Tag Archives: guest writer

When Writing Makes Reading Hard

23 Jan

When Writing Makes Reading Hard

by Susannah Ailene Martin

I’ve been writing seriously since I was 15. In other words, I’ve had 5 years of training in the craft of writing. That’s how writing works; the more you do it, the better you get at it. I’ve learned a lot about how story structure works and how to create interesting characters.

Now the good news about this is that my writing has become exponentially better. I mean, seriously, reading stuff I wrote when I was 15 makes my eyes bleed. The bad news is that’s it’s making reading less fun.

It’s a strange phenomenon that the more you understand how something works, the more the mystery behind that thing vanishes. Reading used to be something that I could sit down and do for hours without once thinking about how the book came to be. It used to be something that impacted me, but I didn’t know why.

Now I understand, and yeah, it kinda sucks.

Because I know so much more about writing, I see every trick and trope (well, maybe not every trick; I’m only human) that an author uses. No longer can I really enjoy reading a scene in a book without thinking, “Ah, that’s a neat little thing you did there.” I constantly, and subconsciously, analyze and look for ways to improve my own writing as I read along.

It’s also become much more easy for me to be able to tell when a book is objectively just bad. Have you ever watched a TV show with a younger kid and thought, “You know what, if I was ten years younger, I would have loved this”? That’s kind of what it’s like for me reading books that years ago might have entertained me, but now that I know a bit about writing, I can’t help but see every mistake the author made.

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I know that being able to analyze a book like this is a good thing for my writing. It shows that I’m getting it, that I’m learning. But I do miss just being able to mindlessly consume words on a page.

The worst part is that I don’t just write for my novels and short stories, but I have also been studying screenwriting for the past two years. That means that not only have books been (kinda-sorta) ruined for me, but also movies and television shows. *sobs*

If you think books are hideously formulaic, then you don’t want to study screenwriting. The formula for most movies is so similar that I can sit down and, without seeing the movie, tell you exactly what general thing is going to happen when and be absolutely correct.

For instance, did you know that there’s a scene in every movie about 20 minutes before the end and right before the climax where all seems lost and it looks like the heroes have failed? It’s in EVERY SINGLE BLOODY MOVIE. Seriously, just go watch any movie, and tell me I’m wrong.

And by the way, I’m sorry, because now you’ll be looking for it.

But that’s what I do now. I look for things that I know are going to be in everything. And it’s really annoying. I want to be able to just sit back and enjoy something without thinking, “Oh hey, there’s the inciting incident.”

So I’m sure you’re starting to think, “Sheesh, you make it sound like writing ruins all forms of entertainment. Why would I ever want to write?”

The last thing I want to do is to discourage someone from writing. But you should know that this is how it’s going to be. When you write, you are going to find it harder to be entertained by every mediocre book you read. BUT, that just means you have to find better books.

It’s rarer now, but there are still books that suck me in so completely that I forget to analyze. I still occasionally finish books and feel that old familiar sense of wonder. And my mind is richer for it.

Plus, you’ll never learn it all. If you feel like your reading is getting stale lately, go out and try a new genre. I read and write mostly in the sci-fi and fantasy genres, but my mom recently got me into reading this historical romance series. Because I don’t know the tropes for romance, it’s hard for me to predict where the story is going, which makes it more fun.

But whatever you do, don’t stop reading. The moment you do, your writing will suffer.


About Susannah

Website | Amazon | Facebook | Twitter | Wattpad

SusannahSusannah Ailene Martin is an author from Norfolk, Va. She is currently a junior at Liberty University studying transmedia writing (which is just a fancy way of saying ‘various forms of screenwriting’). She blogs at Susannah Contra Mundum about her life, thoughts, and experiences. You can purchase her novelette, The Lifeguard: A Short Story, at Amazon for $0.99.


Thank you, Susannah, for writing such a great article! I know many writers who struggle with finding time to read and write, as well as feel that pure joy for both over and over again, so I’m sure many can relate. By sharing these struggles, we can help one another find those great reads and wonderful writing programs to keep us inspired and our work fresh.

