How Does a Writer Write


As part of the Tasha Turner Coaching virtual blog tour, todays guest blogger is Linda Bolton.

Linda is going to share her writing process.  Well part of it at least.

How Does a Writer Write

by Linda Bolton

Remember back in school and your english teacher assigned a research paper? You had rules to follow: make an outline, do your research, put it on notecards, arrange the notecards, write your paper. Well, writing a book, for me, isn’t anything like that. At least not that strict.

An idea for a book will randomly pop into my head. Just like that. Sometimes the idea comes from the people around me, what their doing in their lives, something they’ve told me, or sometimes it just pops! I never make an outline until the end if a publisher requires it. I just write…

I do plan the characters, roughly. What they look like, what it is that makes them special in the book…everything else develops as I write. The characters tell me their background, their quirks, their emotions, what drives them.

I plan the start of the book and how I want it to end, the rest is free-spirited. Do I get surprised sometimes? Absolutely. Do I delete and start over? No, not often. Do I over edit? Is six times too many? I could edit till the cows come home and always see things that need changing and correcting. I force myself to stop. Otherwise I would never get around to looking for a publisher.

I know, after all this explanation, how many hours to I write? It all depends. I love to write early in the morning with a cup of coffee next to me. The words just flow. On the weekends I can spend four hours each morning just going at it. During the week its a bit harder since I work a full-time job. All I have is evening time and its difficult for me to get motivated. Do I wake up in the middle of the night because the voices are begging to be heard? Yes, and I obey. If I don’t get up and write when they say, they will either keep me up all night long, making me toss and turn, or leave me for awhile. I have learned my lesson…

Starting August 1 I will attempt Camp NaNo. Write a novel in a month. It will be tough. The plus? I have a writing partner. He writes specific scenes and I weave them into the story. Makes Camp NaNo even more motivating.

Have you ever thought about writing a novel? Need motivation? Join me! No hard and fast rules to follow. It’ll be very productive.

Linda Bolton is an aspiring contemporary romance writer.  She is looking for a publisher for her first book, Perfect.  While working on a future projects Linda can be found:

On Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/linda.bowersbolton

and http://www.facebook.com/lindaboltonauthor

On Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/#!/lindalou42 

Her romance blog at http://www.lindabolton.blogspot.com

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The Perfect Mess


If you devote all your time to organizing, you won’t get anything done.  If you don’t spend any time organizing, the resultant mess bogs you down completely.  When you find that sweet spot between mess and order then you have a perfect mess.  It’s that sweet spot that I strive for.

The current trend tends to be an obsession with the benefits of organizing and just forgetting about the costs. Creative types tend to be messy.  It may look like a mess to everyone else, but I know where everything is.

Organization can be limiting.  An orderly schedule can be limiting in that unexpected opportunities that “pop up” might be missed if you stick to a planned schedule.  We have to find our place of balance between chaos and rigid planning.

Albert Einstein once said “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what , then, is an empty desk?”

Creativity is sparked when things that we tend not to organize in the same category come together.  Moderate messiness is completely acceptable, and in fact probably superior in a number of instances to perfect organization.

Having said that, I will have to tell you I struggle to find the balance.  I like my home to be neat and orderly, I just don’t always have it there.  Cleanliness is a different matter.  When I’m finished posting this I will be cleaning the bathrooms.  Nothing is grosser than a disgusting bathroom and with two teens, well you can imagine.

Clutter seems to be a big problem.  After cleaning out a bunch of clutter, in a short matter of time it has replenished.  Books and papers seem to collect on their own.  I think the same laws of nature that determine the two socks enter the dryer and one sock leaves rule have also set in place the rule of multiplicity in paper products.  Books on a bookshelf attract other books.  I don’t know where they come from, but suddenly there will be a stack of books in front of the other books, and possibly a stack of books on top of the bookshelf.

While I’ll never win any awards for good housekeeper of the year, my workspace is comfortable and most of the time inspiring.  When it becomes too cluttered I have to deal with it, but I tend to go overboard and then have to reach the perfect state again.  It’s a constant fluid environment

The sweet spot that allows for creativity yet, provides an organzied work area is almost magical when achieved.  What about you?  Are you a neat-freak?  Or do you allow a certain amount of messiness into your area?

Write on my friends, write on!

Narrowing the Field


Why do we as writers need to understand marketing?  Quite simply it’s the only way you’re going to sell your book!

