Follow by Email

Sunday, December 31, 2017

How to Find an Idea. Part 2

       The time of NaNoWriMo is fast approaching.  Do you have your idea?  Do you have any ideas?  Maybe you are going to finish off another project, edit one?  I've done both within the month.  I don't really recommend doing that; because my brain does not like it.  Not one.little.bit.   But I also have done short stories, and also blogs to fill out the 50k.   I'm what is called a "rebel."  But I also am a "Plantser."  I am a hybrid between planning and pantsing.   Planning being the outlining of your idea so that you know what will happen during the novel.  Pantsing is just taking a vague idea and rough outline (that you won't stick to), before writing.
          There are people that are good at preplanning everything.  I am not one of them.  The only time I tried (NaNoWriMo 2012), it failed miserably.  My story did not want to follow the beautiful outline I had written painstakingly out.  And not only that, the structure is totally different than what I had imagined.  The problem I don't have is finding Ideas, it's going through the rest of it that has me going crazy.
          Basically, to flesh out an idea, I do what is called the "What if?"  I'll illustrate below using a familiar story.

What if there is a boy left on his relatives steps and finds out later that he is not ordinary?

There is my basic idea.    And yes, it should be obvious what story I'm using to illustrate this.

So then I go into the flesh out phase.

Q. What is not ordinary about this boy?

A.  He's got magic powers.

Q.  Why was he left with his relatives?

A.  Because he can't be where he was before.

Q.  Why can't he be where he was before?

A.  Because an evil wizard tried to kill him and failed.

So then you could go on from there to flesh it out even more, (now it is time for him to go back and learn magic so he can fight the evil Wizard).

I am not sure this is what JK Rowling did, but that is probably how I would have done it (though not the same probably).

Ideas are everywhere, as I've said before.  You may be even able to combine multiple ideas to make one story.   Finding ideas can bring more ideas to mind, it's easy once you get into the practice of doing it.  Prompts are great for generating ideas.  I had a new SNI  (Shiny New Idea), just today from a prompt.  It's going to be one of the stories that go into my Nano project. 

Note:  This blog was completed after Nano was over.  But you can use the info contained here at any time. 

L. Anne Wooley is a writer located in Columbus Ohio.  She has been published in numerous places, and can be seen in the upcoming anthologies "The Longest NightWatch Vol. 3"  and "Drowning by Moonlight."  Both are for charity.  She lives with two roommates, two dogs, a very noisy obnoxious and evil Bird named Bryn Terfel, and a cat which is her constant writing companion.   She can be found on FB and Youtube. 

Happy New Year! Setting Goals

First of all, Happy New Year for all my readers/followers.  Hope you have health and happiness in the new year!   And speaking of the New Year, it's time to do our resolutions...or as I call them, my goals.  Goals are important for writing, as they shine a focus on what we want to do with our writing.  Words don't just come out of the blue (at least they don't for me).  And I also tend to take on a LOT of projects...too many in fact.  So goal setting is really important if I want to succeed in writing.  This is for any kind of artistic endeavor though.  You can apply the tools that I've spoken about here for whatever you do artistically.

Step 1:  Writing down your projects.  (This is a list of all your projects.)  So here is mine: 

Anthology pieces due:

Drowned by Moonlight rewrite mine as a memorial/introduction.
The Longest Nightwatch V3
Daily Sticky Note Haiku book
10 short stories began last years NaNoWriMo.
Only have like 3 so far.
Writers Retreat story for their Anthology
(Fairytale mashup).

As you can see, there are a lot of them.  And I may have forgotten one or a gazillion.  But these are the main ones.  Some of them are in various stages of completion already.  But still, have a way to go before they are published. 

Step 2:   Prioritizing the goals.   I try to do this by a deadline date.  The closest due date will be my first priority.  This can be more complicated, as you may not have deadlines/due dates for the project.  For anthology pieces, contests, and publications, there usually are dates that work is due by.   But here is how I prioritized the above list:

Drowned by Moonlight, the revision needs to be done first.
The Longest Nightwatch V3 (have not gotten my edits back yet.
Writers Retreat Fairytale Mashup fixing/going over maybe adding stuff.
Stormwolf first draft needs to be completed, because of some stuff in it, needs to be added to Stormraevyn.
Then add or correct to incorporate those changes into Stormraevyn
Daily Sticky Note Haiku book (is already in process, but needs to be laid out and the poems moved to where they need to go.
10 5k word short stories last years Nano, need 6 more stories I believe.

