Writers Block and Other Questions

People aske me questions all the time, and there are a few that come up more than others. One of the most frequent questions I’m asked is about writers block. So, I thought I’d reprint part of an interview I did for Word Book Review and Promotion (http://xwordx.blogspot.com/). Maybe it will help.

1) You have been releasing 2 books a year, romance and paranormal, how is the transition from one genre to the other?

You know, I love writing both. And I think because I’m such a character driven writer, the transition is really about slipping into that character’s skin. I will admit feeling as if I have a bit more creative space where the paranormal series is involved. If I get stuck I can have anything happen. A sink hole. Kylie’s going invisible. A dragon appearing. There is something about that freedom that appeals to me.

2) What helps you through writers block? Any fun ways to get back into the groove of things?

Well, I can tell you that I don’t allow myself to fall prey to writer’s block. I mean, my dad was a plumber. And never do I recall hearing him say, “I can’t plumb today because I have plumber’s block. Yes, there are days that I feel more inspired than others. I’ll my dad had those days, too. But I show up every day to work, and I work. If I’m feeling my creativity is lacking, I will go soak in a tub. For some crazy reason, I always get ideas in the bathtub. I will also find something wonderful to read, or go see a movie.

So, if you’re a writer, do you find writers block is an issue? If so, how do you cope?

California Dreamin’

Embassy-Suites-pool-2I’m in sunny Southern California for the California Dreamin’ Conference in Brea, California. I’m staying at the Embassy Suites by Hilton, and look at the view that greeted me. I can’t wait to sit by the pool with a tall cold drink!

I love attending these writers conferences because it gives me a chance to connect with some of my old friends and to also make some new ones.

I’ll be presenting two workshops. The first, “The Balancing Act of First Chapters,” is a fun-filled workshop, in which I explain why the balance of characterization and plot is crucial to first chapters.  “Torn Between Two Lovers – The Challenges of a Hybrid Author,” is the second workshop I’ll present along with Christie Ridgeway. We’ll share our insights regarding juggling loyalties between publishers, scheduling, and the advantages and disadvantages of this type of writing career.

If you aren’t registered for the conference, you can still participate by attending the Multi-Author Book Signing on Saturday, March 26th , 2:00 to 4:00 PM at the hotel. It is FREE and open to the public. So, if you live in the LA area, I hope you’ll come by and say hello. I’d love to meet you.

But right now, the pool is calling my name…

StartMeUpWinner!!

The winner of last week’s giveaway is Cyn. Congratulations, you’ve won a copy of Nicole Michaels’ sassy new novel Start Me Up. Please email your mailing address to christie@christie-craig.com.

Welcome, Nicole Michaels!

I want to introduce you to a new writer.  I haven’t met Nicole Michaels yet, but I already know I’m going to like her. Why? Because she’s snarky and sassy.  (Hmm…does she remind you of anyone you know?)  Well, maybe she’s not full of snark or sass, but her book sure is.  Start Me Up is the beginning of a new series that you guys won’t want to miss.  So, I invited her here to answer a few questions.

  1. So, Nicole, can you give me your elevator pitch for your book and then give me three words that best describes your writing style?

“Hesitant single mom gets pursued by hot younger man. With tattoos.”  Of course that’s as basic as can possibly be, but I think I might be interested if I heard it! Three words that describe my writing style are Relatable, Sweet, and Sexy.

  1. Did you plagiarize just a little bit from your own life to create Anne Edmond? Tell me a couple of things you have in common with your heroine and then tell me three things you wish you had in common with her?

Maybe a little. My husband is into muscle cars so that was an inspiration for Mike’s job. As far as Anne, we share a few traits. I enjoy crafting although I rarely have time. I’ve also had three children and know what it’s like to not always love yourself physically. I’m not single so I don’t think about it—but if I did—the thought of getting naked in front of a hot younger man would terrify me! I enjoyed getting into Anne’s head for that. What I wish I had in common with her is her sense of style, she always looks put together. I wish I was as organized as she is. And I sort of wish I lived in the little town of Preston because it has some great shopping!

  1. What’s your favorite scene in the book and why?

This is a tough question because I like so many, but one did immediately come to mind. It’s a scene in the park where Mike plays with—and looks out for—Anne’s daughter. It’s not major as far as action, but I think it’s a pivotal moment for Anne and how she views Mike as a possible fit in their life. Plus, who wouldn’t love to watch a hunky guy on playground equipment?

