Oct 22, 2010

What To do When Writers Block Hits by DCS

You’re excited. You’re up early (or late), you’ve got time, you’re workspace is a perfect harmony of creative energy. You sit down at your computer, open up your word processor, put your fingers on the keys and…. nothing happens. Suddenly all those ideas have disappeared. Before you know it you realize you’ve been staring at a blank screen for the last thirty minutes.

Don’t fall into the trap of beating yourself up for this sudden case of writers block. My advice? Do something else! As writers there is always something we could be doing that will benefit our creation. Writing is also a business and unless you can afford a publicist, and a business manger there are lot of things you’re going to have to do on your own. So, instead of wasting time being frustrated your muses have taken a coffee break, engage your brain in another way.

Go do some research. This could be anything to the topic of your story, to ways to improve your writing.

Tackle some marketing. You can update your Facebook fan page and twitter accounts or, create them if you’ve been procrastinating. Then hit up the internet for the thousands of articles on how to really leverage social media to your benefit. Understanding SEO and keywords are very important.

Research internet radio stations on blog talk radio or anywhere else that you’re going to pitch when you’re novel is finished.

Create, or update your blog page. Now would be a great time to put up a post about how writers block sucks and encourage your fan base into a conversation.

Who knows, any of these things could jumpstart your creativity back into focus. Even if it doesn’t, you haven’t wasted your time. You still worked on your masterpiece, just in another way. And that totally counts.


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DCS was born in Alexandria, Virginia. She graduated high school in Huntersville, NC and attended the University of North Carolina at Charlotte intent on earning a degree in Political Science and becoming a lawyer.

She instead eventually turned to writing. DCS is currently attending the American Institute of Holistic Theology to earn her PhD in Metaphysical Spirituality.

You can also hear her live every Saturday evening on BlogTalkRadio’s In the Mind of DCS. Show starts at 7pm Central Standard Time.

Synarchy Book 2: The Ascension is her second novel, and four more are scheduled for release.

Synarchy Book 3: SVT and Synarchy Book 4: The Black Widow are the next in the series due out in 2011.

You can visit her website at TheMindofDCS.com

Oct 21, 2010

Heart First, Head Second by DCS

A famous writer once said, “First write with your heart, then write with your head.” I completely agree. I’m a stickler for research. I have some pretty deep concepts in the pages of my fiction, so I absolutely love delving into those topics. The problem is I don’t always remember the exact details of what I’ve read. So when I’m locked in the flow of writing I have taught myself not to interrupt myself. Instead of stopping I’ll just write or some variation. I have found that that little trick is sooo helpful. I will admit though, it took some getting use too.

I think some writers can relate to having that urge to fill in that important detail now, right now! But then we’ve lost our train of thought, and that fantastic rhythm we had going. My advice, don’t stop. Not until you run out of gas. Grit your teeth and bare the bumps. There’s no harm in coming back and filling in that random notation as soon as you’re done with your current paragraph or pages of pure creative genius. Just get them out first. And I’d recommend what I call, “fillers” entertaining and witty. Such as; or, .

It’s a neat little trick I tell you. And you can use it to “fill” names, dates, things you know suck right now that you want to make sure you come back to later, whatever. The point is that you’re letting your heart and your imagination have free reign first. Then turn on your inner editor and critic and turn it into sheer perfection. Heart first. Head second.


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DCS was born in Alexandria, Virginia. She graduated high school in Huntersville, NC and attended the University of North Carolina at Charlotte intent on earning a degree in Political Science and becoming a lawyer.

She instead eventually turned to writing. DCS is currently attending the American Institute of Holistic Theology to earn her PhD in Metaphysical Spirituality.

You can also hear her live every Saturday evening on BlogTalkRadio’s In the Mind of DCS. Show starts at 7pm Central Standard Time.

Synarchy Book 2: The Ascension is her second novel, and four more are scheduled for release.

Synarchy Book 3: SVT and Synarchy Book 4: The Black Widow are the next in the series due out in 2011.

You can visit her website at TheMindofDCS.com

Oct 20, 2010

Chaos on Paper by DCS

Outlines? Forget it. Pre-planning a novel? Not my thing. Writing the first draft, no sweat. Going back to edit it? While sometimes fun, it’s a whole lot of work. My first drafts are extremely rough compilations of run on sentences, bad grammar (the voices in my head don’t always agree on tenses), and “wow, I can’t spell”, realizations. Ever left yourself a note, but thought you’d be clever and abbreviate the point you wanted to expand upon, then come back to your book a day later and have absolutely no clue what the heck that abbreviation stands for? I’m still trying to figure one out.

