Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Serious vs. not so serious WRITERS

A popular school of thought about writers is that if you're not consumed by a burning desire to write every day or if writing is not a major driving force in your life then you must not be very serious about your craft.

I think once we subscribe to the notion that we should be somewhere with our writing careers when we're not there (wherever 'there' is) then we simply blame ourselves for not being serious about writing. Because, if we really wanted to be a writer more than anything else in the world, then we’d write every day, we'd crank out pages, and we'd be much further along with our novel, right?

Listen, let's face it, most of us are ordinary people we are parents, spouses, employees, and homemakers. We have lives and several passions in addition to writing at that. What's important overall (than keeping a calendar date for writing) is to keep your passion for writing alive, don't let the everyday mundane burn out your writer's light. So, let life happen and know when to get back 'on the writers's saddle'.

Happy Holidays!

Until next time!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Book Release 10/28! Wicked Lustful Tales, Vol. 1

A sensual romance anthology, Wicked Lustful Tales
Heat level: 3





Stranded
On a desolate mountain side friends and former lovers Shana & Nick are forced to work together and find their way to safety. Their history and mutual attraction soon prove to be even more dangerous than their treacherous path.  

Charity Event
During a fundraiser friends and office buddies Jennifer and Adam discover that their placid easygoing friendship is much more than a platonic relationship. Before the night is through the two friends make a decision that’s likely to change the course of their lives.

Snowed In
In a foreign city, unwed and pregnant Nina accepts a job as live-in nanny to Dexter’s son Ian. Soon an emotional bond develops between Nina and Dexter and after Nina delivers her baby the smoldering attraction that existed for months threatens to boil over.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Reading is FUNdamental!

As writers we hear this all the time, “If you want to be a better writer, you need to be a better reader.” And this is very true. But also true is that in reading we need to do so effectively. Yes, effectively. See, reading well can help make a huge difference in the quality of work you produce.

Here are three tips to ensure you’re getting the most out of your reading experience,

1) Be sure to read books you enjoy.

Unless you enjoy the classics (e.g. Austen, Dickens, Hemingway, etc.) reading mandatory novels some of which you may particularly enjoy might be counterintuitive. Reading should be a pleasure so read books that you like this way you’re sure to read more.

2) Read the type of material you aspire to produce.

Find an author or two or three that you admire and read as much of their work as possible; devour their work actually. 

3) Keep a good log of the books you’ve read.

Voracious readers alike can tell you that they may not remember the books they’ve read in the last year, let alone five. So, keep an online journal of authors and titles, if you’re ‘old school’ keep a paper journal.

Goodreads allows members to maintain online book log/s. Goodreads' members can create shelves, designate books being read, and books to be read; books can be rated and reviewed. For those of you who have never heard of Goodreads, I highly encourage you to visit their site and become familiar with its community of readers and writers.

I’ll share with you that last year right around the holidays I made a commitment to myself to read ten novels in 2013 and I posted this on my Goodreads dashboard, I’m happy to say that I’ve already exceeded that goal by 200%. Now, I might have never done so had I not committed to it. Morale of the story: no time like the present to start thinking about New Year’s resolutions J


Happy reading and happy writing folks!
Maria

Thursday, September 12, 2013

10 basic steps to novel writing

Most writers have distinct writing styles and we all develop unique techniques over the years. And yet as particular as most of us are about our writing in general authors do adhere to a few common practices. Whether or not you’re conscious of it all writers follow a natural drafting process.

Let’s take a look at a popular process thread among fiction writers:

1. The beginning
This is the spark that point of initial idea, the inspiration, that moment when we think, “Hey, this could be a book!” 

2. First draft
This is the writer’s initial stab at plotting the story from beginning to end.

3. Cool-off period
This is when most writers take a little time off (anywhere from a few days to a few weeks) to separate themselves from the book physically and emotionally.

4. Second draft
This is when some of the major issues about the story (i.e. plot problems, continuity errors, character development, etc.) are corrected to make the book presentable for a critique partner (CP) and/or beta reader to read. 

5. CP/beta reader
Once you’ve been through the steps outlined above you may be relatively satisfied with the way the story has developed. If so, this is a good time to consider engaging the CP and beta reader to critique your book.

6. Third draft
At this point you’ll incorporate the ideas from the CP and beta readers.

7. Cool-off period, again
Repeat Step 3.

8. Fourth draft/final draft
This is the time for the final run through (i.e. analyze word choices, placement of analogies, awkward wording and paragraph length, grammar, etc.). This is when you need to clean up and refine as much as possible to get the manuscript (MS) ready for a professional set of eyes.

