[Writers on the Storm #2]

Writers on the Storm
Question #2

What has influenced your writing the most – that isn’t a book?

Is there a movie that changed your life? A series that you could binge endlessly? A concept album you blast just all the time?

Here’s what the Stormwriters had to say:

Luna Ann Koenig,Author of Star Stolen
A recent find that has affected my craft is the series Jane the Virgin. It’s an English adaptation of a telanovela and it’s brilliant. It’s a little bit over the top but it has definitely made me think about growth through breaking out of my comfort zone. Plus, Jane’s a writer.

P.J. MacLayne, Author of Wolves’ Gambit
Politics have influenced my writing, especially women’s rights. Having grown up in an era when ‘girls’ were not given the opportunities they are today, I’m grateful for what other women have done to help all of us. I try to work in reminders of that into my stories.

Elizabeth Mays, Poet, Host of #JustAddTea
The movie Gattaca. I love how swimming is interwoven symbolically through the story, and the music moves the story in such a subtle yet beautiful way. When I write, I want my words to sing across the page the same way, and to have symbolism sprinkled throughout.

Benjamin Pegg, Author of
The Collective
I like to listen to Imagine Dragons while writing, especially the album “Night Vision”. The imagery they use in the song, especially ‘It’s Time, and in the music video have influenced the gritty, but hopeful ideals in the world I am building.

Adam Haynes, Author of
Patriots: The Overlord
The lore of the video game Destiny and the art of Ismail Inceoglu. Both give me a strange sense of wonder and exploration in a new world.

JM Sullivan, Author of Second Star (Book 1 of the Neverland Transmissions series)
I am inspired by many things, but mostly things that I love! Movie characters, places I’ve visited, and friends I’ve made are all fair game for inspiration to my work. Writing is such a personal thing, to me it makes sense that mine incorporates all the things I love most.

Want to get in on this crazy-cool questionnaire?
Check out the rules and e-mail novemberomalley@gmail.com by Sunday, February 3rd!

“The Umbrella Academy” is Basically the Best Thing Netflix Has Done Since Existing, Probably. (A Hot Take)

Once upon a time, I was a hugely massive My Chemical Romance fan. I owned all the albums, had a bunch of t-shirts, marched in the MCRmy (made Lieutenant, too!), and annoyed the absolute bejeezus out of my parents by talking constantly about how much I loved and was going to marry Gerard Way.

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Okay, I still want to marry this man.

The girl from My Immortal was basically me, although I couldn’t afford a full Hot Topic wardrobe or weekly Manic Panic dyejobs.

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It’s like staring in a mirror that’s also a time machine. Make it stop.

And for a brief, shining moment, thanks to Mr. Gerard Not-My-Husband Way, I became a comic book nerd. The one and only time I picked up weekly Wednesday releases was when The Umbrella Academy was new on shelves.

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So needless to say I was excited when I heard about the new Netflix show. I may or may not have shirked my every duty to binge-watch all the episodes in one 14-hour extravaganza. (I had to stop for snacks, don’t judge)

Keep in mind that I haven’t actually read the comics in a few years, although I read the Wikipedia and TVTropes pages to brush-up before writing this. So forgive any inaccuracies, I’ll edit if need be – just let me know in the comments!

MASSIVE SPOILERS BELOW THE FOLD.

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Galentines Guest Post

Hello, friends! It’s Galentine’s Day – the day before Valentine’s Day to celebrate the best ladyfriends a girl can have! Today I’m joined by one of my writing friends, Elizabeth Mays, to talk about some of the best buddies in fiction!

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A Dose of Girl Power for Galentine’s Day!

Let us take today to celebrate the friendships we’ve forged with other females in spite of the constant attempts of the patriarchy to pit us against each other through love triangles and lower wages!

In other words: Happy Galentine’s Day to all my wonderful, beautiful, ladies!

