Thursday, November 30, 2017

Exciting Things Are Coming to The Writing Desk Blog!

Good Morning, Writing Desk Readers!

As we come to the end of November and nearly the end of 2017 - When did that happen?! - I have some new, exciting projects planned for the blog!

The first, which I'm still finalizing the logistics for, is to do an entire What Am I Reading/Author Interview Christmas series in December!

The plan: An interview per week leading up to Christmas with authors of published series. What better idea for a gift for the bookworm in your life than the first 2-3 novels in a fantastic new series?     

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The second project, which I vaguely hinted at in my last Quarterly Goals post, is a big one for me as a writer.

I want to take the YA science-fiction novella I wrote for a competition last year, and serialize it for The Writing Desk Blog!

Did I just say that? Yes, I think I did!

This novella was really special to me, and I've been torn on what to do with it since the contest ended. I went through the entire beta-reader process and received some great feedback from my readers. I'll be going through the entire novella again, making any edits as needed, and formatting it to be published one section at a time here on the blog.


How often would you lovely readers want to see the updates for this? Weekly? Bi-weekly? Not monthly, because that would be a bit much. Let me know!

I am so excited (and nervous), but also ready to get started! I hope to have the first section ready for publication just after the New Year!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

People Watching: A Fantastic Way to Create New Characters

My returning readers might remember, I was recently traveling for work and doing a little blogging/people watching in the Philadelphia airport. As I sat waiting for my flight back home, I thought to myself, this would make a great blog post topic!

People watching is a fantastic exercise for both creating new characters and working on your character description skills. Any public place will do, but I especially love airports. They offer the opportunity to see a variety of people you might not otherwise encounter in your daily life.

In the past, I've actually volunteered to pick someone up at the airport just so I could arrive there early and have time to observe the people coming and going.

Don't mind me, I find joy in strange things.

I'd like to give a few examples of the potential character notes I made while in the
Philadelphia airport. Keep in mind these descriptions are from brief glances of people as they walked by, so most of these notes are short and sweet. When using them to create a potential character, there are often details that I couldn't see clearly (like eye color, if their teeth were straight or crooked, do they wear perfume/cologne, etc.). These are things I'll come up with myself later as the character develops, along with their personality traits.

Character #1:
Male, early 30's, pale skin, square jaw. Hint of stubble on his face.
Reddish/brown hair reaching down to his lower back in thick dreadlocks, tied together with a band.
Dressed in simple trousers and a white button down shirt with a long overcoat.
Moved fluidly through the airport crowd, obviously not in a hurry.  
(For whatever reason, I imagined he had a thick regional accent, like he was from Boston, or possibly even a European accent.)

Character #2:
Female, mid-late 50's, olive complexion, strong nose. (Mediterranean extraction, perhaps?)
Full silver hair tied in a loose chignon. Minimal makeup, black-framed glasses.
Black pencil skirt, black button down shirt tucked into her waistband, fuchsia heels.
She had a worn, brown leather satchel over one shoulder. Walked with a purpose.

Character #3:
Male, late 30's-early 40's, Korean-American (He was speaking both Korean and English on the phone, so I feel confident about that detail. Sat across the aisle from me in the terminal for several minutes while he was on the phone.)
Thick hair long enough to be slicked back with gel. Clean shave, straight teeth.  
Impeccably dressed, dark suit and sapphire blue tie, black pea coat, black dress shoes.
Had a black computer bag resting on the floor between his feet. Alert, constantly taking in his surroundings even while he was on the phone. 

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Whether you're celebrating the (US) holiday this week or not, I encourage you to take the opportunity to observe people. Whether you're traveling far away or sticking close to home, choose two or three people you don't know and make a few character notes!

Tell me: What is your favorite character building exercise? Do you find inspiration from the people around you, or does your imagination do most of the leg work?

Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Giveaway Prizes Are On Their Way!

Giveaway prizes are in the mail!

I repeat, giveaway prizes are in the mail!

You should have seen me practically bouncing up and down in the post office this morning while I was sending these babies out to the contest winners! 

So pretty!

The winners should receive their packages soon, and I even threw in a little something extra for the second-place winner along with her bookmarks! Why? Because I love surprises!

What has everyone else been reading this week? I'm torn between a couple of recommendations from a friend of mine.


Friday, November 10, 2017

Author Interview: Nancy Christie

Two author interviews in less than three weeks! How exciting is this?

I hope you all enjoy my interview with this week's What Am I Reading Wednesday author, Nancy Christie! 

Photo Provided By: Nancy Christie

The Writing Desk: Hi Nancy! Thank you for agreeing to this blog interview with me. Your latest book, “Rut-Busting Book for Writers” was just released in September, correct?

Nancy Christie: That is correct! My “youngest” is just about a month and a half old! (And she’s so cute!) 

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TWD: While the title is pretty self-explanatory, if you could describe the purpose of “Rut-Busting Book for Writers” in one sentence what would it be?

NC: “Rut-Busting Book for Writers” offers insights, information and tips for those who are pursuing the writing life, whether as a profession or for personal satisfaction, yet find themselves struggling to get out of creative or professional ruts.

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TWD: Besides non-fiction/help for writers, what other genres do you enjoy writing?