Keep reading. Keep writing. Keep on being you.

Have a great week everyone!

~SAT

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#MondayBlogs 10 Books That Will Inspire You To Travel

21 Dec

Intro:

As many of you know, I love reading…and I absolutely love traveling. So, when Jason Biondo approached me with the idea of combining these two topics, I was on board. I hope you enjoy this list as much as I do! (The first book is one of my all-time favorites.) Welcome, Jason!

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in guest articles are those of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect my own. To show authenticity of the featured writer, articles are posted as provided (a.k.a. I do not edit them). However, the format may have changed.

10 Books That Will Inspire You To Travel by Jason Biondo 

One of the best ways to see the world is through a good book. Reading opens a way through your imagination and allows you to dream. And, since most travellers are certainly book lovers, there are various travel novels that provide inspiration as well as enhance the spirit to dream and journey towards life. Here are some of the best travel books that will surely urge you plan your next trip and explore the world.

1. On The Road by Jack Kerouac

Published in 1957, the story of Sal and his friend Dean leaving New York to head west to be passionate about life – partying in ghost towns, making new friends, sleeping with random women, and riding the rails on night-time. It is an inspiring tale about leaving life behind and creating a new one along the road. From New York to Denver to San Francisco and LA, Sal has learned a lot of things in life and he was able to become stronger, more matured and developed his self-determination.

2. In a Sunburned Country

This book talks about Bill Bryson’s voyage through Australia while visiting little towns. Wander lusting through the forgotten continent, he first visited Sydney where he walks down the town most of his stay and appreciating the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. He narrates about how Australia changed his life because of the friendly people, hottest and dry weather, and the most peculiar wildlife to be found on this planet. No matter how imperfect, Bryson found Australia to be an adorable and fortunate country.

3. A Year in the World, Frances Mayes

This book is a celebration of unanticipated pleasures found in voyages, interacting with locals and appreciating nature. In this book, Mayes left her hometown, Tuscany to see France, Spain, Turkey, Greece, Portugal, the British Isles and North Africa. Merging together her personal perceptions, history, landscape and passion in culture and art, Mayes shared her experiences to inspire people to journey towards their dreams.

4. The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner

While most travel books focuses on going different adventures, this book by Eric Weiner is about a self-help guide in searching happiness in all corners of the world. The story is about a pessimist voyage from America to Europe to Iceland to Bhutan in search for the happiest people in the world.

5. The Beach by Alex Garland

Released in 1998, this book is a tale about a backpacker named Richard and his search for wild adventures. Using a small map, he found himself within a vast islet in Thailand that is within a small community. His journey gives inspiration to American and European tourists to encourage them go on a holiday in Thai beaches for better views. This books best message is that Mother Nature is the most beautiful thing on this planet.

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6. Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes

Just like A Year in the World, this book from Mayes is a good read for travellers. Shortly after discovering that her husband was cheating on her, Frances takes on a tour to Italy. She wrote about her experiences as a local Italian and talks about different food traditions and artful style in northern Italy which makes this book as a guide for people travelling to the place. The book includes several chapters of recipe and how she decides to acquire and develop a villa in the countryside.

7. Vagabonding by Rolf Potts

Rolf Potts himself spent 10 years on the road to ponder some insights which he put through this book for travellers who are starting off to their long-term trips. The book is rich with travel philosophies that talks about solo travelling, planning and saving pennies on the road. The book will teach travellers on travelling cheaply, but having a rich experience. And, what makes it even more inspirational is that it includes motivating quotes from different travellers.

8. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

The Alchemist is just one among Coelho’s best-selling fictional books and one of the most-read travel books of all time. It is a story of a young shepherd boy named Santiago that goes on his journey from Spain to Egypt as he follows the step towards his dreams. Along his journey, he met a lot of people who seem to be like him and that made him even more passionate about travelling. He also found courage to experience new things, learned to love and discovered the real meaning of life. It is a must read book for travellers since it’s all about following dreams and travellers are dreamers.

9. Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Having perfect life – an amazing husband, nice house and a good job, Gilbert couldn’t ask for more, but she feels like something in her life is missing. Elizabeth went through a difficult divorce and she then thought of leaving her hometown for different adventures. Spending her time on three different countries every year to get to know herself better, Elizabeth Gilbert gives inspiration to female solo travellers to go outside their comfort zone at some point of their lives. By travelling, she found an exciting way to eat in Italy, pray in India and love in Indonesia. She proved to people who think she’s crazy and her scared self that she was capable of surviving alone in a completely different place.

10. Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

This is a story of Christopher Johnson McCandless form Virginia, a determined wanderlust that sets off alone to a trekking adventure in the wilderness and has a strong desire to go soul searching. He gave away his college fund and began travelling across western America. Even though filled with positive thoughts, along the way he experienced difficulties that challenged his patience and endurance. After deciding to climb Stampede Trail in Alaska, he was left with few resources and insufficient supplies for camping. He later on discovered dead on a bus and a journal was found with him about his voyage diaries.

Inspired to travel? Open your travel planner now, and see all the beauty, charm and eccentricity that our beautiful planet holds!

Bio: Jason Biondo is an amateur bodybuilder and a travel junkie who loves to share insightful tips to his fellow health enthusiasts and travelers. He is also a User Interface Developer Consultant and the Founder of Trekeffect.

Want to be a guest blogger? Now is the time to submit. I would love to have you on! I am accepting original posts that focus on reading and writing. Pictures, links, and a bio are encouraged. You do not have to be published. If you qualify, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com.

~SAT

#MondayBlogs All You Need (as a writer)

14 Dec

Intro:

Being a writer isn’t a decision for many. You just are. Still, it takes a lot to decide to be true to you and your work. Today’s guest blogger knows this lesson all too well. Ken Hughes, an urban fantasy author, discusses the truth behind what it takes to be an author—and how to stick with it.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in guest articles are those of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect my own. To show authenticity of the featured writer, articles are posted as provided (a.k.a. I do not edit them). However, the format may have changed.

All You Need (as a writer) by Ken Hughes

ken.jpegWhen I wake up, I step outside and leap hundreds of feet up to float above the city.

–Alright, it’s my character who does that. But I’m the one who gets to capture the sensation of Mark kicking away from gravity, hanging in the night sky, and staring around for a certain suspicious owl that might glide out of the moonlight above.

And it can be frightening… just how much I love that storytelling. But I think I’m starting to understand, how that passion is the best key there is to living as a writer.

As a career, writing is its own special kind of hard. Half the people you meet they’re working on a book, but nobody can help you in the trenches. It means

  • discipline – to keep at it for years and years in the hope that something gets better
  • choices – every scene, in fact every word, is your responsibility
  • doubt – never being sure you’ve gotten the tale to the level you want
  • and the twist: after all that time locking yourself in the basement, you have to come outside and SELL total strangers on your work. Seriously?

But what I think is, it all needs to come from the joy of the right story.

Because of one key:

“I only write what I can love.”

Prison or Prize?

Let’s accept one thing: writing is not an easy way to make your fortune, or even your fame.

Sure, there are plenty of comfortably-paid writers in the world, especially in the digital age. But If your goal is really to combine “cool stuff about what I read” with leaving your day job or having a boatload of eager fans, the time it takes to write one novel (long before you know what you’re doing) can get you on your way to making a world-class blog, a dozen clever apps, or an FX apprenticeship where you can get your fingertips onto making the magic happen. If that’s what you want, for cat’s sake follow that dream!

Writing is the way to chase those thrills where you have to reinvent everything, word for word, in many ways from scratch. (Not in all ways, luckily.) So if you write, it should be because you don’t just love spy stories, you love deciding how your spy scouts an area and the exact moment her lips quirk into a smile.

And… there is no secret, no plan or key that can change how a writer needs to spend hundreds of hours simply writing. All with no help, no shortcuts, doing nothing except putting the next word down. To many people, that sounds like a prison sentence, and it’s meaningless if it isn’t lifelong.

