Friday, September 30, 2011

Writer's Block - A Myth Breaker

What is writer’s block? According to Wikipedia, Writer's block is a condition, primarily associated with writing as a profession, in which an author loses the ability to produce new work. The condition varies widely in intensity. It can be trivial, a temporary difficulty in dealing with the task at hand. At the other extreme, some "blocked" writers have been unable to work for years on end, and some have even abandoned their careers. It can manifest as the affected writer viewing their work as inferior or unsuitable, when in fact it could be the opposite.

The problem I have with this mythical condition is author loses the ability to produce. Really, why? Does he not still function in life, does he not still have hands and fingers. A more correct definition would possible be loses the desire to write. For whatever reason a writer hides behind this condition, there are possible ways to break out, and the writer has the ability to do so if so desires.

Please – I’m not bashing anyone who thinks they have this condition.

I’m simply offering a solution to overcome it, because quite honestly it’s in your head. And to me, to lose the ability, suggests physical limitations. The brain is a wonderful tool and should be used to your best ability.

If you’ve lost your desire to write, and just don’t want to do it anymore, this is your choice. But, please quit saying its writer’s block. So many new writers are hiding behind this wall instead of facing the truth. Which might include: it’s too hard, I don’t have time to concentrate on this right now, I don’t know which road to take my characters down, and the list goes on and on.

Free writing – this is a wonderful method of loosening up you creative muscles. Set a timer for 10 to 15 minutes and just start writing. It doesn’t matter what, just type or write whatever comes to mind.

Character Interviews – Stuck on where to take your character or what reaction he should have in the next scene. Stick him in a chair and grill him. Ask him anything, he’ll answer. You’d be surprised what can happen when you face your character one on one.

Change Method/Location – Write if you normally type, or vice versa. Move to the kitchen, outdoors, or even jump in the bath. A change of scenery may be just what your muse needs.

Make a list of what’s bothering you – You’ve set up the first five scenes and something isn’t right? Start listing possible problems and solutions.

Sleep on it – This is a wonderful method but beware of becoming too dependent on it. You sure don’t want to sleep every time you get stuck. I’d suggest using this as a method to go with your normal sleeping routine. Before you go to bed, run the last scene through your mind, and during the night answers may appear. Place a pad and paper close by though because your muse has no respect for your sleep, she’ll appear anytime she’s ready.

Feel free to share your favorite method to overcome what some call writer’s block.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Untied Shoelaces of the Mind Anthology 2011

My short story, Friends Forever, is now in print and available for purchase.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

What makes a great opening line?

What makes a great opening line?

One of the most stressed pieces of advice is make your opening line count. If not, grab them in the first paragraph. So the question is what makes a great opening line?

It seems if you can do these four things in the matter of the first sentence, you’ve got yourself a killer opening.

1) Set the tone for the book
2) Set the scene
3) Introduce the hero/heroine – and if you can at least one obstacle
4) Create a question the reader has got to get answered

So, how are you supposed to fit all this information within one sentence, or even one paragraph? Let’s see if we can discover how.

The Restorer by Amanda Stevens
I was nine when I saw my first ghost.

• The tone – You put ghost in the mix, and you should probably expect some darkness right?
• The scene – Ms. Stevens misses this one with her first line.
• Intro of hero/heroine – We may not know the character’s name, but we know she sees ghost, which is sure to be an obstacle.
• Create a question – Who is this person, and why can she/he see ghosts? What kind of life would you have if you could see ghosts?

Overall, I’d say this is a good first line. I want to read more to find out more about the character and whether the ghosts are good or bad.

Prior Bad Acts by Tami Hoag
He knew before he entered the house that day that something was very wrong.

• The tone – Successfully suspenseful wouldn’t you say?
• The scene – We are outside, about to step into a house – where something is wrong.
• Intro of hero/heroine – He is introduced, and most likely whatever is wrong will be an obstacle.
• Create a question – What is wrong, and why does the character suspect anything is wrong at all?

Overall, I’d say we have another good line. I want to read on to find out what’s wrong in the house.

Faces by Martina Cole
Mary Cadogan was lying on her bed.

• The tone - ?
• The scene – We are in a bedroom.
• Intro of hero/heroine – Mary Cadogan, but no obstacle.
• Create a question - ? Don’t see one.

Let’s give this writer a chance – She was frightened, but then she was always frightened. Frightened her husband would get nicked, and even more frightened that he wouldn’t.

