Lessons Learned in 2018

Once again, the end of the year is near and there is so much I’ve learned this year in my life, my business, and my home.

You may not think it would benefit you to read about things I’ve learned throughout the year, but doing just that may bring something similar to light that you may have learned and forgotten during the year or perhaps there’s something I learned that may enlighten you to something new.

If you would like to see my list from last year you can find it HERE!

Now on to this year… I’ve had a tough year writing this year. I had everything planned out, ready to go, my motivation high, a go-getter attitude until the end of March when I traveled a lot and lost the momentum I gain at the beginning. Although I was able to continue, I wasn’t able to regain the same passion and go-getter attitude I had at the beginning of the year. Because of that, things didn’t get done. I let some things go and I had not energy to keep going with my series.

I took a break to try to re-energize myself, but even after that, I felt I put too much weight onto my shoulders to continue with much, which caused me to redo things and see things in a different light than I would have during any other time.

Below are some things I learned to add to the list from last year. I’m only focusing on a few points this year as the holidays are near and I’m feeling drained as it is. Time to refocus and speaking of that…

Focus

With things going on during different times of the year, it’s hard to lose focus on what you really wanted to accomplish during that time. I had so many plans, but my problem was that although I had goals and ‘plans’, I didn’t really plan out the steps to keep myself accountable or moving forward as I continue my journey through life.

You can bet I’ve revamped my planner to allow me to create action steps, deadlines, reminders and anything else I need to keep myself on track for the coming year.

Communication/connections

I’ve read and read about connecting with other writers, but I never really took the time to actually do that until this year. Even though I wasn’t getting too much published with my own books, I took on some beta and ARC reading to help other authors with their stories.

This has been a fantastic experience and every one of them has been awesome. I’ve asked questions, had one look at my covers, etc and they gave me their honest opinions and advice on everything I questioned, without hesitation on their part. I could not have asked for a better experience than I’ve had with the ladies I’ve connected with this year.

Here’s to you:

Raven Kennedy

Ivy Asher

Blake Blessing

LM Wilson

Lidia Russell

Not only are they very talented, they’ve taken time out of their busy schedules to allow me to ask them questions, gain advice and learn from them as they continue their own journey. Check out their books and pages! These ladies are freakin’ awesome!!

New Programs

4thewords.com

I’m sure if you’ve signed up for my newsletter, you’ve seen me talk about a site called 4thewords.com. Listen, I know I’ve probably overstepped my welcome with this, but I honestly LOVE this site.

During a writing slump near the middle of the year, I watched the girls of WordNerds (who I watch regularly) as they raved about this site. I had to check it out and it’s freakin’ crazy.

Who knew you could go on your own adventure, fight your own monsters, collect rare items and more all while writing. Use your words to fight monsters and go on an epic adventure while doing it? Sign me up!!

Photoshop

I finally invested in Photoshop and really like the program. Though I wish it weren’t so expensive, it’s definitely worth the money you pay for the program and all  that comes with it.

I’ve been creating my own book covers and I admit that my first few attempts were terrible, I’ve redone book 1 of my Conquer the Darkness Series three times now and I feel that my skills are improving.

Light X

Light X is another photo editor that was recommended by one of the lovely ladies from above. I’ve downloaded it and tried it out, but there is a bit of a learning curve as I am still trying to work though layers and being able to edit previous layers I’ve added.

Since it came highly recommended, I’ll give it further attention and see where it takes me.

Breaks

Man, did I learn my lesson on this one. When I scheduled my time last year, I didn’t really schedule in breaks. I thought I would just take off on holidays and such, but my mind didn’t want to and trying to get back into motion after taking a week long break was so hard.

You can bet my planner has breaks and that I’ll be creating a guide of where I left off so I can get back into rhythm after those breaks.

Writing Processes

So, I have to admit something. When I first started writing, I did everything myself. I wrote, edited, revised, published, created my own covers, EVERYTHING!

Now, I knew that this was wrong when I started, but like many writers, I’m broke and can’t afford  many of the services required to create such an amazing story.

