header('Cache-Control: max-age=259200'); The Writer Archives – Kristen Koster

Happy Easter, Everyone!

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Apr 052015

eggs2I realized this morning just how much I missed all the fun of holidays that comes with having younger kids now that mine are on the upper side of their teen years. The joy and wonder are not as easy to draw out these days. There’s nothing worse than a jaded teenager, right?

Does this mean I’m ready to be a grandmother?

Oh, hell no!


I’m happy to sit and look at old photos from when my kids got caught up in those moments of joy. Easter egg hunts used to be one of my favorite things about Easter at my grandparent’s with my cousins. There were so many great hiding places there. And I tried to continue that sense of fun and wonder for my kids often getting up at the crack of dawn to go hide eggs before they woke up and found their baskets. It was always a challenge to make sure there were enough easy to find ones, but not TOO many so they both had a chance.

Anyway, times change and I hope they’ll pass the magic along one day, but for now, I’m gonna go hug them and embarrass them with sloppy sentimental mom-kisses. =)


Social Media: Where You’ll Find Me

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Mar 152013

Social Network IconsThis week my accountability group’s How I Write series asks, “Which social media platforms do you do? Which do you prefer and why?”

I’m not an extrovert by any means, but I can almost pretend to be one on the internet for short periods of time. I do have a tendency to lurk, but I have met some great people through various online social media networks that I wouldn’t have gotten to know otherwise.

I think the most important thing when trying one out is whether you like the atmosphere and the people you connect with. Surround yourself with positive people, people who inspire you, make you laugh. While it’s important to find “your tribe”, it’s also important to look beyond it to escape the filter bubble

Daily Social Media


Likes: In and out quickly. The instant information when something happens. The cocktail party atmosphere. How approachable most people are.
Dislikes: 140 characters. Straight web interface. Impending death of Tweetdeck — I need to find a replacement.


Likes: Games. Groups, ability to find people you’ve lost touch with. More than 140 characters. Ability to filter what updates you get from some people.
Dislikes: Games. Privacy issues. Repeated sharing of hoaxes or just plain misinformation.

Frequent Social Media


Likes: Online photo sharing and organization. Groups if I want to read them. Random pic(k)s!
Dislikes: I always forget to check the groups. Some of the organization tools are a little clunky.


Likes: Finding new books from my friends! Tracking what I’ve read.
Dislikes: I tend to lurk on groups, not sure why.


Likes: Ooooooh, shiny! Lots of neat stuff out there.
Dislikes: Ooooooh, shiny!

Forgotten Social Media


Likes: Ability to do hangouts. Clean appearance. Communities seem like a good idea.
Dislikes: Circles aren’t necessarily intuitive to set up and use. Is it just me or is it still VERY quiet?


Likes: Easy to find cool new things! Great way to help spread the word about cool things on the net.
Dislikes: Remembering to use it! (Yeah, I never got into digg either.)


Likes: I like listening to new music. I like listening to old music.
Dislikes: Remembering to open up something other than iTunes, heck I even forget that some days.


Likes: Umm… I never really got into it. My kids use it and love it though. I like looking at other people’s when they’re linked from twitter.
Dislikes: Remembering it’s there?

I’m sure there are several others I’ve forgotten I signed up for. You’ve also probably noticed that LinkedIn isn’t on the list. I’ve gotten numerous invitations (Haven’t we all?), but don’t feel like I have time or really a good reason to be there. (I’m happy to listen to reasons why I’m wrong though.) I also currently use YouTube and IMDB, but I don’t post or comment on either of them.

I do also use NetworkedBlogs, Technorati, Gravatar, WordPress, and Blogger (for commenting on other blogs), but those are much more passive than the platforms listed above.

YOUR TURN: Which social media platforms do you do? Which do you prefer and why?

And if you’d like to check out the rest of my accountability group, you can find their blogs here:
Alexia ReedKimberly FarrisDanie FordEmma G. DelaneySusan Saxx

Mar 012013
Favorite Books: My Historical Romance Keeper Shelf

A partial view of my Historical Romance keeper shelf. Click to enlarge.

