‘Tis the Season for the Creepy and the Crawly, the Spooky and the Ooky (Penny Rader)


Happy Halloween!  ‘Tis the season for spooky stuff so I trolled the net for tips on creeping out our readers.  I hope you’ll click and read the posts.  I’ve given a few snippets to whet your appetite because even though we write romance you never know when you might want to push your readers to the very edge of their seats.

How to write a scary scene (Susan Dennard)

…a few things I think are needed to make an edge-of-the-seat scene:

  1. The reader/viewer must know more than the character and be forced to wait for the Big Scare.
  2. The reader/viewer must be focused entirely on the scene with introspection absolutely restricted to reaction to surroundings.
  3. The reader must not know when the Big Scare will strike.
  4. When it does strike, it must not be what the reader expects.

How to Write a Scary Story (Maggie Hammand)

We don't like things that are in the wrong place. Things that are too big, things that are too small, things that look like they ought to be something, but they're not quite - they're something slightly different - are very scary. Also remember when you're writing something scary, you want to engage your reader's imagination.

How to Write Horror: Writing Tips for Scary Stories (By Ashley Sinatra)

Write about what scares you: One of the most important writing tips for a horror story is that you cannot produce a good horror book or short story if you are not willing to confront your own fears. To write a scary story, you must be willing to dig deep down inside of yourself. You also have to force yourself to daydream and imagine yourself in a frightening situation.

Three Tips for Scary Scenes (Rayne Hall)

  • Darkness
  • Sound 
  • Chill

Vocabulary Words for Writing Scary Stories (Nadine Smith)

Check out the post for (and maybe start your lists?):

  • Words that set the mood
  • Words that evoke the five senses
  • Words that heighten suspense
  • Words that show fear

Write a Scary Scene (Cynthia Light Brown)

  1. Write what scares you.
  2. Tap into the lizard brain.
  3. Start slow, then build.
  4. Keep us in the moment.

Wanna play?  I found a few horror writing prompts here and here

If you’re game, choose one of these and share what you come up with in the Comments:

  • There is a glass scratching sound on your house's windows and you get up out of bed to check it out. You look toward the windows and don't see anything. All of the sudden the glass breaks and something jumps in! What is it and what do you do next?
  • A friend of yours has had an ancient curse levied upon him. What do you do to help and what happens to him throughout the curse?
  • Begin with the words, “Yes, it’s true.”
  • You're walking around a dark corridor when you turn around. You soon discover turning around may have been the worst decision of your life...
  • Write about a witch, a wizard, and their four kids.

Need pictures to get really creeped out and write a super scary scene or story?  Check out these Scary Photo Prompts.

Boost Your Motivation and Creativity

This is going to be a very short blog post and much of it a duplicate of my own blog for today.  I'm double blogging this because it's something we all struggle with at some time or another, and sometimes quite often.

I'm signed up on iVillage.com to receive emails about a variety of things, ranging from Exercise Tips to Decorating Tips and Dieting Tips to Relationship Tips.  It's a slide show of sorts each time and usually includes tips from professionals in the area of the topic.  Doctors, psychiatrists, trainers, decorators and others comment and offer the tips.

The topic of the link sent in the email today is 10 Ways to Boost Your Creativity, so it obviously it caught my eye immediately.  Here's a quick rundown on the 10 Ways, but be sure to click the link for more information on each one.

  1. Break Your Routine
  2. Do It
  3. Daydream
  4. Brainstorm
  5. Interact with People
  6. Schedule It
  7. Expand Your Experiences
  8. Reflect
  9. Relax
  10. Change Your Space
All 10 are things we've mentioned, but when it comes to motivation and creativity, it's never wrong to repeat the good stuff.  10 Ways to Boost Your Creativity

What motivates me to write ninety thousand words? (Melissa Robbins)

Competition:  My writing buddy Fran and I Irish danced together for several years.  If one of us won a medal, the other would strive harder to win one too.  That healthy competition continues with our writing.  We write completely different genres and styles so that’s not an issue, but if one does well in a contest, the other wants to do even better.  Right now, Fran is in the lead with a 2nd place Maggie win and three agents clamoring for that story.  Fire under my bum, let me tell you.  Also, with regards to competition, WARA members are participating in a word count contest for the year.  I threw in my goal of 90,000 words this year, and by golly, I'm going to reach that goal. 

