The Wings of Imagination

Photo by Favim

During one of my web ramblings where I browse through photos and articles searching for something that sparks my imagination while simultaneously existing in a sub-zombie state, I found this lovely Burton-esque picture. I feel that it tells the 1,000 words of my life right now. Everything else is muted, but the single little butterfly. The symbol of my imagination. Writing, the expression of the symbol, is a bright source of color in my life.

I, too, have been guilty lately of hiding my little butterfly under a glass lid. Ideas come, sometimes I jot them down sometimes I don't, but lately I haven't been writing much besides the occasional poem. I'm finding it hard to find the time to do everything that needs to be done, and rarely ever do I get to the things that I want to get done. I'm sure all of you can relate.

 Quotes that I need to remember:

"I wasted time, now doth time wasteth me." -William Shakespeare

"It is a mistake to look too far ahead. Only one link of the chain of destiny can be handled at a time." -Winston Churchill

"All great achievements require time." -Maya Angelou

"Dost thou live? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of." - Ben Franklin

How do you find time to let your butterfly out? Do you have a schedule or motto that helps motivate you? Share your words of wisdom.

Guests- The Good and the Bad: Post by Rena J. Traxel

Today we are joined by the lovely Rena J. Traxel. Many thanks to her for returning back to The Writer's Block and sharing with us guest post etiquette and helpful tips.

Photo by Favim

Last month for the first time ever I invited guests onto my blog for poetry month. I was a bit hesitant at first, but in the end felt hearing from variety of voices would be beneficial to me and to my readers.  Here is what I learned from having guests on my blog:

1. Make sure to check all guest posts as soon as they came in to make sure you have everything you need. Or you might end up having to write the post yourself.

2. Allow your guest to use their own voice after all you invited them to your blog because you wanted to hear their point of view.

3. Don’t be afraid to approach a potential guest and ask them to be on your blog. Couple of the people I e-mailed didn’t respond, a couple declined due to time constraints, but the majority were eager to help.

4. Make sure to thank your guest bloggers. I thanked each guest on my blog as well as sent the guest an e-mail.

5. Have a set of rules. Some rules to think about:

·  Do you want the post written in first, second, or third person?  For me I like it when writer’s user personal examples, but this might not work for your blog and that is okay.

·  Desired word count.

·  Deadline for the post. I was a bit flexible with my deadlines, but only because I knew the guests and knew they wouldn’t disappoint. But I think in the future, for my own piece of mind, that I will have specific deadlines and stick to it.

What about you? Do you like having guests on your blog? Why or why not.

Bio: Beware of the fiery haired writer who calls herself Rena J. Traxel. She spends her days brewing up a batch of fantastical stories. To learn more about her head over to her blog On The Way to Somewhere…

Author Interview: Susan Helene Gottfried

Today's interview is with the talented Susan Helene Gottfried.
Susan, I sincerely thank you for joining us.
For more about Susan, please visit her website or blog.

Brief Bio:

Susan Helene Gottfried is the author of ShapeShifter: The Demo Tapes — Year 1, ShapeShifter: The Demo Tapes — Year 2, Trevor’s Song, and ShapeShifter: The Demo Tapes — Year 3. She can be found online at, where you can find The Meet and Greet, among other goodies.

A tone-deaf rocker-at-heart, Susan worked in retail record stores, in radio stations, as stage crew, and as a promoter while earning two college degrees in creative writing.

Susan walked away from a continued career in the music industry in order to write books, so it makes sense that most of her fiction revolves around rock bands. Once you get those record stores, radio stations, and fellow roadies and promoters under your skin, they never leave.

To fill her time, Susan takes on freelance editing projects.