Before defining a target audience, the writer needs to examine themselves first.  (Right, why do we always have to look at ourselves first?  I don’t like it!  It can be painful and depressing.)  Making a ‘cliff notes’ bio will help you as an author define areas which you can connect to your market.

You can connect with people based on education, where you’ve traveled or where you hope to travel to, where you’ve lived. You can connect whether you’re married, divorced or single.  Funny dating stories can be a good ice breaker whereas if you’re married, sharing how you mustered through storms can build camaraderie. You can connect through children, there are always tons of stories and helpful hints to be shared.   Hobbies and past times can be a great point of connection.  Golf can unite the unlikeliest people.  Likewise cooking, sporting events, and quirky collections can spark conversation and common interests.

Being aware of which generational tags can be useful as well.  Who’s going to buy your books?  Are they boomers, genX, gen next, gen Y?

Which group has the disposable income, and what do they typically spend it on?

I’ve decided I’m going to make myself a Most Wanted poster.  On this poster I’m going to put all the categories that apply to my potential customer.  Who I’ve determined my target audience to be and specifics about them.  I’ve been doing some research about this and I think I’ve narrowed it down.

Yesterday I was reminded that my writing is not everyone’s thing.  A man commented that I had a good style but it wasn’t his cup of tea and asked whether I’d considered writing in other genres.  Silly me, I thought it was a compliment.  He went on to clarify some of the things he disliked about my cliché writing.   OUCH!  I had added an element to Love Notes that I felt added more to the storyline, apparently he didn’t agree.  I took the bait he laid out and walked right into being slammed.  For a comment about me writing professionally, by the time he was through I felt like a grade school kid being berated for poor conduct.

So, as I sit here and lick my wounds, evaluating whether his comments have merit or not, I have to weigh the fact that this man wouldn’t fit my most wanted poster.  I’m always interested in improving my craft, but sometimes people criticize strictly to criticize. Perhaps a few more spoonfuls of Haagen Daaz will help.  The fact that one of my friends shared that this same man slammed him, because the friend didn’t take his advice, then went on to leave ugly comments on his blog made me feel that perhaps it isn’t me, it’s this man.

Perhaps I won’t throw in the towel just yet.

Write On my friends, write on!

Interview with Laurie Brantley


Welcome to my Wonderful Women Writer Series.  Today’s guest is Laurie Brantley.

I met Laurie through NaNoWriMo and it has been a pleasure.  Laurie takes a relaxed approach to things, I think I could learn a few things from her.  She has a very calm, peaceful presence about her.

1. Tell me a little about yourself.

I live in VA with my husband and our dog. I enjoy cooking, gardening, reading, being with friends and family.
  2. What genre do you write?

I’ve written one children’s book and two Christian romance novels.
  3. How did you get started?

I got started as an Empty Nester. I was in this “What do I do now?” stage. After a lot of hem-hawing around, I asked myself what it was I enjoyed doing when I was younger – before I had children. The answer quickly came. Writing!! I started writing when I was in the fifth grade and it was interrupted after my first child was born. When I realized this was something I wanted to seriously persue, I enrolled in a couple of writing classes and was on my way. Later, I participated (and won) in NaNoWriMo, where I wrote my first and second novels, writing by the seat of my pants.
  4. Describe your writing routine.

My writing routine is not as dedicated as others, as I have learned I prefer to do it as more of a hobby.  I love to participate in NaNoWriMo which motivates me to do more and better each year. Little by little I slowly progress. I read a lot of motivational blogs and other works to keep me inspired. But, I really don’t have a daily routine all the time. There will be times when I write and times when I don’t write – depending on what is going on in my life at the time. And when I say “write”, I’m referring to writing articles or books. I usually do some sort of other writing on a regular basis.
  5. How do you manage writing with the rest of your life as wife, mother, grandmother, employee and/or any other hats you wear?

Other hats I wear are working in several volunteer positions. I am also currently in the beginning stages of starting up my own virtual assistant business where I will be using my writing to assist others who don’t like to write, such as speakers, planners, professional organizers, small business owners. I’ll use my writing for this target market to help them out with things like blogs, newsletters, etc. People that don’t like to write, need people who enjoy it.
  6. How long did it take you to have your first book published?

