Sundays. Love ’em or hate ’em, we get them once a week. Like clockwork. Sundays have never been days off for me. Throughout childhood and into adulthood, my family and I have attended church and many a family event on Sundays. I tried having half day availability for work to include Sundays, but it became just too much to handle. So I know, for sure, that I’ll always always have Sundays off work.
Even though I mentioned family events and church, Sundays truly are the one day I have to myself for whatever I want to do. Yard work? Housework? Laundry? Yes, please, to all that and more! The one thing I’ve decided, however, is that I don’t really want to write on Sundays.
Does that sound weird to you? It kind of does to me. Let me explain my logic.
While I have been known to whip out a notebook or even my laptop in the sound booth at church (I run the sound board, and there’s not much to do while the minister’s speaking), I’ve found that I really can’t form a coherent thought when it comes to my manuscript. So Sundays are now reserved for everything BUT writing.
Honestly? I’m really happy with this decision. In many more ways than one, writing is work. Don’t deny it. You know that’s true. When I’m at work, I’m pulled in twenty different directions, and my brain is constantly thinking about my WIP. The mind itself needs a day of rest, not just one’s body. What do I do on Sundays, now that I don’t work on my WIPs?
1. Clean (trash day in my neighborhood is on Tuesday) 2. Laundry (I often wash my fabric masks this day) 3. Cook/Dishes (mass prep for meals for work) 4. Research (gotta continue learning stuffs for science fantasy) 5. Spend time with family 6. Organize (declutter declutter declutter!)
And so much more!
You know how there are all these popular blogs on how to schedule your writing time, or how to prioritize your work space to prevent procrastination, etc.? Well, this is one of my ways to keep my mind productive on a “writing day off.” If I can do it, so can you.
TL;DR – It’s perfectly okay to take a “writing day off.” Trust me – your brain will thank you for it!
If you’ve read my blog for a long time, you’ll know this site has gone through several shifts in terms of content output, content type, and so on. It’s always, always had something to do with writing, and the lessons I’m continuously learning on my journey to publication.
Much to my parents’ chagrin, I’m slow to make decisions on anything in my life, and becoming a writer and doing writer things decisions did not escape that trend. I outlined my reasons for no longer blogging about Star Trek in Tuesday’s post, and that change dramatically freed my mind almost overnight. It’s strange – no longer having something constantly on my mind like that.
So I wondered – what other changes can I make to assist my writing habits? (or lack thereof) I took a moment this morning to browse old blog posts, and The Social Media Conundrum popped up. Huh – social media. That’s a whole other beast to deal with, if you even want to deal with it. Over a year ago I liberated myself from Facebook. I do, however, still have Twitter and Instagram. And, not ten minutes ago, I deleted my tiny Reddit and Pinterest accounts.
Can you imagine having an account for every social platform available? There are literally not enough hours in the day to browse/interact/post, then work your “real life” job. Then try to sit down and concentrate on your writing. It’s not gonna happen. Just thinking about having more than two social media accounts really stresses me out.
I’m a simple girl.
Now, don’t get me wrong – I know social media’s dramatically changed the publishing world. Apparently publishers like seeing numbers on SM accounts. In my humble opinion, if that’s the end-all-be-all deciding factor for a publisher agreeing to sign on a new author, then that publisher isn’t worth it.
Don’t let your desire to be publish be clouded by what they think you should or shouldn’t be doing. You’re not signing your life over to them. It should be an equal partnership. Of course, this is me: not published. I hope, however, that I can always hold true to this statement. Someone please point me back to this post if I get a big ego, okay?
What was I talking about? Oh yes. Priorities.
This week alone I finally, FINALLY wrote over 6,000 words for Project Star and Sea. I haven’t seen that many words since my very first novella attempt and lost steam after that. Resetting my priorities with finally dismissing Star Trek and two forms of social media have helped immensely. Y’all – if I can do that, anyone absolutely can.
I’m looking forward to a summer of productivity and, who knows? Maybe I’ll actually complete a first draft for once!
It amazes me that we are all on Twitter and Facebook. By “we” I mean adults. We’re adults, right? But emotionally we’re a culture of seven-year-olds. Have you ever had that moment when are you updating your status and you realize that every status update is just a variation on a single request: “Would someone please acknowledge me?”
