Stepping into the forest of my mind

Stepping into the forest of my mind
Just as every journey begins with a first step, every story begins with the first word.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Insecure Writers Want to Know: Do you read widely or only within the genre(s) you create stories? What motivates your reading choice?


Hello and welcome to Adventures in Writing! I’m so glad you are visiting. I have the honor of being one of the IWSG co-hosts for March. My fellow co-hosts are Sarah - The Faux Fountain Pen, Jacqui Murray, Chemist Ken, Natalie Aguirre, and JQ Rose!  

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Please feel free to look around my blog! You can find writing tips and topics in the tab sections along the top of the blog. Check out the About Me section to see what I’ve been up to. Kindly follow me on social media if you haven’t already. Leave your blog link in your comment so I can be sure to do the same for you. Thanks so much.  

Now as far as this month’s question goes, I think every writer has a favorite genre to write in. My favorites are adventure stories and memoir. I need lots of action. To make a memoir story interesting, it needs action too, be it external or internal action.

But my reading preferences are wider. I feel writers should read widely in order to grow and see how the story structure matters to each genre. I read cozy mysteries or suspense and romance, and of course, adventure and memoir. But I can enjoy any story where I get lost in the plot and care about the characters. I can’t do horror, though. I’m a big chicken who has too many nightmares already.

On a different note, I just purchased a domain name through hover.com! victoriamarielees.com

Do you have a domain name? Through whom did you purchase it? Has it benefited your searchability online or with your social media? Do you use it as a landing page or as your blog address?

I do not have a website online, only two blogs: http://victoriamarielees.blogspot.com about my writing adventures; and http://campingwithfivekids.blogspot.com about my family’s camping adventures. I’m hoping to bring the two blogs together at one place on the web at victoriamarielees.com.

I’m trying to understand if the domain name is just the spot on the web where visitors can find all the links to my work through tabs on the victoriamarielees.com page and how to connect with me or contact me

OR

does victoriamarielees.com BECOME my blog address(es) and I forego the blogspot.com web addresses.

There is no one correct answer, I’m sure. Please offer any insight you may have about this.

I’d love to hear about your experiences buying a domain name and then setting up your own website or blog with the new name. Sharing experiences helps us all to learn. That’s what makes IWSG a great group to belong to. 

It will be interesting to see how you’ve tackled this month’s question. It’s wonderful having a topic to share our thoughts on each month. I am extremely thankful for all of you for being my sounding board and advisors in this writing and publishing journey.

Thanks again for visiting! Be sure to stop by Adventures in Writing again.

This post was written for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. We post on the first Wednesday of every month.  To join us, or learn more about the group, click HERE.  


Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Insecure Writers Want to Know: Blogging is more than sharing stories. It can be the start of special friendships. Have you made any friends through the blogosphere?

            Blogging through Adventures in Writing has brought me all of you, true relationships and even true friends. For that, I am forever grateful. I can’t thank you enough for sharing all your experience and knowledge in the writing field with me. Your generosity has helped me move forward on many writing projects. Seriously, thank you!  

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            That being said, I realize how small—incredibly small really!—my social platform is. 

Writers need to build their online platforms. This is what I’m hoping to achieve through my connections with you, fellow writers, at Insecure Writer’s Support Group. I try to help my friends in the blogosphere by joining or following their blogs and connecting with them on facebook, Goodreads, and twitter.  

May I please request that if you have not “followed” my blog, please do so now. And if you could, please connect with me on my facebook author page, my Goodreads page, and my twitter page @VictoriaMLees. Thank you so much. If I haven’t connected with you on social media, please feel free to give me the links in the comments section of my Adventures in Writing blog. 

But what about an e-mail list? Do you have one? 

How did you start your e-mail list?

Can you only solicit an e-mail list through a website? Can I do it from my Adventures in Writing blog? 

Do you need to solicit e-mail addresses separately for list purposes and offer a free…what? Possibly a writing tips sheet or a short story piece in order to get the e-mail addresses?

Could the document you’re giving away be a PDF document or does it need to be an e-book? 

Do I need to tell readers that I’m soliciting e-mail addresses for a list?

Do I need to offer a newsletter to the e-mail list at regular intervals?

What do you write about in any newsletter you might offer to your e-mail list? 

How difficult are the e-mail marketing services to use? Which one do you use? 

I’d love to hear any comments you may have on the topic of an e-mail list and how you do it. I would truly appreciate it. 

