Sunday, April 5, 2015

Happy April!

I hope everyone is having a lovely Easter weekend, whether you celebrate it or not. Just wanted to pop in quickly and let everyone know that I will no longer be blogging here. I've officially moved over to my new website at grleblanc.com

I'll still be blogging over there, but probably not often. Some posts may be closed to comments as well, depending on the nature of the post. I just can't keep up with it all, and I'd like to start limiting my online time.  

If you're also on Twitter, I'd love to connect with you there! It's where I spend most of my social media time. I'm at https://twitter.com/Gisele_1169  Thank you! ❤

Monday, March 2, 2015

Allowing Yourself to be Bad

A Guest Post by Mona Leigh @readingfrk 

Some time ago, I jotted down a short piece about my early writing attempts, told myself I needed to let it chill before proofing it, then did a bit of traveling. The thing is, while I was enjoying my vacation, that short piece haunted me. Something was wrong with it and I couldn't put my finger on it, but I vowed to revisit it as soon as I got home.

So what did I do? I ignored it. And kept ignoring it. Just like my early writing attempts, ignoring the problem was easier than figuring it out and fixing it.

Then one morning, the truth hit me. I'd written the post determined to give an objective critique of my early work as compared to my current manuscript, but that's complete BS. No matter how much I've learned since those early days, I still have a soft spot for the first words I committed to paper despite how awful they are. We all do.

Those early works were my opportunity to use the most god-awful, stilted, flowery prose I could think of without feeling embarrassed. I was too under-informed at the time to draw a comparison between my poor writing and that of respected authors. Under-informed, you say? Yes, under-informed.

I knew the basics of writing, and despite my hillbilly accent and lazy vocabulary, I have a decent grasp on grammar thanks to some wonderful teachers. So what was the problem? I didn't know how to wring emotion from fewer, simpler words. I hadn't taken any writing classes, nor had I studied or dissected my favorite books to understand why I enjoyed them.

So I began taking online classes where my writing would be scrutinized by instructors and classmates. Although most of the feedback was polite, the blunt, critical responses were the ones that helped the most. They hurt my feelings, but pointed out problems that were obvious to the reader yet invisible to me. As I studied and listened to the feedback, it became easier to see the problems for myself. While the polite critiques were soothing to my ego and kept me from giving up, they did little to further my skills.

Now, when I read those early short stories or manuscripts, I cringe and wonder what the hell I was thinking. But then I let it go because those stories served their purpose. They allowed me to make mistakes and grow. I should probably take this time to apologize to my beta readers for subjecting them to such cruel and unusual punishment. They're still speaking to me, so I guess the scars weren't permanent.

If you write, allow yourself to write badly. Give yourself permission to use god-awful, stilted, flowery prose, but don't be satisfied with it. Take classes and seek out honest critiques without responding with "Yeah, but...." Develop a thick skin, accept criticism with grace, and whatever you do, write, write, write.

When you read your work (and that of others), do so with a critical eye. Look for the flaws, the misused words, the flood of commas (my personal failing), and the purple prose. Hack it to bits and rephrase it until it flows and sounds natural. Never allow yourself to think you've learned everything there is to know about writing.

My skills aren't where I would like them to be, but they're a lot closer than they were five years ago. I'm happier with my characters and plots, and I can actually sit down and write an outline now. Something I wouldn't have considered in the beginning.

So keep at it and try not to get discouraged. If you find yourself teetering on the brink, take time to read the most horribly written book you can find. Mentally work your magic on it, rephrase the sentences and turn it into a better book....in your mind. Once you've done that with a couple of pages, toss it away. That bit of editing should give you a boost—knowing that you can make a published book better. And if you can do it to someone else's work, you can do it on your own manuscript.

Happy writing!

 Mona Leigh  The product of an unorthodox upbringing, Mona put the rebel in rebellious. A tomboy who played schoolyard baseball and hiked barefoot through the woods, she also played piano and read voraciously. Married at sixteen, she did unladylike jobs such as auto body repair and mechanic work, but after two kids and a divorce, she set out to change her life. With the feminist movement barely underway, she worked in various male dominated jobs where she met her current husband. Another daughter was soon added to the family.

