3 Tips That Will Make You A Better Writer

There are many books that explore the craft of writing but these tips are what will really change the way you work and write.

ONE. WRITE EVERY DAY.

By this, I don’t mean that you have to write a specific word count every day, because many people will feel a sense of failure if they don’t accomplish what most professional writers do. But since many of us that are writing have day jobs, trying to crank out 1,200 words daily is almost impossible. The secret is, there is no magic number. Write every day, even if all you can write for that day is ONE SENTENCE. But slowly, if you continue, in a year you’ll finally have a rough draft of a novel.

TWO. COMPLETE ONE PROJECT.

The problem I see with many writers is that they never complete a short story or novel. Instead, they begin a project, and once they struggle they let go and begin another. In the end, many of them end up having ten unfinished projects, and no single finished project to show for their efforts. Focus on completing ONE project so that you can then have something to edit once you’re done. You’ll never see your writing career launch if you’re always in the phase of starting new projects and never completing any of them.

THREE. READ BOOKS IN THE GENRE YOU WRITE.

Publishing is a business, which means that in order to see what is selling in your given genre, you have to read books from that genre. I don’t mean just one or two. I mean, A LOT. You should aim to read at least one book a month. Reading should be seen as a way to study the craft of writing. This will be way more helpful to you than dishing out hundreds of dollars for a writing workshop that lasts three days where you accomplish nothing.

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Poetry: A HOME IN THE WORDS

smiling woman using laptop

Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

Home, in spite of the house.

Home, in spite of the neighborhood.

By the fourth grade, the many homes I’d had

Could be counted on two hands.

Make new friends, be social,

Strike up conversations to be normal.

I talked with words,

Hoping to find another

Who would talk similar words at me

So we would have some words in common

To talk about.

Report cards chastised my love of words—

“She talks a lot.”

“She talks too much.”

“She talks in class.”

Little girl, hush!

Home, in spite of the city.

Home, in spite of the state.

The state lines blurred and swirled in my head

Class clown or introvert?

But the truth is, when the talking came

To a merciful stop,

That was home.

School bus rides spent in solitude,

Left to my thoughts.

An inconspicuous corner in the park

To people-watch.

Quietly learning things

That can’t be taught.

Silently yearning

To accompany none.

To simply be

In the comforting company of one.

Alone.

Talk is tiresome.

And I’ve talked for too many years.

Home, in spite of society.

Home, in spite of deity.

I covet, I desire, I lust to communicate.

It’s a sin to have waited this long.

To let these words languish,

Unused and unloved.

Herds of unwritten pages

Penned and left silent

Under the varnish of a social façade,

Confused and shoved aside.

The words that aim to hit a woman’s heart,

Not her eardrum.

The words that pull laughter from a man

Residing in the slum of his despair.

The words that inspire the inner child,

Not to give way to fear,

But to demand fear bows at their feet.

Smiling, no matter how many tears scroll down their cheeks.

Surviving collateral damage in the years they toil to be unique.

Braving the verbal batter all the peers who scold their defeat.

Home is right where I write.

Home is right where I think.

Home lies in the honesty of humor, humanity, honor and humility.

Home is in the words

That haunt and transcend language.

And they linger, patient

In the periphery

Needing no translation.

It is the holy dialect of our motherland.

That is the tongue I long to speak.

By: Erica Ruhe 

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5 Unique Gifts that Writers Will LOVE to Receive

holiday

Buying gifts can sometimes become a stressful chore, especially when you’re struggling what to give to someone that is close to you. But if you’ve got a writer in your life, don’t worry! I’ve got you covered pals and gals. Below are some seriously awesome gifts that anyone who enjoys writing will be thrilled to receive.

SUBSCRIPTION BOXES

Across The Page

What You’ll Get: Across The Page is a unique subscription box for writers looking to learn and find inspiration from cross-genre writers, specifically screenwriters and playwrights. Each month’s box is curated around a new story and includes a copy of the script, screenplay, book, and movie or stage play. Past boxes have included stories like The Martian, The Handmaid’s Tale, and A Few Good Men.