Bookstore:  Monday night, my daughter and I spent an evening at the bookstore searching for chapter books within a specific Accelerated Reader level for her new reading goal with the school.  Looking at all the books lining the shelves made me want to run home and write my story or at least send out queries. 

A New Story:  Nothing inspires me more than starting a new story.  The ideas are fresh.  The characters are new and I’m dying to know what they want to share with me. 

Movies and Books:  I’ll watch a movie or read a book in my genre and can’t wait to get my fingers on the keyboard or pen to paper. 

Drawing:  This is a bit of the chicken and the egg scenario.  Sketching out my characters makes me want to write about them.  Writing about my characters makes me want to draw them.  The drawings help when the words or feelings are in my head, but I can’t get them out and onto the page. 

There are other things, usually random ones that motivate me, but these are my top five. 

Is Your Motivation to Write Lagging? (Penny Rader)

I've been having a bit of a motivation problem lately.  Being me, I set out to see what sorts of pearls of wisdom I could discover on the Internet.  Here a few snippets of what I found, along with a few quotes I hope you will find motivational:

“Do not wait to strike till the iron is hot; but make it hot by striking.”
 - William B. Sprague

5 Ways to Stay Motivated While Writing a Novel (Nathan Bransford)
  • Cultivate Your Fear of Failure
  • Set Deadlines with Teeth
  • Daydream a Little
  • Befriend Writers Who Have Finished a Novel
  • Write Something You Love
“If there’s a book you really want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.” – Toni Morrison

7 Key Self-Motivation Strategies for Writers (Luc Reid)
  • Pick Your Project Very Carefully
  • Always Keep in Mind What Excites You
  • If You Stop Feeling Motivated, Retrace Your Steps
  • Use Support, Encouragement, and Deadlines
  • Don’t Spend All Your Time Reworking
  • Writer’s Block Is Just Fear of Writing Something That Isn’t Good Enough
  • Don’t Get Too Attached

“Write what you know. Write what you want to know more about. Write what you’re afraid to write about.”  -  Cec Murphy

10 Tricks to Motivate Yourself to Write–Right NOW (Ollin Morales)
  • Reward Yourself for Trying
  • Don’t Place a Goal on When You’ll Receive Your Worth
  • Be Flexible with Your Writing Schedule
  • Don’t Self-Punish
  • Don’t Overwork Yourself
  • Follow the Inspiration
  • Work through Emotions
  • Avoid a “Me vs. the World” Strategy for Motivation 
  • Instead Use a “Me Together With the World” Strategy for Motivation
  • Write

"I asked Ring Lardner the other day how he writes his short stories, and he said he wrote a few widely separated words or phrases on a piece of paper and then went back and filled in the spaces."  - Harold Ross

24 Ways to Enhance Your Creativity (Keli Gwyn)
  • Take a break.
  • Vary your location.
  • Write longhand.
  • Make use of creative moment.
  • Get some exercise.
  • Take a nap.
  • Listen to music.
  • Feed your creativity.
  • Take a shower.
  • Soak in a tub of hot, Calgon-scented water.
  • Talk to another writer.
  • Socialize.
  • Reread your story.
  • Work on another project.
  • Change POVs.
  • Daydream.
  • Brainstorm.
  • Gag your internal editor.
  • Write fast.
  • Browse in a bookstore.
  • Seek solitude.
  • Read.
  • Watch a movie.
  • Develop a conducive environment.

“Being in the mood to write, like being in the mood to make love, is a luxury that isn't necessary in a long-term relationship. Just as the first caress can lead to a change of heart, the first sentence, however tentative and awkward, can lead to a desire to go just a little further.” -  Julia Cameron, The Right to Write: An Invitation and Initiation into the Writing Life

Creative Goal Setting for Writers (Kathy Steffen)

  • Mean It.
  • Make it Possible.
  • Let Go.
  • Make it Real.
  • Empower Yourself.
  • Be Specific.
  • Prioritize and Focus
  • Move It or Lose It.
  • To Tell or Not To Tell
  • Be Honest with Yourself
  • Change Your Approach
  • Celebrate Evolution
  • Don’t Give Up
  • Reward Yourself

