No Wasted Ink Writers Links

Welcome back to No Wasted Ink! This Monday, I have a nice grab bag of articles for you. Many are general writing tips and a few are science fiction/fantasy related. I hope you find them as interesting as I did.

How to Ensure Readers Won’t Throw Your Book Across the Room

The Women Who Rode Miles on Horseback to Deliver Library Books

Is Grammarly Worth It? A Writer Reviews This Popular Editing Tool

Should Authors Break Free from the Brand?

Notes from a Book Tour

Becoming a Full-Time Author: Three Mindset Shifts Every Writer Must Make

8 Reasons Why Your Manuscript May be Getting Rejections

Before You Market Your Book, Set Your Objectives

GPS Systems: What Authors Should Know

WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM A RANDOM SCIENCE FICTION NOVEL: THE WORLDS OF ROBERT A. HEINLEIN

Author Interview: Nicole Luttrell

Author Nicole Luttrell is a speculative fiction writer. She writes about dragons, ghosts, and spaceships. Please welcome her to No Wasted Ink.

Author Nicole LuttrellI live in Western PA with my darling husband, a loyal dog, and a spoiled cat. When I’m not writing I’m reading. When I’m not doing one of those things, which is rare, I can be found working among my herb garden, haunting yarn stores or exploring the multitude of caves that surround my town.
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When and why did you begin writing?

I was telling stories as soon as I had words to tell them with. But I started writing when I was thirteen when I came to the dawning realization that this was something that could be done for a living. That people could make their lives all about telling stories.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Right away. As soon as I decided I wanted to be a writer I got a copy of The Writer’s Market at the library. I never considered this just a hobby, just a dream. This has always, right from the beginning, been my life’s goal. I’ve considered myself a writer from that moment.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

Right now I’m publishing my most recent novella, Station Central, on my website. It’s about a detective and a food stand owner who both live on a space station. They keep finding themselves in increasingly terrifying situations as these creatures called the Hollow Suits wipe out mankind on Earth, then turn their sights on the stations that hold the last examples of humanity.

What inspired you to write this book?

I love Star Trek, and I wanted to write something in the same vein. I wanted to write a story about a detective in a space station. But I also wanted to talk about food, as that’s a big thing with me. So I wanted to tell the story of a farmer, a chef, who moved to the stations to bring honest food to the stars.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I like to think so. I tend to tell stories from at least two points of view. But writing style, I think, is not an intentional thing. I think a writing style comes out or it doesn’t.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

The title of the series, Station 86, is actually a secret. I’m waiting for someone to guess why I chose the number 86. But the title for the most recent book is simple. The main characters, Sennett and Godfrey, are just trying to go on vacation in the original space station, called Station Central.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

I talk about a lot of things. Gay rights, gender equality, religious freedom. But mostly, the point of my novels is not to give a message. It’s to tell a good story.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

I loved reading Ann McCaffrey as a little girl, and I consider her the original science fantasy author.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

Stephen King. I think I’ve read On Writing about a hundred times. Honestly, every writer should read it.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

The first two covers were from an artist named Jeremy McCliams, who unfortunately isn’t in the business anymore. I designed the second two covers.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Read and write as much as you can. Consume stories, any stories that you can get. But don’t let the work consume you. You don’t want to look up from your desk to find yourself alone. Live and experience the world. Then bring those stories to the page.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Support indie writers. Not just me, not just anyone. There are some amazing stories out there, and not all of them are getting picked up by the Big Six.

51fxP9XGG+L._SY346_Nicole Luttrell
Butler, PA.

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Seeming: Station 86

Cover Artist: Jeremy McCliams

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No Wasted Ink Writers Links

Welcome to another day of top ten links here on No Wasted Ink. This week, my writer article selections are more general in topic, but all should prove to be interesting. Pour yourself a cup of joe and sit back. It is time for a good read.

The Aesthetic Beauty of Math

Ten Ways Writers Can Utilize Their Time

Yes, Bookmobiles Are Still a Thing. (We Checked.)

