More Changes Are Coming to the Blog (Plus, Why I’m Excited About the “New” Direction)

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Some of you might recall that I’ve been struggling with blogging after a crazy-busy August. Not with ideas or visitors, but with time and energy. This week, I’m feeling the best I’ve felt physically and mentally in the past two months, but I only have one post scheduled instead of two. So, in a way, the results of that “burnout” are starting to show.

I’ve also been thinking about the time I spend on this site. I already cut back on my blogging schedule earlier this year because I couldn’t keep up the aggressive pace I’d set. Back then, I figured, “Blogging twice a week should be fine.” And for a while, along with writing every other month for DIY MFA, it was.

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The Freestyle Writing Challenge, Part 2

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Last year I tackled the Freestyle Writing Challenge for the first time. It was a fun way of writing about whatever I wanted (within the topic chosen by the blogger who nominated me, of course) and seeing how many words I could type in a short amount of time. Today, I’m *finally* accepting Sarah J. Higbee’s nomination to take on the Challenge again. Thanks, Sarah!

Here are the rules for the Freestyle Writing Challenge:

  1. Open an new Microsoft Word document.
  2. Set a stop watch or timer for 5 or 10 minutes, whichever challenge you think you can beat.
  3. You topic is at the end of this post, but DO NOT SCROLL DOWN TO SEE IT UNTIL YOU ARE READY WITH A TIMER.
  4. Fill the Word document with as many words as you can. Once you begin writing, do not stop.
  5. Do not cheat by going back and correcting spellings and grammar with spell check in Word. This Challenge is only meant for you to reflect on your own control of sensible thought flow, not your ability to write the right spelling and stick to grammar rules.
  6. You may or may not pay attention to punctuation and capitals. However, if you do, it would be best.
  7. At the end of your post, write down ‘No. of words =_____’ so that readers have an idea of how much you can write within the timeframe.
  8. Copy and paste the entire passage on your blog post with a new topic for your nominees, and include these rules with your nominations (at least 5 bloggers).

So, Sarah’s topic for her nominees this time was… Continue reading

Interview with Roshani Chokshi, Author of “The Star-Touched Queen”

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I love it when authors write a story that veers away from trends yet works in every way. Roshani Chokshi’s debut YA fantasy The Star-Touched Queen is exactly that. With gorgeously vivid writing and unbridled imagination, this Hindu-inspired tale brings readers to a world of mythical creatures, surreal settings, and love intertwined with destiny. (Check out my review of The Star-Touched Queen here if you haven’t yet.) The book has been an instant hit with readers, too, debuting in the New York Times’ YA Hardcover Bestsellers List in its first week of sales. That’s pretty good, if you ask me.

Today I’m thrilled to have Roshani stop by and chat about The Star-Touched Queen. If you’re curious about her world-building approach, writing influences, her journey to becoming a published author, and flesh-eating demon horses (yes, you read that correctly), then this interview is for you. Enjoy!

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Field Trip: Writer’s Digest Conference 2016

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Now that all of the late-summer busyness has passed, I finally have some time to tell you about this year’s Writer’s Digest Conference! And what an amazing four days it was. In fact, I think it topped the 2015 edition!

With this post, I’ll give a general overview of WDC 2016, including which sessions I enjoyed most and what I learned. Last year I did a trio of posts for DIY MFA; and while I would have liked to have covered the conference for the site again this year, it wasn’t possible with my friend’s wedding 2 weeks later. The good thing is, waiting to do this post has given me time to digest (no pun intended) everything I absorbed that weekend and feel grateful for continuing to invest in my writing career.
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New DIY MFA Article on the “Why” Behind Our Writing

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I took a new direction with my latest Theme: A Story’s Soul post for DIY MFA. Instead of digging into the craft of literary themes, I explore how our unique passions, curiosities, and values often emerge as themes in our work. It’s more personal than usual – especially for me, since I also share what inspired the post and how I found the “why” behind my own WIP. But I hope this article starts a thoughtful discussion on how the things that matter to us become part of our stories.

Click here to read “The ‘Why’ Behind Our Writing.”

Got any questions or suggestions for Theme: A Story’s Soul? Feel free to comment below or tweet me at @SaraL_Writer with the hashtag #DIYMFA or #AStorysSoul.

Chronicling The Craft: Battling Writer’s Doubt and Regaining Your Confidence

Chronicling The Craft is a series where I share my experience with working on my YA fantasy novel THE KEEPER’S CURSE, which is now in its third draft. These articles alternate between a) progress updates and fun “TKC-related” content, and b) revising / editing tips. Today’s post is the tips-oriented post to celebrate 60% completion of Draft #3.

No writer (or anyone pursuing their dreams) is immune to the monsters of doubt. At any time during our process, we might lose faith in our story, our characters, even our own abilities. And when we do, the effects can cripple us, sometimes to the point of giving up.