Have you ever picked up a book you were super excited to crack open, only to discover you can’t quite connect with it? The cover, blurb and title- they all caught your eye. But as you turn to the next page, you realize there’s something different and you just can’t put your finger on what it could be.
Have you ever felt guilty because you couldn’t finish something after investing in the author’s hard work? Don’t. Everyone, even your favorite authors, has their own “DNF” pile (did not finish). I’ll admit I’m one of those “newbies” whose eyes glaze over once anyone drops grammar terminology in my lap. When other writers discuss what tense or POV (point of view) they like to write in, I sometimes have to read those threads two or three times for all the “technical” elements to click.
My mother has the same reaction when I try to explain modern day technology, so it all works out!
Those “technical” discussions, whether you like it or not, are still the basic building blocks to writing a concise paper for school, or indulging in an imaginary world you built from scratch for your characters to live in. If you want to be a writer, you absolutely have to understand how all those elements work together. Speaking of elements, let’s dive into the bread and butter of this post. We’re going to first take a look at the three main points of view characters can tell their stories through, and then take a look at some real life applications.
FirstPerson – The story is told one person at a time using words like “I” or “we.”
TAPESTRY by Cady Elizabeth Arnold reminded me of one of the arcs from the CW television show, Reign. And that’s not a bad thing at all. I adored the cast, the history, and the fact that Megan Follows makes a fantastic queen.
You typically Tweet as yourself – unless you’re running a satirical or other type of artistic account. For the most part, you always use words and phrases like, “Today I-,” “I think that,” “We went down to the river to,” “I made this meal for dinner!”
TAPESTRY is written in first person and told using two points of views. The short chapters are meant to hasten the reader along at a quick pace, but I’m still reading it at a snail’s pace. Even with its arc and well thought out characters, first person narration throws me through a loop. But I’m carrying on with chapter twenty-nine tonight before bed, because I want to know what happens with Tristam and Grace.
Books written in the first person: HUCKLEBERRY FINN by Mark Twain, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD by Harper Lee, JANE EYRE by Charlotte Brontë, THE GREAT GATSBY by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
SecondPerson – The narrator tells the story to another character using the word ‘you.’
In theatre and film, this is akin to breaking the “fourth wall,” when a character turns to the screen or audience and speaks directly to them. Home Alone (picture that famous “slap-the-cheeks-and-scream” scene) and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off come to mind. While not perfect examples of second person POV, it can be a very useful tool to bring you, the reader, directly into the story.
I’m staring at my books and I don’t think any of them are written in second person. At first I thought my favorite Frank Peretti series from childhood was, THE COOPER KIDS, but their adventures are told through either Jay or Lila. THE CITY OF EMBER series by Jeanne DuPrau? No- those are third person.
Since I got curious, I Googled “second person books” and this list from Goodreads popped up. Nothing on the list looks familiar. Do you know of any books written in the second person? Leave them in the comments below!
ThirdPerson – In third person limited, the narrator shows us the thoughts and feelings of one character. In third person omniscient, the narrator is all-knowing and shows us the inner world of every character that appears.
During the first third of this year’s reading adventures, I’ve discovered I much prefer books written in third person limited. If the character already knows everything, well, I just don’t see how a character can change and grow with that kind of perspective.
Perhaps I just haven’t found any third person omniscient books with which to connect. Yet.
One could argue that Tweets are sometimes written in third person omniscient, as the poster assumes they know everything there is to know about their subject matter.
However, for the most part, they’re written in first person. It makes sense, as your social media feeds are narrated by you and not a character. When Facebook first began, users could only make a post if it started with “is.” Example: “Leigh Hartman is _________________________________.”
Social media’s come a long way from that. Is the change is for the better? That’s still to be determined. Do we really need the ability to write such long posts on social media? “Insta fame” isn’t always a good thing. “Less is more,” they say. I, for one, am perfectly content with my website and TweetDeck. The world doesn’t really need any more “Leigh” in it then it already gets.
When we write our stories, little pieces of ourselves are strewn all throughout the prose. The dialogue. The characters. The plots. Our own truths, plus truths taught by life experiences and our surroundings, are in there as well.
