Saturday Writers

Author Archives: Cheryl

North Iowa’s Author Event

AR and Cheryl will be at the North Iowa’s Author Event on April 18. The event is hosted by BF Bookies.

It will be a gathering of amazing authors from Iowa and surrounding states.  Come mix & mingle & pick their creative minds.  Books will be available for purchase.

Date:  Saturday, April 18, 2015

Time:  1:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Place:  Best Western Holiday Lodge, Clear Lake, IA

  • 20 confirmed authors!
  • Door Prizes!
  • Goodie Bags for the first 100 people!
  • Meet & Greet on Friday night at the Bennigan’s Bar from 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm.

**To see a list of attending authors, visit Facebook and find the event:  North Iowa’s Author Event

Travelers & Shifters & Fey

Travelers & Shifters & FeyAR Miller and Rachel Eliason have joined forces with Dennis Green to release a box set of their books, called Travelers & Shifters & Fey.

And it’s FREE on April 8th and 9th! Get this box set now!

Iowa isn’t considered flyover country for the reasons you think. Dennis Green, A.R. Miller and R.J. Eliason invite you to experience Iowa for what it really is…magical.

Traveler by Dennis W. Green

Detective Trav Becker can travel between parallel realities. But other versions of him also have this talent, and one of them is systematically killing every other variant of himself that he can find. Trav must now fight to keep the very fabric of time itself from unwinding as he hunts the most dangerous quarry of all…himself.

Disenchanted by A.R. Miller

Middle age is supposed to be boring, average at best, but not for stylist Keely Fey. Her Talents are evolving, an imaginary childhood friend reappears and a light elf takes an interest in her. This wouldn’t be so bad, if he weren’t stalking her. As her life tumbles into chaos the authorities decide it’s no coincidence the victims of The Collector are clients of her salon. Welcome to The Meadows, a typical Iowa community, if you’re an Enchant.

Bear Naked by R.J. Eliason

Amanda Burnson is a typical teen with all the typical problems: excess weight, struggles with body odor, random people trying to kill her . . . oh, and her boyfriend just might be a werewolf.

At seventeen, Amanda, who has been raised by her neo-pagan uncle, has more friends at the local Renaissance faire than at her high school. Most of her summers are spent at faires, festivals, and Aunt Maggie’s farm.

There is something new going on in the heart of America, in the small Iowa town that Amanda calls home. The whole town is changing–a tough way to begin a school year. New kids alongside the old; new attitudes colliding with the usual annoying old ones; menacing new faces alongside comforting ones. . . things will never be the same once this brew is boiled.

Get it at Amazon before the price goes back up.

Ankeny Authors Fair

Ankeny Authors FairSeveral of our members will be participating in the 3rd Annual Ankeny Authors Fair on Saturday, April 11, 2015. Kirkendall Public Library is once again hosting 50 authors from across Iowa, including our own Rachel Eliason, AR Miller, C. Deanne Rowe, and Cheryl Corbin.

The authors will be on hand to talk about their writing, sell and sign their books. Last year, the event included authors from every genre – mystery, science fiction, fantasy, horror, romance, thriller, memoir, childrens, young adult, and non-fiction.

If you love to read, come out and join us:

Saturday, April 11 from 9 am to Noon

Pinnacle Club
4100 NE Otter Creek Dr
Ankeny IA 50023

Bear Naked is now 99 cents

Bear NakedAs she prepares to release Bear Naked 3: The Hunter and the Hunted, RJ Eliason has reduced the price of the first book in the series, Bear Naked, to only .99. If you haven’t read this great YA fantasy series, now’s a great time to try it. It’s available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo and Smashwords.

Amanda Burnson is a typical teen with all the typical problems: excess weight, struggles with body odor, random people trying to kill her . . . oh, and her boyfriend just might be a werewolf.

At seventeen, Amanda, who has been raised by her neo-pagan uncle, has more friends at the local Renaissance faire than at her high school. Most of her summers are spent at faires, festivals, and Aunt Maggie’s farm.

There is something new going on in the heart of America, in the small Iowa town that Amanda calls home. The whole town is changing—a tough way to begin a school year. New kids alongside the old; new attitudes colliding with the usual annoying old ones; menacing new faces alongside comforting ones. . . things will never be the same once this brew is boiled.

Run, Clarissa, Run is free this weekend

Rachel’s YA book Run, Clarissa, Run is free on Amazon this weekend. Get it before the price goes back up!

Run, Clarissa, RunLife in a small town can be tough when you’re a little different, but for a fifteen year old transgender kid it can truly be hell. Clark is harassed daily at school for his effeminate behavior and appearance. He has no friends and a brother that is as likely to be on the teasing as to prevent it.

When Clark is offered a job babysitting for the Pirella family, it seems like a godsend. The money is good. He bonds with the girls almost instantly. The father, Tony, works in computer security. Tony and Clark strike up a friendship based on a mutual love of computers and hacking.

As Tony becomes aware of Clark’s transsexuality and his growing feminine alter ego, Clarissa, things become incredibly complicated. Will Tony be Clarissa’s salvation, or her undoing?

