Posted in Musical Mondays

Musical Mondays: We Are Giants

mm-we-are-giants

When I discovered YouTube, my music taste changed completely. I still listen to a wide variety of genres, though. I’m the type of person where my music taste ranges from, “you’ve gotta listen to this!” to, “please don’t judge me.”

The majority of the artists I listen to now I found through YouTube. They’re mostly a cappella and violin. Two things I never thought I would ever really be interested in, but they’re amazing and beautiful.

I started Musical Mondays to showcase songs that inspire me. Songs that inspire me to keep moving forward, stay positive, be the best I can be with what I’m passionate about, and most of all, just be me and be happy.

We Are Giants is an inspirational song by Lindsey Stirling and Dia Frampton. It’s a song about taking risks and standing up for what you believe is right. You be you and live your own life.

There are no steps to turning writing into a full-time career. You have to be passionate, determined, hard-working, and learn to be a little patient. You don’t necessarily have to go to school or even have experience, but the publishing industry is tough. Even if you make it, it’s not guaranteed to pay the bills.

We Are Giants encourages taking a chance, taking a risk. Just do it. You’re not just some small writer trying to make it. You are a giant who is going to be seen and heard. It may not be today, but it will happen.

I hope the song has some meaning for you. Below is the music video and below that are the lyrics with my favorite lines bolded. Enjoy.

Lyrics

Do you feel like you’re second-hand?
Do you feel you’re afraid to stand alone?
Cut away every safety net
Live your life so you won’t regret the road
Feels like you, standing there so small
Just the space between the stars
Don’t be afraid to risk it all
‘Cause we are we are
We are giants
We are giants
We are giants
We are we are
We are giants
We are giant
We are giants
We are we are
Raise your flag, let your voice be heard
Put your heart into every word you say
All your failures’ a cornerstone
Build a house with the things you’ve thrown away
Feels like you, standing there so small
Just the space between the stars
Don’t be afraid to risk it all
‘Cause we are we are
We are giants
We are giant
We are giants
We are we are
We are giants
We are giant
We are giants
We are we are
Feels like you, standing there so small
Just the space between the stars
Don’t be afraid to risk it all
‘Cause we are we are
We are giants
We are giant
We are giants
We are we are
We are giants
We are giant
We are giants
We are we are

What did you think of the song? I hope it inspired you as it does me. Let me know in the comments below!

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Posted in Inspiration Station, Writing

Inspiration Station: How To Write

Inspiration Station How to Write

How do you write a novel? Simple.

1. Prepare a beverage for yourself.
Coffee? Tea? Hot chocolate? Water? Whatever you prefer to sip on during your writing session, get it ready.

2. Sit down at your desk.
Self-explanatory.

3. Turn on your laptop.
Twiddle your thumbs while you wait for it to boot up.

3.5. Open your notebook and pen.
If you prefer handwriting over typing, then good for you. You skip five minutes of waiting. Notebooks don’t need to load.

4. Write.
Start putting letters together to form words. Words form sentences. Sentences make paragraphs. You get where this is going, don’t you?

What, you don’t know where to begin your story? I can’t do everything for you.

How do you spend your writing sessions?

Posted in Inspiration Station, Writing

6 Tips on Naming Characters

IS 6 Tips on Naming Characters

It’s not as easy to name characters for a book as it seems.

Just like the plot, setting, and word choice, names take a lot of thought from the author.

1. Make sure we can pronounce the name.

Can you pronounce Iphnkch? Neither can I.

2. Use a unique name.

I don’t know anybody named Iphnkch, but there are other unique names out there. Flip through a baby name book and pick out out of the ordinary names that maybe you haven’t heard of before.

Also, it might not hurt to make up names once in a while, especially if you’re writing in the science fiction and fantasy genre. When I make up names I scramble the letters in names I know. For example, I have a character name Lechar in one of my novels. I spelled “Rachel” backwards to make “Lehcar” and then switched the “C” and “H” to make the sound flow better.

2. Check the meaning of the name.

The meaning behind a name can be a hit or miss. Sometimes it matters, sometimes it doesn’t. Some readers will already know the meaning behind some names, some readers won’t. Some readers may look up the meaning, others won’t. However, I do think checking the meaning of a name is fun for the writer and can hold a hidden meaning behind the plot–if the reader does decide to look up the meaning. Maybe that’s just me, though.

