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Category: The Writing Journey

Denise Colby's column
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The First…by @denisemcolby

December 12, 2017 by in category The Writing Journey tagged as , , ,

The First | Denise M. Colby | A Slice of Orange

The First…

Several words come to mind when I hear those words…

  • The First Noel.
  • The First Time in Forever.  Yes it’s a Frozen song.
  • And a few others I couldn’t quite remember the entire title.

 

We all know that Firsts are important. 

 

Babies have a first laugh, a first word, their first step, and so on.  Every stage of life has a first to it.  The first day of preschool.  The first day of high school.  The first day of college.

There’s always a first for everything.

The dictionary defines first as; coming before all others in time or order; earliest; 1st; never previously done or occurring.

It’s no wonder that as writers, we all have and celebrate our firsts too:

  • The first time we enter a contest
  • Submit our work for a critique
  • The first time we sign a contract
  • The first time we are published
@denisemcolby explains ... The Firsts

Even within our fictional manuscripts we have firsts:

 

  • When our hero and heroine first lay eyes on each other
  • Their first kiss (which is their last first kiss)
  • The first time they realize they love the other person.

 

And part of the fun of writing is to get it right (a whole subjective term, I know, but that’s for a different post).

So, in our first book, getting the first Chapter correct is necessary.  Writing the first paragraph in a way to grab readers is crucial.  And delivering well, the first line of the book, is essential.

  • Vital.
  • Imperative.

I think you get the idea.

Ther First Line Fridays | Denise M. Colby | A Slice of Orange

First Lines in books.

 

Now that I understand this in my writing journey, I’ve been tracking the first line in the books I read and study (thank you Leslie for the idea).  And let me say, it’s amazing how different these lines are.  Some start with dialogue, some start with action, and some start with an inner thought from the main character.

And they all start us on a mini adventure we are willing to sit and explore for hours.

Recently, my critique partner introduced me to her blog posts First Line Fridays, which are hosted by a blog called hoarding books.

The First | Denise M. Colby | A Slice of Orange

Authors and readers write their own post on their blog, then post a comment at https://hoardingbooksblog.wordpress.com/  with a link to their posts.  The post includes the first line from whatever book is near them or they are reading. I’ve seen this as a Facebook challenge before, but not as a blog post.  It’s a great way to share books and authors with other readers, so I decided to join in the fray and post my first, First Line Fridays post this past Friday.

See how I did that?  It’s my first!  And I’m super excited about it.

If you’re so inclined to read it, you can check it out here.  http://denisemcolby.com/first-line-friday-12-8-17/

And if you want to learn more about the hoarding books blog, you can go to https://hoardingbooksblog.wordpress.com/

 

Happy Reading,

Denise

P.S. I googled ‘The First’ quotes and found a website that organizes quotes by topic.  There are a lot of quotes with the word first in them.  Go to https://www.brainyquote.com/topics/first  if your inclined to take a look.


Denise Colby |The Writing JourneyAlthough new to the writing fiction world, Denise Colby has over 20+ years experience in marketing, creating different forms of content and copy for promotional materials. Taking the lessons learned from creating her own author brand Denise M. Colby, Denise enjoys sharing her combined knowledge with other authors.

If you are interested in a marketing evaluation and would like help in developing a strategy for your author brand you can find out more here http://denisemcolby.com/marketing-for-authors/

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Loss for Words by @DeniseMColby

November 12, 2017 by in category The Writing Journey tagged as , , ,

loss for words | denise m. colby | a slice of orange

I’m at a loss for words. 

 

Me.  Someone who can talk incessantly. Who never seems to max out my words each day.

Why is it when I don’t have time to write, ideas and words flow in my mind? When I’m driving, in the shower, at a kids event.  It seems that I have no issue coming up with blog post ideas and story ideas to explore or messages to write.  I’m just not in a position to actually write them.

Why is it when I don’t have time to write, ideas and words flow in my mind?

