Saturday, May 30, 2015

Writers Block Woes


I deleted two chapters today.

I wrote them.  And then I deleted them.

They were horrible.

The problem is that I kind of know what I want to say next in my story...but not exactly.  It's like smacking clay onto a sculpture blindfolded.  You hope you hit something that feels right.

Only I didn't.  My blobs of words were far off the mark.  Blek.  I wouldn't want to read that mess.

So I have ended the day with no more words than I started with.

And I am searching my mind for some word of inspiration that keeps the day from feeling like a total failure.

The best that I can come up with is from a story about a couple of oil drillers.  The young one was frustrated after a day of drilling with no discovery of oil. But the old one was contented.  He said sometimes it is just as important to know where oil ain't.

Yep.  That's what I'm telling myself.

Only Two More Days!!!


     Only two more days until Rooglewood's contest announcement.  Which means that in two days you can check back here to see the cover reveal and to find out this year's foundational tale.  All of us who have been making guesses all year will find out how close we were (or how far away!).

     And then we can all start brainstorming!

Friday, May 29, 2015

Guest Post by Emily!

Character Creation
by Emily Ann Putzke

My character in Ain’t We Got Fun is Georgiana (Gi) Rowland, the older sister of Bess. Their family is struggling during the Great Depression, so Gi takes off for NYC to make a fortune and help them out. The sisters recount their adventures, joys and heartaches to each other. My co-author, Emily Chapman, and I wrote this story in letter form in January. Our characters are very different people! Here are a 5 things that helped me bring Gi to life, and give her a personality that’s all her own.

1.  Give Your Characters Flaws
None of us are perfect, so our characters shouldn't be either. Gi is a fun, loyal, light hearted girl with big dreams. But she has a flaw that she struggles with throughout the entire story. Pride. She’s very stubborn, independent, and doesn’t want anything from anybody.

2. Use That Flaw to Stretch and Change Your Character
Pride gets Gi in quite a few scrapes. Throughout AWGF, she’s constantly battling with it. Everytime she thinks she can tame her pride, it flares up again. It’s not until the end of the story that she finally makes headway into defeating this flaw. She realizes that she can’t do everything on her own, and that she needs to rely on God, not herself.

3. Make Them Lovable and Relatable
Even though my readers got aggravated with Gi for making stupid decisions, they still seemed to like her! This is crucial, because the last thing I’d want is an unlovable character. She has her stubborn streak and sinful pride, but Gi is also a bit silly, offbeat, loving, and compassionate. I tried to balance out her flaws and weaknesses to make her real.

4. Give Them a Quirk
One of the things that stands out in Gi’s character is her obsession with coffee. Everyone has a quirk, and that can be used to give a character more of a personality. Coffee is a big deal to Gi, so it needed to be threaded into her letters.

5. Know What Your Character Looks Like
Gi looks like me, and Bess looks like Emily Chapman. We actually planned that! So that made it easy to picture Gi: dark, curly, untamable hair, and green eyes. But we also had a shared Pinterest board where we pinned pictures that resembled Gi and Bess, and ourselves.


If you have any question regarding Ain’t We Got Fun or writing in general, you can send me an email at authoremilyannputzke(AT)gmail(DOTcom or leave a comment on my blog, www.authoremilyannputzke.com





Author Bios:


EMILY ANN PUTZKE and Gi Rowland have two big things in common: their love for God and coffee. Besides writing historical fiction, Emily enjoys being an aunty, photography, Irish dancing, spending time with family, attempting to play the guitar, reenacting, and reading. She loves polka dots, war movies, and all things vintage. Her first novella, It Took a War, was published in December of 2014. You can learn more about Emily Ann Putzke and her books at www.authoremilyannputzke.com and www.facebook.com/authoremilyannputzke.

