gods did provide. When my brother moved out from the spring college semester, I inherited my grandfather’s oak desk.

While I’m sharing, I thought I’d make a handy guide to what can make or break a work space for anyone who might be setting up their space for the first time or want to refocus it.

1. The ambiance of a workspace provides the most difficulty simply due to each person having scores of distractions and other responsibilities that can alter the atmosphere. Whether it be kids, the internet, or in my case a ailing kitty, they can affect the productiveness of our workspace. It does change based on the individual because while some prefer quiet to concentrate, other may need music or other sounds to get inspiration.
Personally, I like as much quiet as I can get. I can work with music, but it can’t be YouTube or Pandora because I get too involved in picking the right music. As obvious as this sounds, it helps me to have as little Internet time as possible. The more time I spend away from the Scrivner, the less concentrated I am. I’m lucky to have a boyfriend who understands my lack of willpower and threatens to shut off the wifi in order to motivate me.
2. The physical space where you plan to pen or type or brainstorm your new story is just as important as the atmosphere around you. Sure, there are a lucky few that can get their hands on a solid piece of cherry or oak that has been carved with precision into an example of perfect carpentry. For the rest of us, a sturdy desk with enough storage area is enough.

3. The tech (or lack of tech) can make or break a workspace. For example: George R.R. Martin uses WordStar 4.0 on MS-DOS; Virginia Woolf and Lewis Carroll both loved purple ink pens (as well as standing desks); Alexandre Dumas used different colors of paper for different pieces (poetry, fiction, non-fiction. Even something as simple as the paper we write on can shape our stories in a particular way. I keep it simple. Laptop, moderately-sized hard drive with a back-up, the option to turn the Internet off, and the most up-to-date version of Scrivner. There is nothing else I need. Well, maybe a thesaurus. The thesaurus is a must have for a writer of so little vocabulary like myself.

So, now that I have the optimum space to create my novel there are no excuses for meeting my writing goals. I leave you with this advice—make a space that is all yours. Get away from the worries and cares of your life, and lose yourself in your fictional or non-fiction world.

 

Oh, and this super awesome kitty compilation I made! Check it out and Happy reading/writing!

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Idea of the Day

Getting Back to My Roots: Unicorn Style

tumblr_lnmmsdIHZA1qjz112o1_500

At one point in every writer’s life they have THE MOMENT. There is a novel or story you’ve read  in your past whether it be at age 7 or age 38 that ignites a spark in you to be more than just a casual reader. It is a hunger for stories–for faraway lands, technologically-advanced alien planets, and characters that seem more realistic than your own neighbor. The story can be from any genre or any time. Most importantly, it has affected you in a way nothing else has before. Sure there are books that you’ve enjoyed, but this one was different.

For me, it was Into the Land of the Unicorns by Bruce Coville, 2nd grade in Mrs. McClelland’s class. Now not every young girl is swept away by the idea of unicorns, but at 7-years-old there was nothing sweeter than a lonely, neglected girl finding her destiny with these beautiful, magical creatures. With Coville and McClelland’s help, I was fell in love with the limitless potential of storytelling. Although it wasn’t the first book I had ever read, it was and still is the most powerful.

Coville has a simple, straightforward style that works well with his 80+ children’s and young adult novels. It was my first real glimpse at world-building, and I was in love with the fantasy and of course the unicorns he brought to life. Later that school year, I attempted to write my first story, which at three pages long was a harrowing adventure of a fairy princess with a shape-shifting blob for a companion.

Before Coville and his Unicorn Chronicles, I had a satiable appetite for reading much like any other enthusiastic child. Not anymore. It was after journeying with Cara Hunter and her faithful new friends in Luster that I found my passion. My love of stories intensified from that moment on. Several years later I discovered the second book in the series and in my delight I fell into the world of Luster all over again. No matter how long I spend away from Coville’s world I came right back within the first few pages.

Thanks to the wonderful world of Google and Goodreads, I’ve come into the possession of the third installment of my beloved series rather recently. It’s been, I’d say, around 8-10 years since the second novel, Song of the Wanderer, and getting back to my roots is exactly what I needed to rekindle my creative mojo.

