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Promoting Your Great Creative Work

Daisy_green_blue_242467_lI've been working on publicizing and promoting my novel over the last month and I fancy I've learned a few things along the way.  I can't tell you for sure how successful the results have been, as my publisher gets sales numbers, not me, but I'm hearing from lots of people that they've bought the book and it seems my sales rank on Amazon is staying fairly consistent.  So I think things are going well.

Because I've been so focused on promoting the book lately, I thought it might be fun to talk about how I approached it, so herewith are my five best tips on how to publicize your creative work:

1.  Build first.  Please, please, please start working on your author's platform as you write.  You hate me for saying this now, but you'll thank me when the time comes to get your work out in the world and you have a built-in way to do it.  What does a platform entail these days?  Things like a blog, a presence on the social media outlet of your choice (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+).  Many people I come in contact with assume that they will write (or paint, or create in whatever way) and then work on all this stuff when they are ready to put the work out to the public.  Wrong.  If you do this, you'll be scrambling to catch up.

2.  Utilize contacts.  This is one reason the above advice comes in handy.  Because of my years of blogging, I had a built-in network of blogging buddies eager to support me.  (I love you all so much!  Thank you again!) When I called upon them to see if I could do a guest post or an interview, they leapt at the chance.  I'm finding this offline, as well.  The people who support me the most are those I've built relationships with--not only other writers, but friends at church and other locations as well.

3.  Be brave.  Don't be afraid to ask people for help.  Earlier this week, I was at a bookstore in a nearby town and the friend I was with suggested I ask about a book signing.  My first reaction was to shrink back a bit and start coming up with excuses why I shouldn't, but then I decided to just do it.  The reaction was mixed--the store is winding down from doing author events because they don't make money--but the woman was exceedingly friendly and we had a nice chat.  No harm done.

4.  Fill out forms.  There's a lot of this kind of thing as you sign up on Goodreads, create your Amazon Author page, and so on.  It's tedious, yes it is, but don't back away from it.  Forms are your friend as they will get your name out in more places.

5.  Expand your horizons.  Branch out a little bit.  There's places galore to experiment with.  I love Pinterest, for example.  Not really sure how much traffic it generates for me, but it sure is fun to hang out on.  (Check out my pin board on possible actresses to play Emma Jean.)  I'm also maintaining more of a presence on Google+ these days, seeing how that works. 

Those are the tips that occur to me as I look over what I've been doing the last month.  How about you?  How have you found success in promoting your work?

***Perhaps you might need a bit of help in creating that work at the moment.  My Get Your Novel Written Now class starts next week.  For me, there's nothing more fun than writing a novel, unless it's talking about writing a novel. Join us! 

Photo by Henkster.


An Interview You Can Hear

I've got another interview for you today.  It is at my friend Patty Bechtold's blog, Living Deep Studio.   I'm not exactly sure how I stumbled upon Patty--or maybe she stumbled upon me--but I am so glad I did.  Patty brings a deep and gentle respect for self-development and creativity to all her work.

And this interview is a bit different (that's a really cool thing about the publicity I've done for the book--it has sorted itself out to be quite varied in its content).  For one thing, it's in audio version so you can listen to the two of us as we talk.  And for another, we talked more about thematic stuff--creativity and spirituality as it relates to the novel and, well, life.

Give it a listen, won't you?


As The Hoopla Winds Down

I owe you guys a blog post.

I've been guest posting and interviewing all around the internet (thank you, everyone) and, indeed, I have one more interview coming up on Tuesday, one I'm very excited about.  But in the hoopla around my book release I've not spent a lot of time, here, at home base, except for brief posts directing you to other blogs.

I tell myself that a guest post or interview is still me on the page, it's just at another venue.

But still, it feels odd not to be spending as much time here.

And so on this Saturday morning, I will write a bit about where things stand.

My local book release party was Thursday night, the bookend to the virtual release party I hosted a week ago.  We held it on the second floor of one of my favorite local brewpubs and I had a blast.  I think at least 60 people came.  I sold out of all the books I had on hand, and took orders for more. I spilled wine all over everything at the book signing table, including three just-signed books, and several people in attendance got very, very drunk. 

