Tag Archives: writing group

Refinement & Personal Growth

I’ve got an update!  Well, there are several updates, really, but this is the first one.

I’ve recently enrolled in Southern New Hampshire University’s creative writing BA program.  Awesome, right?  I know, I know.  I’m still an active supporter of “you don’t need a degree to write a novel.”  It’s true.  You don’t.  You do, however, need experience in editing and refining your work to make it appealing to people.  Some of us have more trouble with that than others, and so I’ve decided to go back to school for something worthy of my passion.  I’ve tried so hard to look for a degree or certificate program that would be a quick fix to my lack of professional direction, but there’s nothing out there that really makes me happy.

Writing makes me happy.

Writing is what I spend my time doing and thinking about.

Helping other writers to write well is something I take pride in.  It’s rewarding for me.

I can’t help writers with any credibility if I don’t further educate myself.  I can’t edit and rewrite my work very well, either, if you want the truth, and some guided direction is going to do wonders for me.  I just know it.  I want to be able to bring the benefit of these courses to others.  I want to be able to help you, my readers, and anyone else who might stumble on this blog.

I also have an announcement!

INKWELL IMAGININGS HAS A NEW CHAPTER!

It’s true!  Our local writers’ group has spread from a small library in Southbridge, MA to three separate states!  I’d like to welcome Inkwell Imaginings – Oklahoma City to our ranks!  Honestly, we never thought it would ever get this far.  Now that it has, though, I’d like to talk to everyone about Inkwell.  I’ve told you about it before, I think.  It’s a group created for local fiction writers to gather socially, get their work critiqued by peers, and celebrate or commiserate over their stories.

Want an Inkwell in your town?  Let’s make that happen!  Keep an eye out for a post on “How to Create an Inkwell Imaginings Chapter Near You!”  I’ll include an FAQ about Inkwell, what we do, how to join or create your own, popular meeting formats, and how to contact me.

AMITY DAWN DOES NOT HAVE A NEW CHAPTER!

Don’t judge me, I’m getting there.  Chapter 6 will be done soon.  I’m debating on whether to go back and fix my first person chapters by putting them in third person, or if I should just write the whole thing, then go back and include it in my first-pass revision.  x_x Ah, writer problems.

Coming up next, a shameless plug for chain maille bracelets that will help me buy my school books… STAY TUNED! Same Bat time, same Bat channel.

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Filed under Life, Writer's Group

Writing Life: AFK, the benefits to writing away from home

Image © Simply Bike

Do you ever sit down at your desk and open your project of the moment, and think “I can’t do this here”?  Like there’s just some massive weight pressing down on you, refusing to let your imagination take you where you need to go?  Like being at home is ruining your creative flow?

Leave.  No, seriously.  Just leave.

I know, I know “I have kids, Kit, I can’t just leave.”  I’m not a parent, so I sometimes have a hard time relating to this point.  Honestly, though, if you have kids and you can’t get away, try a different room in your house.  Usually write in the office?  Try sitting in the living room.  Have a yard?  Take a notebook or your laptop outdoors and let the kids do what kids do.  Middle of the day?  Go to a playground, let the kids romp about while you sit at a nearby picnic table.  (I’d advise using a notebook and pen at a playground.  Much less likely to get destroyed, and if there’s wifi available–well, I know I can get distracted easily if I have an internet connection–from your kids, not your writing.  Seriously.  Kids are born troublemakers.  Gotta keep an eye out.  =P)

Don’t have kids?  Free to roam?  Use your writing time to discover a diner or coffee shop you’ve never been to before!  (And then, obviously, write there.)  The best part of changing up your routine?  Options.

There are chains like Panera Bread, McDonalds, Crispers, Starbucks, and Barnes & Noble that have free wifi, ample seating and outlets, and a staff that, as long as they’re open and you have a drink cup (full or empty) in front of you, don’t care how long you stay.

Then there are the hidden gems.  The mom & pops, the cute little corner shops without a ton of seating, but a bitchin’ menu with those few items that the regulars rave about.  They don’t usually have wifi (though, if you’re in a pinch, you can sometimes siphon off of a chain nearby), their outlets are either limited or nonexistent, and they usually only have one bathroom stall.  But these are the places that are writing gold.  The upsides?  No wifi = No “I’ll only check Facebook once” every five minutes.  No outlets = allowing yourself to doodle and scribble on an actual notebook for once. (There’s an old world romance to it, damn it!)  The best part?  If you go there often enough, the staff and owners are the people who will encourage you in what you’re doing while you spend your time there.  They’re usually a personable staff who connect with their regulars, and we all know how far a smile and a little encouragement goes!

I don’t want you all to think that a writer writes at his desk and toils long into the night.  You don’t have to be a shut-in to get some writing done.  There’s a place where every writer can feel at home away from home; you just have to find it.

