guest post

Guarantee That You Meet Your Goals in 2019: A Guest Post

CONTRIBUTED BY SARAH FOIL

We’re about halfway through January and you’ve probably set big goals for yourself. How are things going so far? In general, only 64% of resolution-makers keep their promise after the first month.

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So, if you’ve made resolutions this year to improve your writing career, how can you guarantee you’ll meet your goals? Here are 5 tips to help:

1.) Set Smaller Goals


Is your goal to have your short story or book published this year? That’s great! But don’t give up with the first rejection you get. Set smaller goals that will help you build up to that big goal. Instead of committing to finishing your book this year, commit to finishing your next chapter by the end of the month. Or for finding a workshop or writing group to join in your area. That brings me into my next point...

2.) Find Friends To Keep You Accountable


Having fellow writers to hold you accountable to your goals is a huge help. Having a critique group to submit work to every week, every month, or however often they meet, will make you write more and read more! If you have trouble finding a writing group to join, consider hiring a writing coach (like me!). We can check in with you every week to make sure you’re staying on top of your goals and offer resources to help you achieve your writing dreams.

3.) Don’t Give Up


This sounds obvious, but the biggest part of keeping to your resolutions, is just not giving up. Watch out for excuses you may be making to avoid writing or submitting your story. There’s always a reason not to do something, but you need to remember the great reasons to do your work. Consider making a visual reminder of what is driving you with an inspiring quote from your favorite author or a vision board to encourage you to keep working.

4.) Create A Routine

It takes roughly 66 days to create a new habit, but once you do it, you’ll be set! Commit to writing every morning before you go to work, or during your lunch break. Start sending your short stories to editors every Monday. Once you get in your new routine, taking the steps you need to achieve your goals will become second nature!

5.) Don’t Forget To Celebrate!

It’s hard sitting down to write everyday or sending your work out to complete strangers, so make sure you create rewards for yourself along the way. After 15 rejections for editors or agents, treat yourself to a trip to the bookstore or to the movies. If you manage to finish that chapter you aimed to complete this month, take yourself out for a nice dinner. While it’s great to complete your resolutions, it doesn’t hurt to have a little something to look forward to as well.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if you write every day or once a week or once a month. As long as you’re committed to making writing your career, you’ll find the drive to finish your projects and achieve your dreams. Just don’t forget to remember to have fun, too. Good luck!

ABOUT SARAH FOIL

Sarah Foil is a writer, editor, and media manager based out of North Carolina. She has an MFA in Fiction from the Mountainview MFA program and focuses on YA Fantasy. While her current passion project is her YA Fantasy trilogy, which is currently seeking representation, she spends much of time running and managing Sarahfoil.com, a resource for writers and readers of all kinds. She loves encouraging writers to continue to improve through her editing services and sharing her personal writing journey through blog posts and on Facebook and Twitter. If you have any questions about her services, please reach out via sarahfoil.com/contact 

Thanks for sharing, Sarah!

All best,Kayla King.png

Writing Using Tarot Cards As Inspiration: A Guest Post

Contributed by Pepi Valderrama

Sometimes we have a great idea and writing becomes difficult. Tarot cards can help us create characters, build unbelievable worlds, and breathtaking fight scenes. The Tarot offers excellent archetypes to us in the Major Arcana. It also gives us actions and clues to create worlds and deepen those character in the Minor Arcana.

Tarot has a total of 78 cards depicting characters and actions. The Major Arcana is especially useful to build characters since in it we can find figures like the Fool, the Emperor, Death, and the Empress among others. The Minor Arcana also have Kings and Queens, but these are dependent on their type. Cups explain emotions and creativity. Pentacles illustrate wealth and objects. Swords explain thoughts and communication. And, Wands explain desire.

To create a random character we just need to put the Majors and Minors apart. We shuffle the Majors first and take one card. That will be the basis of our character. Let's say that we got the fearful Death. Then, we shuffle the Minors and take three cards to explain her personality. Let's imagine we get the Ace of Cups, the Three of Wands, and the Page of Swords.