• The tone – A little more clear now, I’d expect dark things are to follow.
• The scene – Again, we are in the bedroom.
• Intro of hero/heroine – She is introduced and we know for certain she is frightened. Her husband seems most likely an obstacle.
• Create a question – Why is she so frightened of her husband? If she’s so afraid, why is she just lying on the bed?

Overall, we have an okay opening. Would I read further? It’s an iffy with this one. I can pretty much guess why she’s afraid of the husband, so the next two pages would have to be extremely catchy before I’d dig into the rest of the book. Also, notice the repetition. As mention on last Friday’s post, repetition can kill but when used correctly it can present key text to the story. In my opinion this is overkill. What do you think?

Take a look at your opening line/paragraph, do you achieve these four elements, or are you missing them? To be fair, most would read at least the first full page, but if you can grab them in the first sentence and keep them hooked, you just made a sale.

Feel free to share your thoughts on these three examples, or even present your own. Are there other elements you feel should be present?

Happy Tuesday.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Repetition Kills

Repetition can kill an otherwise perfectly good story. In a few cases, this is a technique to draw attention to certain text, but only if you are aware of it. And even then, be careful not to overdo it.

Repetition can consist of the same wording, but it can also be the same subject matter repeated more than once. This is an issue all writers should pay extra attention to during the editing process. For one thing, it’s extremely noticeable. So, send that manuscript in to the publisher with repetition and I guarantee he’ll know you haven’t taken the time to go through it with a fine tooth comb. And, if you don’t care, why should he care enough to put it on the publishing table.

It seems every writer, along with each different story, develops a word, or phrase, she loves to type onto the clean white page. With my latest, Seduced by Darkness, I discovered quite a few, but the main three were darkness, desire, and need. The words plagued the manuscript. These are the special words we narrow in on. But there are obvious ones which stick out like sore thumbs.

And, he, she, felt, watched - these are a few that find their way onto my page no matter the story or the mood I’m in. You should pay close attention as you move through your writing career. Creating a list of these overused words will help you recognize them quicker, but it will also help you to rid yourself of the habit. Unfortunately, you will probably gain a few new ones to replace the old.

This isn’t a major issue, don’t stress over it, but do make extra effort during your own editing and revision sessions. Your editor will thank you for it. And you’ll thank yourself when you get your manuscript back and it isn’t full of red slashes urging you to rid the manuscript of these troublesome words.

On subject matter, if your character is blond, the reader doesn’t need to be reminded of this every other page. If Shawn stabbed Josh, the reader only needs this information once. So, you think the reader may have forgotten? Go back and make the incident unforgettable instead of repeating it.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Blast From The Past

Footsteps of a Writer began in 2009. I present the very first posting, August 25, 2009.

Some Thoughts on Writing

When I first began writing, I thought it was the easiest thing in the world. I wrote daily, stringing words together into wondrous stories. Then I sent my work out and was rejected over and over again. I didn’t know what I was doing wrong, so I wasn’t sure how to fix it. I laid my pen down, and gave up. In the back of my mind, I still believed that one day I would be a writer.

After years of avid reading, I looked back at those pieces and saw major problems. There was no rhythm to the prose. The characters moved around from one point to the next with no thoughts. My writing lacked emotion and detail.

I began writing once again. Three years later, I still hadn’t sent anything out in hopes of publication. No rejections. You may consider this a waste of time, writing with no rewards, but still no rejections. A true writer writes for the joy of it, not the promise of fame. The truth was I was still learning and hadn’t reached what I consider my time to submit.

I’ve recently began submitting and receiving rejections. Now, I don’t look at the rejections as a bad sign. I look at them as stepping stones. It may be a long walk, but each step will bring me closer to being a published writer.

I’d like to share with you some of the things I’ve learned over the years.

There are many tools that you will use, but there are four I’d say that are a must. They are: American Heritage College Dictionary, Roget’s Thesaurus, Punctuation Plain & Simple by Edgar C. and Jean A. Alward, and William Strunk Jr., and E.B. White’s The Element of Style. These should be on every writer’s bookshelf, and don’t forget to use them.

Writer groups have both good and bad points. Writing is a solitary job and will become very lonely. It’s good to have a few people around who share the same ambition in life, even if they are in cyber-space. But on the downside, you can read too much into other’s criticism. You must be careful when having your work critiqued. Everyone has an opinion, and they are not always correct. Your story is just that, yours. Now, I’m not saying to turn a blind eye to the truth. If you have five people read your story, and they all ask why your character did this, chances are you haven’t provided motivation for your character’s actions. Trust in yourself to know which advice to take and which to discard.