In all seriousness, though, Galentine’s Day is the better of the two holidays (the other being the dreaded Valentine’s Day… or Singles Awareness Day for those of us without a mate). It’s a day to celebrate our female friendships, and while I was joking earlier, there really seems to be a conspiracy to keep women working against each other instead of working with each other.

Especially in film and literature.

In a great many classic films and books, female friends in a story have a falling out, especially over a guy, only to spend the rest of the story being forced to realize that they were better off in the beginning.

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Admittedly, it is kind of an outdated trope; the first movie that comes to my mind when I think about it is Clueless, which is a movie older than most of my students…

 

On the other hand, when I sat down to write this post, I was struggling to find girl buds who weren’t actually sisters!

 

You’ve got the Bennett sisters from Pride and Prejudice and the Dashwood sisters from Sense and Sensibility. Both great works from Jane Austen in which at least one of the sisters is the protagonist of the story. As sisters, they are there to support one another, and occasionally guide them when they go astray (I’m looking at you, Lydia Bennett!).

Similarly, we have the March sisters from Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott. I vaguely remember reading a children’s version of this book when I was younger, and it was my fascination with Jo that perhaps helped shape me into a writer today. I was also a bit jealous of the idea of having siblings to share all of life’s secrets, especially sisters with whom you could share clothes and do your hair together and other things that normal siblings do. Even fight!

Later, when I had brothers, I was able to experience some of it, but it will never be the same as having a sister.

It is that sense of camaraderie, closeness, intimacy, a shared bond, or whatever you want to call it, that is so important to forming lasting believable relationships between characters.

But is it only available between sisters?

No, it’s not, but the female characters who form the strongest bonds are compared to sisters because of the strength and love shared between them like in The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood or The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.

Both are about groups of friends who become as close as sisters.

Even the last book I read (or rather, the last book I finished) had two girls who were bound as sisters through magic: Truthwitch.

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So what’s the message?

That we are stronger together. That when women become friends, they create lasting bonds that are as hard to break as family ties.

I only touched on a very select few stories, but there are plenty out there. Do me a favor and drop some names of your favorite fictional girl-buds or sisters in the comments below. I’m always on the look for new stuff to read.

And then, find your favorite sister, be she blood-related or just a friend, and wish her a Happy Galentine’s Day!

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elizabeth-portElizabeth Mays is the best gal-friend a girl can have! When not writing at her website, JustAddTea.wordpress.com, she’s hosting the #JustAddTea twitter chat on Sunday mornings at 11 AM EST, joining Writers On The Storm, and teaching the youth the magic of friendship!

 

Twitter Writing Chats And You: A Comprehensive Guide

Writing chats are the best part of being an author on Twitter, in my somewhat-humble opinion. They are great opportunities to network, make friends, and think about your project, promotion, or platform in new and exciting ways.

What is a Writing Chat?

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These are weekly gatherings of writers under one hashtag that usually take place over an hour. Some of these chats are separated by genre, some are about writing itself, character building, world building, or networking.

I love when someone says something super profound or exactly on point. And our chat usually devolves into chatting about baked goods, so there’s always fun stuff going on.
Mercedes Siler, co-host of #HappyWritingChat

How Do You Find a Chat?

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Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

One Twitter account, Free Writing Events keeps a schedule of chats as well as other daily challenges and events in the Tweet-o-sphere, their site has a full directory and list. Also, keep a lookout for what your friends are saying and sharing, they can help point you in the right direction!

How Do They Work?

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Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Most chats follow the same or similar structure. For the first 10-15 mins, everyone is invited to introduce themselves and are asked a small question about their progress, goals, or just to share a favorite GIF.

Then, every 5-10 mins, the host asks a question for everyone to answer, typically these follow a single weekly theme.

TIP: When answering, don’t forget to include the chat’s hashtag! If you forget it, delete your old tweet and copy it with the hashtag so it’ll show up in the chat’s stream. These groups can be pretty fast-paced, so few will go back to see what you said!

Depending on the length and timing of the chat, usually they’re comprised of 5 or more questions. After all the questions are done, the host might make announcements, share news, or discuss the next week’s topic!

