diyMFA book club, For Writers

A Writer’s Reading List – diyMFA book club

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Today I’m doing my final post for the diyMFA book club. (If this is the first time you’ve heard about diyMFA, you can find out all about it here.) One of the prompts was to share your reading list.  I enjoyed the reading section of the book, and I loved the way Gabriela broke the writer’s reading list down into three categories. The great thing about it – you tailor it to your genre. The three categories are:

Craft Books: These are the books that deal with the craft of writing –  books that help you improve your writing.  Currently, these are the craft books I have on my TBR list (some of them I’ve read parts of, but I haven’t read any of them in their entirety):

    1.  diyMFA by Gabriela Pereira

    2.  Steering the Craft by Ursula K. Le Guin

    3.  Story Genius by Lisa Cron

    4.  Self-Editing For Writers by Renni Brown and Dave King

    5.  Social Media for Writers by Tee Morris and Pip Ballantine 

(You can add me as a friend on Goodreads, where I have a bookshelf full of these books 🙂 )

 

The Classics: These are the books that are classics in your genre. I write YA – which doesn’t have as many classics as some other genres. Widely considered the first YA book, The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, was published in 1967. I’ve already read this classic and loved it! Here are some more YA classics on my TBR list:

1. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume

2. A Wrinkle in Time by Ursula Le Guin

3. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier

4. Seventeenth Summer by Maureen Daly (Written in 1942, some people considered this to be the first YA book, as opposed to The Outsiders, so I’ll have to give it a look)

5. The Grey King by Susan Cooper

Comp. Titles: These are books that are comparable to the book you are writing. I write YA fantasy with a fairytale twist (some are retellings, some are just stylized like fairytales), so I read a lot of fantasy, especially retellings. I don’t have a specific list for this group, because I am always on the lookout for these books and am continually adding to my TBR list. This month I have selected several books to read for the #fantasticfeb reading challenge, and several of them fall into this category. You can see my #fantasticfeb list here.

Another diyMFA book club prompt was to share a picture of your writing space.

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I write a lot of different places, but I do have a desk where I do a fair amount of that writing. There’s a window on the left side which lets in lots of natural light. I find this energizing and motivating.  Also, I’ve hung a lot of inspirational pictures above it. 🙂

writing space

I love this desk! I’ve had since I graduated from college. One day, my grandpa (the same grandpa who helped inspire me to become a writer by telling me his stories) and my dad helped me comb through garage sales to find a sturdy desk. We found this one for a dollar.  It needed some cleaning, a little sanding, and a new coat of stain, and then it was ready to go. Pretty awesome, right?

 

So how about you -What’s on your reading list? Do you have a favorite craft book? Where do you write? Let me know in the comments.

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diyMFA book club, For Writers

diyMFA Book Club – Characters and Story Type

Today I’m responding to a couple more diyMFA book club prompts. Both of these two prompts were particularly interesting to me, because I feel like they given me some insight into my current WIP.

First, is which supporting character type is your favorite to write?

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There are five supporting character archtypes discussed in the diyMFA book:

The fool – This is the character who tells the MC the things he or she needs to hear/face, but won’t face on his or her own. Often this character seems shallow in the beginning of the story,  but as the story progresses you see that is not the case.

The love interest – This one is pretty self-explanatory. This is the MC’s love interest. Sometimes there can be more than one, creating more conflict in the story.

The mentor – This is the character who takes the MC under his/her wing and often tells the MC things he/she wouldn’t otherwise know.

The BFF – Again, pretty self-explantory. This is the best friend of the MC. This is another case where having more than one can help create more interest in the story.

The villain – This is the person who is out to destroy the MC, and this is my favorite supporting character to write. I love seeing how the villain came to be, and writing at least little of his/her origin story. I also like comparing the MC to the villain – hi-lighting the choices the MC makes that keeps him/her from going down the same path as the villain.

When talking about villain stories, I have to mention Heartless by Marissa Meyer. This is an excellent origin story about how the Queen of Hearts came to be. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it.

The next prompt moves from characters to story. Just like with character types, there are several story types.

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There are three basic story types:

1. The protagonist faces a more powerful antagonist. 

2. The protagonist faces an antagonist of equal power.

3. The protagonist faces himself.

 

My favorite story type is the first one – the underdog story. I love writing about characters that triumph even when it seems unlikely that they will. Even in real life, I always root for the underdog.

Just like with many of things, your story can be a mix of these types. Often the protagonist is going to have to confront him/her self. These scenes are fun to write. I like discovering why characters make certain choices and seeing how those choices are going to change their journey.

