Writing Groups-Create-Join-Benefit by Cindy Tomamichel

Today’s post is from author Cindy Tomamichel.

Cindy Tomamichel is a writer of action adventure romance novels, spanning time travel, sci fi, fantasy, paranormal, and sword and sorcery genres. They all have something in common – swordfights! The heroines don’t wait to be rescued, and the heroes earn that title the hard way.

She has poetry and a short story in the recent anthologies of Rhetoric Askew. More of her published work is on her website.

Her book – Druid’s Portal – is due for release on May 17th with Soul Mate Publishing. It is a time travel romance, set in Roman Britain around Hadrian’s Wall. Action and adventure with plenty of fighting, ancient goddesses and druids. It’s not your typical romance, but it will set your heart racing!

Cindy’s contacts are below if you would like to share this adventure.
Website: www.cindytomamichel.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CindyTomamichelAuthor/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/CindyTomamichel
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/…/16194822.Cindy_Tomamichel

Writing Groups-Create-Join-Benefit

Writing can be a solitary activity. Often for hours it is you and the screen, perhaps with a cat or dog camped at your feet or on your lap. Sure, there are many, many writers groups and forums you can join on facebook, and indeed they can be very useful. I personally have shared ideas and inspiration from people in parts of the world I know I will never see. The internet can be a wonderful thing, particularly if you write in obscure niche areas. There is no doubt a Facebook group for everyone.

writing groupsHowever, before the internet, writers actually met and spoke with each other! This curious habit seemed to give them great pleasure, so it is worth exploring. Some famous writers groups include The Algonquin Roundtable, which boasted the sharp wits of Dorothy Parker and Groucho Marx. Famous writers such as Tolkien, Lewis and Hemingway all belonged to writing groups. Writers have been getting together for a long time – I suspect Plato and Socrates discussed writers block in their writing group.

Sometimes writers groups can be hard to find locally, advertising and marketing not generally being a strong point with writers. Checking the libraries, your local council, google and your state or national Writers association will help to track one down. Another place to check is a local university or college notice board. Get a phone number or an email and take a deep breath and get in contact with them.

Even in quite populated areas writers groups may not exist. In this case you may need to start one yourself. This is easier than it sounds, trust me. Do up a flyer, including a contact number or email, and stick it up in libraries and community notice boards. Local papers often accept community announcements for free. If you get some interest, then sort out a place and time to meet. A first meeting may be at a café, then try to get a regular time at a library or community centre. Also be aware of safety issues, taking precautions with sharing personal information until you feel comfortable. Don’t plan the first meeting at home for instance.

Timing and interest can be problems for groups. For instance, daytime meetings vs night meetings attract different age and interest groups. Interest is another key point. Many writers groups have a particular focus, and in my experience the older age groups are mainly focused on writing personal histories. It may take some effort and a few tries to winkle out the creative fiction writers locally. If you do find an established group, tread warily for the first few meetings to see if they are people you can comfortably share writing.

For a start up group, it is worth the effort to decide on rules and boundaries for criticism and topics, as well as reading lengths. Save topics such as politics etc for a mid-meeting tea break. Now is the time to get a feel for the scope of the group. Will they be happy discussing fantasy and sci fi as well as romance or historical?  

Activities for writers groups can be found by a quick google, but in general I find some homework and reading it out for discussion is worthwhile. Using random word prompts is a useful way to develop some flash fiction. Writing to a topic in a group is also fun. Once the group is established, getting in a speaker or even publishing a small book of stories and poems or running a contest are all popular group activities. Another useful area is researching things such as plot, themes, setting, conflict or characters or marketing and publishing for discussion. These can be great learning sessions.

The benefits of meeting other writers are many. The simple act of talking about writing with someone that shares your passion is amazing. If you come in with a writing problem, a few people can spark ideas off each other and suddenly you have a solution. Even reading your work out loud to others is a great thing, pointing out all sorts of dialogue and sentence rhythm issues.

#writing groups are great ways to improve your #writing. #writingtips #writerslife #ourwriteside Click To Tweet

So while facebook groups such as Our Write Side are a great way to interact, actually meeting other writers face to face is a great way to improve your writing. Quite often you find you have made lasting friendships that cross over from just writing, and that is a very good thing indeed. Good enough for a story.

