Thursday, March 30, 2017

Laurel Garver's 5 Reasons to Write with Prompts

5 Reasons to Write is an ongoing series highlighting writers who love to write. Topics can include writing with certain genres, writing with prompts, or writing with various types of technology (text, voice, and more). 

Five Reasons to Write with Prompts

By Laurel Garver

Some writers feel that using writing prompts is like riding a bike with training wheels—fine for beginners to get them moving, but too restraining for the more experienced. The fact that creative writing teachers often include them in courses can also give them an elementary flavor.

But prompts are useful beyond mere apprentice-work practice stories. Writers at every level can benefit from bringing prompts into some part of their process. Here are five reasons to write using prompts beyond “so I can get an A in my undergrad fiction writing course”:

1. To warm up
No Olympic track star rolls out of bed and walks directly to the blocks, nor does a dancer simply strap on her toe shoes and dance The Rite of Spring. The pros know you can't perform your best unless you first warm up and stretch. And because the biggest obstacle to writing is one’s resistance to simply sitting down and beginning, a low-pressure warm up can be a helpful way to ease you in. Write to a prompt for ten minutes before you turn to your larger project, and you may find that, like the athlete, it enables you to go faster when you do "hit the track" (work on your manuscript), and like the ballerina, it enables you to move with greater ease and grace.

2. To overcome writer’s block
Writer’s block usually has one of two root causes: hitting a wall with a project or being in a creatively dry period. Essentially, a wall or a desert. Prompts are an excellent way to step away from the sense of frustration and simply play with words. Rather than stubbornly clench your fist around a plot problem or characterization glitch that has you stuck, take a creative vacation by writing to a prompt. It will enable you to mentally relax and give your intuition space to work. And rather than despair about having no ideas, pick up a collection of prompts. These germs of ideas from other creative minds that can often kick-start your creativity.

3. To experiment in a new genre
If you’ve always written one genre, prompts can provide excellent starter ideas to experiment in another genre, to try it on for size and see if it is a fit for you. Genre experiments can also help you avoid getting stale—even if you return to your genre of choice. For example, writing a romance short could help you develop skills with adding subtext to dialogue; experimenting with horror could help you become more deft at tension building and slow reveals. Spinning a prompt in an unexpected direction will open you creatively, help you develop your problem-solving skills, and widen your writing range.

4. To deepen parts of an existing story
Many early drafts suffer from lack of development of either the characters or the plot. Prompts can be helpful tools for doing this development work. They can helping you delve deeper into who these fictional people are and what they’d naturally do in certain situations. They can also provide new ideas for conflicts and obstacles to incorporate into your story, expanding the kinds of experiences your characters have—things you might not have come up with on your own.

5. To overcome burnout
It’s not unusual while writing a novel to hit a stage that you hate your story and have no motivation to continue working on it. Or perhaps you’ve finished the manuscript and are growing weary of the revision process. Your energy has been expended in one direction so long, you feel you can’t take another step on the same path. When experiencing this kind of burnout, writing to a prompt can be a way of having a little creative vacation elsewhere. Writing about your own past—taking prompts in a memoir direction—can be refreshing. So can imagining a character from your current project in a scenario unlike anything in your novel. Let the characters reveal new facets of themselves to you, and you may find your enthusiasm returning. Or simply play in another genre, writing a short story from a prompt for fun to restore your faith in your creative gifts.

Laurel Garver is the author of young adult fiction, poetry, and resources for writers. She holds degrees in English and journalism and earns a living as a magazine editor. An indie film enthusiast and incurable Anglophile, she enjoys pulling jinx pranks at Ravenclaw alumni events and plotting how to hijack a Tardis. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and daughter.

Connect with Laurel:  Blog / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

About the book
1001 Evocative Prompts for Fiction Writers
Ideas, emotions, images, intriguing questions, perplexing dilemmas—these are the raw materials from which great stories are built.

1001 Evocative Prompts will stimulate your thinking wherever you are in your writing journey and get you writing today. It provides story starts and writing inspiration for a wide variety of genres by focusing on emotions, character development, and pivotal moments.

You can face a blank page with confidence when you use these prompts to warm up, beat writer’s block, develop and maintain a writing habit, change up your routine, start a new project, experiment in a new genre, deepen parts of an existing story, or overcome burnout.