3. Check the setting and era of your story and name choice.

Check the top 100 names for each year. Check the origin of each name. The top baby names from the 1950s are much different from what they are today. Also, make sure you get the origin right. It’s doesn’t make much sense to have a female born and raised in Japan and speaking Japanese knowing no English named Amanda.

4. Let the first and last names flow together.

When I say let the first and last names flow well, I mean watch the syllables. You don’t want the first name to be one syllable and the last name be six syllables long. It will take the reader a while to get through and may end up twisting their tongue. I prefer having both names being anywhere between one syllable and four syllables, occasionally five syllables.

Alliteration is also fun, too. If you want someone’s name to stand out and roll right off the tongue, alliteration is the way to go.

5. Choose carefully.

There’s about 7 billion people on this earth, according to Google. There are too many people to count with the same first name. Ironically enough, there are plenty of people out there with the same first and last name. Make sure you give each name justice and make a note that each character is purely fictional and not based off of anyone in any way, shape, or form. You never know who might be offended, especially if they’re name is used as a murderer.

You also probably want to make sure the name isn’t from a main character of another big novel or series. For example, you shouldn’t name your character Harry Potter or Katniss Everdeen.

6. Nicknames and middle names.

Nicknames are fun. I think a nickname definitely shows personality in the characters. Some people have nicknames based on their full names (for example, Nicholas and Nick) and some have nicknames based on something they love or something they did. It’s almost like a memorial for something. Nicknames can mean a lot of things, so have fun with that. Also, it says a lot when certain people call the character by their full name and others call the character by their nickname.

Middle names are a hit or miss. There is no reason we should know any character’s middle name unless something huge is happening, like they’re taking a big test or doing something for the government. Even then, a middle initial would probably suffice. I give all my characters middle names just in case. If you give your character a middle name, you should make sure the middle name flows along with the first and last names.

Posted in Inspiration Station, Writing

Inspiration Station: Prologue/Epilogue

IS Prologue Epilogue

What is a prologue?

The beginning to start the beginning. A prologue is usually a chapter before chapter one. Sometimes it has something to do with the novel, sometimes it doesn’t.

With that being said…

Do I need a prologue?

Ask yourself, “will this prologue contribute to the plot?” If the answer is yes, then you can probably get away with having a prologue.

If the answer is no, then I wouldn’t bother. Some readers ignore prologues regardless of whether they’re important or not. You want your prologue to have some significance to the plot to start the novel off right.

What should my prologue be about?

There are a few ways to utilize a prologue. Depending on your plot and genre, some ways are probably better than others. You need to use your best judgement on which opening works best for your novel.

Past Protagonist

Take a dip into the past long before your novel even starts. The prologue can be a few years before chapter one, it can be a couple of days before.

This can be written in a different POV, as well. The prologue can explain something that happened long before your main character was born.

As long as there is relevant information to help the plot along, the prologue should be good to go.

Background Information

If your novel is set in a new, fictional world some background would be useful to the reader. There are some things that should be explained before they’re thrown into a brand new world they know nothing about.

New world or not, you can always give information on other things such as a background on the main character.

Just be careful not to info-dump. You want the information to be relevant to the novel and interesting enough to the reader.

If it’s something that will be explained throughout the novel, then don’t bother to explain it in the prologue. Some things the readers should be able to figure out on their own as they read the novel.

What is an epilogue?

The end to end the ending… I’m going to hope that made sense.

While a prologue helps begin the novel, an epilogue helps end the novel.

Do I need an epilogue?

Ask yourself the same question you would ask about your prologue. Will it be relevant to the plot?

Most epilogues are used as an “aftermath” of the story. If you can wrap up your plot and give the readers a more satisfying ending for the characters, then an epilogue might be useful to the story.

What should my epilogue be about?

Most epilogues take a peek into the future.

Wrap-Up

Did your novel have an intense climax? Did it end immediately after the resolution? Use the epilogue to explain what happened to the characters and the world after that. It can be a couple months later or a few years later. Give you characters a “happy ending” or at least the ending they deserve.

Explaining Life

Was a character pregnant? Fast forward a few months and explain the baby. It shows that life goes on despite the plot. Show how the characters have moved on with their life after the plot of the story.

Explaining Death

Did any characters die? Fast forward and show how the other characters cope. Again, show how the characters have moved on with their life after the plot.