Death is a complicated card. While many fear it because of its name, the reality is that it points to changes. Someone who gets a Death card might be someone who swings quickly, and she can also fear change. Let's think about a person who is shy, and who fears change. This person will do whatever to hide and shy away from problems because the later are changes. And this person hates to change anything in her life!

The Ace of Cups, however, tells us about the possibilities she has in her relationships. If she is willing to open her heart to change, she'll be successful. Let's think about our Death as a girl who is dying for a guy she loves to notice her. The possibilities are there, and her heart is burning with making it happen. The only struggle she has is with herself. To make it happen, she needs a change.

The three of wands talk about confidence and realizing goals. So, we can say that our Death is committed to getting the boy she likes, and she is starting to gain confidence that she will. However, the Page of Swords talks about a person who is aloof. So, we can make her aloof and realize about her actions way after they have happened. If she wants to change, she needs to commit to paying more attention.

We don't need to use the real meanings of the cards. We can also opt to take a look at the artwork depicted in them. Let's say that we need to create the male character in our romance. We could just shuffle the deck, and pick up cards until the first card with a male in it appears. We can imagine the person's personality from the depiction in the card.

Sometimes I find it hard to come up with ideas regarding locations and buildings in my stories. When I'm stuck, I shuffle my Tarot deck and often take around five cards. From the different artwork in them, I start building up the world. Then, I also take into account the meaning of the cards. In that fashion, I can create a world with several layers, and I can even have help in details that are obscure to me at that moment.

However, the best help that Tarot offers is the building of characters. Because the deck has two parts, one with archetypes, and the other with situations, it's easy to use for gathering ideas and inspiration. There're countless versions of the Tarot in stores. When buying a deck, consider the artwork carefully. These cards won't inspire you if you don't like what you see. That's why I shy away from traditional decks. Instead, I have a few decks with different types of artwork, and none of them are classic. Decks that have books with explanations are the best since you can get extra insights.

Be open to creating characters with more than one archetype card to make them multilayered. Be free to mix many cards or more than usual to create worlds. And never be afraid of the "negative" cards. They are perfect guides to develop despicable villains.

 

About Pepi Valderrama 

Pepi Valderrama is a writer and Social Media wizard. Her experience living in Japan during more than eight years allowed her to have a different perspective on life. She is writing her first fantasy novel after enjoying writing geek anthropology. You can find her enjoying a cup of coffee around Brighton, and writing about pop culture, comics, and books on her blog dePepi.com

Thanks for sharing, Pepi!

A Girl in a Coffee Shop, Or When did I Stop Reading for Fun?: A Guest Post

Contributed by Holley Long

The last semester of my senior year of college was the most stressed I have ever been, and if you know anything about college, that’s not supposed to be true. I myself had been dreaming of that last semester since my first, three years before, thinking about the filler classes I’d sign up for, like ballroom dancing and basket weaving. I’d watch every TV show on Netflix, I’d lay in the sun, I’d breathe.

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Instead, I decided to graduate early, so I had to cram my last degree requirements into the 18 hours I was allotted. I elected to write a senior thesis (creative, but still) and wrote through at least three drafts of a novella. I helped form a writing society on campus and completed a publishing internship, and between all that I tried to keep up with my own, personal writing.

Like I said: Stress.

It wasn’t anything I didn’t sign up for, and it helped my resume look a little less skimpy when I decided to apply for jobs after graduation, but it was a lot. One day, I was working in the campus coffee shop, on my third mocha and second chocolate muffin, writing furiously to finish a chapter of my thesis novella, and wondering if I should do my literature homework next or plan out a meeting for the writer’s society when I looked up, and saw a girl.