This week my accountability group’s How I Write series asks, “What are your types of favorite books? Do you write those elements into your own? Or do you do something different? Why?”

I’m a pretty omnivorous reader. I’ll read cereal boxes if left with nothing better. If you saw how many books we have. Ok, so we have well over 300 linear feet of books (not counting the kids’) in our house. Oh, did I mention I need a new book shelf? Oh, right, my favorite types of books.

In looking across all the books I hold dear, there are three common elements that draw me to them: a coherent world I can escape into, an emotional journey, and a happy ending. This is one reason why romance appeal to me in general and historical romances provide a much needed escape from every day first world problems.

My Favorite Books Have a Coherent World

I love series that continue to build and add depth to the setting with a familiar cast of characters. I like revisiting old friends. It doesn’t have to be the real world, but one of the things I adored about Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern books were how closely tied together everything became the farther you got into the series. I love how a very minor secondary character can repeatedly show up, and each time we learn a little more about them, and end up stealing readers’ hearts. The idea of a coherent world is definitely one of the things I’ve been trying to do in my writing. The main characters from one will show up as secondary characters in another story. They frequent many of the same places which makes research easier and reusable.

My Favorite Books Take Me on an Emotional Journey

I like to laugh, to worry, to think, and yes, to cry over a good book. Now before you go thinking I’m a huge Nicholas Sparks fan, lemme tell you it has to be natural and inevitable, but it can never feel contrived or manipulative. That creates wall-bangers for me. Kat Cantrell is an up and coming author who does this well for me. Suzanne Enoch is an example of an established author who did this extremely well with her Lessons in Love Trilogy. Some days I think this will be my hardest element to conquer, but I’m going to keep working at it.

My Favorite Books Have a Happy Ending

There’s enough doom and gloom in the world. I read for escape. I want something that’s going to restore a little hope to the world and comfort and reassure me that certain truths are universal and the bad guys always get what’s coming to them in the end. I’m writing, historical romance, so duh! This element is non-negotiable for me in my own writing as well.

I don’t find it very surprising that these elements keep showing up. They’re pretty basic, but they’re also pretty universal in their appeal.

Now, if I just had more time to read, I’d go curl up with an old friend (a specific book or author) and tune out the world for a while.

YOUR TURN: What are some of the common elements in your favorite books?

And if you’d like to check out the rest of my accountability group, you can find their blogs here:

* Alexia Reed * Kimberly Farris * Danie Ford * Emma G. Delaney * Susan Saxx *

Feb 222013

This week my accountability group’s How I Write series asks, “When you need some comfort reading, who do you turn to?”

Comfort Reading: Julia Quinn's The Viscount Who Loved Me

I took a run at this topic back in 2008, with a Thursday Thirteen post where I listed 13 Repeatedly Reread Books in our personal library. But in looking back at that post, the only one of those books that I’ve reread in the last 5 years (HOW is THAT possible and where did they GO?) is Julia Quinn‘s The Viscount Who Loved Me (Bridgerton Family)

Maybe what I’m looking for from a comfort read has changed. It’s not that I don’t think I’ll never read any of those books on that list again. I’m pretty sure I will. However, I’d like to share a few of the authors I’ve discovered over the past 5 years and will keep buying in the future. Disclaimer: I’m friends with several of these authors and have met many others, but I stand behind their books after having read more than one of them. In no particular order…

Great Contemporary Reads

Comfort Reading: Caitie Quinn's THE LAST SINGLE GIRLCaitie QuinnTamara MorganChristie RidgwayChristie CraigLouisa EdwardsKat Cantrell (Yes, even though she only has one book out so far, I also got to read a WIP of hers that made me cry.)


