Guest Post: How to Stay Sane While Writing By I.L. Cruz

Writing is a funny profession. I spend most of my time with different voices in my head or trying to understand intangibles like motivation, arcs, and dimensions. I don’t always understand it and the only rule that is absolute is “don’t be boring”. Those are the bullet points everyone talks about and I was prepared for.

What I wasn’t prepared for was how lonely writing can be. I spend a lot of time in my head, on a page or at a screen. When I have a real breakthrough after tackling a particularly sticky plot point, it’s a quiet victory. When I discover, to my horror, that the character I thought was integral to my story isn’t and have to slash pages and pages of hard work, it’s a solitary bereavement. And the day to day work of writing a chapter or editing a section can’t be shared with an officemate when your office is your home. The dog is silently non-committal.

It was only when I truly embraced the writing community in the blogosphere and on Twitter that I felt a little of that isolation was lifted. I have family and friends, but this was my tribe. And it never would have happened unless I got a piece of advice I hated.

Early on in my writing career, I was told by an agent I hoped would represent me that I needed an online presence. I loathed the idea of creating a Facebook profile, participating in Twitter or writing a blog. I’m a strange contradiction—a private extrovert. What could I put out there that wasn’t personal? How else did people gain followers if they weren’t willing to share everything from their breakfast order to the antics of a pet? I needed something I could write about those people—readers—would enjoy and I did, too.

Fairy tales were the natural extension of my writing, which was based on Mother Goose characters. I wanted to write about the relevancy (or lack thereof) of fairy tales in our modern lives. At first, it was a chore, but it came with an unexpected gain. I found readers and other writers. Explaining how I found the perfect twist to a plot in order to move my story along to family and friends who smiled and nodded but didn’t understand, I could share with other writers in similar situations.

If I had any advice to give new writers it’s to always write the story you’d like to see before you start editing and worrying about other people. But if I could give them a second piece of advice it would be to reach out to the writing community and share this weird and wonderful profession with people who get it.

I.L.Crus Bio

Author I.L. Cruz, Guest Post, Coffee n' Notes

I.L. Cruz decided to make writing her full-time career during the economic downturn in 2008.

Since then she’s used her BA in International Relations to sow political intrigue in her fantasy worlds and her MA in history to strive for the perfect prologue. When she’s not engaged in this mad profession she indulges her wanderlust as often as possible, watches too much sci-fi and reads until her eyes cross. She lives in Maryland with her husband, daughter and a sun-seeking supermutt named Dipper.

You can find her:

On Twitter @ILCruzWrites

On Goodreads I. L. Cruz

Her blog, Fairytale Feminista at https://fairytalefeminista.wordpress.com

Her website www.booksbyilcruz.com

And you can find her latest book on Amazon 

Coffee n' Notes, Blog Tour

As always, thank you so much for reading ❤

GalitLet’s chat on:

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How to Write Memorable and Believable Characters

Hey everyone, I hope you are having a great day ❤

I wanted to share with you my latest episode on how to write amazing and unforgettable characters, and I also share what resources I use and how I create a character that will be remembered.

 

 

For me when creating a character I think of all the things that make great characters or characters that are still remembered even if one hasn’t seen them in a movie or read about them.

So keep listening and I hope these character profiles will help you as well, as much as it helps me.

Creating a character, Coffee n' Notes, Writer's life club podcast

Also, you can use this amazing character sheet for creating new characters, after you listen to this episode and learn how to use it 🙂

As always, thank you so much for reading ❤

GalitLet’s chat on:

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5 Steps To Writing Amazing Fiction

Hey everyone, I hope you are having a great week ❤ It’s almost weekend 😀

For me, it was a bit busy start to the week, but overall I am happy that I can do all the things I want right now. I still wish I had put some more time block for my editing but I’m playing with my schedule to see where I can fit it best so that I can edit more. My goal is to edit about 20K this quarter so I need to schedule more time for that.

But this site/app Notion is truly a gift when it comes to scheduling and working on my goals. My only wish for this app is to have a google calendar embedded in it, lol. But I am working with what it got and so far it goes well. If you want to get better at organizing your work and your life check it out because it’s a great tool to use and it’s free 😀

Over the years I have collected a few great ways to write fiction and not get stuck, so I thought I would share them with you as well 🙂

Going from, end to start

This rule is good for any type of fiction you might want to write. Knowing the ending can help you so much with understanding where your character will be along its journey, from start to finish. And, you will have an easier time plotting and outlining your story. Working backward always helped me when I got stuck with my story so I started working this way all the time.

