Tag Archives: writing tips

Monday Mashup: Writing Tips and Self Care for Writers

I did it again. I filled up my Facebook queue with saved links like Emily Dickinson filled her mattress with poetry slips.

I scoured the internet, so you don’t have to. 🙂

Here are my favorite links from the past couple of weeks.

Writing Tips and Self Care for Writers, Along With Some Food for Thought

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Self Care for Writers by paranormal/fantasy author, Jami Gold, is a must read for writers who like to go from one project to the next and need a reminder to schedule in some downtime too.

Illustrator Andrea Tsurumi shared You’ll Never Have Enough Time about carving out work time and space, avoiding burnout, and what going freelance really means.

If you’re feeling like Andrea from the last post, you’ll also enjoy 5 Tips for Making Writing a Daily Habit.

There’s lots out there about fair pay for writers right now and I thought this article on The Rich Writer Myth by Ros Barber was interesting. It’s written sharing examples of pounds, but I think you can convert it to dollars for us in the states.

Ros followed up her own article with one on The Guardian elaborating on the publishing industry with For Me, Traditional Publishing Means Poverty, But Self-Publish? No Way.

Because we can’t end on the bummer of bucks, or the misery of making moola, here are 20 Empowering Quotes By Female Authors That Are Perfect to Decorate Your Office With.

Self-Care and Body Positivity for All:

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This was my de-stress project this weekend. Adult coloring and playing with my art journal. 

I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time accepting compliments. I hear them and I immediately shrug them off or worse, name a flaw right afterwards. It’s something I’m working on. So of course, I saved this article on 7 Tips for Working on Your Self Confidence: Accepting That You’re Awesome.

And if you’re still feeling a little beat up mentally, here’s 6 Ways to Feel Better About Yourself Right Now. Read it, I’ll wait. … There now, don’t you feel better? 🙂

My facebook queue is always full of posts by Heather from Hiya Tootsie, and here’s one I wanted to share with you! What’s Luck Got to Do With It? 3 Ways to Honor the Work Your Dreams Require.

Are you constantly stressed from the day job plus the side hustle? This money saving blog offered all kinds of low stress money-making opportunities as well as a simple plan for setting money aside each month. How I Saved $1000 While Living Paycheck to Paycheck.

Because all bodies deserve respect, you should reward yourself by reading August McLaughlin’s How to REALLY Get Body-Positive. This post was blowing up my twitter feed and it’s worth reading more than once!

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What are the posts saved up in your queues? Got any other good ones to share?
How are you practicing self care this week? 

 

 

 

 

 

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“Read. Read Everything. Challenge Yourself.” Author Interview with Nickolas Butler

IMG_6763This past fall, I had the pleasure of meeting Nickolas Butler, author of Shotgun Lovesongs, at UW-Madison’s Weekend With Your Novel conference.

Nick is a talented and humble guy whose writing is truthful and poetic. He’s a graduate of the Iowa Writers Workshop and an advocate for aspiring writers everywhere.

Nick was kind enough to chat with me about his work. Because I’m a big fan of his book. 

And he’s giving a copy away to one lucky winner! 

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Me: Describe yourself in three words. 

Nick: Father, husband, friend.

What three words do you wish described you? 

Debonair, raconteur, smoldering.

Ha! Nice.
Describe your book in one sentence. 

“Shotgun Lovesongs” is a novel set in rural Wisconsin about the lifelong bonds of friendship, love, marriage, envy, and childhood.

book-shotgun-lovesongsShotgun Lovesongs tells the story of five friends discovering all the ways they’ve each changed, and yet how much they’re still the same. It’s a poignant and poetic look at growing up, surviving the messy bits, and owning your own life – good and bad. What parts of your life have you “owned” and what are you most proud of? 

I’m most proud of my family and the life we’ve built together, through some real challenges. I’m proud of my wife and her accomplishments, both professionally and in our community. I’m proud of my children, proud of the fact that I think they’re both kind-hearted and compassionate kids. I’m proud of my Mom, and her unflagging work ethic and generosity. Proud of my brother for being one of the best people I’ve ever met. My life has been extremely blessed. I feel very fortunate, every day.

“What parts of my life have I owned”? I think when I was about 27 or 28 I took stock of where I was, what I was doing, and just decided that I needed to work a lot harder at becoming a writer, at becoming the person I wanted to be.

Shotgun Lovesongs is written from five points of view. How did get into each character’s voice?

It was definitely a challenge. Some of the voices/POVs came very easily – Henry, Lee, and Kip. And I can remember finishing one of their chapters and having to transition towards Beth or Ronny, and just really taking about five minutes to close my eyes, and slip into another psyche, another character. And sometimes it was easier, and maybe I’d only need a minute or two. Other times I’d have to walk away from the computer and get a cup of coffee, sort of collect myself. But it was also a lot of fun because each character illuminates the others in the cast. If everything is working right, you should get a more complex portrait of a character.

