Guest Posts, Writing & Publishing Articles

Guest Post: YouTubiness by Jonas Lee

YouTube… just let that site register for a moment.

cameraNow, what do you look at on there? Most of the time, for me, I watch a variety of three genres: gamer videos, dub-step dancing and movie trailers. There is an entire world of information, entertainment, nonsense and animal videos. Where does an author / book lover rate in that grand scale of things? Heard about Pluto lately? It’s rather lonely for an author out there right now. Can it change? I hope so. The next generation of authors are going to be more social media cognizant and try to reach as many platforms as they can.

Personally, I have my own channel (equipped with playlists) and I plan on developing it over time to make it something for fans to look at. It currently takes a look at various authors in stages of their careers as an interview. We talk shop and also get to know our personalities on the side. I’ve been able to have all walks of people so far from a best selling author, to seasoned Indies to people looking to publish their first novel. On top of that I am working on a couple of other YouTube projects sharing my experience being an Indie and some book reviews.

Now, think what you could do on channel of your own. What would you want to discuss, share or allow people to see? Even if YouTube is not your cup of tea, imagine completing an interview. As an author, what questions do you love answering? As a reader, which ones do you love reading? The main thing about sharing your personality is to always keep in mind to be you. It might throw your audience for a loop knowing that their favorite horror author loves watching cat videos or that the new YA author on the block wishes they could break dance (ok, that’s me).

The format you choose will dictate how much time you can devote, so pick wisely and don’t strain yourself to get followers. This is mostly for your own benefit at this point, no one else. That being said, if you aren’t on the YouTube’s that often, check out my site. Check out Kate’s site. Check out some fun stuff. I have my favorites below in case you’re curious (don’t judge):

Epic Rap Battles: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCMu5gPmKp5av0QCAajKTMhw
Poppin John: https://youtu.be/lb08ewwocvk
BattleField Friends: https://youtu.be/kJgqc9h2jV4?list=PL1DD2991C3D415547
Skittles Commercials: https://youtu.be/AyYJlYxVJDc

Author Interviews, Fiction Blog, Guest Posts

Guest Post: Baby Groot Interviews A.M. Offenwanger

I’ve never done a guest post before. Is that kind of like being a guest speaker, where you get bottles of water and an honorarium? What, no honorarium? Drat. Water bottles, at least? Oh, thank you, Baby Groot. [Takes a sip] So how do we go about this?

<I AM GROOT.>

You’ll ask me some questions, and I’ll waffle on from there? Sure, no problem. Let’s do this thing. [Squares shoulders, makes an intelligent face.] Go.

<I AM GROOT.>

Yes, thank you, I’m very glad to be here, too, and to get this chance to talk to your esteemed audience. So what would you like to ask me?

seventh son<I AM GROOT.>

Where do I get the ideas for my writing? Ah yes, that’s a question Us Writers get asked a lot. [Takes on faintly supercilious facial expression, then wipes it off again when she realises that she’s actually not been asked that very often herself.] Okay, let me rephrase that: It’s a good question. A while back I was talking to a lovely young lady who is an avid reader and a gamer, and she was asking just that. She said she would like to be able to write, but while she absolutely loves making up worlds, she can’t think of plots or characters, of what happens in those worlds. And that’s, after all, what a story is all about, isn’t it?

Well, here’s what I told her: a good story starts with “What if…?” What if there was a race of small people with woolly feet, and one of them got a dangerous magic ring…? What if there was a whole world of wizards living right alongside all of us, and one of them was a young orphan boy with a lightning-bolt-shaped scar on his forehead? What if… And so in the case of my friend, I suggested she think of what if a person just like herself (no need to invent a character) was living in one of those fantasy worlds she’s made up – how would she react, what would happen to her? (We ended up brainstorming, and came up with quite an intriguing story idea of a commonsensical young woman who goes on a quest with an über-heroic princeling who keeps charging into adventure at the drop of a hat, with the girl always having to keep him on track and rolling her eyes at his overblown heroics… I hope she writes that story; I’d love to read it.)