She was young, maybe a freshman, so girl seemed a fair term. She was dressed nicely, her hair and makeup neat, and carrying a small cup of whatever hot drink she’d decided to order. She hadn’t rolled out of bed that morning, throwing her hair into a hasty bun before putting on clothes from the top of her laundry hamper, having realized she had no more clean T-shirts. Her drink, more than likely her first of the day, probably didn’t have two shots of espresso because she was existing on three hours of sleep that morning. She looked the picture of stress-free living, which was completed when she reached into her bag and pulled out a book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and started to read from the first page. She became lost so easily in the pages, sipping her drink occasionally, like all that remained in the world was her and the story.

Eventually, I realized I was staring crazily at a complete stranger and I averted my eyes. But everything about that scene stuck with me. As a writer, all kinds of people and scenes stick with me as possible characters and settings, but this was different. For the first time, seeing someone so calm sitting just a few tables away from the madness of my own set up didn’t strike the writer in me. Instead, it struck the reader in me, someone I’d forgotten.

Being an English major (even just being a writer) meant it had been a very long time since I’d read anything for simple, pure enjoyment. With my reading lists stacked as high as they were, for classes, for my thesis, for research for whatever I was writing at the time, I just couldn’t justify sliding in anything that I could read for just…fun. In fact, the last time I could remember reading anything without hoping for some kind of gain from it was when I was reading children’s books, like Harry Potter.

When I want to sound smart, I tell people my favorite book is Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. When I’m being honest, I say my favorite book is Flipped, by Wendelin Van Draanen. If you’ve never read Flipped (a darn shame, if you ask me), then I’ll give you a quick overview: an eighth grade girl, Juli, has loved the boy next door since he moved to town when they were seven. The boy, Bryce, is not so much a fan of her affection. Though Juli can’t put her finger on what she sees in Bryce, beyond his darling blue eyes and thick dark hair, she does not relax in her endeavours to be noticed by him, until one day Bryce shows his true colors. As Juli’s feelings begin to wane, however, Bryce starts to see Juli in a new light, one more awe-inspiring than he’d originally cast on her. Thus, their situations…flip.

It’s a cute book. It’s short, and sweet, and packs a lot into its pages. I’ve read it so often I can quote lines in casual conversation, and at the end I always wish for a sequel, even though the author has explained so many times why there isn’t going to be one. Sometimes I think it might have been the book that made me decide to be a writer, but back when I read it for the first time it was just a story, filling the heart of a preteen girl.

Though Flipped left a lasting impression on me, I didn’t read it for anything more than what the story offered. The same is true for my other childhood reads: The Babysitters Club, A Series of Unfortunate Events, Nancy Drew, and, yes, Harry Potter. That’s not to say these books didn’t offer anything; on the contrary, they’ve given more than most of the “adult” books I’ve read to this date. But I didn’t want anything from them other than a good tale that made me feel less alone in the world. Back then, reading was new, and joyful, and not fuel my own creations.

When the girl left the coffee shop that day, long before I’d finished the million things on my to-do list, I wanted what she had, or at least what I perceived her to have (I’m not going to try and pretend to know what kind of life she lived; for all I knew, her life was busier than mine). I wanted to sink into a book, and not think about what it could teach me for a class or for my writing. I wanted to just be in the story, no ulterior motives.

I’m not there yet; even after graduating some few months after that day, I still choose books based on what I’m writing. I feel compelled to, as I try and build my writing career day by day. One day, though, I will search my shelves for that old favorite. I’ll pull it from its spot, running fingers over the worn cover and dog-eared pages. I’ll sit down with a cup of coffee (De-caf!), not a care in the world, and flip to page one.

 

About Holley Long

I'm Holley, and I like to write things that make readers say, "Hmmm..." I'm a graduate of the University of Alabama's English and Creative Writing program, and currently I work at a news station as a digital reporter. My blog is A Writer's Life For Me (awriterslifeforme.com), where you can read all about my trials and tribulations as an aspiring author. I have multiple works in progress, and my biggest flaw is sticking to just one. I live in the South with a cat and a handful of people who don't quite get my writing life but who are always there to cheer me on.

