I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Brainstorming Tips

Whether you write short stories or the next great epic novel, certain brainstorming activities can spur creativity.  The next time you need some new ideas, try these tips.

1.     Quantity matters. Gather lots of ideas, more than you’ll use; keep an open mind to all ideas; press on to get as many as possible; this will stretch your mind and take you to places you might not go otherwise
2.     No judging during brainstorming. There are no bad ideas here, no wrong ones.
3.     Write everything down. This validates the idea and keeps you from forgetting it. After all you may use it later.
4. Build on other ideas and tweak the ones you have.
5. Use randomness. When brainstorming, try landing your finger on a random page in the dictionary or encyclopedia. This may take you in a direction you never considered before.
6. Brainstorm with a friend. The old Biblical advice of “two are better than one” applies here!
7. Swap ideas. Sometimes the first ideas are cliché. Swapping ages or traits may take you in a unique direction.

Let me show you how that last one can generate ideas.

Protagonist:               Female 40                  Nurse
Antagonist:                Male 20                     Professional singer              

Now let’s see what we come up with when we swap some of these:

Protagonist                Male 40                      Nurse
Antagonist                 Female 20                  Professional singer

Swapping a few of the traits came make a huge difference.

Here are some other traits to include in the characterization, but don’t forget to swap some!

Physical Impairments or Enhancements
Religious Beliefs
Accent, Speed of Speech
Personality Traits

What other ideas do you use for brainstorming? Please share with us!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Does a Writer's Life Change After Publication?

by Patrica Bradley

A few questions I've been asked since my debut book, Shadows of the Past, came out:

How is writing different since you have a contract?

I'm more focused and now write at least 8 hours a day--deadlines will do that for you. Before if I wrote 3 days a week, I was satisfied. The only deadlines I had were the ones I imposed on myself. And that's something I would encourage any writer to do--decide how many words you are going to write a day or a week or even a month and then meet that word count. It makes it much easier to discipline yourself for when you get that contract.

And along the same lines--Do you write every day?

If I have a deadline, I write every day, even on Sunday (after church). If I don't have a deadline looming, I still write something at least 5 days a week. Writing is not just something I love to do, it's a real job and I've found it really is important to write every day, even if it's only a paragraph.    

Are your characters based on anyone you know?

Yes and not really. Every person I meet is potentially a character in my book. Their mannerisms, the way they speak, stories they tell me--it's all fodder for a book. So be careful if you're talking to me. You might end up in a book. 

Are you famous? This one always amuses me.
No, I am not famous. Probably never will be. It's not anything I aspire to.

Is Patricia Bradley your real name?

Yes and no. Patricia Bradley is my maiden name and much easier to spell than my real name. I originally wanted to write under P. T. Bradley, but that didn't work out. As I talked with my mother about what name to use she said, "Well, I wouldn't have named you Patricia if I hadn't thought it was pretty." So that solved the question of what name I would use.

These are just a few of the questions I've been asked. If you have a question you'd like to ask, leave it in the comment box and I'll try to answer it.  

Connect with me:

Links to buy book:
Available at CBD: http://ow.ly/qIx2k 
Amazon: http://ow.ly/qIx90 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Blogs, Branding, and Backing

By Jennie Atkins

In this, the age of rapidly changing technology, the use of social media is becoming mandatory to our success. We need to make our face recognizable to the masses, including what we are trying to sell—which as authors, is NOT our book, but our name!

So in a rush to grow our platform we create a blog, dump information out there that no one will read, just to say “We did it!”  We post repeatedly, covering a multitude of subjects, on Facebook or Twitter just so our face and name appear in the long line with all the other individuals vying for reader’s attention.

But I ask you, are we accomplishing anything? Or, are we the chipmunk running as fast as we can on the proverbial spinning wheel called Cyberspace?

I don’t claim to be an expert on branding and there are others out there that can tell you a whole lot more than I can.  But, I have learned a great deal about the concept in the past month while trying to establish my own personal brand.  Branding is a unique combination of our personality and what we are passionate about. It makes us recognizable. It draws our target audience in. 

I am borderline obsessive about gardening and my friends know it—evident by the number of questions they ask me on the subject.  The fact that I am eager to share my knowledge of the subject comes from my personality.  It only seems natural that I expand on that. 

Now that I’ve recognized my niche, I need to build a target audience by using social media (blogs, Facebook, Pinterest) to promote my subject matter.  Remember, it’s all about building a relationship with your reader (or future readers).  We need to let the public see us for who we are.

Branding builds loyalty, it markets your product long before a product exists.  They get to know you on a personal level and soon learn what they can expect from you. It helps you stand out from the other authors in your genre.

So what am I going to do about it?  I am re-working my blog, my website, and what I post on social media to reflect my passion.

Your turn:  What do you blog about?  Have you figured out what your brand is?

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Pointing the Way

Delores Topliff

           On February 11th, our world lost Shirley Temple Black. Her expert singing and tap dancing in 1934's movie, "Stand Up and Cheer!" first gained her wide audience. President Roosevelt said regarding her, "When the spirit of the people is lower than at any other time during this Depression, it is a splendid thing that for just 15 cents, an American can go to a movie and look at the smiling face of a baby and forget his troubles.” I don’t think a more wholesome role model came through Hollywood. As an adult, she added a loving marriage, wonderful family, and creditable career serving her country.

Name favorite characters in fiction or history that lift your head and put spring in your step to march forward?
Some of mine are Topsy from Uncle Tom’s Cabin - Irrepressible. Facing staggering opposition, she survives and just growsKatniss Everdeen, Hunger Games - Fiercely fights injustice, hazarding everything to save her nation and loved ones, and after believing she is defeated, wins. Tom Sawyer - Makes repetitive chores fun while mastering character analysis. Eric Liddell (Chariots of Fire, with a daughter still living in Canada) set a high price on what mattered most without compromise, and saw history bend when he valued “something greater than gold.”
May God help us create characters with believable flaws who struggle and fall but rise again and change, doing in the end what they could not do in the beginning.
Just as Shirley Temple encouraged America during hard times, as we pray, write, and change ourselves, may we be pens in God’s hands recording stories that lift hearts.
What about you? Name some favorites and the changes they inspire.