An unselfish wish made on the horn of a unicorn will come true. Our wish? To support the writing community by giving constructive tips and criticism through submissions. Check out the submissions tab for more information. We can survive the crucible of fire together.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Piper Morgan by Stephanie Faris

Today, Stephanie Faris is joining us to tell us about her newest books. Oh, and give us a "what if?" question. Enjoy... 

One day, an eight-year-old girl learns she has to move away from the only home she’s ever known. She and her mom live a nomad-style existence over the coming months as her mother accepts one exciting temp job after another. For the young girl, it becomes an adventure, but she still longs for a place she can call “home.”

That leads me to today’s What If? question.

What if you found a job where you could triple your current salary, but you could no longer live in one place? To get the salary, you have to move every couple of weeks to a new city? Would you accept the opportunity and learn to adapt or stay at your current pay to remain in one place?

And now some more about Piper Morgan...

When Piper Morgan has to move to a new town, she is sad to leave behind her friends, but excited for a new adventure. She is determined to have fun, be brave and find new friends.

In Piper Morgan Joins the Circus, Piper learns her mom’s new job will be with the Big Top Circus. She can’t wait to learn all about life under the big top, see all the cool animals, and meet the Little Explorers, the other kids who travel with the show. She’s even more excited to learn that she gets to be a part of the Little Explorers and help them end each show with a routine to get the audience on their feet and dancing along! 





In Piper Morgan in Charge, Piper’s mom takes a job in the local elementary school principal’s office. Piper is excited for a new school and new friends—and is thrilled when she is made an “office helper.” But there is one girl who seems determined to prove she is a better helper—and she just so happens to be the principal’s daughter. Can Piper figure out how to handle being the new girl in town once more?











https://images-blogger-opensocial.googleusercontent.com/gadgets/proxy?url=http%3A%2F%2F3.bp.blogspot.com%2F-uMNwcK5KxBc%2FVFgRAtmPUuI%2FAAAAAAAACiA%2FeulughFbthM%2Fs1600%2FHeadshotSF.jpg&container=blogger&gadget=a&rewriteMime=image%2F*Stephanie Faris knew she wanted to be an author from a very young age. In fact, her mother often told her to stop reading so much and go outside and play with the other kids. After graduating from Middle Tennessee State University with a Bachelor of Science in broadcast journalism, she somehow found herself working in information technology. But she never stopped writing.

Stephanie is the Simon & Schuster author of 30 Days of No Gossip and 25 Roses. When she isn’t crafting fiction, she writes for a variety of online websites on the topics of business, technology, and her favorite subject of all—fashion. She lives in Nashville with her husband, a sales executive.

Links:

Friday, August 19, 2016

Lucy Get Your Gun by Valerie Capps

Today, Valerie Capps is joining us for the launch of her new quick read book and to give us a "what if?" question: 

Thank you Liz for hosting me today. I love to write, but I am new to introducing people to my work. I know nothing about marketing so I appreciate you inviting me.

What if? Two little words that open up a whole world of possibilities, past and present. There is a lot of debate over the second amendment today, but Lucy Get Your Gun isn't about that controversy--it is about survival. It is about an adult decision a 10-year-old must make when an unscrupulous man shows up at her farm with plans to take Lucy and her younger siblings away.

What if you were ten-years-old, in danger, and lived in a remote area during a time before you could dial 911 for help? How far would you go to protect yourself and your family?


Lucy Get Your Gun: It was a different time. Somewhere between the taming of the wild west in the 19th century and the insane indiscriminate violence of the 21st century. People like to think it was a time of innocence. In some ways perhaps it was, but there was evil lurking about in the shadows back then as well. Not everyone lived a "Leave it to Beaver" existence. People in rural areas often had to depend on their own resources. It was a world before 911. A world where sometimes people had to stand firm and protect their own. That was where 10-year-old Lucy Rhys found herself one day in the summer of 1959. A day of reckoning so to speak. A day when she found herself caught between a child and an adult and had to make a life or death decision that would determine the fate of her family. Lucy Get Your Gun is the fourth in a series of Proctor Hollow short-story/quick-read Kindle eBooks released through Amazon.com.




