Tag Archives: writing

Volunteer Opportunities for Your Characters – Writers’ Resources

When building a character for your novel, it’s great to give them a few quirks and a job, but a volunteer position can add a lot to their depth.  It not only makes your character more of a real person, but it might also give her a reason to be in the right place at the right time and solve the crime/win the love of her crush/tick off someone who deserves it.

Since I love just these sorts of lists when I’m writing, I’m sharing them with you!  You can find this list and more on my Writers’ Resources page.

If you have any suggestions for this list, leave me a comment!  I’ll add your idea as well as your preferred link.

animal shelter

Big Brothers Big Sisters

blood drive

booster club (athletics, band, etc)

Boy Scouts

Boys and Girls Club

churches

city cleanup

coaching

food pantry

Girl Scouts

Habitat for Humanity

historical society

homeless shelter

hospice

library

literacy program

national parks

park district

political campaign

Red Cross

retirement home

schools

soup kitchen

warming shelter

YMCA

youth center

 

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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois. She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University. Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keeping and The Graveside Detective. Her short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Siren’s Call, and Subcutaneous. Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world. You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

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Jobs for Your Characters

As a writer, you want your characters to have some depth.  Maybe they need some interesting quirks, or maybe they just need a job.  I often find that when I’m cranking along on a story, it’s really helpful to look through a list of options when I need to make a decision about a character.  While it’s by no means exhaustive, here’s a list of common jobs for you to use in your creative process.  These are the kind of jobs you’d find in any typical town, so this list is particularly helpful if you’re working on cozy mysteries.  If you think of something that should be on this list, leave a comment and I’ll add it!

Looking for more posts like this?  Check out my Writers’ Resources page!


Accountant

Artist

Attorney

Baker

Banker

Barista

Bartender

Blogger

Bus driver

Busboy

Busker

Butcher

Cab driver

Car salesman

Carpenter

Chef

Cleaning lady (or cleaning gentleman?)

Computer tech

Cook

Daycare provider

Delivery driver

Discount store clerk

Doctor

Dog groomer

Drywall finisher

EMT/paramedic

Factory worker

Fashion designer

Fast food worker

Financial advisor

Firefighter

Florist

Gas station clerk

Hair stylist

HVAC tech

Insurance agent

Janitor

Jeweler

Landlord

Librarian

Mechanic

Musician

Nurse

Painter (of either homes or landscapes)

Paralegal

Paranormal investigator

Pet sitter

Photographer

Pilot

Plumber

Police dispatcher

Police officer

Printer

Real estate agent

Secretary

Security guard

Shoe salesperson

Stable owner

Teacher

Teacher’s aid

Veterinarian

Waitress

Warehouse foreman

Web designer

Welder

Writer/author

Youtuber

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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois. She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University. Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keeping and The Graveside Detective. Her short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Siren’s Call, and Subcutaneous. Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world. You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

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Character Quirks

Quirks are handy when creating characters and may even help advance the plot.  Note these aren’t necessarily bad or good things about a person, but they’re fun traits that not everyone will share. Although it’s by no means exhaustive, here’s a list of quirks you may find helpful while creating your characters.  (Looking for more on writing?  Visit my Writers’ Resources page.)