Check out Rachel’s other books on her website.

Learning to Write My Own Way

It’s NaNoWriMo time again and I find myself facing a familiar decision – do I participate in NaNo this year?

I’ve been a part of NaNo several times and I’ve enjoyed it. The camaraderie and enthusiasm of tackling a novel along with thousands of other people is exhilarating.

By participating in NaNo, I discovered that I really can write 50,000 words in 30 days.

I discovered that I can write 600 words in 20 minutes if I set a timer and just keep typing.

I discovered that if I don’t have a good vision of a scene in my head, I end up with 600 random, repetitive talking-head words in that 20 minutes.

I discovered that while I can write fast, I don’t like writing that fast as it feels like I’m just throwing ill-thought-out junk on the page.

This year, I want it to be different.

I have a story that I am thoroughly in love with. I’m using Holly Lisle’s How to Think Sideways course to plan it out and it is turning out to be incredible.

I want to take my time writing the scenes so that they turn out as well as I see them in my head. so that I capture the passion and the nuances of my characters.

Will I participate in NaNo this year? Yes, I think I will. But I’m going to take my time with my daily writing. I’m going to use a slower, deliberate pace so that I’m happier with my scenes when I’m done.

Learning how YOU write is a huge part of learning how TO write. Participating in NaNo is helping me learn how I write, what works for me and what doesn’t.

What helps you learn how to write?

Writing Serendipity

Trifolium repens ?
Image via Wikipedia























Serendipity is an interesting thing. It’s when you find valuable or agreeable things that you weren’t looking for. I experienced serendipity this week, though I didn’t realize it until today.

Instance #1

I blogged about the need for writing practice over on Learn to Write Fiction a couple weeks ago.

There’s a theory that 10,000 hours of practice is required to become a world-class expert in anything. There are some caveats to this, of course.

You can’t just randomly do an activity for 10,000 hours and suddenly you’re an expert. The 10,000 hours have to be engaged in meaningful, deliberate practice where the person is actively trying to improve.

Instance #2

This week I picked up a copy of Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. His book presents a theory that it isn’t just 10,000 hours that make an expert, though that is necessary. He adds that there are often instances of great opportunity in the lives of these experts-opportunities that propelled them forward toward expert status.

This makes sense in the publishing world where there are many examples of excellent writing that doesn’t get published and examples of mediocre writing that does. The opportunities that come your way are more often the result of luck than anything else. Right place, right time, right person syndrome.

Instance #3

Penelope Trunk blogged about time being more important toward achieving expert status than talent. We think of the talented people as being assured of expert status some day and we envy them for starting out with an advantage.

But scientists are starting to discover that it isn’t talent that assures expert status. Yes, it confers an advantage, but not a guarantee. Instead, “you need to work every single day at being great at that one thing if you want to be great.” The New York Times emphasizes the need for immediate feedback, as well..

Serendipity Thoughts

All of this has come together in my brain this week and I think about what it means for writers. Here are my conclusions:

Having a natural talent for writing doesn’t guarantee you’ll be a best-selling author. That means there’s hope for writers who weren’t born with the writing gene.

Deliberate, focused practice is required to get really good at something. 10,000 hours is the recommended target based on studies of experts in multiple fields including sports, science, music, art, math, finance and hobbies. This means setting specific goals, obtaining immediate feedback and concentrating as much on technique as on outcome.

You need to really love the thing you want to be expert at, otherwise you won’t put in the 10,000 hours of hard work needed to get very good at it.

Luck still plays a large part in becoming a best-selling author. You can’t control luck or opportunities, but you can prepare yourself and your writing to be ready when luck strikes.

Your Turn

Do you really love writing? Enough to get up early, stay up late, skip fun activities, work every spare minute, dissect and study other novels, revise constantly, solicit critiques and incorporate the feedback, write, write more, write better?

Do you spend your writing time in deliberate, focused practice, always striving to get better?

Do you prepare yourself to be ready for publishing opportunities by meeting other writers, attending conferences, following news in the publishing industry, and submitting your best work over and over again?

Ten Years Later

2010 - Happy New Year!
Image by Patrick Hoesly via Flickr

All day yesterday on Twitter, people were posting their thoughts with the hashtag #tenyearsago. They were remembering and highlighting where they were ten years ago and how their life had changed since then.

As a writer, I’ve come a long way in ten years. I wrote a lot of words in those years. I completed several NaNoWriMo novels. I participated in several online writing communities and real-life writing groups. I read many books on writing and applied them to my stories. I made new writer friends. I started a website about writing.

And in those ten years I learned a lot about myself and my writing. Some of the things I learned…

  • Strong emotion can drive a short story. It’s actually one of the best inspirations for a story.
  • Regular writing practice makes the words flow easier. Julia Cameron’s morning pages are a good way to incorporate daily writing practice into your life.
  • There are two kinds of books published about writing – “How to” books on craft and books that motivate you to write. You can learn from both, but the best way to improve your writing skill is by just writing.
  • If you push through to the end of a story, even one that you don’t like anymore, you can learn more from finishing it, then abandoning it for a new story.

How far have you come with your writing in the last ten years? What have you learned?