1.)   What made you want to be a writer?
  • I was born this way. Seriously. I need to write and create characters and stories the way others need to breathe.
2.)   How long have you been seriously pursuing a career in writing?
  •       That’s actually hard to answer, because I’ve been doing it so long. Was it when I was in college and my professor sent a copy of the manuscript I’d been working on to his agent? In graduate school, when the department would pay for us to send out manuscripts to agents and for short story submissions? When I landed my first agent? When I retired from freelance editing the first time to pursue writing? When I published ShapeShifter: The Demo Tapes (Year 1)?  Maybe someone would say it was when I was ten and decided to write my first novel. Who knows? Like I said, I was born this way.
3.) If you had to choose three words to describe your writing nook/office, what would they be?
  • Too damn cluttered.
4.) Where do you draw most of your inspiration from
  • Everything and anything. I like to look at life around me and wonder how this character, or that would, would interact with what I’m seeing. If I had to pick just one source of inspiration, though, it would be music. I’m constantly inspired by what I hear on the radio
5.) Give us a one sentence pitch for your first novel.
  • Trevor Wolff, bass player for rock darlings ShapeShifter, may have to make common cause with his mortal enemy – his best friend’s girl --  if he’s to survive the fallout from the secrets he’s been hiding.
6.) What are some of the projects that you are currently working on completing?
  • King Trevor, the follow-up to Trevor’s Song, is scheduled for an April 12 release. I’ll follow that up in October with ShapeShifter: The Demo Tapes (Year 4). Behind that will be a stand-alone featuring new characters. I’m still drafting it, so we’ll have to see how it comes out.
7.) What are some of your recent publications?
  •  Last summer, I put out ShapeShifter: The Demo Tapes (Year 3). More info. here.
  • I’ve also had a few short stories in anthologies, which is always a fun way to meet new readers (and for readers to meet new authors). Visit here to check out my short stories.
  • I continue to post blog fiction every few weeks. Whenever I’ve got time to write something, really. It’s worth keeping an eye on my blog for, as I’ve got some recurring characters, such as the Roadie Poet, who aren’t in book form yet.
8.) Are you an outliner or a seat-of-your-pantser?
  • Definitely a seat-of-the-pants writer. To me, the whole purpose of the first draft is to figure out where the story is going. From there, you can craft the beginning and middle into the right shape. Yes, it usually changes the ending, too, but… that’s why writing is a craft. 
9.) If you could only own one book, what would it be? Why?
  • Hmm. That’s a tough one because I rarely re-read books. There are just too many out there to limit myself to one. But if you’re going to make me pick, I’d have to say it would be some compendium that’s thousands of pages long and chock full of great reads. Like 100. Full length.
  • Yes, I’m breaking the rules.
10.) Favorite childhood book/books?
  • Ooh, this is also hard. Let’s go with a series I don’t  mention often: Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain series. I have vivid memories not only of the books but of going to the library and going downstairs into the dark hall before getting to the juvenile room, and taking the books off the shelves. It was a very grown-up feeling to do all that by myself, whereas before, my parents or sisters had always come with me.
11.) If you could meet any author, living or dead, who would it be? Why?
  • Hmm. I’m not sure. I’ve met so many, and what I take from each one has been so different. I don’t want to limit myself. What if I choose Janet Evanovich so I can learn the secrets of writing comedic characters, but Christie Craig would have been the better teacher?
12.) If you could meet one character in a book, who would it be? Why?
  • Trevor. Definitely Trevor. Why? Well, he comes off at first as this abrasive jerk no one wants to be around. But as you get to know him, you see how deep the guy really is. Add in the fact that he gets away with a brutal honesty that no one else in life gets to show, and you’ve got a slam-dunk. Trevor’s got a magic to him that I simply envy. It’s part of what makes writing him so much fun.
13.) Where do you hope to be as a writer in five years?
  • Making a living from my royalties. Continuing to write and put out great books. Being a bigger presence in the writing community. You know: all the basic world-domination components, run from my home office.
14.) Favorite quote/personal motto:
  • I have a bunch, but I haven’t pulled this one out lately: @$%& it all and no regrets.  That one fits my head space at the moment, I think.
15.) If you could give any advice to other writers, what would it be?
  • Learn the industry! I can’t stress this enough, and it’s become my #1 piece of advice. Learn every last thing you can, from craft to the business end of publishing. Make sure your book is ready to be published; learn what happens when you hit PUBLISH too soon. Learn what it’ll take to market your book, how to approach a book reviewer, the value of a writer’s conference. Learn how to do a reading and how to revel in your fellow authors’ successes. And be sure to learn everything I haven’t mentioned here, as well.

It's Flash-Fiction Day: How Will You Celebrate?

Finals are over. (Hear me take a deep sign of relief.)

This morning I've finally had some time to catch up on some blog reading. Today Melanie Conklin wrote about National Flash-Fiction Day in the U.K, which is today. Even though it's mainly celebrated in the U.K. It is quickly becoming an international event. I did not know about it, but now that I do, I'm intent on celebrating. :)

I do not write nearly as much flash-fiction as I used to, but I still love it. Flash-fiction is usually written based on prompts, and is generally a quick read. Often times there is a set amount of time given for the piece to be written and edited to further push the writer to their limits. From my experience, it's been about 30 minutes or less. It usually highlights a specific scene, which challenges the writer to get to the point and peak the reader's interests quickly. Often this is difficult because we all know that writer's can turn three minutes into five pages. lol It's our love affair with words, what can we say?

