My Writing Process

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I was invited by my little sister doing big things, author and entrepreneur, Ms. Tiffany Christina Lewis, to take part in this blog hop! I’ve never blog hopped before, so this should be interesting! 😀 Today’s hot topic is: What is your writing process?

Let’s dive right in, shall we?

What are you currently writing?

Homework. Yes, homework. I’m taking a class on writing, of course! Just because I have published a book and written a gaggle of short stories and poems, doesn’t mean I have mastered the skill of writing. I can always learn more! Since I like the class, it doesn’t feel like a dreaded task (like algebra), it’s fun and I’m getting a lot out of it!

What makes your work different?

This is going to sound a little corny, but I think my work is different because I don’t just write a poem or story to tell you what happened. I write to make you feel and relate to the character or situation. It’s not as deliberate as it sounds. I don’t say, “Today, I shall write about anguish!” My stories, are usually driven by questions like, “what would you do if ‘xyz’ happened,” or, “I wonder what ‘xyz’ person would do in this situation.” I find inspiration in life stories from the news and documentaries, and turn them into the answers of my ‘what if’ questions. For example, my short story Douglass, was inspired by a man who used to stand across the street from my house. He struck me as a less than savory fellow. He wasn’t homeless, as far as I knew, but he looked the part. He could have been a millionaire for all I knew. But I wrote the story from his point of view. Readers had great responses to this story! They related well to the main characters and considered how they might or should react in a similar situation.

Why do you write what you do?

I have no idea! 😀  The truth is, I don’t write with a genre or specific style in mind.  When I write poetry, I tend not to write in rhyme because I’m too darn lazy to put straight forward thoughts into rhyming couplets! If I find a rhythm in what I’m writing, I go for it. It it happens to rhyme, I consider it a bonus!

When it comes to the short stories, again, I start with the questions. It may turn into dramatic fiction, or something with a paranormal twist, like my story The Rotten Courtier. My friend and fellow writer Don Miskel hit me with a “what if” and I ran with it!

What is your writing process?

I don’t have a formal process, but I probably need something more structured so I can do more writing! But, as any writer will tell you, story ideas will come to you at THE  most inconvenient times, like when you are just getting into REM sleep. For this reason, my bed is my office! No lie. Pens, notebook, pencils, cell phone are within a few inches of my bed. The Evernote app is my friend! So is the Dragon Dictation app. Without those two tools, so many great ideas would have been lost to the Sandman forever! There have been many evenings when I have been awakened by a great story idea or poem, and recorded those thoughts in Dragon and copied them into Evernote or a new document on my phone, to finish when I’m not so sleepy. If you are a writer and you don’t have those tools, go get them! I’m telling you the truth, they are LIFE CHANGING! I also have several books of writing prompts that I refer to for inspiration. Those books are priceless when I’m having an “idea drought.” Between the books, and interrupted sleep patterns, I usually have something to put on the page or a blog post.

When it comes to putting words on the page, I don’t outline…at first. I just write. I tend to think in scenes – interactions between characters. I don’t worry too much about how that scene came to be. I fill those detail in later. The previous details, the back story, is where I usually get stuck, so that is where I begin to outline! This is the method I used to write Spreading Ashes. This story was inspired by a documentary on forgiveness. My questions were “How do you forgive a parent for leaving you? Is it possible to welcome them back into your life as an adult and if so, how?” I wrote “the answers” to those question and discovered how the main character felt about both of her parents. Then I outlined the back story of her parent’s relationship, and a little on other family dynamics to pulled it all together.

As a process, it’s a little backwards, but it’s what works for me. It takes me a while to produce a finished product, because I get so hung up on little details, but I aim to produce something realistic and relatable that readers will enjoy and hopefully, share with others!

And there you have it – my writing process in a nutshell!

Up next on this blog hop is my other sister of The Mighty Pen, Ms. Katrina Gurl!! She is a MASTER networker! She is the owner of Steamy Trails Publishing. She always has something brewing and is always willing to help an up-and-comer get published! Keep your eyes peeled for her post about her writing process! I know I’ll be taking notes!

