The Blank Page and Writers’ Block

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Hello, my readers. Are you enjoying the pleasant Fall weather? The colorful leaves? The garden clean up? It’s been rather brisk out here, and I have some new ideas for writing that I wanted to share.

Today, I’ll discuss the dreaded Blank Page that haunts every writer at one point in his or her career. I’ll also mention the tricks and tips I’ve used in overcoming writer’s block.

—The Blank Page—

A new story always begins with a blank page or screen. This is the beginning of the writing process and it can seem daunting to any writer. What do we do? What do we write? Failure to move forward is often called the Writers’ Block.

Writers’ Block: The Daunting Prospect of Beginning

“To know what you’re going to draw, you have to begin drawing.” —Picasso

Just like with a blank canvas, a white page can be overwhelming. It’s a door into infinity, where God gives us the keys and allows us to create our own universe. Yet we hesitate out of doubt and uncertainty. Why is this?

The Social Facet of Writing

To quote another writer:

“You can only write regularly if you’re willing to write badly… Accept bad writing as a way of priming the pump, a warm-up exercise that allows you to write well.” —Jennifer Egan

As humans, we are social creatures. Any creative works we share with our family and peers. We hope for the approval and validation of what we are, our talents, and our direction in life. Rejection is like a knife to the gut and we become a failure—or so our ego wants us to believe.

Questions and Self-reflection

Because of these social mechanisms that wire the brain, we may hesitate in front of a blank page. Emotions of confusion, wonderment, procrastination, or anxiety also arise.

  • What will I write? I can’t think of anything.
  • Will the final product be good enough?
  • Am I wasting my time doing this?
  • How do I start this blasted process?

These are some questions we, as writers, may ask.  Five minutes pass, and then an hour. The page is still blank and the creative process is stuck at a deadlock.

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—Freeing the Creative Mind—

I aim to show you how to break that traffic jam in your creative process. Anyone can do it. When a writer enters this realm, the clouds clear and the creative subconscious regenerates.

Here are some techniques I use when dealing with writers’ block.

1. Time and Space

Establishing a quiet area where I won’t be disturbed for writing is crucial. I make sure it’s comfortable and quiet/I ask my living mates not to enter for a designated interval. This is my time to center—and I consider it a part of the writing routine.

2. Relax

Before I tackle a blank page, I learn to relax and let go. I fight against the urge to think about anything, even my story. It can be difficult sometimes, but regulating my breathing using a technique called pranayama certainly helps.

Dedicate a part of your day to meditate, even if it’s only 5 minutes. Some people meditate better at night, other people in the morning. Meditating before you begin writing may be ideal. Find an ideal time that works for you.

3. Creative Tools

I’ve used things like music, essential oil fragrance, and colors to enhance my creative focus. Some authors produce amazing work listening to music—others with no sound at all. Everyone is different; experiment, and find what works for you. It certainly took me a while to develop my creative toolkit. Don’t rush it—remember to relax.

4. Have Fun—Stay Positive

Any sense of competition or raging ambition within my mind usually creates anxiety. There is an urge in my ego to write perfectly and I compare myself to professionals constantly. Believe me, it can get discouraging.

When I look at writing from a positive perspective, things get easier. I now write because it’s fun and I want to share my stories, no matter how good or bad they are. In my opinion, nothing beats the creative process of worldbuilding.

5. Creative Exercises

Sometimes I try a short exercise to get my creative juices flowing. A small poem or haiku, as I mentioned in my previous article, has worked wonders for me. Here are some additional ideas from Vicky Fraser.

6. Simplify

A messy workplace or disorganized writing portfolio is the worst. I keep all my writing projects organized in a portfolio for routine review. This shows me how far I’ve come and encourages me to keep writing.

Having an organized portfolio also gives ideas from previous projects to use in newer ones. Simon Lund mentions some similar methods Hemingway used for his writing projects.

7. Acceptance

Improvement comes naturally with time and I accept that I will never be the best or the worst. When I surrender to this idea, my creative juices run wild, and I can produce paragraphs of content from that blank page.

Acceptance and surrender don’t mean that you make yourself a doormat for life, nor should you lack healthy ambition. You should accept the things you cannot change, have the courage to create the things you can, and develop the wisdom to distinguish the two.