What is your favorite character archetype? What about your favorite story type? Let me know in the comments! 🙂

I’ve really enjoyed participating in the diyMFA book club, and I will be posting about it once more later this week. Though the book club is pretty much over, there are a lot of great resources available on the diyMFA website.

And if you’re on Instagram, check out the giveaway I’m hosting @charityrau.

 

Reading Challenge

Fantastic February

The first smaller reading challenge I’m doing this year is a monthly (February) book challenge. If you missed my previous post about the yearly reading challenge I’m doing  you can check it out here.

The Fantastic February reading challenge is hosted by Kathy, author of the Books and Munches blog, and you can find all the details here.

Basically, this is a challenge that focuses on reading fantasy/paranormal books. Since I have a bunch of those on my unread bookcase, this is perfect!

Here is my TBR list for February:

fantastic february books

The Morganville Vampires by Rachel Caine- I started this series awhile back and only have four books left in this series, so I’ll be finishing the series this month – Black Dawn, Bitter Blood, Fall of Night (not pictured), and Daylighters. 

The Queen of Hearts series by Colleen Oakes – I loved the first book and can’t wait to read the last two in this trilogy – Blood of Wonderland, and War of the Cards.

The Midnight Dance by Nikki Katz – This books sounded so good I pre-ordered it, and just haven’t had a chance to read it yet.

Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo – I’ve heard so many good things about this book,  it had to be added to the list.

After Alice by Gregory Maguire – I’ve actually never read a book by Maguire before, but have heard many good things about him, I decided to give this book a try. Also, this is an audiobook. (Audiobooks are one way I up my book count for the year.)

If you couldn’t tell, I love fairytale retellings, and am psyched to be doing a fantasy-themed challenge. I realize this is an ambitious list, but I will be trying to fit them all in. Like I said in my previous post, challenges motivate me. 🙂

What’s on your TBR list for February? Are you participating in Fantastic February or any other reading challenge for the month? Let me know in the comments.

 

Reading Challenge

The #unreadshelfproject2018 Reading Challenge

unread shelf

This year, I’m focusing on my reading by having more specific goals, and with that comes the reading challenges. I love a good challenge. I’m a bit competitive, so challenges really motivate me. 🙂

If you follow me on Instagram (@charityrau), then you know I’m participating in the #unreadshelfproject2018. What is that, you ask?  It is a reading challenge hosted by @theunreadshelf,  @katereadsbooks_, and @calsreads on Instagram.

The objective of the challenge – to focus on reading your own unread books. I have a ton of books that I haven’t read yet, and had been contemplating doing something like this for 2018 when I found this challenge. It’s the perfect motivation! The hosts will be posting weekly, and sometimes monthly, challenges throughout the year which will help me stay motivated and stick to my goal.

One of the first challenges was to count your unread books. Now, when I say I have a ton of unread books, I’m not exaggerating. Some are in boxes and others are scattered among books I have already read. I started with the one bookcase I know contains mostly unread books.

unread bookshelf

There are 120 unread books on that shelf, so that’s my goal for the year – to read 120 of my unread books.  I read 140 books last year, so this is doable for me. I will read a few library books as well, but only ones that qualify as highly anticipated reads for this year.

First I’ll be reading series – there are several series I’ve started, but haven’t finished. I’m currently finishing up the Lunar Chronicles.  I’m also planning to finish The Queen of Heart series, The Morganville Vampire series, the Beautiful Creatures series, and The Throne of Glass series.

This is my big reading challenge for the year, but I’ll also be doing some smaller challenges to help me stay motivated. I’ll be posting about some of those a little later. 🙂

What are your reading goals for 2018? Are you participating in any challenges? Let me know in the comments!

 

diyMFA book club, For Writers

My Origin Story – How I became a writer

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As I mentioned in my last post, I am participating in the diyMFA book club, and this is my first official post for the book club. 🙂 If you want to join the book club, all the details are here. The first prompt Gabriela gave us was to write out your origin story – the story that led you to become a writer.

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As long as I can remember, I’ve been surrounded by books and stories. My parents are both teachers, so they understood the importance of exposing children to books at an early age. It’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment that I decided to become a writer, but there are several personal experiences which led me here.

Some of my earliest memories include the stories my grandpa told me, my siblings, and my cousins. They starred a heroic coon dog named Cady. She defeated bears, took down mountain lions, and conquered evil humans, and I loved her. Soon I was making up stories of my own and telling them to my siblings. This was my first step into the world of storytelling.