Sometimes prologues and epilogues aren’t necessary. Epilogues seem to be more common than prologues. Most readers like to know what happens to the characters after their hardships of the plot.

Good luck with whatever you choose.

If you enjoyed this post or found it helpful, check out my posts about Beginnings, Middles, and Ends!

Posted in Inspiration Station, Writing

Inspiration Station: Ending

IS End

Is your novel part of a series and you want your readers to go out right away and buy the next book? Maybe it’s a standalone novel, but you want your readers to check if you have another other novels out or in the works.

Here are some ideas to wrap your novel up with a neat bow…

Tie up any loose ends.

Make sure all your plot points have a purpose. Make sure all questions have been answered. Sometimes it’s okay to leave your readers guessing (especially when there’s a sequel), but you should pick and choose what to leave up to the reader. You don’t want to leave out any huge plot points.

Have the ending to make sense.

Don’t rush the ending. Give the reader as much or as little information as possible about the plot and the characters.

Create a lengthy ending.

If you have a 500-page novel, don’t wrap everything up in a couple of paragraphs. Give it a couple of chapters; let the reader really think on it.

End on an image.

My favorite piece of ending advice comes from Stanley Kunitz: “End with an image and don’t explain.” Explain what you need to about the plot, but let the reader create their own sort of epilogue for the characters.

Endings are difficult because you want to leave the reader satisfied. If you give the characters an ending they deserve, then readers will most likely agree.

If you enjoyed this post or found it helpful, be sure to check out my posts about BeginningsMiddles, and Prologues/Epilogues!

Posted in Inspiration Station, Writing

Inspiration Station: Beginning

IS Beginning

Your novel has to go through a certain test before a reader buys the book. The summary on the back cover isn’t enough anymore.

After getting past the cover and title (because let’s face it; we all judge books by their covers when we know we shouldn’t), readers thumb through the pages. Some people read the first couple of lines.

Without even realizing it, they’re checking for the writing style and the type of characters they’ll have to deal with. Is there an info-dump at the beginning? Is the information too vague?

Beginnings are fragile and if you don’t get it just right, it might be what stops a reader from buying your book.

When beginning your novel…

Give us an idea about the plot. Some beginnings can be slow and the plot takes some time to warm up–which is fine–but you don’t readers to be on chapter three and still have no idea what the point of the novel is.

Make sure you introduce a likable protagonist. Give us some background on him or her, but not too much. You can’t give away everything before the novel truly gets started.

Speaking of characters, introduce secondary ones gradually. Let us wonder why those characters are there, why they’re significant in the book.

Sometimes all it takes is one line.

The first line of a novel is the beginning before the beginning. All it takes is that one first sentence to hook the reader in and they continue on.

There are many different kinds of first sentences to help give your beginning a bit of a boost in the right direction.

Dialogue

“What are you doing?” Andrew asked his sister holding open the door, his eyes wide in horror at the sight.

The reader wants to read on because they want to know what Andrew saw. Why did it shock him so much? Also, they wonder what his sister is like if she’s causing her brother to react in such a way. Is this something she does often? So many possibilities open up.

Action

Kyle’s car side-swiped a fence with a piercing screech. It slowed him down, but he was able get going once more as he pushed harder on the gas pedal. He glanced in his rear-view mirror with worried eyes, sweat glistening on his forehead. They were gaining on him.

Start off with conflict right away. We don’t know why Kyle is running, why he’s being chased, or who is chasing him. It’s one of those things that we just have to absolutely know the answer, so we naturally keep reading.

Introduction

He looked as though he was in his mid-twenties. He brushed his sleek black hair out of his face revealing his dark green eyes. Then he bent down and lifted the crate, his arm muscles pulsing from the weight.

Introduce a character. It doesn’t necessarily have to be the main character. From this narration we can assume the protagonist may be admiring the man from afar. The readers want to know more about the man and the narrator. Also, why is the narrator watching the man lift crates? It can’t be that interesting, can it? Then again, his muscles were flexing…

And that’s why beginnings are important.

There are so many other ways to start a story, of course.

Make your reader crave more with each sentence, paragraph, chapter. Before they know it, it’ll be 2 in the morning. They’ll close the book and say, “I want more!”

If you enjoyed this post or found it helpful, check out my post about MiddlesEndings, and Prologues/Epilogues!