StartMeUpWHY DO DO-IT-YOURSELF…

Single mom Anne Edmond can handle–and hand-make–just about anything. From table settings to party favors, floral arrangements to nursery décor, there is no project her creativity and a glue gun can’t tackle. But dating? That’s a whole ‘nother story. Case in point: Mike Everett. He’s a gorgeous mechanic and known car-whisperer, a man who can work with auto parts like nobody’s business. And he has thrown a monkey wrench into Anne’s carefully-crafted life…

WHEN YOU CAN DO IT TOGETHER?

One look at Anne is enough for Mike to know that she’s no fixer-upper. She’s perfect just the way she is–and the chemistry between them works like a charm. Mike’s always been a no-strings kind of guy, but Anne’s impressive self-reliance–and gorgeous exterior–gives him pause. This time, a fast joyride just doesn’t seem like enough. But first he has to convince Anne that he means to take her all the way…

Giveaway!

Now one of you lucky people who leaves a comment will win a free copy of Start Me Up. (Sorry, but I have to limit this giveaway to residents of the US.)

Winner!!

The winner of last week’s giveaway is Jackie Dickson. Congratulations, Jackie, you have won a copy of Divorced, Desperate and Dating. Please email your mailing address to christie@christie-craig.com.

How to Slay a Gremlin

Base imagoLast week, we talked about our fears. This week, I want to talk about a monster. A monster who visits most of us. Self-Doubt. Now, I’ve talked about how it affects me as a writer, but honestly, this gremlin goes after everyone no matter what their career or goals.  A lack of confidence can prevent us from making a needed change in our lives, it can prevent us from moving forward on the pathway to reach our personal goals. Here’s to opening a can whoop ass on that monster!  This week, I’ll give away a print copy of Divorced, Desperate & Dating to one person who leaves a comment.

There’s a monster hiding under my desk.  He lurks there, waiting for the right moment to attack. He’s an ugly little bastard, too.  I have a lot of names for him, but for the sake of not overusing profanity in this blog, I’ll call him by his real name, Self-Doubt.

Most of you might think that after two decades in the business, after hitting list that I only dreamed about hitting, I’d have managed to kill the gremlin.  But you’d be wrong.  That sneaky little devil won’t die.  He keeps popping back up.

I think self doubt is something most writers face throughout their careers.  And by careers, I don’t mean from the point that you become a published author, I mean, from the point you start writing.  I think the inability to fight the gremlin is one of the biggest things that prevent a writer from becoming published.  And it’s probably one of the reasons published writers stop writing.  That’s right, this monster doesn’t care what you’ve accomplished.  All he wants is a big bite out of your confidence.

He’ll tell you that whatever you’ve got on that computer screen is crap.  That you just need to delete it.

He’ll convince you that no matter how good of an idea you may have, it’s probably already been done.

He’ll whisper in your ear that you’re wasting your time, that cleaning out your grout in your kitchen tile with a toothbrush is much more important.  Sometimes he possesses your family and friends and they’ll say things like, “How long are you going to put yourself though all this pain before you find something else to do with your time?”  He’ll stare you right in the eyes and tell you that your dreams are silly and you’ll never reach them.  He’ll make you believe that the one negative review out of twenty good ones is the one you should listen to.  If you let him, he not only can slow you down, he’ll rob you of the joy and passion you feel for writing.

Now, that gremlin is always close by, nipping at your toes, giving you moments of doubt.  I think that’s somewhat normal.  But let that creature scramble up your leg, hang out in your lap, or even worse, let him climb up on your shoulder, where you can listen to him all day long, and you’ll soon be playing Russian Roulette with your passion for writing.  Because writing with a self-doubt gremlin sitting on your shoulder is about as easy as brushing your teeth with a brownie in your mouth.

So how do we slay the gremlin or at least keep him at bay?  Below are five tips for overcoming and preventing self-doubt from chewing on your sanity.

1.)  Be Aware of Peer Pressure.

We preach this to our kids but so often we forget that the bad habits of the people we hang out with are as contagious as a stomach virus.  If you’re hanging out with negative people, people who have lost their ability to chase their dreams, you’re at risk of becoming just like them.  Find positive people who validate your dreams and work ethics to share your life and support your journey.

2.)  Ward off the message that you don’t know what you’re doing by continually growing at a writer. Read how-to books, take classes, attend those writer meetings and listen to what other writers offer as advice.

3.)  Mentor someone else. Nothing can inspire you more than helping and encouraging another person.  Telling others that they have to believe in themselves is a sure fire way or rekindling your own self-confidence.  It also creates karma.

4.)  Be leery of ruts. If you’re not feeling the passion for your writing, try spicing things up by doing something different.  Try writing something in a new genre, or try writing something in a different point of view.  Nothing can get you out of a rut quicker than feeling challenged.