And most of all, I felt like an author.  It's hard not to when you're sitting behind a table signing books.  I think this is a thing that I will grow into more, because I realize  even as I type this that I still have a bit of anxiety around the whole thing.  Stepping out with my novel feels very different than the other writing and writing-related work that I do.  It feels like I'm putting more of me, myself and I out there--which is kinda funny because I strive to do that all the time on this blog.

So maybe it's a matter of getting accustomed to different writing venues.  When I first started writing this blog, come to think of it, I was very shy about sharing it.  I remember telling my family that I'd started a blog and then saying, "But don't go read it yet."  Which is probably hard for you who have read me here regularly to believe.  And I remember even farther back to when I first started getting articles published in magazines how I'd never actually look at them in print.

All of which is odd for a writer, but I don't think I'm the only one who deals with this.   We writers spend so much time alone crafting words that it's a bit of a shock when we realize that others are actually reading them.  But then, that's the point of what we do.  It's just that it sometimes take so long to get our words out there that we get used to nobody reading them.

And getting used to readers reading my novel is a wonderful problem to have.  As far as I can tell by obsessively checking my Amazon sales rank, the novel is doing okay.  Lots of you have said you've purchased it--thank you so much--and as I said, I sold a lot in person.  So I'm happy.

I'm also ready to get back to my so-called normal life, like writing regular blog posts and being on time with critiques and responses to people.  Don't get me wrong, I'm loving everything that has happened, and I'll be talking about my novel in a variety of venues for the forseeable future.  But perhaps we can turn out attention to other things as well. I promise to be here more regularly.

Have you experienced anxiety when getting your words out to the public?  Does it vary with different genres?  I'd love to hear your response.  (And by the way, if you've commented recently and it didn't show up, I'm aware of the problem now, and I think I know how to deal with it, so comment away!)

(You can buy Emma Jean at all the usual outlets, by the way, and I'll be eternally grateful if you do.)


Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Publishing

Okay, it's not exactly everything, but it's a lot about what I learned in the process of getting Emma Jean out into the world.  And it is--you guessed it--another interview.  This one is over at Patrick Ross's blog, the Artist's Road.

I feel a bit smug about Patrick because I was one of the first to discover his blog, right after he returned from a cross-country road trip to interview creatives of all stripes.  He's shot right to the top with his blog, being chosen last year as a Top 10 Writer's Blog.  And it was all because of me discovering him.  Actually, we all know that is not in any way true.  It's because he writes an awesome blog, which always features thoughtful posts.

So head on over there today and read my thoughts on all aspects of the current publishing world, including the big New York houses, indie presses, and self-publishing.

And by the way, I just found out that I'm having trouble with comments going into a spam file.  I kept wondering why I wasn't getting any comments and then I found a ton of them stashed there.  So if you've commented in the last couple weeks and haven't seen it post, that's why.  I now know to look in the spam file while Typepad works to fix this problem, so please, please, please feel free to comment again!

 


Quick note about comments: I just realized that most of the comments that have been left in the past few days are inadvertently going into a Spam file. Thanks to Zan Marie for noticing that her comment didn't post and letting me know. I'm wondered why I wasn't getting many comments! I'm working with Typepad to fix this, so please, comment away!


Greater Thoughts About Writing

Estock_commonswiki_126921_lI've been thinking a lot about the novel I'm writing lately.  Thinking, not writing, because with the demands of the Emma Jean book release and attendant promotion, there's not been a lot of time to write.  I knew this going in and decided to give myself a free pass on working on the novel this month. 

The thinking is going well, thank you.  Just yesterday I uncovered a major issue with the novel and starting figuring out ways to fix it.   This is all going on in my head.  Well, there's a little bit of process writing around it, but no official work on the actual novel.

Along with thinking about my novel, I've been thinking about thinking.  For a couple of reasons.

First, I'm taking a class at my church and one of the things I've learned is this: a greater thought always trumps (pretty sure that's not how they put it exactly) a lesser thought.  In other words, if you truly allow a greater thought in to your packed brain, it will ultimately dissolve the lesser thought.

