Tag Archives: Writing Tips

Author Promo Opportunity at Long and Short Reviews

Calling all of the authors who follow my site! I just received word that Long and Short Reviews is ready to accept submissions for their 14th Anniversary Party. From their post on the topic:

This celebration is for all fiction genres we feature and review (romance, erotic romance, YA/Middle Grade, Mystery/Suspense, SFF and mainstream fiction) as well as non-fiction books (memoirs, self-help, etc.) and poetry, and will run August 23 – 27, 2021. We expect a huge turnout, with thousands of visitors, just like we’ve had every year on our anniversary! It’s a chance for some significant exposure.…

Along with several other prizes, we plan on giving away at least two $100 Amazon/BN GCs, and several smaller Amazon/BN GCs, all of which are sure to be a draw. Number and dollar amount of prizes will be based on participation. The more authors who participate, the more and bigger prizes we’ll offer and the more eyes on YOUR book! So… share this invitation everywhere 😊

Click on the link above for more information, including the form you’ll need to fill out if you’re interested in participating.

This is a wonderful opportunity for networking, finding new readers, and discovering great authors in many different genres.

August 1 is the deadline. Some years the available slots have filled up quickly, so I’d recommend signing up sooner rather than later if you’re able to do so.

Subreddits That I Love

The Reddit Logo. It is orange and has a smiling alien face in it.

Thank you to Iniverse for giving me the idea for this response post. Go read about the subreddits this blogger enjoys before continuing on here.

Reddit is a site filled with a massive series of message boards on every topic you can imagine and then some. Each topic is separated into its own page there in something called a subreddit.

Today I will follow in Iniverse’s footsteps and share some of my favourite subreddits from that site that fit into the scope of this blog. All of the links in this post are safe to browse at work or if you have a small child looking over your shoulder, but do be warned that this isn’t true for every subreddit out there!

Fitness and Health Subreddits

woman using ab rollerr/1500isplenty

A well-balanced diet can make it easier to reach many different fitness and health goals. This sub is filled with (generally) healthy recipes and support for anyone who is trying to live a healthier lifestyle. There is also r/1200isplentyr/1800isplenty, and r/cico for people with different calorie goals for each day.

r/bodyweightfitness

Who says you have to go to the gym or own fitness equipment to grow stronger? This subreddit contains countless exercise routines that use nothing but your own body weight for strength training.

r/Dance

Am I a great dancer? Not yet, but who says you have to be the best at something in order to enjoy it?! Dancing is for everyone and anyone who enjoys it.

r/EatCheapAndHealthy

The title says it all. I’m always striving to eat well while keeping my grocery budget trimmed down.

r/xxfitness

This is a fitness sub specifically for and by women. Unfortunately, some of the biggest fitness subs are not always welcoming to us. While I read many of them, I’m cautious about which ones I comment on and recommend in general.

r/Yoga

I do a lot of lurking here.

Mindfulness and Meditation Subreddits

 woman closing her eyes while sitting on a couchr/Meditation

r/Mindfulness

These two are self-explanatory, I think.

r/RelaxingGifs

This can be a wonderful resource when I need something visual to focus on. All of these gifs are quiet and soothing enough to calm my mind down enough for a more traditional meditation session.

r/Stoicism

The themes of acceptance and adaptability in Stoicism remind me a lot of mindfulness and meditation.

 

Speculative Fiction Subreddits

A wizard walking down stone steps in an abandoned stone castle covered in vines that's next to a massive mountaing range.r/AskFantasy

r/AskScienceFiction

These subreddits are fantastic for everything from geeking out over your favourite speculative fiction  stories to asking any manner of questions about anything related to these genres.

r/HorrorLit

This is the best horror subreddit I’ve found so far. The commenters there are well-versed in this genre and pretty friendly to newcomers from what I’ve observed.

r/ImaginaryFairytales

Anyone who reads or writes fairy tales should see the beautiful imagery on this subreddit.

r/ScifiConcepts

Here is a slightly more cerebral and writing-focused version of AskScienceFiction. Both readers and writers are welcome, but be prepared to do a lot of critical thinking.

