Blog Tour – Why I Write

July 29th, 2014

When Jessica Schaub invited me to be a part of Blog Tour — Why I Write, I jumped at the chance. It’s only three questions, questions authors are asked again and again, but they are three questions that reveal a lot about the person behind the words. So here are my answers to those three important questions:

What am I working on?

I just finished my second Bible study, Trust God! No Matter What…, and have returned to finish final edits on Master Cat (the third in Toby the cat’s tale). If you haven’t had the opportunity to read Apprentice Cat or Journeyman Cat, be sure to check them out. Master Cat picks up where Journeyman Cat left off and finishes up the story arc. Not to worry, though, there are plenty more Toby and Lorn stories to come.

Here is the description of Master Cat:

Toby, a magical talking cat, has cut ties with the Office of Kingdom Guardianship, intent on finding his long-lost father and avenging his mother’s murder. He thought he left everyone behind, but someone from his past is stalking him. Now he must avoid this strange new menace while he seeks the truth about his family’s dark history, a history that threatens to unravel his sanity and cause the rest of the world to descend into madness. Can Toby reconcile himself with the past or will his inner turmoil allow his enemy to plunge humanity into chaos once and for all?

Check back next month to cast your vote for the Master Cat cover and be sure to sign up for my monthly newsletter to be first to find out when Master Cat is available.

Why I Write what I do?

That’s a good question. I’ve been a story-teller since I was a child. When I learned to write, I couldn’t get enough of stringing words together to create stories from the wild imaginings going on in my head. I even self-published two short stories when I was nine  (basically I used brads to hold the sheets together between two pieces of construction paper with a pasted on cover I drew myself). I begged my English teachers to read them and they seemed to like them. I wish I could say I got an A on every story I ever wrote in school, but that’s not true. Still, it was the enjoyment of writing that was the pull, not the grade.

For a short time, I put writing on a shelf and worked in ministry, even working on a Masters of Divinity. It was during that stressful time in grad school that I discovered I wasn’t meant to be a minister in a church setting. My ministry was writing. Through that medium, I can be a tool for God to reach people, to share God’s love and caring. I left school one semester shy of graduating to pursue my career as an independent author and haven’t looked back since.

Today, my mission is to aid others in developing a closer relationship with God, to see that God is more than a wrath-filled judge or a magic genie. That is why I write.

What is my writing process?

At first I tried to cram everything into whatever free time I could carve out for myself. That’s a recipe for frustration and procrastination. After my eldest was born, I tried squeezing it all in a scheduled hour or two before spending time with my husband just before we went to bed. That led to being over-tired and cranky.

After my daughter started half-day’s in preschool, I was able to get four solid hours of work done before I had to go to my day job. This, so far, has worked best, especially since I pretend that I’m going to a regular 9 to 5 job as soon as I walk in my front door after dropping her at school. On my days off from my day job, I spend the mornings doing the highest priority work, like drafting or editing the next book, and the afternoons on more business tasks, like marketing and administrative tasks, and research.

The next step I took was purchasing a Galaxy Tab 10.2 in 2012 with a bluetooth keyboard. That has been the best business purchase I’ve made to date. I can now extend my writing time to the afternoons at my day job and kill the down time between customers with some massive productivity. In fact that’s what helped me win the 2012 and 2013 NaNoWriMo. Combined with my smartphone, I can work on both writing and business anywhere, anytime.

As for the actual drafting of any of my books, it wasn’t until I read James Scott Bell Plot & Structure and Conflict & Suspense that I really got the hang of it and the process got faster. I’m a plotter by nature, so Bell’s various ways of plotting made getting my ideas down so much quicker and efficient. And while the old adage “chase your character up a tree and throw rocks at him” might be one way of creating suspense and conflict, it just didn’t make sense to me. It wasn’t logical. When I read Bell’s Conflict & Suspense the “ah-ha” moment arrived with a giant Acme lightbulb. It’s not just throwing your character into challenging situations; it’s about finding the tension point — the “what’s the worst that could happen” moment — and then building the next scenes from that. I highly recommend both these books to anyone wanting to stuff some more tools in their writer’s toolbox.

Who is up next on the tour?

Call me an overachiever, but I found three terrific ladies you’ll want to meet. They are: Kathy Jones, Jansina Grossman and Beckie Laux Carlson. Be sure to stop by their web sites to find out more.