Flawed characters are the new perfection

Characters are just like us, even in a fictional story. No one is perfect so why write a perfect character? Perfect is boring and most of the time not worth my time to continue reading. But flawed characters are amazing and perfect in their own broken way. They make the story much more engaging and interesting.

Struggles, struggles, and more struggles

Give your characters as many struggles you can think of. force them to confront their fears, battle with their weaknesses and struggles, break their spirit, lol. After that, find more ways to play with your character, hehe. Struggle in life is what makes us who we are, that’s what builds our inner strength and that’s what eventually gives us the motivation and the will power to push through those struggles and come out of it, hopefully, better and stronger.

Know the why

This is super and most important and I talked about it in my podcast and wrote about it in another post as well, knowing and understanding why this story matter to us and why we want to write it is the key to writing a great story. But you must also know your character’s why as well. Why your character wants to go where she/he/they need to go. Not just because you want your character to go as the author. People will enjoy your story more if they knew the character’s why. Now you don’t need to simply write it down in the story, lol, but you do need your character to know and understand. Your characters drive the story and their understanding of why they do the things they do will make their action powerful to the reader and more relatable.

Deadlines

Not everyone likes deadlines or alarms (me encluded), however, putting a deadline on your project is a key to finishing it. I only recently had learned the true importance of a realistic deadline. You must look at the end result of your project and start going backward with each step you will need to do to accomplish that project. Each milestone will go towards your end result, like finishing your novel. Each small milestone will have its own realistic deadline, that way you will always see your end goal, but also you will be reminded daily of all your smaller milestones in a way that you can achieve them.

What tips and hacks do you use to write great stories?

As always, thank you so much for reading ❤

Galit

Let’s chat on:

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Writer’s Life Club Podcast

Hey everyone, I hope you are all having a good week and you are not too stressful by the holidays ❤

Btw, I’ve posted on my patreon some great way to destress during the holidays, tips I use and seem to work well. Go check them out, don’t let the stress get to you anymore.

Yesterday I did something I feared for a long time and that is to make a podcast. I’ve launched the first-ever podcast and I am so excited but still fearful, haha I guess this will take lots of time to learn how to this right and practice talking right as well.

But I am still so proud of myself for trying to do this new thing and now wait for the new year to start, even though the new year is just around the corner, lol.

The podcast is called Writer’s Life Club and there I will talk about writing, books, life, tips and hacks, motivation and productivity and everything in between.

Writer's Life Club Podcast, Coffee n' Notes

For now, the podcast will be on its site and on Spotify but in a few days, I hope it will be available in all the podcasting apps, especially on Itunes and Google. But for now, I will see you there and if you have any requests for topics and ideas feel free to leave them in the comments and if I will use your idea, I will definitely give you a shoutout 😉

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah to you all and a wonderful Happy New Year ❤

Happy Holidays 2019, Coffee n' Notes, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah

The Writer’s Life Club trailer is already up for you to get an idea what I will talk about, and the first episode will be up later on today ❤

See you there,

As always, thank you so much for reading ❤

Galit

Let’s chat on:

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5 Tips On How To Start Over

Hey everyone, hope you are all having a nice Wednesday ❤

Today was a very busy day for both me and my mom, she moved to a new room so we had to clean and organize and declutter her stuff and by the end of the day, I felt exhausted. Yesterday was a nice day at home. I cleaned, wrote about 3.2K (yay me), edited, and read a book I am reviewing next month.

Today I wanted to talk about (or more so to share) about my writing progress. In EllE (working title) I am still editing. My editing is going at a slower pace than I wished it to be, but anything is better than nothing and slow is definitely a progress, so that’s good 😉

I have another project that I am working on. I almost finished writing it a while back (like 2.5 years ago). While I was starting to edit it, I’ve realized that there were too many huge blocks of writing that needed to be changed and rewritten, so I printed it and started working on it.

Writing, Coffee n' Notes

Sometimes in editing, you just need to start over and that’s okay.

Now that I am started over, I felt scared but also very excited, lol. It’s like visiting an old dream that you have forgotten, but suddenly remember bits of it. I was so scared to start over from scratch, but now that I am 35K words in, I realize that I’ve made a good choice. The plot runs smoother, the characters feel real and complicated, and the story itself keeps growing.

I wanted to share with you my 5 best tips on how to start over (if you have to start over), without banging your head on the wall or your table, lol. These 5 tips will make you work faster and better.

Btw, these tips work great with every new project as well, the only thing you’ll need to change is brainstorm ideas and then outline.

Coffee n' Notes

Print. Read. Highlight. Outline.

