Saturday, October 26, 2013

Strategies for Meeting a Daily Word Quota

If you're preparing for NaNoWriMo or you've set a new daily word count goal for yourself this is the post for you. I'm writing 1000 words a day (except for weekends) as part of my plan to get back to writing my story. However, I'm not going to be doing National Novel Writing Month (50 000 words in the month of November), but my friend Dakota Densmore is (or at least she's seriously considering it)! So I decided to dedicate this post to her and all of you bloggers doing to same.

Know What You're Going to Write
It really helps to have a plot in mind when you're trying to write constantly. I found if I know what's I'm going to be writing when I sit down and open up the story document, then the words come quicker and without effort. For all you "pantsers" out there, you don't have to know every detail of what you write each day, but it helps to know the goal of the scene you're working on.

For example: In this scene the war is going to end and the treaty is going to be delivered to the castle. 
This still leaves tons of freedom as you write. Who delivers the treaty? What will it look like? Who announces the war ending? etc. etc.  

Always end the writing for the day in the middle of a scene. Even if you have to gotten to your daily quota just as you finish a scene, write a few extra sentences get the next scene started. This will make you anxious to get back writing the next day.

Split Up Your Writing Over the Day
Since my goal is 1000 words a day, I try to write 500 words sometime before I eat supper. Then I take a break after supper (watch some T.V., read, blog etc.) and then write the other 500 words. It's so much easier to make two small goals instead of one large one. The only way this works though is if you don't let yourself get away with skipping. 

Close the Internet Browser While You're Writing:
Don't cheat like I do; don't just minimize it! If you're feeling particularly weak disconnect from the internet all together.
Be Excited About What You're Going to Write
If you aren't exciting about telling your story (and dread getting words on the page), maybe you need to return to the plot board and work through some ideas. Sometimes it's okay to skip to the fun parts of your story. Writing should be fun! 

Just Write
Don't worry about editing and plot holes! I know it's hard to turn off the inner editor, but it really helps. If you can't quite forgot about something, it's okay to fix minor errors, but don't spend more than ten minutes of your writing time on it. If there is a plot/character problem that you can't fix in those ten minutes that's eating you up, have a notebook handy and jot it down, so you can access it quickly when you're doing revision.

Do you have any tips on how to meet a daily word quota? Do you have a quota? Are you doing NaNo? I'd love to hear your views on all this.

Reading: Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith (aka JK Rowling)
Listening: Jack Johnson
Watching: Income Property 

P.S. If you're wondering why I'm not doing NaNo you can read my thoughts on it from last year. Surprisingly they're the same as they are now.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

New Twitter and the Social Shelf!

Hello everybody! Hope all is well with you.

I have an announcement (that I already spoiled in the title of this post). I made the plunge and made myself a twitter account. I hummed and hawed over it for awhile; it did seem like a waste of time, and it did seem a little self indulgent. However, through a little exploration, I decided that (within moderation and done the right way) Twitter would be a good move for the blog. It would be easier to get in touch with readers and send out interesting writerly tidbits. So without further adieu, my twitter:

My "handle" is @Sunny_Smith9
In addition to creating a twitter account, I created a whole new page on this blog. If you look up and in the pages bar, you'll see Find Me Places. If you click over to that page, you'll see my social shelf with the brand new twitter account on it.

So there you have it! I'm still wandering around twitter (not unlike a toddler wandering around a candy shop) and learning, so if you have any tips/tricks, awesome people I should follow, and if YOU have a twitter handle leave it in the comments and I'll check you out. Also, let me know what you think of twitter and these new changes on SOI. 

Reading: Breaking Point by Kristen Simmons
Listening: Plain White Ts
Watching: Youtube bookshelf tours
Previously on A Splash of Photography: What a Day for a Daydream

Friday, October 18, 2013

Guest Post: Purple Moon Blog Tour

Today I bring you another guest post. We've had a few of those around here lately. This time the post comes from Tessa Emily Hall who is making a stop at A Splash of Ink for her book release blog tour. Let's give Tessa a warm SOI welcome!

