Prompts to Promote Creative Writing

Moleskine and Cross Beverly Fountain PenThere is an old adage, “Practice makes perfect”. As an artisan, I create product at my jeweler’s bench a few times every week. I either make simpler production pieces that keep my booth’s jewelry racks filled, or spend more intensive creative time working on complex showcase pieces that are displayed in protective glass cases. I’ve learned that as long as I keep making a few items as I go along, I never come to a point where I am unprepared for a sales venue or unable to offer a few new designs to my customers. Practicing my jewelry craft on a regular basis, attending jewelry making workshops to increase my skills, and studying gemology has all combined to make me a reasonably successful artisan jeweler.

Writing, as it turns out, follows a similar business model. To be a successful writer, you need to write something every day to sharpen your skills. I schedule time to work on my novel a few days each week and consider it as I would the time I put in on complex jewelry items. A long term fiction novel takes more time to dream up, to figure out the connections between the characters, and to create a satisfying experience for the reader. On days when I am not working on my novel, I am writing posts for No Wasted Ink or articles for magazines. I consider these works to be like the simpler jewelry pieces, they are popular with the public, I sell a great many of them, but they don’t take quite as much mental exercise as a complex focal piece. Between these projects and commenting on forums and blogs, I tend to write for a few hours every single day. Writing is like breathing. It is what I do.

If you don’t have a blog to spur you to write on a regular basis, the next best thing is to start a journal and use writing prompts to fire up your creativity and hone your writing skills. Your journal can be on your computer or perhaps in a paper bound book such as a Moleskine. No one needs to see your short exercises, but if you have an inspiring day, that prompt could be the beginning to a good short story, novel or article. Your daily writing habit does not need to be long, perhaps a few hundred words at best. You’ll find that as you write, over time your word count will increase and finding topics or stories to write about will be easier.

The following are online sources for writing prompts.

Creative Writing Ink

The-One-Minute Writer

Short Story Ideas

The Write Prompts

The Journal

Author Interview: Tracy Angelina Evans

I met Tracy via a writing group on facebook where we discussion the little details of marketing our books and the joys and frustrations of being an author. I’m happy to add a fellow science fiction writer to the list of authors being interviewed here on No Wasted Ink. I hope you’ll enjoy her interview as much as I have.

Author Tracy Angelina EvansMy name is Tracy Angelina Evans. I use the full name because many know me as Tracy, but some know me as Angelina. It’s a long, convoluted story. Besides writing, my greatest love is music and, to me, the two are really inextricably linked. My main character Cadmus Pariah, for example, was spontaneously born out of a song called ‘Deeply Lined Up’ by a band called Shriekback. Ever since I can remember, I’ve been one to have “causes.” If I am fond of something, I will do my best to persuade any and all that they should, too. My family have long contended that I should have been an Evangelical preacher because of this trait.

When and why did you begin writing?

I began writing during my first grade in school, mainly to cope with loneliness and with the bullying I endured beginning then. It was an escape into a better world for me.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

In the early 80s, when I transitioned from writing animal-based stories, to stories revolving around human beings. My fascination was with science fiction and fantasy, and that is what I began to focus on myself.

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

The third book, of the trilogy known as ‘The Vampire Relics,’ focuses on the third and last relic to be found and utilized in an attempt to redeem those Vampires who want to return to mortality and earn a place in what many would call Heaven. That book is finished and is being edited as we speak.

The book I’m writing now, deals with the remaining Vampires on Earth, including Cadmus Pariah, who has now been raised in power to the title of Plenipotentiary of the New Hive. It centers on his struggle to recapture the emotions abused out of him for decades, and what he does to each individual who brings out said emotion. The working title for the book is called The Harming Tree, which is an actual musical instrument created by Barry Andrews, who gave me permission to use the name.

What inspired you to write this book?

I have always had a love affair with Vampires, and began to properly study their lore in the late 80s. It fascinates me that so many different cultures hold the same myths and legends about a supposedly mythical creature. My aim was to bring that together and kind of explain their genesis by way of much older teachers, often called the Elfs or Elves. The development of Cadmus Pariah and why he does what he does was a major motivator for me as well.

Do you have a specific writing style?