Valerie Capps is a freelance writer and author. Her short stories and articles have appeared in various magazines and newsletters with world-wide circulation. Valerie's latest project is a series of short stories with a paranormal theme set in a mid-twentieth century town called Proctor Hollow. The first four books in the Proctor Hollow series, The Holler Witch, Incident at the Diner, Occurrence on a Country Highway, and Lucy Get Your Gun, are available on Amazon.com.

Valerie lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband and their Welsh Corgi.


Contact Valerie at:
Blog | Amazon | Twitter | Goodreads

Monday, August 15, 2016

Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda

Stipula fountain pen" by Power_of_Words_by_Antonio_Litterio.jpg: Antonio Litterioderivative work: InverseHypercube - Power_of_Words_by_Antonio_Litterio.jpg. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.

Once I realized that my week was coming up, I started to ponder what I wanted to talk about in my writing life. And the thought that occurred had two components. One: the labels we put on ourselves. And two: the things that we have told ourselves we must do in this writing thing.

In the writing realm on the Internet, certain "truths" float around. We're all introverts. We all mainline our coffee. We're either a "panster" or a "plotter". We should write every day. We should always be working on our novels (or memoirs, or whatever it is we are writing). We should write our first draft quickly, then go back and edit it. And those are just the ones that come off the top of my head.

Of course, reality is murkier. So, when life throws us a curveball (death in the family, car accident, loss of a job, or any of the other myriad of things that go with having a life), we feel guilty for not writing through it.

I think it's time to stop and assess. What are some ideas about writing that you've been holding on to that no longer serve you?

When I started on this writing journey, I needed to make it a habit, so I made it my goal to write every day. Every. Day. Christmas. My birthday. When I had a head cold. (Those three days where I was throwing up every couple hours I took off.) When I went on vacation. (Although, that didn't work out so well.)

But since then, I've had to reevaluate this. Things happened. Time evaporated. I had a choice between sleeping and writing, and sleeping won. Stressors made it so I couldn't concentrate. So, writing slowed. But wonder of all wonders, it didn't stop. (I guess it became ingrained enough that I couldn't stop it permanently.)

We can get through it. But first, we have to take out all the things that make us feel lesser than. Like we're not writers.

What "shoulds" are you putting on your writing? 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

How to Activate Your Creativity

www.freeimages.com
Writers are a different kind of animal. We can be sitting in a crowd and see things other people (normal?) don’t notice. Emotions, facial expressions, the simple act of society. We absorb and take note of these instances to use in later scenes. But sometimes creativity is an elusive critter and we must hunt it down, stalking it with eagle-eyed intensity.

I needed to compose a short story about one of my characters in Wilder Mage. I had no clue how Sable discovered she was a mage. She wasn’t in a talkative mood and I was bone-dry.

I was raking the yard that day musing on several scenes and rejecting them just as quickly. The air was still as a church when, thirty feet in front of me, the wind kicked into a maelstrom of dust, leaves, bits of grass, and corn stalks. A dust devil, a monstrous one that reached the tops of our cedar trees. It was so large and violent, the wind roared like an animal.

It came up the drive and across our wide lawn, hissing and
swirling. I didn’t hesitate but ran into the middle of it. The air was cooler, the projectiles small and inconsequential. The miniature tornado sailed on through a fence and into the pasture.

I laughed as it passed and was exhilarated because I knew I had my opening scene to Out of Magic, Sable’s discovery that she was something different.

Life events shape our writerly world. Sometimes it takes a whirlwind to start the process. Other times creativity hits when I apply pen to paper, longhand scribbling.