Great Historical Reads

Comfort Reading: Jillian Stone's AN AFFAIR WITH MR. KENNEDYJoanna BourneTessa DareHeather SnowJillian StoneJeannie Lin



Great YA Reads

Comfort Reading: Danielle Joseph's SHRINKING VIOLETDanielle JosephRosemary Clement-Moore



Great Fantasy Read

Comfort Reading: Jim Butcher's CODEX ALERA seriesJim Butcher – Yes, Dresden Files, but REALLY loved the Alera Codex series.



I have to say that I’m reading more in ebooks these days because some of these authors are only available that way, but also I find myself pulling out my phone or my iPad to read while I’m waiting. I still prefer reading a paperback in bed and think they’re MUCH better for getting authors to sign. =)

There were a couple authors I really wanted to add to this list, but since I’ve only read one book by them I didn’t think it would be quite fair to include them yet. But I don’t doubt they’ll remain favorites.

YOUR TURN: Which authors or books do you turn to for your comfort reading?

And if you’d like to check out the rest of my accountability group, you can find their blogs here:

* Alexia Reed * Kimberly Farris * Danie Ford * Emma G. Delaney * Susan Saxx *

Jan 182013

Staying Positive Despite Rejection: Wildflowers blooming in the scrub by Kristen KosterThis week in my accountability group’s How I Write series we were asked, “Every writer goes through ups and downs. What do you do to keep positive about what you’re working on?” I chose to interpret this as “How do you focus on staying positive despite rejection?” Because, we writer’s know, there are different forms of rejection that must be faced and overcome on a regular basis.

Staying Positive Despite Rejection from Our Selves

This is the hardest one for me. I am definitely my own worst critic. So, how do I deal with this?

Work with a timer.
This gives me something to beat. It’s that competitive streak. Also, I know I have to write until the timer goes off, but then I get a quick break.
Stuff the internal editor in a box.
Ok, so some days the visualization is more like stuffing her into an iron-bound chest and shipping her off to Timbuktu, but I’m sure you get the idea. She’s NOT welcome for first drafts.
Reread Old Stuff
Yup, pull out that ms that’s been hidden with the dust bunnies under the bed and see just how far my writing’s come. Who would ever start with a daydream where the heroine’s looking in a mirror. Cringe and be glad you’re not that writer any more.
Revisit the Praise
Reread some of the good comments from feedback from crit partners, beta readers and contest judges.

Staying Positive Despite Rejection from Our Peers

Writing is often a solitary pursuit, but many don’t think you should remain completely in a vacuum for the entire process. It took me a long time to build the confidence to show my work to others. When I did, I told myself that I wanted the feedback and that it wasn’t personal and that the people giving the advice wanted the same thing I did, to improve the story.

Take what you can use, and ignore what doesn’t make sense or doesn’t work. It’s your book/story/etc, don’t write by committee. But do remind yourself that people have the story’s best interests in mind. Sometimes, when you come back to it later, you may see the comments from a different perspective.
Again, you’re not going to please everyone, but save off the stuff you do well and sift through for the useful stuff. Remind yourself that people have the story’s best interests in mind.
I’m not lucky enough to be in this boat yet, but I’d like to think I could handle truthful ones.
This is a more general space. This could be in email, on your blog, or even facebook or twitter.

Let It Sit
This is good for all of the above: read it, let it sting, bask in the praise, whatever. Then, put it away! Come back to it at least a day or two later and look at it with a fresh perspective.

Staying Positive Despite Rejection from the Industry

I don’t have a lot of experience with the publishing industry beyond querying some agents and editors, but here’s what I’ve learned so far and from watching others go through similar situations.

Hit Send & Move On
After hitting send, I try to jump into the next project and ignore the fact that it’s out there.
What’s the worst they can say?
No, right? Ok, there are probably worse ways they could phrase that “no thanks”, but really, it’s not personal. Move on to the next person on your list. Besides, you’re liable to get pleasantly surprised with a “yes!” at some point.
It’s all Subjective!
Look at how many books/movies/tv shows/paintings/photographs/dances/sculptures that you’ve either loved or hated. Or even just been “meh” over. Everyone has their own tastes and no two people will ever read the same book.
Keep Going/Keep Learning
This may sound similar to the first one, but it’s more specific. Keep practicing, don’t stop if it’s something you love. I don’t know who originally said it, but I love the quote, “Failure leads to success (unless you quit trying.)”. So true.