I’ve had several articles published online and in newspapers and magazines, but I am currently in the slow take-my-time process of getting my first children’s story e-book published. Publishing was very intimidating to me and it has taken me a lot of time and movtivating myself to get the courage up to do this. I’ve recently found an artist for my book cover and I might have found an illustrator. I learn as I go, but I don’t let the upsets keep me down.
  7. What method did you choose and why?

I’m not sure what you mean by “method”, but when I wrote my romance novels during NaNoWriMo, I did those by the seat of my pants. I initially participated as a writing exercise for myself.  The reason was because I went into NaNoWriMo without intention of completing a novel. I just wanted the exercise of writing more fiction, as I had been doing a lot of non-fiction. But, with patience and persistance, I ended up with a novel by the seat of my pants. The second time I participated, I did it the same way because it just seemed to work for me. When I wrote my children’s book, I was a bit more disciplined.
  8. What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

My advicse to aspiring authors is to keep plugging at it. Write something each day – even if it’s just a journal entry. Write! I highly recommend NaNoWriMo as an exercise. It will show you that a little bit each day will bring great results. Plus, there is a lot of support for getting published and continuing on with your writing. And read about writing.
  9. Who are your favorite authors?

I have a lot of favorite authors so this list could be long. But, I enjoy John Grisham, Phyllis Whitney, Mary Stewart and Margaret Mitchell, to name a few.

 

This is where I usually promo the author’s work, and tell you where you can find them.  This is what Laurie had to say:

I’m still working on getting an illustrator for my children’s e-book, so I haven’t uploaded it yet on Amazon. I’m very slowly editing my first novel, so it’s a work in progress still. Like I mentioned, I’m very slow so I don’t have any links right now.

Ideas and Inspirations


I have reached the end of posting Love Notes on Storytime Trysts.  The new season begins soon and if I post the entirety of my story then who will buy it?

Which leads me to the next story.  On one hand I’ll be adding another WIP to my repertoire because I’m going to continue with my new revisions for Love Notes until it is finished.   On the other hand – you know the one that gets you in trouble, it gets my creative spark juice flowing.  A new story, a clean slate.  I get to start from the ground up. Character building, scene setting, world building; the euphoria is intoxicating.

The possibilities are endless. Do I go with one of the ideas I’ve already got or specifically tailor this for something completely new?  It has to match the overall theme, so I can eliminate some of my prestarted stories.   I feel like a kid in a candy store with $100.00!

I had an idea for something that ties in with my Guardian series.  A short story that I may include in Keegan’s book.  Oh the possibilities are wide open.  So many choices, so many story ideas and so little time to write!

I’ve been wanting a break from editing Kiss Of The Dragon, this might just be the ticket! I’m off to interview a sexy Scot, with a penchant for danger.  Keegan has a knack for finding trouble, it’s like he has a built-in radar for it!

Write on my friends, write on!

Guest Blogger – Raymond Frazee


Week 9 of the Tasha Turner Coaching virtual blog tour.  Wow, it seems like we just got started on this thing and here it is the ninth week already!  It’s been a very interesting  and sometimes challenging tour.

Today’s guest is Raymond Frazee.  Raymond has been blogging for a long time.  He will often post I wrote XXX  many words on (WIP) today.  He encourages me with his persistence and discipline.  I met Raymond through NaNoWriMo.  I instantly took notice of his comments and posts, becasue he showed that he was serious about his writing.

Sit back and let Raymond Frazee entertain you on his blog Wide Awake But Dreaming!

Raymond Frazee has been writing most of his life, but only in the last year has he seen success.  His first story, Kuntilanak, was self-published, September, 2011, and available at Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon.  His second story, Captivate and Control, is published by Naughty Nights Press, May, 2012, and is also at Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon.

Raymond is currently in the process of trying to publish a novel, and is working very hard towards his dream of becoming a full-time writer.

Follow him on:

His blog, Wide Awake But Dreaming

On Twiter

On Facebook

On Pinterest

Inspiration: One Brilliant Flash of Lightning


What inspires a writer?  The simple answer is it depends.  A more complete answer is everything.  Anything and everything can prompt a writer, but not everything inspires.  Prompted writing can be good, but inspired writing has passion.  Passion produces the WOW factor.  It’s that passion that ignites the inner fires and allows the writer to create his or her masterpiece.

