Finding Inspiration and Why It Won’t Help You

Why Inspiration Won’t Help You

Inspiration is a fickle thing. It’s there one moment, but gone before you can even finish the first chapter that came from the inspiration to begin with. Inspiration is a great thing, but it is too unreliable to get your book finished. You should never wait for writing inspiration, just write. The hardest part is getting start, so if you just start writing, usually things will work themselves out. You’ll find a good rhythm and be much more productive in the long run.

However, I understand that inspiration is helpful. Inspiration is the lifeblood of creativity, after all. So, here is how to keep that inspiration alive:

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How to Be a Bad Writer, Then How to Get Better

What is a bad writer?

Not someone who isn’t sure where to put a comma, not someone who isn’t sure what the difference is between “effect” and “affect,” and not someone who writes in run-on sentences. No, none of these things mean that someone is a bad writer. No, no, in fact, it is something much simpler than that. You are bad writer if you don’t write.

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How to Deal with Hate Comments in Marketing and Writing

You Amongst the Hate Comments

So, I have been playing around with various ad managers out their (Facebook, Instagram, etc), to try and get more feedback on my blog, as well as just get more eyes on it. I tend to see pretty far reach, high impressions, a reasonable amount of clicks, but not very much engagement with either the ads or the blog post linked to the ad. So, I tried to go a bit more informal with my ad copy and just straight up asked people if they would be willing to check out something I wrote.

Well, I got what I wanted. I received a comment not long after I started my campaign. The comment was poking fun at my ad copy and how if that was any indication of my writing ability, they most certainly would mind reading anything else I wrote. It was the sickest of burns, to be perfectly honest, and had it been directed at anyone else, I probably would have laughed. However, because it was pointed at me, it felt like the worst possible thing to be said. I wouldn’t call it a hate comment, personally, but I could see how others might see it as one. Now, in that vulnerable state, there were many things I could have done, but I think I did what was probably best, and I want to share that process with you today:

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Entering a Writing Competition

I entered a writing competition.

Writing competitions aren’t that different from submitting your work for general publication, but it just feels different. I feel like there is more at stake (though it could be that I had to pay a submission fee, which I have also never done before), and I feel that if I fail to win or place that it will just prove all of those insecure, internal voices right. Ultimately, though, if I ever plan to do anything more with my writing than just publishing one piece a year, I need to start taking chances, dipping my toes in bigger pools, and putting myself in more uncomfortable situations.

So here I am, I have entered a writing competition, and I am scared to death. The process itself wasn’t very difficult. I did the same thing I have done anytime I have submitted anything to anyone, expect I had to put in my credit card info, which felt really weird and wrong. Ultimately though, I shouldn’t be as worried as I am right now. At this point, though, you are probably wondering why this matters to you:

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I’ve Been Rejected

Hello friends, newcomers, etc. It’s been a long time since I’ve written a blog post. Rather, it’s been a long time since I felt I had something worth blogging about. Recently, I’ve had a spurt of poetry submissions flying from my desk. As I’ve said time and time again, I never thought of myself as a poet. Yet, that particular form seems to be the only one my mind is capable of creating as of late.

Thankfully, I’ve had some good luck. I have a poem coming out in a magazine. I also have a short story being published in an anthology. Did I mention I’m also getting paid for these publications? As many of my writer friends know, it’s hard to find a paid publication, especially ones that take on new, unsolicited manuscripts.

Even though I’ve had so many positive outcomes from my publishing pursuits, and I’ve made sure to document it all on social media, there’s something I haven’t really talked about with anyone.

For every one acceptance email/letter I receive, I get about 10 of these:

Why do I bring this up? Because I almost always post on  Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. about all of my accomplishments. No one sees the rejections. While, yes, it is a good bit disheartening to see a rejection in my mailbox, I am proud of my rejections. I am not ashamed. I created something I felt was worthy of being read. I put it out in the world to be judged, knowing that it may get thrown out, and my work does get thrown out. A lot.