To me, a greater thought is one that speaks to our higher nature and knowledge.  The one that knows you truly are an unlimited being.  The one that connects you to your concept of the divine. So, you can replace I'll never be a published novelist with something like I am happily published now.   Like that.

I know, I know, this is basic stuff, Affirmations 101.  But the twist for me is that you don't have to spend a lifetime uncovering and eradicating all the bad thoughts and limiting beliefs we harbor.  This, for me, is huge, seeing as how there are huge industries built around getting rid of those beliefs.  And a lot of us hold onto a limiting belief that its our limiting beliefs that are holding us back.

But the good news is that you really can change your mind.  You can replace a lesser thought with a greater thought.  And that brings us to Reason #2 that I'm thinking about thinking: I'm reading Deepak Chopra's new book, Super Brain.  In it he and his co-author, Rudy Tanzi, talk about how to maximize the brain's functions, utilizing the huge leaps in our understanding of brain science.   They talk about reshaping the brain, saying, "It means being more mindful of your own thoughts and feelings and becoming more proactive in taking charge of your brain."

Pa dum.

Being mindful of your own thoughts and more proactive about it is exactly what I'm talking about here.  And honestly?  Taking the attitude that I would find and fix the problems with my novel if I just stayed open, rather than grumbling that something was wrong and I probably would never figure it out is exactly why all my brilliant thoughts have occurred.

I'm still working my way through Super Brain, but I really like it so far.  My buddy Deepak (don't know him from Adam, but I follow him on Twitter, so, you know, that means we're friends) is good at equating the science with the spiritual point of view, which, of course, I love. And the overwhelming message of the book is so positive--that we can retrain our brains for maximum performance at any age.

All of my thinking about thinking is still a work in progress, so I'd love your thoughts.  How do you maximize the old noodle?

**And if you would like to buy my published novel, click here.  And thank you so much in advance.

Image by Wyglif.


Another Wonderful Interview About Emma Jean

As you may have noticed lately, I've been fortunate to have a variety of guest posts and interviews having to do with the release of my novel, Emma Jean's Bad Behavior.  And today is no different.  Today I am featured over at Zan Marie's blog, In the Shade of the Cherry Tree.

Zan Marie and I met a couple years ago now as the result of a blog hop or a blog carnival or a blog fiesta--the exact event eludes me, but no matter, as we've been fast blogging buddies ever since.  I always love stopping in on her blog and reading about her ongoing writing process and I so appreciate her interview with me, which I very much enjoyed, and I encourage you to head on over there and read it.  I talked quite a bit about the submission process and what it takes to get a novel published.

Thank you, Zan Marie!


A Guest Post on Finding True North

I'm directing you away from my blog today, in order to read a guest post I wrote over at An Angel's Share.  This is the blog of my dear friend, Terry Price.  Terry is a wonderful writer and also a writing teacher and coach.  He and I met through the Writer's Loft at MTSU.  We used to be co-directors of the program and now are both mentors there.

The post is a little bit of a departure from the  Emma Jean-themed posts I've been doing for others in that I talk about how I got clear on what it was I really wanted to do and found my own true north.  I hope you'll check it out.

Come back tomorrow for details on a cool interview that I did!

And don't forget that you can buy Emma Jean here.


10 Ways to Ground Yourself for Writing

Planet_earth_australia_264109_lThis has been an exciting week for me, what with the release of my debut novel, Emma Jean's Bad Behavior.  I've been consciously working on staying open to receive the blessings of this event.  I must admit, though, at times I've felt myself flying high, as if I'm no longer anchored to the earth.

Or the present.

Or my life.

Or my writing.

Excitement and joy are good, yes they are, but when they cause you to spin about in the air above everything that is happening in the real world, something must be done.  And that something is grounding.

You gotta get yourself back to the present moment, back into the energy of your body, back into your fertile brain.  This is especially important for writers, because how you can put words on the page if your brain is spinning out of control into the stratosphere?

Luckily, there are easy fixes for being ungrounded (if that's a word).   I list them here, with the obvious ones first, followed by some not-so-obvious:

1.  Journal.  This is the number one way I find my path back to myself.  For writers, it's a no-brainer.  Open that journal and write. 