What are you waiting for? Dig in and get writing right now!

A Note from Tyrean: Since I started following Laurel's blog serveral years ago, I have noticed that she creates some wonderful writing prompts and great articles about writing. I highly recommend this book! 

Monday, March 27, 2017

#Hero Lost author Renee Cheung's 5 Reasons to Write in the Technomancy Genre

The 5 Reasons to Write series
proudly presents
the authors from
Hero Lost: Mysteries of Death and Life

for the month of March

Please welcome Renne Cheung!

5 Reasons to Write in the Technomancy Genre

1. The perceived dichotomy of technology and magic
There is a stereotype that when it comes to magic and technology, it’s either/or. I’m not sure where this idea that technology is the antithesis of magic came from but it seems to prevail in fiction. What’s worse is that often, it feels like technology is positioned to be the death of everything magic represents - dreams, intuition, wonder, to name a few concepts.

Perhaps this is due to technology going hand in hand with science and industrialization. After all, even Arthur C. Clarke said “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic” which implies that magic is simply what science has not been able to explain yet. As a result, science and what it produces, technology, is often used as an antagonistic force in fantasy. (Anyone remember Fern Gully?) But to view something so prevalent in our lives so negatively in an entire genre is rather unfortunately, in my opinion and technomancy is a subgenre that works to correct this misconception.

2. The wonder in our lives
Were you one of those kids that went looking in the back of closets after reading the Chronicles of Narnia for the first time? I was. I remember looking at everything with wonder and trying to catch magic in my hands. Well, wardrobes don’t exactly exist anymore and instead, what we got are computers and laptops. With technology so deeply woven into our lives, why are we not introducing more wonder in those aspects?

Just as one of my fellow anthologist, Jen Chandler, mentioned once in an interview I conducted with her, I want to rekindle that sense of wonder but instead of looking at a forest and wondering if there are faeries about, I want someone to look at social media and wonder if the amount of emotion we pour out via our technology might lead to something else.

3. Social commentary on technology
The fantasy genre is often used as social commentary with the ability to highlight issues about the current society while sneaking past people’s defences because it’s taken out of context of the world as we know it today. I believe the same kind of conversation needs to happen about our technology. Just like Terry Pratchetts Discworld is such a brilliant satire on a range of topics from politics to economics and culture, I believe that technomancy fiction can fulfil a similar role about technology today.

4. An opportunity for education
Learning about technology can be boring (well unless you are a tech nerd). Technomancy is an opportunity to introduce technology, or even the workings of, in a fun way to a wider audience. For instance, I was able to introduce Slack, a chat platform, in one of my stories. I’m fairly sure that outside of the tech industry, not a lot of people know about Slack, but it is an application used widely in many workplaces. Sure, it’s not exactly accurate (technomancy is a subgenre of fantasy after all) but it may inspire someone who previously was not interested in technology to take another look.

5. Technomancy...wha…?
I am well aware that the term is not very commonly used, at least in some circles. Technomancy is a term used more often in tabletop and video games than in fiction. And that’s a reason in itself - there’s simply not enough technomancy fiction out there.

Renee uses her years of experience as a developer to write about the what-ifs of magic and technology. When she is not suspiciously peering at her computer in between her writing, she can be found roaming the streets with her family or gaming (whether it’s video games, board games or table-top RPGs) with her similar-minded friends.

Web | Blog | Twitter | Facebook

Renee wrote the story "Memoirs of a Forgotten Knight" for the 2017 IWSG Anthology, Hero Lost: Mysteries of Death and Life.

Long ago, before the Unseen migrated into servers and networks, a hedge-knight sought to save a village from a dragon. But being a hero always has its price.

Barnes & Noble
eBook -
Barnes & Noble

To find out more about the stories and authors featured in the anthology, 
check out the Hero Lost website!

Please support our Thunderclap Campaign
Sign up for our book tour
Enter to win a free ARC at Goodreads

Friday, March 17, 2017

An Unexpected Date Change

Picture By Joe Papp - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

My second surgery date moved up to this coming Monday, March 20th. This was decided on Wednesday, March 15th. I had the pre-op appointment the same day the surgeon's office called. Due to that, I plan to take an internet break for two weeks. I posted a bit last time and I don't think that was smart given that I was loopy and in pain. Plus, this surgery is considered harder. I'll be spending a night in the hospital and I have six weeks of "no lifting, no twisting, no bending, no dishes, no vacuuming" although I will be expected to get up and walk in tiny amounts each day building to a half hour of total walking time split in four sessions per day by the time I hit the two week mark.

