Helpful Writing Stimuli

I am learning to play different kinds of music depending on what book chapter I’m writing: Rachmaninoff’s All Night Vigil and Prelude#1 and Brahms Nocturne in g minor are effective listening for war scenes. When I listen to 1930s and 1940s Great Vocal Big Bands, I envision happy occasions. Narrow Stairs from Death Cab for Cutie works with imminent danger. Love scenes flow with anything Phil Collins. When Musa, one of the main characters, shows her temper, heavy metal does wonders for dialogue tempo. Playful moments invite Katy Perry’s exuberance. Most beneficial is that my muse shows up faster using different music.

Another device is the use of lighting. Ambient lighting versus full spectrum light changes moods. I might write with candle light for a particular part of the book. Perhaps you relish certain aromas when writing. Marcel Proust wrote conceptually of smells evoking memory in Remembrances of Things Past. If I can keep from being distracted or from eating, I’d bake cookies and let their scent support a dinner scene. Scented candles work well, too.

Pick an emotion and find music or lighting or scents for stimulating creative juices. It’s an enjoyable way to break through a writing fog.

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Gravatar-Part Deux

I have to admit I quite enjoyed my original post on the importance of Gravatars (it was the 80’s hair band collage) in this world of cyber-space. The importance of bringing a personal perspective to what is almost impersonal. And because of a writer’s conference class I attended speaking specifically on the importance of online presence and peppering that miniature baby everywhere you went. Especially, on your blog/website and making an appearance on others.

It’s like BAM here I am! BAM here I am again, and suddenly we feel like we know each other and vise-versa.

When we make ourselves seen, and our presence felt enough, our voice can be heard without using any words.

And the biggest reason I wanted to write Part Deux, forgetting the most important point that I wanted to make originally, (I somehow got caught up in all that hair) is that I look for you by that tiny representation. Your image whatever it might be when you hit the like button, and there you are — making me smile. It is a refreshing, breathtaking reminder of the time you have taken to say hello.

And I will admit…I fall in love a little with each of you.

Write On! ❤ Jessica

How to discover your writing genre

If you are struggling to find out your specific genre, check this out too! Thank you to Ryan and Jean for helping us find this!

Jean's Writing

What genre is your writing?

Thanks to Ryan over at A Writer’s Path for mentioning Literary Rejections.

The post explaining in detail the definition of each genre, is just one of the many posts over at Literary Rejections with a wealth of information for writers.

Hop over and find out which genre is right for you.

Hmm, so much to read, so little time.

I love comments, tell me what’s happening with you and if you’re not already, please follow me @jeancogdell on Twitter or jean.cogdell on Facebook!

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Choosing a Genre—Anatomy of a Best-Selling Story Part 7

Thanks again Kristen!
Team this is phenomenal advice. When headed to our first big conference the one thing the whole lot of us found out was we had our genres WRONG. It is very important that you slot yourself properly so you can talk to the right people, this happens before they even see your work. Not a big deal? Not so, this is a VERY big deal.

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Screen Shot 2014-07-30 at 10.42.33 AMUnderstanding structure helps us write cleaner and faster. Whether we plan every detail ahead of time or just intuitively have the architecture in our head, structure makes the difference between a workable first draft and a nightmare beyond salvage.

I know a lot of you are chomping at the bit right now to get writing. All in due time. Today we are going to talk genre and why it is important to pick one.

Understanding what genre you are writing will help guide you when it comes to plotting your novel. How? Each genre has its own set of general rules and expectations. 

If we don’t pick or we get too weird, we will confuse agents and readers because there is no clear idea of where this sucker should be shelved. It will also make plotting more than problematic.

Fifteen years ago, when I first got this brilliant idea to…

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Support System

Okay, okay! I need a daily goal and blocked time to write. I had a rough health patch last week and a half, and, while lying in bed watching inane television, the realization hit me over the head: MAKE a schedule and daily goal and stick to it. Yes, I also know that “life happens” and adjustments can be made. So, Plan Ahead! Write at a different time of day or write more if the time slot can’t be ameliorated. I’m listening.

I have mentioned what an effective co-writer Jessica is. She never lets me down. She takes my suggestions even when I don’t. If you follow her blog, “Send Sunshine,” you know how positive her outlook on life and writing remains. She IS sunshine. Thus, I am going to enlist her help in specific ways: making a weekly schedule and setting a goal for each day; holding my toes to the fire since she will have the schedule; continue her pats on the back when I succeed. I treasure having her in my life as a partner in crime and dear friend. We have been friends since she was 13.

That brings up the issue of a writer’s solitary life. Writing is lonely. Consider finding your own writing companion close to home or across the globe. One of the reasons for going to writers’ conferences is to find a like-minded writer pal. You can tweet, email, or Face Book each other for an “Atta boy” or “Atta girl” enriching the writing experience.

Try it. Our collegial alliance mutually promotes each other’s skills, and our varying skills complement us.

