spring smiles

Happy Sunday to all. I’m back! What have I been up to? Well, a lot! Here’s what’s happened in the last two weeks…

It’s been pretty amazing. I feel so lucky! Here are some photos from our engagement:

Love, love, love!

So, back to my blogging update! New posts will be moved to Friday’s now. Yep, that’s right. Even if it’s only one sentence, you can look forward to a new post from me every week once again!

I hope you have a glorious week. See you Friday!

and a happy CampNaNoWriMo to you

A merry CampNaNoWriMo to you! We have arrived at the Summer edition of the customizable version of November’s National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo, and I couldn’t be happier.

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One of the things I adore about CampNaNoWriMo is that the rules aren’t cut and dry. You don’t need to write 50,000 words in 30 days like NaNoWriMo to win! CampNaNo can be customized to fit with your needs, whether that be page counts, word counts, or hours logged writing.

I have arrived at the last 10,000 words of my novel. Therefore, my CampNaNo goals were easy to decide. At five days in, I have written 4,000 words, so there’s only 6000 words left for me. Of course, that is all approximate because I may end up going over, but it feels good to be well on my way to completing the first draft. I’ve worked so hard to get to this point.

Yesterday, I managed to write on and off for around six hours. I ended up writing over 3,000 words. That was simply because I had uninterrupted time. While I adore #5amwritersclub, it has a time limit. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I am always thinking about how I have one hour until I need to head out to my day job. Having a few days off to dedicate uninterrupted time to writing has been my saving grace. The scenes that I’m currently working on are scenes that need extra attention. They are difficult to walk away from because of how focused I need to be when writing them.

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Don’t get me wrong, writing always requires focus, but there are certain types of intense scenes that benefit from big chunks of immersion. Don’t you agree? The next few days will consist of extra cups of coffee and lots of time in front of my computer screen as I celebrate CampNaNo with many hours of writing. I hope that this month brings you high levels of inspiration and that your CampNaNo experience is extra special.

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Thanks for joining me here today. Tweet me your thoughts @AWritersWay. Remember, you can join me here every Thursday for new posts!

Until next time,

Christine

how to track character emotions

Many years ago, I finished a young adult, paranormal-romance novel. It was my first completed manuscript and I was pretty new to that level of the writing world. When it came time to start editing, I felt a little lost. Unsure of how to tackle such a task, I turned to some writing books. In doing so, I found many instances where the importance of character development was brought up. I thought, “Duh. Of course there is character development in my story.” How could there not be?

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Just to be safe, I decided I would map out some details about my character chapter by chapter. Boy, was I surprised. Suddenly, it dawned on me. While my character made changes and evolved, there were certain details that weren’t quite consistent. Now, before I continue I will admit that the novel I speak of wasn’t very good and I did ultimately end up shelving it after many rejections. My personal life got in the way of the book and now it’s in a drawer somewhere. Since then, I’ve worked on many other projects and I’ve taken my experience with tracking character development with me.

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I’m currently working on a young adult fantasy novel and I absolutely adore my main character. Last week, I took a moment to consider my progress with her. As I contemplated a blog topic to cover for this week, I realized that my character development exercise is one that comes at a perfect time. What I’d like to share with you today is my emotion tracker for the characters in your W.I.P.!

Character emotions are an important part of character development. As you read a novel, you want a character who is progressing in one way or another. You definitely don’t want one who is happy one second and miserable the next for no good reason. Emotions can be unstable, but need to be monitored. For some writers, this may come naturally. Let’s just put it this way…it doesn’t hurt to check. I would rather double and triple check my manuscript before I find out that’s the reason an agent rejected me.

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Here is my simple method for tracking character’s emotions chapter by chapter:

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For each chapter, write one emotion that your character is feeling at the beginning, middle, and end. See what that progression looks like. Is your character consistently flat? Is your character too happy in dire situations?

This is a great exercise to build into your outlines too. I am currently finding it to be very helpful as I navigate my main character through a very tricky situation. I have found that I often make her overly anxious. She’s constantly in a state of panic or heartache. While it is fitting, now that I’ve tracked his pattern, I can expand her scope of emotions and play around with her inner thoughts in a different way.

Thanks for joining me here today. Tweet me your thoughts @AWritersWay.

Remember, you can join me here every Thursday for new posts!

Until next time,

Christine

the art of brainstorming

“Being a writer is a very peculiar sort of a job: it’s always you versus a blank sheet of paper (or a blank screen) and quite often the blank piece of paper wins.”

-Neil Gaiman

I’ve been pondering how often I allow myself to contemplate as a writer. Day to day life gets so hectic that it can sometimes feel impossible to spare time for actual writing let alone brainstorming. At this point in my writing career, I’ve worn a few different hats. I started out writing poetry, moved to novels, back to poetry, worked my way into the freelance writing world of pop culture news, and came back to novels about a year and a half ago.

My current passion project is a young adult fantasy novel, and thanks to social media groups like #5amWritersClub, I have been able to get on a really nice regimen with my writing. With that said, I’ve also been considering how much more productive I am when I sit down with the blank page after allowing myself time to brainstorm.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Christine, how? Why? I don’t have time.”

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I understand. When I first started dating my boyfriend, who is also a writer, about two and a half years ago, I was perplexed when he would tell me about how important brainstorming is. As a writer who always scrambled to the page, crossed my fingers, and hoped for the best, I couldn’t imagine setting aside time for that.

After a while, I realized the difference between my writing methods and the way my boyfriend did things. As an expert ponderer, he always approached his writing sessions with ease and not a lot of anxiety. I figured, I had to give it a shot! I would make time for brainstorming and see if it helped.

