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Week 2: Reading and Writing

Welcome to week 2 of my HOW-TO blog series for writers!

Today, we’re talking about How-To be a better Writer:

Last week, we covered the workspace. This weeks issue is a quick and easy post on one of the most basic and most overlooked necessities for any writer, no matter the genre.

All Writers Must Be Readers

Sounds simple, right? Well, it is. See, reading for pleasure will make you a better writer. It’s a fact. Ask any successful author.

And still, you’d be surprised how many wanna-be writers I have met who don’t read for pleasure. Ever. It’s appalling really. And yet they are trying to put their work out into the universe and expecting the masses to do the thing that they do not. Which is to Read.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying it is impossible to become a successful writer without being a Reader. It is definitely possible, but HIGHLY UNLIKELY.

Writing is hard work.

And the odds are hardly ever in your favor. Consider that we live in an age where any yahoo can post basically anything they want on Smashwords and KDP (Amazon), and call it a book. Most people don’t do that. I mean, A LOT of them are really GOOD, but some of them aren’t.

So when you and I spend a year of our lives creating a plot, characters, and storyline that we are sure will change the world, it can be difficult to get your book-baby to rise above the masses when it has to wade through all the crud.

For me, writing is the most fun I will ever have in my life on any given day. That is why I do it: because I love disappearing into the worlds I create, into the lives of the characters whose existence is so much more exciting than mine. But the time it takes, the devotion it requires to find critique partners, to self-edit, to take the criticisms, and more editing, the marketing, and cover design … It’s not always fun to reread the same manuscript a ba-jillion times.

But I do it. We Writers do it.

And since the mere task of writing a book that someone else may actually want to read can be so daunting, and the odds of getting our work into the hands of the right people with the power to make our collective Best-Selling dreams come true are slim, we have to put in the effort to make ourselves good writers. So there’s less work overall. And being a Reader is one small way to make sure that you don’t have so much POST-writing work to do.

Reading someone elses work can help in SO many ways. Like enlarging your vocabulary– other authors won’t describe things the same way you would. Some of them are very crafty with their “gymnastic linguistics.”

Some of them are better at transitions than we are.

Some of them can say a lot more with a lot fewer words.

Reading can make you see the bigger picture– authors with major publishing houses have a team of people around them to help make their books better than they ever could have on their own. So when you read their books it can help you get a better idea of what a well-structured story should look like. This also helps if you are looking to land a major publisher.

And reading is FUN! It’s exercise for your brain.

It does what nothing else on earth can do: it lifts your imagination, takes you out of your own head, and puts you inside someonelse’s. You can learn about places you’ve never been, meet people you never would have dreamed of. You can travel through time and have the adventure of a lifetime.

No one in their right mind should want to say “No” to that. (Judgy, I know, but it’s true)

So, dear Writers, do yourself a favor and Read.


That’s it for this week! Thanks for reading, and I hope you continue to do so. And when you’re finished with that book, help an author out and leave a review. Afterall, word of mouth is how most Readers decide to what to read next

 

Part 1: How-To Write The Story

Welcome to the first post in my new How-To blog series! I’m diving right in … but be sure to read all the way down for some amazing resources on other sites that might have what you’re looking for.


Before you start writing, you have to have an idea, right? So let’s start with how to write the story:

Get Creative!

Whether you write poetry, micro or flash fiction, full-length novels, or friggin comic books, you have to have an idea of what you want to write about. And then you have to write in the way that works best for you.

Let’s start with the basics:

  • THE WORK SPACE: Writing can be really tough! Find a place to write that works for you and make the time to do it a little every day. Your space should fit easily into your daily routine, be comfy and accessible.
  • DO IT YOUR WAY: If you need peace and quiet when you write that’s where your space should be. Or if you want to sit in a Starbucks and tap-tap-tap away on your laptop or phone, or go old school with a paper and a pen, then that’s what you should do. Remember, this is your space to get creative, so you need to feel comfortable!  You know ANNA TODD, world-wide best-selling author of the AFTER SERIES? Yeah, she wrote all her books on the social media site for writers: Wattpad. Even after she landed her six-figure deal from Simon-Schuster because WATTPAD was her virtual office, necessary to her creative process. 
  • DON’T GET DISTRACTED: Don’t get caught up in the distraction of the FIRST-LINE! Yes, they are important to engage readers, but you don’t need to worry about that when you’re just getting started. You will go through your book so many times and make so many changes along the way, those first few words will come when it’s time. 
  • JUST WRITE: If you’re having trouble getting started, do something that inspires you! For me, I am inspired by music. Most of my plots and characters have been formed around songs! The main character in my Threestone Trilogy, G, was formed from the song “Be Somebody,” by Thousand Foot Crutch. His nemesis, Daemon, came from the song, “I Never Told You What I Do For a Living,” by My Chemical Romance. 
  • DON’T LIMIT YOURSELF: This is probably the most common mistake most of us writers make. We think there should be limitations and rules about how we write. Don’t get me wrong, rules may work for some people, but they don’t work for me. If you start thinking about the things you aren’t supposed to do, you’ll never get around to what you want to do!  So, set the “writing rules” aside and let your imaginations run wild!(Ironically, I just realized I’m writing a list of rules!)

Okay, that is all for now. What about you? What activities help you get creative? I’d love to hear about it in the Comments section!

Want more advice about writing that book? Click here for more amazing tips and advice.

Be sure to click and follow so you don’t miss next week’s post on Developing Your Story!

A Few Updates

Hello, faithful followers and fellow bloggers! I know, it’s been too long … I have a great excuse though. I’ve been getting my edu-ma-cation.

Er … uh, I mean bulking up the brain.

You know, feeding the neuro-receptors.

Brain-break

Finals for Spring semester have ended and I am over-joyed!

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If not a little fried …

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Anyhoo, Here are my updates:

  1. With all that has been going on lately, I have missed blogging so much! I’ll try to do it more often, but I still need to WRITE. Which, as we all know I time-consuming, but SO worth it.

 What’s that? You want to know what I’m writing?

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Well, REACTION, of course: the third and final installment of my Sci-Fi Trilogy.  And until that is released this fall …

2) I want to share my newest book covers! That’s right, all of the books I have already written have gotten NEW and improved covers. (I’ll be blogging about how I got them all at a SUPER AFFORDABLE price in the near future)

3) Here they are:

Freaking awesome, right!?

And guess what else?

4) You can now get all of my books for free on Smashwords in any format! You can also get them free from Amazon if you prefer Kindle Unlimited. So click the links and get your free awesome books today!

And, as always …

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Plots and Socks: a writing process

(2014 re-post)

I like my plots the way I like my socks. Tight and free of holes.

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And, let me tell you, it isn’t easy.

I never really thought about ‘my process’ until this past weekend, when my husband and I had some friends over. I am one of those people who never really talks about their writing unless asked because I will go on and on and on until you are sorry you ever asked the question.

But, at some point during the many conversations, some unfortunate soul made the mistake of asking me how I come up with ideas for my books.

After the initial, “I don’t know,” it got me thinking about how, thus far, my stories have ended up nothing like the way they started out. And that lead me to the realization that I am an odd-builder.

Yes, I said odd-builder.

Let me explain it you you, reader, like I explained to my company:

I start with The End. It’s an image in my head, or a feeling that I get about a certain situation or story. Usually sparked by some event I read about or see taking place within the lives of people around me.

Then, I hit the internet. I search blog after blog, read endless amounts of advice on the creative process and the proper way to structure a story. But then, after a week or so–less if I’m really inspired–I remember that my brain won’t let me do it the usual way. I cannot tell you how many unfinished outlines I have stored in my computer.

Then, I jot down all the ideas about my ending (how it might have been reached and by whom) into a spiral notebook which then finds it’s way into my bedside table. It’s like binder after notebook after binder inside my nightstand.

This is my only form of organization when it comes to writing. Each idea, each plot, and character that graces the pages of my  books gets it’s own section in a binder. The binders are labeled with the wroking title and the notes on plot or character are tossed in there like a paper salad. It’s messy, but it works for me.