What is your writing-home away from home?  Are you comfortable writing outside of your personal writing station?  What do you prefer: wifi or no wifi?

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Writing Life: Making Time and Motivation

Image © Simon Clayson

The biggest obstacle I face as a writer is overcoming the tendency to put writing on the back burner.  Writing is my life, my love, and my means of staying sane; I’ve put writing before friends, jobs, and relationships—

So why can’t I put more importance on setting aside time to write?

My excuses:

  • There’s a show that I want to watch.  (I have a DVR.  This shouldn’t even be an excuse.)
  • Facebook.  (Life-destroying social network paired with my apparent lack of willpower.)
  • There’s always a fresh idea beyond the one I’m working on.  (Attention span fail.)

Are any of them valid?  No.  Not really.  They waste time, make me homesick, show just how lazy I am.  And when I schedule time to write, I usually foul it up somehow: procrastinate, self-sabotage, just plain fail.  Being a “work in progress” as a person and as a writer must yield some progress if it’s going to continue to be an excuse for my shortcomings.

This post isn’t going to offer you a definite solution.  I can offer some suggestions that I should probably try myself. I suppose what people like me—people like us—need most is a support group to keep one another accountable.  I’m not sure how to go about this yet, but if I come up with anything, I’ll let you lovely people know.

So, suggestions?

  • Write it on your calendar.  Seeing “Write: 8a-3p” in your face makes it more tangible a goal than defining it vaguely in your head where you can’t physically see it.
  • Tacking/Taping sheets of inspiration, work, or development material around your work station.  It keeps your project real. I  look at it and remember little things I love about my project.  It makes me want to work on it.
  • Get other writers who need to get their work done to write with you.  Online or in a coffee shop.  Have word wars and share favorite sentences or bits of dialog.  Swap paragraphs and get opinions.  Never underestimate the support of writing with others.

Just remember that you don’t have to eat, sleep, and breathe writing to be a writer, but do make time for it.

How do you overcome procrastination and laziness?

Do you have a support network?  How deeply is your writing impacted by that network?

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And a cheery update to you, too.

So, here’s to getting back into the swing of things with the new year!  I’m devising a posting schedule for myself so I don’t fall so far behind again, because really… I have no decent excuse.

As of right now, I’m working to finish and polish Ossuarium because a family friend (also an author) has taken great interest in the storyline and is intent on getting me published.  Unfortunately, settling in here has been difficult, and home sickness has been beating me over the head, so I haven’t done much of any writing since I’ve been here.  It’s depressing.  BUT!  I’m sick and tired of being brought down, and I’m not letting it happen anymore.  I have a life and a future and friends and I have every intention of reminding myself of that daily.  I’m not feeling sorry for myself anymore.

Of course, I had this breakthrough revelation on December 29th (or so says my notebook), but immediately got so ridiculously sick that I couldn’t get out of bed or function on a basic human level until yesterday.  So.  Awesome.  I’m a little late in starting, but at least I didn’t forget. LOL.

SO!  I plan on picking a day of the week and writing a flash fiction piece every week for that day so that I can post it on my blog.  The more samples I have, the better, right?

I’m also taking my ’30 Days of Paganism’ (which went nowhere because I had to move) and converting it into a brand new blog.  I’ll link it here, and I’ll be posting on both regularly.

While I’ve left Inkwell Imaginings for the time being, Jessi at A BA in BS is keeping transcripts and creating webinars of the writing workshop content.  I think the schedule is still bi-weekly, so every other Tuesday or so I’ll be posting the webinar.

Hopefully all of this will keep me fantastically busy and I can forget how little of a social life I have. LOL

I apologize to everyone for not commenting on your blogs.  Hopefully this time when I say ‘I’m back’ I can actually hold to it. =P  I missed you guys!

Love,

Kit <3

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Filed under Life, Paganism, Writer's Group, Writing

WOO!

NaNoWriMo site launch was today!  I’m still waiting on my profile to be updated to give me my very handy-awesome ML powers, but it seems like everything is coming along steadily.

Anyone participating in NaNo is free to add me as a friend.  <3  I’m super excited.  I’ve even got my novel concept finally coming together.  I had three or four in the running last month, but I decided.  =P

My very awesome relationship with the Southbridge public library is  only getting awesomer!  (Awesomer– new word.  Check it out.)  Margaret and Ashley loved our ideas for Inkwell Imaginings, and they’re excited about NaNoWriMo and the write-ins we’ll be holding there.  They even mentioned that they were sorry they couldn’t PAY Jess and I for the workshops we’re presenting!  PAY!  I never thought the work was worth that, but now that I think about it, I am working harder on this than anything I’ve ever been paid for. Lol.

