Categories
News podcast

Approaching World-building: Part 2 (Writing Bloc Podcast)

On the most recent episode of the Writing Bloc Podcast, hosts Christopher Lee and Jacqui Castle continue their conversation on world-building, this time with featured award-winning fantasy authors Maximian Held and Joshua Robertson.

In this resource-heavy episode (be sure to jot down some of the great, free resources for world-building we discuss) we dive deep into the nuts and bolts of building a fictional world. Listen below as we discuss everything from drafting habits and organizational styles, to our favorite map-building software!

Resources/links

Joshua Robertson’s website: https://robertsonwrites.com/

Max Held’s work: http://bit.ly/MaxHeldBooks

Aeon Timeline: http://aeontimeline.com/

Archivos: https://www.archivos.digital/

Visit Writing Bloc to sign up for our newsletter, find a copy of our short story anthology, “Escape,” and read detailed articles about the indie author experience: https://writingbloc.com/

Get your very own comfy Writing Goat T-shirt here: http://bit.ly/WritingGoatShirt

Continue the conversation!

Chime in with resources, tips, tricks, and questions on one of our channels: SlackFacebook, and Twitter.

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Categories
News podcast

Crowdfunding a Novel (Writing Bloc Podcast)

Have you ever thought about crowdfunding a novel? Are you curious what the process is actually like behind the scenes? Listen to the latest episode of the Writing Bloc Podcast in which authors Becca Spence Dobias, Cari Dubiel, Jacqui Castle, and guest Jason Stokes talk honestly and openly about their experiences crowdfunding – the good, the bad, the inspiring, the deflating. ALL OF IT! Listen below:

Resources/Links

The current projects from Jason’s Gestalt Media: http://gestalt-media.com/projects

The Seclusion by Jacqui Castle

Becca’s successfully funded book, Rock of Ageshttps://www.inkshares.com/books/rock-of-ages

Cari’s successfully funded book, How to Rememberhttps://www.inkshares.com/books/how-to-remember

Crowdfunding platforms: Inkshares, UnboundKickstarter, and Indiegogo

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podcast Writing Help

Approaching World-Building: Featuring Author Rachael Sparks (Writing Bloc Podcast Episode 3)

The third episode of our Writing Bloc podcast is now live over on Podbean (or via the embedded player below). This time, the amazing Rachael Sparks, author of the hard sci-fi thriller “Resistant,” discusses the art of world-building with your hosts, Christopher Lee and AWARD-WINNING AUTHOR Jacqui Castle. There’s plenty in this episode to enjoy, from a discussion of different world-building approaches and resources to another appearance from the Writing Goat.

Resources/links

Digitized resources from the New York Public Library: https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/

The Novel Factory: https://www.novel-software.com/

World-Building Warrior: https://www.well-storied.com/worldbuilding-warrior

Get your own Writing Goat T-Shirt HERE: http://bit.ly/WritingGoatShirt

Continue the conversation!

Chime in with resources, tips, tricks, and questions on one of our channels: Slack, Facebook, and Twitter.

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Categories
News podcast Writing Life

The Writing Bloc Podcast is LIVE! Listen Here!

Amongst all of our great goals coming to fruition, we here at Writing Bloc have officially launched a podcast! Our aim is to chat about all things writing, with us discussing everything from successes to struggles, answering any of your questions, and interviewing authors we think you should know. We will be updating our main page with an embedded player for easier listening sometime in the near future, but until then, you can hear our first teaser episode on the following outlets:

iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/writing-bloc-podcast-teaser-episode/id1465101906?i=1000439142232

Overcast: https://overcast.fm/itunes1465101906/writing-bloc-podcast

Podbean: https://writingbloc.podbean.com/

Pocket Casts: https://pca.st/8bLy

We call it a “teaser” episode, as this is mostly a pleasant conversation between four of the authors behind Writing Bloc: Jacqui Castle, Christopher Lee, Cari Dubiel, and Michael Haase. We stay mostly on topic, have plenty of fun, and discuss everything from typos in our anthology to making plans to rewrite Fifty Shades of Gray in the style of Stephen King. You know, usual writer stuff.

We had a lot of fun recording this, and we have plans for many, many more. The next recording session is scheduled for Wednesday, May 29th, and we will let you know as soon as it’s posted. The list of writers to be featured with interviews and discussions is growing, and we plan on taking over the world with this podcast, of course. (Isn’t that everyone’s goal with a podcast?)

There are great things happening around the Writing Bloc. Thank you for being a part of them. Stay tuned for more features, perks, and opportunities.

Happy listening!

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Categories
Writing Life

6 Techniques for Busting through Writer’s Block

“The subconscious mind is amazingly efficient – it wants to work your story out – and while I’ve never experienced it myself, my guess is that writer’s block is the result of the conscious mind having gotten too involved in the process.” ― Alistair Cross
Don’t loaf and invite inspiration; light out after it with a club, and if you don’t get it you will nonetheless get something that looks remarkably like it. ―Jack London
How time flies; another ten days and I have achieved nothing. It doesn’t come off. A page now and then is successful, but I can’t keep it up, the next day I am powerless. ―Franz Kafka

Ask ten writers how they handle writer’s block, and you might very well receive ten different answers. Some simply wait for inspiration to whisper in their ear again, while others push on through. Many write every day whether they feel like it or not, employing different methods to keep the creative muscles well lubricated. I’ll be honest; I fall somewhere in between. I try to write every day, but often my fiction projects are the ones that are pushed to the back burner when I’m not feeling inspired.