I’ll be interested to see how you’ve tackled this month’s question. It’s great having a topic to share our thoughts on each month. As I’ve said, I am extremely thankful for all of you for being my sounding board and advisors in this writing and publishing journey. 

Thanks so much for visiting! Remember, please follow Adventures in Writing if you haven’t already and connect with me online. Leave your blog link in your comment so I can be sure to do the same for you.

This post was written for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. We post on the first Wednesday of every month.  To join us, or learn more about the group, click HERE.  


Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Don’t Interrupt Opening Scenes with Unnecessary Details

I hope your 2021 is starting off right, fellow Writers. Let’s all hope for a healthier and safer New Year. And an end to this pandemic! 

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The Wonder of Winter

Now let’s get to the meat of the post.

Writers shouldn't interrupt opening scenes with unnecessary details. As writers, we need context in the opening scene of our stories. We want readers to know what our book is about. Specifically.

Readers come to story to see how what happens in the plot affects the characters, or rather, a particular character—our protagonist. People connect to people. We want the readers to care for our protagonist. And to do that, the reader needs to know why what happens in our story matters to our protagonist. What’s the protagonist up against in this story? What does she want?

We need to be in the scene with the protagonist and see how she’s making sense of the story/scene action. That being said, we shouldn’t constantly interrupt opening scenes with too much backstory or description. Writers need to stay in the moment in the opening scene especially.

But that doesn’t mean there is absolutely no backstory. We are inside the head of our protagonist. If our character would think of a prior life experience because of what’s occurring in the opening action, we need to show that to our readers. But we should keep it short. Only a reference to the character’s prior experience. We can elaborate later in the story.

We are enticing our readers to follow our story journey in order to understand situations in our protagonist’s life, why she acts as she does and why it’s so important to her. 

The reader needs to know what’s at stake in the story for the protagonist.

I recently printed out and read aloud the opening scene of my college memoir. Printing out pages helps a writer to actually see what is in a scene, and reading aloud helps the writer hear what happens to be sure it flows smoothly. Well this time, the scene didn’t flow smoothly. 

While I am in the head of the protagonist and making sense of her thoughts in this scene, I interrupt the scene with too much backstory about my special needs daughter—my impetus to begin college when I do. It’s just too much information too soon in the memoir story. It literally stops the forward motion of the opening scene. 

My daughter’s struggles in elementary school sometimes mirrored my own. They explain to the reader why the protagonist feels so inferior to those who went to college. However, they don’t need to be fully explained in the opening scene interrupting the action.   

Where will I put this information in the memoir story? I’m not sure at this time. Nor am I sure if I need all this information to show the reader a mother whose lack of belief in herself affects her ability to assist her children.

Writers shouldn’t interrupt the flow of their opening scenes with too much backstory or description. We should offer any important information in small doses when the character would be thinking of that information within the context of the scene being portrayed. 

I hope you’ve found some insight in what I’ve written. Please offer any tips you may have about opening scenes. It would be truly appreciated. And please ask any questions you may have about my college memoir in the comments section of Adventures in Writing. Thanks so much! 

Thank you for visiting Adventures in Writing. Please follow my blog if you haven’t already and connect with me online. Leave your blog link in the comment so I can be sure to do the same for you. 

 

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

A Fighting Chance Blog Tour with Chrys Fey

Hello fellow bloggers and writers!

Today at Adventures in Writing, I am happy to welcome Chrys Fey as she launches her new book A Fighting Chance.

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I asked Chrys to share her marketing plan and how she came up with it.

 

Chrys Fey: Oh boy, a marketing question. 

First, I came up with my marketing plan after years of experience and testing out all different kinds of marketing techniques. The thing is, you can never know what’ll work. What worked once, may not work so well a second time. What works for one book, may not create the same outcome for another book. What one author says worked for them, won’t work for every author. Publishing and marketing and social media, etc. are changing constantly. So, those are all things to keep in mind. 

Victoria Marie Lees: Great advice, Chrys!

Chrys Fey:

With that said, my marketing plan looked like this:

- I did a cover reveal in December using Xpresso Book Tours’ cover reveal service. I also shared the cover across my social media, on my blog, and in my newsletter.

- I approached ten specific bloggers to host me for 10 specific guest posts.

- I put a Google form up on my blog and asked bloggers in my community if they’d like to take part in my 3-week long blog tour. Victoria was one of the bloggers who signed up. 😊 Thanks, Victoria! 