As a matter of fact, that’s exactly how I started the first book of my series, Seventh Son. Have you ever noticed that in all those time or dimension travel stories, the characters barely blink their eyes at what just happened to them? The kids in Narnia climb through the wardrobe, and just go “We’re in a different world? Whee, how exciting! Let’s go have some adventures!” Well, I got to thinking: what if that happened to me? What if I got sucked off into some magic world, how would I react? I’d freak out, that’s what I’d do. And so that’s just what my protagonist, Catriona, does. She looks into a blue pottery bowl in a museum, and all of a sudden she’s landed in the middle of a forest in a magical medieval world. Some hours later, she’s stuck in a cottage with an injured, unconscious man and a small child, and she just has to cope… Again, what would I do in that situation? My head would go in circles, that’s what, and I’d be thinking things like “Where do you go to the bathroom, and what on earth do you use for toilet paper here?” and “How do you light a candle when you haven’t got matches or a lighter?” For some reason, fictional characters never seem to consider these things in the books I’ve read – but I sure would, so that’s what sparked my story. (If you want the answers to those questions, you’ll have to read my books. You can get them here.)

<I AM GROOT!>

IMG_20150424_092134
Steve the Bear of amo vitam

Why, thank you! I’m so glad you enjoyed Seventh Son. Of course, there is a quite important tree in that story, too, so you would be able to relate.

<I AM GROOT.>

Yes, I really enjoyed our little chat, myself. And thank you, and Kate, for giving me this chance to talk to your lovely readers. Do, folks, stop on by our place, amo vitam (www.amovitam.ca); Steve the Bear and I would love to see you.

<I AM GROOT!>

Quite. I’ll sign off with my standard signature line: Life, the Universe, and … well, and A Guest Post. What if… What if there was a little Groot Tree in a pot, and a small stuffed bear named Steve, and one day they… [Wanders off in a trance, lost in a world of story possibilities, forgetting her water bottle…]

Guest Posts, Writing & Publishing Articles

Guest Post: Long Distance Writer by Kate Evans

walkers2015In September I will be doing St Cuthbert’s Way with my sister (http://stcuthbertsway.info/) This 100Km walk moves from Melrose in the borders of Scotland across the Cheviots into Northumberland and finishes on the magical island of Lindisfarne. I am fifty-one years old. I am in relatively good health, though have recurrent menopause-induced migraines and over-heats (not good if they happen in the middle of the Cheviots). I do swim, walk and cycle regularly (though not long distances). St Cuthbert’s Way will be a challenge for me both physically and psychologically.

I am a writer. It’s what I do. Writing is as evident to me as breathing. So, of course, I am writing about this experience. I do not know where this writing will lead me, perhaps to something coherent which I will want to share with others. For the moment, I have disparate notions which tenuously link together. I present them here as a kind of mind-map and invite your comments and responses.

For most of my life, I thought of writing as a mind/hand activity. Ironically, it was a breakdown in my mind, a period of severe depression, which brought me to an understanding that I am both body and mind and both work in concert for me to be creative and write. I became interested in embodied writing.

What do I mean by embodied writing? Using all my physical senses to enrich my descriptions is an obvious place to start. However, there is more. How do emotions and thoughts manifest themselves physically? What does focusing on a part of my body, especially a part which is troubling me, bring forth? How do I physically feel as I am writing? What does this tell me about the words I am setting down?

In addition, there is being more aware of how I am sitting and holding myself when I write, in order to avoid shoulder, back or wrist aches. Then there is the rhythm of writing: the need to take breaks, to move, to return into my body after spending time in the worlds I am creating in my narratives. This I find especially invigorating for my writing. I grind to a halt, I get up, I move – usually walk or swim – paying particular attention to being very present to what is around me, and suddenly all sorts of ideas and ways forwards begin to occur to me. The movement of my body has shaken free the words I need (see blog post: http://goo.gl/88bMMY).