But that works both ways:

If you know your story is the exact kind of “leap to the sky” that you want to be writing, those hours become something very different. They mean that for the rest of your life, any time that isn’t locked down paying bills or doing laundry can go right back to writing in your own world—and nothing can take that away. All you need is a notepad and five minutes (thirty seconds if it’s jotting down a sudden idea) to get back to your happy place. It’s an exhilarating discovery.

And, it’s the best way to make the story better.

At least, it is if you’ve made that place your own.

Defining Your Bliss

We all come into writing through other writers and other stories. Since that’s what first inspires us, it makes a certain sense that it might also be the source of a few of our problems. That is, if we to learn too much of the wrong lesson from one of our heroes.

I can’t get enough of Brandon Sanderson’s sprawling worlds or Joss Whedon’s talent for maintaining a whole roster of Avengers… but I don’t want to write that crowded a story. I’d kill to produce one page as poetic as Patrick Rothfuss’s, but it’s not what my tales are about.

If you love witty dialog—write that. Learn what makes it sparkle, how to pick and choose so you aren’t just copying one writer’s style, and keep writing that. Learn to get all that annoying description out of the way with just enough to do the job, or maybe the right touches to make your banter even better. And then you know that every day, what you have waiting for you is a chance to write more wit.

If you want the ultimate romantic lead, go for it. Work out what makes him/her perfect for your protagonist… and just what kind of stylized or silly or traumatic conflict to play off of that to turn it into a STORY worth sweating over. All the rest of the tale is only a basic foundation for that.

Myself, the more I understand how much I savor the sheer suspense of pushing Mark and Angie to the brink in a fight or a round of cat and mouse, the more I look forward to the next chance I get to write. And the better my scenes get.

Discipline? The next struggle in the book calls to me to get in there and write it. In fact, each time I sit down and discover that, yes, what I’ve got waiting is another glorious twist on how my poor heroes have to master their magic, the easier it is to trust that the next session will be playing to my strengths too. (Which is what “discipline” really means: not pushing through resistance but training yourself until the right action becomes the natural one.)

Choices? Because I can put my finger on what I want to write, I can test and study what makes good suspense and how many other pieces a story needs to make that work. Plus it means I can track one of Sanderson’s brilliant battles or the terror in The Blair Witch Project and call it “research.”

Doubt? There’s always further I can go, but at least I know what I’m trying to do, and how good I’ve already gotten at it. And, bouncing my work off of writers and readers means I’m hearing from people who have the same love of a good magical thrill.

Even the writer’s great Introversion/Promotion Paradox turns out to be not so different from the rest of the process: it’s still learning to zero in on what sets me on fire. After all my years locked in with my books I never thought “marketing” and “networking” could be words I’d want to be in the same room with, but it’s true. All I need is to pick which piece of adventurous awesomeness to mention first, and let my excitement show. (And like every other aspect of writing, learn a few other basics to support them—but really only a few.)

In fact, the two top pieces of advice I’ve found about a writing career are, “write better” and “write more.” Tapping into my own excitement is the best—almost the only—way to put more time into writing, and that time plus my clearer focus and related studies are just the thing to raise my game. (Bonus: there’s a word for a writer’s sense of just which kind of fun we write and share: that much-sought-after thing called a “brand.” Sometimes everything falls into place.)

Writing isn’t for everyone. But if it is for you, and you find the kind of writing you can commit to, those hours and years of work can become kind of experience you need them to be. There’s a good chance some day you’ll have people lining up to share your own kind of excitement. And yes, you might enjoy it as much as the scribbling.

But, your fans will still understand when you have to step away again. Just tell them you have to get back to sending your hero onto his next leap to the sky.

–Ken Hughes

ken2Author Bio:

Ken Hughes is a writer on a mission to hone the sharpest suspense, most gripping adventure, and most desperately human heroes in urban fantasy. For a peek at what he’s doing and why, take a look at www.KenHughesAuthor.com.