Mona worked full time and went to college at night, studying everything from drafting to nursing before settling on accounting. She loves current rock/pop music, reading, writing YA and NA fiction, being outdoors, and fast cars. The greatest compliment she ever received was when she overheard her grandson's friend whisper, "Dude, your grandmother's cool." 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Weather, Word Counts and Other Stuff

Wow, Thursday already, and it's almost March. Spring can't get here fast enough, seriously. This is what it looks like at the office where my husband works.


This white window, yeah, it's all snow! And half of all the windows are like this right now. 


This is what side roads looked like a couple days ago. It's a little better now. But, how about that sunset, right?


And this is what my street looks like from my office window. Can you say crazy? 


And as bad as all this is, it's worse in Prince Edward Island. So yeah, spring could arrive anytime and you'd get no complaints from me. lol

But enough about the dang weather, what else is new? 

WRITING STUFF

Well, I'm still working on my YA novel. I didn't have a huge writing week last week -- ended up with 1883 words, which is still a whole lot better than nothing! This week so far, I'm at 2,147 and for the entire month I'm at 9,136 words so I am REALLY happy about that. 


I've also decided to push myself a bit more and, if I can reach 700 words a day, for 5 days a week, I figure I should be able to finish this first draft by the end of April. Oh, and it will be a VERY messy draft, but that's okay; that's what editing is for, right? I'm at 47,458 words and I think at 70k, the entire story should be there, at least the bare bones of it.

Speaking of bare bones for a story, I bought the kindle edition of: The Plot Skeleton (Writing Lessons from the Front Book 1) by Angela Hunt. 


Now, I have to warn you, it's a tiny book--I got through it within a couple of hours--but that's partly the attraction for me. I find that so many structuring and plotting books overwhelm me, but this book is so streamlined and focused. I LOVE the simplicity of it and can see myself going through it over and over again. And, it was only 2.99 for the kindle version. You can't beat that!

Anyhow, will definitely be using it from now on when working on my stories.

On submissions, got a no from the haiku one I was waiting on -- but sent one to a different market this  morning. Still haven't heard back on two submissions I sent to two different markets. One a short story for children, and the other short poetry.

It's been 7 and 8 months, so I'm going to start shopping them around. Think I've waiting long enough--and neither market is answering status queries, so I figure it's time to move on.  

Movies and Books

On the movie front, last week we saw FIFTY SHADES OF GREY. For the record, I was not even able to get through the first book, but there wasn't a whole lot else we hadn't seen, and okay, I was curious. It was okay -- lots of humorous moments, which certainly did not come off as humorous in the book. But it was entertaining. :)

This week we saw STILL ALICE. And, wow, I can certainly see why Julianne Moore won an Oscar for her performance. It was a beautifully poignant film. Really well put together. Next one up will probably be FOCUS. It's not high on my list, but hubby is looking forward to seeing it.

As far as books go, I haven't read a whole lot. Just started THE GRASS IS GREENER, which is the final title in the BELLES trilogy, by Jen Calonita. That's about it!

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend! Stay warm and safe!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Happy Blizzard Day & My January Update

I can't believe it's already mid-February! How did that happen? Hope everyone had a nice Valentine's Day. Been meaning to post here for the last two weeks--since I ended my social media break--but the days kept getting away from me. 

WORD COUNTS AND SUBMISSIONS

I really enjoyed the break. It was very calming for the brain, and although I didn't get as much writing as I'd hoped, I still had a productive month. I did manage to write almost 3,450 words during the last week though, which brought  my monthly word count to 7,239. Not bad for a slow writer like me! 

So far, my word count for February is at 5,000. Would be nice to hit the 10k. That doesn't happen very often. 

Last week, I also submitted several poems for children to a few of the Carus Magazines, and I'm still waiting back to hear on a short story I submitted to a Chinese market from about eight months ago. I've got one haiku submission out too.