Scribbler

This box is curated by authors, for authors so of course, I had to include this! Each box comes with one writing theme, one fiction novel, author tips, writing themed gifts, plus the chance to speak to a publishing professional!

BOOKS ON WRITING

savethecat

Save the Cat! Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody

Novelist Jessica Brody presents a comprehensive story-structure guide for novelists that applies the famed Save the Cat! screenwriting methodology to the world of novel writing. Revealing the 15 “beats” (plot points) that comprise a successful story–from the opening image to the finale–this book lays out the Ten Story Genres (Monster in the House; Whydunit; Dude with a Problem) alongside quirky, original insights (Save the Cat; Shard of Glass) to help novelists craft a plot that will captivate–and a novel that will sell.

onwriting

On Writing by Stephen King

The master of horror shares his love for the writing craft and tips on how to do better. The book reads easily, not in a preachy way. It’s in a conversational tone and shows how much King went through to get to where he is. Nobody gets to the top without having a learned a trick or two on the way.

USB DRIVES

As a writer, you always need to save your work and what better way than to keep your precious manuscripts saved than to use the handy USB drives. Every writer needs a couple of them.

foldingdesk

PORTABLE DESK

Don’t always have a desk with you? No worries! Bring the desk with you! Any space can easily become your writing nook with this awesome portable desk.

NOTEBOOKS

When you’re on the go, sometimes writing can be difficult. That’s why any writer will appreciate it if you gift them a notebook. It doesn’t have to be fancy or big. Writers are equal opportunity when it comes to notebooks and journals, we’re not that picky when we just need any scrap of paper to write down our ideas!

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Flash Fiction: Driver, Surprise Me

doll4

I could still feel Rex’s hands wrapped around my neck when I met Damon. I shuddered at the thought. Maybe it was because he was wearing a suit, or maybe because I needed a getaway car, but when Damon stopped the car to ask me if I needed a lift I nodded – still dazed from the lack of oxygen. It was only after I got in that I noticed them. The whole back seat was lined up with porcelain dolls. Their glassy eyes and red lips painted in a perpetual smirk kind of creeped me out.

“Where to?” he asked, dazzling me with his smile.

I gulped – unsure of where I was headed. I hadn’t planned that far ahead when I ran out of the apartment.

“The bus station,” I hesitated.

“Getting out of the city?”

I nodded.

“Where to?”

“Florida,” I lied.

He nodded, as he tried to make small talk but I wasn’t listening.

I kept staring at the rearview mirror so I could steal glances at the dolls. I was transfixed by their disarming beauty and impeccable detail. Each doll dressed in a particular style, goth, hippy, posh, 17th century baroque, to mention a few. Once he caught me staring at them, our gaze met in the mirror for a fraction of a second before I quickly diverted my focus.

I looked down at my hands. Thought about how they had been covered in blood an hour ago. My mind raced, replaying the scene. The blade coming down and his hands around my neck. He didn’t think I had it in me. He thought I was weak. But boy, had he been wrong. Dead wrong. I stifled a chuckle.

“They used to be broken you know…” Damon interrupted my thoughts.

“What?”

“The dolls. I fixed them.” There was something about the way his eyes moved over my body that made me feel as though he were prying into my very core.

“Oh,” I replied. I suddenly felt uncomfortable. The space between us seemed too little at that moment, and I willed him to drive faster. But that wasn’t the case. Instead, he suddenly brought the car to an abrupt stop. I would’ve flung forwards and probably through the windshield if I hadn’t worn my seat belt. Before I had a chance to react, a rag covered my mouth and I blacked out.

I’ve gotten used to it by now. Sitting here and waiting for the night to go by as he drives throughout the city. He fills our nights with music as we ride. The Doors, Nirvana, at times even Queen. We’re in a loop, hapless passengers of a demonic ride. We pass through Soho, Park Avenue, across the Brooklyn Bridge. My glassy eyes take in the city lights while my red lips are frozen in a perpetual smirk.

But I’m no longer broken.

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What Does It Mean To Edit an Anthology? – The 10 Steps You Need to Take!

