Tag: Writing

15 Questions with Atina Atwood the Author of the Holiday Heartbeats Series

Topher Hoffman: Hello! Today we have Atina Atwood answering questions at The House of 1000 Books.  She’s the creator of the Holiday Heartbeats Series. This series includes His Epiphany, Love Games, and her newest novel, Luck of the Irish!

She states in her bio that in general, her stories vary in heat levels— from YA to sweet romantic stories to steamy contemporary romance. All of her books have multicultural characters that are strong-willed and purpose-driven.  

I’m interested in what she has to say, so with that, let us get to the questions.  Continue reading “15 Questions with Atina Atwood the Author of the Holiday Heartbeats Series”

11 Amazing Writing Tips You Need To Know About Right Now!

This morning I was on Twitter, still in bed, trying to figure out if I should forgive Father Time for inventing Mondays or if I should just let it slide. It seems like he’s pulling that stunt every week, even though he knows I hate Mondays.

So there I was laying in bed, reading loads of tweets of look at me! I just got 1000 followers, or here’s a Monday monkey to make your day, and if you love me and you want to show it, send me a gif. You know, the usual stuff.

Among the chitter and chatter of all the Tweets hypnotically running down my screen, a question caught my eye. The problem was along the lines of, what is your biggest pet peeve when you are trying to write?

With over 100 answers I decided to check some out to try and ease the pain of the Monday morning blues.

Some of the posts were:

  • When my phone rings.
  • When somebody doesn’t believe I’m writing.
  • When somebody is looking over my shoulder.
  • When somebody asks me a question.
  • When your dog needs to go pee.

Do you see the pattern here? It seems that almost everyone that answered had one common pet peeve in common, interruptions.

What pain interruptions can be, right? I mean, you sit down, try and write, and then the door flies open. It’s your dog with those eyes….”I need to pee, or I’m going to shit on your floor” eyes. Or you are typing away, the neighbour starts to blare their music, either causing you to begin to tap your fingers along with the catchy tunes or more likely, make you spazz right out.

Did you know that it takes an average of 23 minutes to return to the original task you were working on?

Ok, so, I admit, I’m not an author, but I do like to write, so I think I am qualified to give advice on this overly annoying matter. Well, second thought, maybe not as qualified as a guidance counsellor, life coach, or something like that, but I do have my share of getting sidetracked when I am trying to write, not to mention a tone of other tasks in my life.

A few of these tricks might not help you out at work, but while you are writing, I firmly believe that most of them will work. They work for me, but hey, maybe I’m just gullible enough to fall for my own tricks!

1. Schedule Your Time

time-371226_960_720Your time is important. Even if you don’t’ realize how important it is, you have to understand that there are only so many hours in the day. That means, if you want to write every day without being interrupted with other chores, you need to schedule the time.

Say that you know you have homework due on Wednesday, or your wife needs you to pick up the kids at 8:00 pm from karate classes, schedule time around it.

I read in a book, I’m not sure what one, I think it might have been Getting Things Done by Stephen Covey, where he says that you should schedule all your minutes. I tried it, and honestly, it is tough, but not impossible. So record yourself some time each day to write where you know you won’t bet interrupted.

2. Leave Your Phone Out of the Room.

“Oh the mighty cell phone, how you are my everything!” Nowadays you can’t drive down the road without seeing somebody walking on the sidewalk with their cell phone in view. They could be texting, talking, or maybe just holding it. The fact is, it is there, and it is calling their name all day, every day, and every breathing minute.

That goes the same for you. Face it, if you are like the majority of the population, your phone is usually pretty close by, whispering your name, asking you to check your email, check your facebook, or just to check the time every five minutes.

Simple solution, leave the phone in the other room. It might be hard at first, but eventually, you will know that everything will be ok and the phone will be just fine without you. Your phone will understand the neglection and will even forgive you eventually.

3. Close all Internet Windows

student-849822_960_720When you are writing, keep all your extra internet windows closed. Who needs their Twitter, Facebook, or email open. Checking it now, or in 30 minutes after scheduled writing time is up, in most cases doesn’t matter. That email is still going to be there, and that post where you just need to leave a thumbs up is always going to be there waiting for you to do the job, and click it!

My suggestion would be that you don’t’ have any of your programs open at all except your writing programs like OpenOffice or Word.

If you really want to see how much time you spend on sites not related to your tasks, install a time tracker like Webtime Tracker or similar. It will track how much time you spend on each site during your writing session, and it will give you a great idea how long you are actually writing.