Victoria Marie Lees: My pleasure! 

Chrys Fey: 

I didn’t have any other guest post ideas in mind, but I did have a list of pre-made questions I wanted to answer about my book/series. Participants could choose one of those questions or ask one of their own.

- I also signed up for a blog tour through Silver Dagger Book Tours. Those posts didn’t have a guest post of any kind, just my book’s info. With this book tour service, you decide how much to pay, which I found interesting.

Yes, I really did use a blog tour service while orchestrating posts at the same time. I did that because the blogs that sign up through that service are book blogs with different audiences. Plus, the more eyes on your book, the better. I’m also testing out which method is better for me.

- My blog tour includes a free (for a limited time) eBook and a giveaway, two incentives for readers.

- I gave out advanced reader copies (ARCs) to reviewers.

- I recorded YouTube videos for my channel where I talked about the book, read an excerpt, etc. Those will be posted during the release.

- I also recorded a couple of videos to post to IGTV on my Instagram.

- I promoted the cover reveal and the release in my newsletter.

- I created teaser images for Instagram using Canva. Each image has the cover art and a quote from the blurb or story.

- Scheduled tweets and Facebook posts.

- Updated my website and press kit.

- Finally, something very different…I launched a new website that was inspired by the Disaster Crimes series and A Fighting Chance, but it is NOT about promoting my books. More details below. 

Victoria Marie Lees: Thanks so much, Chrys, for sharing your insight into marketing with the followers of Adventures in Writing. And here’s what we’ve all been waiting for, friends, the peek inside A Fighting Chance.

 

http://victoriamarielees.blogspot.com


Pages: 154

Genre: Romantic-Suspense

Heat Rating: Hot

BLURB:

*A FIGHTING CHANCE is Book 6 in the Disaster Crimes series, but it’s a spin-off featuring a new couple, so it can be read as a standalone.*

Thorn has loved Amanda from afar, giving her whatever she needs as a survivor of abuse—space, protection, and stability. He yearns to give her more, though, to share his feelings, kiss her, love her, but he's worried the truth will frighten her away.

And Amanda is afraid. She’s scared of her attraction for Thorn. Most of all, she’s terrified of her ex-boyfriend, who is lurking nearby where no one can find him. When she grows closer to Thorn, Damon retaliates, jeopardizing their happy ending.

Up against an abusive ex and Mother Nature, do Thorn and Amanda have a fighting chance?

 

Book Links: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / iTunes


EXCERPT:

Amanda looked up from the current list of up-to-date payments for classes. A movement outside the glass storefront caught her eye. She tilted her head to see a man coming up the sidewalk from the side where the picnic bench sat. Through the vertical blinds, she glimpsed a square face—a short, rugged beard and long, dark hair pulled into a man bun. Her breath fled from her lungs. Her body went from icy cold to flaming hot in the span of a millisecond. She dropped to the floor and slid under the counter, beneath the ledge where they put their purses and cell phones.

“What—” Beth peeked at the windows. Then she snapped her fingers at April and pointed at the stools.

April jumped into action. She pushed the stools in so they blocked Amanda. The bell attached to the door jingled as April removed the jacket she wore and draped it across the stools, creating a curtain to shield Amanda.

From a crack, Amanda watched Beth move to stand in front of the twins, who were in their walkers playing peacefully. “I’m sorry, but we’re going to be closing.”

“I don’t give a shit. I’m here for Amanda.”

The sound of Damon’s voice had her heart beating even harder. That voice had haunted her nightmares, had come back to life in her memories.

Beth cocked her head to the side. “Who? There’s no one by that name here.”

“Don’t bullshit me. I know she works here.”

His voice was closer now.


***FREE FOR A LIMITED TIME***

THE DISASTER CURSE

 

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Book Links: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / iTunes

Author’s Note: I wrote The Disaster Curse to answer a few lingering questions readers may have after reading A Fighting Chance, and to tie the whole series together with a neat, shiny, perfect little bow. Plus, there was one disaster that I hadn’t written about yet. *wink*

 

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The Disaster Crimes Series:

*The Crime Before the Storm (prequel)

Hurricane Crimes (novella, #1)

Seismic Crimes (#2)

Lightning Crimes (free short, #2.5)

Tsunami Crimes (#3)

Flaming Crimes (#4)

Frozen Crimes (#5)

A Fighting Chance (spin-off, #6)

The Disaster Curse (short story, #7)

*Free exclusive story to newsletter subscribers.