My American Nightmare 2

Two years ago I put together my first anthology, My American Nightmare – Women in Horror Anthology. I had always wanted to put together an anthology, and finally, after much thought and trepidation, I decided to bite the bullet and launch myself headfirst into this project.

The experience was both overwhelming and fulfilling. I got to read a lot of awesome horror short stories and in turn, meet new authors and become acquainted with their works.

Many people may not understand what exactly an anthology editor does, or may think that we simply select the stories, check for typos, and then slap our names on the cover. However, there’s a lot of work involved in the whole process and it’s a process that takes up several months, if not almost a year before the book is ready to be released to the world.

Now, for the second time, I’ll be putting on my anthology editor hat on and selecting stories for my upcoming anthology collection: Strange Girls – Women in Horror Anthology.

Below are the Ten Steps I do while putting together an anthology.

Step One. Select the Theme

For both anthologies, I knew that I wanted to help promote the writing of women in horror. Why am I closing the doors to the other half of the writing population? Simple. The horror genre has always been noted to be male-dominated, but women too have written some notable horror novels and short stories (from Mary Shelley, Shirley Jackson, Anne Rice, and Poppy Z. Brite just to name a few). For my first anthology, I knew that I wanted all the stories to have the U.S. as the setting, hence the title, My American Nightmare. For my current anthology, I knew that I wanted to explore the theme of Strange Girls, and what exactly it is about these girls that makes them strange.

Step Two. Advertise the Call for Submissions

After I select the theme, I write up an open submission call on my official author website and share the link on all my social media venues. Also, Stuart Conover from Horror Tree has been invaluable in his support by posting my submission call on his website, which has helped word of mouth travel extensively fast because of this. In the submission call, I not only state the guidelines and theme but also set a deadline and state the author’s compensation.

Step Three. Read the Short Stories

Once the stories start pouring in I begin reading right away (so that I’m not overwhelmed by reading a ton of short stories all at once) and also have found that this way it gives the stories time to marinate in my head and allow me to see which ones have remained memorable and which have become forgettable. By the deadline date, I usually have an idea of which stories will make the cut and which will not.

Step Four. Select and Reject Stories

This is where I make two lists, Accept vs. Decline, and start compiling which stories go where. Sometimes, I’ll put some stories in the Maybe file and read them over another two or three times before I decide if they’ll be a good fit for my theme. Once that’s complete, then I send out rejection and acceptance emails.

Step Five. Contracts & Issue Payment

Whenever you’re putting together an anthology it’s important to have each author sign a contract so that they are aware of their compensation and what to expect. This helps things become official and allows both you and the author to hold each other accountable to keep up both ends of the contract.

For payment, since it is an anthology and trying to figure out how to divide royalties evenly amongst a large group of people, I have found that a FLAT FEE is the best way to go. This is not to skimp out on the authors, it’s actually more in the authors best interest as if I were to divide the royalties, depending on sales they’d only be making a few cents. Besides, all money I made from My American Nightmare was used to cover expenses for the cover art, formatting, and promos, and to fund new future anthologies.

Step Six. Editing

Now the editing begins. Usually, there are three rounds and they go like this:

Developmental Editing: This is where you look for plot holes and what doesn’t make sense.

Line Editing: Checking if all sentences make sense.

Copy Editing: This is where you check grammar, spelling errors, and typos.

And then once the editing is over, that’s when you have to decide what order the stories go in. Again, this is kind of an art form that needs mastering. For my first anthology, I decided to start and end the anthology with what I thought were the strongest stories. Then I arranged others where I alternated between a long and short one and also if one was too similar in theme to another, I would space it out.

Step Seven. Choose The Cover

For my previous books, I’ve relied on James’ (goonwrite.com) graphics expertise. I can’t state how crucial it is to have an attractive book cover, cause people DO judge a book by its cover (at least on the first impact). The majority of the times, the cover alone will sell the book (not everyone reads the blurb or looks inside the book!). So, if you’re not competent or don’t have the means to design a book cover yourself, delegate this job to someone else who’s a professional. I REALLY RECOMMEND THIS.