Want to be a guest blogger? Now is the time to submit. I would love to have you on! I am accepting original posts that focus on reading and writing. Pictures, links, and a bio are encouraged. You do not have to be published. If you qualify, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com.

~SAT

#MondayBlogs Find Your Perfect Editor: 7 Valuable Tips

7 Dec

Intro:

Last week we talked about how to self-edit before you found an editor for your manuscript. This week we’re talking about how to find that perfect editor. This topic is very important to me, since I’m a full-time editor. It’s vital for authors and editors to find the perfect fit for one another. Special thanks to today’s guest writer, Antonio Tooley! Let’s welcome him.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in guest articles are those of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect my own. To show authenticity of the featured writer, articles are posted as provided (a.k.a. I do not edit them). However, the format may have changed.

Find Your Perfect Editor: 7 Valuable Tips by Antonio Tooley

Every writer, no matter how great he or she is, needs an editor at some point. Now, it’s not just a matter of going through the ads and finding someone. You need to find an editor who is willing to dedicate their time and expertise in order to help you come up with the best work possible, not just someone who’s going to go through the motions, doling out generic advice that’s only going to frustrate you and have you end up with something you don’t like.

Not being able to get behind your own work is not an option, plus you will waste precious time and money getting nowhere. That is why you must really think good and hard when choosing an editor that will push you in the right direction, and ultimately, help you create something you are fully satisfied with. We have put together a list of 7 useful tips that will help you find the right editor. Here they are.

1. Figure Out What Type of Editor You Need

You need to establish the kind of editor you need for your work. If it’s a book, you’ll want to collaborate with a content editor that is not only concerned with it being grammatically sound, but is also interested in the big picture, and elements such as plotting and pacing. If you want someone to fact-check your work and make sure there aren’t any inconsistencies, you will need a copy editor. If you are simply concerned with getting your spelling, punctuation and grammar right, a line editor would be a good choice.

2. Experience Matters

Just because someone is qualified to be an editor based on their qualifications, is not enough in this case. In addition to having a degree in English, your editor should be someone who has experience, and by experience we mean a good track record in the industry. Although having someone inexperienced cut their teeth on your book or a novel for very little money seems tempting, you should always invest in someone who has previous experience in editing.

3. Know Where to Find Them

Simply going on Craigslist, or googling for an editor is not going to work. We would advise you to ask your fellow writers to recommend you a good editor. If you don’t have any friends that are writers, contacting the authors or editors of books you appreciate is not a bad idea, although it may prove to be an expensive one. You can also look for editors on websites and forums that cater to writers.

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4. Find Out How Many Clients Your Editor is Currently Working With

This is really important, because you need an editor who will be able to dedicate enough time to read your work, a few times if needed, and then proceed with editing it. Of course, they may work with some other writers at the same time, but if they are involved on 10 other projects, you may have to look elsewhere.

5. Sample Edit

So, you’ve found an editor with good credentials, but that still doesn’t mean they are right for you. Most editors are willing to do a trial edit for you that involves editing several pages, or a chapter of your book for a reasonable fee. That way, you can decide whether their ideas and what they bring to the table are a good match for your book or not.

6. Talk to Their Previous Clients 

Another way of narrowing down the list of editors you want for your book is to get in touch with some of their past clients which were satisfied with their work. That way, you can get an insight into how they work, and what they can do to take your work to the next level. Sometimes, even a brilliant editor may not be the right fit for your book.

7. Establish Your Budget

Figure out how much money you are able to set aside in order to pay for an editor. Experienced editors are always more expensive, especially if they’ve edited a best-selling book. On the other hand, if they are too cheap, that is usually indicative of their experience. Your best bet would be to look for an editor who fits into your price range, but whose references include books or authors that you appreciate.

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If hiring an editor is still too expensive for you, there are plenty of online editing services that can help you edit your work, for a lower price. We have chosen the following three:

1. Editage.com – One of the biggest editing services on the web also has one of the largest editorial teams which edit the works of over 72,000 authors around the world. Their team is capable of covering over 1200 different subjects, so if your books, novels, or papers deal with a really specific field, you can rest assured you will find an editor who is an expert on that particular subject.

