Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Do You Have a Niche? And Change is Coming

In light of two years of blogging and two-hundred followers, I'm announcing change around here. It's coming.

 ***Thank you fellow bloggers for being so wonderful & fabulous over the past two years. Without you, this blog would be quiet. Just me, talking to myself. XOXOXO to all of you. If I haven't stopped by lately and said hello, forgive me.

My oldest daughter riding, who could teach me a thing or two about focus.
Lately, I've been all over the place. Genre hopping, beginning stories and not following them through to the end, and literally consuming how-to writing books / articles. Sure, I've accomplished a few things, but I'm spiraling out of control. It's time to pull back on the reins and slow this pony into a nice, steady trot. 

I've given a lot of thought about my writing niche. I like the word niche, but for me, niche also means platform, genre, my writing thing, my specialty, my nook & cranny, and my spot in the literary world. I'm not talking about sticking my nose in a genre corner, but a little focus would be nice. Someone told me recently that I'm darting from one thing to the other because I'm creative and that's what we do. We create. Anything. Everything. 

Example: If I see an interesting person having coffee next to me, I need want to write a story about him / her. That's fine and dandy, as long as I don't let it interfere with the bigger plan. On a daily basis, I probably have 2-4 news story ideas fall out of the sky and land in my head! Folks, let me tell you, as writers, we can't do it ALL. It's just not possible. And if you can, please show me the way. 

When I mentioned change above, don't be sad. I'm not leaving. Merely evolving in a positive manner. More on what sort of change in a later post. But remember,

Change is good. Change is growth. 

"Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything."
~George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) Irish writer.
 
I've done a ton of reading on the subject about finding your niche / platform / genre. I'd like to share some of the information with you. 
 
Ronnie Dauber-What's My Niche
How to Turn a Hobby into a Niche I really resonated with this one!
Author Sarah Ketley says, Let Your Genre Choose You
Literary Agent Rachelle Gardner suggests we Pick a Genre!
Writer Know Thy Genre & Why You Should Only Pick One

Do you subscribe to the Writer Unboxed blog? Well, you should! Always great information. One from last year stands out about platforms. A guest post from Christina Katz, who wrote The Writer's Workout is fabulous. You can read it  HERE. Ms. Katz says every writer, non-fiction and fiction should build a platform. 

Also here's an older post from Writer's Toolbox from Therese Walsh about building platforms. Platforms and Opportunities

And last, but certainly not least, my WANA Mama, Kristen Lamb  is a true warrior writer. You will find many helpful blogging / writing tips on her website. THIS POST she wrote about authors having more than one blog. I found it helpful, and I've read it several times in the past month. It's one of the reasons I've come to the conclusion that I need to settle on my niche. My brand. My platform. And stick to it. 

Some say write what you know. Others say write the book you'd love to read. Why not write a novel, novella, short story, article, poem, or non-fiction book of what you know and love? Talk about passionate writing. 

Think about your favorite author. Do they have a particular niche / genre / platform? Running through my list of favs, mine do. What do you think about platforms?


 


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Time to Deboard the Crazy Train

This is my life on the crazy train

Any questions?

At precisely 3:52 a.m. today, I woke in a panic. I think it may be time to sit down and prioritize my life. I'm sure there are several items I forgot to add to my picture, but these seem to be the most pressing at the moment. 

How about you? Can you relate? Anyone else feeling the overwhelming need to slow down?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Psst! Good News & The Next Big Thing

Thank you Clare Dugmore for tagging me in The Next Big Thing Meme! If you do not follow Clare, you should. She's an amazing woman, writer, blogger, and friend! I can only wish CUFFED could be the next big thing. It's good to dream, right?

***

But before I get into the meme fun, I'd like to announce some really great news. Many of you may know I write several genres. I know, my WANA Mama, the wonderful & incredibly smart Kristen Lamb  says narrow them down, but it's so hard! If you struggle with identity writer crisis, follow her. She's loaded with helpful tips for writers. Oh! Sorry, I got distracted by Kristen's awesomeness. Back to the great news!

I will make an official announcement when the ebook is accepted, but I've collaborated with an illustrator for one of my picture books, LITTLE ACORN'S BIG FALL. We've worked together for a couple of months now, and I got word this morning that her illustrations are finished. Can I just say, WOW! They're absolutely fabulous! I guess it's not exactly time to let the acorn out of the sack, so I'll keep her name under wraps for now. I can tell you that we're part of a collaborations group through uTales. You can find out more about them HERE and HERE. If you've ever thought about submitting picture books as ebooks for children, check them out! Keep your fingers crossed, and wish us luck. :D
***

The Next Big Thing Meme


What is the working title of your book?
CUFFED

Where did the idea come from?