2.  Meditate.  Yeah, yeah, I know.  But at least try closing your eyes and taking a few deep breaths.

3.  Prayer.  Also a good route.  Ask the universe for help in getting back into your body.

4.  Walk.  A reliable mind-clearer.

5.  Drink wine.  I don't know why this works, but it does.   A nice glass of red will bring you back down to earth.  This is why I always want a glass of wine after I've flown somewhere.

6.  Cook/eat.  Something about reconnecting with the most elemental of urges--hunger--gets us back on solid ground.

7.  Get outside.  Hug a tree.  Lie on the grass. Make a snowball.  Get outside and enjoy nature.

8.  Go barefoot.  Especially when you're indulging in #7.  The earthers (not to be confused with birthers) believe that connecting with the energy of the earth has major positive health implications.

9.  Take a nap.  Nothing like a quick snooze to reorient your brain.

10.  Soak in water.  Did you know that water used to be considered a health cure?  I worked on a book that had a whole chapter on hydrotherapy and was fascinated.  Water is good for a variety of things (be sure to drink it, too) but a hot bath can soak away other people's energies and bring you right back into yourself.

Do you need to get yourself grounded at times?  What's your favorite way to do it?

***My novel is now for sale!  Click here to find links to all the major online outlets.  And thank you everyone for your support!

Photo by monique72.


It's Emma Jean's Release Day!

Watch out, world, Emma Jean is here!

Today is the official release day of my debut novel, Emma Jean's Bad Behavior.  I promise we'll get back to regular programming (i.e., posts on writing and creativity and the writer's life) but for now indulge me while I celebrate.

In truth, the novel has been available at AmazonPowell's and Barnes and Noble for awhile now and I know some people have already ordered it and received it (thank you!).  But February 12th has been the official pub date for quite some time now, so it seems appropriate to mark it.

In case you haven't heard, I'm hosting a Virtual Release party later on today, with three signed copies of the novel and one admittance to my Get Your Novel Written Now class as prizes. Join me!

So far I've had an interview (it ended up actually being with Emma Jean) at Square-Peg People and a guest post at Always Well Within. I've got another guest post and two more interviews lined up for next week and I'll share the links on the appropriate days. 

I'll tell you the one thing I've learned through this release and that is how wonderful, gracious, and supportive people are--especially the people I've met through this blog.  You guys are wonderful!  This novel release is the fruition of a life-long dream and while it's been a bit nerve-wracking along the way, I remind myself how lucky I am every day.

So thank you to everyone for your support and if you do read the book and like it, please tell your friends.  Also, feel free to write review on any of the bookseller's sites!


Countdown to Release and Life Lessons from Emma Jean

First of all, I've got a guest post over at Always Well Within today.  If you don't know Sandra's blog, you should.  She writes about spiritual and personal development matters in a way that always makes me feel calm and peaceful.  Just going to her space centers me. 

The topic of my guest post there is 10 Life Lessons From Emma Jean.  Sandra suggested the title and I immediately loved it.  And then I stressed a lot a bit over the writing of it, because I loved the topic so much and I wanted it to be right.  It ended up being a lot of fun to write, once I got over my angst, and I'm happy with the result.  I'd love it if you checked it out.

And, tomorrow is the big day.  It is the official release day of Emma Jean's Bad Behavior (although the book is already available everywhere, except in the Kindle version which I can't quite figure out).  I'm celebrating with a Virtual Release party, which you can still sign up for, and I'll be back tomorrow with a post about the release process.

Please go read Sandra's blog!

 


Interview with Emma Jean (Yup, Emma Jean)

I've got a series of interviews and guest posts scheduled for the next couple weeks, all of them celebrating the release of my new novel, Emma Jean's Bad Behavior.

The first of these is today!  And I couldn't be happier that it is with my dear friend Karen Caterson, who blogs at Square-Peg People.  Check it out I think you'll enjoy it.  Karen has a whole series of wonderful interviews with Square-Peg types and I got to one of them....except that bossy ole Emma Jean herself came in and took over the interview.

Let me know what you think!