It is a brain function called reticular activating system or RAS. Writing longhand sets in motion the creative portion of the mind, the RAS. It is a portal into our subconscious.

Now, I didn’t know any of this highfalutin' brainy stuff until I wondered why it was easier to write on a spiral notebook while on the treadmill. Really, where would any of us be without Google, am I right?

No wonder I have mounds of notebooks, a veritable hoard lurking in every part of my house awaiting the next magic to hit my RAS.

Tell me about one of your scenes. How did you arrive there? And do you write longhand sometimes?  

Monday, August 8, 2016

The Writer versus Exercise: How to bring Them Together

freeimages.com
Due to our nature, the Writer must remain immobile when typing. But experts say stationary positions are the new smoking and not conducive to good health. For this Writer, sitting at the ‘puter is a cause for concern. Movement is life and life is preferable to the alternate.
  
So what’s a Writer to do?

One of my solutions is the treadmill. I compose while trekking a mile or two.  Magic explodes when I write longhand. Why? Well that’s a subject for another post. For today, it’s all about
moving and I find the treadmill morphs these two into one. I can write several pages and walk a couple miles while doing it, a win-win.

A little backstory regarding this photo: I had a laugh at my poor husband’s expense when someone asked why the poster of Edward was in front of me. I said I was running toward him.

“Oh?” my friend said. “Then who is behind you?”
“My hubby,” I replied, snickering. He was not amused.

Composing is a big piece of the day. But what about the typing and the butt-ache from sitting at the computer?

My solution is the Fitbit, a marvelous little tool that reminds me to get up and walk around every once in a while. It challenges me, gives me goals, and records my activities. Tethered to my IPhone, it completes the union between technology and the material world.

My goals are to walk a certain distance, move at least 250 steps every hour between 6am and 6pm. My smart phone chimes every hour during that time to remind me. It gets me up, kicks me out of the writer’s fog, and this is a good thing. Truly, I have sat at the desk as the sun is coming up thinking “just a few minutes”...and then it is noon and I look around half dazed trying to remember where I am.

My Fitness Pal is a free app that unites both Fitbit and IPhone. I heartily recommend it even if you have a smart phone.


How do you combine exercise with writing? Any tips for us?

Friday, August 5, 2016

Dear "I want to GIVE UP!" Writer



Dear “I want to GIVE UP!” Writer,

There had been a few times when I thought about giving up. Any writer worth his or her salt has thought the same thing. When you’re so committed to a dream, but you’re hitting road blocks or struggling, it’s very easy to throw your hands in the air and say, “I give up! I quit! I can’t handle this anymore!” 

Usually when I said this, I was in tears; fed up with all the rejections and getting nowhere. But did I give up? No. I didn’t have it in me to give up. You see, writing is my life. Becoming a published author was my dream since I was twelve (although I had been writing since I was five). I couldn’t stop writing no matter how much I felt like throwing in the towel.

Image from Flickr

As a matter of fact, I still tell my mom, “Never get published.” Because although I achieved that dream, being published is an all new ball game. It’s not easy to publish, market, get reviews and readers, and I get fed up by it all from time to time, especially during stressful moments.

If you truly want to publish, you won’t give up either. You may feel like wanting to give up when you face the dilemma of having to rewrite a book or do extensive edits, but you pull up your bootstraps and do it.

You may feel like burying yourself in a deep pit after months of rejections, but you’ll take a deep breath and keep on submitting.

And you may find all the steps to self-publish daunting and time-consuming, but you’ll fist your hands together and do what you have to do.

That is what a writer does: we go on even when it’s hard.

We go on even when we want to stop.

We go on….

Image from Flickr


Author of Hurricane Crimes, Seismic Crimes, 30 Seconds, Ghost of Death, and Witch of Death. Blogger. Reader. Auntie. Vegetarian. Cat Lover.




QUESTION: 

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Calling Romance Writers!

For your information!




