My Secret for Added Writing Power/Birth of a Novel blog hop

birth of a novel

This is a post in the Birth of a Novel weekly blog hop.

I’m afraid I didn’t get much actual wordage added to my WIP, a short story tentatively titled ‘The Welcoming Church’— about 500 words I think. But I did start some things that have added to my writing power. Mainly, things that involve turning to my Higher Power. [If unfamiliar with the term ‘Welcoming Church’, look here: http://www.welcomingresources.org/ — and remember I haven’t said what my position on this is, only that I’m writing a story about it.]

My Higher Power is God, and God’s Son, Jesus Christ, along with the Holy Spirit. I know that turns people off. But I’ve tried other Higher Powers— the Wiccan goddess, Odinist gods such as Odin, Thor, Freyja, Sif and Nanna, and the almighty non-god of the Marxist dialectic— and they just don’t pack much of a punch in my experience.

I’ve started daily readings of the complete Bible using a Bible reading plan I found online at: http://chnetwork.org/2012/08/free-resource-updated-version-of-our-read-the-bible-and-the-catechism-in-a-year-guide/      This is different from the read-the-Bible-in-a-year plans I knew as a child because it gets you through the COMPLETE Bible as the Church used it since the canon of the New Testament was decided on. There are some Old Testament books that are removed from most Protestant Bibles these days— but they were translated in the Martin Luther Bible translation into German and the King James Version in English, and Jesus actually quoted from the books. So it’s great to have them included in this plan— even non-Catholics might want to read them.

Bible reading not only has a religious value but a cultural literacy one. Which is one reason I usually use the King James Version Bible translation— it is the Bible translation most used in literary quotations. I’ve heard it estimated that if all Bibles vanished overnight you could reconstruct one using all the Bible quotations in English language books!

Prayer is another thing. Not just prayer asking God to fix things for ME. There is such a thing as intercessory prayer, when we pray for the needs of other people. Just today I’m praying for a friend who is undergoing some tribulations today. I’ve even walked to a nearby church to say a few prayers. As a Catholic I pray the rosary, and also have been using a prayer book called the ‘Little Office’ which is kind of similar to the Liturgy of the Hours (Daily Office, Breviary) prayers you may have read about in history books.

Other people of course do not share my beliefs. They may have different conceptions of a Higher Power. But I personally believe that when you connect to your Higher Power, at least you don’t feel so alone in your writing struggles. You’ve got Someone bigger than you and stronger than you on your side.

Have you ever turned to God/your Higher Power in regards to your writing? Did it help you?

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Birth of a Novel blog hop: July 10, 2015

birth of a novelThis is a post in the Birth of a Novel weekly blog hop.

This week has been a week of Not Doing Things with my writing. I haven’t written poems daily, I haven’t done much work on my current short story, or in editing a previous short story.

All I’ve done, is that I’ve written a couple of book reviews that I had been intending to write. Both were posted both on Goodreads and on Amazon.

I was inspired by the fact that when I rated author Daniella Bova’s books recently, she sent me a private message thanking me. I mentioned that I had a short poetry book out which was available as a free ebook, and she said she’d read it.

When I reviewed the second ‘book’, actually a short story called Voices from the Void by Mirtika, I sent a private Facebook message to Mirtika. Haven’t got a response yet, but I feel by reviewing books and then telling the authors about the review, I may in time get some reviews on my own work.

Another thing: I’m thinking about setting up a small poetry-writing course which I hope will be useful for prose writers and also for homeschooling families. If the online lessons go well, I can put out a revised version as a book/ebook.

One thing I DIDN’T do this week that I should have is to try to spread the word out the Birth of a Novel blog hop. I think it’s a great opportunity to get in on the ground floor of a new blog hop. If you are a writer seeking to network with other writers who might just read and review your book, blog hops are a good thing, They get some activity going on your blog. So get over to Charity’s Writing Journey and join up! http://charitywrites.blogspot.com/

Friday Update June 19th

0619150741This is a post for the Birth of a Novel blog hop.

My writing week:

Pretty good. On Monday I submitted poems to a poetry magazine, something I haven’t done since last fall. I wrote poems every morning from Monday to Thursday. I also finished a short story I had been working on a couple of months ago.

This last was quite a surprise to me. I’ve had severe struggles with writer’s block which have lead to me not being able to finish novels or short stories.

What is different this time is that I have been working to accept myself as a successful poet rather than seeing myself as a failed novelist and short story writer. Somehow that made a difference.