Who’s to say which point of view is best?
What matters most is your voice and how you choose to use it.
Blogging. It’s such an obscure topic. What works for one may not work for all. Bloggers who’ve been around five or more years have established followers and loyal readers, so they know what their audience looks for. Each website creator has their own niche of interests, and their content reflects that.
Niche /niCH,nēSH/ – adj. – denoting or relating to products, services, or interests that appeal to a small, specialized section of the population
This site began in 2016. Its intent – a place where we can collectively share writing experiences and maybe, just maybe, the things I’ve learned along the way can help someone else. Speaking of, here are three blog ideas that failed on anotherhartmanauthor.com over the past four years.
A MONTHLY NEWSLETTER I’m not yet an established author, so I don’t even know why I thought I’d quickly gain readership with an e-newsletter. I don’t have a degree in English Lit. I’m not an experienced historian. I haven’t worked in publishing. Hence I had little to contribute to a market already saturated with e-newsletters. The extra work accomplished but one thing: it was an effective manuscript diversion and everyone knew it. Readers are savvy folks, dontcha know?
Any time you think to add one more task, ask if it’ll interfere with your writing goals. It it does, reevaluate. It might be a worthy addition later on.
SHORT STORY SERIES Roughly two years ago I attempted posting a short story series. I’ve thought a lot about its concept – Could it work as a subplot for my WIP? Could I eventually have it published on its own in some magazine? Is the story even worth exploring? While I kept the story within my chosen genre and era (Victorian historical adventure), it was nothing but a procrastination method. Just as the e-newsletter was. It kept me from concentrating on my actual goals.
I am, in no way, saying you can’t have multiple projects running at one time. Do what works for you. And I can only concentrate on one story and one alone. Who knows? Perhaps my writing multitasking will improve as I grow my craft.
BOOK REVIEWS If you know me, you’ll know that I’m the least opinionated person in my family. When I am, it’s because I absolutely love something and will sing its praises. That’s why I’m the worst book reviewer. Personally, it’s a strange feeling to say anything negative about someone else’s hard work.
At first it wasn’t too much of a problem. That is, until writer friends asked me to review their newly published books. While I appreciated their faith in me, I found I couldn’t properly review without bias. They say to bookend a con with two pros. But what does one do if there are more cons than pros? No. I couldn’t carry on with the reviews. Besides, there are more people out there with stronger voices than I.
We creatives can be very emotional creatures, can’t we? I’ve included myself in that because I know just how defensive I can sometimes get when someone critiques my work.
Remember – anything you put online is a reflection of your business. That’s right. Business. Creating content is a physical representation and extension of yourself as a writer. Removing emotion from your business is easier said than done. It’s perfectly normal to feel dejected when something doesn’t quite work out the way you wanted it to.
It’ll take time for you to find your niche, but there’s absolutely no harm in trying something new!
Let’s face it. The title of this blog post sounds like the opening of a pretty bad joke. However, that’s really what my mother and I are like among a crowd of people. I get my introversion from her. You wouldn’t believe it if you knew everything we’re involved in. Volunteering, working in retail, and coordinating projects are just a few examples. I’d call us “high functioning introverts.”
Two weeks ago mom mentioned she had to go to Delaware through a non-profit we both volunteer with and I went as her travel buddy. “I’ve never been to Delaware,” I said. “Let’s go!” The event was the Christian Product Expo, and my mom helps out with ordering and making connections for the non-profit.
I mainly wanted to go to interact with the publishers – Harper Collins, Barbour Publishing and DaySpring, just to name a few – and see what books they showcase at this kind of event. However, as soon as we stepped into that conference hall both our hearts dropped.
There were so. Many. People.
Okay, I may be exaggerating a bit here, but with five rows of vendors and publishers, we knew we needed to regroup and make a game plan for the day.
Mom and I manage to get through two rows before we’re mentally exhausted. Cue information overload. I can’t imagine traveling around with any conference or expo for a living. So we took a break and spent the rest of the afternoon chilling in the lobby. She went over booklets, contacts and the like while I worked on this blog post.