So, to start off on the right foot, I’ve decided to re-launch my series in January and my first step is to find Beta readers who are willing to read my stories and give me feedback on characters, settings, arcs, and anything else they may find within my writings.

If you are interested in becoming a beta reader for my story, below is the description (which will be getting a revamp to, so bear with me) and the newest cover. If you’re interested, please sign up HERE! I promise you won’t regret it!

Ray of light

A nurse at the local hospital, Raylynn Bormarlian provides comfort and love to the patients she treats. But something inside keeps her from accepting the same love and comfort from others. As memories of the nightmare she experienced long ago return, Raylynn is forced to confront a man that created so much misery, pain and anguish to her younger self in order to find what is hidden deeper in her soul.
Jynx Luminar is a top operative in an elite force determined to protect those with unusual powers and are in need of assistance returning to society after traumatic events. Assigned to protect and train the woman he once caused so much pain, he must find a way to tell her his secret before he loses her forever.
From their first scent, Raylynn and Jynx could not resist the attraction simmering between them. Yet, Raylynn must face what has become her worst nightmare to forge forward with Jynx without fear of the past. Will they overcome their demons once entering the lab of a man who haunted her dreams and caused a terror so great she no longer willed to live? Will he find the courage to tell her of his past?

So, what have you learned this year? Maybe I can learn from you. Go ahead, comment and let me know. Have questions? Ask those too. 

June’s Theme: Summer Activities Your Characters are Enjoying.

For this month’s theme, I thought we could do something a bit different. Instead of writing about what you are doing for the summer, I thought it would be fun to tell what your characters are doing for the summer. Are they traveling? Are they working? Will they be taking some much needed time off? What will they be doing the hot days of summer? Give your character’s story below!

Summer Activities for Characters

 

Example: The characters of Conquer the Darkness are all enjoying some much needed time away from the group and with their mates in different destinations. Raylynn, Jynx and their son Jordan have gone to the mountains of Colorado to frolic in the woods. Blessing and Knight have returned to their home town to check up on his law firm and her bookstore. Jazzmine and Brady, well, are still getting used to being together so they have decided to stay at the West Branch and make sure things are continuing as they should. Cloe and William have decided to go south and visit the sandy beaches of Florida while the triplets continue to search for answers between playing video games. Much to Noreline’s dismay. 

So what are you characters doing this summer? I’d love to hear about it. Comment below!

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May’s Writing Theme: Where is Your Progress At?

Since we are one quarter into the year, I thought we could write about (and analyze) where we are, where we are going, and what we have done to get us to this point. So for this month we are writing our progress on whatever you have going on right now. Writing related or not. We are here to support you!

Where is

 

Example: For my example this month I will refer you to my blog as I have already given my progress for the quarter there. My Progress So Far… Check it out to see where I am and where I plan to go to reach my goals.

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A Story Grows as a Plant Grows

Spring is upon us and we are beginning to ready our garden for seeds/spuds. Yep, we are adding potatoes to our garden this year!! I can’t wait!

Since my little man loves gardening and all things that breath life, I am dedicating this post to him. Not to mention it’s his birthday today, so Happy birthday buddy! If not for him, my thought process would have skipped over this topic and on to the next.

Anyway, as we are deciding on seeds and what to plant where, my author mind took hold and contemplated as I often do… how a story is similar to a plant and how it grows.

Here is what I’ve noticed:

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The Seed:

The seed in the story is, and you’ve probably guessed this… the spark of inspiration. That first initial thought of “Wow, this could be something great!” or “I’ve got to write this down, this would make such a great story!” And you’re probably right! 😉

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Germination:

This is where your story gets interesting, where it takes root as you write notes, plot, gather ideas for characters, settings, plot, conflict and the journey your characters will explore. The story will stretch it’s roots creating the beginning of something awesome!

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Growth:

As plants need nourishment, so to does the author. As a plant battles nature with weather, animals, and even humans, you to will discover the hardships of writing your story. Doubt, distraction, writer’s block, discouragement are all things we face as writers, but as the plant holds firm, you will too.

