Finding Great Ideas ~ #LynnCrain #PCers

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Many times I have been asked where I get my ideas. That question can be asked at a book signing or a conference and can come from a reader or another writer. My ideas have been considered outside the box and many times an idea will sit in a file until I can either use it or keep it until the right time. Most of the time though, I am quite happy to tell people I have a great imagination but there are times when I will take something that is known and twist it to my own ends.

Still, those germs of imagination have to come from somewhere so here are my top five of where I get my many, many ideas.

1 ~ I am a voracious reader ~ Most authors would agree that they will get some ideas by reading stories by others. Frankly, you can’t be a great writer unless you’re a great reader. It just doesn’t happen. I’ve been reading novels since I was in second grade. Sure, they were little kids’ ones but they were much longer than the standard book.

The one thing I do as a writer is not read in the genre I’m writing. Meaning, when I’m writing sci-fi romance, I read regular romance. When I’m writing fantasy romance, again I will read some form of regular romance. No writer wants to find out they’ve ‘accidentally’ used something from their favorite writer and one needs to be very, very careful there.

2 ~ Science Magazines ~ Being that sci-fi anything is one of my favorite genres to write, I constantly look over the many science magazines online. They can be a fount of information and I’m always game for twisting the currently known and making it my own. It’s where I found my first holographic display, where I noticed that the nanites were getting smaller and smaller. Anyone can use magazines to find out the current trend in the world then figure out to best use it in their story, no matter what the genre.

3 ~ Music ~ How many times have you listened to a song and wished there was a full story behind it? Add a music video along with that and sometimes it just clicks. Of course, you’d have to change it to make it your own but it does give you that germ of an idea for the ball to start rolling.

4 ~ TV Shows ~ This is the easiest one for me because there are times I’m a very visual person. You can watch a scene then think to yourself, ‘What if I took it one step further?’ And again, the ball starts rolling. Another thing I’ve done is watch a totally contemporary story and wonder what it would be like if it were set 200 years in the future or in the past. Some shows keep the ideas flowing for days.

5 ~ Be an observer of people ~ This is the best one. I used to go to airports early while waiting for my husband because I loved watching people. I would try to figure out their stories and then wonder if I could make it my own. Many times I’ve been caught in a restaurant booth where I overhear a conversation that grabs my interest. Of course, I know you don’t get the whole story that way but I realize I can make it my own. Think of the many times you’ve seen people and wondered just what was going on or what their story was.

One thing to remember is to be very careful that whatever method you use, it’s totally new because it’s from your mind and your perspective. It is never cool to take a story from somewhere else and claim it as your own.

For the ideas I don’t use, I keep an idea file that is sorted by genre then by type. If I’m ever at a loss for what to write about, I will pull out that file then scan the contents. Sometimes I will use one I’ve previously done or it will trigger a totally new idea and I’ll go off on a different tangent. The one thing I do know is that I have more ideas than I’ll ever write. At last count, my idea file had over 180 ideas in it. Now if I could just write a story a day…and that’s what makes writing so fun…it’s never boring!

See you all next month!

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About Lynn Crain

Award winning author Lynn Crain has done it all in her life. From nursing to geology, her life experiences have added to her detail rich stories. She loves writing full time as she weaves contemporary, fantasy, futuristic and paranormal tales, tame to erotic, for various publishers. Her home is in the desert southwest and she’s just returned from her latest adventure of living in Vienna, Austria while her husband worked his dream job. You can find her hanging out online at www.lynncrain.blogspot.com, https://www.facebook.com/LynnCrainAuthor, and on Twitter, @oddlynn3. She loves hearing from her readers at lynncrain@cox.net.

It Takes a Village: The Benefits of Writing Groups

it-takes-a-villageHere at Heart-Shaped Glasses, we’re not just authors who blog together, we’re family.