Anyway, excitement aside, I’m going to be super busy over the next two months.  I’ll keep everyone updated!  I might even start my NaNoWriMo video blog again this year.  It’s faster than typing, but we shall see.  Those might be posted here instead of text updates.

I loveth you all!

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Inkwell Imaginings Workshop Schedule

We’ve got the schedule for II made up!  Anyone interested in being present via Skype, let me know, and we can get this all situated.  All meetings start at 6pm EST.  Inkwell Imaginings is also on Facebook, if anyone is interested in joining the group for updates.

Inkwell Imaginings

Writing Workshop Schedule

October 25th: Character Creation and Development. A workshop to create believable heroes, villains, and supporting characters, and bring depth to your story through them.

November 8th: Outlines. A rundown on outlines, how to use them, the pros and cons, and the many ways of making use of organization and prewriting.

November 22nd: World Building. A workshop to discuss how far world building should be taken, detail levels, and creating a believable world from the ground up.

December 6th: Grammar. A crash course in basic grammar and the big “no-nos” an editor will slap you for making.

December 20th: Dialog. How to create dialog that flows naturally. No one likes reading a book and thinking, “People don’t talk like that.” Make use of dialog and what it can bring to your story.

January 3rd: Building a Scene. Bring your story to life by learning how to create a scene that’s compelling and moves your story forward. “The basic unit of fiction is not the sentence or the paragraph, but the scene.” — Unknown

January 17th: No Inkwell Imaginings due to Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

January 24th: Writing Flow and Style. A crash course in how to find your style and gain an ear for the flow of language in your fiction.

February 7th: Contacts, Resources, and the Publishing Industry. Learn the importance of networking, the process of submitting your fiction to various markets, and what’s expected of a writer in the world of publishing.

Any questions, email:

Kit —> katiemacconnell@gmail.com

Jessi–> jessipeterson@gmail.com

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Opening Myself to the Terror of Submitting My Work

I mentioned in my last post that I’d be working on a submission for Steampunk Tales, and I was hoping to have it finished by the end of last week.  So did not work out that way.  I’m still working on the details and hammering it to death, but I feel like the piece I’m submitting will be worth something, even if that ‘something’ isn’t what they’re looking for.

Also, Fantasy Magazine is opening their doors for submission of fiction starting October 1st, and my good friend Pat has challenged me to write a piece and submit with him.  I highly doubt I can make it before October 1st, but I’ll make the effort.  After all of this, I think I’m going to take a break from taking on challenges for awhile.  Whew.

Also, Inkwell Imaginings, the writing group I run with Jess, will be expanding to every Monday night staring October 4th.  We’ll be running workshops every other week, with the first scheduled for October 25th with focus on character creation and development.  We’re working on obtaining guest speakers for our critique circle nights, whether it be for a physical visit and interview or Skype chat.  Also, if anyone wants to JOIN II on Monday nights, but isn’t in the area, we are working on setting up a video chat conference to allow for it.  Feel free to let me know if you’re interested.  It might get our butts in gear on that front.  =P

Once again, looking for published writers or people in ‘the business’ who wouldn’t mind chatting with a library writing group and answering a few questions over Skype or a chat client.  We can’t offer compensation, except for our love…. which we hold in very high regard. <3  =P

Attendees interested in joining through Skype, also let me know.  We need motivation to get this going, but we really haven’t got the need for it yet.  Don’t be shy!

Any questions, feel free to email me at katiemacconnell[at]gmail[dot]com.

Love you, guys.  =]

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A Question or Two for the Writing Crew

I’m not a poet.  That title was awful, and I apologize for subjecting you all to it.  Moving on.

Fiction permits us to explore what could be and should be,
to examine possibilities that don’t yet exist, and to envision a
world better than the one that currently exists, and then figure
out ways to take ourselves there.  ~ Holly Lisle

I had a few questions, and I suppose I’m just looking for your perspective on things.

How close are you to your characters?  How do you react to killing off a persona that you’ve fallen in love with?

How difficult has it been for you to allow others to read your work?  Can you read it out loud to a writing group?

Do you take constructive criticism well?  Do you take not-so-constructive criticism well?

I’ll include my answers in my next post, since I don’t want to skew the answers.  =P  Thanks to everyone who does this for me!  I love you, guys!

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Weird Dreams and a Confirmation that Kit is Not Dead

I live!  Mostly.  I’ve had some horrendous allergies lately, and it’s kind of becoming the center of my life.  I just don’t feel like doing ANYTHING anymore.  So, naturally, I don’t do anything.  I try to keep my breathing at a calm level (since I’ve had a series of asthma attacks I can’t seem to control), try not to rub my eyes, or itch the random hives that keep springing up on my forearms.