5.)  Accept that sometimes you are going to fail. That you’re going to make mistakes. That you’re going to get rejections—that it might take you years to accomplish what you want to accomplish. Understand that you aren’t the first person to get fifty rejections, or a hundred, or even a thousand. The truth is, the number of rejections you receive doesn’t matter.  You are not defeated until you let yourself be defeated.

Writing isn’t for wimps.  Chances are, you’ll face those gremlins, not once but many times, so just be armed with good friends, knowledge, Karma, a sense of adventure, and perseverance.  And never, ever lose your sense of humor.  And now that I’ve shared with you my tips for slaying gremlins, I’d like to hear some of yours.  How do you tackle self doubt?

(This article was first published in Writer’s Digest, October 4, 2012.)

DD, and Dangerous med rzWinner!

The winner of last week’s giveaway, a print copy of Divorced, Desperate and Dangerous, is Jessica Laas. Please email your mailing address to me at cc@cchunterbooks.com.

 

What Are You Afraid Of?

(This blog was published years ago at Killer Fiction, but I thought some of you might not have read it so I’m bringing it back.)

Fears.  We all have them.  Some of them are justified.  I mean, who isn’t afraid of the dark, of spiders, or of things that go bump in the night?  Sure, some of our fears are a bit irrational, but I’m here to tell you that even the irrational ones are real to the person suffering from said trepidation.

I once heard a woman on a talk show talk about her phobia of  . . . macaroni.  Now, personally, the carb lover that I am, I haven’t ever met a piece of macaroni that I feared or that I didn’t find tasty, but I can only imagine that at some time this woman had a bad macaroni experience.  (Don’t worry, I’m not even going to try to guess what it was.)

Needless to say, I have my own misunderstood fear.  Frankly, most people chuckle at my phobia or at least they chuckle at the situation from which my phobia stemmed.  Not that I personally see Zoo-phobia as a laughing matter.

Yes, I’m afraid of Elephants in zoos.

Elephant

You might be thinking that maybe I could have been one of those children who fell, or was tossed, into the lion’s den or elephant pen.  But nope, my mom never wanted to get rid of me that bad—or at least not on the days we were at the zoo. You might think I just happened to get lost at a zoo as a child, but nope, mom always held my hand extra tight.

My fear didn’t even stem from a childhood event.  Yes, it was years ago, but I was an adult. A full-fledge adult, I might add. We—my husband, my little girl and I—were visiting the Los Angeles Zoo.   And for first time in my life, I was  . . . well …felt up by a stranger.

Now, my husband, the man who had vowed before God and our friends to love, honor and protect me, was standing right beside me during this assault.  But like the rest of the crowd, he was bent over from the waist down having one of those real belly laughs.  (Okay, I’ll admit the villain of this crime was a lot larger than my 6’1” husband and probably outweighed him by a couple of tons, but still, I expected more from the man I married.)

When we first approached the elephant exhibit, I was excited.  (But not that kind of excited!)  The big guy was strutting his stuff, prancing around for the crowd, his trainer doing a talk about their power and charm.  When the big brute started moving in my direction, I instantly became aware of the low fence, but hey, my thought was that for the first time in my life I was actually going to get to touch an elephant.  I had somehow neglected to realize that if I could touch him, he could also touch me.

Like I said, it was several years ago.  I was young, thin, and filled out my little t-shirt rather nicely.  At least, the elephant thought so.  (But let me ask you . . .  did you know elephant trunks have suction cups in them?)

Anyway, there I stood, all four feet eleven inches with my right D-cup boob being suctioned by a male elephant in front of hundred or so laughing-so-hard-they-cried people.  I seriously considered slapping the rude perpetrator, but the trainer had just explained about how elephants could pick up over a thousand pounds with their trunks.  Right then, I had a terrible vision of this elephant tossing me over his shoulder and taking me back to his pad for some hanky panky.  And hey, he had completely skipped first base, gone straight for second, and quite frankly, I was in no mood for home runs.

But unfortunately, I was pretty much without options.  So I stood there and let him have his jollies.  It took the trainer zapping the guy before he finally released me.  But did you know their trunks are wet and kind of slimy?  I didn’t.  Well, not until I looked down at my right boob to see the large ring he’d left.  Oh, and the ring stained the baby blue Tee and all day people were pointing at me and laughing.

Amazingly, I have forgiven my husband, but whenever he says… “Why don’t we go to the zoo?” I start feeling panicked and then get a strange sensation in my right boob.

So there you have it.  Now, you know what I’m afraid of and why.  But what about you?  What are your fears and phobias?  Care to share?  Even if it is a fear of macaroni.

DD&DeadOne person will win a print copy of my latest, Divorced, Desperate & Dead.