We started as a private online critique group which has evolved into so much more. Yes, there’s critiquing, which is invaluable. Especially when it’s from people who focus just as much with what’s right as what’s not working. I trust these ladies with my precious stories, I trust their experience, which probably (added together) is a lifetime of writing.

I love that we all bring something different to the table. We each have strengths and weaknesses, not only in our writing but in our critique styles. I’m constantly learning. 

The next best thing about being part of a great writer’s group? The cheerleading. We’re all at different places in our careers, going down different paths of publishing, writing different genres. But the support we give each other transcends all those things. 

I get hurrahs when I succeed at something, even if it’s meeting my wordcount, and sympathy when things are going rough.

Which brings me to my next point on why writer’s groups (the right ones) are awesome: trust. It takes trust to upload a first draft for critique. It requires trust to say, “Hey, I’m having a rough time in my life right now, and this is why.” And I’ve never, ever seen anything shared in that private group shared anywhere else. It’s like a vault. A vault of caring, kindness, and support.

We’re not accepting new members right now, but don’t worry. Your perfect writing group is out there somewhere. Here are some articles on finding and getting the most from writing groups. Read all about them, then find your perfect writing home.

Tell us about your experience in writer’s groups. Has it been more positive, like mine, or do you have horror stories?

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About Lori Sizemore

Lover of nail polish, pens, her Kindle, and fresh coffee. She likes romance filled with messy, real characters and lots of snarky banter. Reading was (and still is!) her BFF; when she discovered writing she fell in love. Sassy humor for the heart, captivating contemporary romance for the soul.

Fighting the Doubt Monster

As a writer, a full-time worker, wife, and mother of two, I find myself constantly analyzing my actions, reactions, and doubt-monsterefforts. For the story writing part of me, it gets worse as the book unfolds, then the edits, and before I know it the Doubt Monster takes hold and I’m paralyzed.

Doubt Monsters are red, with tentacle-like legs, razor-sharp teeth, and beady eyes. The visual manifestation looks like that anyway. The mental manifestation is fear and anxiety, followed by a lovely dose of procrastination on social media, maybe some candy crushing. They  won’t disappear with these tactics. The battle wages on regardless of the side tracks. I get scared about not living up to expectations, about how everyone will hate the words AND the best one of all – that I’m a fake. A no-good, useless waste of writing space, posing as a person with good ideas/plots/characters when really a four-year-old could come up with this stuff.

These are not issues only affecting me. I’m not unique. Most writers deal with the Doubt Monsters day in and day out. Nasty suckers, aren’t they?

If you’re suffering from one of these Doubt Monsters, thankfully there’s a few tips and tricks to defeat the beasts.

  1. Music  – I’ve got a few songs to help me through the tough times. Uplifting beats. You may remember employing similar efforts after a bad break up or when you’re stressed out.
  2. Sunshine and a walk – Break up the blurry eyes by getting away from the computer a bit. The problems aren’t going anywhere. The words will still be on the page. It’s time to let your brain process the information and then play catch up. I do some of my best work sometimes sitting in traffic.
  3. Talking things out with a friend – Most writers have a critique partner, along with a writing group. It’s part of the magic formula that helps get a lot of writers to the finish line and then into the ever-coveted, winner’s circle. Many times my CP is the one who listens to my ideas, the crazy ones, the problems, and the doubts. She’s the voice of reason to battle against the Doubt Monster.

Don’t believe me? Well, I come with articles to back me up. They are not fool-proof, and sure some of this is in my head, but

13 Mental Health Benefits of Exercise

The Benefits of Amazing Writing Critique Partners

There are more articles you can find talking about getting outside being good for the soul, critique partners enriching lives. I imagine you even have your own ways to fight the Doubt Monsters invading your mind and making a home in your amygdala.

How do you fight the monsters? 

If you’ve got a Doubt Monster creeping up on you, I have a song to help fight it.

Hugs, Love, and Battle On my friends.