On a good note in my writing life, I have a new story out at The Crawl Space Journal in Issue #2, which can be read online here.

I have submitted over 20 short works in the last week - over half of these were re-submissions of old works previously rejected. I am proud of that bit of accomplishment although I feel like all of my lengthy works are getting derailed again.

I will set up advance tweeta for the Hero Lost Thunderclap, the Hero Lost Goodreads Giveaway (coming next week), and the Hero Lost blog tour sign-up. If you see my tweets, remember I am just a memory/reminder in the machines for the last two weeks this month.

If you can and haven't already, please sign up for the Hero Lost Thunderclap. I think we need 15 more supporters in the next 40 days. Even more would be awesome!

If you are interested in gaining an Advanced Reader Copy paperback of The Hero Lost: Mysteries of Death and Life Anthology, the Goodreads Giveaway will go live soon. Please look for it on March 21st.

I'm planning on going to see a movie this weekend, eating out once, getting some laughs, and spending some sweet time with my family. Plus, I'll be preparing a stack of movies, books, audiobooks, music, and other items in my room and a bunch of frozen meals for the first two weeks. (Although my daughters are both awesome cooks, my hiatal hernia has forced me to eat bland food which I don't always want to inflict on my spice and hot sauce loving family. My daughters treat hot sauce like ketchup.) My husband is going to do a mega grocery store run and my kids are cleaning the entire house this weekend, so all will be prepared for the first week or two of miserable recuperation. (I have to accept that it will be that way - this will be my fifteenth surgery total and my second one this year, so I have a pretty good idea of how I recover. It's better to go into it with a plan.)

Do you have any "get well, comfort" movies to recommend?
I have a tendency to veer towards odd humor, geekiness, scifi, fantasy, and plenty of action - the more sick I am, the more action I watch. I think I like to imagine that my body is fighting that hard to heal. I do like a good drama now and then, but not when I'm under the weather.
My faves like The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Up, all the Star Wars movies, Avatar: The Last Airbender (the entire series), and all the Harry Potter movies are lined up already. I'll probably add Guardians of the Galaxy to the mix, too. Firefly is sitting in my Netflix queue.

Oh, and I almost forgot ...


In honor of all things Irish, I invite you to write a limerick today!

According some sources, probably not the best ones, this was the first known limerick printed in an 1880 New Brunswick newspaper:

There was a young rustic named Mallory,
who drew but a very small salary.
When he went to the show,
his purse made him go
to a seat in the uppermost gallery.

There is the limerick we all know from Princeton University in 1902:

There once was a man from Nantucket
Who kept all his cash in a bucket.
But his daughter, named Nan,
Ran away with a man,
And as for the bucket, Nantucket.

Limericks can get dirty, but they don't have to be. There's even a mathmatical limerick found at Math Mayhem.

The form is an AABBA rhyme scheme, which means the first, second, and fifth lines rhyme with one another, and the third and fourth lines rhyme with each other but not the others. The first, second, and fifth lines also usually have three feet of three syllables while the third and fourth have two feet of three syllables, or more simply: 9-9-6-6-9 (numbers of syllables in each line).

To help make it easier, the phrase "there once was a" is a traditional starting point.

If you have time after reading this hideously long post or if you come back here in the two weeks that I'm missing, go ahead and write your limerick in the comment section! 

Oh ... and, I have a story coming out in the Brain to Books Convention anthology next month and I'll be attending, although not as much as I had originally planned. For more info on that, go here.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Newsletter Attempt #3 - It's really going this time + Back to Writing

I've been reading some excellent articles about newsletters - how to do them right, what to write in them, when to schedule them, and all those sorts of things.

The best article I read last week was at Christine Rains blog: The Quest to the Perfect Newsletter

So, I decided to try again. I think I have it this time. Don't ask about the other two tries ... please.

If you are interested in exclusive content (I won't repost it here or anywhere), encouragement to dream, and a writing prompt, then sign up on the right over there where it says:Dream, Read, and Write. Or just click here. 