EMILY CHAPMAN, also known as Bess Rowland, is a young hobbit living in the dear old South, and she is entirely bonkers. She's a dreamer, an optimistic pessimist, and an introverted people person. Blue skies, dancing, Disney, and whipped cream make her happy, and she swears she's once been to Narnia. She's been a reader all her life, became a writer because of that, and published her first novel, Cry of Hope, in March of 2014. But without her Savior, all of this would mean nothing. It is in Him that she puts her hope.You can learn more about Emily Chapman and her books at www.emilychapmanauthor.com and www.facebook.com/emilychapmanauthor.
You can purchase Ain't We Got Fun through:

Amazon (Paperback) 
Amazon (Kindle) 
Createspace (Paperback)
Smashwords (ebook)

About The Book:

It was never much of an issue for Bess: living contentedly on her family's farm, despite the Depression which loomed around them. But when her older sister Georgiana takes off to New York City to make a fortune and help Papa out, feelings of adventure and wanderlust strike Bess at home. Through their lively letter correspondence, the sisters recount to one another their adventures, surprises, and heartaches, leaving little room for depression. For in a world of such wonder, ain't we got fun?

Giveaway: Only Open to People in the U.S. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Epic Bible Quote Challenge



“Entreat me not to leave you,
Or to turn back from following after you;
For wherever you go, I will go;
And wherever you lodge, I will lodge;
Your people shall be my people,
And your God, my God.
17 
Where you die, I will die,
And there will I be buried.
The Lord do so to me, and more also,
If anything but death parts you and me.”

                                                                          ~Ruth

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Journaling is Like Pantsing

Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth Bennett in A's "Pride and Prejudice" (1995)

I'm trying to wrap my mind around my own life.  You know, first impressions can be bent into either direction.  I can see a person or a job or anything in a negative light.
You won't believe this girl I saw today.  She was the most backward tomboy I ever met...
I walked into the clinic and heard a dog's heartbroken sob.  And I knew I couldn't work here.
 Or, as Elizabeth Bennet (in Jane Austin's Pride and Prejudice) said, "I had not known you a month before I felt that you were the last man in the world whom I could ever be prevailed on to marry."
But where it goes from there is completely unpredictable.  I could discover that the backward tomboy made the very best friend, and, only months later, find us nearly inseparable.  The clinic could become the calling of my life.  And Elizabeth Bennet could end up knowing Mr. Darcy to be the finest man she had ever met.  Or the reverse could happen.  After all, Elizabeth also knew that she wouldn't marry Mr. Collins -- and she was right.

Somehow, as I record my life events in a journal, I am frustrated by my own blindness.  Using Pride and Prejudice as an example, think about the differences in the writing in regards to Mr. Collins and Mr. Darcy.  You know (even if Elizabeth doesn't) that Mr. Collins would never be right for her...but that Mr. Darcy might.  And when the story turns out as it does, you feel a sense that it "all turned out right."


Perhaps it's because I am a story writer, but I want to be able to foreshadow things, knowing how it will turn out -- even when I journal my own life.  I want to make "my words now" compatible with the way the story ends.  But, alas, it's beyond my sight to see.  I am not the author of this one. Instead, I am in the midst, as blind as my characters are; and my Author is the Almighty God.

Which is why journaling is like pantsing.  As most of you know, writers are often defined as plotters or pantsers or a combination.  Plotters are the ones who plot out the entire story before they start writing.  Pantsers are the ones who just start writing ("flying by the seat of their pants") and watch to see where the story takes them.  And, as much as we may try to plot our lives, at some point we realize that, while we have a choice of whether we are going to follow the story He set out for us, it's not us that are the authors.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Rooglewood Contest: Cover Reveal Coming June 1st

Ladies and Gentlemen,
     I will be participating in the cover reveal for the 2015 Rooglewood Creative Writing Contest.  This means that one week from today, all of you will find out which story this contest is featuring and you can start sharpening your pencils.
     Their previous contests were as follows:

Five Glass Slippers 
(a Cinderella retelling)




and


Five Enchanted Roses 
(a Beauty and the Beast retelling)




Check back on June 1st to see the cover for the next anthology and to discover the contest parameters for this year!


