Friday Funny with Ugh and a Side of Monster

Drop what you’re doing and dance it up. Cause it’s FRIDAY!

Seriously, TGIF! I haven’t needed a weekend this bad since…Well, I can’t remember. In one word, this week was rotten. Things started off great. I had tons of momentum and motivation with my manuscript, I was in a happy mood, and everything seemed perfect in the world.

And then it slooooowly collapsed.

Both work and my personal life were crazy busy. Plus, I hit a couple of emotional speed bumps along the way that transformed me into one giant hot mess.

On top of all that, it seemed everyone and anyone who had their own problems or needed help contacted me: “Hey, Jenna, can you…?”, “Jenna, do you think I should…?”, “SOS! I need you…” I mean, don’t get me wrong, I LOVE being there for my friends and family. They are the number one priority in my life. However, when they all strike at once, I start to feel like this:

What makes it all the worse is when my brain is screaming, “WRITE! WRITE! WRITE!” along with all the other chaos, and I can’t–literally. Every spare moment I had this week was interrupted by life.

*deep–deeeep–breath*

I’ve been trying not to have an anxiety attack since Wednesday, but it’s a losing battle. By this point, I feel like there’s a monster inside of me shredding me apart. My stomach is in constant knots and my throat hurts from holding back my tears of frustration.

I’m sure some of you have felt this way before. Or, at least, you can understand how it might feel. Most of the people in my life don’t. They assume writing is something you can turn on and off.

It’s not.

Writing is with you everywhere you go, and the more you ignore it, the more it hurts.

Thank God the weekend is here and I have no plans but to write. I’ll be locking my doors and telling anyone who calls or texts me:

Yeah, I’m ice cold like that.

Okay, not really. But I’m going to try!

Anyway, in honor of my “ugh” week, here are today’s Friday Funnies. Okay, they’re not “ha-ha” funny, but this wasn’t exactly a “ha-ha” post, so I figure they fit. 😉 Plus the second one is great advice for those of us who have a problem saying “No!” to others.

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tumblr_mvnvnpw9KI1r5lxuvo2_1280How was your week? I hope not nearly as stressful as mine. Have any fun plans for the weekend? Or will you be hermit-ing it up like me?

Jen’s Weekly Roundup

In case you missed my posts from earlier this week, here you go!

Music Monday – Back in Black – AC/DC

My Writing: The What, How, and Why

7 Methods for Handling Point-of-View Changes

Photo credits:

http://whenatcamp.tumblr.com/post/37048966204/public-speaking

http://www.reactiongifs.us/building-collapse/

http://fymodernfamily.tumblr.com/post/42058845490

http://prairielights.tumblr.com/post/95112350191/ba-in-bs-click-through-to-awesome-photo-array

http://booksaredelicious.com/

http://www.allgeektome.net/2013/10/28/hope-is-stronger-than-fear-check-out-the-final-catching-fire-trailer/

http://intothewormshole.blogspot.com/2014_05_01_archive.html

http://www.jamspreader.com/2013/05/07/best-looks-of-the-2013-the-met-gala/

8 Words to Seek and Destroy in Your Writing

Welcome to Twitter Treasure Thursday! Today’s gem, courtesy of freelance literary editor, Heather Jacquemin, tackles eight specific words all writers should consider slashing axing killing deleting from their manuscript. Although these words might seem necessary, the truth is, they’re not. In fact, they tend to weaken our stories and steal their punch.

shutterstock_RedPencilBIGPersonally, I’m guilty of using over half the words on this list, particularly three of them: “start”, “like”, and “suddenly”. So, when I go back to edit and polish up my manuscript, I know I’ll need to hunt them down and chop them out–hiyah!

I encourage you to review this list as well, and find out if you’re using unnecessary words in your writing.

8 Words to Seek and Destroy in Your Writing

“Like”

I’m not just saying that, like, you shouldn’t, like, talk like a valley girl (though that too). Here’s the problem: “Like” is used to show uncertainty. And you. Should. Not. Be. Uncertain.

Be bold. When making a comparison, use force. Use metaphor over simile. Don’t let yourself cop out by coming up with a halfway description.

“My eyes rested on the gun for a sliver of a moment. I snapped forward, grabbed it, and it was like the chill metal flowed from the gun into my veins.

To read the entire article, click here!

And for more useful advice, follow Heather Jacquemin on Twitter!