Your Turn: What do you do to keep positive about what you’re working on?

And if you’d like to read what the rest of my accountability group is expanding out their comfort zones, you can find their blogs here:

* Alexia Reed * Kimberly Farris * Danie Ford * Emma G. Delaney * Susan Saxx

Aug 032012

Character Traits: Photo of a man reading a book.This week for our How I Write series, my accountability group was asked, “There was an article a bit ago about how readers take on character traits of a favorite character from the book they’re reading. Do you do that with your own characters? Do you find yourself doing something your character would do?

I have to admit I was more curious about the article than thinking about the question itself. I may have tracked down the original article or one very similar, and I wanted to include it here for reference, so you could understand where my thinking on this topic was coming from. The article, “Psychologists Discover How People Subconsciously Become Their Favorite Fictional Characters” by Christine Hsu ran at the site MedicalDaily.com on May 14, 2012 and focuses on the phenomenon of “experience taking”.

The article concludes that in order for readers to make the connection to the character, details that help readers relate to the character need to be shown earlier rather than later in the story. Gee, as writers, don’t we hear that  all the time? This effect is why, suck the reader in, keep them in the story and you might also have a temporary effect on the reader’s daily life. And we can hope it’s a positive one!

So… Most people talk about a writer’s characters from the other direction. What real life experiences and what parts of your life do you put into your characters? Which are the autobiographical parts? But this question turns that concept on its head. What parts of our characters that we’re writing, do we reflect back into our daily lives?

I suspect that a lot of my new found courage and willingness to step outside of my comfort zones is a combination of those two things. I want to be more adventurous and more social, therefore, I write about those types of characters and in turn maybe exploring their lives they have inspired me to venture out of the safe zone. Other than that, I can’t think of any specific traits or characteristics that I’m consciously borrowing from my characters that I write.

Honestly, I’m not sure I could consciously (and I suspect that’s a key word here) pin point any characteristics that I’ve adopted from characters written by other authors. Do I think I happens anyway? Probably. Both in fiction and non-fiction. I mean, part of our job is showing characters learning and growing after dealing with huge-to-them experiences and readers read for the emotional experience, putting themselves in the protagonist’s shoes.

I also remember my husband telling me recently about something he read and it might have been the NYTimes opinion piece by Annie Murphy Paul, “Your Brain on Fiction“. Apparently there are studies that show that when reading about someone doing an activity if it’s well described causes the same parts of the brain get used as when the activity is done for real. The article mentions relating words for smells to the memories in the same ways that actually experiencing the scent triggers. That’s pretty strong stuff…. vicarious experience is nearly equivalent to actual experience! Mind-blowing stuff. Makes you want to go read some more of those inspirational success stories, right?

If you didn’t go read those articles, I think you’ll find them interesting and thought provoking. The concepts should definitely make writers stop and think about their choices and whether they’re being morally responsible in their portrayals of their lead characters.

YOUR TURN: What do you think? Does it make sense? Think it’s a bunch of hogwash? What about the last book you read? Did you want to be more or less like the protagonist? Do you think you may have subconsciously picked anything up from them? Did you feel like you were vicariously along for the ride?


And if you’d like to read how the rest of my accountability group answered this question, you can find their blogs here:

* Alexia Reed * Kimberly Farris * Danie Ford * Emma G. Delaney

Overcoming Obstacles

 The Writer  Comments Off on Overcoming Obstacles
Jul 202012

This week for our How I Write series, my accountability group was asked, “What’s your current biggest obstacle to success? Name at least 3 things you can do improve your chances of overcoming obstacles.”