It’s a tough subject to broach. I’ve hit the wall a few times myself, but I’ve rarely written about it. But I should write about it. In fact, all writers should. Not only does it make us feel less alone in our struggles, but it allows us to find or share ways of managing any doubts or anxieties we have about our craft.

For today’s Chronicle, I’ll share one of my recent struggles with doubt while editing my WIP. I’ll also reveal my personal method for dealing with those fears, and how some of my writing friends manage theirs. Perhaps some of these tips might work for you. Or, maybe you already have your own ways of bouncing back. The point is to encourage and motivate one another to keep doing this crazy thing we love called writing. I hope this post will accomplish that for you.
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Chronicling The Craft: Draft #3 – 60% Progress Report

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Plus, Four Songs from Leah’s Kings & Queens That Appear on the WIP’s Playlist

Chronicling The Craft is a series where I share my experience with working on my YA fantasy novel THE KEEPER’S CURSE, which is now in its third draft. These articles alternate between a) progress updates and fun “TKC-related” content, and b) revising / editing tips. Today’s post marks 60% completion of Draft #3 with another progress report and more songs on TKC’s novel playlist.

It’s time for another update! And you know what’s better that giving another progress report? Sharing the news that I’ve met my stretch goal for cutting TKC’s word count!!

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Let’s dance, Star Lord!

To be honest, I’m not surprised that I reached this second goal so quickly. I was just over 2,000 words away at the 40% update; and with several overwritten chapters around the corner, it was bound to happen before this pair of Chronicles. But that doesn’t change how thrilled and relieved I am that TKC is now within the recommended word count for its genre (under 100K for YA fantasies by debut authors).

Today I’ll go more in-depth about where TKC stands and what happens now that I’ve reached my stretch goal. I’ll also introduce you to the music of melodic metal singer-songwriter Leah McHenry and share more tunes from the novel’s playlist. Ready?
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One Fantasy Writer’s Secret Weapon: Archery Lessons

Here’s one thing I didn’t expect as a result of the 2016 Writer’s Digest Conference: Be a guest blogger for one of this year’s presenters! I connected with Ben Sobieck after his fantastic presentation on writing weapons in fiction, then told him how I had taken archery lessons as research for my WIP. And as the saying goes, the rest is history.😉 Check out my guest post “One Fantasy Writer’s Secret Weapon: Archery Lessons” now at Ben’s site, The Writer’s Guide to Weapons.

NOTE: If you read my 5 on the 5th earlier this year about five things I learned from archery lessons, much of the content will look familiar. This guest post is a “re-purposing” of that original article for Ben’s audience, done with my permission.

The Writer's Guide to Weapons

bow and arrow lessons for writers of fiction The best way to write about weapons in fiction is to get your hands on some. If you can swing it, one-on-one instruction in a controlled environment is best. (Jamie Woods image via sxc.hu) Today’s guest post comes from fantasy writer SaraLetourneau, someone I came in touch with via the 2016 Writer’s Digest Conference. When she mentioned she took a 10-week archery lesson to better understand the weapons in her stories, I couldn’t help but ask for a post for this site. Be sure to check out her website here for more of her terrific work. Enjoy!

-Ben

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Recent Reads: August 2016

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Recent Reads is a monthly reading wrap-up, with mini-reviews of the books I read. I’ll also share what I’m currently reading and any other books that are in the pipeline. Feel free to share your bookish happenings in the Comments section!

With this month’s Recent Reads, I’m making a slight organizational change in the “Other Books I Read In…” section. Instead of listing books in the order I read them, I’ll show them in order of rating, starting with the second-highest after the Read of the Month. No one has commented on this before, but I thought it might make it easier to determine which books I liked more than others.

As for the books themselves, I managed to finish 5 more (all of which are reviewed below) and am now reading my 41st book of the year. How in the world have I managed this?! The only thing I can think of is that I’ve really grown to appreciate my reading time, and a day doesn’t feel complete without it. I might not be a fast reader, but gosh do I love it.🙂

Anyways, onto August’s Read of the Month! And it is…
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Time Flies!: August 2016

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Welcome to the latest edition of Time Flies! It’s my version of a monthly update, where I recap the past month’s accomplishments and articles, share news and random things from my offline life, and hint at what may be coming in the month ahead.

I’m starting this post with a confession: While I’ve managed to keep up with my own blog-writing, I’ve been so burnt out from the past month’s busyness that I’m struggling to keep up with reading other blogs or replying to comments. I’ve also been dealing with stress from (without going into too much detail) expected and unexpected sources. Some days were great, but others… Yeah.

Bilbo faints

I hope this is temporary, though, since I still have one big event around the corner: My friend’s wedding (the one where I’m a bridesmaid) is this coming Saturday. Maybe once things calm down and I have some time to rest and regroup, I’ll feel some semblance of my normal self. But I just wanted to let readers know what’s going on, since you guys deserve my honesty.

But I really can’t complain. August was an awesome month on its best days, and it ends with much that I’m grateful for. This will make more sense as this post goes along, so let’s start with…

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