Friday, June 29, 2012

A Raychelle Writes Milestone!

In just a few short weeks, this blog will celebrate its first anniversary! Since the launch on 7/13/2011, Raychelle Writes has picked up 68 followers, logged over 19,000 page views, conducted over 80 interviews on The Writer's Block series, reviewed over 15 books, hosted several guest-bloggers, had our first illustrator's contest, and (hopefully) shared some helpful information about all things writing.

Blogging has proved to be a highly effective way to network and build my platform as an author/illustrator. If you are a writer and you are not blogging, seriously consider it. It has enabled me to help many people showcase their creations, including my 12 year-old daughter/new author, Halima. But, blogging has also given me a media outlet that I control and a reason to write most days of the week. I have learned so much from every person I have "met". My gratitude towards every individual who has allowed me to share their stories is overflowing.

I have some rough plans for how the one year anniversary of Raychelle Writes will be commemorated, but I would love to hear your suggestions. Are you interested in what some of The Writer's Block alums have been up to since their initial interviews? Would you like to see some guest bloggers? How about some agent interviews? Perhaps another contest? Book club? What would you like to see?

Feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments below. I look forward to hearing from you! Have a wonderfully productive Friday!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

And Still I WRITE...

Yesterday was a particularly challenging day. There were moments when I was sure that I was in the Twilight Zone. For the last few days, actually, I have watched people's chests inflate with arrogance as they defended their very obvious blunders. I've witnessed the complete collapse of a giant's confidence. I've read emails (from those who asked for my opinion) telling me why my feedback was wrong. I discovered that being dignified and having self-respect is the exception rather than the rule. I was reminded that some people have an uncanny ability to rewrite history. I've learned that some people never pass on an opportunity to say, "I told you so", while others take great delight in the misfortune of others. I found out that Jealousy has two legs and walks upright and that Gall could care less about how you feel. Advice is not a "one-size-fits-all"  article of clothing. Liars are really Cowards in costume, and Respect has left the building.

For some of these occurrences I was just an innocent passer-by, but I experienced the rest firsthand. I appreciate these real-life moments because they draw my muse out of the dark corner it sometimes hides in and forces me to write. There is a line from "The Five Heartbeats" which said something like (paraphrasing), "In order for one to become a great writer, he must suffer more."

So, I encourage you to embrace life's rough stuff. Just like comedians use the things they go through as material in their acts, we should all do the same. It is cathartic to laugh so that you don't curl up in a fetal position and cry. Think of the dynamic characters that you could create who actually solve the very problems that plague you. Think of the people you could help by sharing your story. Imagine how much better you will feel once you get all of that hurt and angst out on paper.

I just did it. Not only do I feel better already, but I squeezed today's blog post out of all that drama to boot!

Keep your pen to the paper! Remember, inspiration is everywhere...

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

More Writing + Less Chatter = Finished Manuscript

I read an article some time ago that advised authors to focus on writing more and talking less about their works in progress (WIP). I could not agree more and I can bear witness to the many distractions that keep us from writing. Some are necessary evils like early promotion, blogging, social networking, our day jobs, family, etc. But, it is too easy to log-in to our Facebook timelines and Twitter feeds only to later find ourselves 2 hours later watching cat videos gone viral on YouTube. I know. These temptations are hard to resist. But, if we are going to have any chance at finishing what we start, it is critical to stay balanced and focused. Here are a few tips to help us all stay on-track:

1)  Save the chatter about your next romantic, sci-fi , mystery thriller for your editor and the interviews you'll do on your upcoming blog tour. Doing so will keep you progressing towards completion of your manuscript.

2)  Schedule your social media visits and limit the time spent there. Start the day with the the platform-building stuff. Then, treat it like you are meeting a friend for coffee and you only have 15 minutes to catch up on the dish. Set a timer. When your time is up, log-off and get back to work.

3)  When people ask you how your book is coming, focus your answers on stats rather than content. If you are 60% done, say that. No need to go into details about the problems you are having with plot or character development. Save those tidbits for your editor or critique group because they will help you resolve those issues constructively.

4)  Keep writing and follow your instincts. The most important thing that writers can do is to keep writing. Remember that what you do is important. Everything that somebody reads is something that somebody else wrote. Vow to never allow yourself to be distracted from your writing again.

Keep your pen to the paper! remember, inspiration is everywhere...

Monday, June 25, 2012

Celebrating with Family in Remembrance of Mom

On June 23rd my mother, Regena V. Thomas, would have been 75 years old. After 9 years without her, my family and I still feel the sting of her absence. This year, we decided to celebrate Halima's graduation from the 8th grade, the release of her first novel (Riley and the Kitchen Katastrophe), and my mom's birthday. It was a great dinner. I am so proud of my daughter and what we have been able to accomplish in the face of adversity. I love my family for being so supportive. I am thinking that Mom would approve. Actually, I am certain of it.