50 MUST-READ FICTION BOOKS FEATURING OLDER WOMEN

What Writers Need to Know About Morality Clauses

The Indie Bookstore Renaissance (and Why it Matter to Writers)

About That ‘Writing Vacation’

Location, Location, Location: Discovering the Perfect Place for Writing Your Novel

Memoir & Legacy: Writing about Summers Past

Declutter that Novel! Is it Time to Marie Kondo Your WIP?

The Race Where You Can’t Afford A Burn-out by Kim Dorothy

I average writing 70k-words per week. One of the guys in the head office invited me to post tips about avoiding burnout in a high-volume production mode. Keep in mind that I do this full-time and live alone, so it’s more or less my perfect world. Burnout is the flip side of efficiency; less of the former when there’s more of the latter. Most of the following relates to what I’ve learned about efficiency. There might be a kernel of something helpful here for you.

1. Buy the best you can afford.
a. A slow computer drags down spontaneity, preventing you from tapping into that special part of the brain where the writer in you lives – in the word vault. I have several computers; some for heavy-duty video processing and Photoshop work and others, portable and light including one that will fit in my purse.

b. A keyboard has to be properly responsive. You don’t want to need to “punch” the keys, nor do you want a flat plastic pretend board that gives you no sense of keystrike fulfillment. You may prefer an external keyboard paired with a laptop as some laptop designs that include a touchpad are awkwardly designed so that you have to arch your wrists to avoid touching the pad as you type.

c. The monitor should be the highest resolution you can afford. Our eyestrain is greater than that of an air traffic controller and you can seriously damage your eyes as well as sit for long periods in an unnatural position to accommodate the screen’s poor resolution. I also find it easier on my eyes if I swap monitors. I use dual 27” UHD for design work and my 13” UHD laptop screen for simply writing. Less environmental input to process.

d. Get the right chair. This isn’t necessarily the most expensive as some companies produce office furniture that revolves more around design aesthetic than support and functionality. My favorite chair at the moment is an $89 upholstered dining room chair from the mark-down room at Value City Furniture. It holds my back straight, my lap is parallel to the floor, it cushions my tush and slides easily on a plastic chair mat.

e. Get the right desk. This is about height so you can have the ideal posture while typing. It also needs to accommodate your monitor at eye height so your neck isn’t strained. I use an added-on adjustable keyboard tray that slides in and out, tilts and allows you to switch the side where your mouse sits. It’s securely screwed into the underside of the desk’s top. I have a short footstool under my desk that keeps my feet from swelling or my knees from creating blood clots or poor circulation.

f. Make it a dedicated work computer. No gaming, no social media, no emails. No kids or spouse who changes the background and trashes your files. Plenty of disk space, but have a back-up.

2. Dropbox, iCloud, etc.
Since I use multiple computers, I keep all my writing files in the cloud. They sync and I can sit down at any one of my units and pick up where I left off. I also use Evernote because I can capture browser screenshots, articles, audio, photos; all the things I use to build my outline. Again, it syncs across all my devices, including my phone while I’m driving and think of something. I don’t have to chase ideas down.

3. Move around.
My computer is a tool and I have several. My house happens to have four floors and there is a computer on three of them, including one on a rolling laptop table I can take outdoors by the pool in summer. If you have one working area, stand up every half hour and stretch out a few yoga moves, throw in some laundry, chop onions for dinner, go rinse your face or brush your teeth. Just move and then get back to it. Avoid movement that can be a diversion, such as watching tv or getting on the phone to visit with your friend.

4. Eat well.
A brain on normal standby burns 20% of your caloric intake. A “thinking” brain uses even more. Your brain needs healthy fats and protein for top working order. Do not eat sugary carbs as these slow you down and trigger cravings and produce erratic blood sugar levels. Try it – eat a doughnut or a bowl of cereal and you’ll feel yourself fading. Avoid foods with tryptophan. I recommend never eating at the computer. It gums up your keyboard and your tush and belly will widen. Eat small but healthy snacks during your half-hour stretches. While on this topic, dress in layers and work in fresh air whenever possible.