Not much later, in about second grade, I discovered the book Little Women (the great illustrated classic version, which I still have). I carried that book everywhere with me and read it too many times to count. I even fended off a boy a grade above me who claimed I was too little to read such a big book.

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Jo March was my favorite character, and I wanted to be just like her, including becoming a writer when I grew up. And Jo March was only the first of a long line of characters (including Anne Shirley, Rory Gilmore, and Jessica Fletcher) who continued to inspire me to become a writer.

As I got a little older, I still continued to tell stories, often incorporating them into play. My sisters and I just didn’t play house with our Barbies. Our Barbies were on the run from an evil stepmother, solving murders, or trying to survive on their own.

(Scroll over the pictures to see the captions. 🙂  These are my actual Barbies from when I was a kid.)

But it wasn’t until middle school, when I took a creative writing class, that I began writing my stories down. I also started keeping a journal then.

My senior year of high school, I was editor of the school newsletter. I went to a small private high school, so it was actually pretty cool that I had this opportunity. I began contemplating a career in journalism, but really liked writing fictional stories best. However, I knew it would be difficult to make a living solely on writing novels.

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Once I got to college, they had already prepped a course schedule for me (based on the elementary ed major I had initially written on my application) and rather than go through the hassle of changing it, I decided to accept the schedule they had already set up. Lazy, I know, but I still had those doubts about not being able to make a living by writing.

I did add an English minor, and that proved beneficial as I learned so much in those classes, and there were several inspiring English professors who encouraged me to follow my writing dreams. I began writing my first novel while in college, but ended up shelving it because it was not good.

After graduating, I continued to write on and off. I had times when I was productive and other times where I didn’t write much. It was several years before I decided to take my writing seriously and start treating it like a job. I started this blog, created social media accounts, and began building my brand. Now I have four manuscripts with complete first drafts, but in various stages of the editing process. I am putting the final touches of one of those manuscripts and it will be published later this year!

What was you journey to becoming a writer like? Let me know in the comments. 🙂

 

 

 

#authortoolboxbloghop, diyMFA book club, For Writers

The diyMFA Book

Nano Blog and Social Media Hop2

Today for the #authortoolboxbloghop, I wanted to share one of my favorite writing resources. It is the diyMFA (Do-it-yourself Master of Fine Arts) book by Gabriela Periera. The title says it all – this book is set up to help you complete all the things you would do in a Master of Fine Arts program without the price of a university program. Not only is it perfect for the writer who wants to work towards a master degree, it’s also filled with tips to help any writer. There is also a website with even more resources for writers, and you can check it out here.

The book is not a typical craft book. It focuses on writing with focus, reading with purpose, and building your community. It is designed to help you finish your novel, and has been an excellent motivator for me.  I’ve also met some great people through the book’s community.

One of the things I like most about the book is the way you can tailor it to fit your needs as a writer. Gabriela has created a guideline to follow, but you choose the resources and customize the exercises to fit within your realm of writing, be it fiction or nonfiction.  You can even take it a step further and make it genre-specific.

Right now Gabriela is hosting a book club, and I’m really enjoying it. She sends out prompts that help get your creative juices flowing. (I’ll have more on that in a later post.) There is also a facebook group where you can connect with other writers. If you’re interested in participating, you can sign up here. I recommend it for anyone who’s working to finish up their manuscript, or for anyone who wants to connect with other writers.

Have you read the book? If so, what did you think? Are you already participating in the book club? Let me know in the comments!

You can follow along with the #authortoolboxbloghop, or join in if you want. All the details are here.

 

 

 

 

 

#authortoolboxbloghop, For Writers

NaNoWriMo Prep – #AuthorToolbox

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It’s almost NaNoWriMo time. For those who haven’t heard of it, NaNoWriMo stands for National Writing Month and it happens every November. Participants attempt to write a 50,000 word novel in one month’s time. It averages out to about 1,667 words per day. It’s a great motivator for writers! You can sign up to participate and find out more info here.

I’ll be participating in NaNoWriMo again this year (my fourth time), but this time I’ll be a rebel (someone who doesn’t start with a blank page to complete the 50,000 words). Here are a few things I’ve found that will help you reach the  win (50,000 words).

1. Commit to writing the words, then tell your friends and family. If you’re wishy-washy about it – like “I might have to try it” or “Maybe I’ll have time to do this” you won’t finish. The first time I attempted NaNo, this is how I was and I didn’t even get halfway there. The next year I made a solid commitment and I reached my goal. Part of committing is making sure family and friends know it, so they realize that sometimes you might not be able to go out when you still have words to type.