—On a Final Note—

The solutions for writers’ block and the Blank Page are numerous, and I encourage you to seek out your own methods. I hope this article has given you some good ideas to start with. Thank you very much for reading and I’ll leave you with this quote:

“He doth entreat your grace, my noble lord,
To visit him to-morrow or next day:
He is within, with two right reverend fathers,
Divinely bent to
meditation,
And in no worldly suits would he be moved
To draw him from his holy exercise.”

William Shakespeare
The Tragedy of King Richard the Third

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Ethereal Seals Front Page Redesign!

(This is a replica of my newly designed front page. It serves as a reflective essay and cataloging exercise. I talk about my WIPs, objectives of this blog, and other goodies. I hope you find this post engaging and informative. Thanks for reading.)


 

EdWhite_BusinessCard

Hello, my name is Ed White. I’m an aspiring writer and graphic designer, developing my skills for a host of writing and art projects. I’ve been a designer all my life, and I regularly strive to improve myself through the feedback of my community.

Below, I’ll discuss what projects I’m working on as well as what you can expect from this website.

—Introduction—

 My Goals

As a student of the quill and brush, I enjoy exposing myself to new media every day. These include books, movies, video games, and real-life scenarios. I’m currently working on two manuscripts:

  1. Dragonsblade—a high fantasy novel, part of a series
  2. Tempest of the Dragon—a historical fantasy novel set in ancient Japan

I’m also working on a few short stories with the writing groups in my area. I plan to publish these creative works in the future and share my stories with the world.

What You Can Expect Here

Here’s what you can find on this blog:

  • Writing tips
  • Short stories
  • Digital art
  • Rough manuscript tidbits
  • Reflective essays
  • Anything else I think of as I go along

—Book I: Dragonsblade—

Here I’ll discuss my primary writing projects, beginning with an overview of the WIP and a synopsis.

History

Dragonsblade was my first major writing project. It started as an idea between friends in high school. Over the years, the story and characters evolved into a detailed manuscript spanning several books.

About Dragonsblade

The first book is a 130,000-word manuscript. Catering to fantasy and sci-fi readers alike, this high fantasy novel incorporates a combination of creative and spiritual elements that are seen in books like Eragon and Star Wars.

Synopsis

Pepper Slyhart, a reviled—yet innocent—half-dragon in the world of Atlas, believes she’s worth more than what her gender or race suggests. She finds her dreary life shattered during a casual day with her friend and clergyman, Tarie Beyworth.

Through the will of a hermit named Razaeroth, Pepper inherits her father’s old sword. Pepper learns of a clan of druid fanatics, bent on overthrowing Atlas’ decaying empire for the sake of civilization. She vows to stop the druids and save Atlas as a knight blessed by the gods.

#fantasy #highfantasy #sciencefiction #romance #adventure #spirituality

—Book II: Tempest of the Dragon—

Tempest of the Dragon is currently an alpha manuscript and still in development. I intend to work on this book earnestly once Dragonsblade is published.

History

I have always been a fan of Japanese works—anime, manga, and historical facets of Japanese culture. Tempest of the Dragon is my creative passion using that intrigue for Japan, particularly the mythology.

About Tempest of the Dragon

Because the manuscript is unfinished, I can only give estimates about the book. I am aiming for a 100,000 to 120,000-word range. The story will cater to fantasy and historical readers. There will be hints of romance and spiritual concepts as subplots.

Synopsis

Kyosenko, a samurai outcast in Japan, discovers his destiny with a girl named Mina, a cursed Black Dragon in disguise. He vows to protect the ensorcelled girl with his life,  venturing with her across ancient Japan—to a place where Mina may find salvation for Japan. But there is another threat, an organization that wishes to capture Mina and abuse her arcane powers—the Kaji Clan.

#fantasy #romance #adventure #historicalfiction #spirituality

—Other Works I’ve Published—

America’s Emerging Poets 2018 New York & New Jersey

There are few places as attuned to language as New York and New Jersey. Two perpetually groundbreaking states, they’re home to major industries, high culture, and a level of diversity unlike anywhere in the world. Their residents speak in countless languages, but the same gritty pride rolls off every tongue, especially in poetry. And in America’s Emerging Poets 2018: New York and New Jersey, 70+ up-and-coming poets have their own chance to shine.