5. Train your brain.
The human body is a wonderfully adaptable machine and you can use that to your advantage. If you write for five hours in the morning on Monday and two hours in the afternoon on Tuesday, the body is spending energy and awareness on adapting. Set a writing time and stick to it. If you wake up at 3 a.m. and can’t sleep, don’t go and write. You’re confusing your body’s internal clock and you’ll pay for it. Then, just like that magic cup of coffee keeps you regular, your brain will allocate resources more smoothly because it knows what to expect. This also reduces your anxiety and if you know your writing pace, you can predict to the day when your book will be complete. I recommend a nap at about 3 pm. Even a short one is restorative. When you’re not writing, don’t be at the computer playing games. Give your body plenty of exercise.

6. Mute your phone.
Message alerts and phone calls break your concentration. It’s okay to return calls to people later on.

7. Open all Programs.
You may have your favorites, but when writing I have the following open: Grammarly / Word / Thesaurus, Evernote and Chrome. I use Evernote like you may use Scrivener. I fit them all on one screen when possible, or in layers when not. The fewer times my hands leave the keyboard to feel for the mouse, and to return, the more productive I am.

8. Dictation for dialogue.
I use Dragon and a PC for the best results. I think there’s a post in the All-Star files where I take you through all the combinations of computer / software / microphones I experimented with. Mary Crawford also has published an excellent book on the topic.

a. I tend to always dictate dialogue. I close my eyes, sit back in the recliner and become the voice of my character(s). It feels natural and more authentic; like you’re in a play on stage but starring in all the roles. It’s fun. Note on this: It takes some time to get used to saying, “New line, open quote,” etc. and then “close quote.” I’ve experimented with just saying “dash” or “x” and then go back and let the search and replace swap them into quotes and new lines. Still working on this. If you’ve mastered it, please mention it below. The software knows whether it’s an open or closed quote.

b. Sometimes, I dictate portions, such as describing a house or the decoration in a room, etc. I picture it and it seems to flow more easily. I always keyboard type my surprises and plot twists. Here again, it comes from the word vault. Just add an “insert so-and-so here” to the manuscript and come back to it.

c. Use dictation sparingly according to how comfortable you’ve become and how accurate your computer and software set-up is. If you don’t do it well, you’ll just aggravate yourself.

9. I prefer rough outlines.
Detailed outlines reduce spontaneity of thought but it’s nice to come back to your work and pick up where you left off without re-reading the book to regain your train of thought. If I break at the end of the chapter, I always leave a note for myself in the beginning of the next. Something like, “Mary and Sally theorize why John Doe has a criminal record.” Avoid re-reading and editing as you go. These waste time because there will always be an ultimate edit where you can fix things.

10. Be Visual.
I fill my Evernote notebook for the current work with screen capture photos of my primary characters, settings, the car they drive, maps of locations, etc. This way I can look at them visually and not confuse the color of their eyes or have them drive south when their destination is north in reality. I also give them a character workup such as, “Mary was shy, almost reclusive due to her parents’ old age and that she thought herself unattractive. She loves anything chocolate and crochets while in the bathroom for escapism. She dreams of finding the right guy.” I am an empath and have many times, created a character definition and then gone for a drive and actually see someone who resembles them. I can pull over, make notes about their posture, how quickly they walk, whether their house windows are dirty, etc. into Evernote on her particular note. Go to the mall or an airport and watch people. Decide whether couples are business, siblings or lovers and what tells you that. This goes a long way to helping you show not tell.

11. Have a goal.
70k words in a week may sound impossible, but when broken down into 10k words per day, it’s a reasonable goal. Prepping before writing should be given a good amount of time because it prevents interruption when you’re in the word vault.

12. What’s in a name?
When you’re writing multiple books at the same time, as I do, it’s easy to get confused with names. I will substitute “boy”, “girl”, “father”, “boss” and so forth and then search and replace later with the character’s name. This should be done PRE-edit. If you’re chasing a word count, one of your characters names can become two, such as “boy” becomes “John Boy.”