But today?  Nothing.  I even left my house to work specifically on my NaNo work and write my blog post and guess what?  My brain is mush.  I want to curl up and take a nap.

Actually I think it’s because I’m exhausted.  My bandwidth is maxed.  And there’s good reason.

My husband and I are coaching my younger son’s robotics team.  We have our FIRST Lego League tournament this weekend and we’ve been pulling more than double shifts.

We have six 7th graders on our team.  Our robotics table is a large table with Lego missions all over it and our robot is made out of Lego’s.  We program it to accomplish as many missions as possible in 2 1/2 minutes.  Pretty cool.

But wait, there’s more.

Loss for Words | Denise M. Colby | A Slice of OrangeWe have a five minute project presentation as well.  Each year is a different theme and we have to find a real world problem within the theme and innovate a new solution.  This years theme is Hydro Dynamics.  Anything to do with human use of water.

As the kids did their initial research, they stumbled onto how much water is used to make shirts.  The information we found out is fascinating.  Textile mills all over the world use a process called Wet Processing to shape, color and finish clothing.  Not only do they use A LOT of water, the runoff is full of chemicals, so the water is not reused and pollutes the environment.

There are a number of solutions out there but there are over 15,000 mills in China alone.  So getting each and every one to change takes time and money.  And honestly their isn’t enough incentive to change.

Some brands such as Nike, Adidas, Levi and Patagonia are doing something about it and we reached out to several of them.  Eileen Fisher gave us the most detailed information.  We talked with their R&D chemist and learned more than we could ever put into our presentation.  But she gave us the idea we needed for our solution.

See most of us don’t know water is used to make shirts.  So awareness is key.  If you can change people’s buying habits, it just might be the catalyst for real change.  If we ask our favorite brands if they track and measure their water use, they in turn will ask their suppliers.

Loss for Words | Denise M. Colby | A Slice of Orange

So the kids created a website to build awareness and tell people what they can do to help.  We tie-dyed our own shirts and learned first-hand how much water is needed to rinse off the dye.  We made word searches and coloring pages, as well as a glossary page of all the terms they learned over the past ten weeks. They showed to it to their friends, teachers and families and asked them to take a survey.  Out of 38 respondents, 61% didn’t know that water was used to make shirts and 68% said they would change how they shop.  We took all this information and put it into a presentation. And the kids created a fun skit to go with it.

They decided to call themselves Fiber Friends (think justice league – Fiber Friends Unite).  Water waster owns a textile plant and wastes water.  Batman, Flash, Blue Lantern, Aquaman and Wonder Woman (we have one girl and 5 boys on the team), capture Water Waster and upgrade the plant to save water.  They do a great job and have lots of fun at the same time.

What I love about it is it’s just another form of storytelling and I’ve been able to help guide them in creating it.  They learn so much with this entire program – research, problem solving, presentation skills, working together as a team.

Loss for Words | Denise M. Colby | A Slice of Orange

I’ll have to update you on how we do, but in the meantime if you want to take a look at their website, here’s the link: https://ffunite.wixsite.com/fiberfriendsunite

Hugs & Blessings,

Denise

 


Denise Colby |The Writing Journey

Although new to the writing fiction world, Denise Colby has over 20+ years experience in marketing, creating different forms of content and copy for promotional materials. Taking the lessons learned from creating her own author brand Denise M. Colby, Denise enjoys sharing her combined knowledge with other authors.

If you are interested in a marketing evaluation and would like help in developing a strategy for your author brand you can find out more here http://denisemcolby.com/marketing-for-authors/

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Am I really that shallow? by Denise M. Colby @denisemcolby

October 12, 2017 by in category The Writing Journey tagged as , ,

Am I really that shallow?

 

I always considered myself a deep person.  I can be passionate and caring and I cry at sappy stories.  I’m emphatic and wear all my emotions on my sleeve.  I love deep conversations. And I never ever wanted to consider myself shallow.  Shallow meant to me, someone who didn’t care or only thought of themselves.