Reading is a major part of a writer’s life, because you learn from the examples of others. Your ideas will grow and techniques will improve. I asked a member of one of my writing groups what type of books he read. His answer was he didn’t have time to read, he was too busy writing. If you don’t read, how can you begin to know how to write? Each day should include some sort of reading; consider it part of your job. And by all means, enjoy yourself.

Writing, of course, is the most critical issue. It should become part of your daily routine. Most writers compose and rearrange scenes in their mind, which is perfectly fine, but you have to sit down at some point. Every writer has a different routine. It is important to establish what works for you. Start out slow, maybe thirty minutes a day, and increase the time limit as it feels right.

Self-editing should be separated from your writing time. Don’t let that part of your mind mess with you while you create. Find a different location to do this task if necessary. Let your piece sit for a few days. Try to detach yourself from it, as if it was written by another. Like writing, you will also need practice at editing. One way to get practice is to edit someone else’s work. It’s easier to see the flaws in another’s writing.

I would also like to suggest reading material of an inspirational level. There are many articles and books out there telling you how to write. I’m not saying not to read these, but don’t dwell on them. There is no simple plan to show you how to write that best seller. I suggest reading some that tell you why they do it.

One, in particular, I would like to recommend is Stephen King’s On Writing. He offers a few pointers, but what I enjoyed was the way he lets you step into his world and begin to understand why this man is so widely read. He writes for himself, as you should write for yourself. If you’re not having fun, what’s the point?

Above all else, a writer needs ambition and drive. If you don’t want it badly enough you won’t get very far. Writing is hard work; it’s more than stringing words together. You must be able to create worlds and characters that the reader wants to get to know.

Now go, create something wonderful.

Feel free to share your thoughts. Are you a struggling writer trying to get published? Have you found the path to publication? There is always something to learn from others. Share with me what you’ve learned along the way. Ask questions.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Making Connections by Guest Poster Karina Fabian

I'd like to welcome Karina Fabian, author of Mind over Mind, to the blog. Before I hand the floor over, here is a little about our guest.

Bio of Karina Fabian: Unlike her characters, Karina Fabian lives a comfortably ordinary life. Wife to Air Force Colonel Robert Fabian and mother of four, her adventures usually involve packing and moving, attending conventions, or giving writing and marketing advice in one of her many workshops. She's always had an overactive imagination, however, and started writing in order to quell the voices in her head--characters who insisted on living lives in her mind and telling her their stories. Winner of the 2010 INDIE award, winner and finalist for the EPPIE and finalist for the Global e-book awards, she's glad people enjoy reading the tales her characters tell.

Please welcome Karina Fabian (applause)

I wrote my first novel back in 1986, mostly because I was challenged by a professor who liked a short story I'd written and thought it was the good beginnings of a novel. I spent a whole summer outlining it, lost the outline, decided it wasn't that great anyway, and wrote a second version. My professor introduced me to a writer friend of his and I shyly called and asked a few questions about publishers while in the back of my mind, I imagined him introducing me to his agent and taking me under his wing. Of course that didn't happen.
But I took his advice and bought Writer's Market and started querying. I got a lot of rejections, some with handwritten notes. I no longer have them, but they were more a testimony to my complete ignorance of the publishing industry and of writing. It was many, many years later that I had my first novel published, and it wasn't the one I'd written in college.

A lot of us hope that someday, we'll find that person who will love our work and help us to hone our story then connect us to a publisher. I still dream of that. However, finding a mentor right off, just by asking, is a rarity, and usually comes from a build-up we didn't even know we'd done--like the friend of a friend who is already impressed by our story. We won't find it by "ambushing" established writers. Still, you find people who will go to a writers' chat room and their first questions is, "Who will critique my novel?" Sometimes, I get e-mails asking me to recommend publishers (or recommend them to a publisher)--and if I'm getting them, I know more famous authors do.