Writing Subreddits

high angle photo of woman writing in a notebookr/AbandonedPorn

I promise this link is safe for your boss, child, or pet to see if they walk past your screen. It’s fascinating to observe how buildings change after humans stop using them and nature begins to take over.

This is excellent source material for anyone writing about ancient ruins, abandoned cities, and the like.

r/AskARace

There are many other AskA subreddits out there for various countries, continents, and minority groups if you need more advice while writing characters who are different from you in some way.  I picked this one specifically because it has such a diverse and knowledgable set of users.

r/CemeteryPorn

You can learn so much about previous generations by paying attention to how they buried and commemorated their dead. I adore looking at tombstones and photos of tombstones.

r/OldSchoolCool

Most of these photos were taken between the 1940s and 1980s, give or take a few decades. They can be a good reference for anyone writing about the 1900s who wants to get their fashion and hairstyles right.

r/WritingPrompts

Endless free ideas are here for the taking if you need some inspiration.

r/WritingLGBT

This is a good place to discuss writing LGBT+ characters and finding books featuring these characters. There are also plenty of LGBT+ authors poking around there, too, if you’re one of us and want to make some new friends.

 

What are your favourite subreddits?

4 Reasons Why Writers Should Meditate

 

What does meditation have to do with writing?

This is a topic I should cover in full in a future post sometime soon, but for now I’ll say that how you respond to stray thoughts during the rest of your day strongly influences how you respond to them when you’re writing.

Meditation is sort of like strength training for your mind. The process of sitting down to write and struggling to clear your thoughts could be made a lot easier if you practice that skill regularly just like carrying a few bags of heavy things home from the store is easier if you’re already accustomed to lifting weights.

From How to Clear Your Thoughts Before Writing.

woman meditating while her dog looks onWriting this post took longer than I expected, but I’m ready now.

Let’s talk about the connection between meditation and writing.

What does meditation have to do with finishing, or maybe even starting, that blog post, poem, short story, or full-length novel?

Think about all of the mental prep work that goes into creating something. I don’t know about your writing processes, but the things I write rarely slip out of my mind fully formed. A flash of a character appears here and a line of dialogue there. On a different day, the perfect blog post title might show up or I may jot down a funny anecdote that I hope to work into something when I eventually figure out where it fits and whether it should remain nonfiction or be fictionalized instead.

Among its many other uses, meditation is a method for responding to stray thoughts and determining which ones, if any, are worth jotting down.

Find Focus

Person holding a camera lense that is focused on a dirt road through a field. A small patch of woods is in the distance just around the bend of the road. As one of my relatives said recently, “don’t believe everything you think.”

Not every thought that pops up can or should be entertained. This is as true whether someone is mediating, writing, or was just cut off in traffic and is feeling a sudden flash of anger at the person who made them slam on their brakes.

If you can train your mind to see a thought bubble up without feeling the need to chase after it when you’re sitting or walking quietly, it becomes easier to do over time when one is in any number of other situations.

Silence Your Inner Critic

person holding one finger up to silence a french bulldog.I’ve been through multiple periods of writer’s block over the years. In retrospect, some of them were caused by my inner critic speaking so harshly about what I was working on that I was no longer sure where to go next.

By learning to turn away from unwanted thoughts through regular meditation, it slowly becomes easier to write without listening to your critical thoughts about what you’re working on.

I’ve never read a perfect first draft of anything. The further away I move from the expectation that I somehow magically do it right the first time.

That’s just as nonsensical as it is impossible. First drafts always need to be corrected and improved upon. The important thing is to create them in the first place.

A Quiet Mind Is a Creative Mind

Woman wearing purple face paint and closing her eyes as purple smoke envelops her It’s been my experience that quieting the mind does wonders for creativity.

Brainstorming is easier when one can stop and focus on the task at hand. Everything else can wait while you make lists, free write, or use any number of other techniques to get the ideas flowing.

Sorting through ideas is easier when you have plenty of experience gently releasing the unwanted ones as they pop up.

Writing in general is easier when your inner critic’s voice is quiet enough to ignore.

I’ve even found that revising is easier with a quiet mind as well because I’m better able to remember what it was I was intending to say before I compare it to what I’ve actually typed up.

