Seasonal Reading

I am currently reading Dreamers by Angela Hunt. Why? Well, because it’s Fall, of course.
photo 2 Let me explain. I have a book I read for every season. Actually, I have multiple. Every Spring, for example, I read the Mark of the Lion series by Francine Rivers. (Well, at least the first two books.) Come Summer, I read The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and Legend by Marie Lu. When Summer ends and the leaves begin to turn, I start thinking about this series by Angela Hunt called Legacies of the Ancient River. In the fall I read Dreamers and Brothers, and come Christmas, it’s time to read the third book, Journey.

Granted, I might not read ALL of these books EVERY year, but when the seasons change, I can’t help but feel nostalgic for the stories of that season. I think it has something to do with that season being the first time I read those books.

I read The Hungers Games in May, and now whenever the weather gets warm, I have flashbacks to District 12 and the Games. Journey has absolutely nothing to do with Christmas. In fact, the story takes place in a hot desert. But the first time I read it was during Christmas break in high school. I curled up on the couch by the fire, with Christmas music playing in the background and a cinnamon candle lit nearby. And now whenever I hear Christmas music, I think of a prince who lives in the desert, preparing to lead his people back to their homeland.

Books to me are like music. There’s a genre for every season. (Country for Summer, mellow for Fall, and of course, Christmas for the first half of Winter.) I guess it helps me transition with the seasons.

What about you? Do you have any special books/music you reserve for each season?

The Hunt Excerpt

I just had my second flash fiction story published this past weekend!! WOOHOO!!! So if you like dinosaurs, adventure, or just life in general, you might want to check out my story, The Hunt, in Havok Magazine issue 1.3.

If you’re interested, you can purchase Havok 1.3 issue here: http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/786683

Or subscribe to Havok Magazine here: splicketypubgroup.com/subscribe

Just to tickle your fancy, here’s an excerpt from the story!

The Hunt

Breaking The Ice

ice-brakerBeginning a new book is the hardest part of writing. Like meeting a new person, you don’t know where you stand until you spend time with them, get to know them, or in this case, get to know the characters in your story. It sometimes takes me 5,000 words to get into my newest writing project, but once I’m in it, I’m in for the long haul.

I just started Book Two of my Black Tiger dystopian series. I submitted the first book to some indie publishers, and while I wait for feedback, decided to begin the next book. It was hard. It’s taken me a week, yes, SEVEN DAYS, to get three-thousand words down. I used to be able to get that many words written in a day. I kept getting distracted, finding excuses not to write. But when I don’t write, I get depressed. So this was one roadblock I was either going to have to cross or go around. (by “go around”, I mean set aside and start a new story).

So I decided to take the bull by the horns (please excuse the cliche), and write. I plowed through my writer’s block. Because that’s the only way to get to know your story. That’s the only way you’re going to get excited about it, and by the excitement, find the drive to write every day.

11 Things To Do Between Writing Projects

I just finished some major edits on my YA dystopian novel, “Black Tiger”. I’m tempted to jump into writing book two, but you know what? I kinda like this hiatus. See, when I get into a writing mode, my mind and time are locked in until that project is complete. During every one of my son’s naps, I plop down––butt in chair & coffee in hand–– and write/edit. Seriously. Nothing else gets done.

So before starting my next project, I’m trying to get caught up on, well, real life. Below, I’ve written eleven things you can (and probably should) get done before beginning your next big project.

1. Socialize. Been ignoring those phone calls and skipping out on family outings? Now’s the time to call up those good old friends and reconnect with your family. Even when I do go out with the in-laws and cousins, I’m terrible about not really being “there”. My mind is always working, always collecting ideas for the next scene. But without a projectcheck-list-board on the burner, I can finally be fully present.

2. Clean. If you’re at all like me, your house looks like a number 5 hurricane just blew through. What’s worse, the grime inside your sink hasn’t been cleaned out since the middle ages. Well, now’s the time to catch up on housecleaning. I just did a deep clean yesterday, and waking up this morning to a clutter-free, grime-free house was among one of the best things I’ve ever experienced in my entire life (apart from riding an ostrich in China, but I’ll save that story for another time.)

3. Blog. Did you know I’m The World’s Worst Blogger? In case you haven’t noticed, this is the first blog I’ve written in over a month, because when I have time to write, I want to write a book, not a blog. But since I have no book in progress, blogging will do.

4. Write flash fiction. Because, why not? You have to exercise those fiction-writing muscles somehow, and you don’t want to commit to a large project just yet. Flash fiction is a story of a thousand words or less. You can whip that up in an hour or two, edit it the next day, and hey, you’ve got a story to submit to a magazine and you’ve satisfied your daily/weekly craving to write fiction.

5. Housework - Mow the grass, recycle, clean gutters, dig a grave for that body you’ve been hiding in the basement… whatever major house chore you’ve been putting off, now’s the time to do it!

6. Catch up on social media. I think I do alright on Facebook, but when it comes to “promoting” myself as an author via twitter or Pinterest, well, I kind of suck. I really, really would rather be writing. But this is the time to connect with people on social media, get to know those online friends, grow your audience and work on that writer’s platform that you’ll need when you’re published.

7. Go to the park. Whether you have dogs, kids, a spouse, pet dragon, or none of the above, going to the park is healthy and a good way to get exercise and get fresh air. Do I sound like a mom yet? I took my son to the park for the past three days and felt so incredibly refreshed afterward. The park is free and it’s fun for the whole family. Seriously. Why not go?

8. Volunteer. Now’s the time to put in a few hours of good community service. Like going to the park, it may not sound appealing at first, but after the fact, you’ll be glad you did it.

