Five Links 9/13/19 Loleta Abi


Five Links 9/13/19

Loleta Abi


1. “Do you outline a novel before you write it or do you dive straight in? That’s the source of one of the great divides between writers, the ‘planners’ v the ‘pantsers’. To complicate matters, some pantsers are actually not as fancy-free as they appear.

And you might ask what counts as an outline. Is there a bare minimum an outline needs to do? Will an outline squash the creativity? Could you outline in a fresh way to give yourself more scope to be inventive? Does your outline even have to be in words? (Interpretive dancers, this is your chance to shine…’ I’m only half joking….)”

2. “When I did my first agent pitch session with my then co-writer, I was so nervous I thought my clothes would break out in wrinkles!

You can read a lot about how to do the elevator pitch but no one tells you how to manage the session itself. There are things you can do to help your nerves. There are also things you should never do.

But first, what the heck is a pitch?

It’s a query letter, except that you are talking it in person to the agent.

Is it going to give you an extra advantage?  If you’re new to writing, probably not. Your story still has to be what the agent wants to buy. When co-writer and I pitched, the agent loved talking to us and still rejected the manuscript.”

3. “Writing is hard enough. Add imposter syndrome into the mix and it becomes the kind of challenge you have to remind yourself, quite often, is still worth pursuing.

Imposter syndrome is more of psychological phenomenon than an actual syndrome. It is nothing more than a bundle of feelings of inadequacy. But it isn’t just raw self-doubt: these feelings persist even when there’s clear evidence that a person who does not believe they are actually good at what they do is, in fact, very good at what they do.

A student who deals with imposter syndrome may feel he isn’t intelligent even though he has a 4.0 GPA. He might even believe his professors graded too easy or that his classes weren’t challenging.

As you can imagine, dealing with imposter syndrome, as a writer, is pretty much as close to hell as you can get. Yes, I do realize that in admitting I struggle with this, I am simultaneously pointing out that I am a good writer even though, 95% of the time, I don’t believe it. I’m not saying this out of conceit (clearly). I’m just saying that, if I had a formal CV written up, it would contradict my beliefs in my own ability to cram words onto pages and make them sound nice, that’s all.”

4. “Your romance story died. The literary world cried out in frustration as you wiped away your tears, blew your nose and decided to shelve your story.

There were too many things that were not working with your fictional romance, about two emotionally broken food lovers finding each other on an online dating site for health conscious foodies.

Too many alarm bells ringing in your head when your hungry love birds came together.

No sign of any conflict and no matter how many times you instructed your brain to come up with beautiful and poetic ways to describe your characters kissing, it only offered you phrases such as ‘the thought of her kissing him made his stomach juices curdle,’ and ‘his snogging action was similar to her food blender on super fast speed.’

Wearing a sad writer face you closed down your document, muttered some thoughtful words about painful goodbyes, pinned a couple of writing failure quotes on Pinterest, tweeted some sad GIFs and buried your story in the writing folder titled ‘Story Graveyard.’” I have several that did this to me. They’re never dull moments.

5. ““Writing is magic,” notes Stephen King, the most prolific author in history, “as much the water of life as any other creative art. The water is free. So drink. Drink and be filled up.”

I concur, so much so that it is the featured quote on my website.

But is it magic? Is writing so capricious an enterprise to be subject to the whims of inspiration or throes of futility (writer’s block, anyone)? In fairness, it can feel that way. From one moment to the next, we find ourselves cursing or extolling our muses. The muses are a beleaguered lot, if you think about it. Wantonly summoned and dismissed, their wisdom is heartily imbibed in the intoxication of the moment, then all too often forgotten.”

Research & Fun Bits:

1. “Without conflict, our characters would reach their goals immediately. They want Xand then they get it.

Even for a flash fiction story, that might be a bit basic and boring. *smile*

We enjoy reading about the struggle. We want doubts about whether they’ll get what they long for. That uncertainty is what makes us turn the pages to see what happens next.

Conflict is far more than just “fighting.” Conflict refers to whatever stands between our characters and what they want. Conflict is whatever—external or internal—obstacles prevent them from making progress.