A friend of mine quipped that I was a Method Writer, because I delve into each character as I write them. Sometimes that can be extremely painful, considering the fates of Cadmus and Faust the Confessor. Some would call it Purple Prose, but I prefer Poetic Prose. The noun-verb-noun style that Hemingway inspired, has always left me wanting. Russell Hoban outshines many modern writers because of his love of the word. His passing was a loss to us all.

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

Each book is the name of one of the three relics; thus, the Chalice, the Blood Crown, and the Augury of Gideon.

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

That there is a world unseen that roils around us, that is much older than we are, and is responsible for who we are today.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

I tend to anchor some characters to real life people. I don’t know of any writer who doesn’t, but I know plenty who deny they do. Cadmus, for instance, if very heavily anchored to Barry Andrews. He know this, of course, and I think he’s a bit perplexed to have such a vicious entity be his “demon child.” They’re nothing alike really, so please don’t judge Barry by the dastardly deeds of Cadmus Pariah.

What authors have most influenced your life?

JRR Tolkien, Clive Barker, and Russell Hoban (schizophrenia anyone?)

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

I would give my left eye to be mentored by Clive Barker. He isn’t a mere writer, but a world creator. He paints his realms, then writes about them. I find that fascinating and I admit that I do covet his abilities.

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

Stacey Lucas drew the cover of ‘The Chalice’ simply because she was the absolute best at committing Cadmus to paper. For the ‘Blood Crown.,’ I wanted a bigger scope and to offer the reader a hint of both Cadmus and Orphaeus. Amanda Cook, an artist in Los Angeles, was responsible for that cover. She will also being doing the cover for ‘The Augury of Gideon.’

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Write what brings you the most joy, even if that joy inspires a level of discomfort. Listen to your characters; they have a lot more to say than you give them credit for. They will often write it for you, if you only give them the chance.

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

Despite some of more extreme scenes in the books, I hope the overall essence of ‘The Vampire Relics’ gives you Good Dreams.

The Chalice Book CoverTracy Angelina Evans
Duncan, South Carolina

I try to interpret the myth that has intrinsically created our society, a myth that never died, we just choose to no longer see it or acknowledge it.

Publisher: Fey Publishing
Stacey Lucas and Amanda Cook


No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links

As I slowly get prepared for NaNoWriMo this year, I’m starting to focus more on articles about writing scenes and other nuts and bolts of the organizing of a novel. I especially loved the one about fight scenes, but all of these have interesting information to impart.

Biff! Pow! Fight Scenes!

Get a Grip on Twitter Handles

The Whys and Hows of Paraphrasing

As A Freelance Writer, Should Quality Ever Come Second To Quantity?

Editing Tips

How To Get Amazon’s Top Customer Reviewers To Review Your Book

How Technology Has Changed Stories In My Life

The Business Rusch: Content is King

Articles You Wouldn’t Take Home to Mother: How to Write About Embarrassing Topics

How Bestseller Lists Work…and Introducing the Amazon Monthly 100

Victorian-Era Writing Space

Victorian-Era Writing Space

I’ve been a fan of This Old House for many years. I came across this story of a victorian-era house that was filled with melted wiring and soggy plaster. The experts at This Old House did a lovely remodel, including this author friendly writing space up on the third floor. Read more about it at This Old House.

Book Review: Fahrenheit 451

Book Name: Fahrenheit 451
Author: Ray Bradbury
First Published: 1953

Ray Bradbury was an American fantasy, science fiction, and mystery fiction writer. He was known for his dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451 and for the science fiction and horror stories gathered together in The Martian Chronicles and The Illustrated Man. Many of Bradbury’s works have been adapted into television and films and he has left his stamp on the science fiction and fantasy genres as one of the masters other authors set their own standards by.

Bradbury was born in the mid-west, but his family moved back and forth between Waukegan, Illinios and Tucson, Arizona for most of his formative years. When Bradbury was fourteen, his family settled in Los Angeles, California and he remained in the Southern California area for much of his life. Bradbury was a reader and writer throughout his youth. He claimed that he was inspired by Edgar Rice Burroughs and his John Carter of Mars series and even wrote a fanfiction based on those tales at the age of twelve. However, he cited H.G. Wells and Jules Verne as his biggest science fiction influences, followed by Robert A. Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke, Theodore Sturgeon, and A. E. van Vogt. As Bradbury matured, he drew more from the style and works of Alexander Pope and poet John Donne. When later asked about the lyrical nature of his prose, Bradbury replied that it came, “From reading so much poetry every day of my life. My favorite writers have been those who’ve said things well.” He also has said, “If you’re reluctant to weep, you won’t live a full and complete life.”