I printed my old novel (75K) and read it very slowly. I highlighted the parts that I thought were important and saved those parts in a new document, in a new order I thought they need to go.

Brainstorming, Coffee n' Notes

Outline or Re-Outline the novel, only this time add every little detail you can think of and put all those highlighted parts in the outline. My new outline is now about 45 pages, lol (while the old one was 5). It’s like a big summery of your novel 😀

Start writing. Work in bursts.

What helped me the most is to make the outline in a new document and start my writing on that, lol. This way, I am not working with a blank page (so no fear of writing or writer’s block) and I will always have a good idea where my characters and plot needs to go, so writing came easier.

Writing, Coffee n' Notes

Writing in small bursts helped me a lot so far. I worked in 20-30 minutes of writing sessions (a few times a day) and it didn’t make me feel overwhelmed or overworked.

After each writing session, take a break with some yummy coffee or tea and some fruit. Enjoy the feeling that you were writing 🙂 After the break, get back to your writing session.

Edit as you go

Don’t wait after you finish writing it all, to edit. Try editing while your mind is still fresh and full of details about the world, characters, and the plot. If you finished writing for that day, take the next day to edit what you wrote so far. Remember this is a simple edit. You will not go into the nitty-gritty of things. Look at the plot and characters, and see if they make sense to you.

Try working in bursts in your editing sessions, it will keep things light and you won’t feel overwhelmed by the entire process.

Write the ending

This is very important, even if it sounds weird. Take a few moments before starting your first writing session and just after you finished with your new and shiny outline. Start thinking about how your story will end and write the end scene of your novel or your last few pages.

This will not only help you see your entire novel in a big picture kinda way, but it will also help you see all the details of the plot and characters. Writing the end truly helped me see my novel and what details I needed to add in the middle (as that is the hardest part for me, lol).

After writing the end, I knew what will come before that and so on… It’s writing your novel from end to start 😉 But it works!

Breath

Last but not least, breath! Take your time and rest in between your writing sessions. Try to find something that inspires you, like a great book or even just enjoying a hot cup of tea (or coffee in my case).

The End, Coffee n' Notes

I really hope these tips will help you with your new or old project, as much as they helped me and if you have your own special tip that you wish to share, feel free to writing down in the comments so will all can learn 😀

As always, thank you so much for reading ❤

GalitLet’s chat on:

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7 Tip To Survive and Win NaNoWriMo

So… We are a week away from the start of NaNoWriMo and I thought this will be the best time to share with you some of the tips and tricks that really keep me motivated and win (Well… Most of the time anyway, lol, sometimes life must be first and last).

Btw, If you want you a writing buddy, you can add me here and feel free to add me on Twitter as well, and we can do some word sprints 😉 Remember that this is not how you normally go about writing a book, but NaNoWriMo is about the community, quality and fun, and this change of pace helps a lot sometimes… Just remember to have fun ❤

Okay, let’s start with some tips and tricks I’ve learned over the years of doing NaNoWriMo 🙂

Plan your time

A planner is your friend here, on those busy days plan some 5 – 15 min of writing. Now on those days that you have a bit more time on your hands, try to plan more writing time an hour or two and you will see that even though you are a bit behind one day, the next day you can be in the lead 😀

You have 50K words to write a month and even though the estimate word count per day is 1667 word, this is not the law – You can write 500 a day and the next day you can write 4K. What matters is the finish line.

Word sprints

These really help to get your brain fluids run smoothly, hehe and twitter NaNo Sprints is a really good place to find many people doing sprints of 5 – 20 minutes of fast writing. It makes you write fast and not think of what are you writing and if it’s the right thing to write or not… You just write.

Writing, NanoWrimo

Planner or Pantser

I am a strong believer in an outline, and I really think that a well-developed outline can keep the darkness of a writer’s block away. So take this week and write your idea – outline it as much as you can and write a sentence or two about your project.

Food and Drinks

Yummy food both healthy and not so healthy is always have been a great part of NaNoWrimos and a great part of my writing process, lol. Pick a few of your favorite food items, but try to put some healthy choices in there as well.

Junk food, NanoWrimo

Books, Movies, and Tv

I really recommend reading a book, see a Tv show or a movie that really inspires you to write and gives you a nudge to go back to your project ❤ I recently saw the great movie Stranger Than Fiction and it was so much fun to watch it, perfect movie to see before NaNo 😉

Kill the inner editor – Kill it!

Never edit as you go. This is not a regular writing session, where you can edit – Editing will only slow you down and even make you doubt yourself. So leave all the errors, red lines and other things that your brain will try to convince you they must be addressed – Don’t listen and keep writing.