When I find myself stuck in a persistent rut, I’ll challenge myself with monthly or weekly word counts. Usually, like getting in a cold pool on a lukewarm day, the first jump is the hardest. Over time, I’ve found a few methods almost as helpful as someone pushing me in the deep end.

Read First

This may sound simple. But, one of the best things a writer can do before confronting that blinking cursor taunting them from inside a word document, is spend some time reading. It may seem counterproductive – you’re wasting precious time when you could be writing! Hold on; don’t dismiss it just yet!

Starting your writing sessions by taking ten to fifteen minutes to read can help you draw inspiration from other authors and ignite your creativity. You’ll likely find that you are more productive in the minutes and hours that follow.

 

Ready, Set, Writing Sprints

Having trouble focusing? Set a timer for ten to twenty minutes and write as much as you can without looking back. Don’t stop to edit, don’t check social media, don’t get up for a cup of coffee or a snack from the fridge. Just write! Keep writing, and don’t look back until that timer goes off. Take a short break, then repeat until you get through that scene that’s been tripping you up, or you hit your word count for the day.

Listen to a Writing Podcast

There are a lot of writing podcasts out there that are only ten to twenty minutes long, or if they are longer they can be listened to in short bursts. This is just enough time for a commute, or if you write from home, to listen to as you make your coffee, organize your things, and settle in. Often writing podcasts will center around a theme such as character development, perfecting voice, developing your craft, world building, or story arc. They are often conversational. Listening to a few writers chat about techniques they have used in their own stories, will get the cogs turning when it comes to your own. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself jotting down notes as you listen. A few favorites:

  • Writing Excuses – “Writing Excuses is a fast-paced, educational podcast for writers, by writers. It airs weekly, with new episodes appearing each Sunday evening at around 6pm Eastern Time. Episodes vary in length from fifteen to twenty-five minutes, but are usually less than twenty minutes long. The tagline, “Fifteen minutes long, because you’re in a hurry, and we’re not that smart” isn’t super accurate, time-wise, but it’s a haiku so we’re keeping it.”
  • Creative Writing Career Podcast – “Turn writing into more than a hobby, make it your career. Stephan Bugaj (Pixar’s Brave, Wall-E, The Incredibles), Justin Sloan (Telltale’s Game of Thrones, Walking Dead, and Minecraft: Story Mode), and Kevin Tumlinson (Citadel, Lucid, The 30-Day Author) give you their advice on writing for books, movies, video games and more, and occasionally try to sound smarter by having on amazing guests.”
  • I Should be Writing – “Focusing on the emotional road blocks one finds in a writing career, this show speaks to over 8000 listeners every week.”
  • The Creative Penn Podcast – “Podcast episodes are posted every Monday and include interviews, inspiration and information on writing and creativity, publishing options, book marketing and creative entrepreneurship.”
  • The Self-Publishing Podcast – “Full time authors Johnny B. Truant, David Wright, and Sean Platt… explore everything related to getting your writing published… and making money doing it… in today’s new DIY digital publishing frontier. This isn’t artsy talk — it’s “authorpreneurial” business strategy that turns self-publishing from sideline into a rewarding career.”
  • Magic Lessons with Elizabeth Gilbert – “Bestselling author Elizabeth Gilbert returns for the second season of her hit podcast MAGIC LESSONS, ready to help another batch of aspiring artists overcome their fears and create more joyfully.”

 

Break out the Music Playlists

Make various writing playlists. These can be divided according to mood that you are trying to capture with each scene. Writing something dark and sinister? Make a playlist of a few songs that get your skin crawling. Working on a romantic scene and having trouble nailing the emotions? Try a playlist of love songs.

 

Use a Word Generator

Want a fun challenge to mix things up? Try an online word generator like this one. Type in the number of words you would like to have generated (I typically select 5 or 6), then challenge yourself to use them.

Don’t stop writing until you have typed every single word. It might take you one paragraph(unlikely); it might take you five pages. You might skip around and work on various scenes until you have used them all. You might change them later. But hey, it will get you writing.

 

Step Away from the Desk

Sometimes, we all need a change of scenery. Grab a notebook and pencil and go for a long walk, head to the park with a picnic blanket, take a bath, lay in a hammock, hike into the forest. Just go somewhere other than your desk, away from distractions and to-do lists. See what comes up.

Have other techniques that work for you? Share them with us on twitter! @Writing_Bloc

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Categories
Author Interview

Interview with Cari Dubiel: On Writing, Libraries, and Podcasts

Cari Dubiel has been a librarian for twelve years, and currently has her first book, How to Remember (a novel billed as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind meets What Alice Forgot) in production for a 2019 release. Cari was kind enough to answer a few questions for us!