P.S. I haven't seen it yet, and I am just as eager as you are!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Upcoming AWGF Blog Tour

Hi, guys!  I'm just popping in with a quick announcement.  Next week is the Ain't We Got Fun blog tour, and we will be hosting Emily on toward the end of the week here. You can see her blog post from last Thursday, talking about her "happenings" here. I love hearing her talk about her exciting projects, and I enjoy her photos. I can hardly wait to have her on my blog next week!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Epic Bible Quote Challenge


PSALM 18:6-19

In my distress I called upon the Lord,
And cried out to my God;
He heard my voice from His temple,
And my cry came before Him, even to His ears.
 

Then the earth shook and trembled;
The foundations of the hills also quaked and were shaken,
Because He was angry.
 
Smoke went up from His nostrils,
And devouring fire from His mouth;
Coals were kindled by it. 
He bowed the heavens also, and came down
With darkness under His feet.




 
And He rode upon a cherub, and flew;
He flew upon the wings of the wind.
 
He made darkness His secret place;
His canopy around Him was dark waters
And thick clouds of the skies.
 
From the brightness before Him,
His thick clouds passed with hailstones and coals of fire.
 

The Lord thundered from heaven,
And the Most High uttered His voice,
Hailstones and coals of fire.
 
He sent out His arrows and scattered the foe,
Lightnings in abundance, and He vanquished them.
 
Then the channels of the sea were seen,
The foundations of the world were uncovered
At Your rebuke, O Lord,
At the blast of the breath of Your nostrils.
 

He sent from above, He took me;
He drew me out of many waters.
 
He delivered me from my strong enemy,
From those who hated me,
For they were too strong for me.
 
They confronted me in the day of my calamity,
But the Lord was my support.
 
He also brought me out into a broad place;
He delivered me because He delighted in me.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Lizard Skeletons

     I pulled out TCK again today.  I have 3 critiquers, and they are all moving through the story at different speeds (which is great).  One is in chapter 1, one is in chapter 3, and one is in chapter 6.
    Thanks to my critiquers, I am doing some fun things such as:
1. studying lizard skeletons
2. building better descriptions to prompt a reader's imagination
3. researching Masai lion hunters
4. adding polish to each chapter

How about you?  What are you doing in your edits right now?

Monday, May 18, 2015

About Me


     If you hadn't already noticed from my excited posts, I have some new followers in the past year.  And I would like to welcome all of you and tell you a little bit about myself.

*    *    *
     I am a young adult, a middle child with three siblings -- although I like to say that I have been an oldest, a middle, a youngest, and sort-of-an-only (try and figure that one out!).  I plan to live to be about 120 years old...maybe older (yes, you read that correctly).  I reside in a beautiful state with lots of trees.  I love animals, and I love to be outside.
     I have always enjoyed telling stories, and I first started to consider myself a writer somewhere around the age of 7 years old (which title, I assure you, was entirely undeserved at that point).  Honestly, I think that my craft first started showing real promise about a year or two ago.  And I still don't have anything that I think is ready to be published.
     But I will.  I am going to keep working at it, and continue to get better.  And maybe, someday in the near future, I will be a published author with some excellent works to her name.

*    *    *
     The problem with short bios is that they are such a tiny snapshot of a person.  Humans are wildly multi-faceted.  If I were to spend all day on this post, I still could not tell you everything about myself.  And too many details would bore you anyway.
     So, instead of droning on about myself, I open up my comment section to you.  Enjoy my short bio above and, if there is anything else you would like to know, please feel free to ask me.  And, on the flip side, I would love to hear about you as well!

Hasta luego!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Epic Bible Quote Challenge

David and Goliath REAL SUPER HERO POSTER
Hi, everybody!
     Today is the start of the epic Bible quote challenge.  So search your Bibles for pieces that sound like part of a great story, or like epic advice, or like wisdom for writers.  Then post the quote (or a link to the quote) in the comments below.

     Here is the quote that I picked.  It is from 1 Samuel 22:2.  I love how it makes David sound like a real-life, good-guy Robin Hood.  :)

"And every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him; and he became a captain over them: and there were with him about four hundred men."

