Finding Gifts and Inspiration: The Blessings of a Writer’s Relationship with Nature

During a recent lunch-break walk at my day job, I almost stepped on a bird feather. It might not sound so extraordinary. After all, birds are part of the everyday outdoors. But unlike fallen leaves, clods of dirt, or patches of grass, it’s not every day that your foot comes in contact with a stray feather. So I stopped and picked it up.

Two thoughts crossed my mind then. First, the feather itself. Gosh, was it gorgeous. It was slender, slightly curved, and mostly brown with white horizontal bars that became indistinct closer to the tip. And at over 1 foot long from shaft to tip, it was also HUGE. I still haven’t identified what species it belongs to. (Someone suggested the wild turkey, and it seems to be the closest match.) But as I twirled the feather between my fingers, what bird once wore it didn’t matter. What did matter was how I felt at that moment: as if I’d found a piece of treasure.

Second, as I returned the feather to the ground, I thought about writing. For me, nature and writing have been deeply connected for a long time. In fact, they might be more so now than ever before. Continue reading

#WIPjoy June 2016: A Month of Celebrating Our WIPs (and a Collection of Tweets & Excerpts from Mine)

If you follow me on Twitter, you might have noticed my #WIPjoy Tweets during the month of June. This meme is a month-long challenge led by YA sci-fi and fantasy writer Bethany A. Jennings; and for every day of the month, writers answer a specific question and share bits about their current work-in-progress (WIP). Participants can also take the meme to Facebook, their blog, and other social media outlets they haunt use.

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The “index” image for #WIPjoy June 2016, courtesy of Bethany A. Jennings. Click to view a larger version.

This  was my first time participating in #WIPjoy, and it was a lot of fun! It especially gave me a chance to learn what other writers are working on, get a taste of their writing style, and cheer them on as they work on their drafts. Now I’m even more excited to read some of those stories when they’re published someday!

And what I did I share for #WIPjoy? The Keeper’s Curse, of course! (It IS my only WIP at the moment. *lol*) So, I thought I’d share a collection of my #WIPjoy Tweets here with you. This post doesn’t contain all of my Tweets from the challenge – but it does feature some of my favorite questions / answers, and several of the excerpts I shared. Feel free to share any feedback in your comments, or “like” or “retweet” any of the linked Tweets. 😉 Enjoy!

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Rock The Vault: Celebrating the Urban and Rural Setting Thesaurus Duo (A Guest Post by Angela Ackerman of Writers Helping Writers)

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Oh, am I excited for our latest guest! Angela Ackerman is one half of the duo at Writers Helping Writers (her co-blogger is the equally awesome Becca Puglisi). And not only do they run one of my favorite websites dedicated to the craft of writing, but they’re also the authors of the best-selling Thesaurus collection – all of which have become instrumental parts of my writing process. Today, these ladies are releasing two new additions to their collection, and I couldn’t be happier to have Angela tell you more about them. Read on!

As we storytellers sit before the keyboard to craft our magic, we’re usually laser-focused on the two titans of fiction: plot and character. Yet, there’s a third element that impacts almost every aspect of the tale, one we really need to home in on as well: the setting.

The setting is so much more than a painted backdrop, more than a stage for our characters to tromp across during the scene. Used to its full advantage, the setting can characterize the story’s cast, supply mood, steer the plot, provide challenges and conflict, trigger emotions, help us deliver those necessary snippets of backstory… and that’s just scratching the surface. So the question is this: how do we unleash the full power of the setting within our stories? Continue reading

A Screenwriter Gets Schooled in Novel Writing (A Guest Post by Heather Jackson of WriteOnSisters)

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Today is the second half of a guest-post swap I’m doing with WriteOnSisters. My article on high fantasy vs epic fantasy is already live at WOS. Now, it’s one of the “Sister’s” turns to post here! Heather Jackson lives in Canada and writes YA novels as well as television and video game screenplays. In fact, she began with screenplays before tackling novel-writing. Here’s what Heather learned during that transition.

I started my writing career as a television screenwriter, but my first love has always been books. So, after screenwriting for what seemed like an eternity to my young self (though I’d only been making a living at it for five years), I decided it was time to write a novel. Being a “seasoned professional,” I estimated I could develop a book idea and write a first draft in one year. After all, I already knew how to craft great stories. Novels simply used more words to tell those stories, right?

Oh, the naiveté of inexperience. I soon learned that more differentiates novels and screenplays than the number of words.

But let’s start with the similarities. I wasn’t totally wrong; many screenwriting skills do transfer to the process of writing novels.

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