2. Decide on a specific time to write your words. This is different for different people -some like early mornings, others like late nights. For me, I write during the mid-morning. My “day job” is more of an afternoon/evening job, so mid-morning between 10 and noon works best for me. You just need to find the time that works best for you.

3. Celebrate the little wins. The NaNo site has badges you win for each word count goal( 5000, 10,000, 20,000 and so on) which I love. Every time I earn a new one, it gives me another burst of energy to write more! One of my writer friends on Instagram had a great idea. She made a list of little rewards for herself once she reaches each one of her word count goals. It’s such a cool idea, I’m going to try it this year. 🙂

4. Keep a name list of your characters. This is the best way to keep track of all those minor characters. I sometimes got into a tangle when I couldn’t remember a specific characters name – “I think it was Jack, or was it Jake?” Now I keep a list as I add characters so I don’t have to go back  through my manuscript to check the name.

5. Don’t try to edit as you’re writing. If you keep going back and rereading what you’ve already written, you’re defeating the purpose of NaNo. You just want to get the story out, and that’s what the first draft is for. Yes, it will be a mess, but worry about fixing it later on, after NaNo is over. I didn’t have a problem with this too much, unless I tried to go back and read what I’d written the day before. Only read enough to remember where you are in the plot of your story.

6. Try to get ahead of your word count in the first week. This is helpful for two reasons. One, you have more energy in the beginning, and second, it gives you a padding for those days you just can’t quite make the word count. This was so helpful for me. The first time I won Nano, I’m convinced this is why. I had gotten well ahead of my word count in the first week, and it compensated for times when I wasn’t able to make the day’s word count.

7. Write some every day, even if it is just a little. Even if you can’t get in all your words, steal whatever time you can to write a little. A hundred words is better than zero. Some days I just didn’t have the time to get the full word count, but even if I got a few in, I felt that I had still accomplished something. It helped to keep me from losing momentum. And if you do skip a day, don’t skip more than one in a row. This is a sure way of losing momentum, as I discovered the first year I tried Nano.

These are some things that have really helped me with NaNo. To some extent, I think you have to find what works for you. If you are doing NaNoWriMo, a great resource to check out is the book No Plot? No Problem! by Chris Baty. You can find it on Goodreads here.  It’s basically a guide for completing NaNo. Chris Baty is the creator of NaNoWriMo, and there is a little introduction in the beginning of the book about how NaNo started, which I thought was really interesting.

Are you participating in NaNo this November? If you are, add me as a buddy. My username is charebear23. 🙂 What helps you reach the win? Let me know in the comments!

This post is part of the author toolbox blog hop hosted by Raimey Gallant. Find out more about it here.

#authortoolboxbloghop, For Writers

#AuthorToolboxBloghop: The Foundation For Writing is Reading

 

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Everyone knows writers write, but not everyone realizes how much reading a writer must do. Reading is one of the most important things a writer does. A writer who doesn’t read is like a doctor who performs surgery without ever having been trained to do so.

If you want to be a writer, you MUST do two things above all others-READ a lot and WRITE a lot.-Stephen King

Reading is what educates you to become a writer. Reading helps you hone your craft, allows you to see what does and what doesn’t work in a book, and empowers your vocabulary.

Honing Your Craft – When it comes to honing your craft, you’ll want to read some craft books. There are so many to choose from, sometimes it can seem overwhelming to know which one you should use. You can narrow down which books you might need by knowing how you write best. Plotters will want a good book on outlining, and every writer will need books that give tips on editing and revising. You might also find a book about writing for your genre helpful. Here a few of my favorite craft books with links to them on Goodreads:

  1. Story Genius by Lisa Cron  : This book is great for both pantsers and planners. It helps you dig deep and determine what your characters really want. I highly recommend this for any writer.
  2. The Writer’s Digest Writing Clinic by Kelly Nickell: I love this book, because it helps with productivity. It breaks everything down into pieces, and gives tips for making each piece stronger, then gives you exercises for practicing those tips.
  3. Revision and Self Editing by James Scott Bell: This book has some wonderful tips to help you revise your first or second draft.
  4. Writing Great Books For Young Adults by Regina Brooks: This is ideal for those writing Young Adult. It gives a lot of genre specific tips as well plenty of general ones.
  5. Create Your Writer Platform by Chuck Sambuchino: Another thing writers have to think about is social media and everything that comes with it.  This book explains how to create an author platform, and how to best use social media.