Find encouragement in others, inspiration in words and enjoyment in your characters, your setting and your plot twists to keep you motivated. Some plants may take days to flower while other take months or even years, but they WILL flower.

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Polination:

This is the part of your story where you get down to the nitty gritty. As bees pollinate the flowers, you must go from place to place researching your story further with interviews, history, occupations, folklore, or whatever topic is in need of researching for your specific story. Enjoy this journey and have fun with it!

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Reproduction:

Reproduction is the act of bring things together to create a new and exciting being. In the same sense, you bring all the components together from your notes, research, interviews, and more to create a new and fascinating tale. The journey of the characters, the realism of the settings, relationships and conflict as they move along their path create something people are dying to read!

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Spreading the Seeds:

Spread the seeds! Are you ready to enter the realm and start again with a series or did you discover a new tale while writing this one? Keep going with characters your readers love and create their story. Create your tale so that readers are coming back for more and sparking that seed of inspiration in others writers who dream to be where you are.

 

What do you think? Ever sit and think, “This is so much like writing!” What have you noticed around you that you could relate to the writing process? Comment below, I would love to hear your thoughts. 

 

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What Can’t You Live Without?

During the last few weeks my husband has been on vacation and I’ve been traveling down to my sisters for watch her children while they were out of town because… I’m an awesome sister.

With all the traveling, I’ve had to cut down access to my work to my IPad and my phone, which got me thinking… If you had to pick on thing, what is one that you could not live without. Let me know! I would love to hear from you. I’ll include my answers here, in green (my favorite color 😉 )

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The One Thing: ___________________________

My Answer: Pencil/pens

Why? What’s special about it: _____________________________________

My Answer:  They are the most versatile utensil. As long as you have something to write on – paper, napkin, journal, flyer, whatever you can find, you can write

I bet you were thinking I was going to choose my IPad… what I have found while traveling the last few weeks is that my IPad and phone need to be charged, sometimes I need WiFi, and that where is going back to basics comes in handy. When inspiration strikes, if you have a pencil/pen you can grab something, anything nearby to write it down on for later contemplation. So, what’s yours?

Ok, not that we got that out of the way, why don’t I make this a bit more fun and give you some categories for other things you can’t live without:

General Item:

A general item you tend to keep handy, just in case…

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Answer: __________________________

My answer: Sweater – I’m the type of girl who can’t go long without getting cold.

Sweater with a cup of hot chocolate… even better!

On your desk:

The one thing one your desk that doesn’t include your computer, keyboard, mouse or other electronic…

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Answer: __________________________

My Answer: Griffin Candle: What better inspiration than an item from your chosen genre? He sits on my desk and watches me type everyday without a word, but ever encouraging.

The one electronic:

Ah, here’s the electronic… what is the one you can’t live without?

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Answer: __________________________

My Answer:  I guess I would have to say my iMac – I purchased it last year and I’m loving it! It has all my projects, graphics, social media, plans, etc all in one place and even if it can’t travel. I know my stuff will be there when I return. 

Social Media:

With all the social media outlets out there, which one could you not live without?

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Answer: __________________________

My Answer: I would have to say Patreon, not only can I post blog posts, it’s an easy way to offer more to readers, fans and audiences for their support while still providing awesome content.

Music:

What type of music or music platform could you not live without while working?

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Answer: __________________________

My Answer: I usually listen to Pandora while I work and my favorite channel to listen to is “Song of the Lonely Mountain” from The Hobbit. My genre is romantic fantasy adventure, so it fits. 

Snack:

What is one snack you can’t live without while working? or do you not snack while working. I’m always snacking on something… I guess my brain associates writing with food so I’ve now got a few healthy snacks on my desk while I write.

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Answer: __________________________

My Answer: Oh, this one is a bit harder, I really love something with pieces I can just pop into my mouth and keep working. What I’ve been choosing lately is cereal. Fruit in the Middle Mini Wheats. Love those! 

Writing Utensil:

What writing utensil can you not live without? Mechanical pencils? No. 2 pencils? Colored pencils? Black pens? or my personal favorite… Colored pens?