The first edition of this newsletter will go out on March 21st. It really is content-based and not full of sales links - although I will mention Hero Lost: Mysteries of Death and Life at the end.

I can't say that I've made the Perfect Newsletter but I think it's better than ever before.

And, although I'm still not all well, I'm back in the saddle of writing again. I've submitted a bunch of drabbles, hint fiction pieces, and a few short stories - some new, some old but not published yet, and some revised. I'll see how it goes. I started with unpaid markets first and then submitted a few to the tougher, paying markets.

Plus, I'm at work on a particular WIP - I've changed over to something different from Captain Wrath until the end of April when I'll hang out with the Captain again. To find out what in the world I could possibly want to write about other than space pirate cruise ships, trafficking, and annoying teleporting leprechauns, you'll have to read the newsletter. (That was a terrible thing to do, wasn't it?)

And ... I made it out of the house after surgery in time to see Logan in the theater. I loved it although I don't recommend it for anyone squeamish about action violance. A mom sitting next to me kept trying shield her middle grade son's eyes - for nearly the entire movie. It's R for a reason. However, if you've been into Wolverine with the X-men comic books, the early cartoon show, and all the X-men movies - then you will enjoy Logan like I did, or even more. (I admit I read all of my friend's comic books instead of buying my own so I can't say I'm a diehard fangirl, but I did think Wolverine was awesome even animated in yellow tights. Really, my fandom isn't just about Hugh Jackman.)

Monday, March 13, 2017

Ellen Jacobson's 5 Reasons to Write Fantasy

The 5 Reasons to Write series
proudly presents
the authors from
Hero Lost: Mysteries of Life and Death
for the month of March

Please welcome Ellen Jacobson

5 Reasons to Write Fantasy

1 – Imagining Different Ways Of Life
I've always been fascinated by different peoples and their cultures in the real world, which is probably why I ended up studying anthropology. What I love about writing fantasy is being able to create imaginary worlds full of people who lead vastly different lives than my own. It reminds me that humanity's strength comes from its diversity of cultures.

2 – Freeing Up Brain Space
My brain is chock full of way too many crazy ideas. As I get older, I desperately need to free up brain space so that I can remember where I put my glasses or what I walked into a room for. Getting some of my crazy ideas for fantasy stories down on paper is a great way to make room for more mundane information like how many calories chocolate chip cookies have in them.

3 – Creating New Languages
Fantasy worlds are full of things you don't find in the real world and therefore we don't have words for them. Considering how difficult I find it to learn other languages, it's fun to pretend I'm fluent in the imaginary languages spoken by my characters and come up with new words that only make sense to me.

4 – Magical Laws Of Nature
I was never very good at science. When you write fantasy, you can make up your own laws of nature. Nothing needs to conform to scientific principles. Magic is expected. Things happen in mysterious and unexpected ways in imaginary worlds which I'm pretty sure my physics teacher would tell me were impossible in this world.

5 – Escaping Reality
The news can be pretty depressing these days. Sometimes, it feels like we have no control of what happens in the world. What better way to escape reality than by writing fantasy stories where you're in control of how events unfold and where good triumphs over evil.

Ellen Jacobson writes mystery and sci-fi/fantasy stories. She is currently working on the first in a cozy mystery series about a reluctant sailor turned amateur sleuth, as well as tales set on imaginary worlds. She lives on a sailboat with her husband, exploring the world from the water. When she isn’t working on boat projects or seeking out deserted islands, she blogs about their adventures.

Ellen's story, "The Silvering" is featured in the IWSG 2017 anthology Hero Lost: Mysteries of Life and Death.

The Silvering

Could the gift of silvering become a prison for those who possessed it?

Caestu, an ordinary fisherman, disobeyed the principles which guide his people’s way of life. Fortunately, the mark of disobedience is hidden beneath his glove. Unfortunately, others know what he has done. Now he must decide whether to stay with his people or leave to search out others like him.

Available for Pre-order now!
Coming May 2nd!
Barnes & Noble
eBook -
Barnes & Noble

To find out more about the stories and authors featured in the anthology, check out the Hero Lost website!

If you would like to host us during our book blog tour, check out Sarah Foster's awesome google form here.