I must say that I’m proud of myself for gathering the courage to talk with the reps from the publishers that really interested me. I got just three business cards, but I discovered who carries the books of one of my favorite authors of fairy tale retellings – Melanie Dickerson! That made it easier to connect over books and hopefully opened the door for future contact. I’m getting ahead of myself here….
The Lessons Learned
Neither my mom nor I knew what to expect going into an event like this. That’s what daunted us the most about the experience. Here’s what I learned.
Do Your Research – find out what publishers are looking for, who they represent, and read those books before going to an event. It’ll help conversation flow and show them you know the market. This is something I need to start working on!
You Are Not Alone – you’re wrong if you think you’re the only introvert walking into that expo or conference. Don’t sell yourself short either – you’ve got props for just showing up! Yes, there are folks who’ve done things like this far longer, but most are extremely helpful.
Two introverts walked into a conference and came out feeling a bit more confident in themselves. “We did it!” Mom and I both said. We didn’t cover all the booths, but it was, overall, a really good learning experience. I don’t know if we’ll attend again in the future, but now I know at least some of the etiquette that comes along with it. Don’t pressure yourselves into thinking you must do it all and meet all the people.
Be honest with me: How many of you thought I put the word “underwear” instead of “underwriter” in the title? I won’t blame you one bit! But the title is completely, utterly, unequivocally true. About two years ago my uncle, who’s a published children’s author, picked up on it when he read through one of my very early drafts for a shelved projected titled For One Night at the Winter Garden. “Your sentences are too long,” he said. “Does that detail really need to be in there?”
He didn’t use the words “you’re an underwriter,” but he recognized the signs that I was trying too hard.
When you try too hard, you put more detail (whether by choice or subconsciously) into a scene where it’s not needed. It often shows up in the form of sharing too much backstory or sharing, say, historical details out of context (if you’re writing historical fiction, that is!). Personally, it was overcompensation because I hadn’t fully developed any of my characters. For One Night was all scene and setting driven rather than main character centered.
I’m grateful for For One Night. Not only did it teach me when and where to include details, the project also showed me two years ago that I wasn’t ready to take on Project Firedamp. I needed to be patient with myself. So I blogged, researched my novel’s era and read UP on craft. My chronic underwriting is still there, but I’m more aware of the choices a writer’s mind needs to make because I focused on what needed to be fixed within myself.
WRITE TIP: Is there something keeping you from being the best writer you can be? What is it? Is it something your beta readers have pointed out in their notes for you? Don’t be afraid to take a hard look inside and the TIME to fix it. Life is a never ending learning journey. Be patient with yourself and don’t be tempted by shortcuts.
Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.
To be completely candid here, I’ve been less excited about books lately than in years past. Inspiration comes in many forms, and some bookish inspiration was needed. So I headed to YouTube and looked for a few channels to get started.
As a long time viewer of beauty community drama (it’s my guilty pleasure), it’s only logical to assume that other YouTube communities aren’t immune to the “spilling the tea” phenom. I don’t know anyone save for two channels mentioned in this post, so that gave me an unbiased look into this new realm.
It’s funny; during my time on Twitter I’ve stayed out of as much writing drama as possible, save for a few opinions and problematic accounts. It’s impossible to ignore bad advice when it’s given. Below are six booktube and authortube channels I recommend (in no particular order).
From what I’ve seen so far, Natalia is a well grounded author who takes the time to look into what kind of writer and content creator she wants to be. My first video of hers was actually in reference to some Twitter drama that happened in early 2019, and I appreciate her kind of honesty. We may believe in different things, but writing is one of the things we’ve got in common. That transparency is why I recommend Natalia. It also doesn’t hurt that “Leigh’s” in her name as well!