Have I been ashamed? Oh yes. Countless times I’ve seen a rejection and instantly regretted ever sending any work out. There are plenty of rejection letters that my friends, family, and readers will never hear about. However, I wonder sometimes what my writer friends think. I know I like their posts and cheer them on for every success, but what about when they feel like they’ve failed? I feel like I fail 10x more than I succeed. I don’t want them to feel like they are alone. I want them to be proud of those rejections. I also don’t want them to be afraid of rejection because rejections do happen, especially to those who achieve success. You can’t have rainbows without rain, and all that jazz.

Be proud. Keep writing. Keep submitting. Be writers.

Thanks for reading.

-Lissy

I Went to a Writing Covention and…

20160303_122012[1]I have never been so well dressed in my life. As many of you know, I am still in college, though I just recently signed up for graduation in December (yay!), and being in college I’ve had the opportunity to join the English Honor Society: Sigma Tau Delta. This offers a wide range of opportunities for all college writers, and I definitely recommend joining if one ever has the opportunity to do so. One perk that I took full advantage of was being able to submit a piece to the national convention, which means I would get a chance to travel out of state, attend a literary convention, and present my piece in front of all my peers and colleagues for my college. Needless to say, I was beyond pumped.

I submitted a short story and *spoilers* my short story was picked! It was probably one of FB_IMG_1456698771494[1]the more exciting moments of my life. I received the news at around 11 pm via email after a long shift at work, and I immediately called and woke up my boyfriend to tell him the good news, along with my mom, step-mom, and grandmother soon after. I told my colleagues at work over the course of a couple of months, had them read the story if they felt so inclined, and they made me feel more confident than I had ever been. Also, my friends got together and bought me this amazing messenger bag that they surprised me with a few days before I would be travelling. I cried. I hugged them all. Little did they know, it was a huge boost to my confidence, reminded me that I was worthy of being loved, as well as assured me in my abilities as a writer. I now refuse to carry anything else.

Then began planning. I lassoed my partner-in-crime, my boyfriend, into taking the 16-hour drive with me and we were off to Minneapolis, Minnesota. Along the way we went through Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois (where I paid my first toll fee), and Wisconsin. After an extended 19-20 hour drive because I just couldn’t drive anymore past 2 am, we finally arrived in Minneapolis. I read my story, met millions of authors and poets, ate at every northern restaurant I could find, got lost multiple times in the Mall of America, enjoyed hours in the underground aquarium, and countless hours enjoying the cold weather with my boyfriend. I have always said I would one day live in Portland, Oregon, despite having never been there. However, now that I’ve been to Minnesota, I don’t think I could picture myself anywhere else. Only time will tell, I suppose.

Unfortunately, our time in Minnesota came to an end and we made the extended 19-20 hour drive back through Iowa, Missouri (where I also received my first speeding ticket), Arkansas, and Mississippi. It was a trip I don’t think I’ll ever forget. It was my first trip completely on the road, completely independent of any guardian, and completely paid for by me. It was a wonderful experience, and I can’t wait to take part in next year’s Sigma Tau Delta convention.

Want to read the story I presented? Did I mention I was approached by another author with an offer to publish it in anthology? No? Well, more on that once we get the details ironed out. Until then, thank you so much for reading, and I can’t wait to share more of my adventures on here.

-Lissy

2 embarrassing reasons why life as an author ISN’T glamorous.

Very rarely do I find things embarrassing. The most embarrassing things are the funniest. So, for the sake of laughter, I share with you two reasons (experiences) that show you why life as a writer (or my life in general) IS NOT glamorous. At all. Not even a little bit.

