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The Online Writer

Do you have an online presence as a writer?  This is something that seems to come up a lot, whether at writing conferences, chatting with your writing group, or googling online tips on how to get yourself out there and get published.  I guess maybe the more apt questions is: should you have an online presence as a writer?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately as borrowed solace expands and I myself am now entering into a new realm of the internet that I have never ventured into before—that of podcasting.  My answer to both of the questions asked in the last paragraph is a resounding “yes!”

Perhaps I am biased as an editor of an online literature journal, but in my experience, much of the writing world is moving to being primarily online.  Most people have probably even googled someone to find out the scoop on them even if they are not famous, or a writer, so imagine how many people might read a blurb about you somewhere and want to learn more about you!  I believe that you should try to make sure you come across in the best light that you can when sharing your writing and, in essence, yourself with others, and the reality of this is that having a presence online is a big part of presenting yourself well.

For most writers, having some sort of website or blog serves as a great home base for anyone who wants to learn more about you.  It doesn’t have to be anything fancy!  When I went to my first writing conference almost five years ago, I didn’t have a website.  I did, though, have my Odyssey landing page which had all of the online writing I had done up to that point in one place.  When I realized that I needed to get some business cards, just in case I needed them (and I did!) and scrambled to put something together the week before the conference, my Odyssey page is what I listed next to my phone number and other prudent information on the cards.  It wasn’t the most professional thing, per se, since the web address wasn’t a nice clean “name.com,” but it worked! (and I updated to just regular old AddeyVaters.com later)

If you are hesitant to start a website or are technologically challenged, you can create something very similar to what I had at Odyssey with a free blog hosting site such as WordPress or Wix (both platforms that I and the other editors have used at different times).  Your website address will end up being something like “name.wordpress.com” if you go the free route, but that is a perfectly serviceable place to start if you would like to build up your web presence!  Starting with something is better than nothing, and it’s always smart to set the groundwork for marketing yourself in the future.

If you decide to create a website, it can be very helpful to dip your toes into the social media pool by having at least one platform that you use in a more professional capacity, too.  I would recommend starting out with Twitter.  Twitter has a lively writing community with lots of hashtags that are easy to use, and that get yourself out there. I even think it’s fun to get involved in the conversation!  By creating at least one professional writer profile on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Tumblr, you can ping back and forth with your website, linking to your website on Twitter and vice versa.  Many journals will publicize the writers that they publish on social media, and you can in turn link to any relevant publications you have on social media and on your website.

I always find that it’s helpful to start putting yourself out there and developing your own presence online from scratch.  It’s something that will only help down the road as you establish your writing and get more tools in your toolkit that you can use to promote yourself.  All it takes is a first step—for me it was creating my own website after that first writing conference which morphed into what is now borrowed solace and the work that goes into getting not only my writing, but the writing of all of our wonderful contributors, out there.

Are you in favor of developing a web presence as a writer?  What tools of the trade do you use to get yourself out there and promote your writing?

Episode 5: Resources

This week on the podcast, we discussed finding inspiration and spurring on creativity–essentially, how we get our brilliant beyond brilliant ideas. If reading articles and doing research to help get your creative juices flowing is your jam, then check out the links below:

Top artists reveal how to find creative inspiration

Where to find Creative Inspiration?

How to Unleash Your Creativity and Find Inspiration Today!

10 Tips to Shake Away the Creativity Burnout and Find Artistic Inspiration

And, as always, we want to hear from you!

Pretend we are playing with Nicole’s new puppy and chatting about what we’ve been writing lately. What’s been inspiring you? Comment below to let us know!

Episode 5: Brilliant Beyond Brilliant Ideas

What has been inspiring you lately? This is the question that episode five is all about: finding inspiration (plus, a new puppy!) Join Addey, Nicole, and Amber to hear about how they find inspiration and get their “brilliant beyond brilliant” ideas (in the words of Hallie Parker).

Writerly Inspirations: August Thirtieth

Happy Friday! This week on the blog we have another collaborative piece you can take with you into the holiday weekend.

Addey and I collaborated on a poem (poems are easier to write collaboratively it seems!) that you can read below.

To concoct this poem, Addey and I texted lines back and forth (we stole the idea from the poem Amber and Addey wrote a few weeks ago). It’s a fun way to get some inspiration if you’re feeling a little bit stuck–you never know where a poem or story is going to go when using this method, and usually it’s not where you would expect!