An off-hand remark about a person having a “dragon complex” sparked my current work Kiss of the Dragon.   A “dragon complex” refers to the belief that dragons hoard gold. Smaug, the dragon in The Hobbit is an example of this belief.  The person that was being referred to has a tendency to be quite stingy and hoard their money.  What do you suppose would happen if a person who has the “dragon complex” had the tendency to attract gold, is attracted to the gold themselves like a drug and was a dragon able to shift into human form?  In a span of ten seconds I had my concept, my basic plot, and a cast of characters for my book.  I went immediately to pen and paper and wrote 17 pages of handwritten notes on scratch paper.  Granted, it was mostly illegible to anyone who didn’t know what the words were.  My daughter looked at it, then looked at me as if I were crazy to think she could read it.  Yeah, my handwriting at blazing speed is illegible. Deciphering my scribblings are iffy on a good day, much less when it is scrawled out during a brain gush.

Have you ever observed an artist when they are in this mode?  Driven would be the best word to describe it. The creative burst must be carried out to completion.  Sleeping, eating, and human interaction are all but forgotten. The story unfolding inside my mind overwhelmed my senses.  My characters carried on conversations in my dreams, during waking hours, pushing me deeper into their world. I was vaguely aware of movements around me, an occasional voice directed towards me that momentarily pulled me from my fantasy world.

One ‘what if’ led to more ‘what ifs’, which led to an idea that almost made me giddy.  The headiness of inspiration is addictive stuff.  It penetrates the cerebral cortex stimulating the synapses to fire into the right-brained creativity which then leads to an intoxicating level of neurotransmitters releasing endorphins surging through the creative’s body.  It is indeed a rush!  After the initial brain gush, I had a little time to think things through and discover the complete story, subplots, and character quirks.  During NaNoWriMo, I wrote a sum total of 98,000 words.  I kept a good 70,000, and put the rest in a different folder.  As it played out over a month, eventually I managed to get in some sleep and interaction with my family.

Instead of feeling drained and exhausted, I was exhilarated, charged for more and ready to undertake anything.  Shortly thereafter though the bottom fell out and the doubts took over.  Doubting that any of it was worth the digital paper where it was written, doubting that anyone would ever want to read it, and doubting that my sanity could weave a tale that actually made sense.  Was I after all just a ‘pie in the sky’ dreamer?  Was I chemically unbalanced, destined to end up in a psych ward somewhere talking to my dragons?

You may laugh, but when the let down happened those fears were more real than the sofa I found myself sitting on or the Haagen Das container I had emptied.

Eventually, the rollercoaster leveled off and I began editing.  As I am working through it, I find myself surprised at the cohesiveness within the story.  There are complex subplots working simultaneously, and fantasy elements thrown in. Well, of course there are! I’m talking about shape shifting dragons that walk amongst us appearing as regular humans.

I feel I am the toughest critic on my own work, which is why it’s usually filed.  Saved on my laptop, safely buried in three layers of folders so that no one can accidentally read it and tell me what a hack I am.  There are multiple spiral notebooks with partially completed projects stuffed in a file cabinet in the depths of my basement for the same reason.

The fear of rejection is an issue that every writer must eventually face.  I made the decision to complete my project during NaNoWriMo.  I attained that goal, but it was crude like mined ore sitting in a railroad car.  I’ve been working on it since then reviewing, editing, refining, tweaking. This baby is full term, and it’s time to cut the umbilical cord.  I think it’s good.  I’m hard to impress, especially when it’s my own.

Have you ever had a similar inspirational spark?  Something that stirred your passion and caused the creativity to flow in a way that pushed you forward, drove you to completion?  There’s nothing quite like being in the zone.  The creative spark is intoxicating and highly addictive. I need it, crave it, I spend numerous hours pursuing it. Spark juice, I wish it could be bottled!

Write On my friends, write on!

Liebster Blog Award!


The Liebster Blog Award is given to bloggers who have less than 200 followers. Liebster is a German word meaning: sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing and welcome.

Huge Thanks  to Allison Bruning for nominating me!  Also, I want to give a shout out to Linda Bowers Bolton, who also nominated me!  You ladies rock!

This is all about the fun so if you don’t like fun, well  . . .what are you doing on my blog anyway?  Hmmm??  Don’t you know I’m the Fun Princess??  Nothing serious here today, but you might just find out something you didn’t know.

My questions were:

1) What is the craziest thing you have ever blogged about?

