How to Ride the Storm

A friend of mine, after recently being publicly recognized, admitted he had been feeling like he was working inside a vacuum. I imagine we all feel like that sometimes. Who doesn’t know that demoralizing and lonely feeling?

I had told him it takes a while sometimes for the ripples we make to hit the shore but it made me wonder later….

What happens if we don’t have a muse’s friend standing at the shore to take notice? Do we lash out with a tsunami of effort? Or do we drown in frustration and despair?

There are so many sayings to cling to as one “bobs” along looking for a place to pushoff.

(One more hammer strike before the rock cracks — just one more — just one more –just one more)

But back to the vacuum. I would imagine any suffocating and tumbling person needs air and somewhere to place their feet. And isn’t it wonderful that perspective plays a huge role in our internal landscape.

The love of our “brainchild” be it service or art or sport provides a foundation, a ground to stand on. We focus on that and the tumbling can stop. There is “land.”

And as for “air” — What ignites our creative souls as assuredly as oxygen ignites the thermal heat in our physical bodies. What is it that “sparks” you? What remains when we cast away laurel wreaths and parades.

For me, with my writing it is giving life to the images. It’s therapeutic because it makes it a whole lot quieter inside my head. It keeps the nightmares at bay. It allows me to contemplate the human equation in complex and fractured perspectives, to harvest emotions and gift/curse them to my imaginary people.

For my fencing, it is becoming more than I am. To become that song in motion. And to be one of the instruments in the orchestra.

For my mentoring…it is to see my young chargers grow and to reach their potential.

My art….my singing…my involvement in the SCA, my professional life, my relationships….

Each of us wear so many hats….

But what happens when you no longer feel your muse’s sweet whispers brushing against your face… if the turmoil of frustration and despair encases you as a maelstrom sucking away the “air” ….and a break consistently does nothing… then perhaps it is time to throw yourself into that blustery storm.

Yes. Allow that tempest (cast aside the despair) to give you the Herculean effort to sweep you back to your muse –perhaps after that tsunami ripple.

(Remember your main goal should never be the needless destruction of the world

And one more thing —
Don’t allow others to be your only source of air)

The journey, with all its hard-won rewards, delights and obstacles is our road. Stay the course, breathe in deep and best wishes.


Everything you need to know about Hashtags by Annie Neugebauer

An informative blog on hash tags.

(Re-pressing from the Writer Unboxed blog. By Annie Neugebauer)

If you spend any amount of time on the internet, you’ve probably seen people using words or phrases with pound signs in front of them, #like #this. On Twitter, this is called a hashtag.
Putting that symbol in front of a word turns it into a searchable link. In other words, you can then click on that #hashtag and see the tweets of everyone else also using it. It’s a way to find people talking about the same thing you’re talking about; it creates a larger conversation all in one feed.
How to Make One
There’s no trick to making a hashtag. You don’t have to register it, log it, or reserve it. All you do is type it, and Twitter will automatically turn it into a clickable search term.
Start with the pound sign (#), but don’t include any spaces or special characters (?’!&, etc.). Spaces and special characters will break your hashtag.
So if you want to use the phrase “author’s choice,” you would need to write it as: #authorschoice or #AuthorsChoice . Neither #author’schoice nor #authors choice will work properly. Some people use caps to make new words easier to read, but this is optional.
Numbers are okay, but don’t start your hashtag with numbers. #2013Conference won’t work. #Conference2013 will, though.
And lastly, don’t forget to keep it short. Hashtags do count toward your 140-character tweet limit, so the longer they are the less space you have to add other text.
Best Ways to Use Them

First, check to see if the hashtag you want is already in use. Depending on what you’re going for, an already in-use hashtag could be a good or bad thing. If you just want to join a larger conversation, you probably want to choose a popular hashtag with a fast turnaround (lots of new tweets coming out). If you’re trying to promote a contest or new chat, you’ll want a hashtag that no one has been using lately to help keep out irrelevant tweets.
Hashtags are great to start a conversation if you have enough clout to make it work. Say you want to hear what people have to say about a new trend in publishing. You can gather the talk into a central spot with a hashtag.
Other useful options include running competitions, like #PitchMadness, starting open chats, like #WritersRoad, or building buzz for your own book by creating a specialized hashtag for fans and supporters, like my friend’s use of #OMGen.
You can also, of course, jump into any existing conversations, including trending topics. The list of trending topics changes regularly, and is on the left side of your timeline on the Twitter website. If any of these topics are relevant to you, you can join the talk on those extremely popular hashtags. This can be a good way to reach more people, but it’s also easy to get lost in the hub-bub, so don’t spend too much time trend-chasing.
All of these are great ways to find and gain new followers. The idea here is to discover people who are talking about the same things you’re talking about. Hashtags can also help relevant peeps (your target audience, if you’re talking about the right things) find you.
And finally, hashtags can also be just for funsies. (Yes I said funsies. Deal with it.) Hashtags can occasionally get ridiculous. Because of this, people like to make fun of them with #SarcasticHashtags. You can use a hashtag to add a punch line to a tweet, clarify your joke, poke fun at yourself, or whatever else might make people giggle. There are also occasionally silly hashtag games that pop up, like #boozebooks.
Worst Ways to Use Them
Using too many hashtags in one tweet makes your tweet look like spam. A single well-chosen hashtag is more powerful than three weak ones.
A single well-chosen hashtag is more powerful than three weak ones.