2. EduGeeksClub.com – EduGeeksClub is one of the leading services when it comes to editing books, papers, dissertations, and articles, among others. Their editors have years of academic experience, and they also work in teams on each project, which means no mistake can get by them. They will perform fact checking, as well as go through your grammar, spelling, structural and punctuation errors.

3. EditorWorld.com – Another top online editing service which gathers scholars, published authors, writers and professional editors whose qualifications are impeccable and whose excellent track records are a guarantee your book will receive the treatment it so rightly deserves. You can personally choose the person that will edit your work.

If you want your book to captivate the readers, it needs to be flawless first, and having a good editor that understands what your work is all about, and who is able to get on the same page with you, no pun intended, is of the highest importance.

Although the ordeal of finding the right editor for your work may feel tedious, the benefits of having one outweigh everything else, plus you will wind up becoming a better writer.

Author Bio:

Antonio is a hopeless optimist who enjoys basking in the world’s brightest colors. He loves biking to distant places and occasionally he gets lost. When not doing that he’s blogging and teaching ESL. He will be happy to meet you on Facebook and Twitter.

Want to be a guest blogger? Now is the time to submit. I will be stopping guest blog posts in 2016, but before then, I would love to have you on! I am accepting original posts that focus on reading and writing. Pictures, links, and a bio are encouraged. You do not have to be published. If you qualify, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com.

~SAT

#MondayBlogs 6 Tools to Improve Your Grammar

23 Nov

Intro:

Every writer needs an editor, but before that, every writer needs to edit for themselves. It’s always best to make your manuscript the best manuscript you can before you hire someone else to help on top of that. Because of this need, I am excited to share today’s article with you. Sarah Whitson is here to help you help yourself with six tools for your grammar.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in guest articles are those of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect my own. To show authenticity of the featured writer, articles are posted as provided (a.k.a. I do not edit them). However, the format may have changed.

6 Tools to Improve Your Grammar by Sarah Whitson

Whether you’re a writer, a novelist, or simply a student who would like to revisit English language skills once in a while, your top concern will always be how well you’re doing when it comes to grammar. Grammar is undoubtedly the trickiest part of learning a language because there aren’t always concrete rules to determine why something is said the way it is said.

Excessive use of slang, colloquial language, idiomatic expressions, and verbally spoken incorrect grammar also distort grammar rules, making it even more difficult for linguists and writers to get the hang of the latest grammar rules and making sense of it all. A recent article published on the Business Insider reveals how a Harvard linguist debunked many grand grammar myths, transforming the way we think about words such as “like“ and “as”, along with many other terms and usages.

So, what should keep you up-to-date with grammar rules and areas where you may need improvement? Here are X tools that might help.

  • Grammarly: If you often use word processors to type up your writings, here is a tool that will help spot your grammar mistakes– andwork ten times better than the typical default grammar checker, of course. Grammarly can spot and fix 250+ mistakes that MS Words can’t find. You can also add Grammarly to your browser and double check mistakes even when you’re using Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, Tumbler, or using other websites where you may have to write.
  • New York Times-Grammar and Usage Section: The infamous NYT dedicates an entire section to “grammar and usage” that includes commentary on grammar and archival texts published related to the topic.Find out what professional linguists have to say about grammar rules in the latest articles.