New Adult author Brooke Passmore also hooked me with her honesty (you’ll find this to be a common thread with these channels). I’ll admit that my first video of hers also came on the heels of online writing drama (surprise surprise), but her demeanor is what kept me watching. As a thirty-four year old viewer of entertainment, I don’t need over-the-top personalities and crazy editing many 2019 content creators seemed so fond of. Simplicity is the best medicine, and, well, her background’s PURPLE! I love purple…
I’ve known about this channel for quite a while due to Peter’s beauty community drama channel. His honesty on subjects other than books is what convinced me to give his booktube a chance, and why I am thinking about beginning a history themed booktube channel myself. If you’re looking for someone to tell you like it is, I’d give Peter’s videos a shot! Variety is the spice of life, and Peter certainly lives up to that 🙂
Kate’s channel was one of the first I stumbled upon in my quest to find booktubes, and the first video of hers I viewed was “I Tried Writing Like JK Rowling for Two Days.” While entertaining, it really drove the point home that every writer needs to find their own methodology. What’ll work for one individual may not for the next. Take a look at some of Kate’s videos below!
In YouTube talk, a small channel like Sara’s would be called a “micro channel” as she only has 95 subs. Even with little over a dozen videos to her name, I can see returning to this channel time and time again. We all have to start somewhere, right? Sara’s story is just beginning. As far as I can tell, she has no other social media links to share. And that’s okay!
One of my goals for this post was to find a group book lovers and authors at varying stages in their careers and ages. While I don’t know yet if watching booktube will become part of my daily writing routine, it’s good to engage with other writers and opinions. That’s what makes the book community such a rich one, and it’s vain to think you don’t need anyone else to accomplish your own goals. So no matter your routine, beliefs or demographic, I hope you’ll explore the channels above with an open mind and who knows, maybe you’ll find a kindred spirit or two!
One of my favorite lessons from grade school was when we learned the proof reading symbols for fixing our sentences. I love looking back through the process, marking things up, moving bits around (just like I’m doing now as I write this post). Yes, I’m that dork.
Others hate editing. They’d rather write and let others do that kind of grunt work. But I firmly believe that every author hopeful should know at least some basic copy editing skills. So here’s how you can have fun editing:
USE DIFFERENT PROOF READING SYMBOLS
There’s a spoof that many editors share in tongue-and-cheek posts about their profession, where the symbols highlight the levels of stress writers and editors go through. I laugh every time I see it.
They say that learning something new keeps creative juices flowing. My problem is I want to overuse these symbols, and it feels weird when a sentence is perfectly fine and doesn’t need anything changed.
I suppose that’s why I’m not a professional editor?
Editing is something I’m enjoying learning.
EXERCISE: Print off a page or two of your manuscript and purposefully grab a pen. It doesn’t have to be red ink; get yourself a fun color to work with and practice using some of these tools. You just may see something in print you normally wouldn’t on a screen.
EDIT A CHAPTER AT A TIME
I edit with pen and paper first. Then make the changes in my doc. Sure, it takes more time and printing off a full manuscript uses a lot of paper. Especially when it’s double spaced and semi-formatted for querying.
You don’t need to sit there, for hours on end, doing nothing but moving sentences and staring at your thesaurus. I’ve been there, done that. And I feel less accomplished than I did when I complete a manuscript.
Take a step back, work chapter by chapter, and take your time. Don’t rush the process. In turn, don’t expect an editor to have their edits of your work done in an unreasonable time frame. You may think that sending them constant reminders is helpful, but all it does is make them want to work on your MS less. (You may understand what I mean by that if you’ve worked in retail before).
I’m always surprised when I read threads online from folks who’ve never edited their work. How? No one’s perfect in their rhetoric. And fully relying on another individual to completely edit everything can cause your work to lose some of its voice.
Editors are fantastic creatures. You may disagree on the application of the Oxford comma, but many are passionate in helping their clients become published authors. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do edits yourself. It’s YOUR story, and a good editor will tell you that.
Remind yourself that EVERY AUTHOR GOES THROUGH THIS PROCESS
You are not alone.
I’ve felt it many times during my writing journey, but that’s when I recognize that I need to tap the brake and step away from social media. Writing isn’t only about gaining an audience and making connections. That’s part of it, for sure. But there’s lots of conflicting messaging that comes along with it.
Find what works for you. You don’t need the latest writing program (heck, I write via Google Docs on a Chromebook. It doesn’t support fancy programs), an AuthorTube (YouTube channel) or an Instagram account to write. The amount of information that’s out there can, most definitely, be overwhelming to digest.
EXERCISE: Throw on your favorite tunes, grab an author friend or two and chat about something other than writing. You may be surprised what comes out of it!