Covering a wide array of topics ranging from love and heartbreak, family and friendship, the inherent beauty of nature, and so much more, these young talents will amaze you. Containing one poem per poet, this anthology is a compelling introduction to the great wordsmiths of tomorrow.

#poetry #nature #family #romance

America’s Emerging Poets 2019 New York & New Jersey

In New York, history comes alive. The cascading waters of Niagara Falls and the verdant Catskill Mountains exemplify nature’s beauty, while the bustling metropolis of New York City pulsates with the hopes and dreams of eight million residents. In the Empire State, poets have the world in their hands.

And in New York’s Best Emerging Poets 2019, 50 up-and-coming poets have the chance to share their own worlds. Covering a wide array of topics ranging from love and heartbreak, family and friendship, the inherent beauty of nature, and so much more, these young talents will amaze you. Containing one poem per poet, this anthology is a compelling introduction to the great wordsmiths of tomorrow.

#poetry #nature #family #romance

—Thanks for Reading—

On a final note, I would like to thank you for visiting my webpage. I hope you enjoy the content produced here. I cherish any feedback and support from my viewer base, be they comments, likes, or sharing my blog to others.

Click that follow button below to keep in touch with updates. Cheers.

Writing and Networking

agreement arms business business agreement

When it comes to writing, there are many skills that a writer needs to learn. Yet, nothing is more important than networking. This vital skill, especially in our interconnected digital age, is critical for a writer’s success.

What is networking? How can a writer apply it correctly? This article will discuss these questions—so if you’re a writer, feel free to examine this article at length.

—Networking as a Writer—

Networking is when you engage with another individual, whether online or in-person, to discuss a topic of interest. The conversation builds reputation and camaraderie between you two. Networking shares information about what you are and your goals.

Why Should a Writer Network?

I cannot understate the importance of networking for writers, particularly freelance authors. Without a proper network, a writer cannot establish a fanbase or rally social support for his or her WIP.

Imagine you’re a merchant trying to garner attention for your wares in a busy street—all by yourself. Your voice will be a lot louder when you have hundreds or thousands of supporters screaming with you.

What Are the Benefits?

When you network, the other person gains a better understanding of who you are or what you represent. This technique can be beneficial for job hunting, selling a brand, or promoting awareness about a book or WIP.

Tips for Networking

Here are some general tips for engaging with others; they can be applied for promoting your brand, be it a novel, poem, or collection of works. I’ve reformatted them to apply for writers below.

  1. Be Brave—Contacting strangers isn’t always easy. Mustering that courage and initiating the conversation is the first step. Remember you have nothing to lose, and a lot to gain from their feedback of you’re WIP.
  2. Understand Your Audience—Once you’ve introduced yourself, get to know the other person. Break the ice and establish an air of friendship.
  3. Be Yourself—Don’t be a robot or a greedy opportunist. The more human you appear, the higher the chance the other person will respect and help you.
  4. Stay Positive—No one likes a whiner. All writers are insecure on some level, but, learning to channel that uncertainty into something productive works miracles.
  5. Remain In Touch—Don’t lose that hard-won fan! Get some contact information to follow up with the person later.
  6. Accept What Doesn’t Work—Not every contact will be helpful or worthwhile. Use those contacts to polish your networking ability and take what feedback you find helpful.
  7. Social Media—As a powerful networking tool, social media can do things that in-person networking cannot. Utilize sites like Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, Instagram, or independent sites like Critique Circle. Comment on another person’s blog, writing, or post. Who knows; you might become buddies.

—Personal Websites for Networking—

A solid list of contacts is handy, but proving your skills to your fanbase through an online medium like a blog is even better. This will encourage your audience objectively and give them ammo to pitch to others who might be interested. Your contacts will be practically growing themselves!

A Personal Website

Your own domain and website are essential for several reasons:

  1. A website, especially one with your own domain, shows your contacts that you are serious about your project.
  2. It provides a convenient portfolio that they can view.
  3. Websites often have social media compatibility, excellent for sharing.
  4. Blogging sites (like this one) allow your audience to give comments and feedback as needed.
  5. It organizes your WIP.

SEO and Domains

SEO is also crucial for a website. Check out my older article for tips on that. Purchase your own domain from sites like WordPress or GoDaddy—a good rate for a basic domain is around $2-3 a month. This’ll make a difference, trust me.