  • presses her lips together when she’s angry
  • sticks the tip of his tongue out of the corner of his mouth while he’s working on something
  • picks up rocks and throws them as she’s walking
  • can’t stand to eat a certain food, i.e. always picks tomatoes out of his salad
  • doesn’t like pets or animals of any kind
  • constantly corrects people, either on their grammar or their pronunciations
  • trails her fingers on plants, books, whatever is at hand as she walks
  • has trouble sleeping at night
  • constantly lies, even though she’s terrible at it
  • always has his nose in a book
  • constantly washes her hands
  • afraid to travel
  • hates confrontation so much she won’t stand up for herself, even when she’s right
  • really into science fiction, and it is a part of his life
  • won’t go anywhere without her dog
  • likes to blame everyone else for his problems
  • is neat and presentable, but her house is an absolute wreck
  • insists that his clothes be folded a certain way, but he won’t do his own laundry
  • refuses to take her husband’s last name
  • won’t drink out of a can or bottle, and has to pour it into a glass first
  • chews ice
  • always falls asleep with the TV on
  • talks in her sleep
  • thinks he’s an expert on everything
  • bad with money
  • talks to her dogs like they’re people
  • terrified of animals (or a certain kind of animal)
  • drinks a lot but functions
  • always reads subtitles even when he can understand the dialog
  • must be busy while on the phone
  • gestures with hands while talking, even if on the phone
  • always carries his own pen and refuses to use anyone else’s
  • constantly listening to music
  • drums her fingers on the counter when waiting
  • absolutely refuses to leave the house without full makeup and hair
  • despites coffee
  • obsessed with coffee
  • obsessed with eating healthy and drives everyone else nuts with it
  • obsessed with environmentally healthy products
  • always trying to sell you something (party products like Avon and Pampered chef, handmade crafts, or even a used car)
  • has kept all the porcelain dolls her mother collected
  • literally lives in a fantasy world (cosplay, D&D, etc.)
  • convinced she’s adopted
  • feels Christmas must be exactly perfect or else it’s a disaster
  • is an extreme couponer and hoards pantry and cleaning items simply becuase she got them cheap
  • always cold (needs blankets, socks, mitten, sweaters)
  • quit smoking and now constantly chews gum or has a toothpick in his mouth
  • always apologizes (could relate to past trauma)
  • constantly knitting things for people, even if they don’t want them
  • loves speaking with an English accent and/or using British terms, even though she’s American
  • loves British television (and thus the accent?)
  • believes in crystal healing and is constantly giving her friends stones that she believes will help them
  • hypochondriac
  • signs up for volunteer positions but never follows through with them
  • loves spending time in nature and is always outside
  • loves fountain pens and ink (this person is likely to have ink on their fingers)
  • still gets up to watch cartoons on Saturday morning
  • insists on having a perfectly clean house all the time
  • abstains from drinking any alcohol, ever (perhaps a victim of alcoholism in some way)
  • always has a book with her
  • waves at anyone who happens to drive by

This is just a handful of suggestions, but it was also a great writing exercise.  What quirks have you used or seen in fiction that you think are great?  Or terrible?  Let me know in the comments!  Please be sure to check out my Writers’ Resources page for more ideas, lists, and information on writing.

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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois. She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University. Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keeping and The Graveside Detective. Her short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Siren’s Call, and Subcutaneous. Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world. You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

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As Long as You’re Writing…A Note to Myself

It’s not always easy to write.  For me, lately, it’s been pretty hard.  I’m constantly distracted (thank you, Internet).  Or tired.  Or I have other things I feel I should be taking care of.  Or I’m just not feeling it.

It’s difficult to find a moment of silence when you have a full house and you work from home.  It’s sometimes impossible to drown out the sound of my kids fighting right behind me or playing around with various car crash sounds on the keyboard.

And I fully admit I get frustrated when I can’t find the time to write.  It seems like I shouldn’t have to fight so hard to get past the mom-and-wife stuff just to get a few words on the page.  You know what I mean.  You’ve felt it, too.

But that’s when you have to make a fresh cup of coffee, grab your headphones, blow the cat hair off your computer, and just go for it.  Even if it’s not what you were supposed to be writing.   Maybe you should be working on a freelance job or your next great novel, but you just aren’t feeling it at all.  It’s okay.  Even if it’s something that doesn’t turn out the way you wanted and you’ll erase it later (or the cat will).  As long as you’re writing, it’s okay.

Not even kidding about the cat hair thing…

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Beating Writer Burnout

It’s Monday morning. You’ve had your coffee, your avocado toast, and your obligatory half hour in front of the TV before it’s time to shuffle across the house to your desk. But for some reason, you just can’t do it.

Or maybe it’s after dinner, when you normally take a break from the real world to work on your novel. But as soon as you grab your laptop, you know your eyes will cross if you have to read your own story yet again. It isn’t bad writing, you just can’t do it.

Dog Sleeping after Studying

You may have writer burnout. This isn’t quite the same as writer’s block, because in that situation you want to write but can’t.  When you’re burned out, you don’t even want to pick up a pen.  It happens to all of us, whether we’re getting paid or not. For me, I freelance for a living and write my own stories when I find the time. I’m always writing. Most of the time I’m thrilled to be doing so, but there are days when I just want to sit around in my fuzzy pink bathrobe and watch Star Trek.

Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to help stave off burnout:

Give Yourself Goals: It’s too easy to just not write, even if it’s your livelihood. Give yourself a goal every month. If you’re writing for yourself, make it a word count or a certain number of stories. If you’re freelancing, make it a dollar amount. When you reach your goal, treat yourself to that video game that you’ve been wanting or a new shirt. People working “regular” jobs get bonuses, so why shouldn’t you?

Buy a How-to Book: There are tons of books out there on writing, and they can be just the inspiration you need to get back on track. Find one that deals specifically with the type of writing you’re trying to do, whether it’s crafting the perfect murder mystery or learning how to boost your freelancing business. This also gives you an excuse to go out to the bookstore and get some coffee!