Dreamsnatcher Cover Reveal

October 30th, 2013

I’m so excited to be in on the cover reveal for one of my favorite authors. Here it is, the long awaited sequel to Dreamwalker and Dreamstealer:

Dreamsnatcher Cover Reveal

Falling asleep has never been so dangerous…

Lexa has spent the past five years training the princess of Teltania in dreamwalking, but with Taryn’s eighteenth birthday approaching, the girl has increasing royal duties and Lexa is getting ready to retire yet again. This time she’s looking forward to settling down and sailing with Sir Neil Duram—until his ship barely survives a raider attack. The raiders have been hounding Teltania’s coast and their victims are falling into comas. With Neil’s crew at risk, Lexa sets out to find a cure. But things aren’t what they seem. She discovers that the comatose have been snatched from their dreams and stolen into the dreamscape. The scattered cases soon become a potential plague, and Lexa has to find the connection between the waking world raiders and the dream snatchers. Is there a third dreamwalker out there, or something much more sinister? Lexa’s desperate search for answers will drive her to the edge in order to save everything she cares about.

DREAMSNATCHER: COMING NOVEMBER 13 2013

Add the book on Goodreads

Read more on the Dreamwalker Saga

 Angela author pic thumbnailAngela Wallace loves gun-toting good boys and could have been a cop in another life except for the unfortunate condition of real blood making her queasy. Good thing writing gun and sword fights isn’t a problem. In her books you’ll find the power of love, magic, and redemption.   Subscribe to her newsletter and get an exclusive surprise when the book releases. Follow on Twitter @AngelaRWallace Facebook Website: angelawallace.wordpress.com

The Soap Opera Gimmick

April 30th, 2013

Photo courtesy of  Lynn Kelley Author

Photo courtesy of Lynn Kelley Author

I used to love watching soap operas. It was addictive and I couldn’t figure out why. I mean, they’re often filled with bad acting and enough melodrama to make you want to hide your face in embarrassment  Why couldn’t I kick the habit? Then I figured out they have two things going for them: characters that draw you in and they always leave you hanging at the end of the show.

While designing characters that draw you in is a great writing technique, leaving your story hanging at the end can kill future sales. I call that the Soap Opera Gimmick because I want the story to end. Leave me with questions, but, for the love of all that’s writerly, end the story!

Unfortunately, there are a great many self-published authors using this gimmick and doing it badly. I’m sure I’m not alone when I scream, “STOP IT!” Ending your book in the middle of a fight scene or just before the next big fight begins is a gimmick. It’s not good writing.

If you don’t believe you can finish a story and get people to buy the next book, then take a look at series writers like Erin Hunter, author of the Warrior series, or Shirley Rousseau-Murphy, author of the Joe Grey Mysteries. Consider J.K. Rowling’s success with the Harry Potter series. Each of these stories ends, but the reader is left with the need for the next book.

There are ways to succeed in writing a series without resorting to the Soap Opera Gimmick, so please do some work and finish the story. Your readers will thank you.

And The NaNoWriMo Craziness Continues…

November 6th, 2012

It hasn’t been easy, but I’m managing to stay up on my NaNoWriMo goals of 1,667 words per day. I don’t think I could do it if I didn’t have this nifty little gadget. (Yes that is an Apprentice Cat ceramic travel mug.) Of course, there have been some issues with it.

Modern technology is a wonder — when it works.

The first hurdle was figuring out how to keep the virtual keyboard from popping up. After some research I discovered an app called Null Keyboard. Of course, it doesn’t work unless you remember to select it from the shortcut menu. 😉

The second initial hurdle was figuring out where to save my documents. For some reason I wasn’t able to save directly to the folder I have in my Dropbox for this book. *shrug* It’s an irritation, but I decided to save my work to the external microSD card, then move it to Dropbox later. From there everything seemed to be working just fine, so I thought I was ready.

On the first day of NaNoWriMo I decided to give my new tablet with bluetooth keyboard a try. Thank God I only typed a couple paragraphs on it because when I plugged the tablet into my laptop to move the document over, I discovered 195 words were missing. Not a huge deal, but still irritating because I had to try to remember what they were.

I should have taken more time to figure out what had happened because the next day I lost about 400 words. When I opened the document on my laptop my entire day’s work was gone. The document was blank.

After some hysterics, which my poor husband had to endure, I discovered the preview on the tablet still showed all those words. At least I could re-type what I’d already done. Time consuming, but not impossible.