Click HERE for more information.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Dear Impatient Writer


Dear Impatient Writer,

I’m impatient. I always have been. When I was younger, I was extremely impatient about getting published. At the age of seventeen, I wanted an agent and publisher YESTERDAY. I drove myself crazy with my impatience. Every month that went by without those things was brutal. At some point, I realized all things really do happen in their own time . . . when they are meant to, and no matter how hard I’d push against the wall, it wouldn’t budge until the universe moved it for me. But, of course, I kept working and striving toward my dream, because the universe does need a bit of help.

So many writers are impatient. They want to finish writing their book NOW. They want to finish editing their book NOW. And they want to publish their book NOW.



But here’s why it’s a good idea to take your time:

Writing: When you rush while writing, you can leave out details, emotion, mess up the chronological order, and create plots holes. If you take your time, even if other writers finished two or more books in the time it takes you to finish one, your sentences will flow better, the scenes will make sense, and your characters will be well developed.

Editing: Rushing through writing will lead to more editing and rewriting, but if you rush through the editing process, you’ll miss typos and grammar and punctuation mistakes. You won’t catch redundancies or unnecessary words, and you won’t be able to spot places that need help. Taking your time will ensure your eyes (and brain) can spot these mistakes.

Publishing: Now that you took your time writing and editing, this is the most important time to be patient. You don’t want the wrong agent or publisher, do you? By researching and taking your time, you’ll find agents/publishers right for your book. When you do, one of them may be the agent/publisher who signs you. And that is worth being patient for.

If you self-publish, you especially need to go one step at a time. Hire an editor and don’t rush editing. Get a professional book formatter and cover artist, too. Cutting corners on these may mean the difference between a good self-published book and a poor one.




Author of Hurricane Crimes, Seismic Crimes, 30 Seconds, Ghost of Death, and Witch of Death. Blogger. Reader. Auntie. Vegetarian. Cat Lover.




QUESTION: Are you patient or impatient?

Monday, July 25, 2016

Instagram for Authors

How many of you are on Instagram? Did you know that it can be a very successful way to reach readers?

I recently joined Instagram and after posting a few measly pictures, I decided I needed to learn more about how this form of social media really works and whether or not it would be beneficial to me. I heard about an Instagram for Authors Facebook page and decided to join. That's where I learned that just like bloggers have blog hops to help them connect with other bloggers, Instagramers (is that even a word?) have something similar. They call it challenges.

For example, for the months of June and July, I semi-participated in two different month-long challenges through the VERY popular Instagram account: sammyreadsbooks. Every day I posted (or tried to post) a picture that corresponds with the assignment. The first day was my June TBR books, the second day was book and a beverage, and the third day was yellow/orange books.

My June TBR that I posted on Instagram using the hashtag #sammyreadsJune16
I enjoy doing book related posts because I know that my audience is readers, and what better way to find readers for my own books than to find those who love to read.

By using popular hashtags like #bookstagram or #books or #yabooks (if you write YA), you are putting your post in front of those who LOVE to read and LOVE books.


The biggest difference between Twitter and Instagram (other than the fact that Instagram is all about pictures) is that to have a successful account, and therefore lots of followers, you need to have a theme. Perhaps you love to take pictures of your cat, or reading with your cat—that would be your theme. Perhaps you love to take pictures with books in a variety of settings—that would make a great theme. Or perhaps you like to take pictures of books with props on a white background. Believe it or not, that is a theme.

It's okay to intermix your pictures, or group them in threes (one lifestyle photo, one book with props photo, and then one quote, including quotes from your own books.) Check out some of my favorite Instagram accounts to get a feel for what I mean.

1) https://www.instagram.com/sammyreadsbooks/

2) https://www.instagram.com/taylorreads/

3) https://www.instagram.com/booksugar/

And if you want to have a little fun on Instagram, you can participate in things like #sockSunday where everyone posts pics of their socks and a book they're reading. It's pretty cute!