NC: I am a die-hard fiction writer—primarily short stories, although I have a couple novels that are works-in-progress—or not progress, depending on how I feel about the story at any point in time! Seriously, I love writing fiction. As a child, I was big on “let’s pretend” and that’s really what fiction writing is—just on paper.

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TWD: I see you also have a series of “Rut-Busting Workshops”. Were these workshops the inspiration for the book, or was the book part of the plan? 

NC: Definitely the inspiration for the book. Every time I did the workshops and gave out my hand-outs, someone would ask if there was a book available, too. So this spring I decided to go ahead and write one!

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TWD: I love that you’ve included contributions from other writers as well in the book! Was it difficult working with multiple collaborators on a project of this size? 

NC: Because of how it was done, it was pretty easy. I already knew what I wanted to cover in the chapters, so first I went back to all the author interviews I had done on my blogs to see what nuggets of wisdom I could mine for those topics. Then I reached out to those sources as well as others and asked for more insights and voila! A book is born!

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TWD: In your experience as a writer, has most of your work been traditionally published, self-published, or a combination of both? Which avenue do you prefer? 

NC: I have had two books traditionally published: “The Gifts of Change,” first through Beyond Words and now through Atria, and “Traveling Left of Center and Other Stories” through Pixel Hall Press. “Rut-Busting Book for Writers” is my first self-published book. I like the control of self-publishing but the initial cost can be a tad painful! But I may do it again.

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TWD: These next questions are ones I like to ask in each Writing Desk Blog interview, it’s so interesting to see the range of responses I get!
 Where do you typically work from? (Home, office, coffee shop, etc.) Is there anywhere you find you're more productive than other places?

NC: I work in my 440-foot home office—the biggest space I have had so far. When I travel I can work anywhere. I just block out the distractions. (I had two children—I am good at blocking out extraneous noise!) But I prefer to be alone.

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TWD: If you are able to tell us, what’s next for you after this book? Will we be seeing another advice book for writers, or do you have something else in the works? 

NC: I have a couple projects. I am finishing a holiday story in time for “Celebrate Short Fiction” Day, am pitching another short story collection, have just started yet another novel (I am a glutton for punishment), next year will start edits on another novel, and would like to release a holiday collection in time for 2018 season, assuming I can write enough stories to fill a book!

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TWD: Best piece(s) of writing advice?

NC: Write every day if possible, focus on writing the best you can, and don’t let rejections discourage you. (Three for the price of one!)

***

TWD: Something interesting about you that people may be surprised to know?
 
NC: Hmmm, I don’t know that it’s about me, necessarily, but I rarely know how a story will end up until I get into it, and sometimes, not until it ends. Alternatively, I never planned on being published and certainly never planned to write a book! All I ever wanted to do was write. But then, once I saw my name in print (the first time for an essay I wrote about my son’s soccer team) I was hooked!

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A big thank you again to Nancy for taking the time to talk with me! You can find her bio and links to her website and social media accounts in this week's What Am I Reading Wednesday post. 

I hope everyone has a fantastic weekend!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

What Am I Reading Wednesday (11/8/2017)

It's time for the first What Am I Reading Wednesday post of November!

 Title: "Rut-Busting Book for Writers"

Author: Nancy Christie

First Reading: Yes

Initial Impression: How awesome is this title? 

Final Thoughts: Nancy has brought together a valuable writing tool based on her own experience and contributions from an impressive list of writers and bloggers.


I love a bright, clean cover!
 
When Nancy first told me about her latest publication, "Rut-Busting Book for Writers", I was immediately intrigued by the title. Rut-Busting! There was no mistaking what this book was going to be about.

Every writer knows the frustration of becoming stuck in a productivity rut. (Some more often than others, some less.) And we may not always know exactly how to climb back out again. It was one of Christie's initial points in the book that really held my attention: Identify the type of rut you are in.

She goes on to outline the three most common types of ruts writers can find themselves pulled into, and I quickly realized that I'd fallen head-first into all three of them at one point or another! I even found myself going back to re-read this section after I'd finished the book. (This is definitely a skill I want to master, call it an add-on to my goals for this quarter!) The ability to identify what is causing you to become bogged down with your writing can go a long way in helping you overcome it.

Christie goes on to tie in several other topics, including rejection, creating your ideal writing space, writing roadblocks, and building your repertoire of tools you'll use throughout your life as a writer. I won't give anything away though. Why? Because "Rut-Busting Book for Writers" is available right now on Amazon and Barnes & Noble!

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About the Author:

Nancy Christie is a writer, conference speaker, and blogger, with an extensive career that includes works of fiction, non-fiction, articles, and essays. Utilizing her experience, Nancy also conducts workshops on writing and personal growth. 

Keep Up with Nancy:

You can find more information about Nancy at:

Official Website: http://www.nancychristie.com/
Social Media: @NChristie_OH
Workshop Brochure: Workshops


 Stay tuned, Writing Desk Readers, for an author interview with Nancy this Friday, 11/10/2017!

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Giveaway Winners Have Been Notified!

Hey there, Writing Desk Readers!

The winners of the first Writing Desk Blog Giveaway have been notified, and their prizes will be in the mail next week!

It was so much fun organizing this giveaway, seeing how many people entered, then finally letting the first and second place winners know they'd be receiving a prize.

Hopefully I'll be able to do another Writing Desk Blog giveaway soon!