A better way to handle this is to develop the relationships rather than jumping to the goal. Find critique groups in your local area or online. Go to conventions and meet people--talk to them about their books, share your story, keep in contact. Find writers' workshops--there are a lot online as well as live. Take the classes and use them to show off as well as hone your writing. (My first novel contract came from a workshop I took from a publisher who liked the story I submitted as homework.)
Learn the business side of publishing: how to write a query, what an elevator pitch is, how to write a synopsis, a book proposal, etc. Read up on what's happening with publishers. Seek out agents who are starting in the business. You can do this by reading Publisher's Weekly, Writers' Market, or many of the blogs by publishers, agents and writers in your genre. Jim Butcher (Dresden Files) said that when he found the agent he wanted, he learned about her, met her at a convention, struck up conversation and got to know her before presenting her with his book.
Be willing to give as well as receive. If you want your book or story critiqued, then be ready to comment on others' works as well. And please have a thick skin when it comes to receiving a crit. Most people take time--hours even--to comment on a story. Even if you totally disagree, be gracious, especially if it's by an established author.
Through it all, keep writing! That book I wrote in 1986 stayed in the drawer for 20 years. In the meantime, I wrote stories, edited anthologies and wrote articles. When I started thinking about novels again, I pulled it out, realized how awful it was, and completely reworked the concept. That book is now a trilogy, the first book of which, Mind Over Mind, is out from DragonMoon Press. Sometimes, I look back at the person I was when I wrote the first version, and I'm kind of glad I didn't get my wish back then. I had to learn a lot--and my stories are far better for it.
Karina, Thank you so much for stopping by. I hope the rest of your Mind over Mind blog tour goes well.
Purchase links for Mind over Mind - Amazon / Kindle
Other connections to author - Facebook / Twitter / Google+

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Your Mission...Should You Decide to Accept It

Education Wants to be Free by Terri Main

Terry posted an article I thought you might enjoy. For the full article - click here.

Most businesses and nonprofit organizations have mission statements. A mission statement is an (ideally) short statement of the purpose of that organization which sets a focus for the organization's activities. Of course, the reality of mission statements is that often they bear little resemblance to what the organization truly does and those that do, are rarely short.

So, what does this have to do with you as a writer?

Writers lose focus, just as organizations can lose focus. Sometimes we need to set a point on a map and concentrate on arriving at the location. I find the description of the mission statement very similar to setting a goal. By looking at it from this viewpoint, you may find it easier to find your way.

Basically, a mission statement can keep you on track, rather than drifting in other directions. I often find myself doing just that. I have many interests, and I tend to go in multiple directions. When writing your mission statement you should devote your words toward your writing career, not other hobbies and such. Make it direct and leave no room for side roads. Save those delightful journeys for your free time, not for your writing job.

Your mission as a writer is what you plan to accomplish, and it will change over time. To keep it simple, your statement should be around 25 words.

My mission: Cher Green's mission is to provide the best possible journey, whether it is through her own writing or the editing process of others work.

So, what's your mission?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Another Escape to Love Review

Aubrie Dionne, author of Paradise 21, recently read my novella, "Escape to Love", and gave a wonderful review at her blog Flutey Words.

Aubrie not only read the novella before publication, but also gave wonderful suggestions for revisions. Thank you, Aubrie, for all of your support in my writing journey.

"Escape to Love is action packed with a sweet romance at its core. Cher’s writing is very smooth and calming to read. I enjoyed watching Constance fall in love and find her own way in the twisted new world she’s fallen into."

Visit Flutey Words to read the full review.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

September 11 - The Day We Joined Together

Ten years ago, the United States joined together as we lost our loved ones to a great tragedy.

Where were you when the moment of silence fell across the states?

At that time, I worked in a clothing factory in Tennessee. I don't remember who told us about the events, but as the word spread from one end of the building to the other, silence engulfed us all.

I didn't lose anyone in this tragic event, yet when I heard the news tears filled my eyes and I believe my heart stopped beating for a split moment. Tragic news such as this affects us as a whole. It is during times as such, we join together through a spiritual connection, whether we realize it or not. We are of one in this great big world and one day that togetherness will span more than a few minutes, hours, or days.

As we face a day ten years after the fact, please take a moment of silence to send prayers out to all those in need, all around the world.

Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning) by Alan Jackson

Have a blessed day!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Muse Online Writers Conference

It's that time of year again, time for the Muse Online Writers Conference. Registrations are open, deadline September 25th. Don't miss out on this one of a kind free writers' conference. A variety of workshops and chances to pitch your book to various publishers are available. You can't go wrong, it's free!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

September's Newsletter

September's Newsletter is available in archives.