Maddening, I tell you!  Maddening!

And now here’s some fun.  I had a weird dream last night, and it leads me to believe I have to stop eating before bed.

So, I show up for our Inkwell Imaginings group, but it’s not at the library.  I’m suddenly facing this enormous old boarding house, vaguely Victorian in style.  The dark gray paint is peeling, the windows are black beyond the glass, shingles left bald spots on the roof; the whole thing looked to be falling apart.

For some ridiculous reason, I don’t question any of this, and just wander up the steps and into the boarding house.  Apparently, the boarding house is a school, and it’s brightly lit, and there are children everywhere from five to about eleven-years-old.  The rooms were converted to classrooms.  I didn’t know which room we had reserved, so I went about checking all of them on the first floor, and finally found our room with one person in it.

“Sorry I’m so late,” I said.  “Where is everyone?”

“Jess switched our rooms,” he said, and started for the door.  “We’re on the second floor.”

I stepped aside so he could lead me up to the second floor, but when I turned he was gone.  Naturally, I attempted to chase him up this big staircase, but honestly there was no one there to chase, and I couldn’t yell for him, because children were napping in some of the rooms.  So, I just kept going.

Finally, I found our room.  A bunch of people I haven’t seen since high school were there, and Jess was standing by the teacher’s desk at the head of the classroom.  “We’re being moved,” she said. “Third floor.  We have all this stuff, though.  I’m going to go find the room.  Have everyone gather their things.”

Aaaand she was gone.  I turned to look, and everyone had backpacks and suitcases, and even a big teddy bear.  Two of the bags were mine, a suitcase and a rolling duffel.  I didn’t have any idea how they got there, or what was inside of them, but I took them anyway.  They were mine, after all.  So, hauling all these bags, we started up to the third floor, dragging our luggage with us.  We were panting and complaining and struggling.  No one wanted to go any further as we were shoving the larger bags ahead of us, sliding them up the stairs as best we could.  The third floor seemed much higher up than the second.

Finally, we reached the third floor, and it seemed mostly empty.  Everyone sat on the stairs while I went to find our room.  Each room seemed to be full of napping children or singing children.  I walked into one and I was under a stairwell.  I started freaking out.  It was well let, and there was nothing in there, but it did seem like the stairwell to a boarding house hallway, and not the school that the inside of the place projected.  The walls had those bare wooden slats inside  holes in them, chipped paint, and an odd smell.  After having a minor panicky moment, I slammed the door, brushed the cobwebs off of myself, and walked back toward the group.

The longer I walked, the more I spotted some dirty men leering at me from where they were perched on the banisters.  They shouldn’t have been there.  It was a school.  I kept walking, and found that the luggage was still there, but most of the group was not.

“They went to find the room,” one of the others I didn’t recognize informed me.

I sighed.  I was getting tired of the wild goose chase.  It wasn’t long before I ran into Jess and the rest of the group.  Everyone was getting sketched out by the random men appearing out of the woodwork, all grubby and grotty, and homeless looking.

“We have to get going,” Jess said.

“Why?  Don’t we have the room?” I asked.  Stupid, right?  All these nasty men closing in, and I’m concerned about our writing group reservation.  Typical.

“I really think we should just go.  I can’t find the room.”

I conceded.  We went to the rest of the group waiting on the stairs, and the next thing I know, we’re in the parking lot.  Almost everyone had gone.

“Come on, get in the car.”  Jess motioned me over, but I couldn’t seem to make myself leave.  It was real effort to tear my eyes away from this house.  Finally, though, I did get into the car, and then I woke up.

It strikes me odd that everyone in my dream was oddly deadpan or just entirely unenthusiastic in everything they said.  It was weird.

Anyway, so that’s my dream, and I’m not dead.  Thanks for reading. <3

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Award Number Three! Woah.

I love my blog friends.  ^-^

Emily at Slightly Ignorant and Heather over at Heather S. Ingemar (writes) has given me the Prolific Blogger award!  I say yay.  =]

Thank you, Emily & Heather! <3

And now, for seven people who deserve this award (there will be overlaps, I’m sorry):

Mckenzie at Unabridged Girl

Erin at Wild Archaic

Rosemary at Miss Rosemary’s Novel Ideas

Lua at Bowl of Oranges

Brown Paper Bag Girl at Thoughts from a Brown Paper Bag Girl

Ollin Morales at {Courage 2 Create}

June H. at Miss Blue Stocking

You guys are fantastic, as I attempt to express fairly regularly.  My internet would be a dim place without you all. <3

~~~

On a weirdly half-related note: Inkwell Imaginings is going fantastically.  I actually shared an excerpt this week, and it was fun. <3 Yay constructive feed back!

Now… I have to work on reading aloud without sucking.  Woot.

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