In other news, my mama cat Umberto decided yesterday it was time to move her kitten. The new home she chose for baby girl kitten Norbert was my favorite chair— a recliner which I also sleep in at night. So I woke up this morning to find Umberto nursing her kitten on my chest. That’s what happens when you have a mama’s baby cat who loves to hang out with her person, and that cat has a baby. She’s torn between staying with baby and getting attention from her person. (She went into labor on my lap, but I persuaded her to move to the kitten box by the time she actually gave birth.)

birth of a novel

IWSG: How Does My Fiction Serve Others?

IM001105This is a post for the Insecure Writers Support Group blog hop.

Writing can seem like a selfish game. I spend hours at work on my fiction, and more hours scheming on how to promote myself-as-writer in the world of social media. I have Tweeted repeatedly to gain new readers for my serialized short story Death Untimely and my nonfiction Blogging Handbook for Fiction Writers. See? I’m even doing it right now in the middle of the blog post.

The way to overcome the selfish-writer thing is for me to take a good look at my work and ask myself ‘How does my fiction serve others?’ And I think every writer from time to time might ask that question.

One way my writing can serve others is as a source of non-vile entertainment. An important thing in these days when the evening television line-up seems to consist purely of risque programming, and a filthy sadomasochistic book is winning high praise from people who don’t know any better.

Another way it can serve others is by being free from the fashionable, socially acceptable forms of hate— hatred of Christians signaled by calling them ‘haters’ because they won’t change their faith as directed by leaders of leftist causes such as the the marriage redefinition movement. Hatred of Jews that’s OK because the haters call themselves anti-Zionist and ignore the fact that their beloved Hamas leaders are repeating the infamous and false ‘blood libel’ against the Jews. In the United States, hatred of all Republicans as ‘racist’ in spite of the fact that the party was founded for the purpose of freeing the slaves and the fact that black conservatives are highly popular as potential presidential candidates in Republican circles.

Another way my writing can serve is by being a source of information. I’ve learned a great many things over the years. Some of them can certainly be of use in my fiction. That’s better than creating some of the dumbed-down works of fiction we see today, especially in the YA category, to flatter readers into thinking they are knowledgeable by hiding the whole world of facts they are unlikely to know.

Finally, my work can serve by being accurate about things like the Christian faith, the Bible and the Catholic Church in a world in which many are spreading falsehoods. It seems unbelievable to me, but there are people out there who don’t even know what the Golden Rule is. No, it’s not ‘the guy with the gold makes the rules.’ It’s ‘do unto others as you would have others do unto you’.

And the Golden Rule illustrates what I’m trying to do with this blog post. I like it when people try to make me feel encouraged and uplifted about my writing. I hope I can make you feel encouraged and uplifted about yours. Your writing is not just a selfish thing— it can be part of a selfless mission to serve others. It’s up to you to find the ways that you can do that.

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One way I like to help others is by giving them a ‘like’ on their Facebook author page. If you have such a page, give me the link in a comment and I will ‘like’ it if possible. (I can’t like pages that are pro-porn or pro-anti-Semitism because of my Catholic faith. But I don’t believe in judging you about it either.) My own FB author page is: https://www.facebook.com/NissaAnnakindt

IWSG: Insecure? Because We’re Writers….

InsecureWritersSupportGroup2This is a post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group bloghop. It is scheduled for the first Wednesday of the month. TODAY is the first Wednesday of the month. So it’s not too late to join up— unless you are reading this tomorrow.

Why are writers insecure? Because we’re writers! Writing is a lonely business, from the day when you bat out your first, poorly-thought-out short story attempt until you reach the Stephen King level of success. And in our culture, we’re taught that doing things by ourselves is bad.

Schools have taught us that everything, even going to the bathroom, must be done as a group project. When teachers assigned us something in the creative-writing realm— if they ever did— they try to turn it into something more compatible with group activity. They don’t ask us to write a poem, they instruct us to count out 5-7-5 syllables and call the result a ‘haiku’. Because that way the bulk of our class time is spent in a group— having the syllable-counting explained to us, showing us examples of syllable-counted ‘haiku’, and after comparing the student-written ‘haiku’ and condemning those examples which strayed overly far from the models given.

Real writing is nothing like that. No one gives you the assignment. Something that starts out as a historical romance trilogy might end up as a Western novella— but since you are working on your own, no one will care, since it’s only the finished product that counts. And so by identifying yourself as a writer, you are identifying yourself as something scary— a loner, one of those quiet types, no one ever suspected….