9. Copy editing/professional editing (FYI-this step alone has an entirely separate process)
Most writers have in their arsenal two to three go-to editors we turn to alternately depending on workload and availability.

10. Synopsis/querying (FYI-this step alone has an entirely separate process)
After Step 9 has been finalized (writer and editor will go several more rounds to get the MS to look well enough to publish) it is time to begin working on the synopsis and query drafting, provided of course, that you’re looking to have your work traditionally published. If not, then this may be a good time to consider self-publishing.

Well, that’s all I have to share for now. I hope you found some of the information here useful J

Until next time!
Maria

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Stop! Breathe and relax!

By its very nature, writing is deeply introspective work.

When in the ‘groove’ writers can easily spend eight to ten hours writing non-stop and when the writing gets good, even more. Now, we all know that making time for writing is important, but being glued to the keyboard for days at a time with no social interaction can certainly wreak havoc on our physical and emotional health. Conversely, lack of physical activity and isolation often contribute to depression, weight gain, and poor productivity.

So what's a writer to do?

While it is necessary for us writers to immerse ourselves in our work we do need to be self-aware and recognize unhealthy triggers. As long as writing has been a profession many well-established authors have held down outside jobs and managed to successfully juggle writing, work and family responsibilities. It is a very delicate balance, but it can be done.

Here are three top tips writers can adhere to for a healthier and happier life:

Breaks
Take breaks outside of your writing space. This will help you disengage from the writing world for a short while and allow you to recharge.

Move!
Exercise can help ward off lethargy and depression it can also help ward off weight often gained during periods of inactivity. So, walk your dog or run on a treadmill physical activity can make you feel better and increase productivity.

Fighting Fatigue
Insomnia or oversleeping affect many of us, and could very well be symptoms of anxiety, stress and/or imbalance. So do not discard interrupted sleep patterns as just simple nuisance, seek professional help as needed.

Bottom line, while the writing lifestyle requires reflection and solitude, writers need to make every effort to include friends and family into their lives. Get off your chair, pull away from the computer, and get face-to-face with people on a regular basis and have fun. Don't dismiss laughter, such fun interactions may even provide you with new writing ideas!

Until next time my friends!
Maria


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Writing is HARD work. There I said it!

Recently, I had a conversation with a fellow writer about different writing styles. We talked about how some writers can simply sit down on a computer and write on command; I cannot.

My pre-writing process can take me ten, fifteen, twenty minutes or more and it usually involves me ‘getting in to character’; I need to connect with the hero and heroine before I can delve into their lives. It is then when I’m emotionally attached that ideas begin to form I’m able to capture the thoughts and the scenes and the story begins to unfold.

I can tell you that when I begin to write a story, I too experience the same nervousness that a lot of writers feel. Will anyone read my stuff? Will anyone care about what I have to say? This is the fretful process of a writer, yet, we, I, push forward and write with excitement, optimism, and a lot of discipline.

On an amusing note (or maybe not so) one thing that we, writers, often encounter is that non-writers tend to think that writing is easy. Non-writers believe that writing is much like talking: Anyone can do it…right? Talking is just putting words together in the correct order, so how different can writing be? Very!

New writers however soon realize as they embark on their writing journey that indeed writing is hard work. See once a book is committed to paper the writer becomes very aware of the needs of the story and realizes the possibility that a change in direction, plot is needed. We see how a story would be best served in restructuring then scenes or even entire chapters will have to be redone. We will spend countless hours massaging and manipulating, working, then re-working and re-re-working until the book/story barely resembles its beginnings. Yes, it is a maddening process, but nothing compares to the excitement one experiences upon the completion of a story, an article, or a book. 

The feeling of accomplishment, of victory, is exhilarating, overwhelming. And I don’t think it matters whether you’re a best-selling author or a guy who just finished his first book, that feeling of accomplishment is felt by everyone. I guess that's the reason why, despite the fear, the worry and all the anxiety, I want to get up tomorrow and do it all over again. 


I’m a writer!

Until next time friends,
Maria

Monday, June 24, 2013

Stop procrastinating! There isn't a perfect time to start writing.

“There isn't a perfect time to start writing.”

Have you ever heard this statement before? I’m sure you have, in fact most writers have heard it before. Perfect timing is elusive and can hardly be anticipated.