From there, I go back to whatever it is I am writing at the time. I try to finish one project before moving along to the next. This way I dont have a million manuscripts I feel pressured to finish.

Then, once I have had time away from the idea, I go back to my notebooks and re-read everything. If i am still stoked about the idea, I start constructing.

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UNDER CONSTRUCTION 

This is where it gets a tad messy. See, I have my ultimate ending, but I don’t know who the characters are yet. So here is the place where I begin the inquisition. I ask myself

What events must happen for the story to reach it’s ending?

What motivates the characters to make the choices they must make to lead to the end?

What type of person makes those choices? A pschopath, a lonely girl, a guy who’s strapped for cash…the posibilities are endless.

Who do I want my character to be? What age and/or gender would fit best with the situations presented?

What traits do they have that I can relate to? What type of upbringing would they have that might influence their choices?

And the list goes on. These questions are also helpful when I reach that point in the story where I’m not sure what the character should do. I can go back to these questions and find an answer.

Once I reach a point of comfortable familiarity with my main characters, I begin free-writing. And through the process of turning on the voice in my head and letting it flow to the page, I find out who they really are, beneath the choices.

Well, that’s my crazy process.

#FlashFiction Even though it’s not Friday

Hello, fellow bloggers and faithful readers!

I’ve had my head buried in school books and am putting the final touches on my latest book (which I am SO ridiculously behind on) that I literally have zero time to blog.

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But I don’t want to leave anybody hanging, or make you all think that I forgot about my readers the same way I forgot all about this flash fiction thing I started doing last year.

Truly, I came across it on my Wattpad page and was like, “When did I write this!?”

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So, I reread it. A fell in like with it all over again, and decided it was worth sharing here. Again.

(there’s a smidge of strong language, so reader beware)


1
A Beacon for the Metaphorical Penis.

“A what?” Layla stared at the laptop and shook her head. “I don’t get it. Sorry, Dee.”
Dee sighed, letting her shoulders drop. “I couldn’t call it ‘Dick Magnet.’ No one would want to read it.”
Layla laughed. “Or everyone would.”
“For all the wrong reasons.”
“Okay. So what’s it’s supposed to be about?”
Dee sighed again. It was about everything in her life turning out wrong. It was about being thirty-one and still single. It was about still losing her job after all the crap she put up with to keep it. Like unpaid overtime; they wanted the work done, but they didn’t want her to charge them for it—and she was stupid enough to believe her selfish boss would remember her dedication when the next editing position opened up.
“Generally, it’s about how independent, intelligent women in this age have no taste in men.”
“So it’s a biography.” Layla’s face was dead-pan.
Dee was the one laughing now. She should have known better than to try and fool her best friend. “Yes. But no. It’s an idea I’ve had for a long time, now I’m finally putting it to paper. Metaphorically, since it’s digital.” She shrugged, crossing her arms.
“It sounds good, but since when did you become a blogger?”
“I’m out of book ideas.” Dee plopped on the short sofa beside her friend and grabbed the laptop—saving and closing the document file.
“So…Dick Magnet? Are you going to feed the stereotypes about men wanting nothing more than to get into a womans pants?”
“You mean tell it like it is? Yes.”
Layla rolled her eyes. She wasn’t as cynical as her lifelong friend. But she had no reason to be. She married the man who took her virginity a month after high school graduation. And amazingly, they were still married. And happy. They still had sex. Regularly.
Dee shook off the image. “Not all of us are lucky enough to find a guy like your Steve.”
“Luck had nothing to do with it. Love is an investment, Dee. The wedding is like a down payment that gets you the house. But marriage is what you live in. It takes time to repaint and remodel. It’s a lot of work.”
Dee’s eyes nearly crossed. How many times had she heard this metaphor? Ten, twenty, a hundred-thousand times?
“Alright-awright. I get it. The secret is in real-estate research.”
“Metaphorically.”