Oh, and speaking of haiku, I hit the 100 published mark! Well, 99 haiku and one tanka-ish poem, but it's close enough for me. lol

READING AND OTHER STUFF

During my social media break I also ended up cooking and cleaning, and reading a lot. I read one NA title which I won't name because I found it a bit disappointing. It was a follow-up and the first book was amazing, but this one just didn't hit the mark. It was from the guy's POV and the voice just didn't feel realistic AT ALL. The entire story felt contrived and the characters acted like spoiled kids. Was really a let down. 

Right now I'm reading WINTER WHITE, by Jen Calonita. It's the sequel to BELLES. I'm enjoying it, although sometimes the editing feels like it might have been rushed a little. But still, a really good read. 

I'm also reading Stephen King's ON WRITING again. Love that book!

Oh, I applied to do some work-for-hire (nonfiction for kids) and am keeping fingers crossed on that, too!

MOVIES

We saw JUPITER ASCENDING, which was okay, but I have to admit, I was expecting more. Overall, it felt like a movie that was just trying too hard. There was nothing very original about it, and some of it was just kinda silly. 

We also saw KINGSMAN. I'm not usually into spy movies, but I still enjoyed it. Taron Egerton really did a great job, too. 

Honestly, from what's I've seen lately, I think the movie I enjoyed the most was PADDINGTON. It was absolutely delightful! So well done and lots of touching moments. I loved it. 

TODAY

This is what I woke up to today. Don't think we'll be venturing out too far. Not counting what has fallen today, so far this winter, I think we're at an accumulation of six feet of snow. And we're expecting an additional 12 inches before the day ends. 

The wind is also picking up and it's just a white haze at the window right now. Hot chocolate anyone? Anyhow, if anyone is still reading, thank you for putting up with my ramblings. Happy February and I hope wherever you are that you are warm and cozy! :)





And a quick update. Here's my hubby working hard to make a path for the dog in the backyard.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Let's Get a Little Woo Woo: How to Use Angel Guidance for Your Writing

I wrote this one for our group blog a while back, but that blog is no longer running, so I figured I'd repost here. Hope it inspires a few people to try it out. 


Photo by @katiel.hoffman at http://www.dotspin.com/photo/24498

I wasn’t sure at first if I wanted to share my thoughts about divine guidance. I never know if people are going to look at me oddly if I say that I believe in angels, but I’ve noticed recently that more and more people talk about them. 

Besides, even though they are nondenominational, virtually all religions recognize angels, so I think it’s safe to say that one is not in the minority if they believe in their existence.   

I think of angels as energy beings, each one an extension of divine source, operating on a different frequency--sort of like how you can tune into different stations on a radio. The Universe is the radio while each angel is a different channel. 

This really isn’t as far-fetched as it sounds since quantum science proves that everything around us is vibrating energy and that everything vibrates at different frequencies, even thoughts and colors.  

Okay, so what does this have to do with writing, you ask? Well, let’s discuss the energy being known as Archangel Gabriel. 

Gabriel is known for both nurturing and protective roles, which is why she is sometimes depicted as male and sometimes female. Gender identification is mostly symbolic since angels are non-physical beings, so how you envision Gabriel is entirely up to you. 

And, although all angels are thought of as messengers, Gabriel is considered the messenger of messengers, which is why it is not surprising that she assists those who work in communication and creative expression. 

Not only can she open the doors to new opportunities, but she can help inspire, motivate, and nudge people forward when they are struggling to complete creative projects. In essence, she can be thought of as your very own personal writing coach. 

I even have an oracle card with her picture taped to my computer monitor and I’ve asked her to stay with me permanently. I welcome her guidance and help in all aspects of my writing. The card serves as a visual reminder that she is always near if I need her assistance. 

The card reads: Archangel Gabriel: "Make time to write down your thoughts in a journal, or pen an article or book."



Part of Doreen Virtue's ARCHANGEL ORACLE CARD set. 

So, if you feel like you’re struggling with your writing, if you deal with self-doubts and procrastination, why not get a little woo woo, and ask Gabriel for her help? It really is as simple as that.  

Have you ever experienced divine guidance in any of your creative projects? If so, I’d love to hear all about it! 


Further reading:

Heal Your Life: Are You a Writer, Actor or Dancer? Archangel Gabriel can help you!

Spirit Library: Archangel Gabriel

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