In the above, "The Longest Nightwatch v3" is second, as I haven't received my edits back yet.  I have finalized the beta read though, but now am waiting for the editing phase.  So while I'm waiting on this, I've decided to do "Drowned by Moonlight," first.  This is in my revision stage right now, so I'll be fixing it up.  It's going to be the introduction to this anthology (decided after it had been submitted), so I have to fix it to make it more introduction like.

So Step 3:   Making a "To do" list.

I actually have a form that I made up for my writer's group on Facebook.  It's below so you can copy and paste:

Note:  This form is basically used with a buddy system, an accountability buddy if you will.  If you have another writer willing to do this with you, you would just fill out the form and send it to them (so they can keep you honest).   And they would send theirs to you.  This can be done via pm/email or even teleconference (Google Hangouts or Skype).   But you can use this solo, to keep yourself in check with your goals.  You can consider it a checklist too.
Also, make your goals realistic and measurable.  Deadlines that you make on your own, set them with enough time between each step of the project so that you aren't flustered if you miss one. 


Each sheet is per project.  If you have more than one project, print out, or use a separate sheet.  This is what you are going to send to your buddy (if you don’t have one, or just don’t want one, but want to use this form, that is okay too).  You’ll have one for your needs and your buddy’s needs one to help check in on how you are doing with your goals.
I also have put notes to give instructions on how to use these, you can erase my notes prior to use if you wish.
You can also change goal numbers if you need more than one sheet.  Alter this to your needs if you also don’t like this format.  
Though you *could use each goal as a separate project as well, just add the “Project Title”  Which might be good to have all your project deadlines on one, and use another form for the individual projects.
Lastly, you can break down your project into separate goals.  For example:
Goal 1 Outline, Goal 2:  Character sheets, Goal 3: world building  Goal 4: research (though I usually do this step after the first draft as I’m not sure what I will need research-wise).   Goal 5:  First draft Goal 6: editing/2nd draft. Etc.  
Project Title:   Introduction for Drowned by Moonlight Anthology
Goal 1:  This is where the first step in what you need to do with your project should go.  i.e finish first draft (or any part of planning your project).
The first draft was finished, but that was before I was told I could write the introduction.  Needs to be more introductory-ish
Goal 1 Deadline (this is the date you would like your goal to be met, give yourself enough time if this is a NaNoWrimo or Camp Nano project, you could put the end of the month).
January 2018
Goal 2:   
Goal 2 Deadline:
Goal 3:
Goal 3: Deadline.


Sunday, July 30, 2017

"Roles:" an Autobiography

      I have often thought of the saying, to paraphrase  "All the worlds a stage and all the people actors."  I thought that statement was stupid, I didn't connect to it.  But then I was working on a talk about roles, that I was going to give in conjunction with a project I've been working on for around 20 years.
      The project was a book (nonfiction), about being a survivor of a sexual abuse/assault.   The book would include others who have lived through such ordeals.   This would also include incest survivors and include help for men as well as women.  So for book publicity, I would have a little speech prepared, and it would go a little something like this:

      In life, we play many roles.  When we are children, we are son's, daughters, brothers, sisters nieces, nephews, grandsons, or granddaughters, and students.  When we grow up, our roles change.  We become mothers and fathers, Aunts and Uncles.   Grandparents later on.  Teachers, Doctors, Lawyers, Firemen... And we dream about these roles when we grow up.  What we want to be when we "Grew up."  
     Nobody ever says, "I want to be a rape survivor when I grow up."   Yet that is a role that Robert Patton forced on me at knife-point in November 1994.    It's a role that makes one of my many catastrophic changes in my life. What he did to me, can never be undone, I will always be this role.   

     However,  now I do not let it define me, it is in my past.  What got me to this point, was the day I stood in court, giving an "impact statement."  This is when a survivor (or someone else) can read to the court, before sentencing.    I stood up and told Patton exactly what he did to me, and how he changed me for all time.   Then I read a poem that told him in part that I had been in a prison, the poison of what he did trapped in a wound that nobody else could see.   Yet, now he would be the prisoner, and that I was free.   With those words, I was free.
    That day was 12 years ago, and so much has passed.   Both of my parents are now gone, but I'm so happy they were there that day.   What happened to me, also forced roles on them.  Roles that they were not prepared for, parents of a rape survivor.  That night, was only the second time that I ever saw my dad cry, and it would be the last.   I felt worse for my parents that night in the hospital than I did for myself.  I had to put aside my pain and fear to help them.   The guilt that they didn't keep me safe, haunted them for a long time.  I didn't get that at first, but after a time, I grew to understand somewhat.  But it didn't make it any easier for me to cope with that knowledge for a long time.