Did you have a favorite voice to write in?

I’d say Lee, when it comes to “Shotgun Lovesongs”. He’s very observant, in some ways, he thinks about the world musically, lyrically.

As someone who works a full-time job and gets writing in as a “side-hustle,” I appreciated your story about working lots of odd jobs along the way. What were a few of them and how did you carve out time for writing? 

There were so many…

When I was working at Star Liquor in Madison, I wrote after my shifts were done, around 10pm. I’d get home and still be wired, and just write short stories or poems. The thing is: when you’re trying to break through, you have to carve out time as aggressively as you can. This means sleeping less. Socializing less. Watching less TV. If you want something bad enough, you’ll figure out how to make it happen.

You’re a graduate of the prestigious Iowa Writers Workshop. What tool or skill-set did you find most valuable from that experience? 

Iowa was definitely a life-changing experience for me in so many ways. But I think the thing that really pushed me forward was the competition; just going to classes and being surrounded by some of the world’s best young writers. I’d look around and think, I’ve got to get better. I’ve got to read more and work harder.

I think it’s hard to improve your craft without exposure to great writing – either through reading or through teachers or peers. I don’t think you can do it by yourself.

Your book is a love story about Wisconsin. What’s your favorite thing about our state?  

There’s a lot to love and I could literally go on for pages describing favorite cities, state parks, restaurants, sports teams, etc. But for me it comes down to family. I’m surrounded by family and that means everything to me. Family and friends.

Best piece of writing advice? 

Read. Read all the time. Read poetry and non-fiction and fiction and plays and screenplays. Read foreign writers. Read everything. Challenge yourself. Don’t discard any writing – there is something to be learned in everything.

Set a deadline for yourself. Write down your goals. Work when other people are sleeping.

book-beneaththebonfireWhat books are you enjoying right now? 

I’m about to finish Don Winslow’s “The Power of the Dog”, which is fantastic. Imagine George R.R. Martin writing an epic about The War on Drugs. Annie Dillard’s essays. I’m looking forward to reading Helen McDonald’s “H is for Hawk”. I’m rushing through both of Peter Geye’s novels, which are fantastic.

Tell us about your next project! 

My second book, “Beneath the Bonfire” came out in May and is still in hardcover and my next novel, “The Faithlessness of Men” will be published in early 2017 by Ecco.

Thank you so much for chatting with me, Nick! I can’t wait to get Shotgun Lovesongs into another reader’s hands; it really was a book that stuck with me awhile after reading it. 🙂

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photo-nickolas-butlerNickolas Butler was born in Allentown, Pennsylvania, raised in Eau Claire, Wisconsin and educated at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Iowa Writer’s Workshop. He is the author of the internationally-best selling novel Shotgun Lovesongs and a collection of short stories entitled,Beneath the Bonfire.  He is the winner of France’s prestigious PAGE Prix America, the 2014 Great Lakes Great Reads Award, the 2014 Midwest Independent Booksellers Award, the 2015 Wisconsin Library Association Literary Award, the 2015 UW-Whitewater Chancellor’s Regional Literary Award, and has been long-listed for the 2014 Flaherty Dunnan Award for First Novel and short-listed for France’s FNAC Prix.  Along the way, he has worked as: a Burger King maintenance man, a tutor, a telemarketer, a hot-dog vendor, an innkeeper (twice), an office manager, a coffee roaster, a liquor store clerk, and an author escort. His itinerant work includes: potato harvester, grape picker, and Christmas tree axe-man. 

He lives on sixteen acres of land in rural Wisconsin adjacent to a buffalo farm. He is married and has two children.

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Want to win a free copy of Nick’s book? 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Have you read Shotgun Lovesongs yet?
How do you aggressively make time to write, or read?

 

Stuff I Meant To Get To And Just Finally Did

18314760839_a7c49e4737_zI’m a fan of the ‘Save Link’ option on Facebook. Only I’m terrible at actually going back and looking at all those saved links.

At any given point and time, my laptop has at least 10 tabs open of blog posts waiting to be read.

So, in honor of New Year’s being just around the corner, and it being a time of year for renewal, I thought I better clear out my digital queue.

Here’s what I meant to read, and just finally did.

Self Care Tips and Do Good Ideas

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How My 2015 Has Felt

My year has been another one of transition and change. It’s been full of stress. And I’m not a good model for slowing down. These posts gave me some food for thought. 