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A Strong Pitch

When networking, your audience will ask what your WIP is about. You should be prepared, answering in a confident and strong voice. This is called a pitch, or a concise synopsis of your WIP.

Many refer to this as the 60-second pitch.

“60-second pitch – sometimes known as the telephone pitch, or the elevator pitch, or the pitch fest pitch. Because it’s a pitch, you have less than two minutes to deliver.”

How Do You Deliver a Good Pitch?

Here’s a breakdown:

  1. First sentence: Give an original and easy to understand summary of the story in a short sentence. Make it interesting while evoking strong emotion. Mention the word count too.
  2. Second and third sentences: Explain what, who, when, and how. This discusses the main characters and the conflict—the goals of the book.
  3. Final sentence: Summarize how the story or journey progresses to the end. Wrap things up smoothly.

Practice, Practice, Practice

The best way to master your pitch is to rehearse it. First, begin by writing your three or four sentences down on paper. Use it as an aid initially in front of friends and family until you’ve memorized your 60-second pitch.

Eventually, it should become second-nature. Keep refining it, using your voice to highlight important emotions or details. This will catch peoples’ eye.

photo of three labeled mockup business cards

Business Cards

Having a business card isn’t a bad idea. Include your contact information on it, notably your website or blog. Design a nifty, unique logo that represents your brand or WIP.

You can produce business cards in bulk for relatively cheap at a store like Staples. A buddy of mine said he made 500 cards for around $20. There are also countless other business card designer websites you can use.

And here’s a tutorial on design in Illustrator for your own business card.  Here’s one for GIMP, a free digital art program.

—In Conclusion—

Some writers might be introverts who prefer the seclusion of their craft. However, to gain a sizable audience, one must first interact with potential readers and sell a book, pushing through all the fears and doubts. Having a strong pitch is an asset and will garner the attention of agents and publishers.

I hope this article has provided a solid introduction to networking for writers. For more information, visit the links below. Thanks for reading!


Additional Sources

http://graemeshimmin.com/creating-an-irresistible-elevator-pitch/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/cutting-edge-leadership/201403/networking-101-how-social-network-effectively

https://www.tomiadeyemi.com/blog/how-to-pitch-a-literary-agent-in-5-easy-steps

https://www.thebalancecareers.com/elevator-speech-examples-and-writing-tips-2061976

https://www.vistaprint.com/business-cards/standard

https://www.tckpublishing.com/creative-business-card-ideas-for-writers/


A reminder: My Published Poetry!!!

My published poetry is now available! You can view and order the collected works here. Look for New York’s Best Emerging Poets 2019: An Anthology. My pen name is Ed White. The book is a collection of poems from like-minded authors, compiled into a beautiful collection. Many of the poems are quite impressive.

You can view and buy other books from ZPublishing too. Any purchases made through the above link benefit this blog. Thanks a lot. 🙂

 

False Starts and Introductions to Novels: Too Cliché or A Forgotten Skill?

 

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“At dawn, the sun either shines itself or hides behind clouds, promising what the day will bring. So it is with introductions in stories.” —Ed White

Most agents and editors would balk at the suggestion of a false start intro to a novel. On its own, there’s nothing wrong with an exciting beginning, so long as it’s done well. Then again, the last time I read a false start in a novel was years ago. Is it now a forgotten technique, shunned by writers?

The problem is that false introductions are usually poorly done and give off a flat feeling for the rest of the book. If you’re a writer developing the draft of your novel, then this article is a must for you.

—Introductions—

Those First Introduction Paragraphs

The first few paragraphs of a book introduce an author’s style—his or her prose rhythm, subtle insecurities, and other narrative patterns and issues. A book is like an onion; it has layers of emotional and mental components embedded into the prose.

This is especially the case in early drafts, where the author is still figuring out what he or she wants to do with the story. Analyzing one’s writing patterns in drafts can lead to improvement and growth of a writer.

A Handy Exercise on Introductions in Prose

There’s an exercise in this article that I recommend. You examine the first 250 words of your story. Heavily. Dissect it, break it apart, and ask yourself:

  1. What is the purpose of this introduction?
  2. Why is it set up like this?
  3. Is there a hook for the reader?
  4. Is the introduction short enough for the sake of clarity and pacing, but long enough to express its purpose?
  5. What patterns does this intro reveal about the book as a whole?