Tips and Tricks

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Retweet, don’t reply to the question tweet! 
This helps people find the questions easier when the initial tweet gets buried under loads of answers – and it puts it in your own Twitter feed instead of just a long list of replies!

If you join late, jump into the latest question, don’t go back!
Not only does it mess up the continuity of the stream, but if you focus on earlier questions, you might miss the next ones!

ALWAYS REMEMBER THE HASHTAG.

Hosting Your Own Chat

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The most challenging part is coming up with topics for weekly chats & questions for those topics. I rely heavily on my community to help with these topics and also sometimes steal them from other chats!
Dianna Gunn, host of

Thinking about starting up your own group? Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Pre-schedule all of your questions and introduction tweets
The last thing you want to worry about is getting them all out at once when you’re busy chatting with everyone! Free software like TweetDeck and HootSuite can help you manage your timing.

Even if you will be fully present and chatting at your chat, pre-scheduling your tweet questions will not only keep your chat running smooth and within its timeframe, but allow you, the host, The partake in the chat as well without worrying about when the next topic/question needs to be posted.
Autumn Lindsey, host of #WM_Chat

Make a graphic

Putting the questions in a graphic can make them easier to find and stand out as well as keep the chat cohesive. Be sure to include the question text in the Tweet, however, for users who use screen-reader software.

Have countdown tweets
The best way to get people interested is to schedule some tweets a day, an hour, and five minutes before the chat starts.

I would say the most challenging part of hosting a chat is timing. It’s really hard to find a time that will work for everyone, and in reality, with all the different time zones of the world, you won’t ever find that “perfect” time slot.
Autumn Lindsey, host of #WM_Chat

Be present
That being said, just scheduling a handful of tweets isn’t the same as hosting! Be there, chat and joke with your guests, and make everyone feel welcome, and they will come back week after week.

Pick the right hashtag – and be ready to defend it!
Sure, #TheWriteStuff or #WriteHereWriteNow seem like fun puns, but everyone and their dog has made those jokes and it’ll be confusing sharing your amazing chat with a whole bunch of other extraneous nonsense.
But once your chat gets popular, some people will misuse it – either accidentally in confusion or as a way to latch onto the attention the hashtag gets. Be prepared to explain what the hashtag is for and to ask people to stop using it improperly if it comes down to it!

Give it a test run!
Some chats – like #HappyWritingChat – have open slots for guest hosts, or usual hosts will be taking time off. Volunteering to host can give you lots of great experience and exposure to an already-established audience while helping you figure out the nuance and rhythm of the chat.

We have to remember we all win together, and those authors just starting and writing their first word are just as important as those who have major publishing deals in your chat.
– Dionne Abouelela, co-host of #HappyWritingChat

 

Have you ever participated in a writing chat? Which ones do you recommend?
Hosts – share your own tips and tricks in the comments below!

The 28-Day Challenge + !FEBRUARY WRITING CALENDAR!

Science says that it takes 28 days to make (or break) a habit. Supposedly. Most psychologists actually ditch this idea and say it’s nonsense, but whatever. It takes a long time, and you can definitely keep on track long after this month is over anyway.

The point being: there are 28 days in February!

So now is the time to make or break, to really get it going, to make your goals a reality, to make your to-do list a to-DONE list.

Many of us are doing a 200-word challenge. Now, I like this one a lot because 200 words is fairly easy to churn out, even on a bad or busy day, but it adds up quick. Even if you take a whopping ninety days off, you still have 50,000 words written in time to pretend to win at NaNoWriMo.

(not that I condone this behavior but you could totally do it, just saying.)

So without any further ado, I present to you my fantabulous, fresh and fantastical, handmade with love February Goal Calendar.

It is packed to the brim with goal suggestions, mini celebrations, and encouraging goodies, and has a word count tracker to keep you going!

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Click this image to go to my Google Drive for this and other awesome worksheets!

Keep me updated how you’re rocking your goals!
Share your calendar with me on Twitter or below in the comments!

Let’s do this!