In need of some manageable, quick tasks to help you feel refreshed? Check out 15 Easy Things You Can Do That Will Help When You Feel Like Shit.

Want to reduce your stress level by 68%? Who knew all you had to do was read before bed!

And then when you’re ready to reflect, make some new goals, and treat yo’ self, read 26 Things Every Person Should Do For Themselves At Least Once a Year.

Ready to put some good in the world? 15 Things For When the World is Shitty and Terrifying.

Writing Tips and Blogs to Read

typewriter gifThis year I became a freelance writer, writing both for local magazines as well as online sites. And I’m still plugging away at my book. Here’s hoping I can reserve more time to write in 2016. 

Struggling with some aspect of your writing? Watch out for these culprits: Doubtful Writing Habits You Should Forget About.

How to Be a More Productive Freelancer in 20 Minutes is both a funny read and good advice from the seriously silly Schmutzie. Read for a laugh, stay for the tips.

Jane Friedman is a stellar resource for any writer and she nails it with 5 Reasons You’re Experiencing Writer’s Block.

Now, need a kick in the pants to get going again? Advice in Six Words: 17 Inspirational Writing Tips.

Just For the Fun Of It

funny witherspoonIt’s not Jess Witkins’s Happiness Project without a little fun involved! 

Because it’s not time wasting when important questions are being solved. Which Jane Austen Heroine are You? 

I got Catherine Morland. No surprise there. 😉

Because this is so real it hurts: What Marriage is Really Like.

And lastly, this beautiful round up courtesy The Bloggess, who shared all three Bad Lip Reading versions of Star Wars in We’re Those People.

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Your turn! Show some linky love in the comments below to the posts you’ve been reading or feel free to share one of your own. Let’s keep the blog hopping non-stopping! Cheers, friends! 

 

 

Hello From Sunny Elsewhere

road trip prioritiesHey Friends!

I’m at the Madison Writers’ Institute this weekend filling my head with all kinds of wordy knowledge. Wish me luck!

I’ve got my road trip priorities (audio books, coffee and cake pops) all set!

To entertain you while I’m away, I’ve compiled some of my favorite reading spots to keep you company. And if you really, really miss me (Aww, aren’t you the sweetest?!), you can find me hanging out with The Indie Chicks. I’d love if you stopped by!

9 Women Who Made History You Probably Didn’t Know About

and

6 Tips to Nail Your Interview

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For the Writerly

Editing tips from The Secrets of Midwives author, Sally Hepworth, in What the Editing Process Really Looks Like.

Rachel Funk Heller guest blogs at Writers in the Storm with 8 Tips on Writing Faster – And Why You Should Try It!

miranda rightsHopefully you haven’t missed Bayard & Holmes Writing Spies series. It’s pretty cool. The latest is How the Pros Bug a Room.

More thriller fun came in Kristen Lamb’s latest, Series and Psychopaths – The Author Sadist & Why Audiences LOVE the Pain.

It’s part of the job for writers, right? Social media is a must. Jane Friedman offers tips for managing it, My 5 Philosophies of Social Media.

For fans of Top Ten Tuesday and book lists, check out Maren’s post at The Worn Bookmark – Top Ten Books I’d Love to Revisit From My Childhood.

Looking for your next great book to read? Waste no time! Grab a FREE (for a limited time) copy of Tameri Etherton’s book, The Stones of Kaldaar. Already own it? Book 2 is out now!

For Those Who Love to Learn

I love the notion of “arousing your life” in August McLaughlin’s 3 Powerful Ways to Spice Up Your Bedroom Life. A must read.

“Life requires brave. And you’ve got it.” That’s the message of Erin’s #52Dares Challenge. I recently discovered this inspirational blog that gives you a new challenge each week to grow your own self confidence, boost your outlook on life, and be brave!

One of the founders of The Indie Chicks, Chiara Mazzucco, tells it in her signature straight style Accept Yourself – You’re All You Got.

Who doesn’t need a little nudge now and again to turn off social media and start tackling those to-do’s – 5 Ways To Manage Your Time So It Doesn’t Manage You.

For Your Funny Bone

photo(4)Displaying micro-blogging at its best, The Bloggess, gifts us with There Should Be a Yelp For Places You Visit in Your Sleep.

Queen of Comedy, Her Royal Thighness, admits her kids don’t think she’s funny in What? You Don’t Like My Knockers?

Think you have skills? Let Steve from The Brown Road Chronicles tell you all about Slicing Bananas Like a Fucking Ninja.

What would you do if you discovered you didn’t have fingerprints? Aussa Lorens plans 5 Absolutely Justified Crimes I Might Actually Commit.