And if you want to follow me on Instagram, you can find me at kristinsmithwrites. Stop by and say hi!

Does anyone else have tips for building your platform on Instagram?

Monday, July 18, 2016

Trouble

Today I'm sharing my post at mainewords -

According to Les Edgerton, author of Hooked, "All stories are about one thing: trouble. What does trouble create? The hope that we can do something to get out of it."

I saw this quote at Writer Unboxed, and I've been thinking about it ever since. Mostly because I was having some trouble with character motivation. Just that one little quote actually lent some new perspective to my dilemma, after which, I found more helpful quotes:

"What can I do about it anyway? Every squeak counts, if only in self-respect."

"The hour of consciousness doesn't mean cognition only, but understanding..."

"The search for justice is timeless, and courage isn't lack of fear but persisting despite our fear."

"There is just this, and it is everything."

Saturday night I had to do an errand after work, which was about the last thing I wanted to do. But as I drove past Sherman Marsh I smiled because the errand wasn't going to take too long, and it was a lovely, warm summer evening. The last of the sun was all golden, the wind was blowing through the car from the open windows, and my dog was happy to be doing something different. And I thought, yes, there is just this, and it is everything.




What's inspiring you this week? 

Friday, July 15, 2016

Writing Prompts





I want to share writing prompts this week.  And judging from Liz’s recent posts, I think this might be helpful for some of you.  In all honesty, when I first started planning to share writing prompts for my posts this week, I wasn’t thinking about writer’s block.  I should have.  Why?  Because taking the pressure off by finding some writing prompt—be it dark and grisly or fun and silly—has often saved a story of my own.

Usually when we talk about writer’s block, it’s actually limited to the story at hand, the current WIP.  True writer’s block, the kind where the creative juices are no longer flowing and the well has practically dried up, is pretty rare.  Yes, it does happen and the poor author in question can’t write anything at all.  But that’s usually not the case…thank heavens!  Usually writer’s block happens in relation our current work.  It’s an awful feeling, when that fertile valley our imaginations used to live in has turned into a barren wasteland.  If you haven’t experienced it yet, just give it time because you likely will at some point.  If you never experience it, count yourself among the very blessed few.

What causes writer’s block?  Well, that varies from writer to writer, and there’s no one definitive cause.  If we knew what caused it, they could likely find a cure or treatment for it to make it go away easily.  Unfortunately, we don’t know.  For some authors, it could simply be the normal stresses that come from life.  Marital or family difficulties, new marriages (whether the author’s or someone else’s who is close to them, especially their children’s), births, deaths, stress over bills…the list could go on and on.  Sometimes it’s doubt in their capabilities of telling the story they want to tell.  Or worrying that there won’t be anyone who will want to read said story when it’s completed.  No matter what the cause, there are various ways to try to break through that wall that’s suddenly sprung up between the author and their work.  Some authors have found relaxation techniques work for them.  For others it might be making hard decisions in their personal lives.  Sometimes the solution is as simple as examining their life, pinpointing a stressor and removing or finding a way to cope with that stressor.  And for some, writing about something else can knock things loose.

Originally, I had just intended these prompts to be fun exercises.  I thought it would be interesting to see what each of you would come up with if you chose to work with the same prompt.  If the response is large enough, I thought about sharing some of those stories in my next week of posting.  I hope you’ll choose to participate, whether you’re facing the dreaded writer’s block or not, and even if you don’t decide to share your story.  Have fun, and get to writing!

If you decide to participate and would like to share your stories with me, please send it in an email to unicornbellsubmissions (at) gmail.com.  Put Unicorn Bell Story Prompt in the subject line and tell me which prompt you used.

Disclaimer:  I found most of these prompts on Pinterest, where I pinned them to my writing board and have them on my computer for my own use.  I have included the information pertaining to where these prompts were found at the end of each prompt.  By sharing these prompts and posting them here, I am in no way claiming a prompt is of my own creation.  Any prompts that are of my own creation will have my name listed after them.