To my little sister of The Mighty Pen…you said I’m a “writing mother”…..awww! I just know you are going to be a smashing success! Love you, sis and thank you for choosing me as your next! It was an honor! ❤

 

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Excerpt: Unreal Estate

Happy Flash Fiction Friday!  Today I am sharing a piece written by a good friend, fellow blogger and budding author, Wil D. Palazzo. He loves college football, playing basketball, long walks in the park and kiwi fruit. (I’m kidding about the kiwi fruit.) Be sure to swing by his blog, An Insomniac’s Dream, and check out some of his other work!

Unreal Estate

Kiss Me by Lunatic-Neko DeviantArt.com

…and Meiko smiled, snapping the organizer shut again.

“I guess I missed the great midnight kiss,” she told the stunned Heisenberg. “F.P. WAS wrong. I chose my own future. A future which involved kissing you, yeah… just not when I was told to do it. Sometimes I don’t like being told what to do.”

Mallory licked his lips without realizing. “Ah… very clever!” he agreed, voice still a bit shaky. “Sooo….. um…”

“Hmmmm?” Meiko asked, slipping the organizer into her purse, almost teasing in tone as she responded.

“Sooo, err… so… what.. does that mean, exactly?”

“It means I made up my mind, by myself. I had a wonderful evening, Mallory. It was everything I could’ve asked for and then some… and… I think I really do love you. Not because I was fated, I just… you’re the most wonderful guy I’ve ever met, and I’m glad you’re with me. I guess… it just took me a long time to even try to accept that.”

“You… you mean you really.. you, uh… you love me–?”

“I think I do,” she said, amused with herself at the admission. “I really think I do. …it feels so much better to say that now, after trying to avoid it and disagree with it so long… I didn’t think it’d be this easy… I’m so calm now. It’s strange… ah, you okay there, Mallory?”

“What? Yes. Ah. Yes. I think so?” he guessed. “I just… I mean, I wasn’t expecting, to be frank, and… not.. sure what to say…”

“Ah… you don’t HAVE to say anything, really,” Meiko spoke, despite inner hopes. She began to walk along, with or without him. “I guess it was a lot to drop on you, huh? I just really had to get that off my chest, I mean… we can go now if–”

“But I should say something!” he protested, stepping in front of her, blocking her way. “That’s how it works! But… but how can I say something like that? It’s such an important thing to say, and I don’t understand how I feel, but then again I have a hard time understanding how I feel about a lot of things, and just because I care about you and I want you to be happy and anything I can do to make you happy I’d do in a heartbeat because you deserve happiness in life when usually you’re so busy taking on the problems of other people and I don’t just mean clients so I’m glad I’m with you so I can be there and help because you’re a wonderful person and I’d be happy to spend the rest of my life with such a wonderful person like you because you make me feel good inside and without that I really don’t know where I’d be and I don’t just mean out of a job I mean how I’d feel even though I have trouble figuring out how I feel I really feel strongly about that and I had a great time tonight and I wish it could last forEEEeeeEEeeee..ee….”

“Mallory! Breathe!”

The pale-faced fashion victim spent the new few moments hyperventilating.

Meiko leaned down a bit, to put a hand on his shoulder for support while his body recovered. “Mallory, you’re gonna have a heart attack at an early age if you keep that up. What do you mean, you don’t know how you feel? Nobody goes on and on like that with so much conviction if they don’t know how they feel…”

“Baaah… buuuuh… but… is… is that love?” he asked, with sincerity. “I shouldn’t say something so important unless it’s really true!”

“It sounds like love to me. Of course, I’m no expert, and it took me this long to figure things out myself, so…”

“Then… if that’s love, then… I love you too,” Mallory spoke / realized, much to his surprise at his complete lack of surprise about it. “But… I didn’t think you’d… I wanted to keep it safe, since you were trying to avoid it and I didn’t want to make you feel weird and… but… I mean, I really care about you, and I want you to be happy, and… er… I love you. I’m really bad at speaking stuff, you know that, so sorry if it’s awkward–”

“I don’t mind awkward. It’s kind of cute. And… thanks. For everything.”

The fish swam away, having seen the big moment and having kelp to deal with on the other side of the tank.

“Ah… so… what happens now?” Mallory asked, a sense of calm returning slowly but surely. “I mean, in the movies, they just walk off into the sunset and that’s that… or they commit lover’s suicide. Actually, come to think of it, we ARE on top of a tower that’s suitable for jump– err, not that I’m suggesting… you know what I mean. Right?”