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Stick Figure Blues

Do you ever feel like you have a masterpiece inside of you - something of grandest proportions -- but when you try to draw it, it comes out looking like a stick figure?

Monday, May 11, 2015

Epic Bible Quote Challenge

     I am going to start a new quote challenge.  Who's with me!?!

     This one is Bible-based.  As you read the Bible, look for story-type quotes.  This could be some epic scene, or a word of wisdom such as would be shared by a wise character.  It could be from a story, or it could be about stories.  The purpose is to learn from the greatest Storyteller of all time -- the One who is writing the story of life.

     Every Friday for the next month, I am going to post a quote from the Bible.  To join me, search your Bible and find a good quote.  Then post it on your own blog and leave the link in my comments.  Or, if you don't have a blog, simply put the quote into my comment section.  I look forward to see what you guys find!



Friday, May 8, 2015

A Bit About the Rooglewood Contest



. One of my readers told me that she didn't know about the Rooglewood contest. So, on the chance that some of the rest of you are also new to the contest, let me share what I know about it.  This is merely for the sake of those of you who haven't heard about this before -- so that, in all fairness, you know what I know.
. Since the rules for this have not been released yet, I can only share what I remember from previous years. On June 1st, Rooglewood Press announces which fairy tale they are featuring. Writers are commissioned to write their own version, being as creative as they like, while still including enough elements of the original tale to be recognizable. Stories are to be between 5k and 20k words. The deadline for entering your name was mid-December, and the deadline for submission of the story was at the very end of December.
. The stories are judged by a panel of judges, and five stories are chosen as winners. There is a small monetary prize, but the biggest prize is that your story is submitted to Rooglewood Press for publishing. And I don't mean that is appears in a one-time magazine. It, along with the other four winners, is published in a book. Winners go through the editing process with the publisher to make their story "book-ready".
. The first year, the stories were based on Cinderella, and the resulting anthology has been published (Five Glass Slippers). The second year, they did Beauty and the Beast (Five Enchanted Roses -- still in the editing stage). This year...who knows? It will be announced on June 1st.
. Anne Elisabeth Stengl (who orchestrates the contest, at least in part) says that they will do fairy tale retellings for a total of five years. She knows what all five fairy tales are (but it's top secret, and she won't give any of us an unfair advantage by telling). After five years, they will continue the contest, but switch themes. And yes, she knows what it will be then, too, and she's not telling us that either. :)
. I didn't enter the first year, but I did the second. I did not win but found the contest well worth my time and money. It was fun to be a part of it. It was fun to try my hand at it. I learned a lot from the time I spent working on my story. Anne had a hard job, picking from all the fabulous stories that are submitted. And she not only has to pick five great stories, but the five stories must be able to compliment each other in an anthology. She does a fantastic job, though, and it is fun to see the stories that win.
I am not a writer of magic, so it pleased me to see that three of the winners in Five Glass Slippers were non-magic.
. So, if writing short stories for contests is something of interest to you, you should give this one a try!

What To Do When Critics Expect More Than You Can Give


     I imagine at some point in everyone's writing career, a critic demands more than you know how to give.
    You create a story...slave over it in your secret writing place...love, hate, and adore it...pour your own sweat, blood, and tears into it.  You laugh over your funny scenes, cry over the sad ones, and fall in love with your own hero.
     Then comes the day when you share it with a critique partner.
     And they hate it.
     They have a million things to say about its faults.  It's too much of this and too little of that.  It's boring/frustrating/disappointing/confusing.  Your hero is annoying.  The story moves too fast or too slow.  The writing is choppy and stilted.
     And the worst thing is...
     ...you know they are right.


     But the problem is not just how much it hurts, but also that you have no idea how to fix it.  The advice of your friends sounds like Greek to you.  None of it makes sense.  And you really don't want to make sense of it.  It all sounds too painful.  What?  They want you to get rid of Fluffy?  They say his character is not essential to the plot?  But you liked Fluffy!!!!!!