      I was not alone in bearing this role, I had 36 other women who bare the same scars.. my sisters, linked by a role not everyone can understand.   Rape takes away everything, your sense of safety, sense of self.  Security is gone, and you look over your shoulder and become over sensitized to sounds, and casual touch becomes like a brand.  PTSD is real for us.

     But once I gave my impact statement, I was free from his shadow, his presence.    While I can never forget or forgive, I can cut that binding of power that he held over me for 10 years.   I do not feel a damned thing for him now.   I'll never forgive him, but I've let go of the anger.

      I've never identified with the role of victim, but I feel more powerful being called a "Survivor," for that is what he didn't do to me, he didn't define me.  Once he left that night, I won.


Saturday, June 17, 2017

The I-Files. Yes, been watching Mulder and Scully WAY TOO MUCH!

      I don't know about you, but when I get a really good idea...I like to write it down somewhere. Sometimes I don't have anywhere to write it on, so I grab what is handy.   I pull a napkin or a receipt from my favorite coffee shop or bookstore (those are longer and wider typically).  I even tell folks to use their phones notepad/evernote/fill in the blank app.  Some even have voice recorders, or you can get the old fashioned kind and buy a small tape recorder (voice recorder, I have 2, but darn it, I can't find them to save my life!).

So what I do, is to take the idea down with whatever is at hand. I write it down; the place, date and time down to...even what spurned the idea (as the action that created the idea might make it's way into its story).   I may make further notes (brainstorming), if that comes.  If it doesn't then it will be kept and worked into another story later, or might tie in nicely to another WIP (Work in Progress.)

Once I get it down on paper, or on the recording device (and assuming that I didn't lose those either) then it is time to move it over to my I-Files.  I actually call mine "Shiny New Ideas," and it's a spreadsheet in Google Drive.   That way I can get them anywhere, and on any device I choose.    It looks something like this.

IDEA                                                                      DATE:                                             SOURCE:

JOHN AND HARVEY FIND LOST DOG            03.22.77                       DOG WANDERING

If you want you can put more detail in those fields.   For instance;

  • Weather and setting
  • Anything else that strikes you about this.  
  • What they were wearing.   

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Revisiting Old Friends...AKA Finding "Buried" Treasure

     Finding stories you don't recall writing is fun.  It's like unearthing buried treasure, without the X to mark your spot. For me it is like revisiting old friends.  They may not have been completed stories either;  I may not remember all the details of where I wanted to take it.  But, I sometimes come up with new, and perhaps even better ideas.  As these are unfinished projects, it might have meant that the original idea wasn't good enough, or have enough strength to pursue to completion.

     It can be a challenge to decide where to go with, or recapture the interest in it; sometimes you just  have to let it go.   But you should never get rid of those treasures,  they can become the basis for some other project.  Or I may get some more fleshing out on the idea, but that is about it.  And sometimes it can be years before I get around to revisiting these old friends.

     So I hear you..."Hey, can you give us an example?"

     In full disclosure, I haven't actually haven't had much opportunity to pursue a formerly buried idea, because most of my project ideas are very incomplete.  And new ideas that I know I will publish, come up.  So the first, and only time that I recall that  I've used this advice was with my 2009 Nano novel.  That one was written as a sort of fictionalized auto biography.  The main character was a rape survivor (like myself), who had a very dysfunctional relationship with her mother (who was based on my mother, aunt, and a few other women I knew.) Her father was more like my dad.   That project was all handwritten, and I really liked it much better than the one I tried to rewrite with the same basic idea for Nano 2012.   The secondary character was taking over too much (when she wasn't in the first one at all).  The only reason I had her was to raise the stakes for my main character, but the story really didn't work. I probably won't rewrite it again, as the character is too close to me.  But if I find my original again, or can recreate the original closely from memory,  then I would definitely finish it.

     Revisiting these stories can help you see how far you've come.  You may not use them again...but they are precious for showing your progression as a writer.  They may also be given away if you so it forward to other writers.  But remember, ideas cannot be copyrighted, and also cannot be stolen.  As was said (badly paraphrased) "There are no new ideas, only how you  transform them, and make them your own."