***LAUNCHING A WEBSITE***


http://victoriamarielees.blogspot.com

 

TheFightingChance.org is a website dedicated to domestic violence and sexual assault awareness. Inspired by the Disaster Crimes series.


***GIVEAWAY***



 

Prizes: Hurricane Crimes (Disaster Crimes 1) and Seismic Crimes (Disaster Crimes 2) eBooks (mobi or epub), Hurricane Crimes Playing Cards, Girl Boss Sign, and a Volcanic Blast Scented Candle

Link: https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/23d974a92670/

 

http://victoriamarielees.blogspot.com

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Chrys Fey is author of the Disaster Crimes Series, a unique concept that blends disasters, crimes, and romance. She runs the Insecure Writer’s Support Group Book Club on Goodreads and edits for Dancing Lemur Press. 

Author Links:

 Newsletter / Website / FacebookGroup / Blog / BookBub

Instagram / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads / Amazon

  

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Insecure Writers Want to Know: As a Writer, what throws you out of a story you are reading?

What a great question. Every writer needs to pay attention to any story she reads to see if anything is not working or throws the reader out of the story to be sure that the writer doesn’t make the same mistakes in her own manuscripts. This is why it takes me longer to read a book. I’m basically studying how the author created the story and kept the pace moving forward. 

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As to what makes me question my belief in a story, one thing can be errors in a sense of place. Time. Seasons. Weather. If I know the setting where the story takes place, simple errors in where real businesses lay or the direction of streets can be troublesome for me. Like if the sun sets over the Atlantic in New Jersey in a story, I know that can’t be true—except for the tip of Cape May where the Atlantic meets the Delaware River at Sunset Beach. The writer needs to prove his or her story logic to me for me to be immersed in the story. 

One thing that can actually throw me out of a story is if the characters are wooden or not acting logically to themselves. We need to give characters reasons for their actions. We need to dive deeply into the psychology of our characters to see what makes them tick and help the reader to care what happens to them, to connect with them. A story can be filled with action, one harrowing escape or war after another, but if I’m not invested in the protagonist, there is a disconnect between the story and me.  

This especially holds true in memoir. If the reader does not care what happens to the protagonist, the memoirist, then no one cares about her story. No matter what the action is. We need to have the reader rooting for the protagonist in either memoir or fiction. 

If I say my memoir is about a woman who finally learns to believe in herself through attending college. Good for her but who cares? 

But if I say the memoir is about a mother whose lack of belief in herself affects her ability to assist her children, the memoir becomes specific. It becomes personal. It becomes real. 

Hopefully, the memoir becomes a story readers will want to read to see how she does it. Seriously, here’s hoping! 

I’d love to hear any comments you may have on these two statements of what my college memoir is about. It would be greatly appreciated. 

I’ll be interested to see how you’ve tackled this month’s question. It’s great having a topic to share our thoughts on each month. I am extremely thankful for all of you for being my sounding board and advisors in this writing and publishing journey. 

Thanks so much for visiting! Please follow Adventures in Writing if you haven’t already and connect with me online. Leave your blog link in your comment so I can be sure to do the same for you. 

This post was written for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. We post on the first Wednesday of every month.  To join us, or learn more about the group, click HERE.  

 

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Insecure Writers Want to Know: Are there times of the year when you feel more productive with your writing? Why?

            It’s probably the time issue, but I feel more productive in my writing in the winter months AFTER the holidays. Having a large family, I’m usually up to my eyebrows with family obligations, preparing meals for an extended gathering—although I’m not sure this will happen this Christmas. It didn’t happen for Thanksgiving, due to an increase in coronavirus cases in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. We had a quiet Thanksgiving, but we still used the good china, silverware, and wine glasses.  

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            For me, productive writing happens without constant interruptions from family or friends. Beautiful weather can be a problem for me, too. I love the outdoors. When beautiful weather hits—and snow counts as beautiful weather in my book—I need to get outside. My new writing room has large windows onto a wooded lot. Yep! It’s a problem. I’ve faced my desk toward the wall to help a little. I use the opportunity to “go outside and play” as a reward for a good writing day, or for a chance to think things through if I’m having problems moving forward in my writing. 

I’d like to switch gears here at Adventures in Writing and tell you about a wonderful writer you may know. Liesbet Collaert has had the most extraordinary life. She’s sailed the world on Irie, a beautiful sailboat, and continues her adventures on land, camping all over North America in her camper van Zesty. 