The Top Editing Tools for Writers

Every writer knows the task of endless and disheartening task of editing. No matter if you are a website contributor or a novelist, editing is part of the job. After you let the creative juices flow and complete your first draft, you have to go back over your work, and many times end up deleting half of it. There is no way around it, and it can become a tedious task. We also get very attached to our work. It becomes difficult to criticize one self. Without the editing process though, there would be a lot of poorly written pieces out there. Don’t be discouraged by the editing process. There are tools out there to help. These tools do not replace the human eye, but are great places to start your editing process.

After the Deadline

This is such a useful tool. You will be able to check spelling errors, misused words as well as common writing errors. There is over 1500 misused words listed and will suggest alternative words while keeping your writing flow untouched. Passive phrasing is also picked up and you will receive a request to amend. One of my favourite features is that it picks up clichés or unnecessary phrases. There will be some teachable advice given to help you rewrite the sections suggested.

Grammarly

The creators behind Grammarly are geniuses. This tool checks spelling, grammar and punctuation and does a good job at it. Many established writers make use of Grammarly because of its effectiveness in picking up mistakes or suggesting good alternatives. You can use this tool as a Microsoft Word option or online, which is much like Google Docs. This tool will also help as a complex sentence generator and is probably the best paraphrasing tool out there. You have the option of a basic subscription and premium, which will pick up even more grammar mistakes. Honestly, I feel like the basic subscription is enough to edit your writing properly.

Ninja Essays

If only we had a fulltime editor at our back and call, life would be a little easier. Unfortunately, many new writers cannot afford the services of a professional editor so we revert to the use of online tools. Well, with Ninja Essays, you’ll feel like you have a professional editor working with you. This is because you are able to hire an editor through this website for a fraction of the cost. Just because you pay less does not mean you receive a mediocre service. You are able to communicate with your editor directly and discuss the feedback you receive and voice your opinion. It’s exactly like having a professional editor, accept the prices tag.

Smart Edit

Not many tools are specifically designed to work with novels and short stories because it becomes very detailed. There is no need to divide your text into a few pages at a time before processing. This is a great alternative to hiring an editor after your first draft. I believe novels require a professional editor at some point but if you can pick up all the little mistakes through software like Smart Edit, you will save yourself a lot of money down the line. Having access to grammar correctors, sentence generators, spell checkers is no longer needed when you have Smart Edit. It’s that good.

Slick Write

Many online editor tools do not adjust to your style of writing. We all have a unique way of communicate and it comes through when we write. Luckily, Slick Write sends you suggestions based on your specific writing style. It is one of the fastest grammar checkers online at the moment and it’s free of charge, which is always welcomed by struggling writers. You are able to refine your writing skills and learn as you go along.

ProWritingAid

This tool is easily one of the best for writers. Not only does it cover many aspects of your writing-from overused words to transitions, grammar and punctuation, even cliches and adverbs! In addition, it offers a free plan that you can use with Google Drive, Word, and more. This is definitely like having an editor right there with you. You’ll learn a lot that will improve your writing as well, making each new project easier to get through.

Conclusion

English is not the easiest language to perfect because there are a lot of rules you have to adhere to. Even professional writers with years of experience still need the help of a good editor. If you have an editor who charges by the hour, it might be a good idea to run your work through one of these tools before investing your money in a professional editor.

 

 

Melinda Harmon is a content manager and an amateur writer. She specialized on writing useful posts about writing, writing tools and how to improve writing skills. Melinda dreams of publishing her own book and help people to know more about writing.

Guest Post: The Writing Process by Frank Montellano

The Writing Process: War of the Woods

Frank Montellano has worked (in no particular order) as a movie projectionist, travelling stuffed animal salesman, sailor, aircraft electrician, teacher, KMart employee, vice-principal, and media specialist. He is also a veteran, retired from the U.S. Navy after 24 years of service. He is married, living in Louisiana, and has four children.

Connect: Blog | Artwork | Amazon

The writing process for me begins in flashes, in pieces, in small things that grow into big things. This is how my short stories come into being. The kernel of a story can be any phrase or idea that comes to me through a dream, an observation or something that catches my attention. That kernel goes into a file with a bunch of other kernels waiting to be grown and when I deposit a new idea I usually take a few moments to see how my idea garden is growing.