When I sit down to write, I have an idea in my head of where I want the story to go. Then I just let it go. Literally, it takes off. Sometimes I stop at red lights, sometimes I’ll make a few u-turns, but the joy of creation when I’m in my flow takes over and that’s just that. I see things play out in my head like a movie. I have to have a visual of what I’m writing. Sometimes I’ll glance at pictures of things, other times I let my imagination craft the image I’m looking for. And what’s most fun for me when all is said and done is your interpretation of my vision.

But you’re never getting your hands on my first draft. Nu uh. Even my dog looks at it funny and he can’t read.

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DCS was born in Alexandria, Virginia. She graduated high school in Huntersville, NC and attended the University of North Carolina at Charlotte intent on earning a degree in Political Science and becoming a lawyer.

She instead eventually turned to writing. DCS is currently attending the American Institute of Holistic Theology to earn her PhD in Metaphysical Spirituality.

You can also hear her live every Saturday evening on BlogTalkRadio’s In the Mind of DCS. Show starts at 7pm Central Standard Time.

Synarchy Book 2: The Ascension is her second novel, and four more are scheduled for release.

Synarchy Book 3: SVT and Synarchy Book 4: The Black Widow are the next in the series due out in 2011.

You can visit her website at TheMindofDCS.com

Oct 15, 2010

First Drafts Part 2 by Philip Stott

One aspect of the first draft that can be a snare is the way ideas get fixed in one's mind. A character or an incident, key to the original concept, becomes so much part of your creation that it is untouchable. But a story can develop so far beyond the first draft that some king-pin, perhaps the very thought which put you on the road to writing the story in the first place, can need changing - or even leaving out altogether.

I am brought face-to-face with this whenever I listen to “Still Waters” (well, that would be its title if it were in English). It is my favourite work of my favourite song-writer, Chris Torr. Most of his songs are based on a clever idea around which he crafts thought-provoking poetry. Perhaps his best known is “Hot Gates” which is largely a list of conflict centres strung skilfully together. It was almost certainly inspired by T.S.Elliot's poem “Gerontion”. Torr's “The Falcon” seems to flow from the idea in the line “In my dreams I sing to you, can I sing in your dream too”. In “The Flying Dutchman” it is the urge to refute advice that a seagull cannot be part of a song! But to my mind his best is this Afrikaans love song. The finest love song ever written as far as I am concerned. The only song I have ever heard which tells the truth - the undiluted, sober truth about that most amazing and enigmatic part of human life, the love between a man and a woman.

But it has one flaw. Torr's first draft was sacrosanct.

His stimulus for writing the song was the Afrikaans equivalent of the English proverb “Still waters run deep” (the Afrikaans version is longer and more explicit). But the muse led him from there to such poignancy and beauty that the proverb became totally irrelevant. I have two renderings of that song by his wife, Laurika Rauch. The out-of place section has to be given special treatment to try and make it fit in with the remainder, but, sad to say, those valiant efforts do not quite succeed. That section should have been deleted after the first draft had developed into a work of art. Just as Melvile should have deleted Bulkington when Moby Dick matured into a masterpiece, rather than making him fall overboard after the story had departed from the original plan.

So that first draft, the foundation of everything that becomes your story, that labour of love which demands so much of your creative effort, may – perhaps must - end up a very far cry from the finished product. But without putting your very life-blood into it there is not much chance of a worthwhile finished product at all.


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Philip Stott was born in England in 1943. He studied at Manchester University, where he obtained B.S. (with honours) and M.S. degrees in Civil Engineering. He lectured at universities in Nigeria and South Africa and carried out research in the analysis of geometrically nonlinear structures. He shared the Henry Adams Award for outstanding research in 1969. While lecturing at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, he studied biology.

After leaving Wits he joined an engineering consulting firm. His ongoing interest in all aspects of science led to studies in mathematics and astronomy with the University of South Africa and, later, to four years of part-time research with the Applied Mathematics Department of the University of the Orange Free State in Bloemfontein, South Africa.

After many years as a firm atheist, he was converted to Christianity in 1976. Following several years of studying the conflicting claims of secular science and Scripture, he actively entered the Creation/Evolution debate in 1989.