By the second chapter, the adorable and slightly annoying voice of the Squijum (part monkey/squirrel) threw me headlong into a heavy case déjà vu, which I was all to happy to allow. There is nothing more satisfying than characters who instill a sense of contentment in a reader as a youth AND an adult. I only wish I can do that with my Cassie for one person, and Coville is guaranteed hundreds if not thousands in the forty years he’s been publishing.

We finally reach the meat of my post with the fact that this book and this author being my moment of “revelation,” if you will. It was the moment I knew that I had it in me to escape whenever I wanted if the story came to me. I wouldn’t write again for many more years other than fan fiction, which is a good start anyways. And even when I revisited the most important book of my career, I still found the magic bubbling on the pages. Sometimes the books we remember as kids don’t always ring true when you’re older.

Coville’s books have been an integral part in my decision to become a writer, and following the 17 years apart from this particular reader-author relationship I had some catching up to do. So, I decided to take a trip over to Mr. Coville’s web site to re-acquaint myself with the man behind my inspiration. What did I find? Some of the greatest advice I have ever come across.

I encourage you to head on over to BruceCoville.com because he is both simple and coherent no matter what kind of stories you are writing. Hey, he even uses the same tag line that I use at the end of all of my blogs. Coincidence? Since this is the first time I’ve visited his website I’d say no. It’s a powerful feeling when a complete stranger guides you down the right path because it’s one you share with them. I am almost finished with Dark Whispers and Coville still gives me the chills in all of the right places. He gives me hope that I can someday give those chills to hopeful writers that their dreams are just like mine and they can come true if they believe.

Do you remember the first story/book/poem that made you want to be a writer. Share your “back to roots” story in the comments below. I’d love to hear them. And in the spirit of a lovely Sunday morning—-Happy reading and writing, my lovelies!

 

Oh and—-interwebz kitteh picture!

My close up Mister Main Coon!

My close up Mister Main Coon!

 

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Idea of the Day

A Halloween Homage to the King

As a belated Halloween post, I thought that paying homage to the Master of Horror, Stephen King, seemed fitting for one of his constant readers. Maybe not consistent in the amount of books I have read over time, but definitely in my dedication to his work.  It was only after reading this wonderful post What Stephen King Isn’t by Joshua Rothman from The New Yorker that I truly realized why I love Stephen King so fiercely.

He is not simply one of the best American horror writers to earn his way onto the shelves and into the Kindles of thousands of people. King is one of the best American authors of our time, and to the dismay of plenty of critics, I am not the only one to think so. Although book sales cannot always tell you the quality of an author’s writing,  how does one deny the 60 awards won over a forty year period and over 350 million books sold? With three bibliography pages on Wikipedia: one for novels and collections, one for his individual short stories, and one for his unpublished works, you can imagine how hard this amazing man has been burning the midnight oil to make his masterpieces.

So someone in the world has felt the good sense to keep publishing him to build a colossal fan base of what? Horror fans? Speculative fiction maybe to generalize? He gets the nick name Master of Horror, but to his constant readers he is so much more than the author of spine-tingling supernatural thrillers that defy the laws of the known universe.

In the recent interview with Parade magazine (which I fervently read through at my parent’s kitchen table), King reiterates my point, “I’ve been typed as a horror writer, and I’ve always said to people, “I don’t care what you call me as long as the checks don’t bounce and the family gets fed.” But I never saw myself that way. I just saw myself as a novelist” (A Rare Interview with Master Storyteller Stephen King). He doesn’t see himself as anything more than man with a story (or hundreds) that he hopes to share with people who will love them as much as he does.

As a “greenie” to the world of Stephen King, I feel in love with his ability to write anything and everything. He has earned the right to at this point in his career, which not many contemporary authors can claim because let’s face it- if  you get one good book that’s mildly popular that is a success. For King, he has made miracles come from the imagination that has inspired dozens of movie and television show adaptations including recent ones like Under the Dome and Haven.