Ok, lemme ‘fess up here. I posed this question this week to my accountability group. And you know what sucks? This question sounded good in my head. It even looked good on the forum where my accountability group meets. However, when I realized I had to answer it too… it suddenly looked a lot more daunting. So forgive me, while I try to do this justice. I know it’s something I need to force myself to look at closely, answer honestly and use to build a game plan.

I’ve been skating by on minimal effort and making far too many excuses lately. And honestly, I’m not sure I can answer this with just one thing. I could point my finger in a number of directions: drive, follow-through, time management — hell, even blaming disruptions of my writing schedule on the people around me, but that one would mostly be a lie I tell myself to feel better. I still have the house to myself most days from around 9 am until noon or so, and I’ve failed to make the most of those hours.

I could also point to the many things I know are NOT obstacles. I can string a sentence together. I can even put together some workable paragraphs that read smoothly. I’ve been told I have a good historical voice. However, some spark is missing between me and the page. The ideas in my head aren’t translating properly. I get feedback that asks if I was going for a certain effect until I want to bash my head against the wall, because… Yes. Yes, that’s EXACTLY what I was trying to do. Only apparently, I didn’t quite.

So what’s my obstacle? Me. Sounds too easy right?

Lemme break it down by tackling three things I need to do in order to up my game and get past this hurdle.

First, and I’ve done this to some degree, but publicly own up to the idea that I am a professional writer. I just haven’t gotten paid for it. But in order to do so… I need to put in my hours and do the work. Nothing is going to write itself. To this end I’m renewing my commitment to use a time tracker on my iPad to make sure I log a minimum of 500 hours this calendar year toward justifying this as a business and not a hobby.

Second, I can’t let my head get in this place where nothing I do is any good. I’ve gotten fabulous feedback in some areas. I just need to work harder and improve the others. How exactly I’m going to accomplish this one? Yeah, I’m not sure either. I know what I can do toward this end is to take the valuable feedback I’ve gotten so far this year, and see if I can tease it apart from the exact manuscript, figure out how to make that work in general and then apply it back to the manuscripts in progress.

Third, I’m going to the RWA National Convention next week. This is part of the first step in treating what I’m doing more seriously, but also a great way to talk shop with experienced writers, take some workshops in some areas to get ideas on how to address the craft issues I’m having and also forcing myself out of my comfort zone and embracing that this is something I want to seriously pursue.

I think that last bit there is probably the most important piece of this post. “This is something I want to seriously pursue.” Pursue, not just allow to happen, not react to it happening around me, but to actively go out there after it, which I believe to be a very important piece of the puzzle when you’re looking at overcoming obstacles of any sort.

And if you’d like to read about the rest of my accountability group’s plans for overcoming obstacles, you can find their blogs here:

* Alexia Reed * Kimberly Farris * Danie Ford * Emma G. Delaney

Jul 132012

This week for our How I Write series, my accountability group is talking about guilty pleasures, both in our regular lives and in our writing.

Guilty pleasures shouldn’t be ignored. Indulge in them, because there’s a good reason that you like them. It doesn’t matter that no one else gets why you like it. They don’t have to. What matters is that this activity feeds your soul, your muse or your happiness. Ignoring them means cutting off a part of what makes you, well, you.

Guilty Pleasures: Photo of several different dark chocolate bars. Notably from Chuao and Ghirardelli.

It may be cliché, but chocolate is ALWAYS a winner! The Maya bar has been there a while. Obviously not a favorite compared to the others, but it’s almost time to restock!

Everyday Life: Good Quality Dark Chocolate

I’ve always liked dark chocolate. But since my DH and I started following the Paleo Diet and gave up grains, potatoes, legumes and most sugar, we needed to find a treat that was indulgent, yet also had some benefits associated with it. One of the suggestions made was an ounce or so of dark chocolate for dessert. Preferably above 70% cacao to get the antioxidant benefits.