In 1992, he was invited to address a conference in Russia and since then has lectured, addressed conferences, and taken part in debates in eastern and western Europe, America, Canada, and southern Africa. Venues have included the European Centre for Nuclear Research (CERN), a UNESCO International Conference on the Teaching of Physics, and the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Philip Stott is married to Margaret (born Lloyd). They have two children, Robert and Angela; and two grandchildren, Sean and Julie. They live in Bloemfontein, South Africa.

You can read more about Philip and his novel, Another World at http://nordskogpublishing.com/book-another-world.shtml

Oct 14, 2010

First Drafts Part 1 by Philip Stott

I don't think I am alone in finding the first draft the most challenging part of writing. Perhaps this is because it is the smallest part of a finished work in terms of time spent, so it gets the least practice. Once there is something in front of me to work on there is the clear and obvious job of polishing and honing it, looking for weaknesses, pulling it to pieces, applying the keen scrutiny of the copy-smith. And, more exciting than that, working through the copy can open my eyes to new ideas. It can show up inconsistencies in the characters and force me to think them afresh. The characters themselves can lead me in directions not thought of. The work can become exhilarating.

But first those initial ideas, fluid and jumbled together inside the head, need putting down on paper, - or to be more precise these days, on a computer screen.

The sound instructions given in school about writing an outline - noting down headings for each topic and then deciding on the best order for them before starting to write – used to work well for me when I wrote with a pen or a typewriter. But with a word processor I rarely seem to discipline myself to follow that route. I close my eyes and type.

That leads to plenty of work later, cutting and pasting to get everything into a logical order, but it gets me out of a rut that is all too easy to get stuck in – thinking too much and writing too little.

I work best early in the morning, getting up at about four o'clock and writing in the stillness before anyone else is awake. For me it is definitely the best time for first drafts. I wake up and grope my way to consciousness while mulling over the plot. Ideas start to jostle each other, I smile at a new revelation, or a clever remark that one of my characters comes out with, and suddenly I'm wide awake and heading for the study to get it down before it fades.

One thing that needs disciplining against is editing too early. As soon as there is a paragraph in front of me the temptation is to start tweaking it. Cutting out the verbiage, looking for more interesting vocabulary – getting into the main part of the writer's craft in fact. But when I do this too soon the ideas I wanted to get down tend to get lost before they ever make it to the page. So I like to just close my eyes and type. I end up with a mess to sort out, but that is relatively easy. Making sense of half-baked ideas is a major part of writing and I have plenty of practice. It can be done piecemeal at any time of the day, whenever there is free time and new ideas are not flowing.

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Philip Stott was born in England in 1943. He studied at Manchester University, where he obtained B.S. (with honours) and M.S. degrees in Civil Engineering. He lectured at universities in Nigeria and South Africa and carried out research in the analysis of geometrically nonlinear structures. He shared the Henry Adams Award for outstanding research in 1969. While lecturing at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, he studied biology.

After leaving Wits he joined an engineering consulting firm. His ongoing interest in all aspects of science led to studies in mathematics and astronomy with the University of South Africa and, later, to four years of part-time research with the Applied Mathematics Department of the University of the Orange Free State in Bloemfontein, South Africa.

After many years as a firm atheist, he was converted to Christianity in 1976. Following several years of studying the conflicting claims of secular science and Scripture, he actively entered the Creation/Evolution debate in 1989.

In 1992, he was invited to address a conference in Russia and since then has lectured, addressed conferences, and taken part in debates in eastern and western Europe, America, Canada, and southern Africa. Venues have included the European Centre for Nuclear Research (CERN), a UNESCO International Conference on the Teaching of Physics, and the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Philip Stott is married to Margaret (born Lloyd). They have two children, Robert and Angela; and two grandchildren, Sean and Julie. They live in Bloemfontein, South Africa.

You can read more about Philip and his novel, Another World at http://nordskogpublishing.com/book-another-world.shtml

Oct 11, 2010

Life in the First Draft by Cheryl Bannerman

I found writing the first draft enlightening and refreshing, and almost like a spiritual cleansing. I was at my height of creativity. The contents of the book, meaning the experiences of me, family members and friends were documented over a period of 15 years, but putting it all together formally in one cohesive, spelling and grammar-checked document…about 5 months.