Take a Break: When you just can’t do it anymore, don’t! There are lots of techniques for working through writer’s block, but if you’re burned out its a good idea to walk away for a little while. It gives your brain a chance to focus on something else, and maybe come up with some great ideas in the meantime!  Just make sure you go back and hit the keyboard after an hour or so.

Balance Your Checkbook: If your freelance work seems like the last thing you want to do, balance your checkbook and look at upcoming bills and expenses. For me, that’s usually enough to get my head back in the game!

Work on Something Different: There’s no written rule that you can’t have more than one story going. Tired of trying to figure out what your main character is going to do in chapter 5? Go find a new character to stalk!

While these methods aren’t going to be perfect for everyone, it’s important to give yourself scheduled breaks and avoid working too hard on one project.  Find what works for you, and keep it going even when you don’t feel burned out.  It’ll prevent future episodes and make sure those words keep coming.  Good luck!

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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keeping and The Graveside DetectiveHer short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Paradox, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

Be sure to check out the monthly giveaway!  Don’t forget to sign up for my mailing list for news and more!

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Guest Post: 4 Things to Consider When Designing Your Characters by Marielle Ann Suy

by Marielle Ann Suy

One of the most common challenges fiction authors face is creating “believable” characters. Take note, I said believable. Designing a character is different from designing a realistic character.

You may already be aware that your character needs life. You might have been searching the internet or reading books endlessly on how to make your characters feel alive. But it’s not enough.

Thankfully, I’m here to share with you the same technique I use to create realistic characters.

Artist drawing pencil portrait close-up

 

  • The Personality

Every human has a personality.

I usually start with knowing their “type.” Are they strong and tough? Are they shy and timid? Are they preppy and fashionable?

The key question here is what are they like?

If you, by some miracle, get the chance to meet this character, what would they tell you? How will they act? Are they initiating active conversations? Do they gossip? Do they talk endlessly? Do they annoy you?

By meeting them, you learn more about them. Not just how they look, but how they act. The more you know them, the better you can craft them.

Here’s an example:

Coal Lockwood is a character from Disappeared (Quesnium). He is a medieval farmer who lives with his childhood friend, Christina Evangeline. Since he’s a farmer, he’s got ragged clothes and a pale skin from all that sunlight. He’s also quite muscular (farming requires a lot of effort) for his age.

Since he was exposed to the hard life of farmers, he’s very down-to-earth. Well, down-to-quesnium, in this case. He knows how to prioritize their needs. Say, there’s no more food in the kitchen and thankfully, he was provided with bread. What he’ll do first is break it into portions. He’ll give one, maybe two, to Christina, eat half of one portion and then store the rest. Afterwards, he’ll find ways to get more food for them.

  • The Goal

Creating your character’s goal is actually easier than you think. The goal is what your character wants.

It could be as simple as being accepted by their parents to as grand as saving the world before bedtime.

The point is that your character must want something. Otherwise, there’s no story.

Here’s an example about Coal:

Coal is a simple man. With his social status, his only goal was to survive the day and the next and the next. He’s devoted to farming. During harvest season, he stores some for himself and Christina, the others for sale. He uses the coins for various needs, like seeds for the farm, food for the livestock, and for future repairs.

The better you can visualize their goal, the better they will move towards that direction.

  • The Motivation

Motivation, in its simplest of terminology, is what inspires your character to reach their goal.

Every human has a motivation, whether or not they realize it. Say, your character wants to graduate. Their motivation is their family. Perhaps, they want to give their family a better life – a better future. That’s why they want to graduate. They want to work soon to be able to support their family.

  • The Humanity

Flaws don’t make us weak, only human.

Everyone has flaws. There’s no such thing as a perfect human (unless he’s a cyborg). Making a human with superhuman strengths and no weaknesses is close to impossible. Even Superman has a weakness.

Whether it’s an object, a hidden trauma, or a person, each character must have a weakness. At the same time, they must also have strengths. Try to balance these when assigning traits to your character.

For example, if your setting is a palace in the sky, your character may be afraid of heights, but they may also have keen senses. In a thriller, action, or adventure story, keen senses are necessary.

And there they are. Those are the 4 things you should consider when designing your characters. Happy writing!

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suyA lover of fairytales and the mystical, Marielle Ann Suy is a storyteller and author. She has published two short stories. Both stories are about the sun’s disappearance, hence entitled “Disappeared.” “Disappeared (Earth)” is about a solar eclipse and how it affects the world. “Disappeared (Quesnium)” is about the sun’s disappearance and how it affects lowly farmers. A novel based on the same characters and the same premise is on its way. Stay tuned in via social media or by subscribing to her newsletter.