Bradbury did not go to college and instead took a job selling newspapers once he graduated from high school. He said of this time, “Libraries raised me. I don’t believe in colleges and universities. I believe in libraries because most students don’t have any money. When I graduated from high school, it was during the Depression and we had no money. I couldn’t go to college, so I went to the library three days a week for 10 years.” In fact, Bradbury wrote Fahrenheit 451 at the UCLA’s Powell Library where he rented a typewriter in one of their study rooms. The rental rate for completing the entire novel was around $9.80 since the rental of the manual typewriter was ten cents per half hour.

Ray Bradbury lived at home until the age of twenty-seven when he married his sweetheart, Marguerite McClure. They had four children together. He was an active member of Los Angeles Science Fiction Society where he made his first connections in the writing community of Los Angeles. From these connections, he began to meet publishers and gained a following for his work that now spans the globe. Bradbury is credited with writing 27 novels and over 600 short stories. More than eight million copies of his works, published in over 36 languages, have been sold around the world.

In his later years, Ray Bradbury became a well sought out speaker at literary events in the Southern California area. He never obtained a driver’s license and did not enjoy travel. It was well known on the speaker circuit, if you wanted Ray Bradbury to speak at your event, you had best arrange to have a driver come and get him. I regret that I did not take the opportunity to meet Mr. Bradbury in person before he passed away in December of 2011. He was a favorite on the literary speaker’s circuit in Southern California and I personally know many writers that consider him to be an inspiration and mentor, in fact, my own writing society meets in a public library room dedicated to his name. Mr. Bradbury’s burial place is in Los Angeles with a headstone that reads “Author of Fahrenheit 451”. This one novel was his favorite and the one that he was likely the most proud of.

Fahrenheit 451 is a novel that has many layers. On the surface, it is the story of Guy Montag. He is a fireman, but instead of putting out fires, his job is to seek out books, which are forbidden due to his society’s views as their being the source of all unhappiness and discord, and burn them to cinders. One day on the job, he picks up a book and instead of burning it, it reads it. His life is transformed. Now, instead of being a normal part of his society, he is a dissent who wishes to protect and preserve these ideas and words from the past until a new generation may come to pass that will appreciate these pearls of wisdom hidden in books. He discovers a group of people that have memorized the books of the ages and repeat them orally in order to preserve the words in a way that their society can not destroy.

However, is this really what this classic novel is all about? Is it all censorship and book burning? Bradbury predicted a future where people wore radios that plugged their ears to the world around them so that they would focus on the world of media only. A concept that is a precursor to iPods and smartphones where the world of social media becomes as important to us as the physical world outside. In the novel, walls of televisions soothed the souls of people that only wanted to be happy and not look too closely at what was happening around them. They did not think for themselves, but rather based their views on what was fed to them by their media. With our giant HD television sets and giant computer monitors, it could be a mirror of how people perceive the world of today. The burning of books by Fireman Montag almost seems a throw away plot to the theme that is placed under the fast paced action of this story.

Bradbury always claimed that this was not a book about censorship, which the burning of books suggests, but rather a social commentary about what happens when society presses in and takes away individual freedom and thought. In the world of Guy Montag books were ultimately banned because they made people feel “bad” or insulted some minority group. Individual expression or original thinking was not encouraged. I sometimes can see in my mind Ray Bradbury typing away at the public library as he writes this book. He was a child who could not afford to go to college, to be molded by society. He was an independent thinker who took his views from the tomes that surrounded him in his library setting. I can understand his love of books and the value of treasuring what went on in the past in the way that it was preserved by previous generations and taking from it ideas to change our own futures. To allow the quiet of a book speak to you in ways that social media can not.

Fahenheit 451 Book CoverFahrenheit 451 is not in the public domain, so you will need to purchase it at your local bookstore or online. It is frequently found at your local library to borrow for free. When the publishing rights for Fahrenheit 451 came up for renewal in December 2011, just before Bradbury’s death, he allowed that the work could be published as an ebook provided that the publisher, Simon & Schuster, would allow the novel to be digitally downloaded by any library patron. The title remains the only book in the Simon & Schuster catalog where this is possible.

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