Why Can’t I….

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Why can’t I dictate text? I often daydream about how easy my writing would be if I could. While I was doing dishes, I could be writing….While I was driving, I could be writing….While I was in the shower, I could be writing. I wouldn’t have to put my life on hold and retreat to the dark corner in my office or hide in the bathroom with my phone to get the story out of my head.

I’ve tried, many times, to dictate text…as the thoughts are flowing, I have tried to speak them but I can’t….I just can’t.

It’s almost like there is a corner of my brain; a quiet still place that I go to when I write. Like I must retreat within myself and retrieve the story that’s dying to get out. For me, writing is very internal. Is this weird?

Or maybe, my writing comes from someplace else…or something else. Maybe I draw my stories from the same place I draw my energy and that place isn’t accessible unless I stop and listen. Maybe writing is a meditative practice for me.

Whatever the answer, it is sure that writing is not exactly a science, for any of us. As authors, we all have limitations and quirks that make our writing style our own. What are your little writing quirks or what limitations do you have, as an author? Am I the only one who finds it impossible to dictate text?

 

Giving Back…#atozchallenge

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Maybe I’m biased but I see authors at being one of the best at giving back to their own communities (and any community that needs it, really). The best example of this in action are Patric Rothfuss’ Worldbuilders As if I really needed another reason to love Rothfuss, he has really used his position to give back (raising over 2 million dollars for Heifer international since 2008). It’s really not unusual for authors to donate to charity or to work toward literacy goals but in this case, it’s really great because he has thrown himself into it as much as he has his writing. It’s not a back burner project for him, it’s something he’s really passionate about and that he spends a lot of time organizing and working for. It’s almost like “giving back” has been a vision for him even before he “struck gold” with The Name of the Wind.

This made me think: what is my “giving back” vision? Community service, I think, is the heart of society and it has been the heart of my life. When I was a teenager, I spent more time cleaning up highways and doing fund raisers with my school’s Key Club than I did at parties. I love helping those when I can. Now, I try to “give back” in the writer community in small ways. That’s why I started the Indie Spotlight. I wanted to give my fellow authors as much exposure as I can and help them spread the word about their work. Still, I want to do more…I want to do something big, like Rothfuss.

I have no idea what that is right now. I feel like I’m making a checklist as I grow and learn as an author. I know that I want to give back to Nanowrimo when I can because it was such a big part of me breaking out of my author’s shell. I want to do a collection of stories with a few fellow authors for charity, like the Blog Hop I sponsored a while back. I have, in my mind, a shortlist of charities I will help when I get to the point that I can really do some good for them.

Maybe this is why authors are more charitable than other professionals…we spend the beginnings of our careers writing blank checks for those who lift us up and when we make something out of it, we get a chance to pay those debts back. It makes me proud to be a part of the community when I see authors lifting each other up, offering advice, hosting each other on blog tours, and promoting each other’s books. It makes me even more proud when I see authors reaching beyond the writing community and helping out those who are sick, or impoverished…when I see authors taking a stand and doing something good in the world. It makes me feel like I’m part of something that is real and good…it makes me feel like I’m home.

Blathering Blatherskite…#atozchallenge

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If, within your mind, there was conjured an image of Gizmoduck, you are officially awesome.If you remember that he was originally a bean counter named Fenton Crackshell, you’re doubly awesome…but what does Darkwing Duck have to do with writing? The answer is nothing. However, the phrase “Blathering Blatherskite” does.

Blatherskite, in case you’ve ever wondered, is a word of Scottish origin that is defined as “a person who blathers a lot”. So, the phrase “Blabbering Blatherskite” translates literally as “Blabbering Person who Blabbers a lot“. This is redundancy at it’s best. The word blabbering is repeated and can be removed  without changing the meaning of the phrase. Because the show was aimed at children (who had no idea what a Blatherskite was), nobody seemed to notice.

Sadly, the literary world isn’t so forgiving. After I released my first novel Darkness Within, I realized that the novel would have benefited from a little less blabbering. Not that it’s not a good novel…it just isn’t as polished as it COULD have been. Of course, I’m sure that a lot of authors feel that way about their work.

So, what could I have done to release a more polished novel? Firstly, I could have waited more time to release it. Better yet, I could have utilized the proper resources. That’s right, I could have used Beta-Readers (another “B” word). I’m going to be honest here…I don’t really know much about beta-readers. I mean, I’m familiar with them but I don’t know enough to know where to find them or what qualities they should have when I do.