I am sad that I’m no longer in the editing stage. In fact, I *should* be in the middle of a rewrite. A month of working night shifts hasn’t helped matters. Thankfully those finished last week, so now I can reset my writing goals.
That’s really the core of all this, right? Your writing goals. I know the above tips are truly easier said than done, but I hope they help in some way. This particular post was also a reminder for myself.
I know the three points in this post aren’t strictly how-to steps, but I hope they resonate. Good luck with your writing this week!
When I first looked up writing tips, the word “trope” popped up everywhere – on YouTube, on Twitter and Facebook and Pinterest. Enter in a whole new world of terms to sift through. Let’s begin discussing tropes.
To be unequivocally cliche here, Webster’s Dictionary defines a TROPE as: “a word or expression used in a figurative sense,” and “a common or overused theme or device.”
Storytelling is an art form that’s been around for centuries. Ever open a new book, get four chapters in, and wonder why it seemed familiar? Every genre has its own kind of formula and character traits to go with them – the love triangle in a Rom Com, the wizard who uses a wand to aid him in his spell casting, faeries who are based off Disney’s Tinkerbell from Neverland.
Are they completely untouchable?
What if the author wants to use them in some form or another? Since putting my #histfict series on hold to get this fantasy concept out, I’ve been revisiting the following tropes.
Different genre, different tropes, right?
Here are five tropes I really want to use but won’t
“Girls who disguise themselves as boys in order to adventure” via silverblade.net
“The main character’s parents die in an accident/in war/murdered” via HobbyLark
Writing historical fiction isn’t easy. There are so many decisions I have to make to prevent myself from overdoing it with language and writing style. Do I try to match it with the time period? Do I use modern slang? How far into 1800s etymology do I really want to go? Research has been key in helping me make these choices and every once in a while I stumble across a gem of an article I couldn’t pass up blogging about. Today I came across a list of 56 Delightful Victorian Slang Terms – some crazier than others – and I’d like to share just ten of my favorites.
Side note: This blog post wasn’t easy to write as there are so many amazing choices!
It took everything in me to not bust out laughing in the middle of Panera reading this one and it’s following definition (according to the article above, “A figure of speech used to describe drunken men. “He’s very arf’arf’an’arf,” Forrester writes, “meaning he has had many ‘arfs,’” or half-pints of booze.”
Sooo many thoughts came to my mind at the description for this phrase, but I’ll refrain from adding in that commentary! This will be enough: “Low London phrase meaning “to thrash thoroughly,” possibly from the French battre a fin.”
I’m honestly not sure if this term is meant as a compliment or an insult. I can tell you that I am not bricky at all. “Brave or fearless. “Adroit after the manner of a brick,” Forrester writes, “said even of the other sex, ‘What a bricky girl she is.'”
BUTTER UPON BACON
I think I definitely need to start using this more often. “Extravagance. Too much extravagance. “Are you going to put lace over the feather, isn’t that rather butter upon bacon?”
DOING THE BEAR
This phrase would not go over well in the twenty-first century (ie too many innuendos which is why I found it so funny). It simply means, “courting that involves hugging.”
While gas lighting and systems were invented in the Victorian era, that’s not what this is referring to. And it’s yet another term I snorted at in a public place, “A term for especially tight pants.”
MAD AS HOPS
Also known as “excitable.” I’m definitely going to start saying this at work!
I certainly have a parish pick-axe. Also known as a “prominent nose.” Though why they use the term “parish” I don’t think I’ll ever know.
SHAKE A FLANNIN
“Why say you’re going to fight when you could say you’re going to shake a flannin instead?” And I wholeheartedly agree with this statement and explanation!
I’m not sure I even know how to say this word, but I wonder if this is where the writers for the Muppet Treasure Island film got the idea for “boomshakalaka.” Eh, probably not. But it’s a fun thought! It means, “Secret, shady, doubtful.”
And there you have it! My top ten favorite Victorian slang terms. A few of them make sense for use in modern times but many of them are a bit out there. Of course this is all in good fun in 2019! Stop on by the main list on Mental Floss’ article to learn more fun terms! Happy writing!