Social Media Links:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/MariellesQuesnium/

Twitter – @suy_marielle

Blog – https://quesnium.wixsite.com/talesofworlds

 

Disappeared (Earth) Book Links:

Apple Books – http://bit.ly/DiniBooks

Barnes and Noble – http://bit.ly/DinNook

Kobo – http://bit.ly/2DinKobo

Scribd – http://bit.ly/DinScribd

Smashwords – http://bit.ly/2DinSmashwords

 

Get Your Free Copy of Disappeared (Quesnium): http://bit.ly/QuesniumFREE  

 

 

Interested in having your work featured here?  Contact me.

 

 

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4 Self-Publishing Essentials That No Author Can Publish Without

by Rosie Wylor-Owen

Self-publishing gives authors exciting degrees of freedom over their work. We can choose how long our books can be, what to put on the covers and *squeal* how much to charge for them. When we’re bound to publishing contracts, these important elements are left in the hands of editors and graphic designers who haven’t nurtured your manuscript the way you have. Despite this, in the hands of a publisher, all the costs of producing our book babies are covered. Self-publishing freedom is not without its expense.

Indie authors aren’t known for their riches, so sometimes we might feel tempted to cut corners. While we can take steps to be frugal, there are some things we just can’t sacrifice for the sake of cost. Before you self-publish your book, take a look at the self-publishing essentials you can’t publish without:

Editing

As indie authors, we tend to have a great network of author friends who are ready to beta-read our manuscripts for some cold, hard feedback. Ouch, right? While this is hugely helpful in creating a polished manuscript, beta-readers just can’t replace real editing by a seasoned professional. Without proper editing, you could quite easily publish an error-riddled book to your adoring fans.

No matter how many times you pore over your manuscript, something – nay, a lot of things – are going to slip under your radar. Editors may cost a pretty penny but the polished manuscript you receive from them is priceless. Even if you have to save a dollar at a time, hire the darn editor.

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A Professional Book Cover

First impressions matter more than we like to think they do, and that could not be truer than of books. The front covers of our novels are the first things our readers see and are the first excuse to say “no” to our books. You might be quite artistic, but the chances of creating a fantastic book cover without some real graphic design experience are slimmer than an intern’s paycheque.

Your book title plastered across a free stock photo in sans-serif isn’t going to wow readers who have probably seen one hundred better covers that day already. Investing in a good book cover is arguably even smarter than hiring an editor, because the cover is what gets your readers to the first page. Forget about Canva and Pixabay, and start researching some good graphic designers. Your manuscript deserves the best.

Reading

This question has bounced around Facebook writing groups since time immemorial. Does a writer have to read to be a good writer? The answer is yes. Is it possible for a musician to compose good music without listening to any first? Only if they have superpowers.

Some writers insist that their writing is often complimented and they never read. Here’s the thing: a good writer isn’t just someone who can write at an acceptable level and gets themselves a few hearty congratulations from Aunt Beatrice and Uncle Tom. A good writer is a writer who is constantly improving, and there’s no better way to do that than to read regularly and write regularly. The best dishes come from the chefs who do their homework.

Networking

This writing deal really does test us, sometimes. Writing is, by and large, an introvert’s profession. We like holing up in our studies and creating in peace and quiet; no people, and lots of coffee. Bliss. So networking isn’t at the top of our to-do lists, but if we want to get our books under the noses of our ideal readers, we need a helping hand (or several).

The good news is, since the marvelous invention of social media, we don’t have to meet anyone face to face. Don’t tell me that’s not ideal.

Authors need each other to help host their book launches, to share their giveaways and to recommend their books. Without a solid backing, indie authors struggle much more to get their work noticed. Go and say “hi” in a few writing groups, and write a thank-you e-mail to your favourite indie author. You might just find friendships worth keeping.

Whether you enjoy socialising or not, we need allies on our journey; a journey we can all make together.

Whether we like it or not there are some things that we can’t do without. Books, friends, and the dastardly red pen, among other things. If you want your writing career to be a successful one, try out these ideas and see if you can take the next step towards that bestseller list.

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20157114_1802529079762912_4918685668669970332_o

Rosie Wylor-Owen was born in Worcester, England at the height of baggy jeans and boy-band popularity. Her work has been featured in the literary magazines The Fiction Pool, Anti-Heroin Chic and Ariel Chart, and the Manawaker Studios Podcast. Her short story “Arm-in-Army with Alchemy” was accepted for publication by Otter Libris for inclusion in the anthology “Magical Crime Scene Investigation.” In February 2018 she won third place in the Fiction Writer’s Global flash fiction contest for her story “In Exchange for Your Sins.”

http://www.rosiewylor-owen.com

http://www.welcometothesecretlibrary.com (blog)

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