     What do you do?

     What did I do?  I remember being in this very spot.  And do you know what I did?  I listened carefully to the constructive criticism, accepted and used whatever I was willing to, and then KEPT WRITING.
     Every bit of that constructive criticism started to grow inside of me like a seed.  As I continued to learn about writing, those criticisms sprouted, and my writing improved.
     Oh, the original story didn't.  My beloved Fluffy still sits in some dark, secluded file, never to see the light of day.  It was a practice place for me...a training ground.  But, even though I couldn't bring myself to make the necessary changes then, the fact that I "kept writing" brought me out of that place and into a place where the criticism truly helped.


      How about you?  Have you ever received constructive criticism that you weren't ready for?  How did you learn from it?

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Beautiful People: Calene and Droben

Hi!  I'm linking up for Beautiful People, the monthly character questions hosted by Sky and Cait.  This month, I am featuring the two brothers from ToP.  They are supposed to be jointly ruling the country while their father is ill -- a challenging arrangement, to say the least.
I don't have pictures for them yet, so I will give you a brief physical description.  
----Calene is 35 years old, blonde hair, tall -- usually seen with a pleasant countenance or a slightly pained look (when around Droben).  
----Droben is 30 years old, dark hair, stocky -- usually seen with a scowl, amused look, or a showman's face.
http://furtherup-and-furtherin.blogspot.com/


1. Do they get nightmares? If so, why or what of?

Calene: Sometimes. Various themes, but one reoccurring theme involves him not able to manage the country.  Sometimes he dreams that Droben ruins everything.
Droben: He hates nightmares. He'd rather stay up late and then take sleep medicine.

2. What is their biggest guilty pleasure/secret shame?
Calene: Hmmm...I'll have to think about this one.
Droben: His nightlife. It's not exactly a secret but he tries to keep it out of Calene's view and, for business reasons, the country's. It's also not exactly "guilty/shame" because he does his best to deny that it is even wrong.

3. Are they easily persuaded or do they need more proof?
Calene and Droben: Both like to think of themselves as requiring solid proof, but they each have weak areas where they can be convinced easily.

4. Do they suffer from any phobias? Does it affect their life in a big way?
Calene: He hates to disappoint, and it does affect his life in a big way.
Droben: Court jesters, superstitions, not being loved, storms. No, maybe, yes, yes.

5. What do they consider their “Achilles heel”? I find this question interesting because rather than asking for the Achilles heel, it asks for the perceived Achilles heel.
Calene believes Droben is his Achilles heel.
Droben doesn't have a specific one. He figures he'll keep going just as he is until he dies -- which could happen soon or later.

6. How do they handle a crisis? 
Both handle a crisis quite well in areas where they have been trained. 
Calene takes a personal interest in it and won't give up no matter what, and he may need time to recuperate afterwards. 
 Droben is slightly more pragmatic, but his hands will shake from the adrenaline.

7. Do they have a temper? 
Droben - yes.

8. What are their core values and/or religious beliefs?
Calene: Calene has a high moral code and is strengthening ties with the established Church -- ties that his father had weakened.
Droben: He believes in honesty. In a general way, he believes in doing things for the good of mankind. He holds promises closely. He hates the Church with a passion.

9. What things do they value most in life? 
Calene values peace and good opinions. 
Droben values himself.

10. What is one major event that helped shape who they are? I don't think I can pin their personalities on one event. If I were to pin it on one thing, I would pin it on their mothers. Even though Calene and Droben are brothers, they have different mothers. Calene's mother died when he was 4 years old. His father immediately remarried and Droben was born a year later .

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Upcoming Contest

     I was thinking today of Anne Elisabeth Stengl and her upcoming fairy tale retelling contest.  It's less than a month until she announces this year's topic, you know.  Curiosity made me pop over to her blog to see if anything new had been posted.  And it had!

