Indie Author Fringe: a free online conference organized by The Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi)

I’m sharing this information in case you’re interested.  I just found out there’s a free (yes, free) online conference.  The actual event is in London, but you can go from the comfort of your home by logging into your computer.

It goes from April 15-16, and it’s specifically for indie authors.

If interested, here are some links.

Here’s more information about the conference (includes a sign-up tab).  

Here’s the agenda (includes who is giving the presentations).  Some top names in indie publishing are going to be there.  They also include the times, and breakdown the time zone changes (which is very helpful).

If you’re inclined, they have ways you can spread the word about this conference.

Categories: Uncategorized

Rejuvenate the Writing Soul

How do you rejuvenate a weary soul when you feel so lost for a long time? You do it by facing the problem and moving forward.

I had to confront that type of problem this fall. For more than a year, my life was miserable. A health issue had plagued me. I tried to deny its existence. But after so much anguish, where I no longer could enjoy life, I gathered up my nerve and went to my primary doctor. He prescribed a medicine, which ended up giving me every kind of side effect mentioned, such as dizziness and foggy vision. I called the office and they referred me to a specialist.

From there, I eventually ended up seeing a woman doctor. She tried one remedy but I could not tolerate that solution. The next option was surgery.

“Surgery,” the word hung on my lips. I had never had an operation. The only time I was in the hospital was when I gave birth to four sons. Now, this avenue faced me.

I tried a chiropractor. He was a nice man and did his best, but my problem had deteriorated to such a point that method did not work.

A friend urged me to get a second opinion. Finally, I took her advice. The smiley doctor came in and gave me his honest recommendation, which was the same as the first opinion – surgery. However, during this visit, he talked about what would happen down the road if I let it go. This frightened me. I had to face the music as they say. After the visit, I returned home and called the first doctor’s office to schedule the procedure.

February first was my day of reckoning. We also all experience those days in our writing. Should we write this story? Will this book sell? Is there enough emotion in this to make this novel work? If nonfiction, can I make this information interesting?

These are difficult decisions, which also must be confronted. How do we decide these? We do through asking others in the field, our readers or taking professional advice as I did. In other words, we rejuvenate our writing souls.

We enlist fresh ideas, we rewrite, we fine tune until we reach the state of proficiency. We are in control of our fate. We edge forward with our next great idea just like I moved ahead to do the procedure.

Where will we end up? We do not know. But after my “surgery,” I can say I am no longer in misery. I again am living my life to the fullest as God provided.

Are you? If not proceed forward, what do you have to lose? Nothing. You do not know what you will miss if you do not put one foot before the other and step toward your next destination. Why? Because you do not know what will happen if you do not, and that alone should keep you moving onward. God bless.

Categories: Uncategorized

How to Deal with Idea Fragments

Imagine JK Rowling never thought of Harry Potter (I know, scary thought, but bear with me), and that you just had the idea for a boy wizard. You recognize that the story could be good. Very good, in fact. The question is, what else do you include? What does your boy wizard do? What is his world like? What makes him special enough to follow around? Obviously in the coming months you’ll come up with Hogwarts and Voldemort and all the other relevant characters and details, but until then Harry’s not really an idea but an idea fragment.

Is there a difference? Yes there is, at least how I write. To me, an idea has a bit more meat on it, like a summary or a prompt. You got this, and you can move forward coming up with all the details based on this little information. Using the Harry Potter example:

Harry is a boy who finds out he’s a wizard, and that when he was a baby, he defeated the greatest Dark wizard of all time. He goes to Hogwarts School to learn magic, and there his destiny begins to emerge.

Now in idea fragment form:

Harry is a boy wizard. That’s all I got so far.

See the difference? It’s just part of a summary. You can’t move forward without knowing a bit more, without deciding what direction you plan to go with Harry. That’s an idea fragment. And we all have them from time to time. Heck, I’m struggling with more than a couple right now. I know that with a bit of development they could be great ideas for stories, but until I add a few more details, I can’t write them down on any of my idea lists. And that makes them annoyances that you work desperately to make into full-fledged ideas. Which can be maddeningly difficult sometimes.

So in order to aid you with these fragments while you have them, here are some tips to develop them into full ideas:

  • First, write them down. Nothing is more infuriating than an idea you forget before you can find some way to make sure you don’t forget it (which is why I keep several lists for ideas and thoughts on my stories). While I’ve found losing idea fragments just to be slightly annoying–as far as I’m concerned, it’s just going back into the sea of the subconscious, to bubble up gain someday and maybe as an idea–it’s still good to write them down so they don’t slip your mind. Writing information down has actually been shown to help commit it to memory, so you’re making sure you don’t forget these possible great ideas-to-be.
  • Don’t stress on trying to turn them into ideas. You can spend your time turning over the fragments in your head, trying to do so until you’re frustrated will not help you come up with an idea. If anything, it’ll just keep you up at night and ruin your mood in the morning. So if you start getting frustrated with a fragment, here’s what you should do:
  • Take a break and distract yourself. Watch some Netflix. Read a book, especially if it’s in a genre or on a subject you’re not entirely familiar with. Go hang out with friends and talk about anything but the fragments. Dive into work, or another writing project, or your family, or whatever. When you come back to it, you’ll be a little refreshed and maybe also armed with new information or experiences to add to your potential idea. And psychology also shows that distracting yourself while trying to solve a problem actually leads to ways to solving it (there’s an episode of The Big Bang Theory, “The Einstein Approximation”, that illustrates this very well). So distract yourself. You never know what you might find.
  • Use a generator site. Idea generator, random word generator, story prompt generator, story plot generator, whatever generator. Do a Google search, you’ll find plenty of them. Each varies in what sort or how many parameters they require, and what sort of prompts they give as a result, but if you’re really stuck with some fragments, one of these sites might really be able to help. The downside is that some of the suggestions they give can be really silly sometimes (I tried a horror-themed one, and it gave me some odd plot summaries), while others ask for so many parameters you’re like, “If I knew all this, why would I need to be on this site?” Also, some people may feel that these sites are cheating or really lame last resorts, but it only matters if you think that.

While working on this article, an idea fragment I’d been struggling with for about two weeks finally became an idea. It helped that I was listening to a Stephen King audio book and that I read an article about a recent police operation leading to a huge arrest, helping me to think of something for the characters I had in my head whom I had no idea what to do with. So while these fragments can be a source of frustration, eventually they can become great ideas.

What tips do you have for figuring out idea fragments?

Categories: General Writing, Psychology of Writing & Publishing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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