I've spent my entire marriage (21 years) as a cop's wife. It's been interesting to say the least, and my experiences have sparked more than one idea. I merged a few of my own experiences with an article I found in our local paper about a bank robbery in our small town, and a novel was born. It's a stand-alone novel w/ the potential to be a three book series.

What genre does your book fall under?

Romantic Suspense / Mystery (Adult)

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie?

When I drafted CUFFED, I pictured my main character, Steely as (nobody laugh) Victoria Beckham (aka Posh from the Spice Girls), and Jackson (main love interest) as Colin Farrell.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
When Steely Lamar gets caught snooping around a murder crimes scene, she finds herself in trouble with not only the law, but also with her fed-up cop fiancé, who tosses her out on the street, straight into the arms of an old flame, and directly in the sights of a bank-robbing killer. (Whoever said one-sentence synopses were easy?)
 
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I'm seeking publication through a small, independent press. Anybody know a few good ones?

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

About three months, w/ the bulk of the novel written during August Camp NaNoWriMo.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
My inspiration stems from my own experiences. I've done my fair share of meddling, and a part of Steely lives in me. I have to give a lot of credit to my family and friends who supported my inspiration and pushed me to follow through.

What else about your book would pique the reader's interest?

Steely has several flaws that I believe make her a relatable character. A bit of humor, a few spicy love scenes, and southern, small-town charm add flavor to the novel.

I tag/ pass this meme onto:
Incredibly talented  Tara Tyler 
Lexa Cain who has a gorgeous blog & writes YA horror, thrillers and paranormal
a writer with the most fabulous smile in the world! Angela Orlowski-Peart (Make sure you check out Angela's new author website and blog!)




Sunday, September 9, 2012

Riding (Writing) the Zombie Wave


Let me begin this post with, I'm not controversial. However, in light of my recent research for a soon-to-be wip, I stumbled upon the Centers of Disease Control website. I saw this last year and thought nothing of it, until I realized the hype has not only continued, but progressed. *See below* 

(Yes, I also suffer from TMG (too many genre) syndrome. But, who says I can't have fun in my quiet creative time, right?)
Courtesy of Amazon
Two years ago, I wrote a zombie flash fiction piece for a writing challenge and had great response and feedback. I began drafting bits & pieces of additional stories with zombies. Mostly because they scare the bejebbies out of me, and the fear of the unknown grabs me by the throat. The Forest of Hands and Teeth rattled my cage, and set my secret zombie craze in motion.

I'm sure most of you have seen this. Preparedness 101 Zombie Apocalypse . We've been trained (as writers) to trust the .gov sites. We can gather helpful (factual) information with the understanding and guarantee of truthfulness. Yes, I get their drift here. Keeping people prepared and informed will minimize panic and reduce tragic outcomes during disasters. And, it's definitely a comical spin on disaster preparedness.

They have badges for your blogs, widgets, t-shirts, and posters.  
This isn't a slam on our government. Make note of that. (I'll say again) I'm not the controversial sort of gal. However, I occasionally succumb to hype, and my fears tend to get the best of me. My imagination goes into overdrive with this type of information. I realize it's a joke. But why did this trusted governmental agency decide to drag humor into a most serious matter? Just asking. There are tons of people out there who believe the next big thing is a zombie apocalypse. I know two. They live in my house.

With the recent face-eating manic, tactics such as the CDC's recent health preparedness and response could potentially cause wide-spread panic. IMO (in my opinion) that is. Go to their blog and read some of the comments. People are seriously asking, "Is this true?"

*Did you know the CDC has written a graphic novella? Yep, you can read it here: Zombie Pandemic . *Even they are riding the wave.

There is a positive side to all this. If you write Horror, Sci-Fi, Dystopian, or heck, even Mystery, you now have a .gov site you can refer to. As a writer, I guess I should be thanking the CDC for a reliable source to use in my research. They almost make it believable.

Note from me: In no way, form or fashion is this post written to cause alarm or panic. Pure writerly musings here. I'd love to hear from you, but only as writers, not believers or non-believers. *I will delete comments from the crazies. I don't want to begin an "Are they real?" discussion. That would be like a do you believe in Bigfoot or not discussion.

Instead, let me know your thoughts on researching trusted sites, using the information for our writing, and should humor play a role in serious matters. Can we learn from humor? Trust it? What do you think about the CDC writing a graphic novella? Recommendations for zombie books are welcome, too. Keep comments courteous and w/ a smile. :-)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

IWSG, Sucker Literary Magazine, & a few Writer's Rut Survival Tips

August disappeared. As I stand here, nearly catatonic, I wonder where it went. Camp NaNoWriMo held me underwater, and I didn't come up for air until the very last day. It's left me feeling fuzzy, not the warm teddy bear kind of fuzzy, but dizzy, dazed, and blurry-eyed. Zombish, only I'm missing the drool. Okay, and I think my heart is still beating, too.

