Posts Tagged ‘creativity’

Book Cover Reveal: Little Bag of Fears: A Horror Anthology

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017

Coming this spring to a bookstore near you!

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Intuition & Live & Let Live

Tuesday, December 13th, 2016

A recent conversation prompted me to think about intuition, passion and how we can create and live from the heart. Creativity can relate to anything, not just words put down on paper, a painting or perhaps an actor on the stage. Deciding to run our lives based on intuition of what is right for us can influence our entire lives, including the quality of that life.

So I’m going to get down and dirty here. When I was a kid I was bullied extensively. I’m not revealing that to elicit sympathy. No, not at all. I’m no different in that respect than many people. It took me a long time to understand how I made it easy for people to bully me. You see, I spent considerable time negating and ignoring my intuition even when it proved extremely accurate. Intuition, if I’d listened to it, would always tell me what was right for me whether it was choosing what book to write, what to wear, what to say…you name it. When I allowed others to influence what I was going to write, wear and say, I wasn’t being true to myself and sometimes the misery that resulted proved acute.

When I create passionately I’m coming from the gut. That part that says, “This feels right.” Back in the day I heard people refer to creating a book this way as, “Writing the book of your heart.” The controversy comes when some writers think this is bunk and say creating with your heart is dumb. Yes, I’ve heard some writers say this…really.

How does it relate to everyday life?

People seem to have a heck of a time with the concept of live and let live. Group think, whether it be creativity, politics, religion, trends…well…it can influence many of us to pretend to be something we’re not. Of course, this creates all sorts of problems within us, a lack of authenticity that eventually bites us in the ass. Being inauthentic always, always catches up with us. I’ve seen this happen to authors and I’ve seen it happen in so many other avenues of people’s lives.

So this holiday season, think of ways you can be authentic. Think of ways you can be who you are without demanding others be the same.

All The Things: Movies, TV Series & Horror Best Seller

Sunday, November 27th, 2016

Hello everyone. My writing world runneth over. Just a few little updates! To find details on the books mentioned, stop by here.

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NIGHTMARES & ECHOES III CHARITY ANTHOLOGY #2 BEST SELLER!

Gorillas With Scissors Press introduces a yearly horror anthology with 50% of the proceeds going toward a charity every year. This year the contributions go to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. I’m happy to say that I’m included in this year’s anthology with my spooky story Comeuppance. Just recently I learned the anthology has zipped to #2 on the Horror Anthology bestseller list at Amazon. How amazing is that?

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MOVIES/TV SERIES NEWS

In other quick catch up news, my story Blackout is still in development for television, and recently I started working on another TV series with producer/writer Marie D. Jones (Where’s Lucy Productions) and producer/writer Brian Keith Ellis. Exciting writing times. When I can reveal more on these projects I’ll be sure to let you know.

ZOMBIES AND HORROR

I finished writing my zombie series of books and I’m slowly working through revisions in between participating in NANOWRIMO in November. Although I won’t finish NANOWRIMO this year, I’m perfectly okay with that. I still achieved a lot of writing. I think December might be a good time to take a chill pill and relax a little before the new year starts.

Until next time, live, love and dream.

 

Publishing: Adapting & Surviving

Tuesday, August 9th, 2016

Gratitude is sometimes hard to cultivate, especially if you’re rolling with the punches, whatever those punches might be. I’ve been busy, busy the last few weeks, but it’s all pretty much been good stuff. Even though I have a million things to be grateful for, I’m like everyone else. Sometimes need to remind myself to do a check in and say, “Hey idiot, look at the amazing things you’ve got in your life!” Having an incredible writing career is very much one of the top spots in that gratitude list.

Like every writer at some point in time, I’ve had to jump through hoops and adapt. One of my more recent adaptations is creating more straight horror stories whether they are short stories or full-fledged novels. I’ve always enjoyed writing paranormal romance, but I realized that horror writing had grabbed me by the throat (pun intended) and was begging me to get more involved. (I recently joined Horror Writers Association as an example). Rather than strangling that desire, I am jumping in with both feet. I can tell that my creativity needs it.