4. Tell People That You Are Writing

If you live with others, just tell people that you are writing and not to bother you. Tell them your door is going to be closed and you will come out when you are done. If that doesn’t’ work, put a lock on your door and lock them out.

You probably won’t have to to go the extent of putting a lock on the door, but there is a possibility that you will make your housemates aware that you are taking some time for yourself and writing.

5. It’s Ok To Say No

yes-2069850_960_720.pngIt’s ok to say no. If the expectation is set that you will be writing at a particular time every day, your door is closed, and you get interrupted by somebody coming in and asking you to do something that isn’t’ important, just say no, and that you are writing.

Of course, you have to judge how important the thing you are saying no to is. For instance, would you mind grabbing the baby, she’s climbing inside of the stove is something that you probably would want to say yes too. On the other hand, can you come down and do the laundry would be a no. That would be something you would have scheduled or planned on as an interruption and work around.

6. Noise

Yes, noise. The sound is, and if it’s not your noise it will drive you mad!
For instance, you are sitting there on a Saturday evening, everything is quiet, and you get your groove on. Your neighbours come home, and they are in the party mood. The next thing you know you hear MC Hammer blasting through your walls!

What do you do? Well, you make your own noise. Put on some music before you start. Make it loud enough so you know it will drown out the neighbours. A better solution is to buy yourself a cheap set of noise-cancelling headphones where you can slip them on and down out the outside noise!

Think about it, it will just be you, your writing, and the soothing sounds of baby whales eating fish, or whatever other music you use to relax you.

7. Pets

cat-3695040_960_720Look after your pets before you start. Walk them and feed them. That will hopefully give them enough attention that they won’t be a nuisance. If they continue to be a bother, put them out of your room and shut the door.

Guess what? Cats and dogs fit their little paws around door nobs to let themselves back in, and their thumbs don’t work the same as ours.

8. Monkey Brain

If your brain is anything like mine, it is like a pack of wild monkies jumping around a MacDonald’s playroom. Bouncing all over the place with thoughts going every which way. Try to do some breathing exercises.

Seriously!

The next time you find yourself having thoughts try the following.

Take a deep breath. Breath in for the count of seven. Hold it for a second in your lungs. Let it out slowly for a count of six. That’s one. Repeat.

1..2…3…4….5…6….7…hold…out…6..5…4…3…2…1…That’s two. Do that all the way until you get to 10.

Hopefully, you will be relaxed at the end of it.

9. The Mess

chaos-485502_960_720Tame the beast! Clutter won’t help you to concentrate. The site of it will distract you, and you will more than likely find yourself fidgeting with something. Put things away where they belong, and the trash in the trash. Or you can do what I do, and open a drawer and dump everything in. Don’t worry, the mess will be there for you the next time you open the drawer waiting patiently for you to put it away.

10. Being Hungry

Feed the beast! Don’t’ let yourself work on writing if you are hungry. Well, unless it’s an emotional scene where you are writing about a bunch of starving orphans, and you really want to make an honest connection.

11. Plan for Interruptions

hand-3190204_960_720Figure out what could possibly interrupt you and plan to counter it ahead of time before it happens.

If you know that you are going to be heading out to a buddies house at 4:30 and it’s 3:00 right now, schedule a 1-hour writing session. Put on music that you can focus on while writing if you think the neighbours are going to be annoying and start blaring Sonny and Cher. Have a snack before you start to get into the groove of writing. Those are just a few examples, but you get the point. If you figure something is going to come up, plan to counter it.

Conclusion

Well, there you go, folks! 11 things that could help you cut down on interruptions while you are trying to work! Try them out, you never know what may help you on your journey to being an uninterrupted writer! Good luck, and enjoy your writing!


 

16 Questions – Peter Hartog And His New Book Bloodlines

peterhartogHey everybody. Welcome to the first ever House of 1000 Books author interview. Today I have the pleasure of introducing to you to Peter Hartog. He’s a Sci-Fi writer who recently released his first book called Bloodlines, and as you later find out in the interview, he is working on a second book called Pieces of Eight. He will tell you more about that in the conversation!

So with that, let’s get to it. Read on and enjoy the interview.

Topher H: Thanks for the time.  I want to let you know that this is YOUR interview.  If you want anything asked, feel free to write it in. If you want anything taken out, please feel free to take it out. I’m pretty easy on how we do this.

Let us start with what I like to call my series of hypothetical questions. Say, at the end of your career you had a chance to meet yourself before you began your writing career and you had a chance to tell yourself one thing about writing yourself about writing, what would it be?

Peter Hartog: Topher, thanks for the interview!