“I know, Mallory. Hmm. What now? I’m… not really sure myself, actually. I’m just as new at this as you are.”

“Right. So…?”

“I think we go home now,” Meiko suggested, with a shrug. “It’s getting late, you know? We go home, go to sleep, you wake up early and make me some coffee and we get on with things like we always do. Just… different. We’ll see when we get there, I suppose.”

“I can do coffee,” Mallory agreed, latching onto that… but smiling through his jittery nerves. He held one arm out, hooked slightly. “So, ah… shall we?”

“Why, certainly,” Meiko agreed, taking his arm (and his smile) and falling into step.

It was well after sunset, so they couldn’t walk off into one, but an elevator did just as well.

 

What’s on A Man’s Mind?

Join me tonight at 11pm EST on Blog Talk Radio as me, Nita Bee, Katrina Gurl and the Sublime Poetess talk with panelist, Damien, Brooklen Borne, Wil D. Palazzo and Emmanuel Brown about relationships from a man’s point of view. Grab a spot in the chat room! Bring your questions and get ready for great conversation!

Blog Talk Radio, Men on Reel

I’ll see you on Blog Talk Radio!

Head phones and mic

Writing in Spurts

Well, I never did manage to barricade myself in my bedroom.  Sigh….but I have managed to get some writing done!  It’s been in spurts, but spurts are better than absolute drought!  What I have discovered is that I just have to TAKE the time to write.  I could stay on my knees and beg God for the 16 additional hours I need in a day to get everything done, but He simply is not going to upset the delicate balance of the universe to accommodate my writing schedule.  

One of the things that I have gotten back into is reading.  I sacrifice sleep to read the printed word, but I feel a little more complete.  The alligator bags under my eyes are a non-issue.  A little black coffee and I barely feel the effects of fatigue!  During the day, I devour audio books!  Right now, I’m enjoying a series by Darynda Jones.  I’ve read (listened to) her books: First Grave on the Right and Second Grave on the Left.  I love her writing style!  Mystery, romance and a touch of the paranormal, well blended with quippy humor and sarcasm.  They did a great job selecting the narrator for the audio book.  She really brought the characters to life.  I’m hooked on this series!  I’m already trying to figure out the cast to the movie/television series!  I also read (listened to) The Consequences of Love: A Novel by Sulaiman Addonia.  This was the best love story I’ve read in a very long time.  It doesn’t have a happy ending…it’s a sad, but hopeful ending.  That is all I will say about it!  You have to read it for yourself!  I am currently reading Pious by Kenn Bivins.  I started reading it a few months ago, but I just can’t get into a comfy reading position with the laptop.  I finally invested in a nook this week and started reading the book. once more, from the beginning.  I’ll be sure to add it to my goodreads.com list!

With regard to “taking the time to write,” I am actually working the piece that I pulled from Mitch Albom’s book, Have A Little Faith. My character has quite a story to tell. I think it will move you. (Nope…I can’t tell you anything else about the story! 🙂 I will, however, share a poem with you a little later on. I decided to stretch myself and write something on the more sensual side…it’s not freaky or kinky…I’ll leave that to the pros! But I did come out of my shell with this piece. I think you all might like it.

 
Oh! If YOU know of any good audio books, pass it on! I’m always looking for something exciting to listen to while I work!

Promoting Indie Authors

Thanks to everyone who tuned into Steamy Trails Speaks on Blog Talk Radio last night! It has been over a year since Katrina Gurl and Nita Bee have blessed the BTR airwaves. These ladies have been very busy building and expanding the Steamy Trails Empire and they have some very exciting things going on!

Take a listen to archives HERE if you missed the show and be sure to share it with your friends!

I was on the air with the ladies last night and I announced the next Steamy Trails Network Contest! We are promoting the works of two extraordinary men: Authors Avery Washington and Amillion Mayfield.

The contest rules are very simple:

1. Visit the Facebook fan pages of Avery Washington for his book, “Letters to My Daughters” and Amillion The Poet.

2. Click the Like button at the top of each one of these gentlemen’s pages. Read their comments and their notes. Get to know them!

3. Tell a friend!

4. The contest runs through February 10, 2012. The winners selected by random drawing, and announced on Steamy Trails Speaks with Katrina Gurl and Nita Bee (official date to be announced.)

