Debra Kristi

How And Why Do You Write?

By Marcy Kennedy (@Marcy Kennedy)

My friend and fellow writer Debra Kristi tagged me in a very fun blog tour about my writing process. Since this will give me a chance to answer a lot of questions I’m often asked, I thought it would be fun to play along.

But first I want to say a big thank you to Debra. Debra is a paranormal and fantasy writer. She lives with her husband, two children and a cat. She’s a full-time kid chaser, video game maker’s wife, and muse prompted writer. She writes because the dead girl told her to.

Make sure to check out her blog, Weaving Webs of Reality and the Fantastical.

Debra KristiNow on to the questions 🙂

Question #1 – What am I working on?

I divide my writing time between fiction and non-fiction, so I’ll tell you as quickly as possible about both.

For my non-fiction writing life, I’m currently working on four projects. My Twitter for Authors book is with my copy editor. This will be the first of my Busy Writer’s Guides to have a print and an ebook copy release at the same time.

I’m also writing the next mini-book in my Busy Writer’s Guides series. It’s on internal dialogue.

And the print versions for both How to Write Dialogue and Mastering Showing and Telling in Your Fiction are in process. A lot of people have been asking for these, so hopefully the wait will soon be over!

For fiction, I have a historical fantasy that’s almost ready to go off to beta readers and then for a developmental edit. My working title for this project is Selkie, but that might still change multiple times. It’s the first in a trilogy.

Teaser for Selkie: A woman in 16th century Scotland is cursed to fail at everything she tries. To earn the clue she needs to track down the fairy who cursed her, she must kill the nuckalevee, a fleshless monster who’s spreading the Black Death and killing the crops of the people under the protection of the highborn lady who holds the secrets to the truth behind her curse.

And as if that wasn’t enough, I’m also working on a romantic suspense novel and some science fiction short stories.

Add all that to the editing projects I do for my clients, and I’m kind of tired to tell the truth 🙂

Question #2 – How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Many craft books don’t give the detailed, in-the-trenches coverage of a topic. They include a lot of beautifully written prose and theory without explaining how to practically apply the principles, or they give numerous examples but don’t explain how to replicate those concepts in your own work. Each book in the Busy Writer’s Guides series is intended to give you enough theory so that you can understand why things work and why they don’t, but also enough examples to see how that theory looks in practice. In addition, they provide tips and exercises to help you take it to the pages of your own story with an editor’s-eye view. Most importantly, they cut the fluff so you have more time to write and to live your life.

I write in multiple genres for my fiction, but here’s what stays consistent no matter what genre I’m writing in: a fast-paced read, a touch of romance, deep themes, and enough twists to keep you guessing.

Question #3 – Why do I write what I do?

I write my Busy Writer’s Guides to help other writers. This business is hard. If possible, I want to make it easier for others to learn what they need to and move forward in the craft.

For my fiction, I write what I’d want to read.

In my novels, I want to give people hope. In a world that can be dark and brutal and unfair, hope is one of our most powerful weapons. I write novels that encourage people to keep fighting. I want to let them know that no one is beyond redemption and that, in the end, good always wins.

My short stories and co-written fiction with Lisa Hall-Wilson are written for various reasons.

Question #4 – How does your writing process work?

I’m a planner, so whether I’m writing fiction or non-fiction, I like to have an outline before I start. I write with an outline for a couple reasons. For me, that’s part of the fun. It’s like a puzzle I’m solving. I also love the anticipation it builds in me to actually write the book. And it’s more efficient. I’m busy. I don’t have time to waste on rewriting things that I could have gotten right quicker if I’d done a little planning in advance.

I don’t have much else in the way of a process. I don’t believe in writer’s block. I don’t believe in waiting for the “muse” to strike. My characters do what I tell them. They’re not sentient, and they don’t act on their own. If I were a Star Trek character, I’d be a Borg (who was originally a Vulcan). 

This is my job. It’s a job I love, but it’s still my job. Surgeons don’t say “Sorry. I can’t operate today. I have surgeon’s block.” They go to work and do their job whether they feel like it or not, whether they’re inspired or not. The way I see it, I should too.

Next Stops on the Tour?

I’m supposed to nominate writers to carry on the tour, but I don’t want to leave anyone out. Some of you might want to participate, but haven’t received a nomination. So I’m putting out an open call. If you want to be the next stop on the tour, here’s what you need to do.