Since I’m at the beginning of my writing career, I have no idea what pitfalls lie between now and “the end”. But one thing has been clear from the get-go: you need a thick skin. Rejection is real and constant and the bane of anyone unprepared for it. If you can’t pick yourself up, you’ll never make it.

Writing, by itself, is its own reward. But for your work to be accepted, then published, that is an entirely different animal. I would remind myself to never give up, and to focus upon why I wrote Bloodlines, who inspired (and continues to inspire) me, and the boyhood dream that’s propelled me forward from the very beginning.

TH: Words have power.  Some could lift a person others could destroy a person. Do you

peterquote2

recall an earlier time in your life where it dawned on you that language had the strength to do that?

PH: All you have to do is listen to Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream”, and that’s all you need to know about the positive, uplifting power of words. It’s so easy to fall prey to the antagonistic rhetoric of politics and so-called “noble” causes. The callous disregard of some folks that have a ready-made platform or create their own for the sole purpose of vilifying anyone who isn’t “you”, who doesn’t believe in what you believe, who aspire to bring down everyone else for personal gain. Those words, that power, is abused daily, and disgusts me. I combat that with treating people as I would want to be treated, and it’s something I try to reinforce with my children, so that they can incrementally help make the world a better place.

TH: What did your family members think about your writing when you first started it? Did they approve of it or did they think it was a waste of time?

PH: My wife, my greatest cheerleader and supporter, had been on my case for 14 years to write a novel. She became so tired of me manufacturing excuses as to why I wouldn’t, that she gave up pushing me a few years ago. When I finally sat down and put virtual pen to paper, she gave me a nod and a smile, then let me be me. I’ve only been met with support and encouragement, and I’m incredibly thankful for all of it.

TH: I read your bio, and in it, I saw that you may or may not Spider-man.  I googled a fact; it turns out that Spider-man senses can be dulled.  If you were Spider-man and your spidey senses were your writing, what could dull your spidey senses and slow down your writing of your book?

peterqoute1PH: Stress and exhaustion. My day job is both rewarding and taxing. I am the sole breadwinner in our family. Therefore, my focus is upon what pays the bills first. My own needs are secondary to my wife and my two boys.

Some days, I’m worn down by it all. When that happens, my creativity dies. I have no desire to sit before a screen and delve into strange new worlds. I’d much rather curl up and shut my mind off for a bit to recharge the batteries.

However, writing is like music. It ebbs and flows, flittering at the edge of my mind’s eye to soothe and cajole, inspire and engage. When the right tune pops on the radio or my iTunes, I start feeling the jazz and my mind races with possibilities. That’s when my “Spidey Sense” tingles, and I’m ready to blaze new adventures for Detective Tom Holliday and his eclectic team of malcontents.

TH: Hot off the press! You have a new book out.   Can you please tell us about the book?

PH: I do!

The story is a blend of genres, combining elements of science fiction, crime, detective and urban fantasy. Think Blade Runner meets Harry Bosch and Harry Dresden.

It’s set in Empire City, a future dystopian version of New York City, where magic and technology co-exist, parallel dimensions spawn terrible threats, and humanity endures behind massive walls of stone and spell-forged steel.

Bloodlines follows the homicide investigation of a young woman, her body completely drained of blood down to a cellular level, and two eyewitnesses jacked on the designer drug Goldjoy claiming a vampire did it. Tom “Doc” Holliday, a disgraced homicide detective, is recruited to join Special Crimes, a semi-clandestine unit of special individuals solving cases by “any means necessary”.

bloodlinesHolliday is no stranger to the unusual. He possesses a fickle clairvoyance that he dubbed the “Insight” which allows him to see the dark and terrible things hiding upon his world. Throughout the novel, he also battles personal demons of his own – at the start of the story, he’s seven years removed from a corruption scandal, and a stint in a substance abuse rehab center where his girlfriend also committed suicide.

Accompanying Holliday is the irreverent Deacon Kole, a former Protector from the Confederate States of Birmingham, Leyla, a shrewd hacker who also wields magic, and Besim Saranda, an interdimensional being known as a Vellan with an agenda all her own.

From morgues and coffee houses, to underground drug labs and a foot-chase along the dirty streets of Empire City, the story ratchets up the intrigue, action, magic and suspense for a dark and fun ride.

Man, I just get goosebumps thinking about it!

TH: What made you want to write this book?

PH: Holliday’s story needed to be told, resonating with me unlike any other story I’d ever concocted before. The words flowed easily, and the chapters just piled up.

TH: Was there a goal in mind for the book?