DON’T WAIT ANOTHER SECOND TO ENTER!!! Click on the names below and connect with these two amazing authors!

Avery Washington

Amillion Mayfield

CONTEST WINNER – GIVEAWAY BASKET II

After going through a SLEW of technical difficulties, we are finally able to announce winner number two!!! Thanks to each and every one of you for your participation in the book give away! Congratulations to our winner: Ollie Moss of Memphis, TN and….well…watch the video for winner number 2! 😀

Be sure to stay tuned to Nike Writes on WordPress and Facebook, and Steamytrails.com where we will announce the next contest!

Thanks again everyone!

Basket # 1, Winner Ollie Moss

Basket # 2, Winner Brittany Carrigan

Alphabet Soup

Life often encroaches on my writing time. I usually find time to write just before bed, when things are quiet and I can write uninterrupted. Many times, I only manage to write a paragraph, or stanza or two, before the Sandman shows up and my eyelids close against my will. It’s frustrating to say the least. Today is one of those days. I’m physically exhausted, but the words are there, teetering on the razor blade edge of my mind. I can’t get to them. The words are floating around in my head like the noodles in alphabet soup. I don’t even know what “mood” I want to write. Should I do romance? Maybe drama….no…an empowering, “Black Girls Rock” type of piece! But no full sentences come. The rest of the words and the mood have settled and the bottom of the tomato broth. My hands are itching to type or write something!

This is part of the writing process: Writer’s block. (Or in my case: Writer’s Blur)
It happens, but thankfully, I have a few ways of dealing with it.

> Don’t write – That doesn’t sound like something a writer should say, but sometimes you really do need to take a break and come back to the piece when your mind is settled.

> Refer to the old notebooks – I have a collection of notebooks where I jotted full poems, random thoughts, bits and pieces of potential stories and poems. I didn’t think those things were any good back then, but sometimes one of those old thoughts hook up with a new idea and magic happens!

> Watch a documentary – I love watching documentaries about other people’s lives. That’s where I find the emotional “twist” to the stories and poems that I write. The film makers and the people in those films really go in deep. They don’t shy away from real emotions. Raw emotion is often the fuel that drives my writing.

> Read – Yup. Read. Explore how someone else constructed a story or poem. Think about their message. Compare it to my delivery. Usually, a good read will spur a new idea or simply relax me enough to allow creativity to flow freely again.

> Writing Prompts – A good prompt is a great way to get the creative juices flowing. I have several books that I refer to when I’m stuck for ideas. There are also a few websites that pretty good also. Mode Room Press has a great gadget on igoogle called, Writer’s Unblock Tool. It pulls together random phrases that you can use to create a story or poem.

> Blog – Yes. In case you didn’t realize it, this post exists because I have writer’s block. Blogging keeps me writing. My posts may not have a bless-ed thing to do with the story or poem I’m working on, but again, sometimes you need to step away and do something different to free your mind up.

The next time you find yourself suffering from writer’s block, give one of these tips a try. And if you have other suggestions on how to overcome writer’s block, help a sister out! Post them below! 😀

edrants.com Alphabet soup

100 Black Authors

Keep your eye on Faydra Fields’ profile of 100 Black Authors! My book is counted among the 100! Click the link below to see the books and authors being profiled. This is a great way to find books to expand your African American Literature collection!

Faydra, Thanks for your support!

http://afamhistoryexaminer.com/fresh-faces-in-black-books/

Black woman reading

Another Friend on the Air Tonight!!!!

As the author of, “The Dopeless Hope Fiend, Veteran Police Officer Becomes Homeless Drug addict Before Finding Redemption After Near Death Experience,” Michael Charles Givens masterfully shares his experience, faith, strength and hope and illustrates his extraordinary life. Givens chronicles his disasters while challenging and inspiring those caught in the deep hole of addiction to lead a happy and prosperous life free of addictions.

Givens’ experiences uniquely qualify him to see both sides of society. As a police officer, he was sworn to uphold the law. As a drug addict, he was compelled to violate it.

Tune in to A Touch of Grace with G.D. Grace, today at 6pm PST and 9pm EST to hear more about Micheal’s journey!
cover Dopeless Hope Fiend