Step Eight. Formatting the Book

Both ebooks and print require formatting the original file. I can’t stress how important this part of the process is, because if the book isn’t correctly formatted, then readers will have trouble reading your work, and if readers are having trouble reading, then you can bet they’re going to give up and leave a poor rating to boot! So, again, if you’re not competent with formatting digital or print files, then pay someone for this service. I’ve always done this and it’s one last thing I need to worry about.

Step Nine. Book Promos Ahead of Time & Send ARCS

Even before the book is released I begin contacting book bloggers for interviews or reviews, I book a book blog tour in advance (especially if you want them to coincide with your release date), sent out ARCS to reviewers, send out promo kits to the authors to help promote the book in their area. With My American Nightmare, I had both business cards and postcards made and also bought merch for an author in the anthology since she had gotten a table at a Halloween con in her area to help promote the book.

Ten. Upload & Publish the Book

Upload the book to retail sites (in my case I prefer to use Amazon) and contact any indie bookstores who may be interested in carrying a couple of copies of your book in their stores.

PHEW! So that’s the TEN STEPS required to do to publish an anthology! So if you’re interested in putting your own anthology together, this is pretty much a rough estimate of what you need to consider before you take the plunge!

Oh! And just as an FYI, I have funded these anthologies on my own (I know some like to have crowdfunding to help with expenses and that’s fine), but I don’t like having to worry about trying to raise money while also doing all those other steps in between!

Let me know if you’ve put an anthology together or are planning to put one together!

strangegirls

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I’ve Applied to be a Mentee in Author Mentor Match!

AMM-logo-gradient_edit2.png

What is Author Mentor Match?

In short, Author Mentor Match is a mentorship program that pairs aspiring authors (or self-published authors) with seasoned published and agented authors. The awesome thing about this program is that it’s supposed to help authors who have a completed manuscript and are in the process of querying agents, improve both their manuscript and query letters. The reason why this program is so sought after because the authors you’re paired up with have already gone through the query and publishing process so whatever advice they may have for you is truly valuable and sound.

Why have I decided to Enter this program?

I came across this program by chance (through a Twitter hashtag no less!), but it reminds me a lot of Pitch Wars, which I submitted to last summer but sadly didn’t receive a mentorship through that. However, since I participated in Nanowrimo this past November, I have a new manuscript that I think is ten times better than my Pitch Wars submission, so I wish to try my luck with this.

What I hope to get out of this program is:

  • Write a powerful query letter.
  • Feedback from a professional of both my letter and manuscript.
  • Forging a friendship/professional relationship with a fellow writer, as only writers can understand certain things about what you go through!

My Project

GIRL THAT YOU FEAR, a YA Horror that’s Speak meets The Exorcist.

Spencer Torres seemingly has it all, she’s beautiful, popular, smart, and on her way to becoming the school’s valedictorian. However, after a visit on the Queen Mary ship, something goes amiss. It all begins with the ominous taps she hers on the walls and the nightmares of an enigmatic, yet creepy young man called Dever. Her therapist believes she’s simply under stress. But Spencer secretly believes another truth. One far more sinister. She thinks she may be possessed by the demon Dever, and a part of her doesn’t mind. A part of her relishes in her new power. Especially when triggered by a song she remembers a sexual assault that she had repressed in her mind. Now, with vengeance as her sole companion, she seeks out to destroy all of those that were to blame for her rape. She doesn’t care if it even means that she will lose her soul in the process.

collage.jpg

Who else is participating in Author Mentor Match? Let me know!

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Coming Soon! Bleed Like Me: Poems for the Broken

This is how you draw a broken heart:
Dip your fingers in blood and don’t
Hesitate to botch the final project.

Synopsis: 

This is a book about love and the wounds that it can bring. It explores the exhilaration of first love, the damage of unrequited love, and the distress of abandonment. The poems are little memories that come alive, a journey between reality and fantasy, often mingling as one. Fragments of life depicted in words. This is a collection of poems both cruel and sweet. The poems depict the difference between how we perceive ourselves and how others perceive us. But most of all, this is a kaleidoscope of emotions that are multiplied and amplified as the reader looks into the window of a young woman’s heart.

Bleed - High Resolution

 

This poetry collection is probably the closest anyone will ever get to reading my diary. Many of the poems were written between the ages of 14-24, although there are about two or three that were written more recently.