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Answer: __________________________

My Answer: Well, here is something that doesn’t take any thought whatsoever. Colored Pens! Yep, I am one of those people who gets excited when she receives pens as a stocking stuffer, colored pens – even better! 

 

Have others to add to the list? Comment and let me know so I can add them and give my answers! Go ahead and comment, I would love to hear your answers.

Patreon Benefits

Patreon Benefits For Authors and Writers

Nothing is better for Authors and writers than gaining the support of their readers. Whether that is liking posts, reading their books, writing reviews, critiquing their work and more. Let’s talk about another platform that you could be utilizing to support your favorite writer, author or creative entrepreneur. Yep, I’m talking about Patreon! I’ve noticed that quite a few artists and creatives have begun to use Patreon for various reasons:

Communication ~

As with blogs, social media and websites Patreon connects with them all to offer another platform to communicate with fans, readers and audiences from all over.

  • Not only do they provide a way to keep readers up to date with posts, it also allows you to create additional content for those that become a patreon of your page.
  • Connect your website and social media sites to provide more ways to find you and what you are posting.
  • One thing that I love about this site it the fact that you can provide an Intro Video, giving your readers, fans and audiences a face and personality to go along with the person they are supporting.
  • There is the ability to provide additional information with adding graphics and video into your posts.

Community ~

Community is an important part of any creatives repertoire. With Patreon you can build a community with others just as amazing as you!

  • Like, comment, follow and support others like-minded creatives who love the same things as you
  • Or ones who don’t! Inspiration comes from everywhere
  • Communicate with creatives in your field such as graphic designers, cover artists, marketers and more!
  • There is no limit when you are surrounded by others who are working toward a similar goal.

Linking ~

Patreon, like many other sites allow you to connect to your other sites for better conversion rates and communication.

  • Link your website (and don’t forget to add that on your posts along with your author page)
  • Link your social media (Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and Twitch for gamers)
  • Don’t forget you can add links in any of your posts!

Patreon Extras ~

Man, did I forget to mention the rewards… and more?

  • If you visit most patreon pages, the right hand side is a column of rewards for becoming a patreon member. You could receive anything from Patreon Only posts to free goodies and more!
  • Also, if you are an Author, you can offer a reward section for early releases or sneak peeks of your work!
  • There are many things to provide as rewards
    • Sneak peeks
    • ARC
    • Short stories
    • Author Merchandise/Swag
    • Coupons/Discounts
    • And more!

If you are thinking of starting a Patreon page (or supporting a journeying author) check out Patreon or My Patreon page to find out more.

Creating and Planning Characters

I posted on social media last week about how you come up with your character’s names and that got me thinking how I create and plan my characters. And because I love to share, I thought I would post it here to provide an inside to my thought process and possibly help those who are struggling in some areas.

So, let’s dig in.

Naming my Characters:

When I start a new story, I tend to have an idea for the main character in mind before the story actually starts or is planned out. What they look like, their personality, etc. Whether the character is timid and will grow in strength, or they are strong, but realize that showing weakness makes them human. Or maybe something different all together.

So, then comes naming my character(s). I really don’t like writing a story and not knowing my character’s name. It seems so impersonal. So, I think of a name and I tend to use the same technique to come up with their identity.

Letter(s):

I tend to, well I can’t say tend to, because I alway have a letter or a few letters in mind for the beginning of the first name. It’s hard to explain how that works, but I think of the characters, how I want them to be portrayed throughout the story, and a letter usually presents itself.

I will use the characters of my Conquer Series for examples:

  • R – Raylynn
  • B – Blessing
  • J – Jazzmine
  • B – Brandon
  • J – Jynx
  • K- Knight

Syllables:

As with the letters, I usually know how many syllables the character’s name will have. Most do have two syllables with a nickname, while others have one or even three. Again, I can’t explain this, but I know how I want the names to work, so why not know their syllables? 😉 I didn’t realize it, but most of the names fit the characters so well they actually tell something about the characters.

Examples:

Raylynn, who’s nickname is Ray can be a “ray of light” (You’ll have to read it to get that one 😉 )

Blessing, who doesn’t realize she is not a nuisance or burden, she is a blessing

Jazzmine, well her personality fits her nickname.