Besides the horror elements that made his initial stories famous, King transcends all genre as you will read in Joshua Rothman’s post. I will let him describe the SK phenomena in his own way, but I will touch upon it in my short review of two of King’s recent books.

r-JOYLAND-STEPHEN-KING-large570

Joyland is a refreshing breath of carnie air, complete with the lingering scent of salty sea air and stale popcorn. King, as if on cue, finds the perfect story to bring the best parts of summer bliss back into our lives. Who doesn’t want teenage romance, a forlorn female ghost, and a crew of lovable amusement park employees that treat the “greenies” or new employees with a little rough and tough love? I do! And after reading Joyland (and other pieces) I could never imagine King as JUST a horror writer. In some ways, it limits readers to view him only as a writer of killer clowns and raging, possessed cars. Joyland has some gruesome scenes, but nothing that screams horror.

Instead, I felt myself pining for the romance he was building slowly with the subtle actions of the characters and unique, direct style of his writing. And let me tell you, I did NOT anticipate or hope for romance in a book with murder, amusement parks, and ghosts, but King made me want it. The main character, Devin Jones, is 21, and like any young adult thinks of love even without trying. King  leaves the characters to do most of the work, and yet his ideas if tried by anyone else would turn out as a hodgepodge of genres that should never belong together.

Joyland is a blast from the past that combines the yearning of a romance, the deduction of a murder mystery, and the subtlety of a supernatural story that will leave any reader laughing or crying by the end. It is a quintessential King novel because it uses the supernatural to elevate the truth of the human psyche. He knows what we want to read, and writes the story we need to hear. Most importantly, King is in the business of selling fun!

I finished Joyland about a week ago, on audiobook, which is well worth the money, the reader is FANTASTIC! Afterwards, I was so inspired that I went back to 11/22/63 that had been out for two years, and I was about 50 pages from the end. It took me two years to read this monster of a book because it was characteristically long for King books, but even more so because I didn’t want to know the end.

King introduces an age old question of what would happen if someone could go back in time and CHANGE history. It’s difficult to understand time travel in a theoretical sense; add a lovable main character with a hero complex and presto you have the makings of a wonderfully adventurous. 11/22/63 is another of King’s recent works that succeeds with a believable love story-of an English teacher from 2011 and a librarian of the 50s. Is there boat loads of gore and supernatural elements? Well, sure. You can’t have time travel without the repercussions, but what is really comes down to is a well-written, well-researched historical novel that uses the best imagination in all of us to answer what would happen if someone went back in time and saved John F. Kennedy.

There’s hope, guilt, history, patriotism, and an overwhelming feeling that just once everyone lives (ten points for any blogger who points out where that phrase is from). In the end, King wraps up the story as though there is no other way it could have ended. The balance of the world is restored, and the reader, who has ridden on this whirlwind of a story, is faced with one honest, human reality. The past has a nasty way of happening no matter what you do to change it. Instead of trying to fix it, sometimes the best way to change the past is to learn why it happened.

In the collective ten hours over the past week that it took to research and write this post, I have fallen more in love with King and his writing than before. I spent all yesterday and today watching videos  of this ordinary man, and found a foul-mouthed, experienced writer that simply loves books.  I won’t try to place him on a pedestal, but the man deserves credit for everything he’s done. Not only that, he has stayed the same humble, book worm that picked up Lord of the Flies and landed in a fictional world that he has never left.

To me, Stephen King is more than a popular author, more than a very successful author. He is the hope that my ideas, my imagination can mean something to someone else if I work hard enough. He transcends genre by combining elements and characters that no one else could make work. He believes in his stories, in the ideas that come to him in the motel, the drive home, or in a dream. Stephen King represents the dreams of every writer to be more than the picture on the book jacket. A man that is willing to read 50 shades of gray and find something positive to say about it, has to be brilliant or a complete psycho. Either way, I suggest if you haven’t given the King a chance–try again. Ask me for suggestions, check out his website and find something that interests you. There are hundreds of stories to choose from, and King does not discriminate genre. He has a little bit of everything for the reader willing to open him/herself to be captivated by this everyday, extraordinary author.

P.S. There is a website that uses a statistical analysis tool to analyze your word choice, writing style and compares it to famous authors. Out of the five chapters I placed in this statistical tool, 3/5 came back as Stephen King. If that isn’t proof of how influential he is not only in my current manuscript, but my writing in general, I don’t know what is.

If you feel compelled to put each chapter of your current WIP, blog post, or journal–the link is below:

http://iwl.me/

I write like
Stephen King

I Write Like. Analyze your writing!