Image result for treasure map free clip art

Friday, June 2, 2017

What Would You Like to See Me Cover in a Blog?

I've been pretty much at this blog thing for several years now, and I've covered a lot of stuff in that time.  But I'm trying to get ideas for new topics to cover.   So I'm coming to my readers and writers, what would you like to see me cover?    Would you like more "How tos?"  More on NaNoWrimo?  

I plan on craft posts as well, so what are you having trouble with, in your writing?    Inquiring minds wanna know.  Yea, I love to quote old material :)

Would you like to see more short stories?    Stuff that I've published?  

I would quote Ferris Beuhler, but I won't.

Image result for ideas for writing topics

Sunday, May 7, 2017

May Events

Now that my piece for the Carrie Fisher anthology "Drowned by Moonlight," is done, I have some more exciting events to share with ya'll.

May 12-14,  Columbus Ohio.  Marcon Science Fiction/Fantasy/Gaming/Real Science, and tons of other things (masquerade anyone?)  They have a great dealers room, and art show as well.   Entirely fan run (yours truly used to be one of the concom), this con has been around as long as I have.  In fact Marcon started out as "March Convention," and started in March of 65 as a luncheon for Science Fiction writers.  I too started out in March of 1965.    Would be fun to figure out what the first day was.
My Schedule:  I will also be helping out in the consuite.  So if you attend the con, stop by to see me there.  :)

L. Anne Wooley's Schedule
FRI8:30PM - 10:00PMGrantLiterary WritersWhat Writers Wish Their Readers Knew About Writing   This is the one I'm Moderating.
SAT1:00PM - 2:30PMMcKinleyLiterary ReadersHumorous Science Fiction and Fantasy 
SAT8:30PM - 10:00PMDelaware DLiterary, Literary Readers, Literary WritersParanormal Romance

Marcons Website:

The rest of the month, I'll be working on my blogs, and my weekly writing event online.  The next big deadline for me is another anthology.  

Presenting.... The Art of Public Speaking and Why We Should do it!

Holding presentations are an excellent way of building a fan base and creating networking opportunities.  Whatever your presentation is about takes the same kind of skills, or similar skills, to whatever you are doing in your professional life.  If you master the skills described below you will be able to function effectively, and more importantly professionally, in your career as a writer.

Why is this important to learn?  Well, writers have to be able to do a few things.  Sell themselves (marketing), as well as do readings, panels at conventions and interviews.  Learning to speak effectively, builds your brand as a writer/author.

But how to get over the nerves and butterflies that go through us to become effective speakers?  This is something I still struggle, even though I've done plenty of public speaking events.  I've moderated panels at conventions before, as well as been on panels.  I've held online classes on writing.  I've even read my work in public.

Even though I have plenty of experience under my belt, I still get nervous before "going on."  This is only human nature though.  Human nature is to be nervous before doing something that could go either incredibly right, or incredibly wrong.    Luckily, I've never had anything go the latter extreme...thankfully.  But I've gotten tongue tied before, and looked like an idiot.  But luckily, those are few and far between.

So how to do so.  Well, preparation is very very important.  What are you going to present?  How are you presenting the information that you have to relay?   Preparation (I will repeat again), is extremely important in being an effective presenter.  You don't want to just "Wing it." (which I have before, and it wasn't horrible, since I knew the subject really well), but also it wasn't very organized which is the second step in becoming an effective speaker/presenter.

You need to have your material organized in an easy to understand way.   Also having slides (PowerPoint is excellent), as part of the topic is also very important, handouts, and even Cd's with the program on it can also be helpful as a take home from the panel/talk, etc.  Bookmarks to put out at freebie tables.

There are organizations out there that help in getting comfortable with public speaking.   Toastmasters was the first one I heard about from another writer friend, whom joined to get some help speaking after suffering a stroke.  It helped her recover faster.  Here is their link to the worldwide organization.

Acting classes can help you learn how to project your voice as well as the Toastmasters.  This comes in handy when you have to project your voice to the back of your audience.