And these were totally unintentional!

Visuals:

My next step is to find a visual for my characters, a picture to put with the name. I use sites like Unsplash, Pixabay, and Pexels to find my photos, because most likely I’ll be using them to create their covers and photos from those site are completely royalty free.

Here are some example of photos I’ve found and how I used them:

Raylynn:

 

Ray of Light Final         pexels-photo-247203

Jazzmine:

design-10        girl-2097003_1920

I may change their features a bit to fit the character better, but usually there isn’t much that needs to change. They are quite similar to what I’m looking for in my characters.

Physical Description:

This is one area I do stick to the norm and fill out a list of descriptive qualities such as:

  • Hair color
  • Eye color
  • Weight
  • Height
  • Build
  • Skin tone
  • Distinct feature(s)
  • Clothing
  • Age

Visit my Writing-Education or Writing- Character Inspiration pinterest page for great ideas to help in these areas!

Personality:

This is another area I have a list for:

  • Likes
  • Dislikes
  • Personal Goals
  • Struggles/Challenges
  • Accomplishments
  • Future Expectations
  • Future Reality
  • Internal and External conflicts
  • Quirks
  • Flaws
  • Secrets
  • Pet peveves
  • Personality type (I use the list from 16personalities.com)
  • Character archetype (I use The 12 Common Archetypes by Carl Golden)
  • One more thing I add to this category is their Ability. Most of my characters have some sort of power that makes them who they are so I mention that here.

Now the characters may not fit the personality or archetypes exactly, but that gives you a chance to use that as weaknesses or lessons they’ll learn throughout your story.

Habits/Mannerisms:

This is where I list quirks, things they do that make them… them. Make them real. (Link previous post) Things like running their hands through their hair, tapping their chin, tapping their fingers when their arms are crossed. Maybe they carry something with them always or rely on something for security.

Background:

Here is where you can add things like:

  • Family
  • Ethnicity
  • Education
  • Occupation
  • Residence
  • Brief Life History
  • This is where I like to give a little about how they ended up where they currently are when the story begins as well.

Looking Forward:

This is where I like to give a little about the Character and where they will end up at the end of the book. It’s not a bad I idea to know where your characters will be by the end of their tale.

 

So, what are your thoughts? Anything I don’t have you think I should? What do you have and how do you plan your characters? I would love to hear from you!

New Beginnings…

The new year brings new beginnings and everyone is ready to forge ahead with plans, goals and resolutions. Since the New Year thrill is still upon us, I’ve been thinking of a way to keep the excitement going… and what better way than with a freebie!

Yep, I am offering a New beginning – short story for free! Now, this is in the beginning stages, but I would love your thoughts and heads up… there is a cliffhanger at the end since it leads into my Conquer Series books.

So, if you are interested in what happens before Raylynn’s story and how Conquer Enterprise and Security starts, here is a sneak peak and a link for the whole story!

I hope you enjoy, and (shameless plug) leaves you wanting to read more!

So without further ado, here is your sneak peek at Conquer E.S. – The Prequel!

Conquer E.S.

Where It Begins…

There was nowhere else for them, they insisted on creating a place for them. A safe-haven for his sons and others with unique abilities, but where? A soft knock interrupted his thoughts as his youngest entered.

“What are you doing?”

“Why Brandon, what a pleasure! What else would I be doing in my office, son?”

“Working on that secret project of yours. I won’t be but a moment, I wished to ask you for a Petrie disk or two. I have a hypothesis and wish to test it out.”

He rose from his chair moving to the cabinet along the side of the room; enjoying his son’s fascination not just with sciences but languages as different ones slipped through.

“Sandalwood.”

“What?”

“Your office always smells of sandalwood and gum.” He turned from his

notes to look up at the man he called father and smiled. “A hint of cinnamon, am I right?”

“That you are. That you are.”

“Thanks dad.” Petrie dish in hand, he walked to the door. “Oh, if you plan to build something to protect those like Knight and yourself, you may wish to create a second branch to cover conspicuous actions of the company. I’d suggest a Non-profit Organization dedicated to giving back to the community.”

