Category Archives: blog

In the press of NaNoWriMo

It’s November 6th and I’m working on my fourth NaNoWriMo novel. This year my project is the 4th book of my Funeral Singer series. Two previous novels in it were written during NaNo. Last year’s novel is in the O’Ceagan’s Legacy series, and sadly, it is still in the edit pile along with Dew Dropping Hour. I tend to impose deadlines on myself and right now, completing the Funeral Singer series is right at the top of my list. There will be one more book in the series to bring it to five total.  But more about that later.

In this post, I want to toss out my top 7 methods to surge past the infamous writer’s block. I actually compiled these for the most recent High Sierra Writers’ newsletter, so if you’re already seen them, then move along.

There’s really no such thing as writer’s block, you know. You just have to do it. And there are some techniques that work for me. If you’re stuck trying to write something, give them a try and see if they won’t help you past the road block. However, the writer’s block at the top of the page can be a serious hindrance.

7 Tips to Break Writer’s Block

From the experiences of Rene Averett

As I’m starting my 4th year of NaNoWriMo, I’m planning to complete the first draft of my next novel. I have “won” every year so far and have every expectation of completing 50,000 words plus quite a few more in November. Even while doing NaNo, writer’s block can set in. I have a few techniques I use to get past them so I will share my top 7 tips for anyone else to try.

1. Change writing mediums: If you’ve been typing on a keyboard, try writing with paper and pen. I find that it triggers my mind into using my creative side and words tend to flow more easily as my mind shifts modes. After a page or so of writing longhand, I can usually get back into the flow of the story and to the computer.

2. Move around: Get up, take a walk, or do something physical for about 15 minutes. Your brain may just need a break. Put on some music and dance or exercise. Sometimes this includes getting up and feeding the cat.

3. Refresh and ask questions: Get a cup of coffee or a glass of water and allow your mind to think about the scene. Ask yourself questions about it. Maybe you haven’t planned it well enough. Ask the basic reporter’s questions: Who? What? When? Where? Why? How? If you can answer them, then you might trigger the next part of your story or you can write a character back-story scene that gets you going again.

4. Take time for play: Play a game or do something creative, such as sketching, drawing, or cooking. Once again, this provides a break and allows your brain to work on the next part of your book.

5. Skip over the scene and go to one that is clearer in your mind: This works well if you’re a plotter. Often when plotting, you add scenes that you’re looking forward to writing while others are part of the necessary lead-up to that great scene. If the lead-up isn’t coming together, jump to the scene you’re really wanting to write. This often sorts out the troublesome scene in the process.

6. Turn off your inner editor: Easier said than done, but seriously, editing uses a different part of the brain and stifles creativity. Let your creative side go and just write.

7. Dream on it: If you’re having trouble with a scene, think about it before you go to sleep. Your brain will work on it while you’re sleeping and you’ll probably have the solution in the morning.

Hope these tips help you if you find yourself staring at the same line of your computer screen for a long time.

 

New Book Release and Convention Appearance

My latest Funeral Singer book is out and available now at Amazon in both Kindle and paperback! So excited about this third installment in the series. Things are really heating up for the funeral singer now.

Called A Song of Betrayal, the story continues singer Gillian Foster’s interactions with the recently departed in the ethereal cemetery as she confronts a murder victim. Zoe Sarkis’ husband killed her and fled the country. Now, she’s refusing to cross over until he is found and brought to justice. Complicating Gillian’s task of helping Zoe, she is also facing an increasing number of ghoulish figures called shades. Can Gillian help find the missing husband and learn to deal with the shades?

A Song for Betrayal is available now in paperback and Kindle from Amazon.com. You can also read it for free on Kindle Unlimited. Take a look at my launch page for more information and links.

For a preview of the book, follow the link below:

Reno Comic Con

If you’re in the Reno Nevada area, Sands Comic Con is happening this weekend, September 23 & 24. I will be there both days to talk to folks and sign books at the Pynhavyn Press table. Joining me, both at the table and in a panel on Saturday, is Margaret McGaffey Fisk (Steamship Chronicles) who will also be happy to chat and sign books.

Our panel will be at noon and we’ll be discussing Immortality as Seen by Hollywood. This panel excites me as I love talking about how most of the programs that have immortal characters tend to slant it negatively. As a longtime Highlander the Series fan, I’ve definitely had discussions with people on this before. So, if you’re in town, come on down to the Sands and join us in this discussion.

5 Writing and Editing Tools You Should Apply

I don’t often post about writing on my blog, but I am making an exception today. I wrote a version of this article for the High Sierra Writers Newsletter and decided to share it here in the hope it will help other writers.

As writers, we’re more about the creation of the story than the details such as grammar, syntax, and spelling. But before you send off anything, be it a short story, poem, blog post, novel, or query letter to an agent, editor, or a beta reader, you should make it as clean and correct as you possibly can. Your words represent you as a storyteller and a professional. If there are errors in the writing, then it reflects on your ability or lack of editing skills.