 

But in the writing world, shallow could mean your writing is weak, not detailed, without substance. Our characters need to be selfish or see the world through specific lenses or they wouldn’t be very interesting.  We need details in all parts of story—setting so the reader can feel like they are there—and conflict or there would be no plot.

 

I noticed when I first started writing, my characters weren’t very defined. I had a difficult time figuring out who they would be and what they would do and when I did come up with something the details were vague.  Everyone sounded the same.  And because of that, I didn’t know where to go in my story and thus, I didn’t write very many words.

 

Why was that?  What was it that prevented me from creating a funny, engaging story?  Why did my characters for lack of a better word—lack character?  In my head the ideas seemed ideal, but when I put words down on the page none of it worked.

 

That’s when I realized I was shallow in my writing.  The thought actually made me laugh.  But the more I thought about it, the more it made sense.  And then I realized I had to do something about it.

To write an engaging story, I have to write things that I personally wouldn’t say or do.

 

See, in real life I try to think the best of people.  To not take offense or react. To be positive, and ignore the rest.  Give people the benefit of the doubt.  To not look deep into a person’s motivation, but try to accept people for who they are and not judge.

 

But if I wrote my characters the way I want to be, it wouldn’t make a very interesting book.  Most likely, it would be pretty boring.  (Hmm, that makes me I wonder—does that make me boring too? Oh don’t answer that…..I digress.).

 

Let Me Tell You Something | Denise Colby | A Slice of OrangeGoals, Motivation and Conflict

 

It became clear I couldn’t write my characters this way.  I had to come up with events and situations in their past to add depth, to create reasons why they acted the way they did.  To think of bad, horrible things.  To put into words bad, horrible things.  Give them words they would say, and reactions to the people and setting around them.  Gasp, maybe even have one of their parents not be so great at parenting. Or double gasp—someone has to die.

 

Oh but it’s so negative.  I don’t like to think in the negative.

 

So I fought with myself a bit until I realized that bad situations happen and that is how we grow.  I may not like it or give it much thought, but these things do happen and it’s important to have them happen in our manuscripts.

 

If you’re new to writing you’ll learn these three words come up quite regularly in classes and writing workshops.  Everything seems to go back to defining the GMC for each character and every writer will tell you they have to figure out what their characters GMC’s are before they can complete a book.  It matters, so spend time figuring this out.  I know for me I found it difficult to decide.  I wanted my heroine to be this, but also this, and also this.  But then she was an ‘every person’ and not unique.  And it made me so confused, I didn’t know how she would respond to any situation I put her in.  So, as I learned to narrow the GMC’s down, it became easier to pinpoint exactly how my character would react. Which in turn made it easier to write.

 

So, the answer to my question—Am I really that shallow? Yes, Yes I was. And since recognizing that, I’ve been able to learn more about GMC and how to go deeper in my writing, which in turn has helped me move closer to my goal of becoming a published author.

Hugs & Blessings,

Denise


Denise Colby |The Writing Journey

Although new to the writing fiction world, Denise Colby has over 20+ years experience in marketing, creating different forms of content and copy for promotional materials. Taking the lessons learned from creating her own author brand Denise M. Colby, Denise enjoys sharing her combined knowledge with other authors.

If you are interested in a marketing evaluation and would like help in developing a strategy for your author brand you can find out more here http://denisemcolby.com/marketing-for-authors/

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FACE your FEAR

September 12, 2017 by in category The Writing Journey tagged as , ,

Face your Fear | Denise Colby | A Slice of Orange

 

What’s your biggest fear as a writer?  For some of you, it might be putting the ideas swirling in your mind into actual words on the paper.  For others, it might be pitching your manuscript or creating social media posts.  Whatever it is, we all have them.  And all that fear causes anxiety, worry, tension, panic, despair…you get the idea (we all write characters who struggle with these, right?). If you’re anything like me, my fears prevent me from accomplishing or completing some of my writing goals.