Some of these poems have been featured elsewhere. Such as:

The Enchanted Forest (honorable mention from Amherst Society in 1997) & featured in a European anthology in 1998

The Love Song (the Illiad Press 1997)

Betrayed With a Kiss for Wildsound Festival

Paper Monsters for Booksie

The book is up for pre-order on Amazon but will be available on FEBRUARY 12, 2019.

This collection is perfect for those who are fans of dark poetry, gothic lit, and love poems. Some of the topics explored in this book are: relationships, first love, body image, unrequited love, eating disorders, toxic relationships, death, abandonment, addiction, obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, and suicide.

If any book bloggers are interested in an ARC just hit me up at: azzurranox[@]yahoo.com

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Poetry: Mourning Glorie

bed

Photo courtesy of parisapartment.wordpress.com

These frigid sheets mourn your soul.

This barren bed cries your name.

There’s nothing left of you in me.

You tore every particle that belonged

To you away.

This pale white pillow misses the weight of your head.

These useless rose petals wait to fall upon you.

Loneliness wraps its icy claws around me.

Devouring me without mercy.

You’re no longer here to cling to.

You’re no longer here to move closer to.

This bed never seemed so vast—so endless—

Without you—it’s infinite.

I hide beneath the covers but still no warmth I feel.

This room is in eternal winter

Ever since you left.

These fragile sheets yearn for your body.

This immense bed bleeds your essence.

I’m waiting here for you.

I shall always remain here—

Waiting for your return.

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7 Ways To Overcome Writer’s Block

beautiful journalist looks typewriter

Photo courtesy of http://araugustyn.com

It happens to the best of us. If you’re a writer, you’ve at some point dealt with the dreaded Writer’s Block. Every writer has struggled with this at some time in their lives, but there are methods of overcoming this dreaded obstacle rather than wallowing in self-pity and allowing months turn into years and finding yourself even more in the tunnel of no return than before. So don’t be that writer. Below are some suggestions on how to push through the block and be one with the muses once again.

  1. Read poetry. – This can put you in a certain mood and allows the creative juices to flow.
  2. Go for a walk. – Even if you’re just going around the block with your dog, sometimes the movement and being out in the open air allows our brain to refocus.
  3. Play a game. – Not a video game that can suck up eight hours of your life without noticing, but a true hands on game, whether it’s a round of cards with friends, a board game, or chess, sometimes doing a different activity other than writing will help your thoughts regenerate.
  4. Paint or draw. – I personally love to draw using charcoals. Sometimes when your brain is doing something creative in a fun setting (you’re not agonizing to be the next Picasso) you find that it opens up the doors of your writing brain too.
  5. Listen to music. – If you wish to be in a certain mood to help create the setting and atmosphere of a story, then I listen to music and many times just listening gives me ideas for prose. Jot those ideas down.
  6. Keep a dream journal. – I know this seems so cliché, but it works! When I first started writing my YA novel CUT HERE, I began with Lena’s backstory of how she had lost her mum. That backstory was inspired by a nightmare I had in the summer of 2008 when I dreamt of seeing a fur coat splattered with blood and later seeing a book entitled CUT HERE. I wrote that odd dream down and didn’t use that idea till the winter of 2011 when I began writing the novel, so what may seem like an irrelevant dream or idea now, could be useful later on! You never know!
  7. Write pitch ideas down. – You may end up not using them at all, but thinking up plot pitches for a book may just get you out of the writing funk and excited about a new project!
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Photo courtesy of www.bang2write.com

Whatever you do, just remember that NOT WRITING isn’t a solution to overcoming Writer’s Block! You need to be proactive and willing to put the effort to get out of the tunnel rather than wait for the muses to come and rescue you from writer’s hell. So after doing any of the suggestions above, just write. Whether it’s about the activity, your day, or writing ideas, just write. Because the only way to truly overcome Writer’s Block is to start writing. You can do it!

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Poetry: Broken Doll

broken doll

Love has treated me
Like a toddler treats
Its toy.
That’s why my hair is tangled
and my limbs are broken.

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