As I tend to be rather random anyway, that’s a tough one.  I’ve blogged about skunks, but I think the most random one would be Stirring the Pot(ter). It starts as a rebuttal to responses made from a previous post where I admitted to not having never read Harry Potter, (GASP!) and missing the entire Phenomenon it has become.  It progresses into random references from various movies and books in a humorous venting.  Pure nonsense, that’s what it is!

2) How and why did you get into blogging?

I used to write an opinion column in the local paper, and I missed it when the paper went out of business.  A friend suggested that I start blogging.  I went for it and in one day just jumped in with both feet.   It’s a blast and if no one else ever read it, I’d still have a blast.  Having readers respond and leave comments has been encouraging,  exciting, and somewhat unexpected!
3) What is one thing most people don’t know about you and would find surprising to learn?

That I’m prematurely gray and if I don’t dye it, it’s nearly completely white!  My sisters objected when I let it go natural as everyone knows I’m the youngest which meant they were older than a grey hair sister.  EEK!  I’m not ready to be white-haired, so it’s the color of the month club for me! The current dye job is medium golden brown with purple highlights.  It’s also grown out past shoulder length again.  I refuse to act my age, why?  It’s boring!

    

4) Favorite genre and why? Romance!  Because I love the rollercoaster of emotions , the falling in love feelings by proxy, without having to experience the personal pain and heartache. Plus, they always have super hot guys in them.
5) Favorite type of candy? Why?

York peppermint patties!  Love mint and dark chocolate.  They are cool and refreshing.  Junior Mints are also acceptable. MIni Yorks and the newest bite sized york pieces – No, I can’t buy those I’d eat the whole bag.
6) What is one piece of advice you would give to a new blogger?

Prepare blogs ahead of time, and manage your time!  If you read mine you can probably tell I write on the fly most of the time!  ROFL – funny, so funny!  No seriously my biggest problems are with time management, therefore it’s an important thing.

7) How long have you been blogging?

since January 17, 2012!  I was feling very sad that I don’t have more followers, but a couple people put it into perspective as it’s only been since the beginning of this year, so relax!  I”m having a blast with it, so what difference does it make right?

8) What is one thing on the internet you couldn’t live without and why?

Google – I’d be lost if I couldn’t google things.  Even with Google I get lost!
9) If you could go travel anywhere, where would you go and why?

You want the full list or the short version? Hmm, I think I better give you the short list as it would take hours to go over all the places I want to travel.

1. Scotland,  because it’s Scotland!  Have you seen pictures?  Talk about a beautiful rugged landscape! Plus men in kilts – swoon! Culloden, Loch Ness, Inverness, Glengarry, Isle of Skye Ben Nevis  . . . I want to see all of it!

2. UK – including Scotland  I want to spend an entire summer visiting different spots throughout the UK, touring every castle and ruin. Popping over to Ireland for a couple of weeks, then staying in London for a couple more.

3. Paris, France – It is the city of romance and I write romance.  What woman doesn’t want to go to Paris?

4. Cancun – because it’s ocean, tropical, sun and fun!

5. Punta Cana –  Tropical Caribbean waters, ocean, fun and sun!

6. St. Thomas, St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, – Island paradise.  Caribbean waters, tropical – you get the idea.

7. Nova Scotia – I want to ride a tidal bore; go whale watching, and delve into the heritage centers there.

8. Hawaii – Try surfing, walk on black sand beaches; a helicopter tour of islands, and active volcanoes!  Plus the Arizona memorial.

9. Alaska – whale watching, the glaciers, one of the few cruises I would consider.

10. Israel – I want to tour the Holy Lands!

That’s the short list, for a full list get out an almanac and look at every country that has a) beautiful landscapes, b)beaches, or c) interesting landmarks.  If you’re paying attention that leaves out Antarctica; and the deserts.  I’ve seen sand; would rather it be on a beach.  Everywhere else is fair game!  OH except for Petra in Jordan, and the Pyramids at Giza . . . ok I”ll stop now.
10) Ever had that infamous blonde moment? If so what’s the dumbest thing you have ever done?

Ummm, no never!  I’m not blond.  I was for a couple of years but my dark roots showed too much.  NO, I swear I never have.  (Sneaks away quietly turning ten shades of red – like I could pick just one!)
11) What the best movie you ever saw and why?