These questions are by no means exhaustive. Invent your own questions and discover how many perspectives and shades of grey your introduction can produce.

The first 250 words are crucial to the rest of your story and should let the reader what they’re in for. Most readers picking up a book at the store—or skimming over it on Amazon—will do this to see if the story interests them.

—In the Reader’s Best Interests of Introductions—

Keeping Introductions to Novels Interesting

I once heard a fellow writer say:

“Stories are like skirts. They have to be long enough to cover everything, but short enough to keep things interesting.” —Anonymous

Now, while that might not be the cleverest of examples, he did have a point. Stories, and particularly introductions—since introductions are a significant part of your prose—should be short and sweet, including everything that should be there.

Hooking Readers in the Introduction of a Novel

Here’s a helpful article on hooking readers in the introduction. The author mentions driving the prose with curiosity and conflict—elements that provoke the reader, tempting them to read further.

You can also use internal dialog or exposition to hint at a character’s insecurities, flaws, or other issues. I’m not big on exposition myself—too many writers turn internal narration into a dry monologue that is boring to read through, but that’s a topic for another time.

Stress is…Good for Readers?

Readers love stress and anxiety in a story; they hate it in real life—so, give them what they want, am I right? And do it early on, promising them the reward they will receive if they delve deeper into your story. Dangle that carrot!

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Don’t be Afraid to Use False Introductions

Approach your introduction with a sense of clarity and enjoyability for your reader. Have a plan for your intro, and reflect throughout the rest of your book. The promises you make in those first 250 words should come full circle. Otherwise, your introduction is nothing more than a prop that can not—and should not—stand on its own.

—Concluding an Introduction—

Striking a Balance

In summary, an introduction to a novel is a significant part of the writing process. Take your time with it, and review it on a routine basis. Even after your twentieth read through, you may yet discover new insights about yourself as a writer.

Ask yourself:

Is it long enough to cover everything? Is it short enough to keep it interesting? Does it dangle the carrot appropriately, leaving the reader begging for more?

If you can bond your reader with your main protagonist and the story within the first few paragraphs, then congratulate yourself; you’ve accomplished a feat that most writers struggle with.

Final Words

Beginnings are always the funniest part of a new story, but they can also be the hardest. I hope this article has provided you with some semblance of wisdom in your writing journey—I’m by no means a professional myself.

Thank you for reading. Love and gratitude to my readers! 😀

Hit the “like” button below if you enjoy what you see to stay informed of this blog’s updates. Also check out a recent article I did about meditation, creativity, and writing. Thanks.

 

Personal Thoughts on Writing and Creativity

grayscale vintage typewriter

I once read an interesting set of questions from a fellow blogger and writer: What do you write? Why? What helps you sit in front of your typewriter or computer screen on a routine basis? What exactly makes you a writer? Who Do You Write For? How Do You See Writing?

In this article, I’ll define what writing is, then attempt these questions as they relate to me. I’ll then go on to talk about my own experience with writing and how my perception of the craft has changed with time.

—Defining What Writing Is—

Since time immemorial, writers have existed. From ancient storytellers and cave paintings/etching to modern-day typewriters and word processors, this art continues as a staple of human existence. It would be difficult to envision a society without writers.

A writer is a person who produces and conveys information, particularly by written characters. There are many types of writers, from academic, to business, creative, and erotica. Fiction and nonfiction make up the general categories, but do we really understand what makes fiction?

—Fictional Universes—

Fiction is the very definition of creativity. There are no boundaries, except for the ones we set for ourselves in the story. Some rules do exist to create a loose outline, but we can define those standards however we chose.

In some ways, the products from fiction are a mirror of our inner consciousness. The things we desire; the things we envision being possible; the things we wish we had; the things we fear the most, and so on.

Writing fiction is like exploring who we really are. One may even consider it a type of pseudo-meditation. We become so engrossed in the art at times, we almost cannot stop. It becomes us because it is who we really are.

Writing fiction wipes away the limitations in our lives, but it can also be a form of escape, for better or for worse; I can personally relate.

—Nonfictional Universes—

On the other hand, writing non-fiction is more about the observation of the universe we dwell in. Non-fiction is limited by what we know for sure, as it’s based more off real life. Unlike its counterpart, non-fiction is objective with evidence to support written ideas. It may not be as thrilling as fiction, but it is also a lot more grounding to the self. It allows us to take a step back and appreciate the reality we dwell in.