So where am I going with this?

A writer, in order to survive the publishing world, has to be willing to adapt.

Over the last several months I’ve seen many authors say they’re quitting writing. Everyone has different reasons. For some it’s been as simple as transitioning into a new career they prefer or feel drawn to at this point in time. They may have been writing thirty years or twenty years and they feel there are other things they’d rather do now. If they can leave the writing career with absolutely no regrets, with a sense of “this is right” in their gut, I say more power to them. Some, though, aren’t feeling it is right in their guts. They aren’t relieved, calmed or settled. They’re profoundly sad and torn up.

Some are quitting because they are discouraged. They might be burned out and blocked. For those individuals they may need some time away from writing to recharge, reassess, and discover through self-analysis what is required to reboot their creativity. These people often come back to writing with a whole new energy, even if it is months later. Many have worked with me in my capacity as a creativity coach. I love helping them discover their way back to writing.

Then there are people who have stopped writing because at the end of the day, if they can’t get accolades, money, and significant recognition for their writing…well that’s the end game. They’re unhappy because they’ve been writing five years or ten years or even twenty and they haven’t become a NY Times best seller and they aren’t making much money. Or maybe they were a NY Times bestseller and they used to make money hand over fist. Just like anyone who used to make money in a career and no longer is, it is understandable they might feel disappointed and discouraged. Some of these writers will stop writing for a while and realize at some point they really were writing for more than money. But if you truly can’t and don’t want to write unless the bucks are rolling in, there is no shame in quitting.

I’d encourage you, though, to consider the fact that making a lot of cash in the writing world has never been guaranteed and has never been particularly easy. Learning to deal with that reality so that you can either move on to another career or to find a brand new way to keep writing in your life…that is paramount. Keep asking yourself why you started writing in the first place. If it was purely for fame and fortune so be it. If it is for the amazing love and satisfaction that can come from creating, and if that creation brings you a high, then maybe money isn’t your honest reason for doing this writing thing. Maybe it’s time to explore adaptation and discovering how to reboot that creativity and keep writing in your life.

Think about that.

RT Academy: Want Me To Mentor You?

Tuesday, July 5th, 2016

Hi everyone! For those of you in the USA, I hope you enjoyed your July 4 festivities. Back to work today with a new announcement. I’m now a mentor at RT Academy and will be able to help writers who are either just starting out or have some experience in the writing journey. Several programs are available, so be sure to take a peek. You can find all the details at: RT Academy.

RT Academy is part of the amazing Romantic Times Magazine enterprise (RT Book Reviews) that has been working with readers and authors for decades. Be sure to check out the link and see how I might be able to help you on your writing journey.

Later this week, a little exciting news about my novel Blackout!

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Writing Myths Exposed

Tuesday, April 5th, 2016

I’ve been writing since I was fourteen but didn’t start seriously considering writing for publication until about 1991. Over that time I’ve formed a lot of opinions about the writing world and publishing in general. Too many to express in one blog. The other day I looked over some old blogs and saw one from several years back I felt needs resurrection. In that blog I talked about myths I see perpetuated in the writing world over and over. I still believe these myths hold true to this day. They haven’t gone out of style. See what you think.

Writing Myths Exposed

Is there one right way to create fiction? Many people would have you believe there is. Or that there is a secret to being published. The answer is that despite everything people will tell you about how to write a book, or how not to write a book, you will find dozens of famous books that didn’t follow the rules. Rules, in the end, rarely seem to have anything to do with whether a book gets published. At the beginning of a writer’s career we’re told the rules make a difference. Do they? Sometimes. Sometimes not.

What are some of the rules that are tossed out to newbie romance writers? Well, here ya go. True or false?

You must plot every move in your fiction.

You must plot a book and know everything there is to know about the characters, their motivations, and their vulnerabilities before you start a book. After all, you can’t start a book free form and have it end up well.