So there are many aspects to embodied writing. Now, with St Cuthbert’s Way firmly in my thoughts (a reality now, not just a vague possibility), I am becoming more intrigued by writing and the act of walking. There are many examples of writers who were walkers. Poets, for example John Clare, and prose writers such as Charles Dickens and Laurie Lee.

st-cuthberts-way-full-route

There are walks which appear in literature. In Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility the devastated Marianne took walks to the most distant parts of the cultivated park, ‘where there was something more of wildness than in the rest’. Or we could go to the Brontës, who put on their walking boots both in their real lives and fictional works. In thinking about this, I have wondered about more contemporary works which include a significant walk. Are there any?

Of course, humans walked much more in centuries gone by than they do now (especially, I should add, in Europe and the US). They walked out of necessity, they walked for survival. And many still do, from Africa, from Asia, from South America, from war-torn countries, I think of those who walk and walk towards what they hope will be a more peaceful, more secure life.

In comparison, my 100km walk will be stroll in the park. The path is well-marked, my sister and I will have a good meal and a comfortable bed to end each day and our luggage is being transported for us. Luxury. Even so, I know there will be times when I will doubt my capacity to keep going, when my body will protest, when I will rue the day I agreed to this crazy scheme. It will be a case of one step in front of the other. Just as, with my writing, there are some days when I force myself to put one word after another, trusting that, though I may no know where I am going with this, I will get there (or somewhere) in the end.

Thank you Kate C for letting me range freely across your blog. Please visit my blog at http://www.writingourselveswell.co.uk and check out my novel, The Art of the Imperfect, at: http://goo.gl/z7HFgz


Kate C. here – I just wanted to let everyone know that I will reblog Kate Evans’s recap of her trip so we can all marvel her amazing feat and share in any tips she has for us!

Guest Posts, Writing & Publishing Articles

Guest Post: Goals, Emotions, and Body Language: How to Create Realistic Characters by Kara Jorgensen

One of the most important processes while writing a story is creating realistic characters. Characters can sink or carry a book, and what readers often complain about is a story with “cardboard cut-out” characters. There is a very simple way to do this: from the start, think of them as real people and not characters. By thinking of them as “humans” (whether they’re elves, dwarves, werewolves, etc.), we avoid the cartoon “cut-out” character that lacks dimension. There are certain things to keep in mind while writing a character:

goal1. Humans always have goals whether they know it or not. Some goals are subconscious, but everyone is looking to attain something (fame, money, love, stability, a material goal). People always have short-term and long-term goals, and the ultimate goal humans move towards is happiness/contentment. The arc of your story should focus on at least one but probably several of these goals. Keep in mind that other characters (even side/minor characters should have goals of their own, which can be incorporated into subplots). Some questions to ask: What will make my character happy now? Do they know what they want? What will make them happy in the future? How does the conflict affect their goals and how do they feel about it? This brings me to my next point—

2. Humans have more than two emotions. When I have come across “cut-out” characters, one of the issues I noticed was that the characters tended to either be in love or angry for 90% of the book. While love and anger are two rather large emotions, people also experience joy, sorrow, confusion, apathy, panic, frustration. To keep a character’s emotions from seeming hollow, it’s important to keep in mind why the character feels this way. What circumstances in their lives have led to them feeling this way? Does a character constantly doubt themselves because they were bullied by a classmate or micromanaged by a family member? Your readers don’t need to know every detail of their lives, but you should at least have an idea of their back story. If you are uncertain about that back story, try working backwards. What could have happened to make them react that way? One thing you often hear from therapists is that anger is really the manifestation of hurt, frustration, or fear. Knowing which one your character is experiencing can allow you to create a more nuanced portrayal of their emotions and stay away from the stereotype of the raging alpha male/female without a cause. If you find yourself struggling to think of emotions, I would suggest googling “emotional thesaurus” for more help.