Posted in Short Story Sunday, Writing

Short Story Sunday #68

SSS Job Dedication

            “Anytime is good for me. Just let me know.”

Andrea nodded her head writing something down on her notepad. Then she backed out of her boss’s office and closed the door behind her. She sighed shaking her head when she knew he couldn’t hear or see her anymore. She sat back down at her desk and took some Asprin out of the top drawer.

“Is he being annoying again today?” Andrea’s friend appeared and sat down on top of her desk.

“No, just vague,” Andrea sighed.

“What does he want this time?” her friend wondered.

“He wants me to set up a meeting with some big guy at another big company, Lily. Then he told me to set up the meeting for whatever time works for me.” Andrea rolled her eyes.

“What is that supposed to mean?” Lily raised a suspicious eyebrow.

“I assume that was his way of telling me that I need to be here for the meeting.” Andrea groaned and buried her face on her desk.

“Why? What’s the meeting about?” Lily wondered.

“I have no idea. He didn’t tell me. He just told me who to set it up with and everything else was up to me. So I have to call that guy right now.” Andrea lifted his head up and picked up the phone.

“Good luck,” Lily muttered and walked away.

“Yes, I’d like to make an appointment on behalf of Mr. Charles Fink.” Andrea spoke with the secretary. She nodded her head jotting down some dates and times on her notepad. The woman on the other line kept talking so Andrea soon began to doodle. Then she paused with wide eyes.

“Oh… okay, that works out perfectly. Thank you.” Andrea hung up the phone and froze.

“I can tell by the look on your face that it’s nothing good.” Lily walked over from her desk and back up to Andrea again.

“That meeting is with a lawyer.” Andrea stared at Lily. “He’s trying to divorce his wife.”

Lily rolled her eyes. “If anything, she should be divorcing him on account he’s always bringing his work home with him. Now he’s bringing his home life to work with him? Sheesh…”

“And I have to be there for that meeting. Why? I’m just his secretary.” Andrea shrugged her shoulders.

“Because you’re my best supporter right now; I really appreciate it.” Mr. Fink came out of his office and winked at Andrea before walking away.

Lily snorted. “What a…”

“Don’t even go there.” Andrea muttered.

Posted in Inspiration Station, Writing

Inspiration Station: Time Management

IS Time Management

As a writer, time management is an important skill to have. There are deadlines to meet whether they’re from a publisher, agent, contest, or just personal.

If we’ve learned anything about writing over the past few years it’s that you need a good routine or schedule to accompany your writing. That’s where the time management skills come in.

It’s to help you keep writing on a regular basis; meet those deadlines, improve on your writing, finish that novel!

How can you manage your time effectively? There are many ways.

1. Set a timer.

When I write, I sometimes set a timer and try to write as much as I can in that set amount of time. If I have other things to do that day, I can set a timer for an hour. When that hour is over, I can officially say that I got some writing done. I won’t feel obligated to go back to it until the following day.

2. Set daily goals.

My goals include writing for two hours a day or write 2,000 words a day; whichever comes first. If time allows, I’ll write more words or write for a longer amount of time. If you want to write for two hours a day, you need to manage your time wisely and organize your day a bit so you can fit in those two hours every day.

3. Make a to-do list.

This can go along with number two, set daily goals. Every night before I go to bed I write a to-do list of things I want to get done the next day. I can complete the tasks in any order I want, just as long as they’re all crossed off by the end of the day.

4. Reward yourself.

Hit your daily goal? Did you write for a full two hours or write the entire time the timer was on? Reward yourself with something. It can be as little as eating a piece of chocolate or as big as buying yourself a new video game (that’s what I usually do when I win NaNoWriMo). The reward can vary depending on how little or how much you get done.

5. Stay focused.

Do people keep texting you while you’re trying to work? Do you have your favorite TV show on in the background? Turn it all off. Get rid of all the distractions. Every time you pick up your phone to answer a text, you’re wasting precious writing time. I know some people need noise to help them focus; I usually listen to instrumental music. That way I can’t sing along and get distracted by the lyrics.

6. Find out when you work best.

Are you a morning person? Night owl? Pin-point the time you’re most awake, most alert, and most productive in your day. I guarantee you will get a lot more done if you work at your certain time of day. For me, I work better in the morning. I wake up extra early just to write before I go to my day job. Because who’s not tired upon coming home from their job?

The more you manage your time, the more organized you will be. The more organized you are, the more you’ll get done.