Screen Shot 2014-09-18 at 8.15.06 AM

Related Articles

Five Words You Can Cut

Top 5 Tips to Cut the Clutter

Editing Tip: 10 Words to Search For in Your Manuscript

Photo credit: 

http://www.theopennotebook.com/2013/01/16/are-you-an-editor-or-a-writer-part-ii-the-editors/

Confession: I Fear Sharing My Stories

Ever since I posted my first round story for the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge 2014, I’ve been a bit of a mess–anxious, queasy, stressed. Perhaps you find this reaction surprising–maybe even a little unbelievable–because I’ve always acted like sharing my work with you is no big deal. But, to be honest, it terrifies me.

Last week, when I hit the “publish” button on my blog to post Inevitable, I had a moment of pure panic. A million “what if” questions flew through my mind: What if people hate it? What if people laugh at me? What if this is the stupidest story I’ve ever written? What if I didn’t push myself hard enough? What if I offend someone by accident? What if. What if. What if…

 It doesn’t seem to matter if I’m sharing my story with a friend, a beta reader, or a complete stranger, I’m always petrified I’ll be judged, ridiculed, and/or ripped apart. The minute I put a story on my blog, or I hand chapters of my manuscript over to a beta reader, I experience a sharp twinge of anxiety, and my heart does a pitter-patter–stutter–halt!–boom-boom-boom! dance.

You’d think this fear would go away after years of sharing my work with others, but it hasn’t. I always experience a sickening sensation, followed by a silent chant of, “Oh God, oh God, oh God…”

Part of my fear stems from the worry people will read my work and think I’m someone I’m not. Let’s face it, many of my stories are on the darker side: Tragic. Morbid. Whacked out! I’m so scared people will read them and think, “Wowza, this chick is messed up!” Or, “Poor thing, she must have a terrible life.” Or, “Yeesh, this writer scares me.”

And, who knows? Maybe people do think those things about me? Maybe people see me as this:

When, in reality, I’m like this:

The only thing I can do to manage this particular fear is to explain to people my writing process. I like to tell them, “When I write, I’m not there. I’m pushed into a cage and locked up while my characters hijack the story. They’re the ones writing it, not me.”

Hmm, maybe I am a little crazy–ha!

But it’s the truth. When I sit down to write, I check “Jenna” at the door and let my characters orchestrate the plot. They tell me how the story is “supposed to go”. I do my best not to interfere as the outsider.

For example, when I started writing my short story, Chasing Monsters, I planned on telling a story about a little boy who’d witnessed a murder in the forest. But when I arrived at the murder scene, my characters said, “Um, no. That’s not going to happen. This is!” And they yanked the plot out of my hands and twisted it into something completely different and unexpected…It was horrible and beyond terrifying, and I did not want to write it.

I think I almost threw up when I posted Chasing Monsters on my blog. If there was ever a story people were going to judge me for, it was that one. Thankfully, nobody did–at least not to my face.

Truthfully, I’ve never been outright slammed for any of my stories. Of course, that’s not to say I’ve never had negative reviews, or had my feelings hurt by less than tactful individuals. Just this past weekend, I had someone send me feedback for Inevitable. They point blank said, “I didn’t like it at all.”

Yeah, that one hurt. But it’s okay. One of the things I’ve learned from sharing my work is not everyone will be a fan. Even if I have pure gold on my hands, someone out there will think it stinks. The best thing I can do is move on and let it go.

…Easier said than done, right?

The bottom line is I will always be afraid of sharing my work. Even if I become a New York Times bestselling author, I’ll struggle with the knowledge there are people out there reading my work and judging me in one way or another. And there will always be critics and, well, insensitive meanies who will tell me, “I didn’t like it at all.”.

But you know what? I can’t let my fears stop me. Even if I have an anxiety attack every time I press the “publish” button on my blog, or sit and stare at my email until my beta readers return with their feedback about my manuscript, I need to be willing to share my work. I need to suck it up and take the terrifying plunge.

If I don’t, how else will I discover my strengths and weaknesses? How else will I become the best writer I can be? There’s only so much I can learn on my own. Without constructive criticism from a variety of sources (friends, family, strangers, bloggers, other writers, etc.) I’ll never reach the next level.

And, really, I need to get used to people reading my stories if I want to be a published author. That’s kind of the point of all of this, isn’t it?

So, how about you? Do you fear others reading your stories? If so, why?