Let’s take a look and see what is in there at the moment. I have a phrase waiting: The War of the Woods. Come along as I work it into a short story…

I turn the phrase over in my mind… war of the woods. A war, between two separate woods. Hmm, the science teacher in me thinks of a deciduous forest and an evergreen? Maybe something else. My unfinished trilogy relates the consequences of planes colliding and intermingling. I can do that. So, elves are creatures of greenery. One forest will be an Elven forest, growing into our world, invading from theirs. The Elf Woods are filled with bushes, ivy, trees, creatures of Faerie and the other-worldly elves themselves. Are they the good guys? Usually, but in this case their ecology is invading our world. Maybe they see it as an improvement over the current age of man. The flora and fauna of the Elf Woods are not of this world and are invaders from the Elven realm that are adapting to and conquering ours.  

The other… how about a nearby forest, local, maybe Deciduous. Yes, this is beginning to shape up nicely. The elves are the bad guys, trying to force their way in, and the forces of the homeland biome are the defending good guys. I like it. Woodpeckers of the forest unite!

writing processLet’s pick a direction to help lay out the players. The Dark Woods will be to the south. Full of tall black, brown and grey trees, this forest is composed of denser and tougher woods than the Elf woods, but they grow very slowly in comparison. Maybe there are some witches living here now, or other former defenders from the past battles. Veterans. The witches can be minor characters, because I want the real battle to be between the two woods. Although outnumbered, the plants and creatures of the Dark Woods are very powerful. They are battle-tested and harder to kill.

Let’s throw a third into the mix. A constant reminder of the past. The Dead Woods to the West are undead, taken over, and lost from the elves. A former elven influx that lost the battle between the realms. And it is now a forest of Death. Talk about their tragic fate, how they were lost.  What does it mean when a tree is undead? Maybe it acts in reverse, leaching the ground and life from the area. This can be used to foreshadow actions in the current war.

Trees fighting does sound dull. I can use treants, but I don’t think I want to go in that direction. The elves themselves are good enough for mobile protagonists. Trees usually don’t move and I think I want to keep it that way. But they can attract and repel things. The entire trophic pyramid can be the frontline troops, flora, fauna, ivy, birds, woodpeckers, larger creatures. Maybe have wolves in the Dark woods. Pollen, allergies are the result of plants trying to have sex in your nose. Might be some way to have that effect the war. Parachuting microscopic troops behind enemy lines to grow where they land.

If it’s a war, then we’ll need more weapons besides pollen. Advancement of the front lines through plant growth. Slow yet steady. Like some earthly wars, the most active times of the war will be in the spring and summer months.

Yes, I think that this idea is shaping up nicely. The War of the Woods, a battle between the vibrant and beautiful elves and the hardened inhabitants of the Dark Woods. The ‘corpse’ of the nearby Dead Woods a stark reminder of what happened the last time elves tried to invade our homeland. And that is how a short story is born.

Woodpeckers of the forest unite! Watch a story be born. #amwriting #writingtips #fiction #fantasy… Click To Tweet

 

Excerpt: Part of My Journey by Nancy E. Miller

Years ago I wrote Daffodil, a compilation of poems and prose about my journey from a dark childhood of abuse to, not only survival, but being a victor.  I haven’t published it…yet…but here are a couple of the pieces about the power abusers hold in our lives.

 

NATURE’S CALL

Turn off the light
Just crack the door
Tiptoe `cross the hall
Listen for the snore

Turn the knob in silence
Don’t run the water loud
Keep the lid down
Covered with a towel

Dangerous night trips
Across enemy land
Past the dragon’s lair
Lest she raise a hand

It’s a dangerous path
To answer nature’s call
When the slightest mistake
May bring the travelers fall

THE CROSSING

It wasn’t long after my marriage to Ernie that we decided to visit overnight with my parents.  I figured it would be relatively safe as long as their beloved, formerly hated, son-in-law was in tow. We stayed in my old room which was right next door to my mother’s room.

Now my folk’s house is your standard Florida 1950’s cement block construction with carpet over tile over cement flooring.  My mother blocked all sunlight out of her room. I often wondered if this added to my image of her as a blood-sucking vampire.  She also slept with a window air conditioner roaring just a few feet from her head.