Live in the Moment

a drop of water falling into a blue body of water There are so many things that are out of our control as writers, creative people, and human beings in general.

All we can do is release our work out in the world and see what happens.

One of the most beautiful things about meditation in my opinion is the way it encourages its practitioners to experience what is happening at this very moment instead of worrying about what might occur in the future or ruminating on the past.

Simply breathe.

Pay attention to what your five senses are currently detecting.

Focus on what you can control, and don’t fret about the rest.

6 Weird Things About Writing

person wearing a white sheet over their body and sitting on a couch. they are also wearing sunglasses and a hat.Have you ever taken a moment to think about how weird the writing process can be?

When it’s done well, the end result can be characters and settings that were so well-developed it’s hard to remember they don’t actually exist in our world.

That in an of itself is just a little strange (in a delightful sort of way) if I spend too much time pondering it, but it’s only the tip of the iceberg once one digs their way into the process of writing itself.

I know some of my readers are fellow writers, so you’re probably going to be familiar with at least some of what I’m about to say.

 

Googling Bizarre Things

Person's hand holding a sketch of planet earth. Below this image is a search bar.

That is to say, topics that aren’t actually connected to my daily life whatsoever.

I’m not pregnant or planning to adopt, but I still spend an inordinate amount of time on baby naming websites.

I have no interest in being one of the first humans to live on Mars or any other non-Earth destination, but I read every scrap of information I can find about space travel and what humans can realistically expect to happen when humans start sending people to Mars or the Moon to establish permanent or temporary homes there. This includes everything from how they’ll dispose of human waste to possible burial practices when someone dies during one of these missions to what the dust on other planets might smell like.

These are two of the tamer things I’ve searched for online. Here’s hoping no one looks through my other searches and assumes that all or any of them are based on what my actual plans are for the near future.

Eavesdropping

A stone sculpture of someone eavesdropping Some people might eavesdrop for juicy gossip or to learn things that they know others wouldn’t want them to hear.

I’m not one of them.

When I overhear other people’s conversations, my brain immediately jumps into dialogue mode.

How are their sentences structured? Which dialect(s) are they using? How often do the speakers interrupt each other, if ever? Do they stick to one topic or jump around?

Only then do I think about what they’re actually saying. Some people reveal a great deal about their lives from the conversations they have in public, while others remain closed books at least in the short amount of time I spend listening to their portions of the conversation.

Gaining Unusual Knowledge

man holding book that has sparks of light coming out from it.The upside of all of this research is that I’ve studied all sorts of topics that most people with similar backgrounds probably wouldn’t know.

For example, I can tell you what the odds are of surviving the various types of smallpox even though that disease was eradicated years before I was born.

I also know what cyanide tastes like, how to cauterize a wound, and a few different methods to cure the hides of large animals after a big hunt.

(Here’s hoping this blog post won’t get me put on any watchlists. Ha!)

Talking to Characters

nails and other small pieces of metal arranged to look like a human face and shoulders. The metal figure is staring straight ahead with a serious expression on their face. There’s something about talking to your characters that makes it easier to iron out plans for plot twists or future character development in my experience.

Yes, sometimes I even talk to my characters out loud and wait for a response. No, I don’t expect them to literally respond.

It’s simply a way to sort out my thoughts and figure out which ideas, if any, actually fit that particular character at that particular moment in their life.

A moment of silence helps me figure out where to go next. Does idea X or Y makes more sense? Or maybe I should try idea Z first even though it’s newer and needs more development?

Forgetting to Eat

An empty white plate on a blue background Sometimes I get so wrapped up in what I’m writing that I forget what time it is.

This includes the typical times of day when I have my next meal.

There’s something about getting that next scene sketched out or blog post written that makes it easy to lose track of time like that.

Who wants to stop writing in that moment? Certainly not me!

Although my growling stomach eventually reminds me that writers aren’t machines and it’s time to stop and grab a plate of something.

Taking Breaks Feels Bizarre

A bulldog lying on the ground while looking up expectanctly at the viewerLast month I took a two week break from any sort of writing at all.