OK, true dorkness showing here.  My all-time favorite movie is Excalibur.  The tale of King Arthur, Merlin and the legendary Excalibur.  Aside from Arthurian legend, the cinematography was awesome, it was fun and still remains my favorite movie!  I also like Fifth Element – quirky but fun.

Share 11 random facts about yourself:

  1. I’m the baby of the family, youngest of five.
  2. I like to go fishing but I don’t touch worms.  Yuck!  Minnows and crickets are ok – no worms.
  3. My perfume of choice is Vanilla Fields.
  4. I’ve saved two lives. Once as a lifeguard, and the second time a victim of an auto-pedestrian accident that I saw happen, ran to them and immediately applied pressure to wounds and gave CPR.
  5. My first car was a vette; a Chevette!  (Pond scum green, 4 cylinder econo-box that got great gas mileage up and down the highway, went through six starters and alternators; stick shift, no AC!)
  6. I can be very OCD about certain things like hand washing and teeth brushing.
  7. Octopus freak me out! Don’t even get me started on parasites – shiver!
  8. I took classes to be a forensic scientist for a while – until the third autopsy, then I decided I’d do better in a more social environment not a room of dead people.
  9. I’m taller than most of the women in my family.  Coming from a French heritage on my dad’s side, most are short French people.  Many of the women barely reach 5 ft.  At 5’5″, I’m nearly a giant. Well, until my daughters stand next to me.
  10. I was into bodybuilding in my twenties.  Never competed, but that was my goal for a while, until the 12 hour work shifts during desert storm ended my four hour sessions in the gym.
  11. I was a Miss Missouri contestant when I was 17. (Won Miss Congeniality but wasn’t even close to winning title!)

I hereby nominate the following eleven bloggers to receive the Liebster Award!

  1. Sian Young http://siansblogonwriting.blogspot.com/
  2. Anjie Harrte http://authoranjieharrte.blogspot.com/
  3. Penelope Price http://www..penelopeprice.net
  4. Cathy Brockman http://networkedblogs.com/zNjIM
  5. Linda Bowers Bolton http://www.lindabolton.blogspot.com/
  6. DeAnne Troup http://www.deannaspencer.com/
  7. Joe McCoubrey http://joemccoubrey1.com/
  8. Tasha Turner http://tasha-turner.com/blog/
  9. Toledo Boogz  http://airoftorris.wordpress.com/
  10. Dana Ellington Myles http://satinsheetdiva.com/
  11. Ed Griffin http://writerswritedaily.wordpress.com/

My questions forthese 11 people are:

  1. What genres do you read and write?  Why?
  2. Are you a pantser or a plotter?
  3. Is there a writer that inspires you, perhaps got you interested in writing in the first place?
  4. If you could talk to any three people dead or alive who would they be?
  5. Describe your work space.
  6. Who is your favorite author?
  7. If  your book were made into a movie, who would play your main character?
  8. Where do you see yourself in five years?
  9. What is the strangest thing you’ve ever eaten?
  10. What  foods coax your muse into productivity?
  11. Coffee or tea?  What’s your favorite, how do you like it, and in what quantity?

The rules are:

1. Thank and link back to the person who presented you with the award. Add the award logo to your blog.
2. Answer the eleven questions posted for the nominees.
3. Share eleven random facts about yourself.
4. Write eleven questions for your nominees and then…
5. Nominate eleven worthy blogs and contact those bloggers so they know about it! (No tag backs.)

Writer Interview – Heidi Nicole Bird


It’s time for my Wonderful Women Writer series again. You may have noticed by now that I have some standard questions.  If you have some specific questions you’d like answered from my guests, feel free to leave me a comment or email me.  So far all of my guests have been open to additional questions as well.

Today’s guest is Heidi Nicole Bird.  I met Heidi online during NaNoWriMo.  We would often sprint together in NaNO, until I had to return to my regular scheduled job.  Heidi still sprints, but it never seems to quite fit into my schedule.

Heidi, so glad you could make it today.  Did you bring any  rain with you?  We are parched here, in drought conditions.  *Pours two tall glasses of lemonade*  Shall we begin?

Tell me a little about yourself.

I am a recent graduate from Brigham Young University. I obtained a Bachelor of Arts in History and now I am looking into Family History and Creative Writing grad school programs. I am 22 years old and I am currently working on my fourth novel.

What genre do you write?

Everything I have written so far is young adult fiction. My favorite genre to write is fantasy. My first three books were a fantasy series, but I am trying my hand at something new with my current novel, entitled Ontario, which is general young adult fiction.