Try collaborating with a writer friend and see how your separate inspirations combine into one creative work, and check out our poem below!

Sleepwalker

by Nicole McConnell and Addey Vaters

What does it mean?

When you dream about someone–

someone lost to the dark abyss?

And no gravity exists to pull you to the light.

A light that glistens on broken shards of mirror

like the stars had fallen from the sky.

The sky might as well have fallen down–

it should have, but you held up the sky as every

night I dreamed to have your strength–

prayed that the falling stars would give me peace,

because every day I have to wake without you.

On Tropes

So the editors and I, while in a design meeting for the upcoming fall journal, got to talking about Hunger Games. I have read only two of the three books because, to me, they were a dry and slow read. Except for when the author would speed up during the beginning and ending, the prose was slow, and used a lot of tropes. Our talk about books didn’t stop there, as the Twilight series, the Mortal Instruments series, the Throne of Glass series, and so many more rely on the “love triangle” trope. I didn’t really care for the love triangle in Hunger Games, but when I went to finally watch the movies just few a weeks ago, I watched the trope play out on screen. I’m still struggling to figure out if I like the book or the movie better, but that is for another discussion. Addey, Amber, and I agree that some tropes right now are overdone in both books and movies/television.

Tropes, as we writers and readers know, are common underlying subplots to a story–building blocks to the main thread that help develop characters. If you look up writing tropes that are over done, “love triangle” is usually always the first one listed. Why? What makes people like reading about love triangles, and why do writers feel they have to write tropes?

I went to a workshop about putting clever twists on common tropes and here is what I learned: tropes are proven concepts that readers will read, but nevertheless they are common and overused. It really is a shortcut a writer can use to describe the subplot. But, tropes can also be a sort of useful tool. Tropes are a way to express an idea to an audience, and every genre can have tropes that fit just within that particular genre.

What tropes really do as building blocks is set up internal conflict and tie the theme to the story. It can help the log line, pitch, hook, and blurb because these tropes can be used as phrases or keywords for easier searches for readers which might sell more books.

Now here is the kicker–the twisted part to make a common trope yours. Play with “what if;” what aspects can be changed. I think this is why Hunger Games did so well–because the idea, the story, the conflict, was so original and different, it intrigued other readers and writers. And now, like Addey said in our conversation, the idea of Hunger Games is no longer original as other writers have used the idea for inspiration.

So, what about the setting can be unique to your world, the occupation of the hero, the time period the action takes place in, give the readers an unusual focus, or use all of these things. Try to take a trope in the genre you usually write, and then twist it with “what if” and see what you come up with. Try mixing tropes together, torture the hero or heroine with the trope, interplay with an archetype, look at tropes while watching TV or watching a movie, and see what you would do differently with the tropes used.

For some more information and a bunch of links for other help on tropes, visit the following sites:

Really Useful Links for Writers: Tropes and Clichés

14 Popular Fantasy Tropes — And How to Make Them Feel New Again

Romance Tropes

Genre Tropes

Happy troping!

Episode 4: Resources

In episode four of borrowed solace: the podcast, we heard Kelly A. Dorgan’s nonfiction piece, “Taking Care” read aloud on the show.

“Taking Care” was published in borrowed solace issue 1.1, Hinterlands.

If you liked today’s story, you can find out more about Kelly A. Dorgan and her work below:

Kelly A. Dorgan’s nonfiction work has appeared in books like Performing Motherhood, research journals like Women and Health, as well as online publications like Not Your Mother’s Breast Milk, borrowed solace, Nasiona, and Motherwell Magazine. A Pushcart Nominee who calls Southern Appalachia home, she’s a writer, researcher, and professor, specializing in the study of culture, gender, and illness. 

 To connect with Kelly, visit her website and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

“Taking Care” was read by Candy Bryant. Find out more about her below:

Candy Bryant is a veteran radio personality who lived up and down the dial and across the country. Before accepting a position, teaching and managing the student radio station, at East Tennessee State, Candy worked in television news, wrote and produced documentaries, and performed voice talent for many commercial and educational programs.

And, as always, we want to hear from you!

