Friday, March 25, 2011

And the Winner is...

Thank you all for celebrating with me the amazing milestone of 500 followers. I went and found a shiny hat for the draw and dropped the names in of those who entered my giveaway (and got sparkles all over me). The prizes are a $20 Amazon gift card, a first chapter critique, and first 250 words critique. First place gets first choice of prize.

And the winners are...

First place: Alex J Cavanaugh

Second place: Rachna

Third place: Denise (L'Aussie)

Congratulations!!! (extra exclamation marks well earned). Please contact me with your preferences.

note: I will be taking a blogging break in preparation for the April A-Z Challenge. I'll be back on Friday 1st April

extra after-thought note:  After the discussions in my previous post about author photos, I caved and posted a recent pic of me in my "about me" tab... for the curious.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Author Photos: Are They Necessary?

Many of us hide our faces while we blog and only post our true photos when we sign with an agent or publisher and sometimes not even then. I’ve only ever given out my photo when it was a requirement to accompany an article or short story that's been accepted for publication.

Many believe the author photo is needed to build the author brand, to offer people an association when they think of you as a writer. Many also believe those who use a photo come across as more professional.

What are your thoughts? Do you think a photo is necessary before an author gets signed? If so, should we pay for professional photos? Do you need to know what an author looks like? Do you need to know what a blogger looks like?

I’d like to hear your opinion.

Reminder: time is running out to enter my giveaway celebrating 500 followers. If you haven’t entered yet then go here and leave comment letting me know you want to enter. I will announce the winners in my next post.

Thanks: I received the Stylish blogger award from Lisa M Potts. Thank you so much!  I also received the Liebster Blog award from Olivia Green. Again, thank you. 

Monday, March 21, 2011

Just Write

This is my motto and my motivator: Just write

This is what I tell people when they ask me how to write a novel: Just write.

This is the greatest advice I can give about writing: Just write.

This is what I do when I hit the dreaded writer’s block: Just write.

This is what I do when I get discouraged:

I just keep writing.

Full steam ahead.

Do you have a motto or a motivational phrase?

Contest: Theresa is also holding a 500 followers contest with lots of brilliant prizes. Be sure to pop on over and check it out.

Friday, March 18, 2011

What Brings You Back to a Blog?

We all love return visitors to our blogs. It tells us we are doing something right. So, what is it that encourages followers to return?

I will always return to blogs that are:

Easy to read: no strange fonts, no miniscule fonts, no glaring colours, no white text on black backgrounds.

Scannable: As much as I’d love everyone to dote on every word I write, I’m realistic enough to accept that not all of us have the time. If we create scannable posts, with points and bolded headings, it speeds up the reading process. Blogs with walls-o-text are less appealing.

Easy to comment: Posts that offer a question to readers to generate discussion.

Quick to comment: the blog is set up in a way that makes commenting quick and easy—so that means no word verifications.

Quick to load: blogs with many moving widgets and large file-sized pictures take a long time to load. Not everyone will wait.

Humorous: We all love a blog that brings a smile to our face. Humour has a way of making everyone comfortable.

Helpful: Interesting topics will always draw me back. I love to learn (now that I’m no longer in school).

Generous: I’m not talking about amazing competitions and prizes; I’m talking about generosity of time. I will always visit the blogs of those who have encouraged and supported me – as opposed to those who think blogging is only about promoting themselves and their product.

Regular: Blogs that offer a regular schedule – it doesn’t matter if it’s daily, three times a week, or once a week. I can trust a new post will appear at a certain time.

How about you? What brings you back to a blog?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

500 Followers Giveaway

Nope, I'm not giving away 500 followers, I'm celebrating 500 followers! You guys are awesome. It's all of you who have kept me going. Thank you for your support and encouragement.

Please pour yourself some bubbly (or other beverage of choice) and come celebrate with me.

I will be giving away a prize to three lucky people (first place gets first choice of the prize).

An Amazon Gift Card worth $20,
a first chapter critique,
and a first 250 words critique.

The competition is open to all my followers (old or new). The more you spread the word, the more chances you get to win. I will draw and announce the winners on Friday 25th (Aussie time).

To enter: be a follower and leave a comment on this post with your email. If you want extra chances to win please also include the links where you've spread the word.

cheers, everyone.

Addition: I forgot to mention my new header. Dezzy created my wonderful header as a gift to celebrate my 500 followers. Please visit Dezz at HollywoodSpy because he is awesome!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Reasons to Research

When we write, our stories often take over. We allow the characters and environments to command their own direction while we get caught up in the magic of the process. Sometimes we might forget to do any research or we tell ourselves we’ll do it later. And sometimes we realise we should have done it sooner.

Below I’ve listed reasons we shouldn’t put it off:

Research to save time. Novel writing is a time consuming endeavour. It’s good to research the market before we throw ourselves into our masterpiece because what we have in mind may not be right for the market. Armed with the knowledge of standard expectations, we can save ourselves some heartache.

Research for rule bending. We need to know the rules so we can learn which ones are bendable and which are not. For example, acceptable story length: we can get away with 120k words for a historical, but not crime.