 

8 Tips from the Madison Writers Institute

Am writingLast weekend I attended UW-Madison’s writers conference, the Writers Institute. The conference is in its 25th year and has definitely grown. It’s two and a half days long and they have so many classes, the first two days go from 8am – 8pm!

My brain is now leaking.

Honestly, I love attending writers conferences because they are so energizing. It’s the best feeling in the world to connect with your peers, learn about your craft, mingle with people who “get it,” and return home ready and raring to write!

Plus, this year I won 3rd place in the First Page Contest for nonfiction. *does Peanuts character happy dance* It’s been a long writing journey the past 4 years, and now I feel like I’m writing what I’m supposed to when I’m supposed to be writing it. So overjoyed.

I’d have been even more productive had I not forgotten where the parking ramp I parked in was and spent 45 minutes walking around downtown Madison in heels for a wind-about, nighttime stroll. Oh well, I was sitting most of the day, so the exercise was probably good.  *grins sheepishly*

Here are my favorite takeaways from the conference.

1. From Opening Keynote, Nathan Bransford:

Rule #10: Keep writing.

Cultivate your failure. Be afraid of “If I don’t publish my book…” Use that to set deadlines, talk with other writers, be heard, find success stories, and write what you love.

2. From UW-Madison Creative Writing Program Coordinator, Ron Kuka:

Go through your pages like a camera. What does the reader see?

This may easily have been the best class on deep edits I’ve ever attended. Sharing examples of one page of work during four rounds of edits was so fascinating and he really nailed the points about giving our readers both a wide and close-up view of the story through all the senses.

3. From Author and Journalist, Roy Hoffman:

There is powerful emotion in home.

Roy’s class on Writing About Place was one of the most talked about sessions at the conference. He focused on adding details when writing about place to inspire memories and feelings in our work. I had a chance to chit chat with the Kentucky gentleman one morning, and he is so kind and supportive of writers. A great teacher.

4. From Debut Author, Dale Kushner:

Things around us beg to be experiences. Learn to relax and play to overcome block.

Second keynote speaker of the conference, Dale is a fabulously intuitive and spiritual writer. She recognizes that to be creative, we mustn’t lose our sense of wonder in the world. A poet and now novelist, Dale believes in learning from your writing and embracing the emotions that go along with that. Each revision we do teaches us more about our writing.

Ken Krimstein, Michael Perry, and Dale Kushner

Ken Krimstein, Michael Perry, and Dale Kushner

5. From New Yorker Cartoonist, Ken Krimstein:

Accept that you have no idea how good your work is. You never know what will sell, just do it, and do it, and do it.

and…

Step into your artist’s pants.

One of Ken’s rules is to “knock dignity off its pedestal.” When it comes to writing comedy, you have to be willing to rework the rejections. Never try to explain a joke. If you have to explain it, it isn’t working. Write the draft and then color it in.

6. From Wisconsin Author and Keynote, Michael Perry:

Don’t overlook the exotic in your own backyard.

In both his keynote address and author panel at the conference, Michael Perry talked about the strength in writing what you know. He left his hometown in Wisconsin to work as a cowboy on the ranches of Wyoming, and he intended to write a book about that. As providence would have it, that book would never see print, but what would become his first book was the story about the people in his hometown, New Aubern, WI.

I had the pleasure of meeting Michael at a book reading last year, and I interviewed him on my blog as well. You can check that out here if you like. He is a delight to hear speak and a very humble man. 🙂

Michael Perry

7. From Former Writer’s Digest Publisher and Author Resource Extraordinaire, Jane Friedman:

 Seduce the agent into requesting your work. Make them feel special and say why you think your book is a good fit for them.

I had the pleasure of meeting Jane in one the conference’s new “Fireside Chats,” a small group Q & A session and got her view on trends in the publishing industry.

Me and Jane

Me and Jane

*Note to self: Check out wattpad. Have you all heard about this? It’s popular among young writers (teens-early 20’s) and allows you to post portions of your work at a time and readers can comment on the work and wait to read the next installments. Jane says it’s a more positive environment than Goodreads right now. And I LOOOOOVE Goodreads, but there are some mean folks out there leaving reviews without ever having read the books they’re reviewing. What do you guys know about this?

I also attended Jane’s class on writing queries and it was PACKED! She kept the class simple and said to lead with your strengths in your query letter in order to wow the agent.

8. From Creative Writing Educator and Public Speaker, Sue Roupp:

One word will unstick you.

First off, Sue has the greatest laugh ever. It’s big and bold and it fills the room with her excitement for storytelling. Sue taught a class on memoir writing and emphasized that you are the hero of your own story. Through you, the reader learns that it’s ok to fail, to learn, and to gain knowledge.

That’s what inspired me this past weekend.
Who or what inspired you this week?

 

 

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