And don't forget to sign up for the Emma Jean Virtual Release Party.  There will be prizes.


Where Do Ideas Come From?

I've been doing some interviews (I'll have links soon--like tomorrow soon)for the release of Emma Jean, and one of the things that comes up is how I got the idea for the novel.  I always have to stop and think about this because there's not one clear light bulb moment.  It was more like an aggregation of ideas that reached critical mass.  And then, voila, Emma Jean burst upon the scene.

Ideas are mysterious.

And to me, they involve a process.  This + this + this + this = THIS.  And then there you are, writing a novel. Or a story. Or an essay. Letters-blue-isolated-109051-l

But to get to THIS you have to be mindful. 

Aware. 

Present.

An observer.

Because if you're not, you might miss one of the thises.

Ideas are like money, they come when you already have some and aren't worrying about them.  Thus the best way to get more ideas is to have ideas in the first place.  Yet another one of the wonderful paradoxes of the writer's life.

But there are ways to encourage the getting of ideas to start with, and I list them here:

Ask questions.  When you see that guy walking down the street wearing a skirt (this is actually not the most unusual of sights in my town) ask yourself, why?  Did he just break up with his girl friend and is trying to embarrass her?  Or make himself feel worse?  Does he come from a long line of skirt-wearing men?  All the "W" questions are good for this.

Daydream.  Stuck at a traffic light?  Make up a story about something you see.  Waiting at the doctor's office?  Look at your fellow patients and begin to wonder about their lives.

Write ideas down.  Ideas respond to coddling.  Maybe you have the nudge of an idea but it's not in the least fully formed.  Write it down anyway. 

Keep an ideas journal.  I throw all my various ideas into one journal where they breed, I swear it.

Brainstorm.  This is helpful when you have a specific idea you need (as for a scene or chapter). Get crazy on the page.  Set a timer and write down things as fast as they come to you.

That's it.  That's all I got for now.  Because, as I mentioned earlier, ideas are mysterious and nobody really truly knows from whence they come.

Do you know where your ideas come from?  How do you coddle them?

**Next Tuesday is the release of my novel, Emma Jean's Bad Behavior!  Join me for the release party, just fill out the form here to get the info.  (I'm just collecting your email to make it easier to get you the information--no spam from these hands.)

Photo by float.

 


A Couple of Quick Reminders

Just popping in to remind you of a couple of things:

This is the day that the Next Big Thing taggers post! As a reminder, I answered 10 questions about my WIP last Wednesday and tagged four other writers to answer the questions today.  Go visit them!  Here they are:

Candace White

Leisa Hammett

Sharon Henry-Jones

Mandy Webster

Beverly Army Williams

NOTE: Some of these authors may choose to post their answers a different day, but this is the day I'm choosing to introduce them to you.  So it's a win-win.

And, the author who started it all by tagging me:

Reavis Wortham

There's still time to sign up for my Virtual Book Release Party.  I really want to give you prizes, like signed copies of my novel and one free admission to my Get Your Novel Written Now class.  But you gotta sign up so I can send you the information.  Click here to do so.

And now, we can return to regular programming.


Process Writing

I mentioned process writing recently in another post but I want to look at it more in depth today.  Why?  I'll tell you why.  Because I've realized that nearly all of my product writing has its origins in process writing.  As in, blog posts, articles, and notes for scenes flowing from my pen.  As in, I start out in process writing and suddenly I'm in product writing. Fountain_pencil_writing_238392_l

But first, a refresher.  I'm borrowing these terms from Roseanne Bane, who discusses them in detail in her book, Around the Writer's Block.  Reading her book has solidified the efficacy of these same habits in my own life and so I share them with you.  Bane says that the path to subverting writer's block on a regular basis takes three forks: process writing, product writing, and self care.  Process writing is the kind of writing you do that supports product writing, which is your writing writing.  That novel or memoir or article you want to finish.  Process writing is journaling, morning pages, free writing, not sitting down with intention to work on your current project.  Self care is just that--getting enough sleep and exercise and eating right as well.