When I look back, I realize that my writing journey led me to many opportunities, yet I passed them up because I was too busy designing my life, thinking I had to find the proper time to write. The truth is that we can write at any time. Even if you have a day job, children, or even volunteer if you budget it right you can still find time to write each day. Whether it is writing a paragraph, a page, or ten pages, you can write.

If you've considered holding off writing until your child starts school, or until your daughter graduates from middle school, or until your son heads off to college you will find that there will always be situations that will prompt you to postpone writing.

Now, if you suddenly find yourself pondering about all the things you neglected to take advantage of, stop! You are still on your journey. Life is an ongoing series of tests and you’ll find many chances for trial and error along the way. If you’re stalling, pick up a pen open a blank page and fill up the empty space with words. Just do it!

We humans are notorious for being procrastinators; this is pretty much a fact. What we need to realize is that what separates successful people from those who aren't is that those who succeed are non-procrastinators. See, non-procrastinators don’t just sit back and wait until everything is just right; they decide to take action and go for it.

So go ahead and take a leap. You might get bruised and possibly land flat on your face and that’d fine. The trick is to get up and try again, only that time with more determination, more enthusiasm and greater skills.

Happy writing friends!

Thank you to www.fundsforwriters.com/ for the inspiration.

Until next time...Maria


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Top 20 things one MUST do to become an awesome writer!

Just sharing great information with my fellow writers!

Top twenty things one MUST do to become an awesome writer in no particular order as long as you're actively working on all twenty :)

1.     Become an active blogger (don’t have a blog, start one now!).
2.     Use self-imposed word count per hour, per day.
3.     Accept all forms of criticism and learn to grow from it.
4.     Edit, edit, and edit again.
5.     Live passionately!
6.     Write without distractions (and yes, that means no Internet).
7.     Listen to how people talk.
8.     Read lots of books, both good and bad.
9.     Avoid passive voice.
10.  Limit the use of adjectives and adverbs.
11.  Make writing a priority.
12.  Keep squeezing words out even if you feel uninspired.
13.  Tell everyone: “I’m a writer.”
14.  Recognize your fears and overcome them.
15.  Join a writing group.
16.  Break out of your comfort zone.
17.  Deconstruct and analyze books and articles you enjoy reading.
18.  Socialize with other writers.
19.  Stretch or exercise in between writing.
20.  Take risks – don’t be afraid to shock!

“you can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will.” --Stephen King

Thank you to Mary Jaksch at www.writetodone.com for the inspiration!

Until next time friends!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

I know what you are, but what am I? Erotica, Sensual Romance, Smexy??


Okay, so we write smut, that much is a given, but do you ever find yourself asking "Okay, so I write romance, but in what category does my writing really fall under?" Well here's my quick and dirty rendition of some of the most popular sub-genres in modern day romance. I know some of you will disagree with these descriptions, but IMO these are pretty much on the money.

Erotica
Erotica contains minimal if any emotional attachments between the leading characters. Erotica is also sexually explicit (language) and the plot is driven by the sexual relationship/s. The sex in erotica can also take on different aspects, including dominance, bondage, voyeurism, poly-amorous relationships, and so forth. The story may/may not have HEA for the characters and if the story does include HEA it might not be in the traditional romance sense.

Erotic Romance
Erotic romance exists when the story line contains a love story. Erotic romance is romantic just as it is sexually explicit. In erotic romance, both the sexual and emotional aspects of the relationship are integral to the plot. Also, in erotic romance the sex may deviate from the conventional and may include three or more partners. The story can and normally does have HEA for the characters, and typically the HEA occurs in the traditional romance sense.

Sensual Romance
Sensual Romance is spicy and steamy, but not necessarily sexually explicit (language). Sensual romance may include fantasy and games, passionate activities that are a bit naughty. Sensual romance is driven by the romantic relationship and normally contains lots of sexual tension. In sensual romance the relationship is primarily monogamous. The story does have to have a HEA for the characters, and the HEA almost always occurs in the traditional romance sense.

Contemporary Romance
Contemporary romance is set in present time and focuses primarily on the emotional attachment between the leading characters. Contemporary romance is heavy on the relationship and not very sexually explicit. In contemporary romance the relationship is primarily monogamous and the sex doesn't normally deviate from the conventional  The story does have to have a HEA for the characters, and the HEA almost always occurs in the traditional romance sense.