Well, there’s a reason this post is called “the art of brainstorming.” People, it works. The more I ponder, the more prepared I am when I get to the page. Sure, it’s not always butterflies and rainbows, but the difference is clear. When I allow time for brainstorming, the writing flows.

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If it sounds like a daunting task, start small:

  1. Put on a song that inspires you and brainstorm what your next scene will be about for the length of that song.
  2. Write down three plot points that you know you want to conquer in your next chapter.
  3. Take a walk and think about what your characters are feeling at the present moment in your W.I.P.

If you already fancy yourself a brainstorming expert, cheers! Pour yourself a hot cup of coffee and stare at the ceiling while the scenes come to life in your imagination. Don’t let anyone tell you that brainstorming isn’t productive. It absolutely is a necessary part of creation and it should be practiced.

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Thanks for joining me here today. Tweet me your thoughts @AWritersWay. Remember, you can join me here every Thursday for new posts!

Next week will be about breaking bad writing habits.

Until next time,

Christine

set the goals. drink coffee. meet the goals.

Most mornings, when I drag myself to work, I look like this…

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…except I’m not a duck.

With an overwhelming list of things to do during the work day, it can sometimes be difficult to imagine how I could possibly find the time and energy to work on my novel.

Enter coffee.

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I know it sounds so cliche…a writer who drinks a lot of coffee? I’m going to be honest with you. Whenever my friends tell me that they haven’t had any coffee yet, I pretty much yell at them and insult them for being stupid. (I’m kidding though…maybe.)

This month is Camp NaNoWriMo. I’m happy to report that I met my June goals and have been making good progress with my July goals thanks to the oh-so-motivating NaNoWriMo organization. It always adds a little spring to my step when these months come around. Because of my busy work schedule and new second job at ComicOn.com, I set a word count goal of 7,500 words, which is 250 words a day. Seems simple, yes, but I wanted to set a goal that I knew I would hit!

Two jobs and a young adult fantasy W.I.P. = coffee. Are you getting my point? The truth is, whatever works for you is key. I’ve talked about this a lot in some of the workshops I’ve taught. Whether it’s coffee, m&m’s, long nature walks, cat naps…just do it! We are all in this together and I wish you all the luck in meeting your July writing goals.

Don’t forget…it’s Summer and that means iced coffee too.

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Until next time,

Christine

 

 

 

The Forecast Reads: Poetry With A Chance Of Poetry

I returned from my Frost Place Seminar adventure in New Hampshire about one week ago, and I still have a smile on my face. I suspect that it will stay that way for many months to come as the experience was just that life changing for me. I could have never predicted what an emotional and spiritual journey I would embark on during that week in the mountains, but I’m so thankful that it happened.

During my week long trip, I had the pleasure of staying at the Inn at Sunset Hill. A beautiful bed and breakfast with delicious food and two unforgettable innkeepers named Dick and Sally, who made me feel so at home. (I can’t forget Dudley, their sheepdog. He was pretty great too.)

Each morning I sat in front of a large window and ate breakfast while staring out at the mountains. Views like this were a daily occurrence…

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Then it was off to the White Mountain School for a 2 hour lecture, followed by lunch with the fellow participants, a 3 1/2 hour workshop with your selected group, a break, dinner, and a poetry reading at Robert Frost’s barn. While the schedule changed a bit every day, it was mostly the same which created an organized feel to the entire seminar. I liked knowing what I would be doing every day and I felt comfortable in knowing what each day’s schedule would be like.

Now, when I put it all into a paragraph like that, it seems pretty straight forward and simple, but it wasn’t. The lectures that I mentioned were held by each of the chosen faculty for 2016 and they were mind blowing. Topics had a wide range, from narrative predicaments to exploring classic forms and making them your own. I felt like a student back in school again as I took pages and pages of notes not wanting to forget a single word that was said.

The most beneficial part of the seminar for me was the workshop experience. I was lucky to be put into a group with six very talented individuals, all of which brought a different perspective to the table. My workshop leader was the incredibly inspiring Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon.

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Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon reading at Robert Frost’s Barn

I never thought I’d be so fortunate to spend so much time with someone as courageous and determined as she is. She helped me to learn how to explore my craft in a more efficient way and taught me things that I will carry with me every day as I continue writing poetry. I highly recommend grabbing her books. They’re fantastic.

While I seriously adored every member of my group, I also want to give special mention to Tiana Clark. Over the course of one week, Tiana taught me how to be brave with my poetry and encouraged me to write what my heart tells me to write no matter how scared I am. I’ll be forever grateful to her for that. With that said, go pre-order her chapbook here. It’s dynamite.

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Tiana Clark reading at Robert Frost’s Barn.

Each night spent at Robert Frost’s barn, and at his house in general was a dream come true for me. I’ve long admired the poet, mostly for the terrifying nature to his work that is rarely acknowledged. To spend so much time in the places where he walked filled my lungs with the air I had been craving for so long.

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I found what I was looking for during the Frost Place Poetry Seminar. Being away from my comfort zone, my friends, my boyfriend, it was difficult. However, it forced me to completely focus on my craft, my poetry, and with that I felt my mind expanding. This quote rang in my ears about halfway through the week…

“The mind, once stretched by a new idea, never returns to its original dimensions.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

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That’s exactly how I feel about my experience. Thank you to everyone at the Frost Place Poetry Seminar for all of your support, encouragement, and for just being amazing people. I’ll never forget it. As for what lies ahead…the forecast reads: poetry with a chance of poetry.

Until next time,

Christine

inspired. 

  “I shall try to tell the truth, but the result will be fiction.” -K.A. Porter [Saturday night poetry writing before bed.] 📖