13. Writing can be tedious.
To help with this, I incorporate people I know and release my pent-up emotions. I may use a former lover as romantic inspiration, or as the victim who dies a painful death if he’s moved on in real life. You are omnipotent here – take advantage of that.

14. Use Meta-data.
I write in Word and open the column that shows reviewing comments. I insert as a note a visual icon for the season, the time of day, etc. This way my timeline is valid. I also keep the navigation pane open and use character styling. This tells me which chapter I’m in and whose POV I’m writing, when applicable.

15. Do your research thoroughly and in advance.
Don’t wait until you come to the scene where the FMC is going on vacation to research the airport, what it looks like, how busy it typically is, the destination, the accommodations, how people dress, where they’re from, etc. Knowing all this in advance enriches your character. She can shop for clothes, pack, arrange for animal care, take a leave of absence, dread the eight-hour flight, bring sea-sickness wristbands, etc. in the chapters leading up to departure. You don’t have to break stride or go back to add these details.

16. Ban the clock.
The only clock in my house that works is on my computer. I live in a timeless space so I can step into my books without being tethered to the real one.

17. Keep things nearby to prevent interruption.
This includes Kleenex, a nail file, Visine, something to drink, pen and paper, etc. I use Alexa on a regular basis to calculate numbers, give me dates in history, weather averages in distant locations on a certain date, calculate the mileage between locations to estimate driving or flying time, get area codes for phony phone numbers, ingredients for a recipe—you get the drift.

18. Just Write.
Your job at this point is to write. Whether you design your own cover or source it elsewhere, it can wait. You’re not the editor, the marketer, the designer or the social media superstar. Stick to the plan. This is not to say that you can’t change your game plan for your book mid-stream. It’s better to call a bad attempt off than to slug through it and let it suck you down like quicksand.

19. About music.
Resist the temptation to play music while you write. The body will try to align the rhythms, just as you do while walking a treadmill. If the scene is slow and romantic, but the music is a Sousa march…well you get the drift.

Burnout comes predictably. You write longer than you should or at different times of the day. You feel physically rung out and your body aches, particularly your eyes. You may have set unrealistic deadlines or not allowed adequate time to get the flu or stock up on groceries. Keep balance in all things, especially family, relaxation, business/job, exercise along with your writing. Even more fatally, burnout leads to dread and that kills your muse. I can honestly say I’ve never known what “writer’s block” feels like, but I can certainly tell you what burnout feels like. I don’t think they’re the same, but they can definitely play tag team. Last of all, we all have days when nothing goes right – so acutely that you think the end times have begun. Stop, back away and don’t contaminate your work with that negativity. You won’t accomplish anything but increase your stress and ruin yourself for the next day.

Kim Dorothy is a full-time ghostwriter and lives near the southeastern shore of Lake Michigan. Passionate about violent weather and romantic music, she lives alone and travels to inspirational locations in her mobile office. She is an ebook pioneer, having written and published the first ebook for bookselling distribution. You may contact her at kim @ mboox.com or visit her website, www.mboox.com.

No Wasted Ink Writers Links

Happy Monday! My top ten list of articles for writers is hot off the press. This week I chose general writing subjects, not so much focusing on scifi or fantasy genre as I usually do. Sometimes it is good to break things up. I hope you enjoy this week’s selection.

The Half-Wild Muse: On Writers and Their Cats

How to describe a character

Five Lies Writers Believe

Another Person’s Words: Poetry Is Always the Speaker

How Stanley Kubrick Staged the Moon Landing

This Tiny Traveling Bookstore Wanders the French Countryside

‘Close’ Proximity, ‘End’ Result, and More Redundant Words to Delete From Your Writing

Why Editing Matters

Haiku Remix Game: A Fun Poetry Game

7 Innovative Journaling Techniques You’ll Want to Try

Author Interviews * Book Reviews * Essays * Writer's Links * Scifaiku

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