Step One: Acknowledge the person and site that involved you in the blog tour (that’s me).

Step Two: Answer the same four questions about your writing process.

Step Three: Say who is on the blog hop next week.

Do you want to participate? Let me know in the comments.

To celebrate this blog tour, I’ve dropped the price of Frozen to 99 cents.

I hope you’ll check out the books in my Busy Writer’s Guides series, including How to Write Dialogue and Mastering Showing and Telling in Your Fiction.

I’d love to have you sign up to receive my posts by email. All you need to do is enter your email address below and hit the “Follow” botton.

Enter your email address to follow this blog:

Four Tips for Lasting Happiness

Sunshine AwardI love getting blog awards because it means that someone, somewhere, thinks I’m doing a good job. Today that someone is Debra Kristi, and she awarded me the Sunshine Award. Thank you!

If you haven’t been to Debra’s blog yet, be sure to check it out after you finish here 🙂 You can also find her on Twitter as @DebraKristi.

(Someone recently also awarded me the Versatile Blogger Award. If it was you, please remind me in the comments so that I can make sure to give you a thank you and track back in an upcoming post.)

As you might imagine, this award comes with some rules, but since I’ve told you seven random facts about myself in a previous post, I’m going to break the rules again in a similar way to when I gave you 7 Tips for Increasing Creativity to celebrate my Kreativ Blogger Award.

Sunshine symbolizes happiness to me.

So, without further ado…

Marcy’s Four Tips for Lasting Happiness

Tip #1 – Fake it ‘till you make it.

Our actions influence our feelings. According to the psychological theory known as the facial feedback hypothesis, someone who’s forced to smile will actually begin to feel happier. (Studies have supported this theory.) This means that the next time you’re feeling blue, if you want to feel better faster, make a point of smiling.

A study of 60,000 adults, published in 2009 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, also showed that only 10% of our happiness is determined by our circumstances. This means that, no matter how bad things are, we have a lot of control over how we react to those circumstances and how we let them affect us.

Tip #2 – Surround yourself with happy people.

A study of 12,067 people by the New England Journal of Medicine showed that you have a 171% higher chance of gaining weight if one of your close friends gains weight. This effect had nothing to do with friends affecting food choices since the effect was seen even in close friends who lived far away from each other. Dr. Nicholas Christakis, a professor of medical sociology at Harvard Medical School and one of the authors of the study, suggests the cause is a change in our perception of what’s acceptable.

It’s the same with happiness. Have you ever noticed how much worse you feel after spending the afternoon with someone who’s always complaining about their life? Compare that to how you feel after an afternoon with a friend who’s always positive and upbeat. Choose to spend more time with happy people and you will feel happier too.

Tip #3 – Figure out your happiness trigger.

A happiness trigger is something simple, fast, and inexpensive that can improve your mood. When I’m feeling down, I play very specific music. It has nothing to do with the lyrics and everything to do with the beat and attitude. And I play it loud. It works every time.

Your happiness trigger might be a walk, smelling the flowers in your garden, or a piece of dark chocolate. Start to pay attention to what fills you up with a swell of happiness, and use it strategically when you’re down.

Tip #4 – Focus on what you want to dominate your life.

As Qui-Gon told Anakin Skywalker in The Phantom Menace (Star Wars Episode I), “Always remember, your focus determines your reality.”

If you’re friends with Tameri Etherton on Facebook, you’ve probably noticed that every day she posts a picture of something she’s thankful for. You can steal that idea, or you can do what I’ve started to do—every day choose one thing that you’re thankful for and write it down. It can be something small like a rainbow, or something big like finishing your novel or your spouse getting a raise at work.

You can also train your mind to “jump away” from unhappiness and to the good in your life. For example, every time your spouse does something that irritates you, think about one thing you love about them. For every part of your job you hate, find one that you enjoy or one reason why you’re thankful for having this particular job.

Now I get the pleasure of passing this award along.

I decided to give the Sunshine Award to people who’ve brought some sunshine into my life for the support they’ve shown me in the past month by commenting regularly on this blog. One of the reasons I enjoy blogging so much is all of you and the comments you leave.

Emma Burcart at Occasional Epiphanies

Kristy K. James at Living, Loving, Laughing

Stacy Green at Turning the Page

Louise Behiel at Journey of a Thousand Miles

Monique Liddle at Bends in the Road

Reetta Raitanen at The Dark Side has Chocolate

Diane Capri at Licensed to Thrill

What’s your best tip for happiness? Have you tried any of my tips?