It was weird to spend those days doing things that were in no way to related to any step of the writing process, but ultimately I know how important it is to step away from a project and let one’s mind rest for a while.

This technique also works for much shorter breaks. Sometimes I’ll go take a walk when I’m struggling with how to phrase a particular blog post or passage in one of my stories. There’s something about stepping away from the issue that makes it much easier to resolve when walk or vacation time ends.

Don’t let this section make you assume that I write thousands of words every single day. My output does vary from one day to the next, but not having any of it at all is something I need to adjust to every time another break come up again.

Fellow writers, what would you add to this list?

Why Writers Should Eavesdrop Regularly

Incidentally, I’ve also pick up some fabulous ideas for poems and stories as well by watching people! You’d be surprised by how much you can learn about writing dialogue as well as human nature in by quietly observing how they interact with each other in public. Perhaps this should be the topic of a future post? What do you think?

From What Is the Difference Between Mindfulness and Meditation? 

A few years ago, I mentioned wanting to blog about eavesdropping as a tool for improving your writing. Today I’m finally digging into this topic in the form of telling a few true stories!

Man in red polo shirt sitting in front of chalkboard and holding his hand up to his ear as if to eavesdrop. One of my college professors sent us out to eavesdrop as part of a creative writing assignment. We were instructed to write down the conversation and then analyze the flow of it in order to make the dialogue in our stories more realistic in the future.

I shared no hints about the identities of the people I eavesdropped on in my assignment in order to protect their privacy. It was only about listening to the way people really speak in casual conversations.

For some reason, there weren’t a lot of talkative students at my college when I ventured out to work on this assignment. It took a few tries to overhear anything useful, and the conversation I eventually found myself listening to involved a date a fellow student had recently been on and how it had unfolded.

If only I could have heard his date’s version of their time together! He seemed to take the entire experience very lightly, almost like a joke. I still wonder if she reacted to it the same way.

What I remember the most about that experience was how fascinating it was to only have pieces of the story. I could certainly extrapolate all sorts of things about how he spent his free time and where they might have met, but the nature of human conversations means that all sorts of questions will go unanswered if you drop into the middle of a story.

Shot of people's legs and feet as they sit on a busListening to the way people really speak was also incredibly informative. The conversation I overheard was filled with friendly interruptions and all sorts of detours into other, mostly-related topics.

After turning in my paper, I quietly decided to continue eavesdropping over the years.

A few years after that I was taking a bus trip and happened to sit next to two young girls who seemed to be pretty unfamiliar with rural life.

One of them spotted a house in the distance. She hadn’t realized that people lived “out in the middle of nowhere” (read: not in a city or town) and wondered how they managed to keep food in the house without any stores around!

Her friend was just as puzzled as she was. There was no resolution to be had for them that day in how “those poor folks” managed to stay fed.

I gently bit my lip to avoid publicly reacting in a way that might cause her any embarrassment at all. Like I said, they were quite young and may never have thought about these things before.

Several years ago, my spouse and I decided to grab lunch at a local outdoor burger joint that serves amazing french fries. Our fry order was ready before our burgers were finished, so I carefully carried them over to a nearby table and sat down to wait for my spouse the rest of the food.

A preschooler suddenly zoomed over and sat in the chair next to me, a perfect stranger. His mortified mother called him back over again.

He refused to budge. There were enough french fries there for more than one person, so of course the nice lady would share with him! (Actually, I would have been happy to share a bite or two if I’d known his parents and had their permission).

She called him over again, telling him it was rude to interrupt someone else’s date. I chuckled as he admitted defeat and slunk back over to her without a single fry for his efforts.

Had she already ordered fries for him? Did he grow up in a family where all of the grown ups shared their food with him? I have so many unanswered questions there, but it made for a pretty funny moment.

Black and white photo of a black pug tilting her head in confusion None of these anecdotes have made it into one of my stories (yet?), but they have taught me about the ways people think and how many different ways the same tale can be told depending on whose perspective you look at.

Humans are delightfully unpredictable creatures.

Your interpretations won’t always match mine and vice versa. I’m sure that all of these folks would remember details of those days that I’ve forgotten or that I interpreted in different ways.

The beautiful thing about listening is just how much it can reveal.