Who is Tessa?
Tessa Emily Hall is a 19-year-old author of Purple Moon, her YA Christian fiction novel to be published September 2013 by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. She is also the editor over the faith department for Temperance Magazine, a column writer for Whole Magazine, a contributing writer for More To Be, as well as the PR for God of Moses Entertainment. Other than writing, Tessa enjoys acting, music, Starbucks, and her Teacup Shih Tzu—who is named Brewer after a character in her book, as well as her love for coffee.
Website:  Blog:
Twitter:  Facebook:

What is Purple Moon?
Selena's life isn't turning out to be the fairy tale she imagined as a kid. That hope seemed to vanish long ago when her dad kicked her and her mom out of the house. This summer might finally hold the chance of a new beginning for Selena ... but having to live with her snobby cousin in Lake Lure, NC while waiting for her mom to get out of rehab wasn't how Selena was planning on spending her summer. She soon begins to wonder why she committed to give up her "bad habits" for this.

Things don't seem too bad, though. Especially when Selena gains the attention of the cute neighbor next door. But when her best friend back home in Brooklyn desperately needs her, a secret that's been hidden from Selena for years is revealed, and when she becomes a target for one of her cousin's nasty pranks, she finds herself having to face the scars from her past and the memories that come along with them. Will she follow her mom's example in running away, or trust that God still has a fairy tale life written just for her?
Find “Purple Moon” on Amazon 
Find “Purple Moon” on Goodreads
Find “Purple Moon” at Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas
Like “Purple Moon” on Facebook

Behind the Scenes of Purple Moon: Brewer's Coffee Shop
I’m not sure when I decided to incorporate Brewer’s Coffee Shop into Purple Moon, but I know it was after I’d already given Austin the last name “Brewer”. Because of that, I chose for his mom to be the owner of the coffee shop. (Fun fact: After writing Purple Moon, I decided to name my Imperial Shih Tzu Brewer as well. )

I’ve always wanted to work at a coffee shop. And if I hadn’t been busy these past 3 and 4 years working on Purple Moon, I probably would have. I have several dreams, and one of them is to own a coffee shop one day, just like Austin’s mom. (Of course, it would be even more perfect if the coffee shop was in the mountains like Brewer’s Coffee. =)

Just like with my desire of writing, my desire for coffee started when I was in pre-school. I can’t remember the first drink of coffee I had—however, I can remember how happy I was every time I was given a sip of non-black coffee. In fact, every time my dad would go on a business trip, he would bring me back a miniature coffee mug. (Don’t worry, my parents didn’t let me start drinking coffee until I was ten. But I didn’t drink it regularly. And when I did have it, my parents would mostly add milk in the coffee. I couldn’t tell the difference.)

My protagonist, Selena, has many of my own qualities, such as: introverted, artsy, dreamer, wears the same style of clothes as I do, etc. So naturally, I had to have her love coffee as much as I do as well. =) One of my favorite scenes in Purple Moon actually takes place in Brewer’s Coffee Shop, but I guess you’ll just have to read the book to see what happens!

Fact or Fiction?
Guess this fact or fiction, and be sure to stop by the next blog tour stop to see if you guessed correctly! (You’ll also receive one extra entry for the “Purple Moon” Prize Pack if you send me your guess.)

“Purple Moon” Prize Pack! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

“Purple Moon” Blog Tour Stops:
Don’t forget to stop by the blog tour’s next stop to increase your chances of winning the PURPLE MOON Prize Pack! If you'd like to see the entire listing, from the beginning of the tour, please click here.