So, I’m asking for advice from my fellow author-buddies. According to this article on Beta Readers by Belinda Pollard, beta readers can be found beside the pots of gold at the end of rainbows. Pollards article is really good and it does a great job at defining the qualities of an ideal beta-reader but I still don’t understand where to actually find them. So, I’ve decided to open up the comments section of this post for advice, resources and general words of wisdom about beta-readers.

Dark and Twisted Author Spotlight with Melissa Groeling…#Thriller…#Excerpt

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Just to keep your heart pounding…

Earlier this morning, we got your heart pumping and your blood flowing with a little sexiness. Now, we’re going to make your heart jump again as Melissa Groeling stops by to tell us about her smash thriller: Lights Out.

About the Book

Lights Out coverEven when the lights are out, he can still see you…

Paul Holten’s profession doesn’t leave much room for doubt or conscience but he’s reaching his breaking point. The nightmares are getting worse, the jobs are getting harder to finish and the volatile relationship with his boss, Aaron, is falling apart. Now faced with the possibility of an impending death sentence, Paul makes the fatal decision to run. Drawn into one hellish situation after another, he’s forced to confront his dark past—and wonder if perhaps dying isn’t the better option.

Find Lights Out:

On Amazon

On Barnes and Nobel

On Smashwords

On ARe

On Goodreads

Read Melissa Groeling’s guest blog before scrolling down and reading an excerpt of Lights Out.

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Hey there, A.C.! Thanks for having me on your blog today! I had to literally shovel my way here. The Northeast has been getting slammed with snow these past few weeks! I work for a pet food company and I’m always making jokes about how we should have a dog sled team available to bring us into work when the weather gets like this

So anyway! Enough about the weather! 

I have a new book out right now called, Lights Out. It’s a thriller novel, one that took me a looooooong time to finally submit to my publishing company, Black Opal Books. It’s been through so many revisions, so many re-writes and I can’t even tell you how many times I wanted to set it on fire. But something always stopped me, always drew me back to it. It ended up being like my go-to story when I was stuck with writer’s block on something else.

Lights Out is a dark, twisted story. I will be first to admit it. I grew up watching scary movies (Aliens, Hellraiser, The Exocist, you know all those classics) and reading scary books (Dean Koontz, Stephen King, Del James and Robert McCammon) so a part of me isn’t too surprised by the content of the book. Of course, there’s another part of me that truly wonders about my state of mind especially when, upon finishing Lights Out, my mom and my sister had a little pow-wow and asked each other,

“What’s wrong with her?”

Her being me.

I thought it was a compliment. I still think it is. The story wasn’t what they were expecting. That’s the reaction every writer wants, I think. But during the course of writing the story, I asked myself that question over and over again. And you know what?

I’m still not sure of the answer.

Lights Out Excerpt

They had to get out of there—and fast—but he couldn’t see a thing…

Jesus, it was dark.
It was disorienting in its completeness, in its total lack of light. In his lifetime, Paul had had his sight temporarily taken from him many times. Mostly by people who didn’t want to be looked at or identified if—God forbid—something went wrong. But there had always been some degree of light leaking through the blindfold or a shift in someone’s hand that was clamped tightly over his eyes, or the loose weaves in a rut-sack that was tied around his head. He’d always been able to see something.

This, however, was like the deepest part of the ocean. This was like having his eyes glued shut. This was what it meant to be blind.

The air grew colder and with that came the struggle to breathe. He didn’t know if it was claustrophobia but it came pretty damn close. His chest hurt and his throat felt like someone was cramming cotton into his mouth. He tried to breathe more slowly, to at least calm the thundering in his rib cage, but the darkness around him fed the panic that was skating through his bones. The stones beneath his fingers were wet in some places and icy in others and, under his feet, things crunched and squeaked like he was stepping through snow and ice.

He hoped it was snow and ice.

Echoes came from all sides of him. It was impossible to decipher one sound from the next. He wondered if people who heard voices were anything like this. Just one gigantic ball of murmuring sounds and words that didn’t make any sense.

There was a scraping sound behind him.

About the Author

Melissa Groeling graduated from Bloomsburg University with a degree in English. She lives, reads and writes in the Philadelphia region and wherever else life happens to send her. She is a hardcore New York Giants fan and loves chocolate. Lights Out is her second novel to date.

Come find me at Facebook!

Twitter: @stringbean10

Blog: http://melissagroeling.blogspot.com