Some people consider non-fiction boring, but how can we know for sure?  We have yet to journey outside our own solar system. As incredulous as it may sound, perhaps reality is not as limited as we think. After all, we set the limitations in fiction, but who are we to know what the wildest restrictions are? Only Mother Nature knows that answer.

“Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.”

-Mark Twain

—My Experience with Writing—

Next, I’ll get to those questions (yay).

What do you write?

I mainly produce creative content via my upcoming trilogy, Ethereal Seals—then there’s some poetry and short stories I’ve sat on for a while. I also write on WordPress here and sometimes do paid commission copywriting elsewhere.

Why? 

Why do I write? Because, if I didn’t vent my creativity, I’d go insane, lol. Jokes aside, writing is an invigorating exercise for me. I don’t have many friends and my family doesn’t do much. If anything it helps organize my day.

What helps you sit in front of your typewriter or computer screen on a routine basis?

I suppose it would be the love for my OCs, Pepper Slyhart, Tarie Beyworth, and others. I can always interface with my creations—and get transported to a world of fantasy and magic. That universe I’ve created is unique, at least for me, and I hold it close to my heart.

What exactly makes you a writer?

That’s a tough one!

My journey as a writer has been a confusing one, to say the least—full of its own ups and downs, periods of enlightenment and depression. Since high school, I’ve dedicated my life to developing Ethereal Seals. The project didn’t take shape until later, well into my twenties.

So, what makes me a writer? I suppose it’s the years-long dedication I have under my belt. Although I don’t consider myself a professional by any means.

Who Do You Write For?

I write mainly for myself and a small collection of friends and fans. I’m not the next Stephen King or anything, just a dude who likes being creative with his free time. Why not use it to create whole universes and tell stories?

How Do You See Writing?

I consider myself more of an artist than a writer, as I get the greatest fulfillment from creating worlds and building characters rather than studying and refining prose.

I don’t like a lot of the tags and stereotypes people associate with “writers” nowadays. Instead, writing should be just a relaxing pastime that stimulates creativity. For a good idea of what I mean, check out this older article I wrote.

—Final Thoughts—

I don’t consider myself a writer in the widely-accepted sense; I prefer the term artist or word-smith (there’s an interesting one 😉 ). My passion comes from creating ideas and expressing them. I don’t write to make money, there’s too much stress in that—and writers don’t make good salaries anyway unless you’re someone like Brandon Sanderson. I’m simply a soul with a large imagination who likes to have fun.

Thank you for reading. 😀


Feeling ambitious? Answer the questions below like I did and post them to your blog. I’d love to read them. Cheers.

What do you write? Why? What helps you sit in front of your typewriter or computer screen on a routine basis? What exactly makes you a writer? Who Do You Write For? How Do You See Writing?

 

 

A Big WordPress Thank You—50 Follows!

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It seems I hit another milestone: 50 follows! I wanted to take the time to thank all of you wonderful people for reading my humble blog. I may not be the best writer or blogger, but it brings a smile to my face to see others delighted by my work.

That said, I also noticed my WordPress yearly subscription just renewed as I hit 50 follows. This is an excellent opportunity to recap on the year’s progress. Doing so may give insight on where this blog heads for the future—and beyond.

—WordPress Beginnings—

How I Started with WordPress

I was halfway through my alpha manuscript for Ethereal Seals when I read good things about blogging—WordPress in particular. Many writers took up blogging, not just for building followers, but also for the sake of the craft. I find it a relaxing pastime, one that brings notice to my writing project—the chance to meet wonderful people like you.

My First Year on WordPress

Not much happened with the first few years I began WordPress in 2016 and 2017. At this time, my webpage was an unpaid subscription. I focused on designing the basic framework for my webpage and connecting it to social media. I rarely posted, mostly using the page as an archive to brainstorm and test ideas rather than a blog.

—A Rough Journey—

Enter 2018

The current year, 2018, is when I posted more routinely on my blog. I had fleshed out the skeleton for Ethereal Seals and wanted to spread word about it—early.