You would think I’d give it up after that, but this is not a cheap piece of equipment and I bought it specifically for this purpose. I was determined to make it work the way I wanted it to. (Hubby calls it stubbornness. :D)

So the next day I spent over an hour checking and re-checking ways to save my work and move it to my laptop without losing even a single period. What I discovered was that the microSD card was bad. 😛 Thankfully I had another tucked away at the back of a desk drawer.

I think I’ve got the bugs worked out at this point, though I’m saving to both the tablet documents folder and the microSD card, then emailing everything to myself as soon as I get to a wifi hotspot just in case.

What craziness have you run into during NaNoWriMo? How did you figure out a work around?

Do New Gadgets Help With Productivity? 4 Links On Wifi Tethering Your Smartphone To A Tablet

August 4th, 2012

I just wanted to let you all know I haven’t forgotten you’re here. I’m actually working on a productivity solution for writers in my situation: unable to get wifi all the time and unwilling to pay $30 or more to make my smartphone a wifi hotspot. I know wifi is available nearly everywhere, but I live in a small town and don’t always have access to a wifi hotspot. That’s why I’m using my new Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1, my Samsung Galaxy S3 smartphone, Dropbox and some wifi tethering possibilities to see if there’s a way around needing that sometimes elusive hotspot, though you’ll still need access to a 3G/4G network. Succeed or fail, I hope to have a new post about it soon.

In the mean time, here are a four posts on tethering your smartphone to a Tablet PC:

Story Engineering With Larry Brooks: Interview By Joanna Penn

May 12th, 2012

Hey, folks, I’ve got a major migraine today, but I didn’t just want to leave everyone in a lurch. I decided to post Story Engineering and Tips for Writing Your Novel with Larry Brooks a video interview by Joanna Penn of The Creative Penn in response to a comment about Story Engineering on my post Monthly Mash-up: 10 Writing Craft Books And Blog Posts.

Here’s the Larry Brooks being interviewed by Joanna Penn:

Hope to be back on schedule next week. Have a great weekend!

How to Write All the Way to the End of Your Book: Guest Post by Ali Luke

May 5th, 2012

I’m always thrilled when an author emails me asking to guest post, especially when it’s part of a blog tour. Today’s post comes courtesy of Ali Luke whose new book Lycopolis is a supernatural thriller / contemporary fantasy novel. Ali’s blog, Aliventures, is chock full of great writing advice, so be sure to stop by there and add it to your subscriptions.

Without further ado, here’s Ali:

How to Write All the Way to the End of Your Book

Ali Luke, Lycopolis blog tourAs a working writer, I come across a lot of people who want to write a book (fiction or non-fiction) or who’ve been working on a book for months or years. But most of them have never reached those magic words “The End” … and they’re afraid they never will.

A whole book isn’t a light undertaking. It takes many hours of work – and that work may be mentally, emotionally and even spiritually taxing. And there’s no guarantee of fame and fortune once you reach The End.

Yet I believe that if you have the desire to write – if there’s a book idea that’s been nagging at you, or if you know you have a way with words – then the journey is worthwhile.

Here are some simple ways to make sure you do reach The End, instead of stalling part-way.

Pace Yourself and Build Your Writing Muscles

A book (or any other long project) isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. If you set off at break-neck speed, you’re going to run out of energy before you get more than a few chapters in.

Your writing stamina is a bit like a muscle: if you’ve not written for a while, you might only manage 200 or 300 words every few days, but once you get into your stride, you could find yourself writing 1,000 words on a daily (or near-daily) basis.

Some writers like to work for a set period of time; say, 30 minutes or an hour. Others prefer to aim for a target word count. It’s up to you which you use – but over time, aim to gradually increase your writing stamina.

Create a Plan and a Schedule

Whatever type of book you’re working on, a plan and a schedule will help you get from start to end.

Your plan details what goes into your book. For non-fiction, most authors like to start off with a full chapter outline (though you could also work from a mindmap, or index cards). For a novel, it’s often enough to have a good grasp on your main characters and key plot points.

Your schedule helps you stay on track. As well as setting milestones for your book (e.g. “reach the end of chapter 10 before our vacation”), you’ll want to put writing sessions into your diary or calendar. When you plan ahead, it’s much easier to find opportunities to work on your book – whereas if you wait for a few hours of free time to appear from nowhere, you’ll probably be waiting for a long time…

Record Any Nice Feedback

If you’re putting your writing out into the world, perhaps on a blog, or in ebook form, then there’s a good chance that you’ll receive some feedback. Any time you get an email, blog comment, Tweet, Facebook message, etc that makes you feel good about your writing, record it somewhere safe.

