Guest Post: The Creative Force by Melody Lea Lamb

Melody was one of the first people I followed on Twitter, when I saw her artwork mentioned by another friend.  She is one of those lucky people who makes a living with her creativity.  She has recently illustrated a children’s book for a very talented young writer.  Melody is a very strong, very positive person and I wanted to hear more about the force behind her art.

Spring Chipmunk

To me, creativity is the means by which I can share all things that move me in life. As an artist, I am especially affected by what I see. I think in images, dream in images and am deeply moved by what passes before my eyes. For example, when I am out jogging on a country road (which I do often) I see spectacular vistas, the sunlight hitting distant mountains just so, or a whimsically meandering spring vine creeping along a fencepost. When I see these things, my heart wells with inspiration and I am compelled to capture that on paper. Continue reading

Guest post: How writing short gets you the long end of the stick by Kait Nolan

I believe Kait and I connected first over at Crit Partner Match.  However we met, I kept coming back to Kait’s blog for her insights into the writing process.

Today Kait is here as part of her blog tour to promote her new paranormal romance novella, Forsaken by Shadow.  Here’s Kait to talk about the benefits of writing short stories.

Sometimes I feel like I’ve been writing all my life.  For two thirds of it anyway.  And in all that time, I have focused exclusively on writing novels.  It just seemed to be how my brain worked, coming up with long, complex plots that couldn’t possibly be resolved in a matter of pages.  With the glaring exceptions of a few short stories I won competitions with in high school (mostly because the competition was poor), I have always written novels.

When I decided to start working on building my platform, the most logical thing seemed to be having something of my work to offer up for free or cheap to draw readers in.  Given how long it takes me to produce a full length novel, I knew it had to be something shorter—a short story or novella.  Given how I feel about short stories, a novella was the obvious choice.  The end result was my debut release Forsaken By Shadow, which I just released at the end of March.

I learned so much from writing out of my comfort zone—skills that I’m taking back to my full-length fiction to improve it.

Writing short means that every sentence, every word has to count, has to advance the plot and move the story forward.  My prose is much more effective.

Short plots must be tight, clear, and concise.  There’s no room for wandering trips off into fluffyverse (the realm of no conflict where you play with your characters as braindolls).  And there’s no room for distracting subplots.  You have to have have a razor sharp focus on your plot, to know exactly where you’re going and how you’re getting there.  Which, I have to say, has done wonders for my ability to figure out how to traverse the Dreaded Valley of the Shadow of the Middle where countless past novels have died.

Every scene must count in a short piece.  Each one does multiple duties, advancing the plot, showing some progress in the characters’ goals, motivations, and conflicts.  It’s all about movement, pushing the story forward.  And with that movement comes the readers’ attention—maintaining the pace means that the reader doesn’t put your story down and is engaged far longer than they might be in a longer book.

And above all, I got more comfortable with the length and have managed to plan a few other novellas, so I’ll have more stuff to put out there and expand my reader base as I move forward with my career.

Kait’s debut paranormal romance novella, Forsaken By Shadow, is available at Scribd, Smashwords, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and the iBookstore.  It is the first in the Mirus series.

Banished from their world with his memory wiped, Cade Shepherd doesn’t remember his life as Gage Dempsey, nor the woman he nearly died for. But when Embry Hollister’s father is kidnapped by military scientists, the only one she can turn to is the love from her past. Will Gage remember the Shadow Walker skills he learned from her father? If they survive, will Embry be able to walk away again?

Kait can be found at her writing blog, Shadow and Fang, her cooking blog Pots and Plots, on Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads.

Your turn, participants!  Do you write short?  Have you found that it makes your writing tighter and more direct?

Guest post: Inspiration and intimidation by Johanna Harness

I first met Johanna on Twitter, as the creator of the wonderful #amwriting group.  Johanna’s enthusiasm and drive make her stand out from the crowd.  I wanted to hear more about the source of her creativity, so I invited her over to share her vision with you.

Many thanks to Merrilee for inviting me to guest blog.  I feel both inspired and intimidated to be invited alongside such a wonderful group of writers—and it’s in this place of inspiration and intimidation that I often find creativity seizing.  Ironic, no?

It does seem that most people enter Creativity from one of these main entry points.  Those who are inspired usually enter with muse on arm.  Writing on the whims of the muse is a wild experience.  With blind inspiration, an idea grabs me and won’t let go.  I write without outline, without plan, inspiration burning holes through otherwise normal days.  It’s an extraordinary experience, but not one I can duplicate at will. Continue reading

He says, she says: What is creativity?

For our orientation week, I’ve invited Carolina Valdez-Miller and Simon C. Larter in to explore the topic “What is creativity?”

I’m fairly confident that this is the only guest post that will occur in the posters’ living room and include a bathrobe and generous amounts of vodka.

Ladies and gentlemen, read on.

Continue reading