I often read and edit for other writers and the problems I see are that many writers just don’t know how to spell, use proper grammar, or good sentence structure. What surprises me most is that they also don’t know what tools are built into their word processor or available on the internet to help correct these errors before they send their work to a beta reader or an editor. Some of these programs are valuable aids to improve writing. Most focus on clarity and business writing where extraneous words are in the way of communicating the information. Nonetheless, they can be very helpful to the creative writer in looking for grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors.

These five tools, available on the web or in your writing program, can assist you in becoming a better writer with fewer mistakes in your work.  In fact, they can help you with any writing you do.

Word Processor Tools

Don’t forget your word processor has a built-in spell checker and grammar checker. Turn it on when you’re writing. If you misspell a word or make a grammatical error, the program will put a red line under it. Right click on your mouse and it will display spelling or grammar options for what it thinks you are trying to type. With WORD, this is a reasonably good, but not as robust as some of the editing programs offered on line.

Are you at a loss for alternate words? Chances are your word processing program has a thesaurus in it. Highlight the word you want to replace and click on the thesaurus and a list of additional words will display. If you’re not quite sure if the word you want to select has the same meaning, then look it up in a dictionary. Many are online. Not all synonyms have the same definition.

Tools from the Web

This list comes from the NY Book Editors website. You can view the full list and information about each by clicking here. I’ve listed the ones I find most appealing and I use two of them on a regular basis.

An Autocrit analysis screen shows the length and pacing of the paragraphs in your work. In this case, I used one chapter from my book.

Autocrit

This is a subscription service costing almost $30 per month to use but it is designed specifically for Fiction Writers.  (When the NY Book Editors article was written, the author quoted $5, which would have been a bargain, but this higher price tag makes it hard for struggling writers to afford.) With the focus on pacing and momentum, dialogue, word choice, repetition, and strong writing, it can be a valuable tool worth the cost. It also finds instances of passive voice, adverbs, clichés, and filler words. Designed to help you tighten up your story, it makes strong suggestions for change, but the option to accept is always up to you.

EditMinion analyzes many areas of your writing and lists the number of times you use words, what the tense is on your sentence, and many other factors in your writing. I particularly like that it shows the character names. This is great if you happen to change the names and miss correcting one.

editMinion

A FREE, easy to use, and quick tool, this program gives you a comprehensive overview. It shows the most often used words, average sentence length, and the longest sentence by words. It also highlights adverbs, weak words, passive phrases, and clichés. While it may not be the best editor on their list, it does a good job of isolating grammar errors and it is free.

A sample of Grammerly’s information box as you correct grammatical and punctuation errors in your work. The box shows the error and explains why the change is suggested. You need to analyze and decided.

Grammarly

I use this program all the time. It is a comprehensive grammar, spelling, and punctuation checker. It makes suggestions for changes and displays the rules behind the suggested change. The program isolates hundreds of error types that are missed by word processors. It also offers synonym suggestion to improve your writing. The free version is available on line and you can also purchase a more robust version. The features in that include over 400 checks and features to improve your writing, plus 30 specific document types. You can purchase monthly or at a big discount on an annual payment.

Grammarly offers a downloadable app for Chrome, Office, and Windows that works with your word processor program, email or other online writing programs as you are typing. For my purposes, I use the free one. Given that it is a general editor, I believe some of the advanced errors it finds might relate more to business writing than creative writing.

 

Hemingway

Another program I use, this one addresses readability. Based on the concept that Hemingway wrote to a sixth-grade reading level, the application analyzes your writing and provides statistics on reading time, the number of paragraphs, and the word count. Using color coding in your text, it highlights problem areas, such as passive voice, adverbs, and difficulty to read. While I enjoy the analysis, I do find it contradictory when it tells me I write at grade 4 level but my sentences are too long and complex. For the other features in it, I think it is a useful program. You can use it online or pay $19.99 to download the desktop application.

 

 

 

This article was originally published in the August 2017 issue of the High Sierra Writers newsletter, written by Rene Averett, my real name.

Come See Me at…

…Earth Day at Idlewild Park in Reno Nevada.

If you live in the area, I’d love to meet and chat with you at our booth, #1020 that I am sharing with authors Margaret McGaffey Fisk (The Steamship Chronicles, Seeds Among the Stars) and Angelina Fasano (Alpha’s Song) at Earth Day today, April 23rd. We’ll be happy to sign your books.

We also have photos by Colin Fisk for sale.  Not to mention jewelry and bracelets. Fun things!  Come on out!

Say Hello to Kimberly Iverson

Wrapping up my trio of quick interviews with writers featured in the big Speculative Fiction giveaway on Instafreebie, I’m pleased to introduce Kimberly Iverson, the fantastic lady who is hosting the giveaway and a pretty awesome author.