Related Articles:

What are you afraid of, dear writer?

Purging Your Writing Fear

Fear of Writing – 3 secrets of writer’s block

Photo Credits:

http://gifbuffet.tumblr.com/post/9431389021

http://imgfave.com/view/1351342

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20629796-fighting-for-you

http://seeyouinaporridge.blogspot.com/2014/07/confessions_30.html

http://silverscreenings.org/2014/04/25/day-6-the-great-villain-blogathon/

http://setsunajikan.blogspot.com/2012/08/34-ways-that-you-can-be-remarkable.html

http://borg-princess.livejournal.com/95677.html?thread=1791677

Sympathy for a Good Villain

Welcome to Twitter Treasure Thursday! This week, I chose to focus on your favorite character in a story: the villain.

villain21Dun, dun, dun…

Okay, maybe the villain isn’t your favorite character, but they should be high on the list. And, in my opinion, they should rival your favorite character; or at least help them stand out. Personally, I appreciate villains who try to convince you to understand them/sympathize with them (ex: The Darkling from Shadow & Bone, Sebastian from The Mortal Instruments). Or they should make you hate them so much, you love them (ex: Anton Chigurh from No Country for Old Men, Dolores Umbridge from Harry Potter, Hilly Holbrook from The Help). To me, villains should captivate readers just as much as heroes do.

So, with all of that said, here is today’s gem, courtesy of Drew Chial. He wrote a fantastic (and funny) article about creating solid villains, while avoiding cliches and keeping your audience engaged.

Sympathy for a Good Villain

Every time the villain kills a henchman for no good reason, a light goes off in your reader’s brain. Every time their monologue reveals the details of their master plan, the reader questions your reasoning. Every time they choose the sinister option over the one that’s results driven, the reader wakes from your vision.

It’s good to have a clear antagonist, but you don’t want them to be transparent. Sometimes their desires are simply incompatible with the hero’s. Sometimes the hero and the villain share a common destination, only to differ on how to get there. Sometimes they start with the same beliefs only to have them tested by their environments.

Present your case against the antagonist, and let your audience come to their own conclusions. The subtler the evidence, the smarter they’ll feel for putting the pieces together. Too many reminders of who they’re rooting against will pull them out of the experience.

To read the entire article, click here!

And for more useful advice, follow Drew Chial on Twitter!

Photo credits: 

http://blog.d20pro.com/creating-great-adventures-part-1-character-motivation-hate/

http://wifflegif.com/tags/61683-coin-gifs

25 Steps To Being A Traditionally Published Author

Welcome to Twitter Treasure Thursday! Although I’m still months away from sending out query letters for my YA manuscript, I like to read and learn all I can about the publishing industry. I want to be as prepared as possible for when the next step in this arduous journey begins.

Today’s gem, courtesy of literary agent, Sara Megibow, is a goldmine of advice about the publishing process: 25 Steps To Being A Traditionally Published Author. In this article, author, Delilah S. Dawson, shares her experiences in a funny, honest, and inspiring way. I strongly urge all writers to check it out. Even if you’re contemplating self-publishing, you’re sure to take something away from this awesome article.

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6. OH MY GOD YOU FINISHED A BOOK! FIRE THE CUPCAKE CANNONS!

Congratulations!!! And BOOMCAKE!!! And you should definitely go out to celebrate with shrimp tacos and margaritas. Hell, I used to go celebrate every time I passed the 100 page mark. Finishing your first book is a major victory, and you shouldn’t let the fact that there are 19 more steps terrify you. Even if you put your book baby in a drawer and throw the dresser into the Grand Canyon, you will still spend the rest of your life knowing that you are capable of writing a book, and that is A Big Deal.

So celebrate. Look at your book. Stroke the screen. Tell Twitter. And then, like a hot steak in a cast iron skillet, let your book rest for a while by itself, preferably with a slab of butter melting on top. Because getting some distance from your work is an important part of this process.

To read the entire article, click here!

And for more useful advice, follow Sarah Megibow and Delilah S. Dawson on Twitter!

Photo credit: http://bakermarketingservices.com/2012/04/can-i-reuse-other-peoples-blogs-on-my-own/

Book of the Month – If I Stay – Gayle Forman

On August 22nd, one of my favorite books is coming to life on the big screen. To honor that, I’ve chosen If I Stay by Gayle Forman as August’s Book of the Month.