“Ah, Brandon?”

“Yeah, dad.” The thought brought a grin to his face as the boy glanced up from his studies. Brady understood Max was not his biological father, but that didn’t stop him from calling him dad and it made him swell with pride of the son they adopted.

“What’s your hypothesis?”

 

“Well, it’s more of a comparison study. I wanted to compare my blood with Knight’s and combine a small sample to see the reaction. With his blood, I hypothesis it will, in time overtake mine leaving nothing behind, since I have the weaker human blood.”

“Hmmm, care to share your results when your study is complete? I’m curious what you discover.”

“Sure, dad. I gotta go, time for school.” “See you later, son.”

He sat back at his desk, knowing Brady was careful. He understood the consequences should any of his tests be brought to the public eye and that most evidence was locked away or destroyed for the protection of the family. His sons got along so well it was as if they were best friends and not stepbrothers. It still amazed him to think on it.

His thoughts returned to their discussion and how Brady discovered the project he was creating. He lifted the phone, dialing his wife and partner to relay the information for her to think on. He hoped his boy kept his composure when he found out he may not be as the Campton family, but he was no human either.

She answered on the third ring, “Hey, dear.”

“Good Morning love, how’s work at the office today?”

“Boring, once we get ours up and running I’ll be happier to spend the day in my own building instead of someone else’s.”

“Speaking of that, Brady came to visit me a moment ago.”

“Oh, what did he want?”

“A Petrie dish for anther small comparison project he’s working on.” “Is that why you are calling? To relay that our son is at it again with his testing kit?”

“On the contrary, I believe you are correct in your assumption that Brady has his own talent.”

The tapping on the other line stopped as he gained her full attention.”What did he do?”

“He gave me a suggestion.”

“Maximus, if this is one of your jokes…”

 

“No joke. I walked across the room to get a Petrie dish for him and he commented on the smell of sandalwood and cinnamon. Then told me that if we insisted on building a safe-haven for Knight and others like him, we might consider a Non-profit Organization. One designated to giving back to the community to cover conspicuous activities, which I find brilliant.”

“That’s because it is and I have the perfect idea. We’ll discuss this more when I get home, boss is coming. Call Jynx, he can help. Love you.”

“I love you too.” He hung up and returned to work on his secret project wondering what his young son possessed within him.

His fingers grazed the screen as he dialed the number for the young man so similar to his older son he considered him a part of his family. He answered on the fourth ring.

“Yeah, what do you need, Max.”

“I’ve got a business proposition for you. You are one of my best men and I want you in on this. Choose who you wish to accompany you, bring the Manzerell brothers.”

“What kind of business proposition?”

“One, if all goes as planned, will be quite lucrative for those involved and provide the protection and training for those like ourselves.”

“I’m interested, but why me?”

“I understand your age may put a damper on things, but we consider you a part of our family. Though my sons no nothing of this venture, at least not full details, we wish you to be a part of it. You understand more than most how hard it is to deal with what’s within. If at all possible, we will have the resources to save your brother from the destructive path he is on. Any news on his condition?”

“Still struggling, but I’m optimistic. I believe we can pull through this.” A struggled growl came through the phone. “Listen, I’ve got to go. What time do you wish to meet and location?”

“Here, in an hour? If you think you can make it if not we can Skype. Whatever works best.”

“Thanks, Max. I’ll pass on the information to the boys. See you in an hour.”

 

“Take care, Jynx.”

He hung up the phone and reviewed what he gathered of Jynx’s position. His brother was struggling and if they failed to find a solution, his brother may not make it through this ordeal. That was the reason Conquer Enterprise and Security was within reach. His wife refused stand to watch Others suffer the ridicule of humans nor what lives within them.

The sound of his son’s talking caught his attention, Knight was leaving early for a class and Brandon will follow after getting his things together. He thought to ask if he wanted a ride, but understood Brandon enjoyed the walk to offer time to ponder. He let it go and prepared for the meeting he scheduled with his new employees/partners.

***

Brandon walked into the kitchen in time to catch his brother before he left. “Knight, I’d like to conduct an experiment to test a hypothesis I’ve been working on.”