NaNo Fail

the turtle and the hare
Image by Trevor D. via Flickr

I am a NaNo Failure this year. Yep, I didn’t complete 50,000 words on my novel. I topped out at just over 12,000.

The reason I failed this year (after winning several years in the past) is because I had too many other projects of higher priority already going on in November.

I knew this when I started and still chose to sign up for NaNo. I was temporarily optimistic and somehow thought I would get it all done. I didn’t.

The smarter thing to do would have been to NOT sign up for another commitment. Not until I was actually ready to devote time to my novel. Because this novel deserves to be my number 1 priority. As does your novel.

Sure, you can write a novel in among a dozen other activities in your life, but it is hard. Hard to split your attention among so many priorities and hard to give your novel the attention it deserves.

My New Plan

I still plan to write my novel, but obviously it won’t be done in November. Instead, I’m going to borrow a page from Holly Lisle’s strategy book. She’s been writing a novel, a book of her heart, amid her other deadlines at the rate of 250-500 words a day. That’s only 1-2 pages. She’s deliberately taking it slow for a couple of reasons.

1. She has several other projects going on, including other book deadlines, so she can’t devote a solid block of time to getting this one special novel written.

2. She wants to demonstrate that you can complete a novel at a slow, steady pace. 250 words a day does add up to a novel over the long run.

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

So that’s what I’m going to do. Set myself to writing 250 words a day on this novel. Even with so many other projects going on in my life, I can manage to write 250 words. If I already know what I’m going to write, that’s about 10 minutes of writing.

I can manage 10 minutes of writing each day. And so can you.

Care to join me?

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Three Things I Learned from NaNoWriMo

November has been dubbed National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) by Chris Baty, a writer from San Francisco. For 11 years, he’s sponsored an event for writers, challenging them to write a novel (50,000 words) during the month of November. Thousands of writers have taken him up on the challenge and participated through the NaNoWriMo website.

I’ve been a part of the challenges for several years and I’ve learned some things in the process that I’d like to share with you.

Challenge Yourself

Use NaNo as an opportunity to challenge yourself. You don’t have to adhere to the “50,000 words on a new novel” rule. It’s more of a guideline, than a rule. The point of NaNo is to challenge yourself–stretch beyond what you think you’re capable of.

  • If you already have a story started, write 50,000 more words on it in 30 days.
  • If you’re writing short stories, instead of novels, write 50,000 cumulative words on a variety of stories in 30 days.
  • If your novel is done, edit 50 pages a day on it.
  • If you’re submitting, send out 5 queries a day for 30 days.

Think of what you could accomplish under normal circumstances and then double your output for a month. You don’t have to keep it up forever, just for a month. See what kind of a kickstart that gives to your writing.

First Draft Freedom

NaNo requires fast writing. For many writers, 50,000 words in 30 days is really fast. You don’t have time to edit, to fuss with point of view, to layer your characters. You just write and get it down on paper.

As a writer who gets stuck in perfectionism, NaNo is a refreshing change for me. I can’t fuss over the first chapter for six months, getting the words just right. Instead, I have to throw something on to the page and keep going.

Now, mind you, I’m not deliberately throwing garbage on to the page and calling it my novel. No, I’m writing the story the best I can without self-editing during the process. Forward motion is my goal. I’ve come across several writers who feel that writing the first draft is necessary for you to figure out what story you’re actually telling. Then in the second draft (and subsequent ones), you shape the story to that vision. Since I know the story will change (possibly radically), then getting my first draft perfect isn’t necessary. It’s kind of useless, even, since I’m going to change it. So write fast and get to the end of your first draft so you know your story.

Help, My Plot Has Fallen and It Can’t Get Up!

One of my favorite “tools” I learned from NaNo is the plot ninjas.

Let’s pretend that you’re writing along on your novel and you start to realize that your characters have been sitting in a kitchen, sipping tea and chatting for the last 30 pages. Drinking tea in a kitchen is the kiss of death for a novel. Where’s the tension? Where’s the conflict? You need to get those characters moving and reacting to something.

Suddenly there’s a knock at the back door. Your main character answers the door and discovers ninjas who immediately start attacking him!

Now there’s tension and conflict in your story. Nobody stands passively by while ninjas are attacking.

Ninjas may not fit your genre, but you can adapt the plot ninja idea to other types of stories.

  • If you’re writing a mystery, someone totally unexpected is murdered.
  • In a romance, another man (or woman) shows up and claims to be married to your main character.
  • In a scifi story, aliens attack or a nanite plague breaks out.
  • In a crossover novel, the secret spouse of your main character’s love interest is murdered by aliens wielding nanites.

The only criteria for using plot ninjas in your story is that the ninja event be something unexpected and startling. Something that your characters must react to. Then they’re no longer in the kitchen drinking tea.

I’ve learned other things from participating in NaNo, but these are three biggies–enjoy the challenge, write freely in my first draft, and use plot ninjas to shake things up when my story has stalled.

What things have you learned from NaNoWriMo?

I’ll be participating in NaNo again this year. If you’d like to follow my progress, add me as a Writing Buddy.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]