Monday, October 21st: Purple Moon Excerpt: Farkle at the Park: A Slightly Nerdy Bookworm
Tuesday, October 22nd: Teenage Dating: Tell The World
Wednesday, October 23rd: Q & A: The YA Book Stack 
Thursday, October 24th: How Much of My Personal Life Did I Put Into “Purple Moon”?: Read For Your Future
Friday, October 25th: Fairy tales & Happy Endings + Contest Winners!: Inspiring Daring 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Escapism in Novels

For a long time, my mentality as a writer was that my stories needed to be realistic through and through. While that idea is true for many areas in a novel (character personalities, hidden depths, secret agendas etc.), I've come to recognize the importance of stories being an escape for the reader.

I was reading about character growth and the author comments on the "most artificial thing" you can (and should) do to your characters: change them from the beginning of the novel to the end, transforming your character. This is a pretty standard tip in the writing world, so you can imagine it came as a little bit of a mind-bender. In real life, he argues, people don't change very much, especially after the developing years. For me, finding truth in that statement was a battle between character transformation (an element I knew good novels had) and this idea that novels must be realistic to the core.

The best way to explain how I came to realize that novels must have a bit of escapism is by quoting from a chapter of Alex Quick's 102 Ways to Write a Novel.

Chapter 34 Pg. 76

Characters, on the other hand, almost always change in some way. They go on a 'journey'; they realize their true role in life; they change their partners, professions  allegiances, nationalities, sexualities. They are redeemed or destroyed. Why do we believe it?

The first reason is that we, as readers, want to believe that people can change, even if the evidence shows that they often can't. We have a hunger for change in our own lives. We want things to improve, want wrongs to be righted; we also wish, in our own lives, for the excitement of change, for the humdrum world we inhabit to fall away. It is a powerful element of the 'escapist' nature of novels that they show, plausibly, that change can and does happen in the lives of ordinary people. 

The second reason we swallow so much change in novels is that change is an essential part of everything novels are. In a sense without change, there would be no novel. 

Reading is largely an escape from our lives. That's what readers want, which is why writers can get away with making an ordinary man turn into a secret agent, two star-crossed lovers end up together and ultimately writing a character transformation. Although we poke fun at some escapism in novels (the cheesy endings and such) fudging some of the facts of life won't hurt your novel.

Reading: Breaking Point by Kristen Simmons
Listening: Chris Tomlin
Watching: Elementary

P.S. Please vote in the poll. I'd really like to hear what everyone thinks!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

A Splash of Ink's Video Debut

I've been playing around with a few video ideas for SOI and this one finally came into fruition. I preset to you:
Sunny Smith's Writer's Journal: A Tour
This video takes you through the pages of my journal and will give you an interesting insight into my writing habits. I made this video in hopes that you might be inspired to start a writer's journal, or get some new ideas of what to put into your writer's journal. 

Let me know what you think of the video in the comments! Do you have a writer's journal? What do you write in it?

Reading: When Gods Die by C.S. Harris
Listening: The Lion King Soundtrack
Watching: Harry Potter 

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Author Interview: Jamie Baywood

Today's post is all about the author of Getting Rooted in New Zealand, Jamie Baywood. In her interview we'll learn a little bit about how she got writing and the process of publishing her book. Let's give her a warm, Splash of Ink welcome. 

Getting Rooted in New Zealand Synopsis: 
Craving change and lacking logic, at 26, Jamie, a cute and quirky Californian, impulsively moves to New Zealand to avoid dating after reading that the country's population has 100,000 fewer men. In her journal, she captures a hysterically honest look at herself, her past and her new wonderfully weird world filled with curious characters and slapstick situations in unbelievably bizarre jobs. It takes a zany jaunt to the end of the Earth and a serendipitous meeting with a fellow traveler before Jamie learns what it really means to get rooted.

The Interview:
1. Tell us a little bit about what inspired you write a book about your experiences in New Zealand? Were you planning on writing when you moved there or did the book idea come later?

I consider myself an accidental author. I didn’t go to New Zealand with the intentions of writing a book about my experiences there. I didn’t start keeping a diary or writing until I moved to New Zealand. I wrote to keep in touch with friends and family. I had funny experiences that I had trouble believing were true. I wrote the stories down to stay sane. I wrote situations down that were happening around me and shared them with friends. I saved the emails that eventually became my book. The stories made people laugh so I decided to organize the stories into a book and publish in the hopes to make others laugh too.