Things to avoid when public speaking:

  • Avoid saying "ummm," or "errrr." too much, that is the way you show your nervousness, and can have your audience start to lose focus/interest.
  • Don't talk in monotone, that also can make your listener nod off.   Think Ben Stein in that one show, and in Ferris Buehler (but it's hysterical there, so maybe not a good example?)
  • Do not chew gum, or eat anything to a presentation, WATER IS A GREAT THING TO HAVE.  It helps you from going dry, and also you can use it as a foil for when you hit a brain fart.  Or when you want to stall for some reason.
Things to do:
  • Make sure your equipment (mics, audio/visual) are in working order before you start.  This will lead too a smooth professional presentation.  If you don't know how to do this yourself, hope you have someone who is knowledgeable in this area help you.  Or you can learn part or all of it yourself.  
  • Project your voice if you don't have equipment, or it doesn't work somehow.  
  • Practice in front of a mirror, and into a microphone.  That way you can hear what you sound like, and get comfortable making eye contact etc.
  • Practice in front of friends and family.  If you can, do some readings in a book club or a library maybe.  That way it's a bit less intimidating.

Public speaking can be fun, but it can also be a nightmare too.  If you follow some of these steps: 
  1. Be prepared.
  2. Avoid the pitfalls of public speaking.
  3. Have your equipment in working order.
If you follow the advice laid out in this article, you should have a pleasant experience and also one that will linger on in your memories, and those of your audience.   

Saturday, May 6, 2017


In our first two parts, I spoke about Facebook and Twitter; how valuable they are in keeping in touch with your fan base, and in marketing.  In the second, I covered blog tours and hosting an online event.  Those are some of the tools in our marketing arsenal...but what about publishing the work?  After all, this is what it is all about, our first step of marketing.  After all, if you don't have your work out there, marketing is not necessarily going to be something  you need to do right?  *Note:  There is such a thing as pre-marketing your book too.  (Including cover reveals, and the blog tour stuff can also be done before the actual release.)
With the boom and advent of self publishing, there are many ways to get our work out there.   However, buyer beware if you use a VANITY publisher, they are big big no no!  If in doubt if it is a Vanity press?  Look on Writer Beware (  Also search them through the Better Business Bureau, and online.   They will tell you unbiased information on these basic scams to the publishing world.  Normally, you shouldn't have to pay to publish your work, unless you are self publishing.   

Sure traditional publishing has it's pluses; they have easier ways to get you into book stores, and help promote you...but they are not always the best option.  Traditional publishing, you release a lot of control to the Publisher, and you do have to help out with the promotional side as well.

Self publishing is exactly what it sounds like.  You have to get out there and market it, upload it to places like Amazon/B&N, and/or printing out copies.   You have control over your cover, your press releases and the like.  You can do your own book trailer.  But another word of warning, self pubbing is a numbers game.  You really have to promote yourself well, and effectively, and market to your target audience. 

While there are several folks who have become really big names that are self published, I think that the traditional publishers still have a slight monopoly on publishing....though this is also changing.  The big publishers have seen how some folks have done really well by doing it themselves, and they have taken them on after seeing how successful they were.  Traditional publishers are now seeing the benefits of taken on self published authors.

Now another word of warning here.  You need to make sure your book is in professional shape before self pubbing.  You need to get a "beta" reader and/or editor (pay for someone good, get references too), to look over your work and edit the crap out of it.  After all, your reputation as being a professional is on the line.  Which is why I don't like seeing unedited books out for sale, or ones that think, "I'll fix it in later editions."  If you can wait until a beta reader/editor can go over it with a fine tooth comb, and fix the errors (like spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc), then you really should.  I can forgive one or two errors in books, as a lot of traditional published books also have some error too, but if it's filled with errors, then heck no.  And once you have shown that you re not professional, its tougher than heck to overcome that.  This is also one of the reasons self publishing doesn't get the credit it deserves.  

Finding the right fit for you can take a number of steps to figure out which one is the right option.   And just remember, it takes some writers years to become "Overnight sensations."  JK Rowling was turned down many times for Harry Potter before someone took a chance on her.  Other well named authors also didn't have it easy.  It takes dedication and perseverance to make it to the top of your game.  You have to really love writing and be dedicated to working at the publishing game to get out there.  My best of luck to you.  

Monday, April 3, 2017

So I just did a thing.... :)

I'll be back too my regularly scheduled blogs at some point.  Lot's of stuff going on in personal life now...but I just did an interview with  R.R. Virdi (of the Dragon Award Nominated Vincent Graves "Grave Report," series.  Check them out if you like urban fantasy.  :)

That's the link to the thing.  :)