Most times we stretch this a bit and will go as low as 60% cacao for our favorite chocolate bars from Chuao (pronouced Chew-wow!). It’s a fairly local chocolatier with several shops in the local malls, but they are also stocked in our local grocery stores for slightly less. The first time we went in one of the stores they were trying out new flavors. One of those was a chocolate bar with potato chips in it. Oh, did I forget to mention that they’re a very artisan type chocolatier? They’ve got some really cool flavors: Honeycomb, Caracas (a pistachio/almond/hazelnut mix), and Firecracker (one with cinnamon and cayenne in it). Our favorite is the Caracas even though it’s Guilty because it has closer to 60% cacao, but Pleasure because it’s the flavor we like best and it’s not the worst thing we could be eating.

Our other standbys are Ghirardelli bars. They have an Intense Dark chocolate line that’s wonderful. This line ranges from Midnight (86% which is a tad TOO intense for us. It’s more of a gritty than a smooth feeling.), Twilight (72% – not too gritty and above 70%!), Evening (60% – below the threshhold for us except for special treats and we prefer the Caracas from Chuao if we’re going to go below 70%. However, our favorite Ghirardelli bar from the Intense Dark line has to be the Sea Salt Soiree. It has sea salt and almond bits in it, but I had to check the label a couple of times because it tastes just like pretzel bits. Perfect blend of sweet & savory.

There are a few other brands we like… one of them has a wolf on the wrapper and is very environmentally conscious that has cranberries and almonds—Yep, I’m being too lazy to go look it up, sorry!—but the Chuao and the Ghirardelli are our favorites. Our kids can’t stand dark chocolate, but that’s ok… just means we don’t have to share!

Writing Life: Dialogue, Introspection and Character Vignettes

If I can just get my characters talking to each other, I’m usually in good shape. I can always go back around and fill in what things look like, what they’re doing or what’s going on around them later. But once I get them talking, everything else drops to the background and I’m lucky if I get to put in minimal stage directions and blocking as I go. It’s similar to people watching, but more like taking transcription as you eavesdrop on the characters. Guilty because I tend to ignore everything else to run with this, but Pleasure because it’s fun, allows my sense of humor to play, and it feels like the word count racks up quickly.

The flip side of this is when the characters start thinking and want to hash everything out in their heads with long, rambling bouts of internal monologues. Any action stops dead in its tracks and all forward momentum comes to a screeching halt. However, this is where I learn the most about my characters and it seems to be a process I have to go through in order to work things out in my own head. The problem is when I can’t jolt them out of their heads and into their world and into conversations with the other characters. Guilty because it helps me in the long run, but Pleasure because once I get going, it’s hard to stop and redirect, especially if I don’t know where the story should be going next.

I love little set pieces. I’m currently doing a 100 words/day challenge to just get back into the joy of writing for writing’s sake. Of course, what did I naturally slip into? Yup, little character vignettes that may or may not see the light of day. I like playing with character and seeing what I can draw out in that limited space to give you a sense of the person from so little. Guilty because I should be focusing on my WIPs (works in progress) and the characters in them, Pleasure because it’s been fun! It’s different and there are no restrictions other than getting at least 100 words down on a page.

Guilty Pleasures: Black and White photo of a dandelion gone to seed.

Yes, this was taken blind. The exposure was way off and the original image is mostly black. It’s amazing the hidden gems you can find. Did I mention I LOVE digital photography?

Photography: Flowers & Intuitive Shots

With the 2012 365 Photo Challenge, I figured this would be a good section to include since I’ve definitely been indulging in a couple of guilty pleasures. I have such a wide variety of flowers in my yard here that it’s very easy to get good looking pictures without much planning or effort. One of the things I love to do is to shoot blind. By this I mean, I don’t always look through the view finder or at the screen when I set up a shot. The Guilty part here is that I know I should be stretching my eye and sense of composition beyond the easy stuff and the Pleasure comes in finding hidden little gems like a stray insect or bird I hadn’t noticed in the shot when I clicked the shutter and being surprised by what appears and works.

YOUR TURN: What are your guilty pleasures? In general or in your creative endeavors. What do you do just for the joy of it?