The amateur writing world has plenty of chances to ease your insecurity by making your writing efforts more ‘groupish’. You are urged to sign up for NaNoWriMo where, in addition to writing to someone else’s word count goals, you are encouraged to use part of your writing time discussing all your plot points on the forum— and abandoning those that fail the group-think test. And then when you are finished with your NaNo novel, you are told that you are now required to hire an editor-for-hire, and then create a rewrite incorporating the editor-for-hire’s suggestions. And then you self-publish it and it’s OK that it doesn’t sell because the writing isn’t really yours any more, after all.

I find that any attempt to make my writing ‘groupish’ causes writing failure. Lawrence Block once refused to give many details about a current writing project of his, saying he didn’t want to ‘leave his fight in the gym’.

I don’t know much about the boxing metaphor but I do know that the more I talk over my story idea, the less likely it is that I will gather the strength and creativity to get that story idea down on paper. I can TALK about a story, or WRITE it, but not both.

And so I am a lonely and therefore insecure writer, putting in months of toil on writing ideas I haven’t laid out before a suitable group to gain their criticism, praise and permission-to-proceed. Only after I have committed a great deal of effort to making my fiction the best, it can be will any people be allowed to see it, and by then any criticism or praise will hurt all the more since at that point there will be limits to what I am able to change.

But that’s the writer’s life— my life, your life, Stephen King’s life before he was killed by his evil pen name and replaced…. So if you are feeling lonely and insecure today, congratulations. You may be a REAL writer!

Writing an Author Bio: Oh, the Horror!!!

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My Official Author Photo

I’m about to submit some poems to a publisher for the first time in years— this particular publisher, I submitted poems to about 24 years ago. And now that I’m submitting again, for some markets I need to have an official Author Bio. And, well, I’m working on it.

The author bio from the back of my book ‘Where the Opium Cactus Grows’ was the first place I looked. I corrected it from first person to third:

Nissa Annakindt is a crazy cat lady from the state of Upper Michigan. Want a kitten? No, you can’t have that one. No, not that one either. And don’t even think about that one there— the one that hisses and bites everybody. That’s Nissa’s favorite.

Nissa’s hobbies are world domination, Doctor Who fandom, having an autism spectrum disorder (guess which one?), and collecting organized crime ties.

This is what I had on the back cover of ‘Where the Opium Cactus Grows’ as an author bio. It needs work, I’m thinking of replacing ‘Doctor Who fandom’ with ‘zombie hunting’. By ‘collecting organized crime ties’ I’m referring to neckties, which I can’t actually afford to collect.

I then read up on writing author bios and came up with some good advice even though one is from (gasp!) Huffington Press:

Ten Tips on How to Write an Author Bio

Writing an Author Bio

How to Write an Author Bio when You Don’t Feel Like an Author…. Yet

Armed with the information in these articles, my computer, and my new purple Uzi (just in case), I came up with my Version 2 author bio:

Nissa Annakindt is a published poet, impoverished sheep farmer, and person with an autism spectrum disorder. Her poems were first published in ‘Struggle: A Magazine of Proletarian Revolutionary Literature’ in the Winter 1989/90 issue and her work has appeared since in ‘Social Anarchism’, ‘HEATHENzine’ and a fair number of outhouse walls. She lives on the land— well, on a house on the land— in Menominee county, in the state of Upper Michigan, USA, with her 35 or so barn cats— Umberto, Consubstantial, Scylla, Charybdis…. and her pet turkey Imelda.

This one is slightly more informative though it keeps up the weird-and-quirky author persona I’m going for. I don’t really like the phrase ‘person with an autism spectrum disorder’ but just putting ‘autistic’ would lead people to believe I had low-functioning autism and overcame that which isn’t true. I would have put ‘Asperger Syndrome’ but that’s been abolished by the government I think. (I want to include that factor because of the weird-and-quirky thing, and also because it gives me credit as a ‘minority’— disabled person— with the kind of people to whom that is important.)

For cases where I need an Even More Serious short bio, here is the stripped down and boring-ized version of the above:

Nissa Annakindt is a published poet and person with an autism spectrum disorder who lives on a small farm in Upper Michigan, USA. Since 1989 her poems have been published in various magazines including ‘Above the Bridge’ and ‘Struggle: A Magazine of Proletarian Revolutionary Literature’. She has cats.

Anyway, I’d appreciate any advice on my new bio, which I shall likely ignore in favor of including more weird cat names.