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Her new travel memoir, Plunge: One Woman's Pursuit of a Life Less Ordinary, launched recently in eBook and paperback and is already the #1 new release in sailing on Amazon. The global link to order Plunge is HERE. I’ve purchased a copy a few days ago and am enjoying her adventures so. 

Here’s the enticing book blurb for Liesbet’s book: 

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Tropical waters turn tumultuous in this travel memoir as a free-spirited woman jumps headfirst into a sailing adventure with a new man and his two dogs.

Join Liesbet as she faces a decision that sends her into a whirlwind of love, loss, and living in the moment. When she swaps life as she knows it for an uncertain future on a sailboat, she succumbs to seasickness and a growing desire to be alone.

Guided by impulsiveness and the joys of an alternative lifestyle, she must navigate personal storms, trouble with US immigration, adverse weather conditions, and doubts about her newfound love.

Does Liesbet find happiness? Will the dogs outlast the man? Or is this just another reality check on a dream to live at sea?  

 

You can keep up with Liesbet’s present adventures at her blog Roaming About, where she shares excellent photos and the good, bad, and difficult about living life in a camper travelling from campsite to campsite. I’ve learned lots, and I’ve camped across the United States and up into Canada with five children in a pop-up camper. You can read of my adventures at Camping with Five Kids

            You can connect with Liesbet on twitter and facebook and follow her Amazon author page. 

Writers helping writers! That’s what Insecure Writers Support Group does. I’ll be interested to see how you’ve tackled this month’s question. It’s great having a topic to share our thoughts on each month. I am extremely thankful for all of you for being my sounding board and advisors in this writing and publishing journey. 

Thanks so much for visiting! Please follow Adventures in Writing if you haven’t already and connect with me online. Leave your blog link in your comment so I can be sure to do the same for you.  

This post was written for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. We post on the first Wednesday of every month.  To join us, or learn more about the group, click HERE.  

 

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Insecure Writers Want to Know: Why Do I Write What I Write?

Albert Camus is right that many essays and stories are used to “keep civilization from destroying itself.” Documenting past atrocities is important to keep civilization from repeating the same mistakes. I think science fiction, fantasy, and horror genres can depict the downfall of civilization, too, by showing what would happen if mankind became too aggressive or too obsessive or too cruel. 


By the same token, Flannery O’Conner and many writers “write to discover what [they] know.” Of course the writers then need to revise what they have written to be sure they make a point.

I feel F. Scott Fitzgerald sums up the question of why we write what we write best:

“You don’t write because you want to say something; you write because you’ve got something to say.”

I would like to add to his quote:

That “something” you have to say, needs to matter to the world—both the real world and the world of your story.

Why do I write what I write? I like to create stories to give people courage; courage to stand up for themselves, courage to attempt something difficult, and courage to finally believe in themselves. The theme of courage can be demonstrated in any genre, fiction or nonfiction.

To show courage through story, fiction or memoir, a writer needs to offer readers a fully fleshed out character. Someone the reader can connect to and care about. In my YA fiction, the protagonist is always the underdog, the one who needs to believe in himself enough to stand up to a bully or accept a new situation she can’t change. My protagonists need to accept the challenges that come with every new situation. They need to come to grips with their past to be able to live their present.

In my college memoir, Victoria needs to accept the challenges she can’t change; waiting to begin college until after having a family, and find the courage needed to face a classroom filled with students half her age and deal with her own struggles to learn. She needs to stand up for herself, both in the classroom and at the college, day after day, year after year, until she receives her degree.

With a courage theme, I’m still trying to come up with a title for my college memoir. Would you kindly offer your input on these two suggestions? They state what the story’s about, but I think they’re too long. Any suggestions to tighten them up? 

Power to Believe in Yourself: One Mother’s Journey Through College

Or

The Power to Believe: From Community College to the Ivy League – [The Story Behind] A Mother’s Journey 

Thank you for any assistance you may offer on the title of my college memoir. I’ll be interested to see how you’ve tackled this month’s question. It’s great having a topic to share our thoughts on each month. I am extremely thankful for all of you for being my sounding board and advisors in this writing and publishing journey. 

Thanks so much for visiting! Please follow Adventures in Writing if you haven’t already and connect with me online. Leave your blog link in your comment so I can be sure to do the same for you.

This post was written for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. We post on the first Wednesday of every month.  To join us, or learn more about the group, click HERE.