Monday, January 25, 2016

WRITING GROUPS {on-line and face to face}

When I started writing, I had no idea what I was doing. I spent two years writing and rewriting my first novel, and I did it mostly alone. I had one close friend who read everything I wrote, but I was too scared to show anyone else.

When I made the decision to self-publish, again I had no idea what I was doing. I went in blind and fumbled my way through, with no help from anyone else. It wasn’t until after Fall For Me was published that I started looking for ways to connect with other writers and like-minded people. I discovered that while writing is a solitary occupation, the journey does not need to be taken alone. There are so many writers out there, doing the same thing I am, and who are willing to share their knowledge and their own journey with me.

I have met many people since I began. Some have offered advice; others have offered support, and some I’m not in touch with any more. But all of them have helped me get where I am today. I’m so grateful for each and every one of them, especially those who have stuck around. I now have many on-line friends in different states and countries who I chat to on a regular basis, and they are all an immense help to me and my writing journey. But after a while I felt I needed to be able to sit down with someone and actually open my mouth and talk—real words instead of typed ones. I’m now a member of two writers’ groups. They are both very different, but they help me in different ways.

One group is a bunch of amazing women who write YA/NA in various genres. We all live within an hour or so drive from each other, and we have a lot in common. All our members are either traditionally published, self-published, or both. We meet once a month to talk about books, current projects, bettering our craft, and so many other things. Since I started meeting with these girls, my confidence in myself and my work has soared. We each have something different to bring to the table, because we have our own strengths, and as a group we work well together.

My other group is a little different. It’s more of a critique group with members of all ages writing different genres, and they focus on both prose and poetry. Each month, members bring a piece they have written to the meeting and read it aloud. Then there’s a discussion where everyone has a chance to say what they think, what they liked, and what could be better. At first I found this highly nerve wracking and very confronting, but once I got to know the members, I relaxed. This type of group isn’t for everyone, but it has helped me with my confidence and belief in my work.

I’m also a contributor to the Australian blog, Aussie Owned and Read. We’re a group of Aussie YA/NA writers who blog about books and writing. We’re scattered all over the country, with one member in the USA, and over the past few years these girls have become wonderful friends. I’ve learnt so much by being a part of this group, and I’m grateful for them because I know they will be there when I need help.

If you're seeking to connect with people on-line and face to face, here are some tips from me. If you have any other tips you think are worthwhile sharing, please post them in the comments.

Tips for connecting with people on-line:
  • Follow writing blogs and participate in forums to find like-minded people.
  • Look for opportunities to blog with a group of writers. It will teach you how to interact with an on-line group while honing your skills in many areas. 
  • Get to know someone’s work before you approach them, and show genuine interest in that person and their writing.
  • Don’t form relationships based on what you can get out of it, you should try to have something to give back—hidden agendas are nasty. 
  • Don’t be scared to ask for help when you need it.
  • Try to help others when they ask for it.
  • Be courteous and speak to others as if you are face to face. 
  • Remember that talking on-line lacks the emotional tone that speaking aloud has, so be mindful that someone may not interpret your words the way you meant them. 
  • Respect those who many not wish to form a relationship with you.
  • Always be yourself.

Tips for attending face to face writing groups:
  • Ask yourself why you want to attend a writing group, and what you would like to get out of it.
  • Search your area for groups you think would be a good fit for you.
  • Don’t be afraid to try more than one group.
  • Use the first meeting to get a feel for the group. Sit back and listen. You’re charting new territory.
  • Be polite in all conversations.
  • Listen when others are speaking and don’t interrupt. Show them the courtesy you would want them to show you.
  • Keep other member’s feelings in regard. 
  • If it’s a critique group, critique the writing, not the writer. 
  • Remember that not everyone will get along, and this is basic human nature.
  • Always be yourself. 
  • If you can’t find a group in your local area, start one.

I’d love to know if you’re part of any blogging or writing groups, on-line or face to face. How have they helped you with your writing journey?

Stay awesome.
K x

Monday, January 18, 2016

WRITING PROMPTS {looking for inspiration}

Every writer will tell you that they go through stages when they are uninspired and don’t feel like writing. Since starting my write chain via Writerology last year, I have written every day for 79 days. The #writechain has really helped with my motivation, but there have still been times when I haven’t wanted to work on my current WIP because … meh.

This is where writing prompts have come in, and wow! I really love these little juicy sentences. Writing prompts can be interpreted any way you choose, and I find some of the fun is in using the same prompt to inspire entirely different ideas. I average around 500 to 1000 words for a prompt. Some of them I’ve filed away because one day they may become longer stories, and others have worked great for a short. The rest are merely for the exercise, and freeing up my thoughts.

