Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Half Empty? Half Full? Or...Just a Glass?

Is the glass half full or half empty? This proverbial question is meant to determine your outlook on life - optimistic or pessimistic. But, what about those who see the glass and ask, does it matter? What about the ones who probe with deeper questions like, is there more to the glass?
When faced with these types of existential conundrums, I've always stood up proudly and declared "I'm a realist". I don't see the world in black and white, but in all its many shades of blue, green, yellow, etc. I have moments of elation and dreamy wide-eyed innocence, but I don't go through life with my head in the clouds. I wallow in self-pity now and then, but I don't think the world is out to get me. This spinning planet exists with or without me. Some days it rains and some days it's sunny. That's life. But...

Is that all? My dear friend, Lynn* - who I've written about before - has a peppy, joyous spirit. She looks at the world and sees its many possibilities. Another friend, let's call him Jake*, is the opposite. He sees everything around him as a potential for disaster. If he spies something positive, he turns toward it with a distrustful eye. For him, the good things will always disappear.
What's your view?
I can't help but be in awe of how a person's circumstances can change simply by a shift in perspective. Like the glass half empty or half full, the same situation can be seen as a positive or negative. But, how do you foster that outlook? For an individual like me, whose used to seeing things as I believe them to be - for example, "it's just a glass" - how can the switch be flipped?
I've read some excellent books in the past on the power of perspective and positive thinking. One of my favorites is The Noticer by Andy Andrews. It's a fairly simplistic explanation, but it has some fun stories. In truth, shifting perspective is not an easy thing. It requires changing your entire outlook on life, and that's not something that can be done overnight. Like this writing journey, it takes time. Perhaps, the best way - although a cliche to say - is to take one day at time. Instead of wondering what tomorrow may bring, maybe look at today and see what comes.

Do you think a person's outlook can change? If so, how do you foster a shift in perspective?

*Note: All names changed to protect the innocent. :D

Friday, July 20, 2012

Blogging Pitfalls: Photos and Copyright Law

Sharing media files on the internet is easy. Post what you want into a search engine and undoubtedly you'll be able to find it in some form or fashion. We all know that we shouldn't be downloading or using copyrighted material such as books, music, movies, etc. But, what about pictures? I had my eyes opened this week by one of my favorite bloggers and authors, Roni Loren. On her blog today, she opened up about her story on being sued for using photos on her blog. I highly encourage you to read her cautionary tale here.
As a writer, I would hate for someone to illegally download or use my copyrighted work. Therefore, I do not want to do it to anyone else. Thus, I'll be going through my blog to make sure that every picture used is credited appropriately and abides by copyright laws. This is not simply out of a fear of being sued, but to ensure that the artists receive the proper respect. The old saying, "Treat others how you want to be treated" applies.
For more information about types of copyrights, check out this great post by Meghan Ward. If you'd like to find images for your blog be sure they contain a Creative Commons license, you can find them through sites like CreativeCommons.org.

What do you think about copyright licenses for images? If you are a blogger, do you worry about this for your posts?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Writing Tips from Twitter Folks (#WriteTip)

Twitterville encompasses this magical land where people from all walks of life can interact in an instantaneous medium. Aspiring authors can connect with agents and editors. Published authors can promote books and talk with fans. Industry insiders can give tips and advice. The good folks over at Author Media created a list of the top 44 hashtags for writers here. Today, I'd like to share with you some of the best advice I found on Twitter from hashtag #writetip and my responses to the tips.

PRAY.
      -  Tina's Take: You need so much patience in this industry, so this is great advice!

“A critic can only review the book he has read, not the one which the writer wrote.” Mignon McLaughlin
      - Tina's Take: With all of the negativity toward reviewers around the world wide web, this is one to take to heart.

If Cinderella's slipper fit perfectly, why did it fall off? Details in are important!   
      - Tina's Take: Details, details, details. The devil is in the details. If it doesn't add up, readers will notice.

If you insist on perfect grammar in dialogue, your character better be a monarch.
      -  Tina's Take: Stilted dialogue comes off stiff and uninteresting. Break it up. Contractions are your friend.

A page a day is a book a year. RICHARD RHODES
      -  Tina's Take: You've got to be in it to win it. Commit to writing and you'll write more than you think you can.

  The more you write, the better you become? True, but write differently to avoid making the same mistakes forever.
      -  Tina's Take: My Sensei often says, "Practice doesn't make perfect. Practice makes permanent". True words. Growth with practice is the key.

"I wish craziness, foolishness and madness upon you. May you live with hysteria and out of it make fine stories." ~ Ray Bradbury
      -  Tina's Take: Oh Mr. Bradbury, how the world misses you.
Until next time, remember all advice is worth reading, but not all is worth following. Do what works best for you, ignore the rest. Happy writing and reading!

Friday, July 13, 2012

To See No Evil...

The horror genre allows for a diversity of concepts to explore, senses to tantalize, and audience members to scare the snot out of. Depending on your spook threshold and personality, you may gravitate toward certain sub-genres of horror over others. People with an affinity for creepy mind games will love psychological thrillers. Horror purists with a penchant for the classics will probably gravitate to the old school slasher flicks. Film students with a flair for the ultra new and mod might go for the shaky-cam or experimental scare tactics. Whatever your particular favorite, one thing remains constant in horror movies...evil.
Evil can take many forms: bloodsucking vampire, cannibalistic psychiatrist, supernatural fiend, creature from nightmares, serial killer, axe murder, demon, poltergeist. You name it, and somewhere along the line, a horror writer has created it. But, the question remains...which form of evil is scarier, seen or unseen?