And yet, my mother heard EVERY tiny noise outside her doorway.  She saw ANY light as it crept under her door.  And to wake her majesty was, dare I say, an infraction of her many rules and punished accordingly.

part of my journey

BarmaleyOdessa / Pixabay

So I found myself sitting quietly in my old room as my husband got ready for bed. He reached for the door knob and I jumped into action.

“What are you doing?” I whispered.

“I’m going to the can.” My husband answered back as any good sailor might.

“Well you can’t just go across the hall.”  And I was dead serious.

“And why not…that’s where the bathroom is.”  He said calmly as his eyes questioned my good sense and sanity.

I blurted out how, to go to the bathroom, one must turn off the bedroom light, open the door, tip toe across the hall, open the bathroom door, close it, then turn on the light.  Once done, you must put down the toilet lid BEFORE flushing so as to muffle the sound, then reverse the previous process. Oh, and you must put the toilet lid back up once the flushing stopped.

I know he laughed once beyond the doorway but, to my face, he tried to remain somber. After all, this was MY mother we were talking about offending.  Sure enough, the next morning she made a point of saying how SOMEONE disturbed her in the night with all the terrible noise in the bathroom.  Later on, I received the unedited lecture.  Oh, and we won’t even go into the night he decided it would be fun to have sex.

We don’t always see the extent of the control our abusers have over us until we see it through other people’s eyes.  It was through my husband’s eyes I realized the farce played out nightly for the amusement of the queen.  Even if she didn’t hear or see any offense, she knew we all danced to her tune.

 

     GODS

Once upon a time
You were so tall.
I looked up at you
and to you
for all my needs.

Now I am grown,
Still you loom
in my head
as the
Gods of my childhood.

To survive the past
I must face the present
and embrace the future,
Seeing you
As you truly are.

THE GODS OF OUR CHILDHOOD

part of my journeyStand up.  Take a good look around.  Imagine you are talking to your parents.  Chances are now, as an adult, you are the same height or taller.  Now sit; not on a chair, but all the way down on the floor.  Look around.  You are a child looking at the room through a child’s eyes.  Now imagine your parents again.  What chance did we have to defend ourselves against someone so big?

The problem most adult survivors of childhood abuse have is that, in their minds, they are still the defenseless child of yesteryear.  When we were children, our parents were gods to which we looked for shelter, clothing, food and warmth.  They had the power to take or give; to punish or reward.

The truth is, as adults, the only power our parents have over us is the power we give them; and we don’t stop there.  We delegate power to our bosses, our friends, whoever is willing to take it.  It’s how we were trained.  We can’t possibly be smart enough, or good enough, or strong enough to take care of ourselves. How can we?  Keep believing that and you’ll stay just where you are.

One word of warning.

When you decide to take back your power, the people who enjoyed its fruits for so long will fight you for it.   It’s normal.  People don’t like change and they do like control.  Your choice will be whether to stand tall or shrink back into the shadows.

The only power others have over us is the power we give them. @NE_Miller #poetry #wisdom… Click To Tweet

Guest Post: Self-Care Is Good Business

When you think about the business of writing, you probably don’t think about good self-care do you?  Many people don’t.  Yet, I would argue it is a critical piece of any good business plan.  You won’t do yourself any good as an author if you’re not healthy.  Making good business decisions require clear, well thought out decisions based on facts.  Something most people cannot do when not feeling well.  Have I sold you yet on making sure you keep yourself healthy as a smart business decision?

The Basics

Good.  The first piece is to make sure you’re covering the basics.  Get enough sleep, eat reasonably healthy, and get some exercise.  Yep.  I get those nights where you’re in the groove and end up awake way too late writing.  Pulling an all-nighter every once in a while is fine.  Doing it on a regular basis will burn you out, get you sick, and throw off your writing schedule worse than not having stayed up like that.  Eating healthy and exercise are just as important.

Stress Management

Streself-caress management is the next piece.  Okay.  Now that you’re done laughing at that, stick with me.  Writing is a never-ending of cycle of excitement and enjoyment as a project gets started alternating with the stress and insanity of revising, editing, and time leading up to the actual day the story is released.  After breathing a little, the next project comes along and it all starts over again.  I also know the writing itself can be a stress reliever, but it also brings its own stress.  Make sure you’re taking breaks to do other enjoyable things.  I can’t give you the answer to what to do as each person needs to find their own blend of stress relieving activities.  Just make sure you do, or burnout is inevitable.