2. Was Getting Rooted in New Zealand your first encounter with writing seriously or had you written in the past?

My education is in fine arts. I had a lot of art shows in California and New Zealand and even managed an art collective in Auckland. I was bored with the fine art scene. Everything has already been done before in painting, but I am the only person that can tell my own story. Writing feels like a more honest form of art than any other method I’ve tried. While I was in New Zealand I meet a director named Thomas Sainsbury, he asked me what I was doing in New Zealand. My everyday stories made him laugh and he asked me to write a monologue for him. I had never done anything like that before. I was shocked by the adrenaline rush that came with storytelling and making people laugh.

3. What surprised you most about your move to New Zealand?

How easy it was to do. It was shockingly easy to relocate to New Zealand literally a few weeks after I made the decision. It only took a couple of weeks for my work visa to go through. I was 26, single, I quit my job, I moved out of a little cottage I was renting and put the few things I had at my mom’s house and brought a suitcase with me to New Zealand.

If things aren’tworking out for you at home with relationships, instead of staying at home crying that you’re single, consider yourself free. You are free to do whatever you want.

4. What type of audience would you recommend Getting Rooted in New Zealand to? Would readers who normally read fiction enjoy your book as well?

Many of my reviewers on state that this isn’t a book they would normally read, but enjoyed it:
“I don't read much non-fiction, if any. One of the main things I loved about this book was that I frequently forgot I was actually reading a non-fiction novel. She tells the truth which I think makes this book such an easy, hilarious and enjoyable read.” –jennyinneverland (Amazon Review, 5 stars)
“Considering this is not a book I would have picked up on my own, I enjoyed it very much!” – Liz Wilkson (Amazon Review, 5 stars)
“Not normally something I would pick up by choice. Witty and funny, Jamie engages you from the beginning and I loved all the stories about the various characters she met on her journey.” – dawniechococats (Amazon Review, 4 stars)
I feel very grateful that for the most part readers understand my sense of humor. I’m always surprised and grateful when I receive a positive review. I thought my book would mostly appeal to young women in their 20s or 30s. I was happily surprised by having a couple of men emailing me telling me they loved my book and can’t wait to read the next one. One man told me my book made him laugh and cry.

5. How long was the writing process (first idea to publication) for Getting Rooted in New Zealand and did you run into any major obstacles along the way? If so, how did you overcome them?

Most of the book was written as the events happened; it just took me a few years to work up the nerve to publish. To write my book Getting Rooted In New Zealand, I relied upon my personal journals, e-mails, and memories. Some of the names of the characters and organizations, but not all have been changed to preserve privacy. In February 2013, I organized my stories into a cohesive narrative. It went through several rounds of editing and then I published in April.
I self-published through CreateSpace an Amazon company. Getting Rooted in New Zealand is available on the Amazon US and Amazon Europe sites. I would like to have the book translated into different languages.

The biggest obstacle I am finding is book distribution, I would like to have the book available to purchase in New Zealand and Australia. I’m in the process of trying to get it printed and distributed in New Zealand and Australia through, and Whitcoulls. It’s been a struggle to find a way to properly distribute the book to New Zealand and Australia.

6. Why did you choose to self-publish instead of traditionally publish your book?

Last year, we found out we had to move to England from Scotland. Rather than being displaced to a country I didn’t want to move to, I decided to be displaced with the goal of publishing. I’ve just completed a MA in Design. Designing, publishing and marketing my book was my dissertation project. Self-publishing was the fastest way to publish within the very limited time scale I had.
Self-publishing is one person taking on all of the responsibilities typically held by teams of people in traditional publishing companies. It has been a steep learning curve.

