Finally, Mark Coker produces relevant and interesting industry content on the Smashword.com blog, which can be found here. His most recent posting about the Indie Author Manifesto is brilliant writing. It is loaded with talking points and culminates in 10 self-evident truths. For an example of what I have done, you can find me on Smashwords here:
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Every High School has their social outcasts. The band nerds, the math geeks, the chess club, the girl that chews her hair, but at Butler High, even the creepy nose picker in the chess club is more popular than Caleo Anima. No matter what he did, his pale skin, snow white hair, and piercing blue eyes always made him an easy target. He used to think that the only way things could get worse would be if someone found out that he was gay, but that isn’t even the tip of the iceberg of problems after a mysterious stranger shows up and changes Caleo’s life forever.
Hidden amongst our society, a secret and magical race of people known as ‘Leeches’, have been engaging in civil war for decades. Both sides are desperately searching for a weapon with unlimited power that will give them the advantage they need to rule their world. This wouldn’t mean anything to Caleo, except for one problem…He is that weapon!
Forget making it through High School. Caleo has bigger problems! As the search for him goes on, the world is quickly crumbling around him. He’s now fighting for his life and the life of what little family he has left. With the help of new friends, he has little time to try and master his newly found powers as he tries to figure out who he can trust, who is trying to use him, and who just wants him dead. One wrong step and being the awkward pale outcast will be the least of his worries.
What if you knew the exact date and time the world will end, what would you do?Sam Tucker was faced with that dilemma when he began getting visions of the Earth’s demise. Luckily for him, he was able to save his family and as many people as he could before the tragic event occurred, and he did so with the help of unknown visitors. With Earth now destroyed, Sam, his family, and thousands of other lucky survivors must live the rest of their lives on a faraway planet in a Dome that simulates life on Earth. But Sam’s mind can’t seem to rest as a few questions arise. Why did the aliens save them? How did they know about Earth’s sure fate? And exactly what are they hiding?
Emma Tucker begged for an escape from her boring life but never in a million years did she think it would come at the destruction of Earth. Living on a new planet and finding it difficult to get rid of her rebellious habits, Emma finds herself making friends with a member of the alien race and it soon develops into an unexplainable love; a love that is more dangerous than she could ever imagine. While her father is searching for his own truths, she has no idea that she is stumbling on a truth of her own.
Told from the point of view of both Sam and Emma, author Nova Sparks takes readers on a journey to discover love, fate, faith, truth, and the mystery of the DOME!
I write, I write, and then I write some more. Sometimes I take breaks and don’t write for a bit, but then I start writing again. I have a very simple process, I suppose you might say. I like to drink lots of coffee and put words together so as to give shape to the world that I take in throughout the day and though all the days past. Like most writers, I read a lot, and sometimes I find myself crafting something that comes out a bit more like something that I have read than I would have expected. There you have it.
My absolute rule is that I never write less than 1,000 words at a sitting, and I try to sit down as often as I can. My exception to this is when I get something of an itchy feeling in my brain and I know in my gut that I cannot work on fiction at a given moment. At those times I allow myself to sit down and write poetry. That usually seems to work like a dose of extra-strength caustic drain cleaner. All the crap gets flushed out, the pipes get cleaned, and the waters start to flow again. Most of the time this works.
I love to write flash fiction and “prosetry” on a regular basis, as it keeps me from getting overly flowery with my language. I love economy of expression, especially when it can be hard, gritty and abrasive without being explicit, vulgar, or cheap. I had a professor during my undergraduate work in philosophy who was absolute death on non-essentials, and he left a mark on me. Give it to me straight. Tell me what is going on. If I rely upon symbolism, I try to make it powerful, or at the very least succinct. Sometimes it works.
When I get on a roll and start writing like mad, I try to make hay while the sun shines, as the old saying goes. I wrote a 70,000 word novella last year in just a few days this way. I was taking prednisone for a bronchial infection at the time, and it gave me loads of energy, kept me awake at nights, and got me up early in the mornings. The result was a rather cohesive (albeit strange) story. My agent is still trying to find a home for that little devil.
During these writing benders I like to eat apples in the mornings and stale pretzels in the evenings. When I am done, I cap the session with a very dry martini and try to sleep. I will take walks with my dogs to clear my head and I listen to Hoagy Carmichael and Smashing Pumpkins to get me ready for the next session.