False. If I can write a book without knowing all of this from the start, you might be able to as well. It depends on whether you are a pantser writer or not. If you’re a plotter at heart you probably feel more comfortable with plotting out a good chunk of what you want to have happen in the story before you start to write. If you’re a pantser you’re more comfortable with not having all this knowledge up front. In the end, many of us are a combination of pantser and plotter. Neither one is better than the other. As long as you’re writing and you’re staying creative that’s the only thing that matters. In other words…don’t worry about which one you are. If it works for you, it’s all good. Just write.

Alpha heroes never have any flaws or they have so many they might be a serial killer.

An alpha hero, or any hero for that matter, shouldn’t have any flaws. Or he can be what I call (yeah I’m going to curse), a total dominating asshole. Those are the two types of heroes the heroine must put up with and that most readers like.

False. As far as I’m concerned this is false, but some may disagree. I think a great alpha hero has flaws, but at the core he is not what I call an ass alpha. In other words, a man who treats the heroine like crap and she loves him for it. There is a balancing act between mean alpha and an alpha man who is softened by his code of honor, his belief in protecting women and children, and the simple fact that he’s not an ass when comes to dealing with the heroine. He’s still a good guy and not someone who enjoys inflicting emotional and physical abuse on women or children.

Heroines have so many flaws it ain’t funny or she has to be an alpha kick ass able to hang from trees like a monkey.

The heroine should be either totally vulnerable and act like a ninny and do stupid things, or be as invulnerable and impossible to relate to as Laura Croft.

False. Either direction is kinda overboard in my opinion. The heroine needs flaws and vulnerabilities as well. Just like the hero, she needs personality traits we can relate to. If she’s perfect I don’t want to read about her any more than I want to read about a hero who is perfect.

There’s a secret to being a best seller.

You should write exactly like NY Times best sellers because if you do, you’ll get published. False on the whole. Writing like anybody else, best seller or not, ends up making you sound like everyone else. I won’t lie to you. Homogenized writing sometimes rises to the top. It can also fail miserably. Plus, many writers discover their creativity drying up and blowing away after years of either writing a series that never ends or discovering they aren’t writing the stories they really want to write. Wouldn’t you rather write what you want to write now?

The real secret is…

So what’s the secret? There isn’t one. Publishing is a wild and crazy business with twists and turns big enough for any plot. My belief is that sticking to writing what you truly enjoy is going to keep you creative much longer than following a lot of “should” rules. Listen to your heart, keep your integrity, honor your creativity. What’s going to keep you creating for life?

Oh, and if you’re having trouble figuring that out, I might be able to help. You can find me at Creative Pen Coaching.

 

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Eight Reasons Why Some Authors Really Quit Writing

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016

As a certified creativity coach and as a writer I run into creative people every day on the verge of giving up, giving in and losing the joy that writing can bring. If you’re a writer who would stop writing if you couldn’t make money at a writing career…that’s your choice. No sweat. This isn’t directed at you. If you hurt when you can’t write, you long to write, and you feel empty if you don’t write…read on.

You stop writing because:

You used to make money at this writing thing (and sometimes a lot of it), or you never did make any in the first place.

You become disgruntled because you see books you consider crap making a ton of money. (Green-eyed monster run rampant).

You pay too much attention to other people’s careers instead of minding your own situation and just doing what you want to do and damn the torpedoes.

You follow herds because it is a group think situation, and you believe that if you only follow the herd you’ll have the same results. Maybe you will and maybe you won’t. When you don’t you throw up your hands and ask, “What’s the point?”

You sometimes follow the herd because you don’t understand or believe that you don’t have to follow it.

You don’t allow your own instincts to tell you which way to create a writing career and rely too much on the previously mentioned herd.

These are some really BIG reasons why people jump ship. They certainly aren’t the only ones. Every single writer/creative person is different.

What’s first and foremost among all of the reasons many stop writing?