Imagine we’re savoring the last few nights of summer by gathering around a campfire. Amidst the scent of wood smoke and taste of burnt marshmallow, conversation turns to the latest episode of the podcast. Please comment below and join the discussion!

Episode 4: Taking Care

It’s storytime this week on the podcast. Take a moment out of your day to hear the written word brought to life in a whole new way! Plug in your headphones and crank up the volume to listen to Kelly A. Dorgan’s nonfiction piece, “Taking Care” read by Candy Bryant.

Just Breathe

Sorry I have no inspirational insight for this week. Or funny tidbits to help you all on your literary journeys.

This week has been too long and yet a whirlwind that I’m still trying to catch up to. Right now I’m just trying to remind myself to breathe. Breathe, because it’s okay to feel overwhelmed. Breathe, because it’s okay to feel anxious. Breathe, because it’s okay to breakdown a little. Your emotions are not a burden, they are not for anyone to judge.

Just breathe…because you can only go up from here.

Because not all who wander are lost. Sometimes that is where the best inspiration can come from.

So if you are feeling overwhelmed, remember to simply breathe. You are not alone. Take this post as a gentle reminder that you are fine wherever you are at, and everything will fall in place soon.

Riding the Creative Wave

Like most things in my life, I find that creativity comes in waves.  Perhaps it is the human part of me, or just part of my personality in general, but I find that I go through spurts where I am into crocheting, or waves of interest in scrapbooking (I now have more hard copies of pictures than I care to count), or weeks where I workout every single day (those are too far and between for my liking, if I’m being honest).  Creativity certainly works that way for me, too.  I would like to say that I have a fabulously in depth reason for why this is the case, but, alas, I do not.  I’m not always sure where inspiration to be creative even comes from–sometimes I feel like creating something—anything—is crucial to having a good day or week, and other times I can’t bring myself to even open my lap top and edit an old piece of writing.

I’m starting to learn, though, that this is perfectly normal and perfectly okay.  We can’t all be turned on all the time.  Both literally (we need sleep) and when it comes to creativity.  I like to think of my creative side as a faucet—some days that faucet is turned on full force, and other times it is turned off.  If it were turned on all the time, that would be a big waste of water and a drain on resources.   See, that’s the thing—there’s always only so much of a resource to go around.  I think that even includes creative power!

As I’m learning about these waves and coming to accept the ebbs and flows of creativity, I’m learning how to ride the creativity wave.  When I’m feeling creative, I go for it!  Sometimes that means writing a dozen poems in a week (you’ll hear more about that in an upcoming episode of the podcast) and sometimes that means scrap booking every free evening I have for a week or two.  There’s no one way that the creativity wave comes, but when it arrives I grab by surfboard and head to the beach.

I think that many of us, as writers and creatives, expect our brains to be turned on to creativity all the time.  That’s simply not plausible!  If you’re anything like me, you have a lot going on in life that isn’t particularly creative.  There’s work, said (nonexistent) workout routine, pets, kids, family, taxes, laundry, and lots of other things that take time away from creative pursuits.  Sometimes that means that you don’t get to be creative everyday—and that’s okay.  I’ve slowly comes to terms with the fact that the waves sometimes come crashing in when I’m unprepared, and when I would like to be in a more creative mindset, the waters are calm.  Because of this, I’ve slowly started to just accept that fact and move with the water.  It’s much easier that way—trust me!

So whether you are riding the crest of a massive wave of inspiration or currently just getting through the day to day, roll with it!  It may not be what you were planning on, but that’s okay.  Learning to float in the shallows is just as important as cresting a massive swell, so get ready.

Are you currently riding high on a creativity wave or biding your time on your pool floatie until inspiration strikes?

Episode 3: Resources

In episode 3 of borrowed solace: the podcast, Addey and Amber discussed all things horror and suspense.

If you are interested in learning more about utilizing suspense and horror in your own writing, check out some of the resources listed below:

Suspense | Literary Devices

How to Create Suspense in Writing

9 Tricks to Writing Suspense Fiction

The Horror Genre: On Writing Horror and Avoiding Clichés

Horror Writers Association

And, as always, we want to hear from you!

Pretend we’re at a summer barbecue together, melting in the heat while in need of some good writerly discussion to pass the afternoon, and leave your comments below! Discussions only work if there’s input from all sides, and we can’t wait to hear what you think.