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  • Writing Forward: Writing Forward is a creative blog founded by Melissa Donovan, a creative writer qualified with a BA in English from Sonoma State University. Donovan aims to provide writers with tips and ideas along with posts about grammar, good writing habits and practices, and tons of exercises to keep your language in shape.
  • Grammar Blog: If bad grammar gives you the pet peeves (whether it’s someone else’s or your own) join the Grammar blog! This blogattempts to “mock poor grammar” (and they mean that literally). Grammar blog will (jokingly) point out places where people went against the sacredrules of grammar and point out how they could have been used properly. You can also directly ask the blog’s team anything you like related to grammar with a quick email.
  • White Smoke Anywhere: This tool is an all-in-one English correction tool. The complete and comprehensive software aims to perfect your English with advanced techniques. The tools will check your spelling, grammar, as well as sentence structures. This is a great tool to use while writing a dissertation papers through Dissertation mall. You can install the software on your desktop computer, smart phone, tablet, browser or anywhere where you write digitally! Translation capability enables text translation for over 45 different languages. Oh, and if that wasn’t already enough, there is also a plagiarism checker.
  • Paper Rater: Paper rater is a free online tool that will proofread your text and point out spelling and grammar mistakes. Unlike other software, you won’t have to signup, download, and install this tool for it to work. Apart from grammar checking, Paper Rater also double-checks plagiarism from over 10 billion documents. Paper rater also offers writing suggestions that will help improve your writing style. Simply hit the “Use Now For Free” button, copy paste the text, and get a report. A paid version will enable faster processing, file upload capability, and an enhanced plagiarism checker.

About Author: Sarah Whitson is a creative writer, mostly helping those students who lack English language skills.

Want to be a guest blogger? Now is the time to submit. I will be stopping guest blog posts in December, but before then, I would love to have you on! I am accepting original posts that focus on reading and writing. Pictures, links, and a bio are encouraged. You do not have to be published. If you qualify, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com.

~SAT

#MondayBlogs Music as Writing Inspiration

26 Oct

Intro:

I never used to write with music. The lyrics would distract me or it simply wouldn’t work. Many years later, I found music I actually enjoyed using, and I’ve used it since while brainstorming. Today, our guest writer is talking about just that. Using music to inspire her, here is Audrey Leaman.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in guest articles are those of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect my own. To show authenticity of the featured writer, articles are posted as provided (a.k.a. I do not edit them). However, the format may have changed.

Music as Writing Inspiration by Aubrey Leaman

Ah, yes, that terrifying word: inspiration.  How do we find it? And if we find it, how do we turn it into something worthwhile?

For those of you like me who bump (or crash) into writer’s block, perhaps the muse may speak to you through music.  Here are some specific ways to help get those creative juices flowing:

1) Pop/Rock: Listen to your favorite song, shuffle a playlist, or find new music…there is always a story behind the song.

For example: “Someone Like You” by Adele: who is Adele’s character? Why did she and her lover separate? What prompted her to show up at his door in the first place?

For example: “Mr. Roboto” by Styx: Is the character an actual robot/cyborg? Or is this symbolism for something else? Why does he need to hide, and why is his life in danger?

Music as Writing Inspiration photo

Photo provided by Audrey

2) Classical: Reverse-engineer the story as though it were a movie soundtrack.  Who are the characters? What are they doing? What’s the genre (romantic comedy, drama, action/adventure, thriller)?

For example: To me, Maurice Ravel’s “Valley of the Bells” sounds like a man standing above a valley at the brink of a terrible fate.  ( Here’s the full story )

3) A song you don’t understand: I don’t know about you, but sometimes I will love a song at the same time that I have no idea what it’s actually about.  When you start stringing a bunch of obscure phrases together, while it may sound awesome, I’m not quite sure what the artist is trying to say anymore.  So challenge yourself to take those seemingly random phrases and imagine possible meanings for them.

For example: “Hypnotic” by Zella Day: I understand the chorus, but the verses are less clear: “white threads on my laces / stuck on the hinges, swinging the door to the backyard” could represent all kinds of things.  Maybe the character is a young girl at the time of being in love, or maybe she is just remembering past childhood days.  It could even be representative of how pure and fresh her lover makes her feel.

3) Playlist: shuffle your music library.  Each song is the next action or character in the story.

For example: A love song (One Direction’s What Makes You Beautiful) followed by an angry song (Bon Jovi’s You Give Love a Bad Name) could inspire the story of a relationship that starts out strong but then bitterly falls apart when the girl changes her mind.

Have you tried something like this before? Can you think of other ways music might inspire a story?