YOU FORGET WHY YOU STARTED WRITING IN THE FIRST PLACE.

Return to your original reason for writing. Ask yourself what it was and use it as an anchor point when the going gets tough. Keep it in the back of your mind when you’re having that rotten day where you feel like throwing your hands up. Now, get back to work and create!

Creativity Books You’ll Love: Breaking Those Blocks

Friday, February 26th, 2016

Ever feel like you need some creativity help? You might not realize how many resources are out there for you in the battle against creativity blocks. In my video, Creativity Books Worth Reading, I give some recommendations on books I’ve found helpful in my writing/creativity journey. Enjoy!


Freeing Your Creativity: What No One Will Tell You

Thursday, December 17th, 2015

As a creativity coach I witness it over and over again. Writers blocked and conflicted, agonized, depressed. While every writer having issues is an individual situation and can’t be lumped into the same container, I can tell you the number one problem I’m noting with authors who are having long-term issues with their creativity.

They aren’t writing what they want to write.

One of the most freeing things I’ve ever experienced is realizing creativity doesn’t always operate well inside a box. The publishing industry won’t tell you this. Most other authors won’t tell you this. In fact if you say it out loud many people will roll their eyes. After all, if you write what blows your skirt up there’s even a chance some of your friends, family, and perfect strangers won’t like it or won’t approve. So you should conform, right?

Not if you want to create for the long term, be authentic, and be genuinely happy.

For ninety-nine percent of you who are in this writing gig to please yourself (which in the end is the only way creativity flourishes long term) you’ll find that going against your creative instincts can lead to ninety-nine percent of your writing career problems.

The message perpetuated in the writing world comes out in the wash as, “If I write what the market is telling me to write, what readers are telling me to write, what publishers, and agents say to write and what makes money, I’m doing the right thing.” Can an author do this for a long time? Of course. But often it catches up with them in the most unpleasant way. Unfortunately, for many writers, this can be the end of their creativity.

Let me describe a scene from long ago in my writing career. By 2001 I’d decided I wanted to write erotic romance and to write about creepy bad guys. I was jazzed every time I wrote both of these things. It felt right and it felt good. At the same time, I needed variety in order for my creativity to flourish. Maybe I wanted to write a sweeter story one month. Another month I wanted to write a historical romance set in Jack The Ripper’s London. Another time I wanted to write a story about a modern day soldier with PTSD. In yet another moment I wanted to write a romance set in World War II London. Sometimes these stories were erotic, sometimes super hot, sometimes a lot tamer. The characters dictated how hot these stories would be based on their personalities. My instincts told me what type of story I’d write next.

In the conventional romance writing industry this is often considered professional suicide.

Authors are told to have a pen name for every genre, and for goodness sake never write in multiple subgenres within romance. Conventional publishing is still (even with the advent of self-publishing) about “branding.”

Several years ago I attended a writer’s organization meeting and heard this sentence come out of an agent’s mouth. “At some point you’re going to have to stop writing what you want and write what sells.” She was talking to our group and not to me specifically, but I was hacked-off by this statement, and it was then I realized this issue was a hot button for me.

What was she really saying? My interpretation was that if an author wants to sell any book, if an author wants to make money writing then the author may have to deny her own creativity.

It may not be exactly what she was thinking. She may not have connected the ability to create with being “happy” with what an author creates. Yet, I realized in that moment that a lot of people in that room might take it as gospel.

I understood if I followed that particular agent’s advice I might as well quit writing, because it would suffocate me, strangle my creativity and make me miserable.

If writing what I didn’t want to write was the only way I could get a publishing contract, what was the point?

With the advent of ebooks and even more so with self-publishing flourishing, it became apparent that far more people could create what they wanted and publish it. Could they make money? Some could and some couldn’t. Good, right? Yes and no. Many people are still sidelining their true creativity in favor of following trends in hopes of landing big money.