In other words, conflict is what turns a goal into a story. Our characters’ struggles to overcome the conflict creates tension, sets our story’s pacing, and introduces change to the story. In turn, that change also gives our story meaning.”

2. “Stories are about change. Our characters’ world is changing around them, or they’re changing internally—or both.

Yet at the same time, we know change is hard. In our own lives, we struggle to change our habits or take steps to be successful and reach our goals, whether that’s switching jobs, getting into shape, or whatever. In fact, we often resist more the closer we get to the possibility. Just because we know what we need to do doesn’t mean we follow through.”

3. “A gluttonous reader since childhood, I have always wanted to write. The first time I dropped out of school I took a typewriter to a Caribbean island to write the great American novel. I didn’t do it, but I read Middlemarch, Tristram Shandy, and Moby Dick. I wrote a few short stories as my son was growing up, but I didn’t really focus until he left home. Child-rearing, work, writing: I could only manage two out of three. Each demands creative thought and preoccupies me while driving or in the middle of the night. 

After my son left, it took two years to write the first novel. I revised and revised, and wrote to over a hundred agents and many publishing houses without success. 

My next novel, The Year of the Child, took five years because in the middle of writing it I took in two foster children – talk about midnight worrying! I had a fancy New York agent for that one, who sent it to all the big houses.”

4. “After moving from Colorado to Virginia, I happily began visiting my new state’s many historic houses and museums. Yet this history buff found herself reluctant to visit Colonial Williamsburg. I had mistaken it for a Disneyland version of my nation’s past.

Fortunately, I was wrong. Colonial Williamsburg programming portrays American history in all its diversity and complexity while also catering to tourists. You can choose to take a carriage ride down the restored Duke of Gloucester Street or follow a costumed tour guide on foot. My tour guide directed us around a manure pile freshly deposited by a carriage horse and warned: “Be careful you don’t step in the authenticity!”

5. “I watched a horror movie recently which contained several laugh out loud moments. The movie wasn’t satire or parody, but the main character had hilarious lines while navigating traumatic action. Humor released the tension gas pedal just enough without ruining the plot.

If handled properly, humor can be utilized in any genre. Let’s explore a few examples.”

Some Things More Serious:

1. “I have some kind of selective memory disease. That or a piss poor excuse for a long term memory. Either way, unless I write shit down, it doesn’t get remembered. I used to journal, I stopped when I went to university… Too busy studying studiously. Ahem. But this journey into full-time writing is not something I want to forget. So here are the 8 lessons I’ve learned after three months full-time writing.”

2. “We pushed open the door to St Oswald’s church. It is still with a feeling of anticipation that we cross the threshold of these ancient places of worship. Churches that look incredible from outside have sometimes been so unsympathetically restored and reordered over the centuries that they lack all character. Others, with unpromising exteriors, reveal wonderful things at their hearts… we never know what we might find.”

3. “Hey, how are those New Year’s Resolutions going?  : )

No, I’m not trying to bait you or make you feel terrible about yourself. I’m trying to make a point.  If you set goals, do you stick to them?

I’m here to give you some tips on how to stick to your goals, basically by sharing what works for me.  If your way works, stick to it; you’re obviously doing something right. If it hasn’t been, try these tips and see what happens.

  1. Set definite goals
  2. Start small and build up
  3. Know why you’re setting the goals
  4. Reward yourself when you hit a milestone”


 5. “It is no time to be up, not when it is not necessary. Even Ani has got the general idea that just because I am up doesn’t mean it is time for her to wake these days but I love the quiet hours of the morning. There is something in that silence when you know you will not be disturbed, when the world around you sleeps and it seems as if even the pressure of the busy thoughts of others is withdrawn in slumber. Dreams linger, inspiration creeps in through the crack in the door and, for the only hours of the day, the soggy tennis ball is not on my lap. It is the best time of day to write.” I find the early hours the best time to write too.

