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Knick-Knack Overlords – A Guest Post By ReGi McClain

11 Oct

    A few weeks ago I asked ReGi McClain to write a guest post about writing, marketing, social media, or something. Yeah, I was pretty much that vague.  With that jumbled request, she came back with this lovely post (she even chose the video. Nice!).

So, without further jabbering from me, here’s ReGi.  😀

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    It was my favorite housekeeping guru who pointed it out. We like to think of ourselves as gods. In his book, Clutter’s Last Stand, Don Aslett viciously confronts the human tendency to create and control little worlds by collecting knick-knacks and arranging them just so. My grandmother is a prime example of this phenomenon. By the time she and my grandfather moved out of the home they owned for 30 years, she collected hundreds (dare I say thousands?) of trinkets from around the world. Nothing interesting there, right? Millions of people do that.

So why do I bring up my grandmother? Because, unlike most people who amass armies of gewgaws, my grandmother remembers the stories behind each and every one of her treasures in vivid detail. Not only can she tell you where, when, and why she got them, she can usually tell you what materials and methods were used in making them, the cultural significance of those materials and methods, and possibly even the name of the artisan and his aunt’s husband’s cousin’s new boyfriend. Okay, okay, so maybe not the new boyfriend. I assume the girl in question would have married the fella or moved on by now.

Writers are a lot like collectors. We take our little baubles, our characters and conflicts, and arrange them until we like what we see. But do we, like my grandmother, take the time to get the story behind each? If you don’t write speculative fiction, as I do, perhaps you don’t think you need so much backstory. Not so. Maybe you don’t need to decide whether the dragon likes his maidens medium-rare or well done, but at least know why your story needs to happen in London instead of any other major metropolis. Perhaps the anatomical location of the alien’s nose is of no importance to you, but do you know why that character is mind-bogglingly shallow?

Mind you, I don’t think you should start any collections. I’d have to spend weeks with my grandmother to get every story. Sadly, with all those ornaments competing for space with each other, all of them lost value. When I visited to pick out the things I wanted to keep, I passed up many costly, beautiful things because they held no importance to me. Instead, I kept an ugly metal pig. Why? Because my grandmother told me its story. I know it’s real value.

Don Aslett believes in ruthlessly giving away everything that doesn’t hold true significance for you. Not just marginal  sentimental value or potential usefulness someday. No. We’re talkin’ actively-contributing-to-your-current-well-being importance. The same principle can be applied to writing. When you look at your literary knick-knacks, do you  remember why you kept them? Are they truly important? Then put them out where we can see them! Toss the rest. You don’t have to give us your reasons for keeping each treasure unless it’s important to the story, but if you’ve done it right, we, like any fascinated guest, will ask you for more details.

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mCq20AC__B4

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Thank you, ReGi!  I’ll have to ask you back again.  😀

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If you’re curious about today’s guest blogger, you can go over to her blog: www.regimcclain.wordpress.com

Chat with her on Twitter:  www.twitter.com/regimcclain

And find her on Facebook: www.facebook.com/RegiMcclain

I would recommend all three, really. She’s a lot of fun.  😀

And she just informed me that she has a Pinterest page as well: http://www.pinterest.com/ReGiMcClain

She’s practically everywhere!  lol

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Have a Great Weekend!

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On The Long Game – A Guest Post By Laura Oliva

6 Sep
Here's a photo of her saucy self.

Here’s a photo of her saucy self.

You remember the cover reveal we did here a little while ago? Here’s the author.

I have to admit that my first thought after seeing that her second book was already done was “I hate her.” But on reflection I kind of started to wonder how she does this whole writing thing so dang fast (especially with a toddler at home!).

So after a few days of wondering, I invited her to write a guest post.

Here’s what she has to say about staying creative as a writer:

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“There is no rule on how to write.  Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly; sometimes it’s like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges.” -Ernest Hemingway

It’s that time again.

Fall is in the air.  The sun is shining.  The leaves are changing.  And I am sitting down to start another book.

I crack my knuckles, position my coffee cup within reach, and set my hands to the keyboard.  The unique pleasure of creation crackles through me.  I hunch over the table.  And then…

Nothing.

I look around.  The table is filthy.  The floor hasn’t been mopped in ages.  My chair has no lumbar support; I can feel my spine begin to telescope the longer I sit.  Rattled, I take a sip of coffee.  It tastes terrible.  And as if that’s not bad enough, it’s getting cold.  The panic every writer knows all too well starts to build.

What if I can’t do this again?

The Muse is a fickle mistress, as any writer, artist, or musician will tell you.  Jungian analyst and writer Clarissa Pinkola Estes calls it Rio Abajo Rio, the River Beneath the River.  It’s an apt metaphor.  One minute we can be swimming along, basking in our creative groove, and the next…

Nothing.  The water disappears underground, and we’re left gasping on a dry riverbank.

So what do you do?  You could sit and wait for your river to surface again.  Lots of writers do.  But when might that happen?  Sometimes, waiting is just not an option.  What if you have goals?  Deadlines?  Diapers to change?  You need every second of writing time you can get.

Every writer I know has their own little bag of tricks: tried-and-true ways to get The Muse back on the chain gang when she’d rather stay home and do her nails.  Many of us utilize the same tools; music, visuals, voodoo, et cetera.  Here, for your reading pleasure, is my personal survival kit:

A Picture Is Worth… Well, You Know.  I’ve always been a very visual person.  When I was younger, oil painting was my creative outlet of choice.  Now I write more than I paint, but I remain compelled by the power of a good picture. 

Most recently, I have become an unabashed Pinterest addict.  The ability to curate pictures that inspire my writing is truly priceless.  On days when I feel my creativity dwindling, you can usually find me on Pinterest, scrolling through old pictures and finding new ones.  This alone is usually enough to snap me out of a slump.

The Right Note.  Music is a daily routine for me.  I have a playlist for each book I write, and I’m constantly on the hunt for songs that capture the tone of my projects.

Ironically, I rarely listen to them while I’m actually writing.  Rather, I play them all the rest of the time: running errands, cooking dinner, or just driving around.  I’m convinced this helps them seep into my subconscious to emerge later, when I do sit down to write.

What Do You Want?  You’ve probably heard this from every teacher, life coach, and college professor you’ve ever met, but you need goals.  This is true of life in general, but it’s especially so in writing.

Embarking on a writing career is a long game.  It’s not easy, and it’s not quick.  If you don’t have something on the horizon to keep your eye on, it gets very difficult to stay motivated enough to continue.  So what do you want?  Be as specific as possible.

Then take a deep breath, and dive in.

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Thanks, Laura!  (lol, Voodoo.)

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Want more?

Laura’s Amazon author page: www.amazon.com/author/lauraoliva

Her website: www.lauraolivabooks.com

And on Twitter: @writermama

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