The Blair Witch Project became an internet phenomena largely in part to the viral marketing campaign. The hip new shaky-cam sub-genre started gaining ground; Couple that with the psuedo "found footage" and it spelled a recipe for success. However, the true testament to the film was one simple thing...the killer is never seen. At the very end, when the killer might be at last unveiled, we get a scream and fade to black.
The unseen killer vs. the seen killer, who will win the battle for the scariest source of evil? Well, my money is all on the invisible, because I believe the human mind can create far worse imaginings than anything filmmakers can put on screen. But, how about you?
Who wins your vote? What do you find scarier, the killer you see or the one you can't?

PS Happy Friday the 13th!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

If You Want To Be a Writer, You Need...

1. To Write. Yes, this seems obvious. But, you’d be surprised how procrastination, self-doubt, and fear can affect this important detail. Not to mention how "time sucks", like day jobs, family, school, friends, the outside world, etc., can get in the way. None of that can stop you. Writers must write. Period.
2. Patience. Invoke your inner Zen master because publishing is not a fast business. Even self-pubbed authors must wait on critique partners, beta readers, cover designers, hired editors and the rest before the book hits the market. If you go the trade route, you’ll be waiting to hear back from agents, then when you get an agent from editors, then when you get an editor...it continues on. Patience is a necessity.
3. Confidence. Rejection - often a lot of rejection - is part of the process. Agents, editors, acquisitions boards, marketing teams, critics, and readers will reject your work. If you self-pub or get to the publishing stage, you will still get negative reviews. It’s inescapable. But, if you do not believe in your work, no one will.
4. Humility. Some days you will be so down in the dumps, you’ll need a real shot of #3 to boost your ego. Other days...you’ll walk on water. Well, at least you’ll think you do. Most writers feel up and down about their work. When you feel up, your dreams are attainable. Maybe it’s the NYT Bestsellers list, maybe it’s getting your work in the hands of readers, maybe it’s finishing your work-in-progress. No matter what, if you’re fortunate enough to achieve those dreams, don’t forget how it felt to be down. Always appreciate everyone who helped you along the way.
5. Nerves-of-Steel. The business of writing is not for the weak. It is not for the quitters. It is not for the faint of heart. You’ll be putting your heart and soul on the page for weeks, months, and sometimes years at a time. Then, you’ll cast off your book into the world and be told not to take the feedback personally. Your book is not your baby, but it IS a part of you. Put on your armor and ignore the negative.
6. Perspective. The very first post on this blog is titled “Writing is NOT All I Know”. It is still my favorite post. I discussed the many hats that I wear in life and realized that writing isn’t all I know. It is not all you know either. You are a person with many talents, likes, dislikes, attributes and facets to your personality. You have friends and family, hobbies and jobs, talents and skills. You ARE a writer, but you are NOT only a writer.
7. Support. You cannot do this alone. I don’t care if your Superman mixed with Buffy, it won’t work without help. If friends and family don’t support your writing career (or even if they do), there are wonderful groups of writers willing, ready, and able to see you through. You can find them in professional organizations, writers’ forums, blogging circles, and even on Twitter chats. Don’t be afraid to reach out. These are people like you.
8. Balance. Read through this list again. Frightened? Don’t be, because the key ingredient in your Writer Recipe is balance. There will be days you do not write. You will lose patience and confidence. You will be arrogant when humility would have served you better. You will lose your nerves-of-steel and doubt. You will lose perspective. You will do all of these things because you’re a writer AND human. The way to work back from any of these trappings is easy, it just requires...balance.
How have you balanced each of these “writer needs” in your life? What can we add to this list?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Celebration Time: Winners of the 1000+ Follower Giveaway

Happy Fourth of July!

It's time to announce the winners of the 1000+ Follower Giveaway! Sit tight, we've got lots of prizes!

 $15 Gift Card to Amazon or B&N 
WINNER:  Lorraine Austerford

3 First Chapter Critiques + Query Critiques
WINNERS: Heather Webb, Angelica R. Jackson,  Rachel Patrick

ENTICED BY HIS FORGOTTEN LOVE by Maya Banks
WINNER: Angela Ackerman

A WANTED MAN by Lee Child
WINNER: Melinda S. Collins

FIND YOUR HAPPETITE by Sue Zbornik &
MEAT EATER by Steven Rinella
WINNER: Chani Gomes

ODD APOCALYPSE by Dean Koontz
WINNER: Heather McCorkle

Monday, July 2, 2012

Corgi Corner: Puppy Shenanigans

Welcome to Corgi Corner. A new feature on the blog, Corgi Corner, is a video diary featuring the adventures of Chuck the Devil Dog. Starring Chuck, J. Hubs, little ole' me and some guest appearances.
We aired a sneak peek at the introduction of my official guest blogger, J. Hubs. Today, we're divulging the first in a series of videos on the Manic Monday schedule. As a bonus, you get two videos! Hope you enjoy.

Chuck's New Toy

Chuck vs. The Foot


How do you like the new feature? What types of videos would you like to see featured on Corgi Corner?