“Yeah, what hypothesis is that?” He pulled the milk carton from the fridge and grabbed a glass when his brother stopped him from drinking straight from the carton.

“Well, it requires some of your blood.”

 

 

What to read more, Click HERE to get the full download ~ FREE! 

How Writing is Like a Puzzle

I received the best birthday gift from my husband last month and after putting it together I thought about how it relates to writing. Obviously, from the title you would guess what it is my husband got me, but you’re probably thinking, “Really, Kelly? You couldn’t possibly be that excited over a puzzle.”

Well, I am about to prove you wrong. This wasn’t just any puzzle. It was a 1000 piece Sherlock Holmes and the Speckled Band – A mystery jigsaw puzzle. This was the best gift because for one, I love Sherlock Holmes and two, not only was it a puzzle; it contained the story and required you to put the puzzle together in order to solve the mystery of the Speckled Band! The best part… the puzzle was not that of the image on the cover so we had absolutely no idea what the picture was. Of course we had some clue from the story, but no picture to go off of. Three of us, my sister, husband and I spent eight hours straight putting this puzzle together so we could solve the mystery! We had a blast!!

Now, why am I blabbering on about this puzzle and how much I enjoyed it? Well, as the title suggests, it got me thinking about how writing is like a puzzle. So, let’s get started.

So, how can writing be related to puzzles?

Buying and Opening the Puzzle:

In this case the puzzle was a gift, so even better! Anyway, this would represent that moment of awe inspired revelation that you found a new idea for your next great novel. That initial excitement and enthusiasm for the newest story growing in your mind. Now that you have it home you open it to find it neatly packaged, but in a mess of pieces. What to do next?

Preparing the Puzzle:

Now, if you are anything like me (and I know some of you are), you open the pack and the sorting begins! The what seems like endless searching for edge pieces while the rest are filtered back into the box for later. Those edge pieces are your guide, your starting point to the finished product. Much like writing a story, the outline or planning stage comes first. You construct the base or starting point for your puzzle or story to begin and then take off running.

Proceeding With the Inside Pieces:

Now, it’s time to dig in and start forming the puzzle with the inside pieces, but where to start? Do you organize the pieces by like object depictions or do you dive in looking for whatever fits along the edge where you are currently sitting? In this case since we originally began with four people, (my nephew ducked out to play video games before to long) we each took a side. Unfortunately, I took the side with really dark pieces and had a really hard time finding the right pieces, so I decided to look for all the pieces to an object in the top corner and was able to gain momentum. As you move through your story, you start with a flourish of excitement and enthusiasm for the new ideas brewing in your mind as you do a puzzle searching for those first few pieces that will start you on your journey to the finished product.

Ugh, Those Annoyingly Frustrating Pieces:

You gain momentum and for a while you cruise along finding piece after piece, but then you hit a snag an you get stuck working on a section that is all floral carpet and every piece you need looks the same! As with puzzles, you may hit a snag in your writing with a difficult scene, event or even chapter. You struggle to find the right pieces to keep your momentum going or the right action, words or story arc. You syphon through the rest of the pieces to search for the ones you need, but it is no use. Your brain is just to worn staring at this section of the puzzle and you need a break to you gather your thoughts.

New Perspective:

So, you decide to take a break, switch spots (to which your sister finds all the pieces I was struggling and frustrated with within a few minutes :/) or ask for advice from a trusted ally. Taking a break and coming back will give you the rest you need to return with a fresh mind, and a new perspective. You could also move onto another area of your story and work there, then come back when you are ready to tackle it again or ask for advice. You could post your situation on forums and discussion sites to get suggestions and thoughts from others. This is where, when you are finished with your manuscript, beta readers are immensely helpful.

Finishing the Puzzle:

After eight long hours of working to find the right pieces, switching spots and perspectives several times, we finally finished the puzzle! The accomplishment was a collective sigh of relief. The same goes for finishing that first, second, fifth, or twentieth novel, a sigh of relief and elation. It is finally done, finished and the puzzle was ready to be solved. Your manuscript ready for the editor or if you added your editor to the last phase of a new perspective, ready to publish! Now, on to the next puzzle… I mean story!