Leave a comment

November 7, 2013 · 12:20 am

Orson Scott Card is a Science Fiction God

Let it be known, Orson Scott Card is not the end-all-be-all for science fiction writers, but he’s damn close. Regrettably, I was only introduced to one of his best selling books a few months ago, so I am not a long time fan. I say regrettably because (like any fantastic author) he hooked me within the first page.

SPOILER ALERT: There will be spoilers in the following paragraphs!

Orson Scott Card's amazing novel!

The premise of Ender’s Game is simple: people of Earth discover alien species that “wishes” to harm them. We engage in epic wars that last decades, until the governments of Earth band together, and decide to enlist children in the International Fleet to help save the world. They train children as space soldiers, breeding them to be smarter and quicker than ever before. Ender (Andrew) Wiggins becomes a special student of the I.F. and soon learns he has been destined to save the world against these Buggers. Through the careful training and help of his friends he is able to defeat the Buggers through a battle simulation, controlling the real soldiers remotely. He saves the world, but unknowingly has destroyed an entire race.

The first of four books in the Shadow Series

Now, one of my friends had suggested this novel a long time ago, but the military/ genetic thing didn’t wet my whistle, so to speak. However, the trust of an old friend, and forcefulness of his attitude beckoned me to give it another shot. When I mean forcefulness I mean: taking out 13 books in the Enderverse and putting them in my car to make me read them, secretly knowing that once I read the first book I would not stop. And I didn’t stop, I have worked through the books at a slower rate than I would like (school books and all that stuff). I have finally finished all books on the Ender side of the collection. I have just begun the Shadow Series (Ender’s Shadow), which is  a mini-series following Bean, one of Ender’s comrades in battle school.

It has occurred to me that Card has knowingly/unknowingly created one of the most elaborate and well thought out universes I have ever seen.  Save for the elaborate books on Star Wars or Star Trek, I have never seen a collection of book so dedicated to one main story.  For me, I prefer a series or collection of books on one character or place rather than a standalone novel. It’s like a t.v. series that I can go back to every day, and have more and more to discover. I know they can’t last forever, but at least I have a steady stream of the same good writing, and a great story. So, discovering Card’s dedication to the Enderverse is like discovering a gold mine for me.

In addition, I think that I have found my source for constant inspiration. It happens every time I read Stephen King and now every time I read Orson Scott Card. He makes me want to stop in the middle of reading to write, but t the same time I don’t want to stop reading his amazing books! Just as I started Ender’s Shadow, I had ideas for my own short story, which I haven’t touched since I received notes from my mentor a few weeks ago. It has been slow starting after these comments, but somehow it’s always better if I’m reading about Ender and the kids from battle school.

On another note, I want to suggest all of these books. Just type in Ender or Orson Scott Card and it will take you to the list of books surrounding Enderverse. I as always read the series somewhat out of order, but it was very easy to piece things together. If you are remotely interested in space, aliens, or science fiction, this is the book for you. Even if you aren’t this book is not super heavy on advanced technology or weird languages for the beginner science fiction reader. I would/have suggested this book to everyone I can because it changed my perspective on science fiction. I can’t wait to be finished with Enderverse and explore the other worlds that Orson Scott Card has created. If his other books are half as good as these, I think I will have a lot of inspirational material to use in the future.

Happy reading!

 

 

4 Comments

Filed under Idea of the Day

Book Published Via Facebook. Wha Wha?

To all my Facebook Fiends, here is your chance to change the (forgive the pun) face of books by putting books on Facebook. Writer Alex Epstein has made a collection of short stories and poems into individual photos to place on Facebook. Within one photo album, Epstein utilized his knowledge of social media to bring in readers.

http://electricliterature.com/blog/2012/02/15/the-facebook-book/

For regular FB users, this may be the only exposure they have to good writing or any writing at all. It is a chance to show how beneficial social media can be. It’s not just about share minute by minute life updates. In its purest form, social media sites like FB help people share things that are lost in the culture.

It is much easier for people to read a book by flipping through photos constantly updated on their FB wall than to go buy a tangible book. The bibliophile/bookworm in me cringes to say, but not every one can love books like that. So this social experiment gives those potential readers a chance to see a book in a different light.