In line with my unplanned trend of featuring west coast authors, Kimberly fits right in, hailing from near Seattle, Washington. She is a prolific writer with numerous books in several genres, such as the Dark Illusions, Dynasty of Moirae, and Guardian of Life series. If you’re looking for some good reads, check out her books. Now to the chat:

LW: Please tell us about the book that you’re featuring in this amazing giveaway and what inspired this story.

KI: I’m combining these two because this is a multi-part answer for me. They go hand-in-hand. By that I mean that Hope of the Future was two different books. The first book that I wrote was inspired by simply the idea of what would happen (mind you, I was very young for this idea – 12 to 16, I think) if in the future, humans kept other humans as pets. The other idea I had was similar to that, but I wondered what would happen if women could no longer bear children, but because they were so desperately afraid, their bodies changed and prevented it? What would happen if that had such repercussions that even generations down the line, that was so ingrained it changed humans? Next thing I knew, when I was editing the second book, which was Hope of the Future, I felt it was lacking, and a friend offered me a tip, which then led me to remember the “Future Story” I had from when I was young. I removed about 90% of that story, and combined the other 10% into the first Hope of the Future. After that I thought of humans living longer and the rest came to light.

LW: Awesome. I love it when something that didn’t work out long before becomes relevant in a new project and can be incorporated. Nothing is ever lost when writing. But when you sit down to write, what is the one thing that you absolutely have to have?

KI: Water. That sounds so odd, but I can’t. I can go without music, without sitting at the desk, without pretty much everything except…water. I will even drink coffee or hot chocolate, sometimes green tea (Arizona Green Tea with Honey is what I love the most), but I will always have water. I was a mermaid in a past life, I’m sure.

LW: Very interesting and maybe you were a finned-female in the past. While you’re sipping on your water and plotting, do you slip any secrets in your books that only a few people will find? (Drop a hint, I’m a Pisces myself, so no secrets among fishies, right?)

KI: I do! But then…if I told you, they wouldn’t be secrets now, would they? For those readers like myself who love books so much that unless they truly hate it, they’ll read it again, I have little secrets in the majority of my books. Some are obvious, some come through double-entendres, but most you have to pay close attention to the stories and all my books to find.

LW: Guess I have a lot of reading to do, but that’s okay. I’m intrigued. What is your process for choosing names for your characters?

KI: This depends on the person and story. Many times the name is there. There’s no other name it could be. Like with Hope. She is the epitome of the term so for me, her name couldn’t really have been anything but Hope. When I struggle, I may make one up, grab one out of thin air, or do what I did back when my mom bred Shih Tzus when I was young. Go to the baby name books. Nowadays it’s baby name sites. I research the pronunciation, the terms, what the name means, all of it. Some names go through a few changes before it’s settled. Like Ronin in Hope of the Future. Not sure how many names that man had before I chose Ronin.

LW: I hear that! You try out a few then one day a name just clicks. Actually I’ve done that with my pets when naming them. And with that thought in mind, what’s your favorite paranormal creature and why?

KI: Has to be the werewolf. I think it’s because I grew up seeing them a lot. I watched planet of Body Snatchers and zombie movies, but I was always drawn to werewolves. My love of wolves in general could be a clue, and that I constantly dream about them, but I am also drawn to Beauty and the Beast and I think that contributes. Their strength, power, and presence. That they could be beast or human. Walk in day or night. To me, they have a lot of the great attributes of vampires without the desperation for blood so they are in many ways still alive and can LIVE like a human.

LW: Definitely cool characters those wolves. I thought maybe you’d go for a sea creature. When you have time to relax and read, who are your favorite authors?

KI: My favorites are always the people who make me forget everything. I start reading and then I’m late to bed because I thought . . . just a few more words, annnndddd I’m five chapters in. Those people are: Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Michael Crichton, Anne Rice, Keri Arthur, George R.R. Martin, and J.K. Rowling. I only just read Harry Potter for the first time in 2015 so I was late to that game, but I love it. I also recently read Alianne Donnelly’s Wolfen and that story sucked me in.

Thanks very much for taking the time to do this and for hosting this great giveaway. You can learn more about Kimberly’s work on her website and forum:

Speculative Fiction Writer & Occasional Paranormal Romantic
kimberlysueiverson.com
Come by the new forum!
kimberlysueiverson.boards.net

So, those of you who haven’t read anything by Kimberly Iverson yet, this is a great opportunity to pick up a free copy of Hope of the Future and maybe find a new favorite author. By the way, she’ll be releasing two more books in the next few months.

Just click the picture for the link to the giveaway page where you’ll find over 80 books for free downloads, including one of mine and my short story as well. Hurry. This giveaway ends on March 4th!