 

Knowing What Works – When it comes to knowing what works and what doesn’t, you need to read books in your genre. Look for titles on the bestseller’s list, especially those that are there for several weeks. These are the books that are working for their genre. Look at reviews on Goodreads and Amazon. What do the readers in your genre like? What do they not like?  Some things work in certain genres that don’t work as well in others. In YA, writers often use first person. They use fragments to convey what the main character is thinking. They are typically fast paced and don’t include pages of description.  These things might not work as well for other genres like romance or literary fiction.

Empowering Your Vocabulary – Everything you read will help you with this, but you have to read a lot! The more you read the more words you encounter thus strengthening your vocab. Playing word games is another great way to get in some vocabulary practice. I love Scrabble and even have an app for it on my phone, but there are plenty of other word games you can play. There are so many word game apps, just try putting in word games and see what comes up. Anytime you have to wait, you can kill time by playing a word game.

If you struggle with fitting in reading time, try making a list. I make a TBR(to-be-read) list for each month. I include mostly genre-specific books, but every so often I add another genre in and I always try to include one craft book on the list. Sometimes I don’t read everything on my list, and sometimes I switch out one book for another, but the important thing is that I have a goal to work toward.

What are some of your favorite craft books? What do you do to make time for reading? Do you have a favorite word game? Let me know in the comments!

I’ve been wanting to start a section on my blog for writing tips, and then I found this: the author toolbox blog hop. It’s a great way to connect with other writers and share tips. It is hosted by Raimey Gallant and more information can be found here.

Blogger awards

Liebster Award

I was nominated for one other award this summer – the Liebster Award.  It’s taken me awhile, but I’ve nominated a few of my favorite blogs for this award. This works similar to the other awards.

You answer the questions from the person who nominated you. Thanks to Marge Tesch for nominating me! After answering the questions, you nominate up to 11 other people, then ask them 11 questions.

Questions from Marge:

1.How long have you been blogging, and what motivated you to start your blog? I’ve been actively blogging about a year and a half. I started my blog as a way to communicate with my readers and share all the info about my upcoming books.
2. In a single sentence, what is your blog about? On my blog, I share good books as well as bits of my life with my readers.
3. How did you decide on the name for your blog? It’s my author blog, so by default it got my name 🙂
4. Where do you get the ideas for your blog posts and how often do you post? I get inspiration from lots of things: books, movies, things that happen to me. I try to post once a week.  (I’m better at this some times, and not so good at it at other times.)
5. Do you ever get “writer’s block,” and, if so, how do you deal with it? Not a lot, but when I do have trouble thinking of something to write about, I take a step back from the computer. I go and do something else for awhile. When I come back, I am usually able to come up with something.
6. What’s your favorite post that you’ve written? Could you provide a link to that post? This is a hard question, but after skimming through my blog post, I decided on Interview with Jessica Day George. This was the first author interview I did.  It was pretty exciting and a lot of fun to do!
7. What is the best advice you can give your fellow bloggers about how to get new subscribers? Interact with other bloggers. Comment and share.
8. Do you belong to any writers’ or bloggers’ associations and, if so, which ones? I am in several facebook writer groups – Platform Challenged, Word Nerds Unite, The Motivated Writer, and Institute of Children’s Literature
9. Where will we find you on social media? FacebookInstagramTwitter, and Pinterest
10. Other than blogging, what is your favorite activity? Spending time with family. I also like reading a lot 🙂
11. What one thing would you like to be remembered for? Writing books that people love and remember forever. I want my books to inspire people.

These blogs all have great content. You’ll want to check them all out if you haven’t seen them before.  A lot of them have some cool Instagram accounts too!

And My Nominees:

Brianna Mae Morgan

Heir of Glitter

DM Simpson

Connie Cockrell

Juanita Millhouse

Trena’s Adventures

The Hunt For Paperbacks

Timea Stan

Gabrielle

The Reality Bug

Long for Writing

Questions for nominees:

  1. What inspired you to start a blog?
  2. How long have you been blogging?
  3. What is your favorite book and why?
  4. What are some of your hobbies (besides writing)?
  5. What is the best writing tip you’ve ever been given?
  6. What is the first thing (that you haven’t yet done) on your bucket list?
  7. If you could choose to spend a day anywhere in the world, where would you spend it?
  8. Are you a cat person, a dog person, or both?
  9. What do you do to get rid of writer’s block?
  10. Which of your blog posts is the best one/favorite one you’ve ever written? (Feel free to share a link to the post.)
  11. What do you most want readers to take away from reading your blog?

And to the nominees, no pressure. I understand as writers and readers we have busy lives. I look forward to reading the answers to the questions when you have a chance to post them!