I took a few moments and wrote a little something as a offering to this special day. I hope that you will do the same. I'll even give you a prompt: ocean. Happy Writing. :)

Photo by Favim.

"Ocean Talk"
(C) Copyright 2012

My taffeta dress brushed his right shoulder by accident as I walked by.  Our eyes met with a quick glance that was broken by my hurried walk.  I felt that I could hardly breathe in the room full of elegant people.  Their fake laughs and their forced conversations caused a wave of anxiety that I needed to escape.  When the outside breeze met my face, I took a breath of peace.  I soaked up the ocean’s air and listened to its angry roar. The dark waves crashed on the massive boat’s hull. I watched, intrigued, while they slapped fiercely the vessel which carried me and all the rest.

That’s when I heard his voice for the first time.  It was strong, deep, unlike anything I had heard before.  Then there was another voice.  A weaker voice.  One that sounded frightened.  They were arguing over something I could not make out.  Their voices rose.  My curiosity peaked, so I decided to take a better look.  The strong man had the week one bent over the railing of the ship.  My heart began to beat faster as if my own safety was threatened.

“I warned you,” the strong man whispered.

The small man said nothing, but his quivering was apparent even from my angle.

I peaked around the pole of the deck to see if anyone else was watching.  There was no one.  The blissful music from the inside glared out onto the deck.  The laughter of the people, the clinking of glasses, and their ignorant bliss made this moment somewhat poetic.  I stood in amazement not knowing what to do but knowing exactly what would happen next.

“So long, Jimmy,” he said as he gave the man a final push that sent him plummeting down into the angry waves.

I quietly gasped.

The man stood there for a moment in utter calmness. He straightened his tie and secured his shiny cuffs.

That’s when it happened, for the second time. He glanced, unexpectedly, at me standing nervously behind the pole. Our eyes locked, and in some kind of secret telepathy, there was an agreement between us. The glance was broken as I quickly walked away.

News and A Chance to Share Your Work Space

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What a week and it's only Monday. Last week and this week is the ever-so-dreadful finals weeks... (and the dun,dun,dun music plays). Despite my current and constant state of chaos, there is blogging to be done. It's my secret escape into a creative life where I find shelter in my inspiration and yours.
This past week I was blessed enough to have been published in the third issue of Wisdom Crieth Without, a magazine that focuses on traditional poetry, which makes up the bulk of my poetic writing. You can read my poem "I Stand Alone" here. The artwork was provided by the magazine, and I think it's perfect for the piece. Many thanks to the editor, R.J. Robledo, for his kindness, encouragement, and guidance in helping make this poem the best it could be.

In other news:

In July, I hope to feature a few writers and their work spaces. I was inspired to do this by Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own where she speaks about the importance of a space dedicated to writing. If you think you have an interesting, inspiring work space that you'd like to share, please contact me. If you submit, please include in the e-mail:

  1. A photo of your space.
  2. Your name and link to blog/website.
  3. A short paragraph of what makes your work space unique, inspiring, and creative.
I look forward to hearing from you and being inspired by your work space.
I have to run for now. You know... I've got to do the study thing. lol Happy Monday, everyone. (Notice the oxymoron there.)

Author Interview: RD Meyer

It's my pleasure to have had the chance to interview RD Meyer. For more information about Meyer and his work visit his blog.

Brief Bio:
  • I'm from North Carolina, but my job has brought my wife and I to Hawaii.  We have an incredible little girl who inspires us every day, and although we'll eventually head back to the mainland, we're enjoying island life.

1.) What made you want to be a writer?
  • I don’t think there has been any one event or person.  The first time I can remember wanting to be a writer was in 4th grade and we wrote stories to share with the class.  From that time forward, I’ve always jumped at the opportunity to put on paper whatever my crazy brain comes up with.

2.) How long have you been seriously pursuing a career in writing?
  • That depends on what you mean by “seriously pursuing.”  I’ve been writing novels for the past few years, but 2011 was when I really began researching agents and looking into writers’ conferences.  I sent out my first batch of query letters in August and am continuing to do so.

3.) If you had to choose three words to describe your writing nook/office, what would they be?
  • Functional – I’ve got a comfortable office chair and nice big screen to see what I’m writing.
  • Cluttered – There are papers and scraps laying out on the desk and stuffed inside every crevice.
  • Open – There’s a large window that let’s in sunlight, as well as an opening to my left that lets me see the family room.

4.) Where do you draw most of your inspiration from?