Everything came easily to me because I love to create stories that stir the imagination. When I was little I used to read all kinds of books that would take me away to faraway, fun places and just pretend I was someone else and somewhere else. My mother would buy me all kinds of expensive book collections of literature and poetry, from Little Women to Black Stallion and all of the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys series.

I thought of these memories as I wrote my first book, hoping to take readers away to another place and time…to feel what I felt…to become one with Tara, the main character, no matter what age she was at. I wanted them to feel what she felt and be shocked, amazed, emotional, and amused as they read her story, and I think I did it! So far, folks are so engrossed they are finishing it in a matter of days. Wow. It’s definitely been a dream come true.


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Cheryl McNeil (pen name, Cheryl D. Bannerman, her birth name) is CEO of a small virtual training company based out of Central New Jersey. She works out of her home office and creates classroom training materials, e-Learning modules, job aides and much more for corporate employees and their clients. She holds a Bachelors Degree in Business Management and a Masters in Project Management. She is also the (divorced) single mother of a beautiful eleven year old girl.

In her spare time she loves to read murder mysteries, watch movies, try new restaurants and cuisines, shop with her daughter, and in the summer, walk the boardwalk and take in the sun on the beach. Although her works are fiction, she has incorporated many of her life’s experiences into her stories.

You can find Cheryl at www.bannermanbooks.com

Oct 6, 2010

Lancelot's Lady and Life in the First Draft by Cherish D'Angelo

Thank you so much for hosting me during my Cherish the Romance Virtual Book Tour, which launches my contemporary romantic suspense, Lancelot's Lady. In 2002, I started writing a romance novel, rather than my normal suspense, and began what was titled Reflections.

Here's the original first draft opening:

A woman's naked body, wrapped only in a thin veil of mist, rose from the shimmering stillness of the lake. Her long legs, half-submerged in the water, were gracefully slender. Rich auburn hair cascaded down her shoulders swirling over the peaks of her firm breasts. Her jade-green eyes gleamed with such yearning and expectancy.

The mist rose from the lake in spiraling tendrils like fairy hands grasping at the woman's body. The wind whispered in hot, humid breaths. Water trickled from the falls above, showering the plants with glistening moisture. And from the depths of the lush green forest, a bird called to its mate, inviting her to share in nature's beauty.

The woman in the mist appeared to be waiting for something―or someone . . .

Though the imagery in the scene above is beautiful, it was confusing to early readers. So the scene was moved. As well, there were two other changes: the main character's name was changed from Jessi to Rhianna as her name was too close to a character in my thriller Divine Intervention and Reflections became Lancelot's Lady.

Here's the new opening:

Pacing in the expansive marble foyer of Lance Manor, Rhianna McLeod tried to calm her nerves as she waited for her life to change. One man’s decision would determine her fate. Would she have a new job and a place to call home? Or would she be sent packing?

A tall, thin man in a dark gray suit approached her.

“Are you Mr. Lance?” she asked, holding her breath.

The man smiled and fine lines crinkled the corners of his warm brown eyes. “I’m Higginson, Mr. Lance’s butler. He’s resting at the moment. Perhaps you can leave your name.”

Rhianna blinked back tears. She couldn’t be turned away. The trip to Florida had taken most of her savings and she didn’t have enough money to fly back to Maine. Besides, if it weren’t for Mr. Lance’s letter, she wouldn’t even be in this predicament.


Lancelot's Lady ~ A Bahamas holiday from dying billionaire JT Lance, a man with a dark secret, leads palliative nurse Rhianna McLeod to Jonathan, a man with his own troubled past, and Rhianna finds herself drawn to the handsome recluse, while unbeknownst to her, someone with a horrific plan is hunting her down.

Lancelot's Lady is available in ebook edition at KoboBooks, Amazon's Kindle Store, Smashwords and other ebook retailers. Help me celebrate by picking up a copy today and "Cherish the romance..."

You can learn more about Lancelot's Lady and Cherish D'Angelo (aka Cheryl Kaye Tardif) at http://www.cherishdangelo.com and http://www.cherylktardif.blogspot.com. Follow Cherish from September 27 to October 10 on her Cherish the Romance Virtual Book Tour and win prizes.

Leave a comment here, with email address, to be entered into the prize draws. You're guaranteed to receive at least 1 free ebook just for doing so. Plus you'll be entered to win a Kobo ereader. Winners will be announced after October 10th.