I find myself silently muttering about interesting things that I see taking place, and this is usually where the writing really begins. I might see a really dirty car pull up, the door open, and an angry man get out, shouting at his companion something about a sandwich. I might start saying “gimme’ my damn sammich…damn sammich…gimme gimme damn sammich…” over and over to myself as I listen to similar words coming out of his mouth. I then start to make up a story about why it was that someone else had his sandwich. What kind of sandwich? Was it partially eaten? Was it rancid? Was it stolen? What kind of bread was it on? You know the sort of internal dialogue – I assume that this is the same sort of thing that all writers do.
The most underestimated tool in my writing toolbox is my attention to synchronicity. I try to watch for examples of the universal unconscious mind or whatever you might want to call it, and I am making an effort to do even more of this, as I am convinced that I currently miss a lot of answers. Invariably I will be writing about something – cream cheese, for instance – and, without fail, all sorts of references to cream cheese start popping up in the world around me. Often these are in the most unlikely situations, and they tend to answer a lot of questions that I am facing in writing a given story.
What does it mean to write? It means, I firmly believe, to give some shape to what we experience – whether or not it is in the physical world. When Kurt Vonnegut said that in writing we are continually jumping off of cliffs and growing wings on the way down, I don’t think he could have been closer to the truth. Jump, and you jump into the world of what is. Grow your wings, and you might just make some sense out of it all.
Katie Hayoz was born in Racine, WI, the youngest of six kids. Originally, she wanted to become pope (for the awesome hat and fancy robes), but quickly realized reading was her true religion. Writing was always a hobby, but she decided to go at it seriously when she ended up in Geneva, Switzerland. Now she’s constantly at her laptop in the small apartment she shares with her husband, two daughters, and two fuzzy cats. She devours YA novels like she does popcorn and black licorice: quickly and in large quantities.
Her latest offering, Untethered, is about sixteen-year-old Sylvie. Sylivie isn’t comfortable in her own skin. In fact, there are times she can’t even manage to stay inside it. But if there is one thing she’s sure of, it’s her love for Kevin Phillips. She’s willing to stake everything on it –her family, her friends, and possibly her soul.
Sylvie has been best friends with Cassie forever. But everything is turned around when the boy Sylvie’s loved since fifth grade falls for Cassie. Devastated, Sylvie intends to get Kevin by any means possible, even if it involves treachery, deceit, and the dark side of astral projection. She is positive her plans will give her what she wants, but she doesn’t count on it all spiraling out of control.
Katie has allowed me to share the following excerpt from Untethered:
I’m stuck in this body. And I can’t get out.
I stare at my arms. These arms. They’re not mine, but I’m wearing them. They’re thick and muscular and covered in hair. The veins run like rope down the insides.
I squeeze my eyes shut for the hundredth time, hoping that when I open them, I’ll look down and see my own thin arms. My own delicate veins.
Oh, God, do I need help. I need help. Now.
I stand and my head spins. Grabbing onto the desk, I wait for the dizziness to pass. Wait for my head to clear. It doesn’t happen.
I look from the desk to the bed to the floor to the walls and see where I am. Clarity won’t come. Can’t come. Because I’m not where I’m supposed to be.
My eyes travel to the mirror and the face staring back in terror. “Please,” I say. The face says it back, but sloppily. Like a drunk. “Please,” I beg again. “Where are you?” This time the words feel formed. This time my lips, his lips, work the way I expect them to. Or close to it.
But there’s no response.
I lift a hand. Take a step. My movements are staccato. Jerky. Clumsy. Like electrodes are flexing these muscles. Not me. Everything about this body is heavy and long. I take another step forward and it’s smoother, but I’m not used to the bulk of this body.
And I don’t want to get used to it.
I want out. Of him. Of here.
“Rise and shine, Sylvie,” Dr. Hong says, his voice full of forced cheer. “PSG’s done. You have a couple hours of free time before the MSLT. Go crazy.” I open my eyes and the first thing I see is the bramble of silver hairs sticking out of his nose. Note to self: Buy Dr. Hong nose hair clippers for Christmas.
He helps me sit up and I look down at myself, feeling like something out of a horror movie. Sticky pads with wires dot my legs and chest. I can’t see the ones above shoulder height, but their glue makes my chin, forehead and the areas around my ears and eyes itch. A heavy ponytail of wires cascades down my back and leads to a machine on my left. Probes tickle my nostrils.
Doc rearranges things and unhooks me so I’m able to walk around. I almost thank him, but catch myself before I do. I’m here because he doesn’t believe me. He’s brought me here to prove himself right. As with all the other tests I’ve taken.