And remember, hashtags show up as links, so if you have an actual link in your tweet you should use hashtags even more sparingly. My rule of thumb is one or two per tweet, never more than three. If your tweets look like link soup, people will blow right past them. In all the clutter of Twitter, people want less noise and more humans – not hashtag robots.
Likewise, don’t use too many hashtags in your Twitter profile bio. It looks cluttered and can even come across as tacky and desperate. The words in your bio will make you show up in relevant searches even without hashtags, so there’s no need for this. My preference is zero hashtags in the bio, but if you have more than two I would definitely suggest an update.
If you auto-tweet, don’t use the same hashtag each time. It makes your identical tweet show up in the same hashtag timeline over and over. It’s basically spam. Spam is bad. [Related tip: change your hashtag every time for shared blog posts – both your own and others’. So if you manually RT a friend’s tweet, changing the hashtag might reach different users, which is the whole point!]
And the last big no-no is hashtag abuse. You can actually get into Twitter trouble (eep!) by misusing hashtags and/or trending topics. If you use irrelevant hashtags of any kind in an attempt to get more attention in a feed that has nothing to do with what you’re saying, you’re misusing hashtags. If you’re going to use a hashtag, it must actually be relevant to your tweet. In other words, you shouldn’t tweet something like: “I love #MileyCyrus! Read my fantasy novel FREE on Kindle!”
Some Favorite Hashtags for Writers
#FridayReads – Share what book you’re reading this week!
#WriteTip – Find and give advice on tricks that work for writers.
#AmWriting – In the process? Use this tag to find other drafting writers. (Use sparingly.)
#Writing – Anything and everything to do with writing! (Again, use sparingly, or your only followers will end up being other writers. The goal is to find readers, remember?)
#AskAgent – Have a question? Ask in general and hope for an answer, or wait until a specific agent announces they’re doing an #AskAgent session.
#PubTip – Find or give advice about the pub process from those with experience. (But be wary, because like all advice, some is good and some is not.)
Still have questions about hashtags? Ask in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer!
Writers, what are your favorite hashtags?

Annie Neugebauer is a novelist, short story author, and award-winning poet represented by Michelle Johnson of Inklings Literary. A member of the Horror Writers Association, she has work appearing or forthcoming in over two dozen venues, including Buzzy Mag, The Spirit of Poe, Underneath the Juniper Tree, the British Fantasy Society journal Dark Horizons, and the National Federation of State Poetry Societies’ prize anthology Encore. Annie lives in Texas, where she pretends to battle a blissful addiction to Dr. Pepper.

Roadblocks to storytelling.

I think every storyteller and writer alive has had to figure out their process to create and how to overcome the roadblocks/obstacles along the way.

I struggle with knowing what I want to write and writing it. Do you know that one?

There are times when I am starting and even sometimes when I’m in the middle of writing a scene that my fingers freeze. Do you know that sensation?

It’s like I know what’s supposed to happen thanks to my handy-dandy roadmap but there is a disconnect.

I have theories of why. I don’t often think in words. It’s more pictures and images and bolts out of the blue that want to defy logical connection. And writing a scene is full of connections.

“Write hot, edit cold. ”

Yes, yes. That is my first mantra. And you know, sometimes it works. I get into the flow AND it’s glorious! The muse is whispering in my ears, the birds are singing, the sunlight dances in rainbow colors around my head, and the world waits with bated breath.

And sometimes it’s a struggle.

“Doesn’t have to be perfect. ”

That would be mantra number two.

The thing is I don’t want to put a lot of garbage on the page. I think that’s part of the problem. So my get-around that is to write short sentences consisting of who’s there, what they’re around, what’s going on with notes of who’s feeling what. It’s a cheat sheet to allow me to slip into each character’s skin.