This month's feature update: first look at the book cover and blurb of my novella, Seduced by Darkness.

Also, there is news on an upcoming anthology containing my short story, Friends Forever.

If you haven't already subscribed, join the list for all the latest news.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Liebster Blog Award

It's always a joy to receive an award. For me, it shows others are listening and enjoying what I have to say. This award was presented to me by Joylene Butler, a wonderful woman and author. Thank you, Joylene!

The rules:
1. Thank the giver of the award and link back to them.
2. Give the Liebster to five bloggers and let them know with a comment to their blog.
3. Copy and paste the award onto your blog.
4. Have faith your followers will spread the love to other bloggers.
5. Have blogging fun!

I present this award to the following bloggers. Thank you all for sharing with me and others a little piece of yourself.

1. Aubrie Dionne -
2. Cherie Reich - 
3. Michelle McLean -
4. Kalayna Price - 
5. Lynnette Labelle -

Enjoy your moment of fame ladies!

Escape to Love Review

Asandra, Spiritual Guidance Examiner, recently read my novella, "Escape to Love", and gave it a glowing review on her Examiner page.

"Green writes with a brisk style that keeps the reader glued to the page. We are drawn into the protagonist’s dilemma; will she be pronounced guilty of witchcraft, or will Lawrence Wilder, the sole council member who wants to save her, be successful?"

Visit to view the complete review.

Other reviews available at Goodreads.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Bad Attributes by Guest Poster Aubrie Dionne

I'd like to welcome author of Paradise 21, Aubrie Dionne to the blog.

She's stopped by to talk a little about characters and some of their bad attributes. Before I hand the floor over, here's a little about our guest.

Aubrie is an author and flutist in New England. Her stories have appeared in Mindflights, Niteblade, Silver Blade, A Fly in Amber, and several print anthologies including Skulls and Crossbones by Minddancer Press, Rise of the Necromancers, by Pill Hill Press, Nightbird Singing in the Dead of Night by Nightbird Publishing, Dragontales and Mertales by Wyvern Publications, A Yuletide Wish by Nightwolf Publications, and Aurora Rising by Aurora Wolf Publications. Her epic fantasy is published with Wyvern Publications, and several of her ebooks are published with Lyrical Press and Gypsy Shadow Publishing. When she’s not writing, she plays in orchestras and teaches flute at Plymouth State University and a community music school.

Please welcome, Aubrie Dionne (applause)

Bad Attributes for Heroines and Heroes

I thought for fun today, I’d make up some of the worst attributes you could ever give your heroine or hero. I try to stay away from these character traits at all costs, and make sure my characters are one hundred percent the opposite!

1. Boring- Characters have to have a personality. They have to have their own motivations, and things they like and dislike. They have to yearn, to fear, to love. They have to have a past that’s shaped who they are today. They can’t be one dimensional line shouters based on common archetypes that only move the plot forward.

2. Inactive- Characters have to do something. They have to be “make it happen” type people. They can’t wait around and let life breeze by. Or at least, not for the whole book! They have to make conscious decisions, to get up off their feet and change their world in some way.

3. Mean- I’d leave this trait for the bad guys. Your main character has to be likeable. They can’t go around picking on those weaker than them, or talking behind their friend’s backs and calling people names. It just doesn’t work. Unless, they start this way and change very fast, before you lose your reader for good!

4. Ineffectual- Main heroes and heroines have to make a difference. Their actions have to have consequences. They have to strive to better their situation, to save the one they love, or make the world a better place. They can’t continue to fail to the very end in everything they do. What a downer that would be, heh?

5. Self loathing- Too much whininess can drive a reader crazy. Sure, your characters have to have modesty and fear. They have to question their actions at times, and experience remorse and regret. But not on every page. A main character has to develop confidence, and they have to begin to believe in themselves.

6. Arrogance- There’s a fine line between a confident hero/heroine, and an arrogant one. Sure, they can believe in themselves and their cause, but they also have to have faults. They have to be human, and they have to wrestle with their own flaws. Or else, they have nothing to overcome. They can’t have an arc, they can’t develop.

7. Whishy washy/Ambivalent- Characters can’t keep going back and forth and changing their minds. They have to act definitively. They have to make choices and either stand by them, or regret them later on. You have to explain why they change their minds (if they do) and have a good reason for it. Or else, why fight for something you don’t care strongly about?

What do you think some bad character traits are?
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