But so far, he hasn’t proven anything. It drives him nuts.
It drives me nuts, too.
I go to the window and open the blinds. Outside, the sun is bright. Another stifling summer day in Wisconsin. Outside, I know the air sticks to your skin like Saran-Wrap and feels thick as cotton wool. I can almost smell the fresh-cut grass, the acrid scent of blacktop burning.
But here, in the lab, it stinks like antiseptic. And it’s dry and cool. The perfect sleeping temperature. That’s what I’m here to do: sleep. It’s the last weekend before school starts, and while everyone else is tanning on the sand, I’m snoozing in a sleep lab.
Talk about social suicide.
Dr. Hong writes something on my chart. “I’m turning you over to the team,” he says. “I think these tests will help us figure it out, Sylvie.” When I don’t respond, he goes on. “You know, the cataplexy – that’s where you have the sudden loss of muscle tone. Then the sleep paralysis… ” Here he looks up from the chart and directly into my eyes. “And, of course, the hallucinations.”
Of course. The hallucinations. I stare back at him without blinking. He breaks the gaze first and I feel a ridiculous sense of victory.
They’re not hallucinations. That’s what bothers me the most, what scares me and pisses me off: Dr. Hong insists it’s all make-believe.
“Your mother’s worried about you.” Dr. Hong’s voice is accusing. Like I’ve been giving my mom problems on purpose. If there’s one thing I don’t want, it’s to make my mom worry more.
“There haven’t been any more incidents,” I say.
Dr. Hong narrows his dark eyes at me. I know he doesn’t believe me. He never believes me. I might actually be offended – if I were telling the truth.
“Well, that’s wonderful, then. But with all that’s going on–”
“I’m doing fine. Really.” No need for him to play shrink any longer.
He’s silent a moment. Then he says, “Okay, Sylvie.”
“Everything’s set for school?” It’s a yearly ritual. Tests, tests, and more tests. Then the paper that declares me fit to fester in the classrooms of my high school.
“Sure. We don’t need these results to know that. I’ll contact St. Anthony’s and let them know everything’s in order for your –” he picks up my chart and looks at it again “—junior year.” He sticks out his hand and I shake it unenthusiastically.
“I’m sure school will be a lot of fun. You must have the boys lined up.” His eyes crinkle as he tries a smile.
“The only boys lining up are those who are trying to get away,” I say.
It wasn’t a joke, but Dr. Hong looks at me and laughs loudly. He throws his head back and I get a direct view up his nostrils.
Note to self: Forget the nose hair clippers. Buy the guy a weed whacker.
You can find me in the usual place.
You may recall that I was recently inspired by the artwork of Niki Hare. These three pieces are the result. The words are based on a poem I wrote called Egg Salad. You can read it below.
I work really hard to promote the work of writers and artists. I also try to help them learn how to do these things for themselves. Why? I suppose it’s my way of giving back to the creative community. It makes me feel good and I don’t expect anything in return. However, I have had a few people ask how they could repay me. Answer: you can help me promote my platform. In fact, now that I think about it, that would be really terrific!
I recently had a creative writing revelation. I realized that my notion of being a writer was strongly linked with accurately expressing myself. I’ve been writing fiction, but at the same time I’ve been wrestling with a burdensome responsibility to somehow use that fiction to put my truth on paper. What audacity and hubris! My truth isn’t necessarily important or enlightening, except maybe to me. And what a terrible way to approach creative writing. Memoir, sure. But, creative writing?
I’m not even sure where this idea came from and I wasn’t aware of being a slave to it until this past week. It is betrayer to my creative life.
As you may know, we’re currently in the throes of annual NaNoWriMo craziness, which requires truckloads of creativity. I sat at my computer laboring over my novel, honestly intending and trying to be creative, when the lightning bolt hit. I’m my own worst enemy. I travel the same well-worn ruts over and over again, trapped by my own experiences and perspective.
An insidious voice, quieter than a whisper, is constantly censoring and evaluating my thoughts. I’m changing that today. There is freedom is releasing myself from these constraints, but for me the execution is difficult. I am me, after all, and it’s hard to get away from that.
So I’ve come up with a strategy.
Today, instead of trying to express myself, I’m going to do the exact opposite. I’m going to imagine myself as someone else – an alter ego, of sorts – and write that way. Unencumbered. The concept seems simple, but for me it’s ground breaking. This other broad can be as wild and weird as she wants to be.
Wish me luck!