Bio: What if mermaids wore suspenders? What if the White Rabbit played an Olympic sport? What if music could take you on an adventure?  Aubrey Leaman loves pushing boundaries by mixing and matching both between and within genres because she believes that the resulting fresh perspective can be both fun and illuminating.  So she uses books and music (and more) as diving boards to plunge into the cosmic pool that encompasses anything and everything that can be imagined.  You know, in a light-hearted, casual way.

You can follow her blog here and on  tumblr.

Want to be a guest blogger? Now is the time to submit. I will be stopping guest blog posts in December, but before then, I would love to have you on! I am accepting original posts that focus on reading and writing. Pictures, links, and a bio are encouraged. You do not have to be published. If you qualify, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com.

~SAT

#MondayBlogs Replenishing Your Reserves by Journaling

12 Oct

Intro:

I journal. In fact, I’ve written in my journal/s almost every day since I was seventeen or so, and I found some of my closest blogger friends on OpenDiary.com, back when I wrote in a journal online. I find writing in a journal to be freeing as well as important. So, when author B. Lynn Goodwin asked to write an article about the effects of journaling, I jumped at the opportunity. How about you? Do you journal? What do you think about journaling? Let’s welcome B. Lynn Goodwin today.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in guest articles are those of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect my own. To show authenticity of the featured writer, articles are posted as provided (a.k.a. I do not edit them). However, the format may have changed.

Replenishing Your Reserves by Journaling by B. Lynn Goodwin

Has life evolved to a place where everybody else’s needs come first? Do resentments expand like a swollen spring river? It’s a familiar predicament, and you are not alone.

When I was my mother’s caregiver, I often needed to put my personal needs on hold. I drowned my resentments in comfort foods. Entenmann’s chocolate chip cookies were a favorite. I’d pull one after another out of the box and stuff them in my mouth mindlessly as I drove to the pharmacy or the post office or even the grocery store.

I got back in touch with my physical needs, as well as my mental, emotional, and spiritual ones, through my journal. In there, I could vent, delve into issues, and untangle messes. My journal allowed me to finish a thought without interruption. It encouraged me to analyze, celebrate, and find the hope that had become elusive. After I processed my own issues, I had the energy and good will to reach out again.

Often I would start with one of these three simple sentence starters:

  • Today I feel…
  • Today I believe…
  • Today I want….

Any response was right, as long as it came from the heart.

Picture 1Here are three responses to “Today I feel…” :

Today I feel poverty stricken. I hate having no income. The money you give me doesn’t count. It feels like an unearned gift. I want to earn my own money, detached from you. I want to feel productive and independent. I don’t want to feel like a nine-year-old doing chores for an allowance.

Selfish? Maybe, but when do I get to do what I want to do? Don’t get me wrong. I love you. I know you need me, even when you toss your head and say, “I can do it myself.” But when do I get to leave the stale odors and draining drivel of this place and do what I want to do?

Today I feel sad. You didn’t want your breakfast. You didn’t want to talk. Neither do I. I want to stare at the dust motes floating in the sunshine that’s streaming through the screen door. So mindless. Like me. If I were a dust mote, I’d have no hands or feet or responsibilities.

Today I feel hopeful because Kristi is coming in while I go shopping and I’ll have an extra hour. I’ve been e-mailing this really nice sixty-year-old divorced man on Craigslist, and today we’re going to meet for coffee at Starbucks. I have a coffee date and I feel like a teenager sneaking away to meet some hottie.

How would you respond? Try it right now.

Journaling releases mental toxins and deepens awareness. It helps the strong, sane, safe, healthy, hopeful parts of you emerge. Do not underestimate its power.

I’d love to hear how you finished “Today I feel…”

Bio:

Lynn Goodwin is the author of You Want Me to Do WHAT? Journaling for Caregivers and Talent, which is coming out this year. She’s the owner of Writer Advice, www.writeradvice.com

Want to be a guest blogger? Now is the time to submit. I will be stopping guest blog posts in November, but before then, I would love to have you on! I am accepting original posts that focus on reading and writing. Pictures, links, and a bio are encouraged. You do not have to be published. If you qualify, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com.

~SAT

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