How did you get started?

I first began writing when I was very little, whether it was just keeping a daily journal or creating my own stories. I have always loved writing but it wasn’t until my roommate told me about NaNoWriMo that I finally finished a book. My first book became a three-part series, with each volume being written during subsequent NaNoWriMos. I plan on my current work in progress being my first published book and I am very excited to get it out there for the public.

Describe your writing routine.

I don’t set specific times for writing, though I would probably get more done if I did. I write when I feel it. Sometimes nothing comes, other times it comes like a hailstorm! I find that I write my best at my bedroom desk where I am only disturbed every once in a while. I have done most of my writing while “sprinting” with other writers in my online writing group. I find that the time limit motivates me more than just writing whenever. Oh, and I almost always have Adam Young playing in the background while I write. He inspires me more than any other artist.

How do you manage writing with the rest of your life as wife, mother, grandmother, employee and/or any other hats you wear?

I am currently single, but I did have to face three years of classes and finals! I live at home, but I am the resident cook and often taxi-driver. I tend to be busy, but no matter what I always make time for writing. It is my passion. It isn’t just something I want to do. It’s something I have to do. Whether it is early in the morning or in the middle of the night, I find time to write.

How long did it take you to have your first book published?

I have yet to be published, but I have been writing novels since the end of 2009 and I hope to be published by next year at the latest.

What method of publishing will you choose and why?

I see the great aspects of published e-books, but I am also very attached to physical books. I have looked a lot at self publishing and the traditional way, and I haven’t really decided which way I like best. I really like the aspect of having more control through self publishing, and also being able to make my books available as physical books as well as e-books.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

For anyone who wants to be an author I would say get going! You never know your potential until you try. I know so many people who have pitched fabulous ideas to me, but have never set out to actually write the story. By actually writing you grow closer to the story and your characters and you also learn a lot about yourself and the writing process. I would also encourage them to read! Find out what you like about your favorite books and try to learn those techniques yourself.

Who are your favorite authors?

My favorite author of all time, hands down, is J.K. Rowling. It seems that every day I find myself marveling at her incredible talent! It is my goal to create a world so complete that it becomes real to those who read my books, and that is exactly what Rowling did. I mean, there’s an official Quidditch league of people who actually play! I also really love Lisa Mangum. I have never been able to put any of her books down.

Tell me a little about your current work in progress.

The novel I am currently working on is entitled “Ontario.” It tells the first person story of a girl who has lost all trust in those around her. She lost her Dad and her Mom abandoned her. She is left alone with her older brother and she begins to lose trust in him as well. In order to help support herself and her brother she takes up a job at a diner where she meets just the people she needed to find. Her new friends and romantic interest Austin show her that even though she has been hurt by so many she does have people in her life who truly love her will never leave her alone again.

Sounds like an intriguing story.  Please keep us updated when it comes out!

Check out my author page for more information and the most current news! www.facebook.com/HeidiNicoleBird

Titles and Characters


My guest this week for the Tasha Turner Coaching Virtual Blog Tour is Allison Bruning.  Allison writes historical fiction with a dramatic flair.  As I read through Allison’s contribution I realized I only did half of the assignment myself.  OOPS!  For my faux pas on this assignment, you can check out http://lacipaige.blogspot.com/.   Now, I”m going to turn things over to Allison.

This week on the Tasha Turner Virtual Blog Tour we were asked to share how we came up with the title and characters of our books. The title is easy. It’s the first name of my main character, Calico Marie Turner Lutree (Known to the Shawnee as Snow Vision Seeker Buffalo Woman).  When I was developing my characters I knew very little about the Shawnee. I knew the Shawnee were a large and powerful tribe from my home state of Ohio. I had heard some of the stories growing up about them but nothing else. I was eager to learn more about their world and ways.

This may sound weird but when I started developing my characters I made them go through an application process. I wanted to know everything I could about them before I ever began to lay out the story. I copied off a three page character bio that looked like an employment application, cut out photos from magazines for their profile picture then began to fill it out. It’s surprising what you can learn about your characters when you sit down and begin to explore their lives with them. Of course there were some sections that didn’t apply to them such as what do you like to watch on television? Where did you go to high school? What’s your favorite website? I would love to see those answers from someone who lived in the 18th century! I could just Calico’s answers “A website? Well I guess if I’m looking for a certain type of spider I would have to go to the site where they build their web.” LOL!  When I had begun the application process with Calico and her twin sister, Rose I knew who their parents were. It wasn’t until I had begun to explore deeper into their lives that I had met Alexander, Pierre, Creek and the other supportive characters in the series. I completed the same process with the secondary characters as I did with Calico. Doing so opened up a new world for me. A world that would grant me more story ideas and plenty of subplots to play with.