7. What steps did you take to get your book in print?

It’s astonishingly easy to self-publish, it’s a matter of uploading PDFs. CreateSpace is an Amazon company with print on demand services. When someone purchases the book on Amazon it is printed and sent to them.
8. If you have any advice for non-fiction writers (or just writers in general), what would it be?
Be yourself. Some people are going to love you; some people will hate you no matter how good your book is. Believe in yourself, no one else is going to do it for you.
“No matter how wonderful our dreams, how noble our ideals, or how high our hopes, ultimately we need courage to make them a reality. Without action, it’s as if they never existed.” – Ikeda

9. Can we expect any other books from you in the future?

I’ve been living abroad for over three years. I lived in five countries; America, American Samoa, New Zealand, Scotland and now England. I plan to divide my books by the countries I've lived in. My next book will be about attempting to settle in Scotland. I plan to move again internationally in 2014, I’m not sure where yet.

10. Do you have any other comments or interesting tidbits that you’d like to add about writing Getting Rooted in New Zealand?

I love making people laugh more than anything else. I love hearing from readers that my book is making people laugh out loud. The hardest part has been when people don’t understand my humour. I have been in a lot of situations where I had two choices: laugh or cry. I’ve chosen to laugh. I write my experiences from a purely personal standpoint. Compared to other travellers who worked abroad in New Zealand my experiences have been very unusual. I would highly recommend everyone goes to New Zealand to experience their own adventure.
I think readers need to remember this is the dairy of a young, hormonal and confused twenty-something, this is not a travel guide to New Zealand. I am sincerely appreciative of everyone that has read Getting Rooted in New Zealand. I’m absolutely grateful that readers are enjoying the book and reviewing it positively. I love making people laugh. I hope you enjoy Getting Rooted in New Zealand!

Getting Rooted in New Zealand is available in paperback and ebook on Amazon
Jamie Baywood can be followed on the following sites:

It was so great to have you, Jamie. Thanks for joining us on SOI. All the best in the writing of your next book!
If you'd like to guest post or be interviewed on SOI be sure to check out the guest posting page.

Reading: When Gods Die by C.S. Harris
Listening: Mumford and Sons
Watching: Harry Potter movie marathon!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

How I Returned to My Story Writing

I'll be honest, I hadn't written in my W.I.P since June 2013, it is now October 2013.
It wasn't a case of being distracted with another story, I just stopped writing fiction.

I wrote tons of blog posts and other prose (essays etc.), which I love doing, but I think I always knew that I left my heart in the fiction world. In a way I felt like a bit of a hypocrite because I was writing a blog on writing and books, yet I wasn't really writing. So this week I changed things and returned to my story. In this post, I'm going to tell you how I came back to a story that I loved, and how you can do it too.

Gather Your Tools and Clear Your Writing Area

I've always found that having a clean desk not only gives me space to work, but it makes me feel more productive. Once the surface was clear, I gathered my old plot notes, some fresh paper (I prefer blank for this type of thing)/writer's journal, a pen, a book on writing (102 Ways to Write a Novel by Alex Quick, really, really great resource fyi), and my music. I was ready to go.

My supplies. I always put my iPod through the stereo  (I can't focus with ear-buds in),
so that's what the little black remote is for.  

Read Through Your Notes and Manuscript to Find the Reason Why You Left:

For the first time ever, I read my entire uncompleted first draft. I've never gone back and reread when I'm writing the first draft, but since I had taken such a long break I felt it was necessary. Since I was about 30 000 words in, it took a good hour or two, but it was totally worth it. As I read, I wrote down the main plot points and any plot threads that popped up (foreshadowing I wanted to follow up with later, symbolism etc.) for each little section. I did not edit anything as I read. Don't get stuck on small things at this stage. By the time I was done reading, I had a summary of what was written so far. It refreshed my memories of the plot.

For me (and probably the majority of us who have left stories), the problem was poor plotting and characterization. I didn't exactly know where I was going and who my characters where. As I was reading I found the MC going out of character all over the place. Everything seemed to be about 70% thought out.