REMINDER: Today is also the last day to enter to win the free critique. Visit Is Now Really the Best Time Ever for Writers? to find out how.

Enter your email address to follow this blog:

Let’s Play A Game

Let's Play A GameI’ve been tagged in two fun games, so I decided to smush them together into one post.

The first is called Eleven Questions, where you get to know weird facts about your friendly neighborhood writer.

The Rules:

1. You must post the rules.
2. Answer the questions, then create eleven new questions to ask the people you’ve tagged.
3.  Tag eleven people and link to them.

Since I was tagged by both Coleen Patrick and Karen Rought, and 22 questions is too many, I’m going to take some questions from each.

1. What 3 books would you take with you into your zombie apocalypse/alien invasion bunker?

Only three is cruel, just cruel. I’d have to take the Bible, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling, and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. The first is to help keep my moral compass on track and to not lose hope while zombies are eating brains out there, the second is to remind me of the usefulness of creativity and teamwork if the zombies find us, and the third is just because I love Jane Austen’s subtle humor and I’m sure I’ll need a laugh and a look back at a zombie-free time.

2. What was your first job?

I worked at a riding stable, mucking stalls and exercising the horses. It’s not nearly as glamorous as it sounds in books.

3. If you were stuck on a deserted island, name three objects and three people you would want with you.

The items are pretty easy to choose. I’d want a solar-powered Star Trek replicator, a fully stocked Kindle with a solar-powered battery and internet access, and a homing beacon that transmits “This Is the Song that Doesn’t End” in the houses of the five most powerful people in the world until one of them rescues us.

For people, I’d obviously want my husband. I’d also take my friend Meighan because she likes camping, we can talk for hours, and she and Chris get along well. For my final person, even though I have a lot of other loved ones I could take with me, I’d like to have Survivorman Les Stroud just in case my brilliant plan of the replicator and homing beacon fails.

4. If you could be any animal, what would you be?

My cats have a pretty good life—eat when they want, play when they want, sleep when they want. They have someone to clean up after them and cuddle them. I don’t think it’d be a bad life to be a cat in my house.

5. If you could get on a plane right now to a foreign country, where would you go (all expenses paid)?

Italy. I went once when I was 19, but I didn’t get to see the Blue Grotto, Tivoli, or the catacombs in Rome, so I’ve always wanted to go back. And yes, I do know it’s a touch morbid that one of the places I’m dying to see (no pun intended–okay, maybe a little) is basically an underground cemetery.

6. If you decided not to be a writer, what would your other dream job be?

I’ve always thought it would be fun to be a zookeeper, but I’m not sure I’d like it as much the first time one of the baby animals died or had to be moved to a new zoo.

7. What song is stuck in your head right now?

“King of Anything” by Sara Bareilles

8. What is one talent that you’re hopeless at, but you wish you had?

I’d love to be able to paint with oils. Or create glass mosaics. And juggle. Not all at the same time.

9. If you could go back in time for one day, what time would you revisit and why?

I’d like to go back to my wedding day so I could enjoy it a little more. We had amazing food that I barely got to eat, and by the time we did the cake cutting and first dance, I was asleep on my feet. Plus, I’ll never get to wear a dress like that again in my life.

10. What is one trait or physical characteristic that you are proud of/love about yourself?

I really like that I have green eyes, which is strange because when I was a kid, I desperately wanted blue eyes.

11. What is the scariest thing you’ve ever done in your life?

I did a high ropes course (going close to 66 feet above the ground) outside of Brisbane, Australia, and I’m absolutely petrified of heights.

I was also tagged in the Lucky 7 Meme by Debra Kristi, Emma Burcart, Nova Lovette, and Melinda Collins. Even though I normally have a policy against posting unpublished work online, this game seems like a lot of fun so I’m going to play along 🙂

The Rules:

1. Go to page 77 of your current MS/WIP.
2. Go to line 7.
3. Copy down the next 7 lines, sentences, or paragraphs, and post them as they’re written.
4. Tag 7 authors.

My co-writer already posted a snippet from page 77 at Girls With Pens, so I’m posting from page 7. Each year the Amazons and Scythians meet for the sole purpose of producing warrior offspring (an ancient version of a one night stand except that they actually want to get pregnant). The Amazons keep any girls, and they’re supposed to return any boys to the Scythes, but they claim no boys have been born in years. Kaduis, heir to the Scythian King Over All, has been commanded by his father the attend the Rites…

“Forgive me, my lord,” Jadon said, “but I do not understand why this causes you such unrest. Surely the Amazons will not kill your child if they know they risk war with Scythia.” 