"When asked, 'How do you write?'I invariably answer, 'one word at a time.'” - Stephen King

Emergency Writing Motivation Techniques (Luc Reid)

  • Get a little exercise.
  • If something’s bothering you, fix your thoughts.
  • Visualize a result you like.
  • Just start typing.
  • Meditate.
  • Why did you decide to write this piece?
  • If you feel overwhelmed, focus on one thing.
  • Write it out.
  • Talk with someone who supports your writing.
  • Find inspiration.
  • Skip ahead.
  • Come up with something new.
  • Take a short time to organize.
  • Warm up.
  • Work on a different project if necessary.
  • Use external motivation.
  • If all else fails, do writing support work.

“I don’t wait for moods. You accomplish nothing if you do that. Your mind must know it has got to get down to work.” – Pearl S. Buck

Motivation and Inspiration for Struggling Writers

  • Keep a journal of all the triumphs and pitfalls you've experienced. 
  • Pretend your story is a movie. Who would star in it?
  • Edit what you've already written. 
  • Visit the setting of the novel or a place that reminds you of it. 
  • Make deadlines (and actually stick to them).
  • Reward yourself.
  • Work out of order.
  • Make a dust jacket.
  • Do something for your novel besides writing.
  • Talk to people.

“The worst thing you write is better than the best thing you didn’t write.” Unknown

Motivation to Write – How Writers Get and Stay Motivated (Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen)

  • See beyond the rejection slips.
  • Get your “bum glue” out.
  • Find motivation to write in your procrastination.
  • Don’t be a wannabe.
  • Write what you got.
  • Accept that good writing is hard work – it doesn't come easy for any writer.

“You can sit there, tense and worried, freezing the creative energies, or you can start writing something. It doesn't matter what. In five or ten minutes, the imagination will heat, the tightness will fade, and a certain spirit and rhythm will take over.” – Leonard Bernstein 


What works for you when you're having a bit of trouble in the motivation department?

Motivation Madness

Congratulations to WARA member Fran Fowlkes for placing 2nd in GRW's Maggie Award!

One of the hardest things in life to learn is that sometimes we have to do things we don't want to do or just don't feel like doing.  I learned, my kids learned, and my grandkids are now learning that, to paraphrase the Rolling Stones, you don't always get to do what you want.

Procrastination lives and thrives on the absence of motivation.  In fact, the two are pretty much polar opposites.  I don't remember a time when I've been motivated to procrastinate.  So how do you  motivate yourself when you're stuck in procrastination mode?

Yes, this is a hard one.  Most of us tend to overdo and set goals that are too difficult, and then we give up before we make much progress.  When setting goals, make sure your goal is reachable.  There are a few things to keep in mind that will keep you from giving up before you barely get started.

  • If you work a full time job, you don't have hours and hours to devote to your goal.  Add a family to care for, and the time gets smaller and smaller.  But you don't need a big block of time.  Lunch time can often net you a small block.  Driving to and from work is a good time to do some brainstorming or listening to motivational tapes/CDs.  Can you give up one television show a week?  What about computer games?  I'll admit that Spider Solitaire is one of my big downfalls.
  • Discover if you're an OWL or a LARK (a night owl or an early bird).  Once you learn which one you are, you'll be able to pinpoint your peak times and can put them to good use.  Larks can get up earlier in the morning when the house is quite, while owls can set aside time at night, often when everyone else has gone to sleep.
  • Make a pact with a friend to work on changing your routine to allow for more time for your goals.  Or maybe work out a schedule with a friend where you'll watch her kids, giving you some extra time, and then you do the same for her.
  • Use goal-setting tools such as NaNoWriMo (next month!) or WARA's BIAW.
  • Break a large goal into smaller ones.  Do you have a goal for the year?  Break it down into months, then weeks, then what you need to do daily to reach that big goal later.

One big reward is always nice when you've reached that major goal, but what about the getting there?  Have you been working hard and reached one of your smaller goals on the way to the bigger one?  Or maybe you've finished that big goal and need to celebrate.  Incentives and rewards can help keep you on track.  Here are a few suggestions to get you started, but be sure to add your own!