Smexy Romance
Smexy is a blend of smart and sexy as defined by Wikipedia. Elements of smexy romance occur when the characters (hero/heroine) are smart, sassy, and of course very sexy. A lot of smexy romance is attributed to Chick-Lit since the 'sassiness' that’s brought forth from the leading men and women are often humorous in nature. The story may/may not have HEA for the characters and if the story does include HEA almost always occurs in the traditional romance sense.

Hope this helped some of you better of classify your writing. Until next time friends!
Maria

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Golden Era of Flash Fiction!


Flash fiction has been around for many years (reportedly since the early 1990’s), but has become increasingly prevalent in the literary community in the last five to seven years. Once regarded as ‘lazy’ work flash fiction is now considered quite the opposite: intellectually challenging storytelling. So big in popularity is this flash fiction that in modern day, dozens of literary publications (both print and online) have shifted their focus to include flash fiction and in many cases exclusively feature works in flash fiction format.

Note: other names for flash fiction are short-shorts, short story, micro fiction, novelette, postcard, pocket-size story, and minute-long story.

What is flash fiction?

Flash fiction is a short form of storytelling defined by the number of words and/or sentences, which of course differ from writer to writer. All in all, flash fiction is any writing material more than 75 words up to 1,500 words, some flash fiction writers stretch the limit as far as 2,000 words.

Though by definition the context of flash fiction is to remain extremely short, it is not a venue that tolerates fragmented writing. The challenge of flash fiction is to tell a complete story in an well-expressed, concise fashion in which every word is absolutely essential.

Why write in flash fiction format?

A year ago I read and an editorial piece that claimed we live in the Golden Era of Flash Fiction.

It made sense to me when I read the article how this flash fiction format would take off. We do after all live in a society where people want and expect information at lightning speed so it stands to reason that with flash fiction providing instant gratification to readers that the medium would gain popularity. Oh, and if you don’t believe me just do a search on Amazon for anthologies (collection of short stories) and see how many results come up.

Now stop reading this article and go put some short stories down on paper :-)

That’s all for now folks. Take care and until next time!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Support Your Fellow Indie Writers!

Writing takes a lot of time and dedication. Have I enlightened anyone yet?

Yes, I’m being facetious.

I’m sure all writers, new and seasoned alike, know painfully well just how much time and dedication it does take to write cohesively. If you’re a writer through and through chances are you will spend a lot of time, no, make that a great deal of time writing, editing, rewriting, and just plain obsessing over every little word and if you’re anything like me, you’ll even have nightmares about run-on sentences :)

Okay so writing takes effort, and writing is not a bowl of cherries or a walk in the park, we get that, but what are you really getting at? Indie support. Indie support??

Let me explain…

Most indie (independent) authors have chosen an alternate path to publishing, that is self-publishing. And while self-publishing leveled the playing field by giving new authors opportunities to get their books in front of potential readers, the trend came with its own set of challenges, the lack of promotional support being one of them.

Today’s indie authors need to take promotion and advertising into their own hands. For some promotion comes by word of mouth, others by way of family and friends while others have developed a network of like-minded individuals (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, etc.). This is where the indie support fits in. We need to promote each other's work and we need to pat each other in the back. The honest truth is that there’s just too much to do as an indie author to even gain modest recognition, so supporting each other is one simple way we can help the indie industry as a whole.

In closing, I want to say a big thank you to all those already doing promo work, I appreciate you :)

Encouraging others is good karma too so pass it on!

That’s all. Until next time!
Maria

Friday, March 15, 2013

Moving on up!

Family/Friends,

As some of you already know, I received good news from a small publishing firm in January yet it wasn't until mid February that all the details were worked out. Well, I’m excited to report that my sensual romance anthology (title TBD) will be released in November 2013.

Due to this exciting turn of events, the Flash Fiction Friday segment on my website will be discontinued. Please note also that in the next thirty to sixty days I will be making changes to my site and do hope that you will return for its Grand Re-Opening, I will be sending out communication when this takes place.

At this time, I’d like to take an opportunity to thank all of you who have remained faithful readers. I truly appreciate all the comments, compliments, and encouraging words that have come my way. I am also humbled by the support other writers have provided. Thank you kindly.

As always, don’t be a stranger, I'm available via Facebook, Twitter and of course email :)

Be well and until soon!
Maria

Thursday, March 7, 2013

March 8th is International Women's Day

Family/Friends,

Happy International Women’s Day to you! 

International Women's Day is a day dedicated to the celebration the economic, political, and social achievements of women past,  present, and future. On this day thousands of other women around the world commemorate the special occasion and partake in elaborate festivities.