 

About Landra Graf

Landra Graf consumes at least one book a day and has always been a sucker for stories where true love conquers all. She believes in the power of the written word, and the joy such words can bring. In between spending time with her family and having book adventures, she writes romance with the goal of giving everyone, fictional or not, their own happily ever after.

Write Or Die ~ #LynnCrain #Productivity #amwriting #PCers

Yes, the title of my post this month is Write Or Die. And no, I don’t have a death wish but I’m in the last throes getting a project done and I needed something to help me with my productivity. Don’t we all need a little of that?

This is a very cool program and will help you to reach your goals if you use it consistently. You can find it here. On my regular desktop, which I still haven’t set up yet ~ bad me, I purchased it and love the program. There is also a web version that you can use anytime you want. Here’s a picture of the dashboard you’ll see:

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The thing I like is that I can set my own goal, my time limit and I can tell it how I want to warn me when I’m not writing up to my potential. There are different types of modes as well as what you have it do to jolt you back to productivity. While this can be fun, it can be very frustrating as well. Especially if you’re like me and hooked to the internet all the time.

There are just some days one has to unplug themselves from the world and get a project done. I used to have little tricks to help me. Like locking my office door.  Then I got older and realized that I would have to answer if there were broken bones or blood involved. Such is life when you only have boys.

So, I decided to find something that would help me concentrate for short bursts of time thus making those short bursts very productive. I found this program years ago when I had more deadlines than I do today. It has helped me through many days where I needed to keep to a minimum word count but for some reason, my mind would wonder. I’d want to do research then continue doing research even though I had enough to produce the story.

Writing can be a struggle but for something who used to be a regular gamer, making it fun again can be important. Therefore, I’ll use this program until it’s no longer useful. Or who knows…maybe I’ll grow up and not need these little kicks…LOL!

If you all struggle with productivity, check out this article from Jane Friedman. She has all the latest and greatest to keep you on track.

I’d love to hear from you on what you do to keep yourself productive…see you all next time!

About Lynn Crain

Award winning author Lynn Crain has done it all in her life. From nursing to geology, her life experiences have added to her detail rich stories. She loves writing full time as she weaves contemporary, fantasy, futuristic and paranormal tales, tame to erotic, for various publishers. Her home is in the desert southwest and she’s just returned from her latest adventure of living in Vienna, Austria while her husband worked his dream job. You can find her hanging out online at www.lynncrain.blogspot.com, https://www.facebook.com/LynnCrainAuthor, and on Twitter, @oddlynn3. She loves hearing from her readers at lynncrain@cox.net.

Inconceivable!

This morning a college friend posted on Facebook that he had never seen The Princess Bride. Inconceivable, yes? It’s the only movie I’ve ever seen in a movie theater more than once, and the second time I went by myself. So I started streaming it on Netflix as I stared at this blank blog page, trying to figure out what to write today. I got to this exchange between Vizzini and Inigo, as the Man in Black is climbing the Cliffs of Insanity:

V: “He didn’t fall? Inconceivable!”
I: “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

You can see the whole clip here, just because it’s awesome.

Anyway, it got me thinking. As writers, words are everything to us. Large and small, we agonize over every one we write. As an author of historical fiction, I not only have to agonize over every word and what it means, I need to think about whether the word actually existed in the time period of the book.  I keep a bunch of reference books on my desk and on my Kindle which help me find just the right word, and I have the OED, available online through my public library, bookmarked.

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If there’s even the slightest question a word might not mean what I think it means, I look it up. If there’s the slightest question a word didn’t exist in the 19th century, I look it up. And if I have used ‘smile’ 100 times (yes, it’s possible), I look for other words to replace them. And my editor takes out 90% of my ‘thats.’