Relationships

Third, take care of your relationships.  I’ll duck now to avoid all the objects introverts are throwing at me for even suggesting interactions with people are necessary.  They are, though.  Human beings are social by nature.  It is part of our biology and we cannot change it.  Now, I am not suggesting everyone must spend inordinate amounts of time in the presence of others, but we do need at least some interaction.  Find that healthy balance of taking time for the loved ones around you and spending time alone writing.  If anything, think of these as opportunities to research social interactions for your next story.  Your loved ones will thank me for it, and so will you when things get stressful.

Ask Questions

Finally, ask questions.  No one person will ever have all the answers.  When authors first start out, the learning curve can seem almost impossible.  I know it was for me, and still feels like it at times.  Building connections with people who have these answers is critical to succeeding as an author.  Find writing communities you connect with.  Reach out to local writing groups.  Connect with those who have started on this journey ahead of you.  I know I would never have made it this far without the tremendous support I have received along the way.  Whether it is here at Our Write Side or somewhere else, build those connections.  You never know when they may give you an opportunity you would not have otherwise gotten.

Have I sold you yet on making sure you keep yourself healthy as a smart business decision?… Click To Tweet

I hope you see now why self-care is an important business decision, not just a good idea.  I’m even convinced that good self-care can help address things like a lack of ideas or the dreaded writer’s block.  Sleep, eat right, exercise, take care of your stress well, tend to relationships, and ask questions.  Easy to say, but harder to do.  Trust me, though, you’ll be better off for it in the long run as an author and as a person.

The Business of Writing by Eric Keizer

You’ve really gone ahead and done it now. You’ve started your novel in earnest. You’ve gone through the dreaming and fantasizing phases and are making your dream a reality. Before you sit down and start typing away, please understand that if you’re looking to translate your ideas into a successful enterprise, you need to look at yourself like you’re a business.

You need to look at yourself like you’re a business. #writerslife #authors #writingadvice… Click To Tweet

Just as any “9 to 5” job has clearly defined expectations for your performance, you need to establish rules for yourself. Do you need a dedicated time slot to produce your most effective writing? Schedule it. Do you need a special seat/desk/computer monitor/ specialized keyboard? Purchase it. Give yourself every opportunity to create a comfortable and distraction free zone- much like an office or cubicle. Pay attention to your lighting needs. Maybe you enjoy soft, diffused light rather than harsh, bright light. Maybe you need bright lights to see your screen better. Whatever choices you make, be prepared to give yourself the possible space to foster your creativity.

business of writingArt and music are proven catalysts for creativity. Perhaps some favorite photos on your wall or desk will help you relax or inspire you. Research has proven that any musical genre, softly playing in the background, helps students learn and retain information more readily. The results of this research were extrapolated to include adult students. Music also helps to incubate artistry on a subconscious level. Have you ever wondered why some offices play soft music (“elevator music”) over speakers across the entire office? The studies proved the benefits of music with regards to productivity and increased quality of work produced.

Pay yourself. Reward yourself for doing a great job when you’re particularly productive. Look at it as though you’ve earned a monetary bonus from a “9 to 5” job. Of course, you’re not going to hand yourself an envelope full of cash, but maybe you can treat yourself to a nice meal, a spa treatment, or even an expensive cigar. The small rewards you give yourself will help motivate you to stay focused and reinforce your discipline. Conversely, don’t beat yourself up if you have a bad day (or two), and can’t manage to jot down one single word. Just as in the corporate world, where time is allotted for task completion, so too should you allow yourself to have a flexible deadline schedule. Just make sure you don’t procrastinate to the point where you find that you haven’t written anything for weeks.

Pay yourself first. No, this isn’t a repeat of the first sentence of the previous paragraph- I truly mean “pay yourself first”. This means that you must take care to put your interests first when it comes to writing. Sure, it feels good to be a member of multiple “writer” pages on Facebook. Yes, it’s great to get involved in different communities that help newer writers develop their craft.  The key to participating in these groups is to limit yourself to a designated amount of time- and not one minute more. Most groups require some level of participation, and that is perfectly fine, but just as in a corporate setting, where endless committees will distract you from completing your job tasks, too much involvement in discussion groups will steal time away from what you have designated as essential to your success.

Plan your strategy, protect your interests, and watch the dividends come rolling in; you’re worth it!

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