Unfortunately, it was rare for me to get more than a few views each week. The road was rough and depressing. Some weeks I was too busy to blog, or I felt unmotivated. Many times I felt like throwing in the towel—and still do sometimes. The feedback I get from readers helps me push forward.

I kept blogging, regardless of my dismal results. With every post, my blogging skills improved. I explored WordPress more, discovering new ways to present my site. I read other bloggers’ pages and networked. Soon, I had a small niche of blogger buddies that I spoke with often.

Leveling Up

Early in 2018, my website had leveled up to a Personal WordPress page. I wanted my own domain for a reasonable cost. I also read that having a domain is like owning your own brand—it shows the world you’re serious about blogging and writing.

Months later, I found a job as a freelance writer. The occupation involved writing articles in a particular format. Some of you may have noticed that my presentation of articles has changed—for improved readability and organization. I’m still experimenting with it.

—A Nice Conclusion to the Year—

A Pleasant Surprise

Towards the end of 2018, I was between jobs, relying on my freelance writing to keep me afloat. I also found a local writers’ group in my village, a place for feedback and networking purposes. So far, I have enjoyed it, and the people there are helpful.

Meanwhile, I noticed my follower count improving on WordPress. I expected to get only 10 to 15 followers by year’s end. With your generous help, I’ve more than quadrupled my goal. Although I still have a long way to go, this is more than I could ever hope for. Thank you.

Looking Forward

I’m happy with the way this blog has turned out—its overall progression. My intent for the first couple of years was a casual blog without a lot of hassle.

I intend to improve my blogging skills and expand my outreach. This will—hopefully—garner more support for my writing project. I’m always looking for beta readers and helpers. If you’re interested, let me know.

Thank you all once again for your support, my little niche of readers. Without you, I may have given up long ago. Comments and even liked articles motivate me to blog and work on Ethereal Seals.

Final Remarks

With that said, I know the writer’s journey is arduous for anyone. I will remain patient and steadfast to my goals. My manuscript has improved significantly—and continues to with every editing pass.

As 2018 draws to a close, my objectives for 2019 are to save up enough money for an editor, find an agent, and begin the publishing process for Ethereal Seals book one. I intend to remain a blogger and attendee to the writers’ group. If things pan out, my book—or ebook if I self-publish—will be available by late 2019.

Thank you again for reading. Have a wonderful Christmas, New Years, Winter Solstice, or whatever it is you celebrate! Cheers. 😀


Hit that follow button if you want to stay connected. Love and gratitude.

 

 

 

Ethereal Seals theory

This is a short essay on my original work, Ethereal Seals. I wanted to reflect back on how ES came to me and my intentions behind it, how those have changed, and the ongoing inspiration for my work.
ES started out as a collection of forum postings back when I was in high school. At the time, I mainly fooled around with childhood favorite TV shows, video games, and stories, such as LOTR, DBZ, and The Legend of Zelda. While initially inane and disjointed, over the years they mutated into something more concrete. Then I got into forum roleplaying. I met a handful of people I would later remain close in contact with for several years.
I continued to develop and refine the concepts behind the story, goaded by my forum and Skype peers. Life circumstances changed and I found myself unable to communicate with them much, due to a new job. Frustrated with unable to roleplay, I began writing my own story. My sole intention was to create a short series of roleplays for ES. Now, nearly a year later, I have over 500 pages of a rough manuscript in development. Sometimes I stare at the document in disbelief. Life can twist and bend in strange ways. With my inability to find a career in my college degree, I believe this is a new route blossoming before me.
So, what are my future intentions for Ethereal Seals? Honestly, I can’t tell you the fine details just yet, but I do have a general plan laid out. This story is too far along not to publish it; whether it will be done traditionally or digitally I am unsure. In addition to my story, I’ve been researching the publishing process. I also set up a creative Fiverr gig on the side, which you can view here if interested: https://www.fiverr.com/energyflux
ES is developing beautifully in my eyes. Currently, at over 320,000 words, I am debating whether I should follow the Robert Jordan route with his Wheel of Time series and conglomerate a massive science fantasy epic. I could also go the Dragon Lance road and split it up into individual novels. Either way, I’m confident it will be a success. Once the first arc is done, I have addition sequels planned. This isn’t going to be a short-lived trilogy, but an ongoing project. ES is my life’s work, I’ve come to realize, and it always will be until the day I leave this planet. Whether or not I can take it with me to the beyond and develop it there remains to be known, but if I can, I will. Still, if Ethereal Seals has empowered humanity and set it on a positive future, that alone will be enough. Thank you for reading.