Be kind to yourself

If by any chance you are getting behind and starting to feel frustrated, don’t beat yourself up for that. Take a deep breath, go for a walk or do your chores and when you come back, and keep writing. I know the goal is to win but it’s also to have fun with your writing and getting used to writing. So don’t be harsh on yourself – You can always write more words in those other days when you have more time.

That is all for today, I hope you found a tip or more to help you win Nanowrimo. Do you have any writing tips to share with us, that might help everyone be more prepared for Nano?

Embrace the madness that is NaNoWriMo and have fun ❤

Can’t wait for November to start 😀

Fun, Excited, NanoWrimo

As always, thank you so much for reading ❤

GalitLet’s chat on:

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Author Interview: Serina Adham

Welcome to Coffee n’ Notes. Today, I’d like to welcome Serina Adham, author of Lulu’s Balallam-Bam-Bam Grooves, for an author Interview.

About the author

Serina Adham drew on her experience as a dancer and dance instructor to give you this fun new adventure with Lulu and all her animal friends. She hopes that Lulu will teach children to enthusiastically follow their dreams but also consider the effects they have on others.

Adham lives in Vancouver, British Columbia. In addition to teaching dance, Adham has also worked as a jewelry and clothing designer and an interior designer. She has one fearless, dancing and singing daughter of her own.

Contact Details:

Website: Adham Books 
Goodreads: Serina Adham Goodreads

Hello, Serina. Thank you for being here today at Coffee n’ Notes 

Please tell us a little bit about yourself. (This can be a quick blurb of the kinds of books you write, etc.)

My name is Serina Adham and I am a newly published author of a children’s book called, Lulu’s Ballalam-Bam-Bam Grooves, which by the way is the first edition of much more to follow.
I also have a young adult novel I have been working on that is on hold at the moment while I finish writing and publishing the children’s books.

How long have you been writing for?

Around ten years.

What is your writing process like?

It’s about picking the character I would like to work with and building up from there.

Do you have a writing routine? If so, what’s a typical day like for you?

I prefer writing in the mornings, with a nice cup of tea, at a sweet spot in a café.

What motivates you to write?

It’s like painting or creating a piece of jewelry. An idea hits me and I just have to create it.

What was the first thing you did when you found out your book was being published?

I actually had no patience for the whole process of submitting my book to a publishing house then wait for 6 months for a response or none at all, so I decided I would self-publish on Amazon.
I am very excited to see the outcome.

Are you currently working on anything new?

All the time. I always have a few different projects on the go.
But the next one in line is another children’s book about a giraffe.

If you weren’t a writer, what would your career be?

I Have not yet completely switched over to a full-time writer just yet, I hope I will soon, I am optimistic. My other career or careers I should say were as a designer/artist and dance instructor.

What is the easiest part of writing for you? What is the hardest part?

The easiest has always been coming up with an idea.
The hardest has always been the editing, although sometimes, I do enjoy doing that too because it might lead me in another direction.

What’s one thing you learned through writing that you wish you knew before you started?

I wish I had started earlier.

What is your favorite book or genre? Is there a special book that made you realize you wanted to write?

My favorite book has to be The Long Dark Tea-Time Of The Soul, written by Douglas Adams. I realized I wanted to write when I felt I needed to express my creativity in a different way.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

I would still call myself an aspiring writer, but I can say one thing, write every day, even if it’s nonsense.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

I would like to thank everyone that took the time to read this interview and for those of you who will give Lulu’s Ballalam-Bam-Bam Grooves a read.

Thank you, Serina for visiting Coffee n’ Note  🙂

About The Book

Lulu's Ballam-Bam-Bam Grooves, Coffee n' Notes

There is nothing Lulu loves more than dancing by herself. With each new song, she practices the “Ballalam-Bam-Bam Grooves.” She slides her feet, claps her hands, and bumps her hips against a tree trunk.
There is just one problem. Lulu is a gorilla! When she stamps her feet and shakes the trees, she ends up disturbing all the other animals in her jungle home. Poor Squin Squirrel cannot even sip his nut tea without Lulu’s dancing rattling his tree home. Squin and the other animals try to tell Lulu that her dancing is disruptive, but they cannot get through to the gorilla.
Then, Lulu’s loud music and dancing ends up waking up the mighty king of the jungle. The angry lion Jhawfors then confronts Lulu with the problem. Will the animals be able to find a compromise?
This rhyming children’s tale imparts valuable lessons to young readers. Lulu does not want to stop doing what she loves, but she needs to understand that her actions affect others. Through Lulu, children will learn the importance of respect, compassion, and compromise.