And if you’d like to read what the rest of my accountability group considers their guilty pleasures, you can find their blogs here:

* Alexia Reed * Kimberly Farris * Danie Ford * Emma G. Delaney

May 042012

This week for our How I Write series, my accountability group asked, “What advice do you think your younger self would give to you now? What advice would you give to your older self/future self?”


Advice to the Future: A very out of focus image of a fish tank at night.


In college, I first had the idea that I too could write a romance novel. It’s still firmly tucked under the bed, a few chapters in. I just sat down and started writing. No planning, no outline. Seat of my pants. And those first three chapters came out, splat onto the page. Then I hit a wall. I had no idea what happened next. In addition to that, I was in my junior year and there was so much shiny out there in the world to explore. The campus had just been wired with intranet and we had a chat system. This was not a recipe for good concentration. So, like now, my younger self would be warning me to focus on what I want to do, and do it.

Don’t just play around for a bit, keep at it!

Oh, and she’d tell me she really likes taking pictures, keep at that too!


Advice to the Future: Photo of the moon, just past full.

“Reach for the moon
because even if you miss you will be among the stars.”

I know I still have focus issues, but without a goal to shoot for, it doesn’t get you anywhere. This quote is another instance of the universe whispering in my ear. I keep seeing it everywhere. And as part of our accountability group we do set goals, but I suspect I like checking things off more than pushing myself to stretch farther. Recently, everything has been about stepping outside my comfort zone, I need to also reach higher and keep taking those steps to get there.

It can be kinda fun to pause on the staircase to look around and see how far you’ve come. But keep going! If you don’t push yourself, you’ll never see how far you can go.

YOUR TURN:What would your younger self say to you now? What do you want to tell your future self?

And if you’d like to read about how the rest of my accountability group answered, you can find their blogs here:

* Alexia Reed * Kimberly Farris *
* Angeleque Ford * Danie Ford * Emma G. Delaney

Teaching Moments

 The Writer  Comments Off on Teaching Moments
Apr 272012

Teaching Moments: Photo of the sun breaking through the clouds.This week for our How I Write series, my accountability group was asked about teaching moments: “What have you recently learned from a REAL LIFE event/happening that you can apply to your writing/writing career?”

Have you ever felt like the universe is trying to tell you something?

It’s been shouting at me lately.

When the same phrases and themes keep coming at you, eventually one is going to stick. First it was, “If you never ask, the answer will always be ‘no’.” And then there was all the advise on pushing boundaries one step at a time.

Lately it’s been all about soul searching, knowing yourself, digging deeper, how your experiences mold you and using those deep core experiences and decisions to improve your writing. Now, Jodi Henley‘s been talking about core events for a while. I listened. I really did. However, I didn’t have the right mindset at the time to learn as much as I needed. Jo Leigh came to my local RWASD chapter meeting this past month and talked about “Core Decisions” — it wasn’t the most comfortable meeting for an introvert who doesn’t like discussing what makes her tick. But man, did it make the brain work overtime. Lots of ‘Aha!’ moments when thinking about what my stories have been about and why the heroines act and react the way they do.

I’ve recently had a few people look at my work and while they agree that while I can string a sentence together, something’s missing. Now, none of them came out and said this precisely, and I may be putting words in their mouths, but what I feel is missing is the ‘heart’. The emotional side of things. How does it really feel to be in these characters heads and why should we care about them.

I’ve learned a lot about the theory of why Emotional Structure works, why connections are drawn between authors and readers. But most importantly, I’ve learned that I cannot avoid what makes me “me”, not if I want to find my voice and connect with readers to bring my characters truly alive and make their stories matter.

The trick now will be opening up those veins and allowing it to bleed out onto the page. I need to abandon the theory, no I need to TRUST it, and put it into action.

YOUR TURN:What have you learned recently that it suddenly seemed like you were ready to learn?

And if you’d like to read about how the rest of my accountability group answered, you can find their blogs here:

* Alexia Reed * Kimberly Farris *
* Angeleque Ford * Danie Ford * Emma G. Delaney