So, what about you? What are your go-to sources for finding just the right word? And how many times have you seen The Princess Bride? 🙂

 

About Marin McGinnis

About Marin McGinnis Clevelanders are tough, a bit cynical, and just a little crazy, and Marin McGinnis is no exception. When she’s not chasing after big dogs or watching tweens skate around hockey rinks, she is immersing herself in Victorian era romance. She lives in Northeast Ohio with her husband, son, and two standard poodles named Larry and Sneaky Pete. You can find her here, at marinmcginnis.com, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Pinterest.

When Characters Are Snarky…

I had to set up another home office in my Nevada house. While we still haven’t decided just what to do with it, we know that we’ll be here off and on for the renovations at the minimum, add to that author things, family things and we have a very full agenda in Nevada.

Now this isn’t a surprise but what was is the fact I actually had to create my own space here. See, I have a lovely office that my husband built for me early in my career. It has a fabulous desk with a huge picture window that allows me to look out at the world. It was one of the things I really, really missed five years ago when I moved to Vienna.

Today it’s being occupied by my son and his significant other as they build their fledgling Amazon business. They are doing quite well but there isn’t a corner in the room anymore which is mine. Their stuff is spread out over two rooms of the house and right now, my old desk is their command center.

Again, I tried to use the dining room table and again, I couldn’t. It’s big enough but the chairs are old and this time, there was another problem. When I did start to write, I found my characters were not only belligerent but downright snarky at times.

Harry-#2---ResizedSnarky used to be a term I only applied to Pup Harry. I mean, can’t you see the snark in his eyes? His ne’er’do-well smirk. He even has a blog named Call Me Snarky Boy from when we first got him. And now, my characters are behaving in the same way?!?

At first, I couldn’t believe it but the more I thought about it, the more I wondered if it wasn’t because of me not having a desk. The only really thing I’ve ever required when writing has been a desk in a quiet spot as I found out I was more productive that way. When I have no distractions, I can pound out the stories. Yet, here my characters were telling me they weren’t talking.

With two novellas due in the next month or so, an edit and another proposal to get to my agent’s desk, I understood I needed to do something and fast. Thank goodness for Amazon as I went shopping. After going through page after page of desks and not finding something I really wanted, I decided to look at the local consignment and antique stores.

I thought I wanted what is called a secretary desk with a pull down surface. Finding one immediate that I loved for the intricate detail, I excitedly talked to my husband who is currently in Vienna. He wanted the youngest to look at it to make sure we could do the repairs. Once the youngest saw it, he nixed it immediately because he thought if I put any weight on it at all, the whole thing would end up in my lap.

Not good. So we looked at two tables. One I really loved the wood but it had some damage too and while it didn’t matter to its purpose, it was more than I wanted to pay. Walking through the big pieces one last time, I spied a thin cherry table with two drawers. Calling my son over, I had him test it and we both liked it. I offered the owner a price I thought fair and was happy he took it.New-Desk-Picture-Resized

My son picked it up later that day and it took me about an hour to set up as it won’t hold much. Just a computer, some papers and it will be a charging station for all our phones and tablets. The drawers will hold pens, paper and the ever necessary post-its. I was ready to go but still I held back. Would my characters continue to be snarky? Or would they finally open up?

And I’m happy to report, they are singing like the birds! Thank goodness.

What about you? Do you ever have moments as a writer when the characters won’t talk to you? And readers, do you ever see characters that you wished were better written and more talkative?

I’d love to hear your thoughts…see you all next time!

About Lynn Crain

Award winning author Lynn Crain has done it all in her life. From nursing to geology, her life experiences have added to her detail rich stories. She loves writing full time as she weaves contemporary, fantasy, futuristic and paranormal tales, tame to erotic, for various publishers. Her home is in the desert southwest and she’s just returned from her latest adventure of living in Vienna, Austria while her husband worked his dream job. You can find her hanging out online at www.lynncrain.blogspot.com, https://www.facebook.com/LynnCrainAuthor, and on Twitter, @oddlynn3. She loves hearing from her readers at lynncrain@cox.net.

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