It's easy to discount process writing.  Easy to think you have limited time to spend on your writing anyway, so why waste it on navel-gazing or rant-filled journaling? Easy to believe that free writing just results in a bunch of meaningless words on the page.  But I've learned that none of that is true.  Process writing, if done in a deep, attentive manner can be the springboard not only for your product writing but for creative ideas and visions as well.

My process writing occurs first thing in the morning because that's when I like to do it.  I feel better all day long if I've written right after I get up. I used to call this habit writing morning pages, but I don't any longer because I like to think I'm going deeper than that.  There's nothing wrong with morning pages, mind you, it's just that mine too often devolved into a to-do list or on-the-page worrying about what I needed to get done that day.  Yeah, left to my own devices I can get numbingly boring to myself.

These days, I've been practicing a different kind of technique called soul writing, popularized by Janet Conner.  I'm not an expert in this kind of writing by any stretch of the imagination and I'm sure that the way I practice it is probably different in some ways than that which Janet propounds.  She recommends getting yourself into a theta state by activating the five senses.  You've got touch and sight going already with the writing, but you might also want to put on some soothing music and light a scented candle.  As for the taste, well, I always have a cup of coffee and a glass of water nearby anyway.

But here's what really makes it work for me: instead of just talking to yourself on the page, you find a higher power to chat with.  This can be anything that works for you and may likely come to you as you write.  Janet calls hers The Voice.  I call mine God, and when I say God I mean the God within each of us and everything on the planet, not the mythical guy up in the sky that wreaks havoc when he feels like it.  The other key aspect of soul writing is to ask a lot of questions.  What you're doing is opening yourself up the channels for your creativity to come through, and asking questions facilitates this.

What happens to me is I'll ask a question or remember that I wanted to write a blog post that day and suddenly I'm doing it.  I'll think of an idea for my WIP and whoosh I'm writing a scene.  There's something about this kind of writing, this willingness to be open, that makes the creative juices flow.  This post, for instance, was written by hand in my journal a few mornings ago. 

So that's my rant on process writing.  If you're stuck or feeling blah about your writing, I recommend you try it.  And please check back and let us know how it's going.  Do you do any kind of process writing on a regular basis?  Leave a comment and let's discuss.

***My favorite kind of product writing is novel writing and my debut happens next week.  Join me for the Emma Jean Virtual Release Party!  There will be prizes.  More information here.

Image by brokenarts.


One Technique for Overcoming Writer's Block

Gray_brick_block_220245_lAh, our old friend writer's block.  It can take so many shapes and sizes, just like fear, which it is, of course, based on.  And just as writer's block can take a gazillion different forms, so, too, can its cure.  Which is why you should try a variety of strategies if you are hit with writer's block, whether you're procrastinating writing the next scene in your novel or haven't been able to work on your memoir in years.  Here's one possible approach.

A friend told me this tip in regards to getting over procrastination and getting things done (clearing out clutter, anyone?) in non-writing arenas of life.  But it will work just as well for you (yes, you) with your writing block.

Here's the crux of it: micro action.

All you have to do is commit to one small (tiny, even) action each day.  Do that and call it good.  Really.  Consider it done.  You've accomplished your goal.

Here's a non-writing example.  I've got an upstairs that has somehow accumulated quite a bit of clutter that I'd like to clean up.  But I'm busy.  I've got a book launch coming up and I'm doing publicity for that while maintaining this blog and continuing to do client work and teach.  And plus, I hate clearing clutter.  I get confused and overwhelmed really fast.  Like five minutes fast.  So here's my micro action: deal with one piece of paper or item per day.  That's it.  That's all I have to do.  The other day I picked up a piece of paper and put it in the recycling bag.  And I had met my goal.

 I'm not sure what the experts say about why this works, but here's why I think it does: because it gets you used to doing whatever it is you're avoiding.  And then you realize it's not the big scary monster you think it is.  When you don't do something, it tends to loom large and take on proportions way bigger than reality.  The other thing that happens is that you trick yourself into it.  That one piece of paper uncovers another that I deal with in the moment and then another and another and before you know it, the shelf is cleaned off.

So let's apply this to writing.