6564365If I Stay by Gayle Forman

Synopsis

“Just listen, Adam says with a voice that sounds like shrapnel.
I open my eyes wide now.
I sit up as much as I can.
And I listen.
Stay, he says.

Choices. Seventeen-year-old Mia is faced with some tough ones: Stay true to her first love—music—even if it means losing her boyfriend and leaving her family and friends behind?
Then one February morning Mia goes for a drive with her family, and in an instant, everything changes. Suddenly, all the choices are gone, except one. And it’s the only one that matters.
If I Stay is a heartachingly beautiful book about the power of love, the true meaning of family, and the choices we all make.”

Jen’s Review

I read If I Stay years ago, and it still makes my heart twist and my stomach drop. Just thinking about it makes me search for a tissue while thanking God I haven’t had to experience what Mia did in this book.

tumblr_mp8lqkavxh1sxy5x9o1_500One of the most important things in my life is my family. If anything happened to them…well, I’m not sure what I’d do. It’s one of those fears that haunts me on a daily basis, just as I’m sure it haunts many of you. To think of having everything you cherish taken away in the blink of an eye…

*shudder*

If I Stay addresses this tragic fear. It makes you live it through the eyes of Mia, a girl whose family is killed in a car accident. She herself is on the brink of death and must decide if she has the strength to stay and live with the pain of knowing when she awakes, her family will be gone; or if she can’t bear their loss and will let go to join them in death.
But, don’t worry. This story isn’t only about making you cry and sob and go through an entire box of tissues. It celebrates life and love, and offers hope when there is no hope to be found.

tumblr_mdg8mwFXNk1rj9ghno1_500As hard as this story is to read, it’s worth it. For me, it made me consider what I’d do if this type of tragedy ever struck in my life. Would I give up? Or would I fight for life? To be honest, I’m still not sure. Like Mia, it’s a choice I can’t make until it I had to.

Jen’s Rating

5 Star

To read more about If I Stay, click here!

And for those of you who’d rather “see” the synopsis, here’s the trailer for If I Stay…I suggest you grab a tissue before you view it 😉

…Just remember: Read the book BEFORE you see the movie!

 Related Articles

BOOK REVIEW: IF I STAY BY GAYLE FORMAN

A Blogging Reader’s Review: ‘IF I STAY’ by Gayle Forman

Book Review: If I Stay by Gayle Forman

Photo credits: 

http://brynnetervention.blogspot.com/

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/4374400-if-i-stay

http://gayleforman.tumblr.com/post/54363068897/the-quote-books-if-i-stay-by-gayle-forman

http://handwrittenonpaper.tumblr.com/post/35663785431

Friday Funny with a Bang and a Touch of Madness

Happy Friday, everyone! Well, I don’t say this often, but I’ve been grateful for going to work this week. Despite what some believe, it gets HOT in Colorado, and the thermometer has been hovering around the 100 degrees mark the past few days. Since I don’t have AC at my house, I’ve been more than happy to hop in my car and go to work where it’s like a freezer.

Besides work being a cool environment, it’s also been a calm one. That means I’ve had plenty of time and energy to continue revising my manuscript. This week, I’ve managed to maintain my steady pace and squeak out two and half new chapters. So, that officially puts my second draft at just over 43,000 NEW words. Hopefully that means by next week I’ll hit the halfway mark.
So, one of my favorite quotes is by Alfred Hitchcock: “There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it.” That’s how I like to write my stories. I like to draw the reader in by wrapping them up in a blanket of mysteries, suspense, and Oh God, oh God, oh God dread. Then, I like to pull one of the blanket’s threads and let everything unravel.
The next few chapters of my story will include that “pulling the thread” moment. Or, as Hitchcock puts it, “the bang”. And I’m so excited! In fact, I’ve caught myself staring off into space (er, more than usual) imagining these scenes and planning how they’ll play out…Fingers crossed they actually pour out of me when I finally get to translate them to paper!
Anyways, in honor of my ongoing focus, and my constantly daydreaming mind, here is today’s Friday funny. Enjoy!
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So, how was your week? For those of you participating in Camp NaNoWriMo, how’s it going? Are you going to make your goal by the end of the month? I’d love to hear about it!
Have a great weekend, guys! And don’t melt if you’re also experiencing ridiculous temperatures where you live.
Jen’s Weekly Roundup
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