  • As hokey as it may sound, I draw it from my friends and family.  Their support helps keep me going when every fiber of my being yells at me to stop.

5.) Give us a one sentence pitch for your first novel.
  • A brilliant scientist who feels wronged by life’s circumstances sets out to kill God but discovers that vengeance doesn’t produce the satisfaction he imagined. Visit here for more info.

6.) What are some of the projects that you are currently working on completing?

  • Enjoying horror novels as I do, I’ve always wondered about the motivation of the ghosts/monsters, so I decided to write from the ghost’s point of view.  I’m 10,000 words into a novel that follows a young man killed in a car crash who is told he must avenge himself on the person responsible for his death.  That’s the only way his spirit can achieve balance and move into the next world.  However, he soon discovers he is haunting the wrong person and needs to find out why.  I expect the final product to come in around 65,000 words and should be done by June. Visit here for more info.

7.) What are some of your recent publications?
  • I placed Honorable Mention in the Writers' Journal Write to Win! Contest for October/November 2011.  I also just placed in the Writer’s Digest’s Horror Short Story Contest, and the issue with the story should be out in May.

8.) Are you an outliner or a seat-of-your-pantser?
  • I’d say I go about 70/30 to both outline and seat of the pants.  I’ll sit down and think through the story I want to tell, and then I’ll bang it into a rough outline.  Part of it is very detailed – like when there’s something very specific I want to capture – but most is pretty general.  That allows me to keep it a little spontaneous and enjoy getting it out.  I’m as anxious as anyone else to find out what’s going to happen.  Also, I rarely outline more than 30 pages in advance of where my writing currently stands since the story can evolve and grow, so getting too attached to your outline can be detrimental to the final product.

9.) If you could only own one book, what would it be? Why?
  • Whew, that's hard.  As much as I'd like to say something inspiring like War and Peace, the honest part of me says The Shining by Stephen King.  It's a fun read and one of the best things out there that taught me how to build suspense into a novel.  I could read the scene with the hedge animals over and over and still get a chill up my spine.

10.) Favorite childhood book/books?
  • I enjoyed a wide variety as a kid, but the ones I most remember are:  Bridge to Terabithia, How to Eat Fried Worms, A Wrinkle in Time, and anything about Encyclopedia Brown.  I’m sure there are more that I’m not remembering.  Maybe a stroll through my old elementary school library would jog my memory.

11.) If you could meet any author, living or dead, who would it be? Why?
  • Only one?  Wow, that’s tough to narrow down.  I guess if I had to pick, it’d be Stephen King.  I listed the top four literary influences to my work on my website, and King was one of them.  I’d like to pick his brain and find out how he comes up with such off-the-wall ideas.  He’d be fascinating to just sit and shoot the breeze with because you probably wouldn’t walk away with the same perspective on life.

12.) If you could meet one character in a book, who would it be? Why?
  • Without question, Grand Admiral Thrawn from the Heir to the Empire trilogy.  Tim Zahn did such a masterful job in bringing out the warrior and leader for the Empire that you almost root for him.  Yes, he’s brutal, but he is also brilliant and subtle, with a knack for knowing how to lead, as well as understanding that your approach to anything needs to be tailored to the people you will encounter.

13.) Where do you hope to be as a writer in five years?
  • I’d like to be published, with my novels on a shelf somewhere for folks to pick up.  I’d also like to have finished another three novels, with more bubbling out.  And of course, if I could write for a living, that’d be great too.

14.) Favorite quote/personal motto:
  • From Batman Begins:  “Why do we fall?  So that we can learn to pick ourselves back up.”

15.) If you could give any advice to other writers, what would it be?
  • Just write.  A lot of us slip into the trap of saying, “I wish I had time to finish that book,” or “It’s so frustrating that I can’t get any attention from (an agent/publisher/the public).”  I write because I enjoy it, and if nobody read what I wrote, I’d still write because I feel compelled to do so.  Sit down and immerse yourself in your passion, and force yourself to write at least a little every day.

Author Interview: Mary Ellen Quigley

Happy Friday, friends! Below is an interview of Mary Ellen Quigley. For more information about Mary, visit her website.

Brief Bio:
  • Mary Ellen Quigley lives in beautiful central Indiana. She got the writing bug as a child in the fifth grade. The assignment was to write a funny story, and she has loved writing ever since.
  • While Mary Ellen’s true love is paranormal romance, she also does freelance writing and writes for Ezine Articles and Hubpages.
  • When not writing, Mary Ellen can be found with her feet up and her nose in a good book. She also enjoys gardening, crafts, spoiling her niece and nephew rotten, and spending time with family.