Research for plausibility. A novel which lacks plausibility will rip the reader from the story realm. Science Fiction writers often need to research science facts and theories. Fantasy writers often have to research mythology, or historical elements. We all need to research different personalities for our characters, different vocations, and different settings.

Research for inspiration. Research opens our minds and it can often lead us to areas we wouldn’t have gone otherwise. I’ve gained so much inspiration while doing research.

When in the novel writing process do you do your research? What are some strange things you never thought you’d research?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Award Palooza

I will break from my usual topic to say a huge thank you to those who have recently given me an award.

Stylish Blogger Award: Thanks Jessica @ Jessica A. Briones ‘A Wannabe Writer’ and Zan Marie @ In the Shade of the Cherry Tree

One Lovely Blog Award: Thanks Deborah @ Deborah Walker’s Bibliography and Crystal @ Crossroads

Friends for the Journey Award: Thanks Alex J. Cavanaugh

The Rules for Passing It On:
1. Pass it on to 7 other bloggers and tell how they've encouraged you.
2. Please let your recipients know that it started at Beautiful Chaos.
3. Leave a comment on this post when you've posted on your blog.

This was difficult. There are so many fantabulous bloggers who have encouraged me on my journey. Plus, some people I’d love to give the award to have already received it from someone else—such as Alex, because he rocks, his book CassaStar rocks, his generosity rocks, and his blog rocks. What am I to do? I’ll do my best.

To Dezzy @ HollywoodSpy 
Even though Dezzy isn’t a writer striving to gain publication, he has encouraged me in more ways than he could possibly know. His friendship means a lot to me.

To Carol @ Artzicarol Ramblings
In the relatively short time we’ve known each other, Carol has won my heart. She is a fantastic writer and a skilled critiquer. I feel blessed to be able to call her my friend.

To Denise @ L’Aussie Writing
Denise is an amazing blogger and a fellow Aussie. I don’t know how she finds the time to maintain all her blogs and produce fabulous writing as well. She has a generous spirit and always has something interesting to say.

To M Pax @ Wistful Nebulae
Mary’s passion for everything she does is a sight to behold. She doesn’t let anything hold her back. She’s given me a new appreciation for hard work, dedication, and the stars.

To Terri @ Terri Tiffany Inspirational Writer
A fellow Christian writer, Terri’s blog posts and comments have encouraged me for almost a year now. I love her honesty and enthusiasm.

To Karen @ Coming Down the Mountain
I like the way Karen thinks. She is generous, open, and eager to help and encourage other writers. And her BBQs are brilliant.

I could keep going but this is starting to turn into an uber-long post. Next week I will run a competition to celebrate 500 followers (if I reach that awesome number).

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Beatitudes of Writing

Happy are those writers who work hard and don’t give up.

Happy are those writers who strive to do their best.

Happy are those writers who are well stocked with coffee and chocolate (or a favourite beverage and treat).

Happy are those writers who have found balance in their work, friend and family life.

Happy are those writers who find the confidence to pour themselves onto the page.

Happy are those writers who understand the importance of exercise and find a place for it in their schedule.

Happy are those writers who push themselves to truly make a difference with their writing.

Happy are those writers who don’t let social media take over.

Happy are those writers who have found the support of other writers.

What makes you a happy writer?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Writers’ Tools: The Whiteboard

When we think of writers’ tools we think of pens, paper, computer, dictionary, thesaurus, but we have so many possible tools available to us. Today I’ll talk about the humble whiteboard.

I’m a visual person who for a long time earned a living in graphic design and animation. I work best when I can see as a whole the story I’m trying to write. This is where the whiteboard comes in. It’s like storyboarding for animation, only I don’t draw the scenes, I write them up in their basic form.

As you can see in the picture, I also use post-it notes for more detail. The pink ones are major turning points in the story. I also have green ones for character arcs. I’ve written up a timeline in orange pen so I can keep track of passing time in the novel. I’ve also written how each chapter ends in purple. Usually it’s not as full-on as you see in the picture, but I’m nearing the end of the project and I’ve added detail along the way.

I bought a second whiteboard for problem solving and idea generation simply because I like to spread out. I’ve been busy tying up loose ends and working on plausibility so I can leave my readers with a sense of satisfaction at the end of the novel.

In general whiteboards help me think. I could do the same work on a large piece of paper but I like the ease of erasing failed ideas on a whiteboard. I could use digital tools but it’s refreshing to get away from the computer.

What do you use to develop your ideas?

Note: this post is in answer to Carol @ Artzicarol Ramblings who wanted to know how I use my whiteboards.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

In the Comparison

This is one thing I’ve learned: I shouldn’t compare myself to other writers -- there’s no point. Every writer has to walk, skip, run their own journey and no journey is the same.

Some writers have to write five novels until they get published, some fifteen, twenty, thirty, while others only have to write one.

Some writers have a flowery style, while others have a simple style.

Some have a strength in grammar and structure. Others, their strength lies in point of view.

Every writer has to write their own stories. We can’t copy the work of another and we can’t pretend to be someone else. We write our best when we are true to ourselves.

As we saw in my previous post, every writer measures success from a different scale, so why compare ourselves to someone else’s scale?

Note: this will be my last post for the week. I need to focus on some ornery chapters. I’ll still visit everyone around the blogsphere and I’ll be back on Monday with a new post.