This was all I had written down about the story and the characters:
Scroll down to see a better view, or click on the picture to
make it bigger. 
Your problem could be: Boring characters, boring plot, not enough substance, no theme or message, topic not interesting, not enough information (research) and many many more. It's a little bit different for everyone.

Come Up With a Solution for Future Writing

It's important to look to the future and not worry about going back to fix what you've already written. For me, the solution for my future writing was made up of two parts. 

1. Write an in-depth character sketch for my main character. I read a little bit about characterization in 102 Ways to Write a Novel; I learned that my characters need to want something, have hidden depths (in the book Quick used the example of a stern teacher going who goes home after school, gets drunk and then weeps.), and change over the course of the novel. This really helped set me up for making my character sketch.  

Here are all the categories that I included in my brand new character sketch:
-Appearance (height/build, hair type/style, type of dress, eye colour, teeth) and how these features show the character's personality (e.g. the character wears long sleeve shirts because she's self-conscience about her arms)
-Social Class and the character's feelings about it (e.g. desire to move up the social caste)
-Family. List each member and the relationship status (good, estranged etc.)
-Education and attitude towards it
-Other past and present relationships (romantic, friendly etc.) and their current status and how they effect the MC currently
-Politics (You can go really crazy with this if you're writing a fantasy or dystopian novel)
-Hobbies and how they learned/became interested in them
-Food (this might be silly, but I felt like including it since many scenes take place around eating in my novel)
-Wants/desires (these are what will ultimately drive your novel)
-Strengths/Weaknesses in personality
- Fears (include hidden fears/secrets)
-How my MC is going to change throughout the novel

Not all your characters need to be this developed, just the main two or three. 

2. Write an in-depth plot summary. Again, I used Quick's book for advice and decided to use the traditional three act structure to start. It looks something like this:

Act 1-intro to the world/environment, intro to the MC, dramatic event (inciting incident) that gets the MC to discover the ultimate goal which will drive their struggle/journey/quest. 

Act 2- the MC encounters challenges that prevent him/her from reaching his/her goal. The MC will "gather forces" that lead to the showdown.

Act 3- showdown time! MC returns to the place where it all started, conflicts are resolved, loose ends are tied up

After completing that, I went a little bit further and set up plot graphs. I set up separate plot graphs for important relationships/subplots that lined up with the main plot graph, because I find it easier to see everything when the different layers of the story are laid out separately. 
The graphs don't look quite right because I didn't have room.
However, all the pieces to the graph are there.
Here are all the pieces that you'll need:

Introduction and Inciting Incident: This has the same qualities as an act one. We get introduced to everything and then the incident happens that gives the MC a goal.

Rising Events: This has the same qualities as an act 2. These are all the events obstacles that the MC has to deal with to reach their goal. They're called "rising" events because the tension is constantly getting higher and the pressure is building up so it can explode at the...

Climax: The MC has to face the antagonist (e.g. a person, a feeling, a natural disaster etc.) overcome the last struggle to reach their goal. The tensions should explode here, forcing a turning point in the story. Even if the character doesn't get the result they were wishing for, there shouldn't be anything else they can do or overcome after the climax.
For example, in Romeo and Juliet, Romeo takes the sleeping drug and then Juliet kills herself because she thinks that her husband is dead. Their goal of being together forever is resolved in a terrible way, but it can not go any further from this point.

Denouement (Falling Action): Loose ends get tied and the characters see how they are affected by the outcome of the climax. 

Conclusion: The characters' lives are back to normal (or their new normalcy). 

The final results of my plotting work:

There you have it! How I got out of my writing slump. If you've made it this far in the post, I'm impressed! I know that this was a long one. Let me know in the comments where you are with your writing, if this post has helped you, if you have any questions and what your methods of returning to a forgotten story are.

Reading: What Angels Fear by C.S. Harris
Listening: Train
Watching: Chicago Fire
Previously on A Splash of Photography: A Look Through the Water (a series of abstracts shots looking down through the lake water)
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