Dee didn’t like the name she chose for her new, fabulous website. Yeah, it was only to keep her busy as she searched for another job. It was a part-time thing. A hobby. There were millions of bloggers out there, but none of them—at least the ones Dee came across—were filling the gap between what you learn and applying that knowledge in everyday life and situations.
For instance, Dee now knew, from past experience that it was important to see your potential date in a well-lit space before agreeing to any outings. The typically soft lighting of a night club does not lend itself to inspection. To search, to make absolutely sure there was no slightly lighter strip of skin on the left ring finger.
She learned this one night—well several nights after—a few fuzzy navels and a screwdriver, compliments a la Asshole. The haze of alcohol eased her into accepting his phone number scribbled on a napkin. The man had paid for two of her four drinks that night and she was reduced to thinking that somehow indebted her. But all he wanted was the chance at a phone call. And Dee was not going to call. But he hadn’t demanded Dee’s phone number. He’d left it up to her to make the next move.
And in that simple act of letting her think she was in a higher position made her fall.
The high-point of the first date was the conversation and the sweet, boyish peck on the cheek that followed. Boy, did he reel her in. Slowly, like a fat, stupid tuna. He let her thrash about on the baited hook like one of the giant marlin her father used to catch when he took her deep sea fishing.
The second date was where Dee learned her lesson. It was right after she let him talk her into seeing a terrible movie. A major motion picture, expected to be a box office block-buster.
Well, it was shit. Dee knew it would be. She rarely agreed with film critics and never agreed with pop-culture’s ideas of ‘good’ on anything. Film or otherwise. Except maybe Green Mile and Forrest Gump, but that was more a Tom Hanks anomaly.
Neither one really watched the movie, but they made good use of the dark. They were all over eachother. Dee was going to take him to her apartment. As the two left the theater, walking hand in hand, it happened.
A beautiful woman with bright strawberry curls was blocking their path on the crowded sidewalk. Asshole threw her hand away and stuttered something to the woman. Dee was confused at first. But then she took in the womans tired, hurt expression, her thin arms that held an impossibly tiny infant, and her slightly doughy middle. Then the womans thin hand and the large stone that rested over her fourth finger.
Automatically, Dee checked her dates’ fingers. Low and behold—there was a thin, slightly lighter line around his ring finger.
Dee did the only thing she could think of; listened and watched the screaming match. The poor woman cried at the unfairness; it wasn’t her fault she had to wait six weeks to have sex. She’d just had his baby! And her husband of less than two years was an unfaithful bastard!
Bastard was right. Who the hell was he to make Dee the slut, to turn her into the other woman?
Dee’s knee swung up into his groin before she had a chance to think it through. “There! Now he can’t have sex either!”
She charged through the watching crowd on her way home to meet her second dates for that evening, Ben and Jerry.
It was a tough lesson. But one Dee was glad to have learned. Thanks to that experience, she could relay the importance of good lighting at a first meeting.


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You are welcome, World.

Rivera–out.

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Happy Sunday

It’s too hot out to do anything, so here’s a little funny to keep you busy:

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Big News!

Did you guys miss me? 

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Well, I hope you at lease noticed I was gone.

During my unannounced hiatus, I was taking a few summer courses at my local college campus. The work load was a smidgen more than I expected. giphy

But I came through with flying colors and I’ll resume posting more regularly from now on.

Even though I’ve had my head buried in writing and reading books, life did not cease to be interesting. In fact, it got freaking fascinating!

The coolest thing is coming up this weekend . . . 

Forgotten Faces, you know, the band that my boys have, the band that plays shows all over the place and gets written about by music critics--yeah, that band!

Well, the band FORGOTTEN FACES will be playing XFest!

anigif_enhanced-buzz-21588-1384225164-15For those of you outside the Central Valley, XFest is an annual music festival, usually held in Modesto California, that’s been popping every year since it began 17 years ago. This year the event will be held at the larger San Joaquin County Fair Grounds and it’s going to be EPIC.

T-Pain and Suicidal Tendencies will be there, too, along with SO MANY other bands, I cannot wait! It’s going to be the bands biggest gig yet!

So, if any of you are in the San Joaquin, or Central Valley this weekend, pop on by and check out the music! And if you have a copy of one of my books, bring that too. I’ll sign it for you!

Forgotten Faces

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