 

So, what do we do about this?  How do we over come these fears?

 

First, you must identify it.  Write it down.  What’s your biggest fear? Stare it straight in the face.  It’s not so scary once you look at it written out.

 

Second, define it a bit more.  Add another layer of thought to it.  What specifically about it makes you have fear.  Is it the entire thing or just a part or two.  And then ask yourself, why is it scary for you?

 

Third, debunk it.  Discover counter arguments to your fear.  Find out from other authors if they have experienced the same fear.  Soon you might realize this is a normal reaction to the process and you might even learn ideas to overcome your fear.

 

Fourth, push through it. Do one task which causes fear. Ask yourself —what’s the worst that can happen?  Find a writing partner who can encourage you and help challenge you to follow through. Note: You may have to do this part more than once.

 

My Greatest Fear

 

I decided to take a 4 x 6 index card and ask myself what my greatest fear was.  What I wrote surprised me.  In my mind, I had a general overall fear, but when I wrote it down I saw something more specific.

 

I don’t always sit my butt in the chair and on the surface I tell myself it’s because I don’t have time, but deep down I’m seeing now it might be because I’m afraid.  What if I sit down for an hour session and it isn’t any better than when I started?  What if I only edit through a 600 word block in that time?  I will never finish. And so on and so on….

 

So, for me, my fear is getting it wrong.  I want to hit the mark and soar with my writing.  I’ve entered a lot of contests and shown my work, and although I get encouraging feedback, I’m still missing the mark.  And I’m afraid it will always be that way.

 

So for step 2, I had to ask myself what specifically about getting it wrong meant.  Was it failure?  Afraid of what people think?

 

I don’t think I’m afraid of what people think so much (although I want people to like my work), as I am wondering if what I write will ever be ready to publish.  I have lots of ideas, but when I write them down, they don’t sound as great as I thought they were.  And I’m afraid no matter how much time I put in, I may never achieve my goal of getting published.

 

All this fear and doubt affects what I do day to day.  How I spend my time.  My mental state when I’m writing.  And I don’t want it to.

 

So, I need to go to Step #3 and fight back.  Who decides if it’s wrong anyway?  And how do they decide? Look at how many published authors sent in their manuscript numerous times before it was accepted.  It’s just part of the process.

 

See, by writing it down, I can find counter arguments to what my fear is telling me.  And it helps calm down the panic that wants to creep in. It keeps me from letting my fear stop me completely.

 

Step #4 says to do something to face your fear, so I need to take risks and not be so afraid of doing so.  Write a blog post even if it’s not perfect and post it.  Write a new scene and show someone. Get feedback and keep trying.  If I don’t do any of these things, I let the fear win.  There is always going to be more I can add, more to improve, so why am I waiting to hit send?  Waiting doesn’t do anything but feed my fear.

 

And fear keeps me from my goals. Something none of us wants.

 

For fun, I came up with this acronym.  As we know, fear is an emotional response.  We need to stop reacting to our fear and work on ways to work through it.  So, FACE your FEAR.  Fix And Change Every Fear from Emotional to an Analytical Response.

 

All so we can meet our goals.  We all have goals we want to achieve, right?

 

So take some time and write down what your fear is and then face it.  You just might work through that writer’s block you’ve been struggling with.

 

Hugs & Blessings,

Denise


Denise Colby |The Writing Journey

 

Although new to the writing fiction world, Denise Colby has over 20+ years experience in marketing, creating different forms of content and copy for promotional materials. Taking the lessons learned from creating her own author brand Denise M. Colby, Denise enjoys sharing her combined knowledge with other authors.

If you are interested in a marketing evaluation and would like help in developing a strategy for your author brand you can find out more here http://denisemcolby.com/marketing-for-authors/

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