First, I want to say congratulations on receiving a publishing contract for your book, How to Remember. Is How to Remember your debut book?

Yes! I’m so excited to have achieved my crowdfunding goal with Inkshares. I met the goal for the Quill imprint before it was sun-downed.

Can you tell us a little bit about the story and where you drew your inspiration?

The story follows Miranda Underwood, a neuroscientist, and Ben Baker, a computer programmer. Both of them set out to solve their personal mysteries one year apart. Miranda searches for the cause of her amnesia in 2017, while Ben fills in the blanks in 2016. He’s investigating his mother’s suspicious death.

Most of my stories spring from my frequent crazy dreams. I woke up with this idea, and I started to wonder what would happen to someone who found herself with this affliction, especially if she was an introvert who didn’t have many friends. Cut off from her job – with a company that’s complicit in the situation – she has to reach within herself to find inner strength.

What does your daily writing routine look like? Do you always write at the same time each day?

I have two little kids and the schedule of a public librarian (a lot of evenings and weekends). Every day is different! I write at least one chapter a week, about 2500 words. I squeeze the time in when I can get it, either in the mornings before my kids get up or when they’re in bed. Then there’s the rare glorious time when my parents take them for the weekend!

In addition to being an author, you are also a librarian. As someone who is surrounded by her pick of books, who are your favorite authors? Any underappreciated gems that you have stumbled upon?

That is a tough one. I read widely – picking favorite authors would be like picking a favorite child! I’ll highlight a few of my recent favorites, though. I just discovered Tom Sweterlitsch (The Gone World, Tomorrow and Tomorrow) – he writes about bleak, dystopian futures, time travel, alternate universes. He explores the dark heart of humanity, which sounds depressing, but both books illuminate the human spirit as well. I also recently finished a preview copy of Ruth Ware’s The Death of Mrs. Westaway, a character-driven mystery in the style of Agatha Christie. I couldn’t stop rooting for the protagonist, Hal – yes, a likeable narrator in a thriller – they still exist!

Being a librarian, have you always known that you also wanted to write? When did you begin?

I’ve been writing since third grade. The two things I love the most in life are reading and writing, so I’ve always known I wanted to be a librarian and a writer. Of course, as a child I did not know that a librarian’s job is not, in fact, reading books all day. But we do get to talk about books, which is exciting!

What should new authors know about getting their books into the various library systems? Is the process different for self-published authors?

The first rule is to treat librarians with courtesy and establish a dialogue – a genuine, authentic conversation. Focus on why readers will like your book – make the librarian want to read it!

If you are traditionally published, the librarian might just buy the book for her collection. But for small press, indie, and self-published authors, you may have another hurdle to jump. It always helps if you are able to donate a copy, but if that’s not possible, make sure she knows where she can purchase it. You can also offer to present a program, but again, come prepared with the “hook” for potential attendees.

Always ask your librarian what you can do for her! Tailor your approach to each library as needed. I suggest starting with local libraries or those you have a personal connection with. Get the book into enough readers’ hands, and if it is a quality product, it might go viral.

Are there ways for authors to help each other out in regards to achieving a library presence?

As more authors make connections with libraries, they can share information about how individual systems operate. Libraries are so different – they have different resources, funding, populations. They offer services and programs based on the needs of their communities. Some writers’ organizations also have library outreach. I was the Library Liaison for Sisters in Crime for five years, and we did a lot of work helping authors connect with their local libraries and vice versa. I know the Horror Writers of America has a similar program.

Is there any additional advice you would give to new authors who wish to have their books in libraries?

Look into electronic distribution! Electronic media in libraries is growing more every year. In my library, the most popular services are OverDrive and hoopla (with the small “h”). Every library has different subscriptions, though, so check to see what your local library offers.

Tell us about the podcast that you are involved in – ABC Book Reviews Podcast.

Our podcast started in 2007, when my coworker, Beth, and I decided we needed an outlet to talk about books we loved. Back then, podcasts were not as sophisticated, though they were popular. The Wall Street Journal described us as “two girls talking on a bus.” We’ve retained that format, although we have revised our website, gone on many tangents, and had four kids between the two of us. We also took a break last year, since Beth got a library director job and I became a department head, but we’re back with new episodes now.

Podcasts are booming. What needs do you think creative podcasts are serving in the literary world?

I have to admit I’m not much of a podcast listener – not surprisingly, I prefer audiobooks! But I love the idea of podcasts as a way for creative people to produce and distribute their own media, amplifying diverse voices that may not otherwise find an audience. I’d like to seek out some writing-related podcasts to help me stay motivated, so I can hear those voices!

Thank you for your time, Cari. Any other parting advice that you would like to pass on as someone who is immersed in literature in both her day job and her personal life?

To stay sharp, I like to play outside with my kids – I hope better weather will come to Northeast Ohio soon! I also play the bassoon, and I love nerdy stuff, especially board games. The literary life is fantastic, but as with any job, breaks are essential.

 

Read more about Cari’s upcoming book How to Remember.

Interview first published on JacquiCastleWrites.com

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