If you're seriously blocked (and really, any block is a serious block because we writers are born to write and when we're not writing life is not good) set yourself a micro action goal of writing one sentence.  If you're seriously seriously blocked, maybe your goal will be one word.  That's your accomplishment.  Write your word or sentence and you are done for the day.  Or maybe you'll set the goal to write for one minute.  Or five minutes.   I'd be willing to bet serious money that eventually--way sooner than you think at this moment--that one sentence will turn into a paragraph, which will then turn into a scene. And you'll be writing again.  Because here's the deal: you've established yourself a habit.  And once something is habitual, it's not scary anymore.  (Unless you're smoking.  Or drinking too much.  Then it gets frightening.)

Here's a tip--don't become an overachiever, at least when you first start this process.  For instance, I'm using this process to re-commit to a regular walking routine after injuring my knee. If I so much as walk out the door I've accomplished my goal.  But for me, getting outside (step away from the computer...) is the hardest thing to do, so usually, once I'm walking, I'm quite happy.  I noticed last week on a walk that my knee was starting to get a bit tired.  And my reaction was to start coercing myself to do more.  Telling myself I hadn't gone far enough.  Berating myself for being lazy.  But then I remembered--I'd already accomplished my goal.  And I headed for home.   Because of this attitude and my micro goal,  I now look forward to walking.

So if you're struggling to make forward motion on a big project, try this micro action technique.  And then report back after your novel is on the best-seller list.

Have you ever tried something like this to get yourself going again?  What were the results?

 **By the way, speaking of book launches, wouldn't you like to celebrate mine with me?  Click here for the details.

Photo by Rotorhead.


When A Character Morphs

Collage-morph-weird-6491132-hThe protagonist in my WIP just morphed.  When I started writing her, she was one way and now suddenly she's another.  (With the demands of launching my novel, I haven't had the time to actually put these changes into effect, but I've taken lots of notes.  And I think about it all the time.) It's a subtle but important change and it makes a big difference in how she views the world and reacts to the people around her. 

This also happened while I was writing Emma Jean.  In that novel, there's a character named Ava who's a young whippersnapper of a middle-schooler--sassy, smart, and slightly scarred.  She's one of my favorite characters in the book.  Yet she started out as a shy 5-year-old with little personality.  I well remember the night I went to my critique group and someone gently asked me if it was really necessary for the 5-year-old Ava to be in the story.  The next day, I boarded a plane to L.A., and as I did, the current Ava sprang to full, glorious life.  This version of her was the character who was meant to be--I just hadn't discovered her yet.

And so, too, with Jemima--while I know a lot about the externals of her life and what happened to her I don't yet know her inner landscape or her full backstory.  I also don't feel I've yet discovered her full voice.  So this recent change is welcome.  It tells me I'm getting closer to her, that I'm starting to know her better and it reassures me that the rest will come in due time.

But how do you actually deal with it when a character morphs like this?  Here are some suggestions:

--Don't panic.  Usually when it happens, it's a good thing.  Yes, there will be unexpected rewriting and changing things around.  But it's going to make your novel a richer, deeper book, because it's a sign that you understand your character at a new level.

--Take good notes.  Lots of them.  This is a good time for free writing to get a handle on the new shape of the character. 

--Write in "as if" form.   If you're in first draft mode, keep moving on.  Don't stop to rewrite everything that has changed because of the character morphing.  Instead, write as if the character changes have already been made.  This works most of the time, though once in awhile the changes are so profound that you have to go back.  Just don't get mired in rewriting!

--Unpack your story.  Once you've finished the first draft and it's time to make the character changes, you've got to make room for them.  The common metaphor for this is unpacking, emptying a space to put in new stuff.  Go paragraph by paragraph and pull them apart to insert new material.

--Take heart.  You may be dismayed by the character changes that appear to you, especially if they are big ones.  You may be tempted to ignore these ideas.  But don't--that pisses the muse off.  And besides, these are the very ideas that will make your novel the story you want it to be.

How have you dealt with a character morphing?  Please leave a comment.

**Speaking of characters, Emma Jean launches on February 12th, and I'm celebrating with a virtual release party, complete with prizes!  Find out more and sign up here.

Photo by shannonkringen, used under Creative Commons agreement.