Small, inexpensive, and even free for the small goals:

  •  An ice cream treat.
  • A trinket from the dollar store.
  • An extra hour of television
  • Window shopping
  • A long nap
  • A trip to a park
For those big goals when they've been met:
  • A movie with friends
  • A new hairdo
  • A spa day
  • A manicure
  • A new book (and the time to read it!)
  • A weekend away

Once you've set your goals and are ready to begin, ask yourself these questions:
  1. Have you set goals for the week, whether writing or life?
  2. Are these goals part of a long term goal you're working toward?  Or simply a stand-alone goal for something special?  (Don't worry, it doesn't matter.  It only needs to be specified in your mind.)
  3. Have you chosen a reward for reaching a goal, whether a mini-goal that's part of a bigger one, or a single one?
  4. If this is a must-reach goal, have you alerted friends and family that you will be unreachable during specified times?
  5. Are you prepared to force yourself to work toward your goal, when every fiber of your being cries out, "I just want to have fun!"?  (Yes, this is here because of personal experience...every day.)
If you still not sure or if you need a little push to keep you going, try MOTIVATION MONDAYS at my blog Diary of a Mad Romance Writer.  Together we'll set goals, keep the motivation going when times get rough, and celebrate the journey.
Goals in writing are dreams with deadlines. ~ Brian Tracy 

Death Scenes and Life with a Personal Tribute by J Vincent

Death scenes are not what I think of as common fare in writing.  But since my books are centered during the Napoleonic wars and cavalry officers, spies and villians I write a fair share of them.  Some are violent, sudden, a shock.  But the one I have thought of a lot late was expected after a lengthy illness with the entire family gathered by the gentleman’s side.  Everyone had a chance to make their farewells.  It was sad.  I cried as I wrote it and even when I edited some time later.  In writing that scene I drew on my experiences of confusion, sadness, grief, and anger as I watched family members and friends go through terminal illnesses.  But I have never been at a bedside at the moment someone died.  Would it make a difference at how and what I write in such scenes?  What influences do you use if you write such scenes?
You may wonder why I would chose such a topic when we write so much more about life but death, an antonym of life, is also part of living.  What follows is a personal rumination on my mother's life..

 Life--existence, being, time, living, days, years.

In the early hours of September 24th I received a call from the long-term care unit that my mother was unresponsive and had entered the final stage of her journey here on earth.  I went in and sat by my mother’s bedside as she lay slowly slipping away.  It was the first time I had seen her serene and peaceful in some time and I considered that a great blessing.  I held her hand and prayed and said my farewell aloud, just the two of us in the hushed hours of the early morning.  I am very grateful for the quirk of fate that gave me those hours alone with Mom.  When I said my final goodbye and left after my brother arrived it was with a sense of profound peace.  When she passed away an hour later while I was taking my morning medical treatments I rejoiced with her that she was now free of suffering and in a far better place.

For the past eleven months Mom had gone through a series of falls and infections that took more and more of her ability to communicate from us.  By August she could hardly see, barely hear, and we couldn’t understand most of what she said.  Pain kept her restless but she was unfailingly gentle and undemanding.  As these last months crept by, I saw Mom stripped one by one of everything on a physical as well as medical plane.  I realized she was giving us a profound lesson in living and how to face death.  She lost her independence, her home, and all of the things she had made or acquired.  Never once did Mom complain.  It has made me think about possessions in a far different light.  I saw that we truly go out of this world with what we came into it.  Some may judge us for what we accumulate or what we lose.  But what we do and have done seems a far better scale on which to be weighed.

Mom tipped those scales wonderfully in her favor.  She was an ordinary farm girl, an ordinary farm wife but those she touched are numberless.  There were over 350 people at her funeral.  The mortuary personnel said they had never seen so many for someone over 90.  But for many many years Mom had given a baby blanket she made to any baby born in a twenty mile radius and took food to almost every home that suffered a death.  She sang in the choir until well into her eighties, she could out embroider anyone and most of us in the family have quilts she either embroidered or hand appliqu├ęd.  She made strip comforters by the dozens and gave them to friends and strangers.  She gardened, canned food, sewed, worked ground, milked cows--there is little I can think of that she couldn’t or hadn’t done at some time in her long life.

So Mom existed, she was a being known by many who lived her days and years as well as she could until she faced death with grace.  I pray I do as well.