One of the hardest things as a writer is to keep your faith in yourself and your work when it feels like no-one’s reading. By reminding yourself regularly of the people who are reading – and who value what you write – you’ll find it easier to keep going.

Keep Track of Your Progress

When you’re working on a whole book (or a whole writing career), progress can feel painfully slow. It’s easy to get discouraged, and to wonder whether you’re really getting anywhere at all.

For the past four years, I’ve been keeping an achievements book. Every month, I write down new accomplishments: milestones reached, new activities tried. When I look back now, I can track my progress as a novelist: in November 2008, I began on the very first draft of my novel Lycopolis, and in November 2011, I published the ebook version.

Your progress on your book doesn’t just mean words written. It’s progress to finally tackle a tricky chapter or scene; it’s progress to show an excerpt to your critique group for the first time. You might want to spend some time each week praying, journaling or reflecting about what’s been going well with your writing.

Don’t Burn Out

Finally … it’s okay to take a break from your book. You don’t have to write every single day, or even every single week. If you need to, take some time off (but give yourself a firm date for getting back into it – don’t let a week off become six months of no writing at all).

It’s easy to feel impatient, especially in today’s world where technology means that you know you can get from a finished manuscript to a published book in just a few days. But by taking the time that you need, you value yourself and your work. You deserve to enjoy the journey … and your book deserves to be as good as you can make it.

Whatever you’re working on – whether it’s a book, a blog, or something else entirely – I wish you the very best of luck. I’d love to hear your tips for staying motivated and keeping going during a big project, too: you can leave a comment below.

Bio: Ali Luke is currently on a virtual book tour for her novel Lycopolis, a fast-paced supernatural thriller centered on a group of online roleplayers who summon a demon into their game … and into the world. Described by readers as “a fast and furious, addictive piece of escapism” and “absolutely gripping”, Lycopolis is available in print and e-book form. Find out more at www.lycopolis.co.uk.

Monthly Mash-up: 10 Writing Craft Books And Blog Posts

April 28th, 2012

writing craft books and blog postsThere are so many great writing craft books and blog posts out there I just had to do my first monthly mash-up focusing on those. The following are some of my favorite books, in no particular order:

Writing craft books:

  1. If You Want to Write by Brenda Ueland — Brenda shows us that no writing is absolute crap. In fact, she challenges us to write the worst piece possible, then goes on to show how in even the worst there will be a few gems. She tells us cherish the quiet moments because that is when our stories are percolating.
  2. Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell — James walks us through the four act set-up, character arc, various plotting methods and a myriad of other techniques that make writing more efficient (if you’re a plotter, that is). Pantsers can find great information in this book, as well, with questions to ponder either before or after the first draft and different methods of revising once the draft is complete.
  3. Story Engineering by Larry Brooks — Larry explains the six core competencies of concept, character, theme, story structure (plot), scene construction and writing voice, showing us why each of these are important to writing a great story. He also breaks structure down into easily understandable points and gives an idea of how to judge the length of a potential story.
  4. The Courage to Write by Ralph Keyes — Ralph helps writers understand that we are not alone in our fears. He gives anecdotes of how famous authors coped with that fear, even encouraging each of us to develop rituals that help get us through the fear of setting words on the page (or screen).
  5. Failing Forward by John C. Maxwell — From redefining failure and success to learning how to embrace failures, John shows us that making both small and monumental mistakes is something to strive for rather than try to avoid. If you’re worrying about falling on your face as a writer, especially as an indie, this is a great book for learning how to accept failing as part of becoming successful.

Writing craft books aren’t the only place to get great information. There are hundreds, perhaps millions, of great blog posts with exceptional advice on how to be the best writer you can be. Here are just a few:

Writing Blog Posts:

  1. Do You Judge A Book By Its Cover by Diana Murdock — Diana gives us a peak into how she chose the cover of her book, Souled.
  2. Tips for Writing Back Cover Copy a guest post by Roz Morris on Jamie Gold’s blog — Having trouble condensing your entire book into a couple of paragraphs? Roz has some tips on what do to and what not to do to capture your story and make readers want to snuggle up with your book.
  3. Saying ‘No’ — A Successful Writer’s Must by August McLaughlin — If you’re struggling to get any writing accomplished because others think you can drop everything to help them, the August has some great ideas on how to set boundaries.
  4. Ask the Editor: How can I cut back on the abundance of pronouns in my writing? by Kira McFadden on Novel Publicity — Having problems with an abundance of he/she/it? Kira shows us how to rewrite passages to limit the number of pronouns used.
  5. 7 Setting Basics That Can Bring a Story to Life by Jody Hedlund — Setting can really bring a scene alive and move the plot forward if we use it properly. Jody gives us 7 ways to make setting almost a character in itself.