After I had finished the character bios I felt like there were still pieces missing. I was having such a hard time with doing the bios for the Shawnee characters I had almost quit. Little Owl was getting on my nerves and the Shawnee characters just weren’t talking to me anymore! It was beginning to feel like a hopeless situation. One of my writing mentors at the time told me, “O honey, you can’t write about something you don’t know about. It’s impossible. Perhaps they’re not talking because you don’t know anything about their world. You can’t expect them to be like the white characters in your book.” Her words relighted my spark of inspiration. I enrolled at the University of Kentucky in the undergraduate anthropology program (I had initially wanted to get a second BA so I can go to grad school for cultural anthropology, what I ended up instead was getting a better insight into my characters.) I began to explore the Shawnee world through anthropological articles, books and even went out to talk to Native Americans. Calico’s Shawnee name, Snow Vision Seeker Buffalo Woman, was given to her by a Native American. It means:

Snow  – Her skin is white as snow

Vision Seeker – She is medicine woman who has visions

Buffalo Woman – Her hair is as crimpy as the buffalo’s fur.

Most Native Americans were reluctant to talk to me. “Oh, great, another white person who wants to tell OUR story.” It was hard to break the barrier between us but eventually some did come around to speak to me. I even called a chief of one of the Shawnee tribes in Oklahoma. We talked for an hour. He spurred me onto an Anthropological book that had been written well about his people called, Shawnee: The Native American Tribe and its Cultural Background by James H. Howard. I thanked him and immediatly bought the book. I learned so much through my research my native characters began to talk to me. I couldn’t type fast enough!

One world of advice I would give to any author who wants to take the plunge into exploring a world that is not their own, especially when it comes to Native Americans, be careful what you read. There is a lot or propaganda and bias historical reports out there on Native Americans, especially the Shawnee. Ask yourself when you are reading a historical document whose point of view am I reading this from? What is happening in the author’s neck of the woods while he or she is writing this? Analysis the document well. If it seems biased against the culture you are wanting to depict them THROW IT AWAY IMMEDIATELY.  I had the hardest time finding research that supported the Shawnee so I went directly to the source. If I hadn’t done so I don’t think I would have been able to accurately depict Little Owl and his people.  As Little Owl would say “I am Shawnee!”

The Executive Director of the Kentucky Young Writers Connection, a non-profit agency of writers who promote young authors throughout the state of Kentucky. Allison originally hails from Marion, Ohio. Her father, Roland Irving Bruning, was the son of German immigrants who came to the United States at the turn of the 20th century. Her mother’s family had been in the United States since the 17th century. Allison is a member of the Peter Foree Chapter of the  Daughters of American Revolution. Her linage traces to Private Reuben Messenger of Connecticut. Her educational background includes a BA in Theater Arts with a minor in Anthropology and a Texas Elementary Teaching certificate. Both acquired at Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Texas. Allison received National Honor Society memberships in both Theater Arts and Communication. Allison was also honored her sophomore year with admission into the All American Scholars register. She holds graduate hours in Cultural Anthropology and Education. In 2007 she was named Who’s Who Among America’s Educators. She is also the recipient of the Girl Scout Silver and Gold Awards.

Allison lives with her husband in Kentucky.  Calico is book one from the series, Children of the Shawnee. It is available at http://amzn.to/JSNRpm. She is currently working on the sequel, Rose.  She is also working on another series, The Secret Heritage, which traces the life of her great great grandmother at the turn of the 20th century in Ohio. Allison’s interest includes Ohio Valley history, anthropology, travel, culture, history, camping, hiking, backpacking, spending time with her family and genealogy. Her genres include historical fiction, paranormal, romance, and suspense.

You can reach her at:

Facebook: http://on.fb.me/xxJ249

Facebook Fan Page http://on.fb.me/plvkxJ

Twitter: @emeraldkell

Blog: http://bit.ly/whteQI

Goodreads:http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5164664.Allison_Bruning