PH: Yes. To write a complete novel. To share Holliday’s story with whoever wanted to read it. To prove to myself that I could do it.

TH: It takes a long time to write a book,  how many hours a day did you write for?

PH: There’s no consistency to my writing time. With two young boys and a full-time job, my life is very busy. What I can say is I started in July of 2016 and hit the publish button August of 2018.

TH: After you wrote your first book, got it published, how did you change your thinking about writing?

PH: There’s writing, and the business of writing. I still know very little about the business end of things. A lot of that has to do with my lack of time as well as resources. If the question is solely about writing, my answer is I love every aspect of it, from planning, to writing, revising, editing, agonizing over plot points, discussing ideas with friends, or staring off into space wondering what’s next for my cast of crazy characters.

TH: Are any of the characters in the book based on real people? If so who?

PH: Leyla, Deacon and Besim are all based upon characters three of my best friends developed for our weekly Sunday night role-playing sessions. We’ve been gaming since the late 1980s, interrupted when I moved from Massachusetts to Georgia. They moved down here a few years later, and we’ve been table-topping ever since.

As for the actual story, I developed it and Empire City, then ran it as a role-playing game for my group for about a year and a half. I changed several aspects of their characters for novelization purposes, but essentially the renditions of Leyla, Deacon and Besim are a love letter to my friends, admiring their creative skills and paying homage to them as wonderful people.

TH: Do you wish that you would have written in anybody that you know of that you could just end up taking out your frustration out on? What would you do?

PH: No. That never comes up. It’s not in my nature to write in someone like that.

TH: How long did it take for your research for your book? How did you do it?

PH: Research was ongoing. Whenever I came up against something that I needed to know more about, I popped on the internet or checked in with some friends who are experts in certain fields. For example, a college friend of mine is a successful urologist in Long Island. I consulted with him regarding dialysis to make certain the chapter involving a similar process was handled accurately. In addition, another friend who is an Episcopalian minister in Michigan assisted me with a challenging chapter late in the novel that involves the taking of a life. As an author, authenticity and accuracy are keys to a successful story. I’m very thankful I know a lot of experts!

TH: What’s next for you?  What are you working on?

PH: The sequel! It’s currently entitled Pieces of Eight. I’m slogging through chapter 22 and hope to have the first draft finished by the end of this year.

TH: Is your next book a sequel to the first where both books tie together? Or are you trying to keep them separate?

PH: See above.

TH: Did you edit anything out of the book so you could use it in the second book?

PH: I have several chapter’s worth of writing that I kept in case I needed it. So far, I haven’t used any, but you just never know!

TH: Is there anything that you want to add?  Anything you want your readers to know?

PH: Every writer wishes he or she could make the NY Times list. Breaking into the traditional publishing industry feels like bludgeoning your head against a wall repeatedly, then doing it more when you think you can’t take it.

The truth is, you can’t give up.

I’ll continue to query literary agents, and maybe move on to publishers. However, make no mistake: there is no shame in self-publishing

That’s not why I’m continuing my search for representation, either. I simply want to see my book in a bookstore, just like every other writer out there. I’m extremely proud of my membership in the independently published ranks. There are oodles of extremely talented, and equally unheralded indies out there. And I will continue to support them on Twitter by purchasing their work and giving them as much exposure as an indie like me can provide.

Bloodlines is an entertaining story that combines many classic tropes into what I think is a pretty damn good book. It has all the elements a reader wants – humor, emotion, action, unique characters and a story to back it all up.

Sure, I’m biased, but I think if you give it a read, you might just think the same thing.

Thank you for your time.

TH: And thank you for your time!

Are you interested in reading Bloodlines?  Good news, the book comes in both the Kindle version or the paperback.

4 Books That Will Help You Get Your S##T Done

Yesterday I posted a post on how I got insulted and how I turned that insult into a chance to set my first blogging goal.

Read: How I Turned An Insult Into My First Blogging Goal

In that post, I named off a few big names of gurus that have written books that I have read about goal setting.

I wanted to quickly share with you a small list of my top 4 books that I’ve read on goal setting, being productive, and getting things done.

1. Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity

– by David Allen

getting things done

What I liked about this book:  Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, is about Getting Things Done.  It teaches you a method for productivity.  The premise is simple.  Write down all your tasks or goals you need to get done.  Break those items up into actionable pieces.  Once your first task is done, move on to the next until you get to your goal.   This method works because once you do a brain dump, you don’t need to use your energy recalling what you need to do and just focus on completing your list.