Teaser Fiction & Poetry:






Book Reviews, Cover Reveals, & Author Interviews:

1. “When her friend Meda fails to turn up for dance class one evening, 10-year-old Hilda is convinced that something bad has happened to her, despite Meda’s family’s reassurances. Unable to shake off her concerns, Hilda turns to her mother, Molly, for help. Molly runs the Jolly Bonnet, a pub with links to the Whitechapel murders of a century before and a meeting place for an assortment of eccentrics drawn to its warm embrace. Among them is Lottie. Pathologist by day, vlogger by night, Lottie enlists the help of her army of online fans – and uncovers evidence that Meda isn’t the first young girl to go missing. But Molly and Lottie’s investigations attract unwelcome attention. Two worlds are about to collide in a terrifying game of cat and mouse played out on the rain-lashed streets of London’s East End, a historic neighbourhood that has run red with the blood of innocents for centuries.”

2. “After years of not reading Durjoy Datta, I finally picked up the book in question: The Girl of My Dreams, a 279-pages romantic thriller and I wasn’t disappointed. If you haven’t read any of Durjoy’s books, you should begin with this one. Quite different from his usual novels, this one delves into a more thrilling story of a male protagonist named Daman Roy, who is terrorized by his dreams about a girl, Shreyashi, who might have died in a terrifying car crash. Daman is suffering from PTSD and even though he tries to come to terms with the fact that Shreyashi is alive and has left the country, the dreams don’t leave him. But when Daman begins receiving the shadowy presence of a girl in his life, there is a possibility Shreyashi is back.”

3. Leaning Pile of Books is a feature where I discuss books I got over the last week—old or new, bought or received in the mail for review consideration (most of which are unsolicited books from publishers). Since I hope you will find new books you’re interested in reading in these posts, I try to be as informative as possible. If I can find them, links to excerpts, author’s websites, and places where you can find more information on the book are included.

This covers multiple weeks since there hasn’t been a lot of book mail since the last one of these posts, plus I was working on last week’s review of A Spark of White Fire (Celestial Trilogy #1) by Sangu Mandanna. I found this Mahabharata-inspired space opera to be incredibly engaging—engaging enough that I pre-ordered the soon-to-be-released sequel, A House of Rage and Sorrow!

And now, the most recent book arrivals…”

4. “What price would you pay for success?

A lightning bolt out-of the blue, on an otherwise sunny afternoon,
transports author Alexa Wainwright to an alternate universe where the
characters from her novels are given the breadth of life. Having just
made a vow that she would do whatever it took to once again achieve
the international acclaim of her debut novel, Alexa doesn’t realize
how ominously that vow would be tested. In this altered reality,
she’s introduced to media mogul King Blakemore who offers her an
extremely lucrative book contract with guarantees that her work will
become a best-selling blockbuster. Given his appearance, odd
mannerisms, and aura of evil Alexa wonders if King Blakemore might be
the Devil himself.”

5. “Deborah Hewitt’s The Nightjar (2019) is one of those debut novels that in many ways feels like a first novel, with all the issues that may conjure up, but that despite those issues leaves you eager to see where the author goes with her next novel.

Hewitt starts off with a gripping, chilling prologue, then shifts to present-time London where Alice Wyndham receives an odd gift that precipitates her being flung into a long-running conflict between a species of people with special abilities, most of whom live in an alternate near-copy 1930’s-style London (called The Rookery), and a secret society (unfortunately known as the Beaks) who seeks to destroy them. There’s also a death-cult trying to instigate a world-ending apocalypse thrown into the mix for good measure. Alice herself, she learns, is one of those who can perform “magic.” More precisely, she is an extremely rare “aviarist,” one who can see people’s nightjars — birds that guard as well as reflect each person’s soul and then depart upon that person’s death. Alice’s introduction to all this comes via the mysterious Crowley, who takes her off to the Rookery ostensibly for her protection, but his full motives are unclear.”

6 responses to “Five Links 9/13/19 Loleta Abi”

  1. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Thanks for the shout out for both my post about strengthening conflict and my guest post at Writers Helping Writers about what’s stopping our characters! Glad those resonated with you. 😀

    1. You’re welcome, Jami! You always have such fantastic posts! They’re an inspiration!

  3. Elizabeth McCulloch Avatar
    Elizabeth McCulloch

    Thank you for linking to my post, Nevertheless She Persisted. My book launch party is tomorrow – I’m happy and exhausted!

    1. Hope it goes well, Elizabeth!

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