These are 10 of my favorite writing craft books and blog posts. I have hundreds more because I’m a craft junkie, as Jillian Kent said in her guest post on Rachelle Gardner’s blog. (Psst… That’s #11. :D) I’m always looking for more blogs to read and books to buy on the craft of writing, so, if you have one you love, please share it in the comments. Happy writing!

Slow Progress Is Still Progress

April 7th, 2012

courage and single-mindedness overcomes fear

Last weeked DH and I took our daughter, Blur, to a park. It was so amazing to watch her play on the slides with the other kids.

I admit I was stressed the whole time because the slides were so much taller than anything she’d previously slid down and the kids were zooming around, pushing past Blur in their excitement. Our daughter, on the other hand, didn’t seem to notice any of it. Even though she’s developed a fear of heights, she was determined to enjoy one of her favorite activities.

She took her time, concentrating on her goal of getting to the top of the chosen slide and then waited until she’d psyched herself up to let go. Each grin as she zipped down was precious.

She was slower going up and needed a lot of time to convince herself the ride was worth the fear, which irritated some of the other kids. They had to wait or find another slide to go down. Sometimes they pushed by on the stairs. Thankfully the slides and stairs were encased in safety bars or I would have been frantic, not just stressed.

It didn’t matter to Blur how fast the other kids were going or that they pushed her aside. She never missed a step. Always cautious and ever mindful of her goal, she made her way to the top of the slide and enjoyed the ride down.

When we left the park, I was still amazed at my daughter’s single-mindedness and courage. She showed me what it means to be confident in yourself and your ambitions. Even the one time she tried to climb the ladder instead of the stairs and got stuck, she kept her cool and focused on finding a way out of her predicament so she could accomplish her goal of sliding down another time.

I wonder what I could accomplish if I followed her example. If I stopped agonizing over my slow progress and the other “kids” zooming around, if instead I concentrated just on my goal, what would happen?

How about you? What could you do if you had the courage and single-mindedness of a child intent on just one more slide?

Memed by the Lucky 7…

March 27th, 2012

 

I’ve been memed!

The Lucky 7 Meme isn’t really an award but it’s more fun than being tagged for random bits of information. Why is this better, you ask? Well…because it involves sharing seven lines of your latest work in progress, which is something I’ve been wanting to do for a while, but never really got around to. Here’s my excuse to strut my stuff and I’m so excited.

Here’s the deal: whip out the WIP, flip to page 77, count down seven lines and then cut-and-paste the next seven into a document and share those beauteous words.

You’ve been memed, baby!

 

I’m not sure if seven lines is actually lines or seven sentences and the original Lucky 7 Memer got sloppy and inferred the meaning. Either way, 7 is the lucky number I have to work with.

Without further ado here are my seven from Apprentice Cat:

“Some of these quatrains remind me of old prophecies I read as a kit.”

“That may work,” mused Master Jalen. He stared into space, eyes unfocused.

“The question is, how do we go about getting the information we need?” he continued. “We can’t simply ask the Brothers to search their library for vague references. I hesitate to share any of this information with even them.”

“One of us could go,” suggested the Head Master Cat.

“That may call too much attention to what we’re trying to find out.”

The beginning of my seventh line began in the middle of a sentence, so I included the whole sentence so it would make sense.

Don’t forget to check out Lesann Barry’s Lucky 7 lines. I get to thank her for this special sort of torture. I lurk, read and wait. Publish faster, people!

In the meantime I’m about to lure more unsuspecting victims swimmers into the meme pool. I’ve tagged these writers to offer up a sampling of their wordy goodness:

Angela Wallace

Barbara McDowell

Jillian Dodd

Natalie Hartford

~ Patricia Sands

Steena Holmes

Tameri Etherton

 

The regular caveats apply. Should you choose not to participate nothing wobbly awful, amazingly stupid, or terrifyingly insipid shall happen.

But, I will be sad. *sniff sniff*

Don’t have 77 pages of a WIP ready to go? Fear not! No worries! My solution is that you offer up seven lines of whatever you’ve got. If you’ve already been memed, sorry…but you have to get these out there quick!

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