  1. So, as a full-time student, part-time retail associate, and whenever-time writer, I often find myself creating time where I probably shouldn’t. For example, after a particularly long day of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in class and 5:30 p.m. to 10:45 p.m. at work, I found myself filled to the brim with weary inspiration. The moment I stepped through the door, I was already forming what had to be the novel of this generation (it actually ended up being a jumbled up pile of word vomit, but who was judging).It was at this time, approximately 11:10 p.m., I began crafting my masterpiece. I didn’t get done until approximately 2:00 a.m., which gave me about 3 hours of sleep before I had to wake up for my turnaround shift. I quite literally crawled from my desk to my bed and passed out without fuss. Didn’t change clothes. Didn’t shower. Nothing. As you can imagine, I was a sight (and a smell) to behold the next morning.Bleary and monstrous looking, I grumbled and tumbled out of bed into a fresh pile of clothing I had neglected to hang up the day before. Still half-asleep, I happened to find a fresh pair of khakis and my work polo. Without much thought, I slid both on and went on about my way. I’ll spare you the details on the rest of my “morning beauty routine.”

    I arrived at work, we opened the store, and I went on about my business, putting out freight and assisting cashiers. One of my cashiers, however, asked why I wasn’t picking up the store phone. It was then I realized I had forgotten to even pick it up that morning. So, I rushed back to my station to pick it up.

    However, when I went to slide it into my pocket, I realized I had no pockets. Huh. Well, that’s weird. I had just bought those pants not even two days before, and I swore they had, had pockets in them. I stopped, and I assessed myself. I placed my hands at the front of my pants where my pockets should have been, then dragged them around to my back side where my pockets actually were. With a little more feeling around, I also discovered my zipper was back there, too.

    Just then, my manager walked in. The same one that helped me open the store this morning and probably had seen my pants for the last 2 hours that I had been at work, yet hadn’t said anything. So, I straight up asked him,

    “*InsertManagerNameHere* Why didn’t you tell me I had my pants on backwards?”

    He gave me a shrug, then said, “I figured you were trying to make a fashion statement.”

    A fashion statement, indeed.

  2. This story happened long before the first one, but it involves the same manager. However, he didn’t just assume I was making a fashion statement. Perhaps this incident actually led to his action in the first story, or rather the lack thereof. Even worse, maybe now he just assumes I make these kinds of mistakes.As per usual, I had just gotten out of class at 3:00 p.m. and was heading to work for my closing shift. On days where I went to school, then worked, I tended to just wear my uniform to class. I wasn’t there to impress anybody (and I’m still not). So, I didn’t care if people saw me in uniform, and I was just too lazy to change clothes in the middle of the day. Especially since I’d only be wearing them for a few hours anyway.Well, when I got to work, my manager was standing at the door, just surveying the front end. Then, I walked by. There was a noticeable side glance, then a second take, and finally a flat out stare. Sure, I thought it was a bit strange, but it was just another day of work. Plus, I figured if it were that big of a deal, he would’ve said something. However, he didn’t say anything until I had already gotten on the register and checked out two or three people. Then he came up and asked,

    “Alyssa? Do you have a defective shirt?”

    I gave him a look, and rather than just look at my darn shirt, I asked,

    “Why?”

    He pointed.

    “Your tag is on the outside.”

    Then I looked, and behold. Rather than wearing my pants backwards for a few hours, I wore my shirt inside out to school and to work for an entire day. Yet, they still promoted me a few months later. I think they keep me for the lulz.

Thanks for reading.

-Lissy

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How I define my writing style

It’s… contemplative. Introspective. Thoughtful. It is what most would call…

Boring.

Most people wouldn’t dare define their own writing as boring, but I’m doing just that. Why? Because it says a lot about who I am. While we’re told not to take bad reviews personally, and I tend not to, I do find it interesting that when I see a negative review, I automatically begin picking apart my personality before I pick apart the writing in question.

Yes, it’s a bad habit.

Yes, you still shouldn’t take bad reviews personally.

And yes, I’m a complete loon for using a review on my writing to review myself, but I look at it this way:

Writing is a part of me. If there is something wrong with my writing, I need to address why I write this way before I can even begin to address how to fix it. I’m not trying to fix myself. I’m trying to find the source of why I write the way I write.