In light of Insecure Writers Support Group post, I wanted to focus on giving you a few tips to help you out of a writer's rut. I vow to take my own advice. Thank you to the wonderful Alex J. Cavanaugh for hosting the group.

Tips for Climbing out of the Writer's Rut

1. Get yourself a strong rope (Find a support group). When you're laying at the bottom of a muddy ditch, have your peeps toss you down a strong rope. Let them pull you up, hose off the muck, and clean you up. It's what supportive friends do. I.E. the Insecure Writers Support Group. Click on the link above to join. ;)

2. Eat chocolate (or any other comfort food). Once you're out of the ditch, lay on the grass, look up, and thank your supporters. Now, pick up your favorite reading material and consume it. That's right. READ what you love. For days if you need to. Build your strength. Have your peeps bring you things like water, real food, and comfy pajamas. Read until your heart and creative soul are nourished.

3. Get back in the saddle and write. That's right. Pick up your pen. Open a new document or an existing one. Anything. Let that creative pony run, wild and free. Journal, draft, enter contests, perfect your pitches & queries, polish your manuscripts, find beta readers, and get your work out there. It's not going to sell itself.

You can do it!!

Sucker Literary Magazine Volume ISUCKER LITERARY MAGAZINE Volume I is now in print! You can order one from Lulu  HERE . My edgy YA short story, On the Edge of Postal is in there! I just received my two copies, and they're gorgeous. :)) 

***Update on Follow My Lead Fiction Contest. Given the recent talk about using images from the Internet, I've had to reevaluate my tactics on where to find the images for the contest. I've been working on gathering my own photos and images. For now, the contest is on hold. Over the next several months, I will decide if it is something I'll continue or not. But, y'all will be the first to know.
 

Saturday, September 1, 2012

I'm Back! NaNo News & GUTGAA

My blog had a makeover.

It is good to be home. I've missed y'all! Thank you to all who visited my blog while I was away. I stuck to my guns, and entered the August Camp NaNoWriMo challenge. At 8:55 p.m. on August 31st, I finished with 51k. The word count was an add-on to an existing wip, giving me a total of 74k. CUFFED, my romantic mystery is now first-draft complete!! I'd like to thank Clare Dugmore and Catherine Stine and lots of folks on FB for all your encouragement and support along the way!! Y'all rocked it!

I'd like to share three books, which assisted me in writing CUFFED. 
1. Bullies, Bastards, and Bitches by Jessica Page Morrell - who taught me how to add a dose of badassery to my characters.
2. Writing Mysteries a Writer's Digest book, edited by Sue Grafton - which gave me knowledge of how a mystery is plotted.
3. Will Write for Shoes: How to Write a Chick Lit Novel by Cathy Yardley - who taught me what the heck chick lit is all about (and what it's not), and that even a mystery can be a bit chick-litty if it has the right ingredients.


***GUTGAA NEWS***

The lovely and talented Deana Barnhart is working her tail off on her Gearing Up to Get an Agent Blogfest. GUTGAA will be a six-week fest, including tons of opportunities to get your work in front of agents, and you'll also meet lots of writers! So, for the next six weeks, part of my posts will be geared to GUTGAA. The fun begins NOW! (My answers are in purple.)


Questions for the Meet and Greet

-Where do you write? Mostly in my office / computer room / and unfortunately, my husband's bicycle-building room. When the clanking of tools is too loud, I move to another room and write long-hand. But, that's only when he's home from work.

-Quick. Go to your writing space, sit down and look to your left. What is the first thing you see? My lamp.

-Favorite time to write? At the crack of dawn, and for some strange reason, 2-4 p.m. is also a creative time for me.

-Drink of choice while writing? Is it stereotypical to say, coffee? Well if it is, I nailed the stereotype.

-When writing, do you listen to music or do you need complete silence? I like to create radio stations on Pandora that lend to the mood of the piece I'm working on.

-What was your inspiration for your latest manuscript and where did you find it? A headline in our small-town newspaper.

-What's your most valuable writing tip? I'll have to pass on a tip I was given by Charlaine Harris, author of the Sookie Stackhouse novels. Never. Give. Up.
Me as I finished Cuffed last night.

Mini-Bio: Candilynn is a tenacious (stubborn) writer of many genres. She recently finished her first draft of CUFFED, an adult romantic mystery w/ small-town Texas style & wit. She's a member of SCBWI, and a local writer's group. She's also the mother of two fabulous daughters, and the wife of a police officer, where her own (meddling) experiences lent a hand in creating CUFFED.