This works for me quite a bit but the problem is overload. There’s so much that my head feels like it’s going to implode. How can I get this huge monstrosity on page without having ever scene be a book in itself.

“Break it into bite-size… Rome wasn’t built in a day.”

Yes folks, this is mantra number three. I say this rather often. Writing a complete book is a large undertaking. It’s a huge commitment and it’s not for the weak hearted.

Mantra number three usually gets me to breathe again and then I can Center.

Okay so I know all what is going on in this one moment of time and the influences leading up to it. And for goodness sakes what are the villains currently doing -even if it’s behind the scenes. This is for my head only as the deity of this make-believe world.

Sometimes this means I draw a storyboard… Or I play act like we all did as small children (though it’s helpful if there are no bystanders to watch this process).

“Writers are crazy.”

Yeah. This one doesn’t have a number. I just say it often.

Alright so I know what’s happening in the scene and I now know all the motivation leading and threading through it.


Mantra number four is a lot of acronyms. Who’s head am I in? What do “i” want more than anything else right now. How do I react to the obstacles keeping me from what I want most? Etc. etc. If anyone doesn’t know the acronyms – and once upon a time I didn’t – send me a comment. I would be more than happy to explain.

Usually by now the scene is starting to flesh out pretty well. And I have little nuggets of personality – thoughts, “isms”, etc. that show up as I write.

(What do I do with that?)

Well – If it relates to the scene I’m working on, I go back to where I think it should be added and add it.

If it doesn’t belong in that scene I add it to “comments” In Word and then copy and paste into my document called “book spine” or under “characters” for when I do my next revision which will be primarily editing.

So this is my process currently. I ended up needing to gut a lot of what I wrote in my first draft but I learned a lot from the process and I have a more solid story now. Just need to get it done.

I’ll talk later about ways to overcome real life interrupting writing time.


The Road to Success (pep-talk)

For myself and all my friends who have a dream….each day take one more step…always.

1. Keep your determination. Stride forward.

“Determination gives you the resolve to keep going in spite of the roadblocks that lay before you.” ~ Denis Waitley

2. Surround yourself with positives

And to help take that un-demoralized trudge forward…to turn each step into a the springful celebration of journey surround yourselves, as much as possible, with the greats.

For small people (not talking stature) will jealously hold you down, feed you a steady diet of discouragement and will go out of their way to block you from the figurative stars.

The great ones will spark your inspiration.

(Of course there are good friends who’ll give you fair assessment too)

3. Keep it in perspective

Keep the journey in perspective. In the words of the Wise Girlfriends Coffee Cliche “Compare and Despair…yeah, don’t do that.”

“It is the mark of great people to treat trifles as trifles and important matters as important.” ~ Doris Lessing

4. And enjoy.

“Life is a song – sing it. Life is a game – play it. Life is a challenge – meet it. Life is a dream – realize it. Life is a sacrifice – offer it. Life is love – enjoy it.” ~ Sai Baba

If the spark of wonder, of playfulness, of quiet enjoyment and love leave you…what is left to you? Your beautiful goal isn’t quite as beautiful is it?

Ok. Happy and determined. Deep breathe. Ready to take on the World.

Baby steps will get you there

An excellent advise piece for all life-overwhelmed writers. It falls within two of the “Wise Girlfriends Coffee Club” sayings: “Walk the walk” and “Even if you can’t take giant strides, take baby steps –you’ll get there.”

Excerpt from Writers Unboxed…

Two Pages a Day

Back in the late 1990s, before I had published my first novel, I had pocketful of literary aspirations and a heart full of dreams. I also had two small children and a budget that precluded the hiring of a baby sitter or nanny. Although I had the idea for a novel rumbling around inside me, I despaired of having the time and emotional space in which to write it. The uninterrupted days, those blissful periods, kind of like swoons or trances, when I could sink deep into my work and not emerge for hours, were like a mirage from another time; I could not imagine having them back until the youngest child was eighteen and off to college.
My reaction to these restrictions ranged from brooding resentment to Zen-like acceptance. But neither strategy was particular helpful. And I certainly wasn’t getting any work done. Then I had an epiphany: I would not tell myself I was writing a novel, a concept that made me feel like an ant balancing a grapefruit on its back. No, I broke down the task at hand into much more manageable chunks or bits. I told myself that I was writing a scene. A conversation. A description. And I gave myself a small, manageable goal: two pages a day, five days a week.