1.) What made you want to be a writer?

  • I have always loved writing. It was my fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Howard, who instilled in me a love for writing and telling stores. After that I was hooked. It wasn’t until 2006 that my sister and close friends actually talked me into sharing my writing with others.

2.) How long have you been seriously pursuing a career in writing?

  • I’ve only been seriously pursuing writing since 2006. I’ve always wrote, but prior to that I was too scared to share my work.

3.) If you had to choose three words to describe your writing nook/office, what would they be?

  • I have a nice little semi-office in the corner of my room. I suppose my three words would be comfortable, organized, and small.

4.) Where do you draw most of your inspiration from?

  • Music inspires me quite a bit. If a song evokes a certain emotion in me, I find it easy to turn that emotion into a story. I also love looking at photography and paintings depicting people. I’ll look at the image and wonder “What are these people doing? How did they get here?” My first book, “The Wild Side,” was actually based on a piece of art.

5.) Give us a one sentence pitch for your first novel.

  • My first novel was titled “The Wild Side” - When Leander Williams, leader of the Southern California Feline Pride, kidnaps Alena Johnson, a human doctor, to find a cure for the disease plaguing his people, he never thought they would fall in love. Visit here for more info.

6.) What are some of the projects that you are currently working on completing?

  • I have two books I am working on for later this year. “The Cinderella Dream” is a contemporary romance and will be released during the summer. “Nocturne” is paranormal romance. I hope to release it sometime next fall or winter. You can find more information on all of these on my website.

7.) What are some of your recent publications?

  • My most recent publication is a novella, called “The Wild Side.” I also have a book coming out on April 3, called “Lessons My Mother Taught Me.” It is a memoir I wrote about my mother after she passed away last fall.

8.) Are you an outliner or a seat-of-your-pantser?

  • I am definitely an outliner. I plan everything. If I try to be a panster, the story tends to come to a dead stop.

9.) If you could only own one book, what would it be? Why?

  • My one book would be Acheron by Sherrilyn Kenyon. The book is really long, and it is one of those books where you find something new every time you read it.

10.) Favorite childhood book/books?

  • I loved the Little House on the Prairie series when I was little. I also had this really old book of traditional fairy tales that my mother bought me. I can’t even remember what it was called, but I kept that book until it fell apart.

11.) If you could meet any author, living or dead, who would it be? Why?

  • I’ve already been blessed enough to meet the authors that I most admire – J.R. Ward and Sherrilyn Kenyon. There isn’t anyone else I am dying to meet yet.

12.) If you could meet one character in a book, who would it be? Why?

  • I would want to meet Gregori from Christine Feehan’s Dark series. I love to learn new things. He has lived for a long time and knows so much. In the series, he is the man that is most knowledgeable about the race’s history and their powers. It would definitely be an interesting conversation.

13.) Where do you hope to be as a writer in five years?

  • Like most writers, I hope to be traditionally published. That’s the big dream. Either way, I hope to keep growing as a writer and getting better at my craft.

14.) Favorite quote/personal motto:

  • I have always loved this quote from Henry David Thoreau’s “Walden” – “However mean your life is, meet it and live it; do not shun it and call it hard names. It is not so bad as you are. It looks poorest when you are richest. The fault-finder will find faults even in paradise. Love your life, poor as it is. You may perhaps have some pleasant, thrilling, glorious hours, even in a poor-house.”

15.) If you could give any advice to other writers, what would it be?

  • Keep writing. The more you write the better writer you become. Also, do be afraid to accept constructive criticism.

Weird is What You Are When No One is Looking: Creating True Characters

Okay, so this is going to be an unusual post (just in case you couldn't tell by the amazingly random video).

I found this crazy little video on my phone a while back, and I have no idea when or where it was taken. I do not remember this at all. Apparently, judging by husband's words in the back ground, he didn't know it was recording. In theory, if he didn't know he was taping me then neither would I. Yet,  I still made some weird face. lol We all have a little weird in us, hence the title of this post.

Now, what's my point? I promise; I do have one. I even used my own personal embarrassing video to make it.

My point is, if you and I have crazy little moments where we do silly, borderline odd, things then so do our characters. To make a true character we need to envision them as real people. Real people with real oddities, habits, sayings even. We should focus on what makes each character different. To do that, we may use some of our own weirdness or habitual rituals or those of the people around us.

People watching is essential in creating unique characters, and we all know, if you watch someone long enough (or read someone long enough, in the case of our readers), you will find something that catches you as strange.

Embrace the weird! :)

What kind of unique/weird characteristics do your characters have?