The gorgeous art in this post is courtesy of, Stephanie Corfee, Featured Artist at Ink & Alchemy. It’s teeming with life and riotous color and it makes me very happy. The perfect art to spur creativity!
Visit my website to learn about my efforts to smear art & lit all over the planet. You can also find resources to use in your creative life and business.
This week, I was inspired by Niki Hare‘s work. She’s a new, wonderful addition to the artistic lineup over at Ink & Alchemy. Her work is scattered throughout this post; click on any image to transport to her website. This is what Niki said about this series, titled Talking To Myself Again:
Niki: “I’m struggling for words about the “word” paintings, I guess they should speak for themselves.They are just a form of writing on the wall, a way of being very honest and exposing my thoughts, but always with the option to write over. The directness matters, it is me unprocessed, there is nothing planned, the words just appear and I just paint them as they come out. They are not careful, carefulness becomes a frustration, it dilutes things.But the words are also paintings, they have layers and history and the feeling of decaying graffiti found on a wall. Maybe I am a poet with no language except that of paint and these paintings have become a way to speak. The work is very personal, but that makes it richer. I have found a freedom in being able to say exactly what I want, the words may be buried, but they are still there underneath, they have been said.”
I featured one of her pieces, Unclear (below), earlier in the week after she graciously accepted my invitation to become a Featured Artist. The painting wouldn’t let loose of me. I found myself thinking of it often, sketching words in the margins of agendas at work during meetings. I wanted to try this loose, free way of painting with words. I often incorporate words into my painting, but thus far, they have been freehand, so the idea of using stencils was interesting. Adding words to my art is cathartic, like writing in a journal, which I never seem to find time to do. When my works are finished, most of the words have been obliterated and covered over, which is actually a very satisfying part of the process for me.
Also, I absolutely adore graffiti and this technique has echoes of that. I love it so much, that I once had a brilliant idea to put some graffiti in our home, which ended with my husband scrawling a message i red paint across the dining room wall where it remained for a year and a half. It’s gone now, replaced by an art gallery, but remains there still, under the plaster and paint and I like that idea very much. I love that layering words is so much like how life works. Things change. Slowly a thin veneer is laid over the old, but those things are still lurking under the surface, threatening to appear from time to time. Bits and pieces poking out when least expected.
I’m not trying to replicate Niki’s work (and I couldn’t if I tried), but I wanted to use it as a jumping off place, and so I did. I became so fixated, that when I looked up again, it was heading towards midnight on a worknight (gasp!) and I was covered in black paint and so was my studio.
Words are important, and this point has been driven home to me several times this week, most notably during a situation in which I didn’t use my words very effectively and led straight into a very unpleasant argument. Still smarting from that one. Words feature heavily in my life. I write. I seek and struggle on a daily basis to find the right words. My day job requires that I effectively communicate with people all day long. Relationships demand constant give and take.I’m resolving this week to do my best to use words in ways that support my goals and enrich my life.
- “That’s what careless words do. They make people love you a little less.” – Arundhati Roy
- “Words are a pretext. It is the inner bond that draws one person to another, not words.” – Rumi
- “We live and breathe words.” – Cassandra Clare
- “I am, by calling, a dealer in words; and words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.”– Rudyard Kipling
Below are some images I snapped as I worked on throwing some words onto wood. It will be interesting to see where this process takes me. Right now, as with any of my paintings, the important thing is to get something on the substrate, create for myself a foundation and a place from which to start, and that is what you see here.
Now, as these base coats dry, I will go attempt to write some words that don’t suck. To that end, I have recently began to read Wonderbook by Jeff Vandermeer. Funnily enough based on the subject of this post, words won’t do this book justice. You need to hold it in your hands and slowly flip through the pages to fully appreciate it. It’s subtitled The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction, and the book is so densely packed with ideas and inspiration that it’s difficult for me to read more that a page or two at a time, because I feel compelled to stop reading and start scribbling on the nearest piece of paper, be it napkin, receipt, or index card. I mentioned that it was illustrated and this aspect is wonderful to me. It’s a smorgasbord of art. You’ll have to check it out yourself to see what I mean. This is perfect timing for me to work through this book, because guess what time it is? If you shouted NaNoWriMo, you are correct! It’s almost time – join me!
As always, you are encouraged to visit my website, which will point you to my entire social media platform. I’ve also got free resources for you. If it’s daily doses of inspiration you seek, hit me up on FB – Ink & Alchemy for art or More Ink for writing and social media stuff.
Wishing you peace, paint, & publishing, Robin