2. Atomic Habits: Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results

– by James Clear

atomic

What I liked about this book: Atomic Habits a habit-forming book. The author breaks it down for you with simple steps that you can apply right away. It’s a more recent book published in October of 2018. Meaning, the information is fresh and new. You don’t feel like you are reading a book from some old dead doctor that shares information that doesn’t make sense to today’s world.

3. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

– written by Stephen R. Covey

highly

What I liked about this book: 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is probably one of the most famous books on this subject. If you are looking for examples of the 7 steps you can easily find examples because this information is quickly found all over blog posts and youtube. My favourite stage is in step 2. Begin with the end in mind. Simply put, what do you want in the future so you can work towards it.

4. One Small Step Can Change Your Life

– written by Robert Maurer

kaizenx

What I liked about this book: One Small Step Can Change Your Life is all about the Kaizen approach. What is the Kaizen approach?  It’s a method that was developed for creating continuous improvement by implementing ongoing positive changes.  I tried to include some of the technique in my everyday life.

Question for you!

Have you read any books on goal setting, being productive, and getting things done? If so, what did you read and do you recommend the book?

How I Turned An Insult Into My First Blogging Goal

Has anybody ever hurled an unnecessary insult at you making you feel a bit upset?

Well, that’s what happened to me yesterday. Perhaps it wasn’t meant as an insult and was just a jest. It is understandable though, I did leave a comment on the blog post trying to be entertaining, but perhaps not everyone shares my sense of amusement. Regardless, it got me fired up. In fact, it annoyed me so much that I went on the search to see who he was and what his writing was all about. Low and behold, the guy was a professional blogger. Just like that, my dreams crushed that he wasn’t just a know-it-all rookie.

adult anger angry angry face
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

To my disappointment, it turns out that he was a blogger about blogging. Not only was the blogger a blogger about blogging, but I also found out that he was rather good at it. A ton of great information on his site about the do’s and don’ts about blogging. How to blog, how to get traffic, how to make kick-ass subjects, etc. I was actually impressed and said, damn this guy is good.

He had followers in the 100 of thousands, and not sure how many posts. I’m sure he has been around for a long time and worked a hard time getting to where he is today, and it sure looked like his effort paid off.

I could have left then, but I did myself a favour and stayed on his site and read.

black and white adidas crew neck shirt
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

After scrolling through a bunch of posts, I came across one that caught my eye. It was a bit like a self-help post. Not too many people know that I am into self-help books. I’ve read my share of the goods and the bads. People like Tony Robbins, Steven Covey, Napoleon Hill, and Mark Manson just to name a few.

So what did this post have to say?

Basically, the message was to make things happen; you need to set goals and do hard work.

Of course, I knew that already, after all, I read the books right?

But why did the post excite me? It’s because I forgot about the goals, and this post reminded me. This man who, I felt, hurt my feelings, reminded me about goals.

A few minutes ago I was mad, now I wanted to make goals. I don’t get how my mind works sometimes, but I do know how to set goals.

4 Standard Steps In Making Goals.

1. Write out your goal
2. Decide when you want to complete this goal by
3. Break the goal into steps to accomplish
4. Start working on the first step

Two additional pieces of information I took away from his post was.

1. Blogging was hard
2. Most people give up

He was exactly right. I am the first person to admit that I am always trying new things and after a short while I give up on them. Not really because they are hard, but that I lose interest.

Do I want to give up?

ask blackboard chalk board chalkboard
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I’m not going to lie, the thought did cross my mind yesterday morning in crazy morning thinking. Then I read that post. Then I asked myself, was it a sign, or was it just luck that I stumbled across something that resonated with books that I’ve read before.

I am going to take it as both.

The question is though, how do I improve? How can possibly offer something of value to you? It’s only a blog about books right?

The first thought I thought, there is no way. Yes, I know, my self-defeatest attitude rides again. Then I contemplated it for a bit, and realize there are so many ways that I can take this place.

I’m going to take a look at what I feel could be an issue that I could fix. My content on my blog. Not in regards to quality, but of quantity.

In the last two weeks, I did three posts in two weeks. As I checked out some of the more prominent bloggers, I noticed that they wrote posts several times a week.

Does that actually work? I honestly have no idea, because some other sites only have one new post a week.

So using the formula up above here’s my goal for the next two weeks.

1. Write at least 5 blog posts a week
2. March 30th, 2019
3. Write one post at a time
4. Start making blog posts

And that is how I turned a frown upside down and set my first goal for this blog.

photography of a person pointing on something
Photo by Lukas on Pexels.com

Now, if you made it this far, let me know what goals you have set for yourself?