(borrowed banner from http://anneelisabethstengl.blogspot.com/)
     I feel a little at limbo, wanting to get my current projects to a good stopping place so I can focus on her contest when it comes out.  And I am eager to find out what this year's contest will be.  Her clues, far from helping me uncover details, have only baffled me further.  I am not Sherlock.  All my efforts to guess have been fruitless.  Apparently, I am more of a Watson; and I will sit back and wait for her to tell me what it is (all the while, admiring her genius).

      If the appeal of her contest was not enough, I am pleased to see how well the previous anthologies are doing.  Five Glass Slippers has been a top seller on Amazon and is now being translated into foreign languages.  Five Enchanted Roses is still under edits, but is looking like it will rocket to the same heights as FGS.  Anne Elisabeth Stengl and her team know how to make a good anthology and market it.  Everything - from artwork to promotions - has been done with excellence.  Wouldn't you like to be featured by the same publishing company?

     Some of you (-Ana!-) are following this as closely as I am.  Do all of you know about Rooglewood's contest?  If not, then keep checking back here or on www.rooglewoodpress.com .  On June 1st, Anne will announce the contest along with the rules and other details.  It's less than a month away!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Baker's Dozen

Brownie cookies. Get your brownie mix and add 1/3 cup oil, 1 egg and 2 TBS of water. Mix together to make a soft cookie like dough. Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Drop mixture onto prepared cookie sheet by the teaspoonful. Bake at 375 degrees for about 8 minutes.

A Baker's Dozen, in case you didn't know, is thirteen.  And the reason that I so happily chose that as my title is because I now have 13 followers...which is huge for me.  Thank you, followers!!!!

I was reading a post by Janie today (at http://theaspiringbard.blogspot.com/2015/05/may-bits-snatches.html) and really sympathized with her celebration over 5 whole interested people.  I have a relatively small following and, when I get 5 comments, I am over the moon with amazement.  It's absolutely delightful to get feedback from you guys.  And you should know that you are super-important to me.

Thanks again!
Leave me a comment and tell me what you think.  I love to get comments.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Time-Traveler Letter from 2014

Old letters
via Pinterest
      Hello, everyone!  In case you haven't read the title of this post, let me inform you that this is a time-traveler letter from 2014.  In other words, you are reading this on May 1, 2015, but I am writing this a year before.  Writing time-traveler letters to myself is something I have done for years, but doing it on a blog is something recently inspired by a fellow writer who calls herself Anne-girl.
      There are a number of blogs that have been influential for me, but, as of May 2014, the top two are http://inkpenauthoress.blogspot.com and http://scribblingskeyboard.blogspot.com/.  It will be neat to see whether I still follow those two writers in 2015 and who else has been influential.
     I have Dungeon completed in a draft form, and it needs to be rewritten.  The same goes for Ariana's Island.  The new project I am working on is still untitled and has been going under the name of "BB" (which isn't really a name at all but is a way I can reference it until it gets a name).  At the moment, all of my other big writing projects have taken a backseat.
     My biggest flaw to work out of my writing at the moment is to keep from repeating myself too much.  There has to be a way to be clearly understood without hammering my readers with the same facts said 5 different ways.  Also, I am not sure how to include descriptions of my setting without boring my readers.  Anne-girl had some tips but I haven't made them work for me yet.
     I don't know how you would classify my writing.  I haven't settled on a genre or an age-group or a particular style.  I don't know which famous author my writing most closely resembles.  I simply write what comes to me to write.  I know that publishers like to put people in boxes so, at some point, I will probably have to find a box that works for me.  Maybe by the time you are reading this I will have categorized myself.  But, for now, I am entirely free, and readers are welcome to make their own judgments regarding my style.
     Already I am learning a great deal about writing.  I am getting braver to try things.  I feel like I have a better handle on the "work" of writing than I have before.  With such changes already occurring, I am optimistic as to my continued progress.  Who knows how much I will improve by 2015?
     Thank you for reading my time-traveler letter.  Have a great day!

P.S. Check out this post from April 12 for my 6-month stats.  Also I currently have 5 followers.