Thanks for sharing, Holley!

All best,Kayla King.png

The Importance of Finding Your Writing Tribe: A Guest Post

Contributed by Sarah Foil

Writing is a mostly solitary activity. We sit in our homes with our coffee and wine and cat. We hide under our covers and read our books. We stare at our computer screens and send our emails and check facebook, but it’s easy to forget that we need a community. Writers need people to share our work with and commiserate, but it’s important that you find the right people to work with.

I’ve been writing for over fifteen years and have been a part of many different writing communities. Some of them have been pretty bad, some have been good, but I only have one tribe. When I first started writing in late elementary school and middle school, my community was other fellow classmates. We’d write on our wide-ruled notebook paper and swap them during freetime. Everyone was new and terrible but also supportive. We were excited to be writing and to have readers.

Even in high school and college, I had fun sharing with fellow writers but as I got older, things became more complicated. Me and my friends were suddenly competing for the same literary prizes and the same spots in the campus literary magazines. But I still felt comfortable writing and reading with other people. Even as things became competitive, we still supported each other.

For some reason though, once I found myself out of that classroom environment, that supportive, encouraging place was so hard to find. I graduated college and wanted a way to push myself to keep writing, so I joined an online writing community. The concept was pretty simple, you share your writing with other writers all over the world and you read their writing. You share feedback with each other and initially it seemed like a great way to keep writing my novel. There were talented writers and I got to read a ton of great work. The problem was that it wasn’t a supportive community.

I remember one specific instance that I shared parts of an early draft of what would become my graduate thesis. I’d been working on this story for years and it was a true work of heart, even if it wasn’t the best writing I’d done. I had graduate school on the horizon and wanted to make sure my work was good enough for an upcoming workshop. I had hoped to get back some idea of things that I could improve before sending it to my future professors, some clue of what was and wasn’t working. Maybe even some correction of grammatical mistakes, because I make those a lot.

Instead, I got back some of the most brutal critiques I’ve received to date. I remember word for word the opening lines: “Since you’re going to graduate school, I’m not going to hold any punches. If you can’t handle what I’m going to say, you should reconsider starting your program.”

It only got worse from there. That critique broke my heart. It made me feel like the ten years I had spent writing before then were wasted. I really started to believe I should drop out of my MFA program before I’d even started. Luckily, I have friends and family who pushed me and I did end up attending my grad program.

There, I found the right community for me. I found my “tribe”, a group of fellow writers who I could share with my work with. I felt like I could get up in front of people and read my work, not just my fiction but also poetry and vulnerable works of nonfiction. I felt comfortable complaining about deadlines and didn’t feel threatened by my friends’ successes. I had workshops where I got constructive feedback on pieces that I’d go on to improve. I never had someone make me feel or even attempt to make me feel the way that review from the online community had before I began.

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I would have missed out on finding my perfect tribe, the group of writers I’ll stay in touch with and continue to work with for the rest of my career, all because I tried to force myself to be a part of community that wasn’t right for me. I’m grateful that I had a support system outside of a writing community that kept me going, but not everyone does.

Here’s my point: communities are essential for writers, but not just any community will do. Find people who make you want to write, not those who discourage you. Be part of a community that can celebrate your accomplishments and hold you up when you feel like you want to quit. Writing isn't a solo effort, as much as we want to think that it may be. Get out there and find your tribe. 

 

About Sarah foil

Sarah Foil is a writer, editor, and media manager based out of North Carolina. She has an MFA in Fiction from the Mountainview MFA program and focuses on YA Fantasy. While her current passion project is her YA Fantasy trilogy, which is currently seeking representation, she spends much of time running and managing Sarahfoil.com, a resource for writers and readers of all kinds. She loves encouraging writers to continue to improve through her editing services and sharing her personal writing journey through blog posts and on Facebook and Twitter. If you have any questions about her services, please reach out via sarahfoil.com/contact

Thanks for sharing, Sarah!