What is a Mary Sue?

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“There’s nothing more boring than a perfect heroine!”

DrosselmeyerPrincess Tutu

 

You’ve likely heard of this term before–I’m sure it’s been written about to death, but here’s my take. A Mary Sue is a female fictional character given a plethora of boons without many (or any) flaws. They come off as flat characters without much potential for growth. A Mary Sue (or Gary Stu for the male counterpart) are often author pets, and the plot or other actors may bend around the needs and wants of a Sue. A figure of this caliber is often unrealistic, as most humans are flawed, and this makes relating to a Sue or Stu difficult.  It is vital in fiction to create a character relatable to your audience. This draws readers in and generates sympathy and a sense of kinship with a fictional hero. Here is an excellent article on Mary Sue traits.

You can garner interest within a character by giving a flaw or two. It could be a personality shortcoming like a short temper or a technical inability to perform an action. Whatever it is, have your characters struggle with it throughout the plot. Give depth to your characters’ flaws and weave it into their evolution. Don’t overburden your characters with defects. Otherwise, they may come off as incompetent actors who can’t move the plot at all.

Here’s a website for testing a character for Mary Sue traits. There are many other types of tests available, but here’s the first I found on a Google search.

While it’s okay if your character has some of these Sue qualities, try to keep the amount moderate. Some authors believe that Mary Sues can have a role in a story. While this can be true for side characters, your main actors should be the most interesting ones; if a Mary Sue serves a purpose for the protagonists or the plot, then it should be fine as long as it’s done correctly.

Here are some ways to add depth to a character:

  1. Play against traditional norms. Give your protagonist a unique quality that sets them apart, but doesn’t raise them up on a pedestal.
  2. Seed secrets within secrets. Utilize thoughts or dreams to evoke intimacy within a reader.
  3. Even if your characters are incompetent, give them agency. Have them act upon the plot and move mountains, figuratively or literally.
  4. Switch narratives. Have multiples main characters each with their own perspective. This adds depth to the plot and its actors. It may even sharpen one of your conflicts.
  5. Have protagonists relate to other characters and build trust gradually. This goes with the above tip, but trust does not happen quickly, sometimes not at all. If you find your protagonist garners a lot of respect and admiration from other actors for little to no reason, you may want to reconsider.

All in all, a Mary Sue can seem subjective to some, but there are hard guidelines to follow that help an author avoid this character pitfall. Be sure to get the opinion of multiple types of readers with different perspectives to ensure your character is as it should be.

Thank you for reading. Love and gratitude to my readers! 🙂

 

On Pepper Slyhart, my OC: the warrior-woman path

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Pepper Slyhart is the main protagonist of my series, Ethereal Seals. She’s a young red-haired woman in her early twenties. With her sheltered lifestyle, Pepper begins as naive and short-tempered. As a farmer’s daughter, Pepper is athletic and physically capable of holding her own. She is a robust and reasonable woman who ventures into a broad world of mystery and danger. Her greatest opponents are her emotions, reflected by her draconic curse.

The warrior-woman story is one less visited. It is different and challenging because it twists the typical narrative of gender roles. I created Tarie Beyworth, her traveling companion, a secondary protagonist, and Pepper’s love interest. Instead of the man driving the story, I reversed the roles. While Pepper is emotional and insecure, Tarie is moderate and self-assured. Their polar opposites complement each other and allow both characters to grow from the other.

As the story progresses, Pepper learns more about the spiritual path from Tarie and her spiritual guides. This is symbolic of both the divine masculine with the divine feminine, going by new age terms. Pepper cultivates humility, patience, love, and gratitude as she grows. She treats her foes differently, gracing them with words of compassion and the steel of her sword if need be. 

Tarie also discovers his own inner insights, but that’s an essay for another time. 🙂

As a male author, developing Pepper on this path has been a challenge. I can safely say I know little about it, but I continuously strive to improve her and Tarie, with feedback from both men and women alike. Although I feel I should have been born a female myself, this gives me a chance to have my own children in a fictional sense, with Pepper as my daughter, but I digress.

 I hope you enjoyed this short reflective article. Thank you for reading. 🙂