Is this a bad thing? Sometimes yes. When you wake up one morning with money in your pocket from writing the one-hundredth story in a series, but are utterly and completely sick of writing, it isn’t a good thing.

At this point, many authors give up writing, because they can’t achieve their goal of making a lot of money. Many authors write with the sole intent on selling a ton of books (it’s never been about the creativity specifically), and these authors also have a different idea of what amount of money qualifies as “successful.” These authors do not find this stifling to their creativity. However if you’re a creative person who needs to write like you need oxygen, the pressure of writing “to market” can be damned painful. You may not even understand why you’re blocked.

Sometimes you don’t want to write that twelfth Navy SEAL novel. Or that twenty-second shifter or mixed martial arts novel. You’ve done one thing for too long and now the creativity inside you is drying up.  Every book is starting to sound the same. Yet you’ll ignore it because conventional publishing wisdom tells you that you should go where the money is. Even if it means torturing yourself to get there.

What’s the cure?

If you’ve been writing in a particular genre or subgenre for a long time, delve into another fiction or nonfiction arena that excites and thrills you. Write what makes you happy and you’ll have a much better chance that your creativity will flourish and grow. Let me say this as both as someone who has been doing this writing thing since I was fourteen, and as a creativity coach….if you write in a different genre you won’t die.

Disclaimer: Every writer’s experience and every writer follows a different path. I can only tell you what I’ve seen, heard, and experienced both as an author and creativity coach. I was inspired to write this piece by a blog written by author Shoshanna Evers (which you can read here). I applaud her for following her heart when it comes to her writing, and wish her tremendous creativity, satisfaction and fulfillment in her new creative journey.

 

 

Writing: Keeping The Daydream Alive

Friday, May 1st, 2015

 

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Pardon me if I’ve posted this blog before! I just emerged from several hours of writing. I’m still in that fog, that ecstasy stage when I’ve written a scene I’m very pleased with. I’m planning on jumping straight into writing more this afternoon. Strike while the iron is hot. Lately I’ve been compelled to talk more about writing and what a writer needs to keep that iron hot. Writers listen to far too many shoulds I think. There’s a lot to be said for doing things your own way and to use another tried and true saying…damn the torpedoes.

Don’t daydream. Don’t be unrealistic. Don’t have fun.

As children we are sometimes lectured to rein in our creativity, and as adults the admonitions are often equally as powerful. Adults often forget or perhaps we’ve never known, that in order to create we must daydream and we must open ourselves to possibilities. And by gosh we’ve gotta have fun.

Whether we’re painting, dancing, sculpting, drawing or writing, we have limited ability to create satisfying art if we don’t daydream. As children we did it naturally. As adults we often need to relearn how to discover the beauty of daydreaming and the benefits it can have for our creative practice.

Rediscovering daydreaming can be as easy as taking the time to remember our childhoods. As a creative people we can usually recall those blissful moments of staring outside and being fascinated with the world. Play was the ultimate in creativity.

Few things are more exciting than finding that much talked about inner child. Because without that innocence, that piece of us that says it’s all right to play, creativity can escape us.

How do we recapture that bliss? It could be as simple as trying this one simple idea:

Take a pad of paper outside wherever you won’t be disturbed. It could be a park, your backyard or even your front porch. Breathe deeply and absorb what you’re hearing and seeing. Reconnect with the part of you that wants to return to basics. Scribble. Sketch even if you aren’t a painter or into drawing. Brainstorm a story idea based on what you see around you even if you aren’t a storyteller. Color outside of the lines. No idea is too strange. No picture is too ugly. This is your recess. Children don’t know they “can’t” do something until they’re told they can’t. Remember what it was like before someone told you “no.”

Try this whenever you’re feeling creatively stifled and discover how much easier it is to access the beauty of daydreaming.

Denise A. Agnew is the author of over 60 novels. Denise is also a paranormal investigator, Reiki Master and Certified Creativity Coach.  Visit Denise’s websites at www.creativepencoaching.com and www.deniseagnew.com.