Below are five ways women can all celebrate at a local level:

1. Celebrate your successes – no accomplishment is too small, so go on...toot your own horn :-)

2. Show the women in your life that you appreciate them – write a thank you note to your mom, sister or best friend or simply give a hug, you may just put a smile on someone’s face.

3. Invest in the future of women - donate or get involved with an organization that promotes the importance of a good education to the younger generation. 

5. Attend an event hosted for women by women  – attend an event that promotes women's health and equality. Or you may attend an event that instead celebrates the advancement and empowerment of women through the ages.

5. Connect in person - what better excuse to get together with some of your nearest and dearest than a day all about celebrating women? Gather all your favorite women and get together at a bar or cafe for a little quality time.


So, now go on and find a way to celebrate - no excuses :)

That's all for now foks. Until next time!
Maria

Monday, February 18, 2013

Path of Least Resistance

Hello family/friends,

Over the last few weeks I've come in contact with several old acquaintances and met some new ones and the more I chatted with folks the more I realized that many people out there are living this path of least resistance lifestyle.

Listen, every situation we encounter in life comes with choices. Some choices are small and may not present much impact to others. In this instance the road one chooses is not usually looked upon with much scrutiny. However, when one chooses an alternate route a route less conventional one that causes tension amongst society people generally choose the route that causes the least amount of upheaval. Deep down inside no one really wants to go against the norm, and be scrutinized by their peers, their friends, and their families. Going along with society is usually the least complicated and most comfortable thing to do because it offers the path of least resistance. 

The choice to head down the path less traveled is not easy, we all know this. I’m sure this is not a foreign concept, yet it bears mentioning. Why do you ask? Well as one in the creative arts, I do from time to time encounter the blank stare, the deer in the headlights look when I share my passion with people. And yes, I just like the next person do have that split second reaction to feel awkward. The ‘too much information’ (tmi) moment sets in and you think, “I should have kept that to myself.” But, I’ll tell you an interesting bit of information, those very same people have dreams and aspirations of their own, they are just too afraid to voice it and share with the world. Morale of the story: follow your heart, but keep your feet grounded. If you’re singer sing your heart out, if you’re a dancer dance your socks off, if you’re an actor simply blow their minds. Do your thing! 

Here’s to all my creative family and friends! Be proud of your gifts and don’t be afraid to share them with the world!
 
That's all for now folks. Until next time!
Maria

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Newsflash!! Better Reader equals Better Writer


All novice writers who want to perfect their craft have attended workshops and classes that have told us time and time again that we should read, read, and read, yet some of us fail to this.

In the last three years when I realized that I too needed to make a commitment I began to add to my reading collection. At first, I didn't have a goal I just read whatever caught my attention. In 2010 however my daughter gave me a Nook as a present and it was then that I discovered a whole new world.  Reading books became so much more convenient, all I had to do was press the Buy Now button on my Nook and voila! the book was there. Needless to say in 2010-2012 I downloaded dozens of books some short stories some full length some by new and others by seasoned authors. And the more I read the more I realized they (mentors, other writers, seminar speakers, etc.) were right. All all the advice I'd heard over the years finally clicked. I needed to read, read and read!

Fast forward to 2013 and my friends I'll tell you that for the first time ever I've set a reading goal. Now for some of you avid readers my goal of ten books may seem like a drop in the bucket, but for me it's a start. Now, it bears mentioning that the books I'm committing to reading are full length novels, 150K+ words :)

I hope that wherever you are in your writing career that you make reading a priority, believe me when I tell you that your writing will improve by leaps and bounds and your readers will notice and appreciate it.

That's all for now folks. Be well and stay safe!
Maria

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

New Year, New Beginnings!

Friends/Family,

A new year means new beginnings and new opportunities. In my personal opinion, this holds true for all of us no matter where we are in life.

With this in mind, I hope that you take the time to write down a goal or two to accomplish in 2013. If goal setting has proven to be ineffective for you however, then perhaps you may want to change strategies in 2013; choose a word that describes what you hope to draw to yourself in 2013. 

What exactly does this mean? Well, let's say that you want to be more spiritual then you might choose a word such as spiritual or serenity; if you hope to institute better work/life time management you might choose a word such as balance; if you hope to find love you might choose a word such as joy or happiness, etc. In any case, when/if you decide to take on this challenge  keep in mind a few things: habit is easy, change is hard and procrastination can easily set in. So be prepared for life to test you :) Now...get to work on setting a plan for 2013, no time like the present!

Take care for now!
Happy New Year, Maria