Some good reasons for using writing prompts are:
  • You’re suffering from writer’s block
  • You need to work on something different for a while
  • You want to challenge yourself
  • You want to get your creativity flowing
  • You’re looking for new ideas for your next writing project

My main source for writing prompts is Pinterest, but if you Google writing prompt, you’ll be inundated with images and ideas.

For fun, I’ve created some of my own for you to use. So see what you can come up with, and if you do write anything using one of my prompts, I’d love to read it.

I’ve also created some paper for you, so you can print it out and write freely. The PDF has a page for each prompt with plenty of room to get those ideas down.

Stay awesome.
K x

Monday, January 11, 2016

NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS {what will 2016 bring?}

Last week I recapped what I achieved in 2015. This week I’d like to share with you what I hope 2016 will bring.

I blogged about a special gift I received for Christmas, and so far every day I’ve been writing in it. The first entry was a list of the main things I want from 2016.

You’ll notice these goals are pretty broad, and I did that for a reason. This year I want to focus on the journey. The destination is important, too, but if I made a goal like publish x story then I would become all consumed with that final goal. Instead, if I aim to write every day, then the journey to that goal becomes the focus, because I’ll be more in the moment rather than looking too far into the future.

Part of my writing every day includes using the journal I was given. I’ve never really been one to keep a journal, so this way of writing is something new for me. I’ve mainly been jotting down quick points about my day. Sometimes it’s a few words, other times a more detailed explanation. I’ve left it open to write down whatever I want to at the time, including lines of poetry, quotes, and interesting words. The main thing is I’m looking for something that the day taught me, and it’s a nice way to reflect before I go to bed.

In past years my resolutions have been more specific, but this year I wanted them to be fluid and open, because I already know it’s going to be a busy year, but everything I’ve written on my list is something I can achieve no matter where I am or what I’m doing.

Do you make resolutions? I’d love to hear about what you’d like to achieve in 2016.

Download my free worksheet, print it out and record your resolutions, then put it somewhere prominent to remind you what you want to achieve throughout the year.

Stay awesome.
K x

Monday, January 04, 2016

WHAT A RIDE {2015 in Review}

When I look back over the past twelve months, I may not have achieved everything I originally set out to do, but I have achieved a great deal.

In January I published the long awaited sequel to Fall For Me. Fight For Me is the second book in the Tate Chronicles series, and after two years between books, I was glad to finally be able to get it out to all of you.

I went a little notebook crazy and released two of them. The Tate Chronicles notebook was released in January 2015 and the Immagica Notebook in February 2015.

I also published a short story called Suffering that is part of the Tate Chronicles and it appeared in Losing It: A Collection of V-cards. It was available for a limited time from Valentine’s Day 2015 until December 31. It’s sadly no longer for sale, and I’m still thinking about what I’ll do with the story. For now it will stay retired.

In March I headed to the Gold Coast for the second time to attend Readers and Writers Down Under. I signed books, met fans, and got to spend time with some of the most awesome people ever. You can read about my fabulous weekend again here.

I continued my studies towards achieving my BA degree, and I received the Executive Dean’s Award for outstanding academic performance.

I designed more book covers for writers who I love and adore, and I feel so privileged to be able to have helped them in some way.

In July I set off on a great adventure with my family. We spent three months traveling Australia in our 4WD and campervan. I deferred from uni for the semester, and the kids participated in distance education. We went to many amazing places, and saw lots of wonderful things. Australia is such a beautiful country, and I feel so blessed to have been able to explore it with the people I love the most. During the three months I did no creative writing, but I did keep a travel journal. You can read about my adventure here.

At the beginning of November I started an online writing workshop to help me get my writing back on track. I began my write chain, and I am now at 65 links. That’s 65 days of writing every day! Yay me! To learn more about the workshop go here.

I also got my second tattoo at the end of November. It incorporates an ellipsis, and it has special meaning for me, but I think that may be a blog post on its own.

I set my Goodreads reading goal at 52 books every year, but unfortunately this year I didn’t achieve that. I managed 49, which was so close, but there were many times throughout the year where I couldn’t read as much as I would have liked. I’ve set my goal again for 2016 and I’m currently on track.

After writing all this down I am truly amazed, and a little proud of what I’ve achieved. I had planned to have the final book in the Tate Chronicles finished and ready for publication, but unfortunately that didn’t happen. I'm working hard on Die For Me though, and I hope to have it into reader’s hands as soon as I can.

All I can say now is, bring on 2016! I’m ready for another amazing year.

Stay awesome.
K x