Looking for a puzzle to enjoy? Try this one from my store. Or see others here as well.

So, what do you think? Could a story be similar to a puzzle? Let’s here your thoughts. Comment below!

My 2018 Goals

It’s getting to be the end of the year and I’ve been working on plans for next year.

While thinking of what I really wanted to do with my business and how I want to move forward with my books, I find myself realizing that my goals from last year were… well, dull. Though they fit my business there was really no depth to them and to the business itself. If I want to make writing my career, I need to be more specific and defined with my goals for my business and my books.

My thoughts here are to keep myself accountable to my goals and my business by publishing them for others to witness. I did come a tad short from my goals last year as my fourth book will be published by the end of January. I realized I pushed myself to do to much without a team to keep me focused and motivated as far as my business is concerned. So without further jabbering from me, here are my goals for 2018.

Books

Publish 3 Novels by 12/31

  • Though my goal last year was to publish four books, I have written four, but will be unable to complete the last as the holidays and the need for much required rest has taken presidents since I have stretched myself further than I can go within the last few weeks. So for 2018 I have reduced my number of published novels by one to give myself the needed rejuvenation required to keep motivated and productive throughout the year.

Read 12 Books in Genre by 12/31

  • With keeping up with reading I have surpassed my goal for this year and will repeat it for next year to keep the inspiration and imagination flowing. What better way to stay creative that to read those who have come before you?

Read 6 Books NOT in Genre by 12/31

  • This I have not kept up with this year, though I have read a few books not on my genre. I intend to keep reading so that my creativity is at it’s max for Inspiration as well as continued education on the industry.

Organize a group of Beta readers for my books by 4/30

  • There are some parts of being an author that I have really slacked on and wish to remedy as soon as I’m able. This area would be one of them. I plan to gather a dedicated group of people who would like to receive ARC of my book to read and reply with suggestions. I am offering this to anyone interested, and you could be the first. Click HERE to let me know you are interested.

Find an Editor I connect with by 6/30

  • Here is another that I am in need of. I understand the importance of hiring a professional editor and funds have not been enough to accommodate this need. My hope is to remedy that this year and hire a professional editor to edit my books to create a better reading experience for my readers.

Organize a Critique Group who enjoys my genre and will give productive feedback by 3/31

  • Another area that has been lacking this year. I would like to find like-minded people interested in the same Genre to participate in a critique exchange for our stories. Here is another opportunity to find a critique partner. Click HERE to find out more.

Create and Implement Street and Review Team for Books by 4/30

  • One more item to participate in: My plan is to create a Street Team and Review Team for my Novels as they become available. If you would like to be a part of that when the time comes, Click HERE!

Communication

Post 26 Blog Posts Every Other Week in 2018

  • My goal is to provide you, the reader with insightful and useful information throughout the year. Have a topic you would like me to elaborate on? Comment below and I will add it to my list!

Be More Communicative on Social Media and Online: Comment on Posts and in forums, Post advice, comments, thoughts and questions on social Media.

  • Another goal is to provide more communication with you, my readers; with advice, encouragement, and more.

Business

I’ll keep these as a list as they don’t nee much explanation:

Grow Business by 25% by 12/31

Create New Products and Useful Printables for Readers and Writers – 2 by 12/31

Start Using Video in Marketing by 6/30

Create/Participate in 2 Big Events for Readers: Haha, I have thoughts, but what’s the fun in ruining the surprise here! 😉

Create 100 total items for store by 1/31 and continue with 5 more per month after January. Visit my store, FictionJourneys!

Try out New list of Marketing Ideas and record results.

Revamp Webpage and Pages by 3/30

Extras/Other

What better way to keep up with your skill than to lean more about it?

Complete 3 Educational Courses by 12/31

Schedule Time to Work on Drawing and Take Art Classes (Once a Week)

How About You?

What are your goals for 2018? 

What things do you want to get done this year? Care to share to keep each other accountable? I’d love to read what your thoughts are. Comment below!