1.  The diner was nearly empty, but it was warm inside.  I took a bite of my sandwich and glanced out the window, and there she was.  Just standing out there in the cold, watching me.  -  Angela Kelly

2.  I am either going out for ice cream, or to commit a heinous crime.
      
     I’ll decide in the car.  -  dumpaday.com via Pinterest

3.  Seeing her entire squad die wasn’t what broke her.
      
     No.
      
     What broke her was seeing them alive and well, six years later.  -  promptuarium.wordpress.com via Pinterest

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Writing Prompts





I want to share writing prompts this week.  And judging from Liz’s recent posts, I think this might be helpful for some of you.  In all honesty, when I first started planning to share writing prompts for my posts this week, I wasn’t thinking about writer’s block.  I should have.  Why?  Because taking the pressure off by finding some writing prompt—be it dark and grisly or fun and silly—has often saved a story of my own.

Usually when we talk about writer’s block, it’s actually limited to the story at hand, the current WIP.  True writer’s block, the kind where the creative juices are no longer flowing and the well has practically dried up, is pretty rare.  Yes, it does happen and the poor author in question can’t write anything at all.  But that’s usually not the case…thank heavens!  Usually writer’s block happens in relation our current work.  It’s an awful feeling, when that fertile valley our imaginations used to live in has turned into a barren wasteland.  If you haven’t experienced it yet, just give it time because you likely will at some point.  If you never experience it, count yourself among the very blessed few.

What causes writer’s block?  Well, that varies from writer to writer, and there’s no one definitive cause.  If we knew what caused it, they could likely find a cure or treatment for it to make it go away easily.  Unfortunately, we don’t know.  For some authors, it could simply be the normal stresses that come from life.  Marital or family difficulties, new marriages (whether the author’s or someone else’s who is close to them, especially their children’s), births, deaths, stress over bills…the list could go on and on.  Sometimes it’s doubt in their capabilities of telling the story they want to tell.  Or worrying that there won’t be anyone who will want to read said story when it’s completed.  No matter what the cause, there are various ways to try to break through that wall that’s suddenly sprung up between the author and their work.  Some authors have found relaxation techniques work for them.  For others it might be making hard decisions in their personal lives.  Sometimes the solution is as simple as examining their life, pinpointing a stressor and removing or finding a way to cope with that stressor.  And for some, writing about something else can knock things loose.

Originally, I had just intended these prompts to be fun exercises.  I thought it would be interesting to see what each of you would come up with if you chose to work with the same prompt.  If the response is large enough, I thought about sharing some of those stories in my next week of posting.  I hope you’ll choose to participate, whether you’re facing the dreaded writer’s block or not, and even if you don’t decide to share your story.  Have fun, and get to writing!

If you decide to participate and would like to share your stories with me, please send it in an email to unicornbellsubmissions (at) gmail.com.  Put Unicorn Bell Story Prompt in the subject line and tell me which prompt you used.

Disclaimer:  I found most of these prompts on Pinterest, where I pinned them to my writing board and have them on my computer for my own use.  I have included the information pertaining to where these prompts were found at the end of each prompt.  By sharing these prompts and posting them here, I am in no way claiming a prompt is of my own creation.  Any prompts that are of my own creation will have my name listed after them.


1.  Crystal is visiting historical buildings in an old town or city.  In one of the buildings, she finds something that’s as old as the building itself (if not older).  Because of what it is and how she finds it, she decides to keep it, and it changes her life forever.  What does she find?  How does she find it?  Does it change her life for the better?  Or does it make her life worse?  -  Angela Kelly

2.  A van stops in front of you, and everyone inside looks exactly like you.  One of them tosses you a gun and says, “No time to explain, get in the van!”  -  bloglovin.com via Pinterest

3.  Last night, I died for the ninth time.  -  Angela Kelly