9. Watch your favorite T.V. Show. I’m currently getting caught up on The Walking Dead (season 3) and I just started Game of Thrones this week. You’ve put all that hard work into writing and editing, why not kick back and relax for a few days?

10. Read a book. Or two. Or three. Best if you read in the genre you’re writing, but really, any book will do. And reading for a writer friend gives you 50 extra points, because that’s just a nice thing to do.

11. Finally, primp yourself up. Okay, this is more for the girls. If you’re like me, you’ve probably let your fingernail polish get chipped and you can’t remember the last time you got a hair cut. Time to shave those legs, pluck that unibrow, and clip your toenails. Because, let’s face it, if you don’t do it before you begin your next project, you’ll be living proof that backward evolution does, in fact, exist.

 

How to Prepare for a Writer’s Conference

By a show of hands, how many of you have been to a writer’s conference?

In my short five years as a (serious) writer, I’ve been to two. To me, writer’s conferences are like camp. They’re fun, you meet lots of new friends who share your interests and you return home with renewed passion about life and writing.

I’m excited to say I have the opportunity to attend my third writer’s conference coming up this weekend! That’s right, I will be going to the Realm Maker’s Conference. This was a last minute decision for me. I mean, I literally started thinking about attending this conference two weeks ago, and paid for registration last Monday. The conference begins this Friday.

Since I’m currently preparing to leave for Realm Makers, I thought that a good topic to post about this week. So, here they are, eight things (in no particular order) to do in preparation for a writer’s conference.

Picture taken at Mount Hermon Writer's Conference

Picture taken at Mount Hermon Writer’s Conference

First of all, register. You don’t want to miss the registration date like I did for this upcoming conference. Fortunately, the director was kind enough to let me slip in at the last minute. Totally a God thing.

Second, check out the website for who’s going to be there. You want to get familiar with the professionals, the agents & editors, teachers & mentors. Go to these professionals’ websites, study what their passions are, what they’re looking for, and see if your project meets their needs.

Fourth, prepare a synopsis, one sheet, query letter, and sample chapters to give to editors/agents. (And look at their websites to see what else they might want to see.) Print off a few copies of each and stick them in a folder for safe-keeping.

Fifth, pack. Make sure you look at the conference website to see what’s appropriate. All (two) of the conferences I’ve been to were semi-formal. Jeans with a nice shirt or something of the like. But some conferences are very formal while others are more casual.

Sixth, make travel preparations. This is an obvious one, but just in case you forget, here it is. Map your destination or buy tickets depending on your preferred mode of transportation.

Numero Siete, go with a student’s open mind. You’re going to learn more about writing in a few days at the conference than you did for months (or years) learning on your own.

Finally, have fun! Don’t stress out about whether or not the editors/agents will love your project or whether the other writers will like you. Just go with the mindset that you’re going to meet new, like-minded friends. If agents ask you to submit your project, that’s a bonus.

Enjoy!

What about you? How do you prepare for a writer’s conference? Have I missed anything crucial?

New Facebook Page!

I did it. I created an author Facebook page. Marketers say you should do this long before you’re published, but I felt like a fraud creating a page as an author when I have nothing to prove for it except my manuscript that’s not even contracted yet.

But with a flash fiction story getting published with Splickety Love 1.2, and another story contracted to publish with Havok Magazine in July, I decided it’s time to take the leap and create an author page. If you enjoy speculative fiction (i.e. dystopia, fantasy, sic-fi… basically all things “weird”), then you might like my page.

So… here is is! Feel free to visit the page, and if you like it, then, well “like” it. :)

https://www.facebook.com/sarabaysingerauthor

Challenge Yourself. Write Something New.

Have you ever found yourself in a bind with your writing project?

You know what I’m talking about. Those long hours you spend wading through the stagnant muck of defeat, those dragging days when inspiration is hard to find and you wonder if your project is worth all this energy, all this work, all this raw emotion.

When you hit that block and you’re feeling discouraged, set the project aside, open a new document, and start from scratch. Don’t even think about your current project. Think about everything else. Anything else. The possibilities are endless. Do you want to begin another novel? Do you want to write a memoir? A short short story? A poem? A song?

photo 3 (1)

Take a break.

Take a breath.

And try something new.

You can come back to your project later. It will always be there, waiting for you to return with renewed inspiration. But rather than getting burnt out, take a hiatus from it. Isaac Asimov owned several typewriters and had different projects going on in each one.

I currently have three, yes, THREE novels in progress. One is completed and just needs revisions. The other two are about 1/4 and 1/2 completed. When I tire or get discouraged with one book, I set it aside and move on to the next. If I don’t feel like writing any of them, I write a flash fiction story. (I’m having my first flash fiction story published this coming May with Splickety Love Magazine!)

Which is another reason to try something new, something small. Writing short stories not only teaches you to tighten your writing, but also presents possible opportunities to get published sooner, which is a huge encouragement for unpublished writers, like me, who are waiting for the big acceptance letter.

I love what James Scott Bell says in his book Revision & Self-Editing:

“When [your brain] gives its attention fully to one thing, it gets tired of that thing after a while. By switching to another focus, it begins again with fresh energy. When you’re hot and heavy in revision, you can still ‘ping-pong’ between projects. This will spark a different part of your writer’s brain, and when you come back to revise you’ll have fresh insight.”

All that said, I do warn you not to start too many new things. You don’t want to be up to your elbows in projects with none of them close to the finish line. Three novels are my extent. I WILL NOT allow myself to begin another until one of these is completed and ready for submission.

Happy Writing!