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A Villain Emerges

After revisiting the historical events prior and during Musa and Ferenc’s escapes, I now realize that WW II was an actual character. The war has all the criteria of the villain: vile, greedy, destructive, and a killer of thousands.

Wow. What an epiphany for this writer. I have been concerned for a time which war events I’d weave through the story without overwhelming the reader with facts. Well, doesn’t it make sense that the war would be another character with effects on these people in a diabolical way? Will that view enhance my writing.? I hope so.

When you think of a villain, what characteristics does she/he/it demonstrate? an antagonist for the heroes; morally reprehensible, so wicked that the motto would be “the end justifies the means?” Machiavellian, indeed.

This villain has hundreds and thousands of faces, but many were more victims rather than truly evil. Propaganda from both sides was a well-used tool to manipulate people to do things they would never have done on their own. Why did Musa and Ferenc support Germany to the near end? What pivotal events unfold to bring about their escape and realization of evil?

I would appreciate your thoughts.

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Under the Microscope: Innocence

This service is absolutely, positively amazing! What a fantastic opportunity and blog! When recently at a writer’s conference this is precisely the advice a panel of agents gave when reading out loud first pages of manuscripts and when they would quit reading. In this audience, of approximately 100 people, only 1 person made it through the 1st page of their work. The panel would raise their hands to show us where they would throw the page out and quit reading the submission. The majority of work being discarded during the first to third sentences; a few made it beyond the 1st paragraph. The lucky ones made it beyond the third paragraph. They instilled the importance of 1st sentence, 1st paragraph, 1st page! Thank you for offering this brilliant advice to so many of us hopefuls! Incredible blog!

Part Two The Worrying Wave of Weak Verbs: a cautionary tale of the murderous search for to be, to have, to do, to get, to go and to make

I cannot help but re-blog this! This post is LOADED with information for the aspiring writers of the world. Again showing, when we think we are close to a manicured manuscript, our story needs even more attention and love. Thank You so much Maria for this fantastic blog-post, at a time for myself that was most critical!! Love! ❤ PS-I was a TO BE and MADE girl…I thought I might die.

Experience Writing

Action verbs He went down the slide.
He slid. He zipped. He whooshed!

In my last post, I shared an amazing discovery, a  little book full of helpful tips called The Curious Case of the Misplaced Modifier by Bonnie Trenga. At the end of exploring Chapter Seven, you’ll recall I encountered a “there was” problem in my manuscript. After my battle with “there was”, I moved on to Chapter Four: The Delicious Drama of the Weak Verb. Finding specific verbs is important, interesting and sometimes fun, but I didn’t find it delicious.

In Bonnie Trenga’s words:

“Weak verbs are everyday, normal verbs we use all the time. However, they’re often repetitive, passive, wordy, or too general. These verbs frequently fail to clarify the action, and they make readers work too hard.”

Which verb does she start with? You guessed it, our friend “to be”. Along with the battle of “there was” that…

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Oh’ Gravatar how I 💛 you!!

It is true, less than a year ago I would have had no idea what a Gravatar was. Let alone a Avatar, Blavatar or any of their little friends, and yes, I would have likened them to a movie.  Like, what?  Dear friends…there is a difference.

What Is Gravatar?

Thank you most awesome –

An “avatar” is an image that represents you online—a little picture that appears next to your name when you interact with websites.

A Gravatar is a Globally Recognized Avatar. You upload it and create your profile just once, and then when you participate in any Gravatar-enabled site, your Gravatar image will automatically follow you there.


These impressions are a caricature of ourselves available on the internet, whatever we may want that to be, a personal depiction of who we are; anything from our high-school graduation photo ( ha-ha ), stick men, emoticons/emojis, animal or flower pictures, to the quilt-like patterns when you have yet to truly identify yourself as an online entity created by WordPress.  And these companies have made it so easy for us to set up.

I would not understand the power of this earth shattering presence until I recently went to a writers conference.  Upon entering the event, I was approached by one of the presenters, and I waltzed up to this peer, hand outstretched, as though I had known them since 1st grade.  Why? because I felt like I knew them already from that minuscule picture that I see daily when I visit any or all of their sites.  Fear not, I stopped myself before wrapping them into a hug.  It was Instant Recognition.

Good or Bad?  I say, Awesome!  We may never be on the big screen, Soap Opera’s Digest, Us Weekly or want to be, but if we can be recognized simply by a likeness for the work we diligently put out there in the great blue yonder, how amazing is that!

I don’t even think I would recognize my next door neighbor at the grocery store.

But this becomes our online business card, realtors are not the only people deserving of such recognition.  Now I hate to say – if we use our pet’s picture or that of our grand-child it would not have the same effect, so a very important fact would be to use an updated portrayal if this is our intent.  For me, this doesn’t apply, because I look the same as I did in high-school. ( Joke, my Good People ) I simply cannot get rid of my eighties hair do.

rockers hair

The power of presence, our digital imprint, the making of our personal brand!  Bam!  Gravatar!

Write on!  ❤️ Jessica!