Book Links:

Amazon: Lulu’s Ballalam-Bam-Bam Grooves

Goodreads: Add Lulu’s Ballalam-Bam-Bam Grooves to your TBR list

My Review: Look what I thought about the book

As always, thank you so much for reading ❤

GalitLet’s chat on:

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My 4 NaNoWriMo Tips

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) has started (yay) and what made this even more special, rain has finally arrived. Rain is here

Brainstorm

Take a bit of time to just brainstorm your idea. Write how you see the story starts and how it might end. Knowing how it will end, will help you when you get a bit stuck (this mostly happen, somewhere in the middle of the month). After you have the beginning and end, throw some adventure on the hero’s way 😀 This is by far my favorite thing to do besides the writing itself of course, lol.

Silence your editor

Yes, we all know this one and it’s hard not to stop and edit that word, or that annoying scene. But don’t! Leave your wonderful editor aside and remember, now you just write, nothing more. Just write.

Write in short bursts

Most nanowrimos can tell you that writing in short burst of 15-25 minutes, can truly help you write faster and just put you the right mood for writing. There’s nothing else in the world but your writing in those 15-25 minutes. Here you can use nano words sprints on Twitter, use an app like the Pomodoro or just put a timer on. This just makes things more manageable and less overbearing.

Community

Nano is not just a sprint to the finish line, it’s also lots of fun. There is so much power in the Nano community, that I urge you to look on Their site for some buddy friends, on twitter and all the social media, you are following. I love the Nano community so much ❤

floral

Enjoy this time, get inspired and have fun with your writing. 

That’s all for now and I will keep writing and update throughout NaNoWriMo. I will not be doing nano every day, but I still hope to achieve the 50K goal. I did put in my planner some writing day, as I call them. So far today my word count is 3K of writing and 4 pages of edit 😀 I guess it’s ok for now, lol.

How was your first day of Nano?

As always thank you so much for reading ❤

GalitLet’s chat on:

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Friday Musing

Friday Musing

Hey everyone, happy Friday to you all ❤

I hope your weekend had started out well and continue to be amazing and creative. Mine started out with me waking up at 6:30 in the morning, hubby being sick and going through tons of medical documents for my mom 😉

I guess I wasn’t meant to rest much this weekend, but at least I’m using, this time, to organize a bit around the house and be a bit creative by re-writing a scene I wanted to do all week and edit a few of my notes from my phone (my work desk these days, lol).

My plans or “goals” for this weekend is taking care of hubby, organize my closet room and try to edit a few more pages or scenes 😉

With all these health issues and busy schedule, sadly, for now, the giveaway is canceled. I still hope to do the giveaway this month but as I see thing going right now, I can’t.

floral

Well, enough with that, you are here not just for an update (of my crazy life, lol), but also to see what inspired me this week and actually, there was something that inspired me to push myself harder, even if things are overwhelming 😉

Inspiring
Pic is from Pinterest

I saw this a few days ago on Pinterest and I lost it, but today I found it again, lol. I love this quote so much as it hit home in me.

I feel as everything in my writer’s life had slowed down so much, that it hurts. I feel like I’m not doing anything I could, just because I’m so exhausted at the end of the day. I do write, in my phone on every chance I’ve got, but I always feel that it’s not enough. However, this quote really cheered me up and lifted my spirited in knowing that I am trying (and I’m trying hard) and even though it’s not a lot or as much as I used to write, at least I’m writing and still trying to follow my dreams 😀

Don’t let life push you down and fight for your dreams ❤

Thank you so much for reading ❤

GalitLet’s chat on:

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Weekly Round Up

coffeennotesweekly

Hey everyone, hope you are having a nice day 🙂

My week was hectic and full of doctor appointments, lol, and there much more to come the next few weeks. It’s been hard on my mom as well as on me, but things need to get done and there’s no way to run from it.

Usually, I post my Weekly Round-Up on Sundays but yesterday was beyond exhausting. I came home, ate and fell asleep immediately.

So, I thought why not post it today 😀

Friday Musing

Friday Musing

A little update of my busy week and my only wish is to sleep. Must sleep!

10 Tips For New Writers

Ten Tips For Writers

I love reading about tips for writers and I mostly read the same things. You must write every day, you must read a lot. So, I thought why not compile 10 tips for new writers, that I know worked great for me 😀

I hope you’re having a nice Monday and a start of a great week 🙂 Goodnight Y’all 😉

Thank you so much for reading ❤

GalitLet’s chat on:

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