3. Body language is key to emotional characterizations and creates a greater depth of character. We all have a “tell” when we’re upset or angry. Think about when you’re upset, what do you do? Do your lips twitch? Do you get hot or itchy? Instead of simply having a character express that they are mad or upset or having the narrative voice say it, show it. Body language can be a hard thing to master because we do it automatically. People watching can be the best way to figure this out. Out in public how do they act? More importantly, how do they act in private when their guard is down? Some characters have nervous habits that can set them apart from others, and once you have established that a character does this when they feel a certain way, the reader will automatically know they are nervous/scared/upset. Pay attention to what you do when you’re experiencing different emotions. Even describing how a character smiles or how their brows move adds complexity to their portrayal. For more help with this, I would check a book on body language out from the library or study people without them knowing (that way they act natural). Just keep in mind that not everyone acts the same and some people purposely mask their body language.

Some of this advice my seem daunting and leave you asking, “How am I supposed to know what my character feels or why they act a certain way?” Certain characters reveal themselves immediately while others must be drawn from the shadows. If your character has gone into hiding, some things you can do to get to know them better are: fill-out character info sheets, write random scenes using prompts to see how your character reacts outside the story, build a Pinterest inspiration board for them, or meditate on them. An oddly helpful way to do this is to imagine them before going to sleep. Often dreams are the best way to draw them out. Just remember, your characters are people too and will react as such, so give them room to be human beings and express themselves.


Kara Jorgensen is an author of fiction and professional student from New Jersey who will probably die slumped over a Victorian novel. An anachronistic oddball from birth, she has always had an obsession with the Victorian era, especially the 1890s. Midway through a dissection in a college anatomy class, Kara realized her true passion was writing and decided to marry her love of literature and science through science fiction or, more specifically, steampunk. She has published two historical-fantasy novels, The Earl of Brass and The Winter Garden, and plans to release her third, The Earl and the Artificer, in 2016. You can find her at:

Website: http://karajorgensen.com

Facebook: http://facebook.com/authorkarajorgensen

Twitter: http://twitter.com/AuthorKaraJ

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/thevampirelock/

Guest Posts, Writing & Publishing Articles

Guest Post: To Tell or Overtell? by Zachary Chopchinksi

Hello, everyone! Today, I’m excited to kick off a series of fantastic guest posts from some of my favorite fellow authors. Stay tuned this week and next week for their posts, and I guarantee you’ll learn a lot and have a few chuckles along the way, too!


overtellTo tell or to overtell. That is the question. Or fear, more so. We have all been in a situation where we are obligatorily nodding our heads with the occasional “Yeah, yeah yeah” or “I know, I get it”. The story that will not end. The long-winded individual that means well, but their delivery drags on farther than stretched taffy. This is an issue that should be examined to help any tale-teller or, in our case, author. In fact, I have been known to do this on occasion…OK, it’s actually an issue of mine. I’ve been working on it, and through some of the resources I have come by I would like to pass along some of the things I’ve learned.

The threat of “over-telling” a story is a real issue that can make the author sound pompous, can let the reader get bored (or discouraged) and in many cases, cause further reading of the author to be rare. Although, it is important that the author’s story be well founded, strong, and remnant of the previous aspects of the story–so the reader does not forget anything–it is also important that the author be wary of over-telling. Strange to think of, yet very important.

So ways to combat this? READ YOUR OWN WORK! Silly, I know, and generally a given, but authors don’t always do this. Some things to look for are re-used adjectives describing similar situations. Repetition is an obvious tell. Another thing to monitor is the references to previous events within your story. If it keeps coming up, examine how to avoid that. If the repetition is necessary, consider different ways to introduce the details.

Small tips from small writer.


More from Zach:

Website

The Curious Tale of Gabrielle

The 2K International Writers’ Blog Tour Interview