How do you manage your time and write effectively?

Posted in Short Story Sunday

Short Story Sunday #67

SSS Nature Walk

            “Let’s go for a walk.” She said taking her son by the hand. The four-year-old looked up at his mother with a frown. He glanced down at his action figures as she dragged him over to the front door.

“It’s a beautiful spring day, Nathan. Your toys will still be here when we get back.” His mother explained in a smooth tone.

“Okay,” Nathan sighed.

They stepped out the front door and headed down the driveway to walk around the block. Most of their neighbors were out and about; mowing the lawn, grilling, or simply sitting on their porch soaking up the sun.

Nathan brought his hands up to his ears.

“What’s wrong?” his mother asked.

“Too loud!” he shouted.

His mother smirked. “Mr. Davis is just mowing his lawn. The sound is getting softer now.” She observed as they walked further away. “What can you hear now?”

Nathan hesitated at first, but finally brought his hands away from his ears. He stopped walking so he could focus on listening.

“Birds!” he shouted with a smile. He pointed to a tree in the neighbor’s yard where two robins worked together building a nest. “And… a car?”

His mother looked behind them and pushed Nathan closer to the side of the road as a car drove by them. She smiled at him and nodded. Nathan beamed.

They walked further down the road before Nathan stopped again.

“Look at the flowers!” he pointed to another neighbor’s garden.

His mother nodded impressed. “Yes, the garden is growing nicely, isn’t it?”

“There’s blue and purple and red and yellow!” Nathan exclaimed.

“There sure are a lot of beautiful flowers.” She smiled at him.

Before they knew it, their house was coming into view. Nathan frowned and began to drag his feet along the side of the road. His mother stopped and looked at him.

“What’s wrong?”

“We’re almost home.”

“That we are.” She agreed.

“But what if we missed something on our walk?” Nathan stared at his mother with big, sad eyes.

She chuckled. “Well, Nathan we can always go around again.”

Nathan’s face lit up with joy. Then he began to drag his mother around the block.

Posted in Inspiration Station, Writing

Inspiration Station: Research

IS Research

Some people say “write what you know” and others say “write what you don’t know.” Well, which is it?

Depending on your genre and the amount of common sense you have, I think you should use your own judgement with that one.

I’ll use myself as an example (that means I’m writing about “what I know”).

In the past month I’ve been working on two novels. Both novels are the first book in a series. One novel, Hunter, is fantasy. The other, George Florence, is mystery.

Big genre difference, right?

Exactly. So I need to research different things for each novel.

As I write, I use the sticky notes app on my laptop and keep a list of editing notes; things I need to look up, chapters I feel are stupid and need to be taken out or changed, etc.

I keep this list because the point of the first draft is to get the idea down on paper.

With that being said, if I come across something I don’t know or something that I believe is inaccurate, I put it in bold. I make it up and bold it so that when I read through the draft I remember that I need to fix it.

Those “fixes” need research. And as I said before, each genre is different.

For Hunter, I kept a list that includes:

–Research all mutant powers: technical terms, what they do and how they work, etc. (including teleportation, electricity, flying, animal shape shifting…)
–Research tasers
–Research gunshots to various areas of the body

For George Florence, I kept a list that includes:

–Research apartment buildings; rent, leases, how big they typically are, etc.
–Research fees for hiring private detectives
–Look up costs of different wedding rings
–Research strangulation

I don’t know about any of these things. I’ve never encountered a mutant or a taser, and I’ve never lived in an apartment or proposed to anyone. So naturally, I need to do some research at some point if I want my novels to make sense.

The funny thing is that some research will help with other novels. At some point I’m sure I’m going to need to know all about gunshot wounds for George Florence.

So whatever you research, you should take notes or bookmark the website. However when you research you should find some way to remember it or at least be able to go back and look at it.

One website I love looking at for research is called The Writing Cafe, which is on Tumblr. People ask questions directly to the person (or people) who run the site. They also reblog a lot from other Tumblrs and like to list websites for specific topics, which is very helpful because then you have an unlimited amount of knowledge at your fingertips. All you have to do is look through the sites.

I also love Pinterest. You can find anything on there. Some pictures lead to super helpful websites. Others… Not so much. But it doesn’t hurt to look.

Of course, there’s also Google and Siri, but I guess you could also go to a library every once in a while and look it up yourself.