One of the most interesting aspects of the experiment is the readers’ reactions. Epstein was shocked at the immediate response he received. Similar to the reaction an author receives with a public reading, Epstein could see which parts of the book people enjoyed, what they shared with their friends, and what the readers thought.

It is instant gratification for author and readers alike. Although I have not seen the book, I find his optimism inspiring. If one man can hope to transform the exposure of the book into a social media experience through Facebook, then there is so much more in store for writing. The innovation has only just begun in this digital age, and it isn’t slowing. In fact, I think this will be one of many new ideas for sharing books that defies our previous notions and expectations. I give Epstein credit for his creativity. I hope he finds more inspiration for greater ideas.

http://www.mediabistro.com/galleycat/author-publishes-book-as-facebook-photo-album_b47197

7 Comments

Filed under Idea of the Day

The Author Near and Dear to My Bleeding Heart

The inspiration for a writer can come from many places, but a sure fire way to know why a writer writes can come from his or her favorite author. Upon looking at me or some of my writing, you would never guess I am a huge fan of  Stephen King, a master of horror, fantasy, and science fiction. His career has astounded me and given me hope for my career. He spent most of his life writing and doing at least two unrelated jobs to support his family. His short stories were published in magazines until 1973 when his first novel, Carrie, was published. It was then that his writing career became an ongoing one. He would continue to write novels, short stories, and collections for decades.

I first read King in high school. We read his novella Apt Pupil and Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption.  I was immediately drawn to his ability to develop several main characters in extreme detail. From that point on, I vowed it would be my life’s goal to read everything he has written. So far, I have only made a small dent in the huge list of works he has written.

However, the books I have read encourage my own writing and keep my opinion of King positive. From his first, Carrie, to his most recent book, 11/22/63, King continues to surprise and horrify me.

For the haters, he doesn’t invoke shock and disgust lightly. There is a delicate nature that you must place horrifying terrible things. The fact remains that the readers of 2012 are not phased by gore and pain anymore. What would horrify and scare people 40 years ago when King was first publishing is not going to affect the readers of today. It’s sad that video games and action movies have made violence and killing more acceptable, but the horror King artfully places in his books is not appreciated by most of the public.

To me, there will always be a shock to what King writes because humans need to be shocked at what could possibly happen to them. Although his supernatural elements (time travel, magic, demons, ghosts) elevate the story to a different level, the underlying themes to his stories ring true in all of us. Kujo,  fighting for your life against a rabid animal. Under the Dome, minus the mysterious electrified dome, the fear of a town cut off from the rest of the world is a very real possibility. Those elements are what make King’s stories terrifying. They could in one way actually happen and that slice of reality neatly tucked in between vampires  scares the crap out of readers.

That’s what I love about him. He understand the human condition so well that he uses our worst fears or qualities against us. He reminds us that life is not all puppy dogs and rainbows. That bad things happen and only you can change the  outcome of a bad situation. Every story I read of his gives me the drive to create the world like in the Dark Tower series or focus on place as he does with his home state of Maine.

Although King has met criticism by many, he is revered and loved by more for his dedication to the craft. After reading his memoirs On Writing, I told myself I would be just like King. Writing every day until I die. The funny thing about writers is that we need to write to survive, and even in the face of almost death we still find a way to write. In 1999, King was hit by a van and subsequently decided he might retire. It was difficult for him to sit down to write and his energy wasn’t high.

Yet, a few months after finished physical therapy he was writing the memoirs I just previously mentioned. He has continued to grace the shelves virtual and physical with insightful stories of human life. I hope that he has many more ideas left to write because I don’t plan to stop reading him now. He has written over 50 novels under his name and Richard Bachman. He has published almost 10 collection and even some non-fiction.

King has and always will be my inspiration for writing. I will use him as encouragement, for advice, and a guide through the tough world of writing.

Have you read Stephen King? If so, what books? Did you like his stories, why or why not?

A collage of King's amazing works of art. Not my collection, but someone with a lot of money

Below is the list of books I have checked of my very long list:

Misery

Carrie

Black House

Cell

The Dark Half (most of it, had to return it to the library)

Gerald’s Game

Lisey’s Story (about half)

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

Apt Pupil

Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption

Under the Dome

11/22/63


 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Idea of the Day