As I’ve said before, I am an introvert through and through, which makes me a black sheep in my family. My mom was class clown in high school, she’s still a socialite today and is one of the most outgoing people I know. My dad was a football player, won dance competitions, and is so charismatic still today that he could sway the Devil away from sin if he wanted to. Then, there’s me.

I am an awkward potato. I’d rather sit behind a screen and talk to people who I can’t see and who can’t see me than I would actually going out and meeting people. I’m my most comfortable alone. Me, myself, and I, are my confidants and where I find peace. I’m hardly ever lonely, though that doesn’t mean I don’t long for company occasionally. I just like my thoughts, my quiet, and myself. I’m proud of myself, and I love myself. I like spending time with myself.

That’s how my writing is, too. My main characters spend a whole lot of time in their own heads. It’s boring to a lot of people… but the way people think is so interesting to me. I think the most dynamic prose can take place all in a character’s head. Besides, all of our favorite stories came from someone’s thoughts, ya know?

That’s not to say action is boring. On the contrary, action is much more popular and fun. After my last bad review, I’m going to try and deviate as much as I can from thought and add more action. Is it going to be better? Maybe. I won’t know until I try.

I’ve just finally accepted that not everyone is like me. It’s embarrassing to admit it took me so long to accept, but what can you do? Not everyone likes to just sit and mull around in their own heads. Even less like to read about other people doing it, but that’s the reason I write that way.

My style is my personality.

What about yours? I’m curious to see how everyone’s writing style aligns with their personality, or how their taste in books relates to their personality. What do you think? Is it okay that personality and style are intertwined? Or is it a writerly sin? Please, let me know, and comment below!

Thanks for reading.

-Lissy

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How to Format a Manuscript

There are plenty of guides on how to do this. Plenty to be found on the internet, but a lot of them, I have found, don’t have examples, which I will be sharing with you all today. If you didn’t already know, there is a general consensus on how to format a manuscript, and this has been done since typewriters, which explains why things are formatted a certain way.

First off, let me disclaimer: Not every publisher will follow these guidelines.

I feel like this is the main problem a lot of people have. They think everyone will follow the same format, but that is just not the case. The majority will use this format, but you should still read their guidelines before sending anything in.

The number one reason for rejection is disregard for the general submission guidelines! Remember that!

Anyway, on to the list and example (which will be at the end)!

First off, if you have Scrivener, a lot of this will be done for you and is set up as default, so you may not have to worry about this. For those of you who don’t, Courier (any of its varieties), is the most accepted font. Times New Roman, Arial, and Garamond are also very popular so make sure to check the submission guidelines. So,

  • FONT
    Most common: Courier (any varieties)
    Other possible: Garamond, Arial, Times New Roman
  • COVER PAGE
    Name (Real, unless otherwise specified)
    Address (Mailing preferred, billing may be requested later, unless otherwise specified)
    Email address
    Phone number
    Agent’s name (Omit when necessary)
    Agent’s address (Omit when necessary)
    Title (Formatting example at the end of post)
    by Name (Pseudonym here if applicable, formatting example at the end of post)
  • PAGE NUMBERING
    In the top right corner on the second page, put the following in formation in the format:
    LastName / StoryTitle / Page#
    This should appear in the header portion of the manuscript.
    Not every publisher will want this, as some prefer anonymous submissions to promote a fair review, so once again, check the submission guidelines before submitting. On the first page, in the same spot you placed the LastName / StoryTitle / Page#, you’ll put your approximate word count.
  • END PAGE
    At the very end of the manuscript, skip a line, then put: <<<< >>>>
    This will signify the end of the manuscript.

Now for the example PDF: This is an Example

I hope that helped! Did it? Is there something else you’d like to know? Anything that didn’t make sense or that you wish I had covered? Let me know, and comment below!

Thanks for reading.

-Lissy

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