“The Amazons love war as much as Scythia, but their numbers are few now. They will not risk war.” Kaduis tipped up his cup and drank. “But what would your Adonai say of our Amazon Rites?”

“Adonai forbids sexual relations outside of marriage.” Jadon’s words were quiet yet firm.

“I believe your god is the Most High God, more powerful than all others. I believe that your god can preserve my people, and yet my father commands me to defy your god’s laws. Do you understand my dilemma now?”

So I get to tag others who might like to play. Your choice whether to play both games, one, or neither. (If I haven’t tagged you but you want to play, consider yourself tagged and I’ll stop by to check out your answers/snippet if you link to me so I know.)

Rebecca Enzor

Jess Witkins

Lena Corazon

Liz Schulte

Reeta Raitanen

Samantha Warren

Jennette Marie Powell

Jennifer Jensen

Here are your questions:

1. If you could have one magical power, what would it be?

2. You have to give up one of your five senses. Which one would you choose and why?

3. What’s your super-secret Hunger Games survival skill?

4. If it wasn’t illegal and/or cruel, what exotic, wild animal would you want as a pet? (If Lena answers these, I bet she chooses sloths. You should see the adorable videos on her site.)

5. You’re given a chance to co-write a book with any author (living or dead). Who do you choose and why?

6. An asteroid is barreling toward the earth. There’s nothing you or anyone else can do to stop it, and it’s large enough that it will pulverize the planet so that no one survives. It strikes tomorrow. How do you spend your final day?

7. We all have one way that we’re terrified of dying. My husband is afraid of drowning, and I’m afraid of being burned alive. What’s yours?

8. You can only have one dessert (including candy and all salty snacks) for the rest of your life. What’s the one you have to have?

9. If you could bring one fiction character to life, who would you want to meet?

10. Favorite kind of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate?

11. And because I loved this question–what are the three things and three people you’d want stranded on the deserted island with you?

(Is it weird I want to answer my own questions?)

Enter your email address to follow this blog:

Saturday Grab Bag

Because it’s tricky to keep up on all the great posts out there, I’ve collected some of my favorites in a Saturday mash-up. Enjoy 🙂

Links for Writers

Getting Primal and Staying Simple with Your Plot – Bestselling author Kristen Lamb gives priceless tips on how to get a visceral reaction from your readers with a plot that’s both complex yet simple.

Writing A Series: 7 Continuation Issues to Avoid – From covers to character histories, Joanna Penn of The Creative Penn points out what you need to watch for when writing a series.

On Your Mark: Marketing Your Novel (Part 1) & (Part 2) – Angela Ackerman of The Bookshelf Muse hosts Janice Hardy, author of three novels, in this series of guest posts full of tested advice on how to market your novel. These tips are as valid for traditionally published authors as they are for indie authors.

Links for Speculative Fiction Lovers

The Immortals Are Coming – Debra Kristi of Sparks in the Fire asks, “Would you want to be immortal if it meant continuing to grow old and watching everyone you love pass away?”

Why Sliders May Be Possible: The Science of Multi-Universes – Alexia Reed of Danger Begins with a Kiss asks “what if” while looking at some interesting scientific studies.

Current Events

A Few Minutes with Andy Rooney – Coleen Patrick looks at the snippets of wisdom Andy Rooney gave to the world in his many essays on 60 Minutes.

Five Leadership Lessons from Steve Jobs – Michael Hyatt calls these leadership lessons, but they’re actually just good life lessons for all of us.

Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise: Lessons from Steve Jobs – Diane Capri on her blog Licensed to Thrill gives a lovely summary of what Steve Jobs did right in his life, as well as links to the 60 Minutes special and his biography.

The Meaning of Life

Grumpy to Gracious – When you feel grumpy but you don’t know why (or even if you do), August McLaughlin’s blog Savor the Page gives some simple ways to practice gratitude. Her tips help chase the grumpies away.

Beer Can Barriers – Are your problems actually impossible to fix or are they only beer can barriers? Myndi Shafer’s Silly Soapbox takes a new look at our perspective about our problems.

This Week from My Co-Writer Lisa Hall-Wilson

Check out her tribute to Canadian veterans in I Am Not American.