Bloggiesta Spring 2014 – Finish Line

I’ve had this blog for awhile now, and more often than not it’s ended up ignored.  With The Writing Sidekick about to really get started, it’s probably a really good time for me to clean up house over here.  So here are my goals for the Spring 2014 Bloggiesta:

  • My about pages are pretty lame.  I want to clean those up. – maybe even add something for my soon-to-be novel in progress
  • Categories/tags
  • Google + hangout
  • Twitter chats!

What are your goals for Bloggiesta?


Update: Success!  The twitter chats and Google + hangout were awesome.  I made some tweaks to my about pages which was great, but it was really the things that I learned in these chats that are really got a lot out of.


The Writing Sidekick….oh boy here we go!

So I was feeling brave the other day and signed up for The Writing Sidekick.  I’ve had an eye on NaNoWriMo but it just keeped so…intense.  I like the idea of dipping my toe in to the formal writing work with this lighter version.


I have no idea what I’m going to write yet.  I had the idea for a book series I mentioned before, but I’m not sure if I can really make a full story out of it.  At this point my goal is to just scribble thoughts and ideas and make a game-time decision about what to write when April 1st rolls around.

Point of View and Tense

This morning I woke up with an idea for a novel.  Actually the first of possibly a series.  A couple weeks ago I mentioned I had my first real go at writing, but I really don’t think that story is going anywhere.  It was the flash of a scene that I just can’t find a place for in a larger story.  So I’m essentially starting over…but I guess it’s all part of the process.

Anyway I had this idea and after making a few notes, I started writing.  I got about two sentences in and then stopped as I really started to think about tense.  It’s a pretty big decision to be made when nothing is really written.

I always figured I’d go with the classic third person past tense, but in this case I’m not so sure.  I think the think that’s going to make my story different and memorable is my idea for the narrator.  In order to really sell the narrator…I think he needs to tell the story from a first person point of view.  More importantly I think that in order to get the more limited and what-you-see-is-what-you-get view that it’s going to have to be in the present tense.

First person present tense…oh boy.  Just a casual glance around the internet about point of view and tense will tell you that some people HATE first person present tense.  I’m also pretty sure it’s going to slow down my writing making sure I keep track of keeping it consistent.  I’m a little nervous but I think I need to start out giving this a real try.

What do you think about point of view and tense?  Would you put down a story if it isn’t written in the tense you’re more comfortable with? What do you find the easiest to write?

I actually wrote something? Thanks Pinterest!

Today I wrote something. 1,551 words is by no means a novel (at this point I’m guessing it’s like 1/3 of a chapter?) but it’s a start. I was on pinterest and saw these beautiful pictures.  Then in one of them I saw it…a scene from my book. It’s by no means the first scene (actually my guess is it’s towards the end) but I saw it. It’s probably crap and my main character still doesn’t have a name (I’m currently working with Dr. Mary Sue as a placeholder) but I wrote it and it’s a start.

I will admit I didn’t expect to actually be inspired to the point of writing something from pinterest.  I figured it would be a good place to connect with other people in the online book blogs and authors. Pinning some interesting things, trying to motivate each other. But what I actually got was the start. I still have a hard time believing it.

It’s been awhile since I posted here (silly move in the real world and all) but one of my New Year’s resolution was to really give this writing thing a try. Well today was a huge step…I started.  Now that I have something started, I really should finish it right?

So what do you do to get inspired for writing? Have you tried Pinterest? Is there a certain kind of music you listen to to try and get the creative juices flowing?

Smart Characters: How smart do you have to be to believably write them?

I finally have an idea for my first novel.  I mean I’ve had flashes of scenes here or there for a while now, but this has been my first real big picture idea.  I’ve also got a first impression of my main character…and she is a scientist.  Well I think this is going to require a bit more work.  If I want to have a smart character, how am I going to write that in a way that is believable?

Sure I took biology, chemistry and physics in high school like most people do, but that was quite a while ago.  When I went to college for my degree in business I just had to take a couple science gen-eds.  These were just things I needed to check off so of course I went for the easier Geology and Astronomy courses to get it done.  Of course I can’t imagine most authors are well versed in every aspect of their characters experiences.  It’s just impossible to know everything.

In my last post I talked about non-traditional education in MOOCs and how I was thinking about using them for beefing up my creative writing skills.  Well this might be the answer I needed.  Here is an opportunity for me to do some research.  It could give me a better idea of what she would work in when the story begins and also flesh out a better conflict that will drive the story itself.  

So I started poking around in a few of the classes and was immediately reminded why I didn’t pursue physics beyond that first class in high school.  There might be some valuable pieces in here that I can read and understand, but most of it is just completely over my head.  Maybe I should go for this instead?

I certainly don’t want to write a story that just spits out technical science jargon, but I do want to have a smart character who helps the central conflict with her specialized knowledge.  In order for it to be believable I would think it needs to come from a place of truth but how much of that is on me to learn?

What do you do when you are thinking about having a smart character?  Do you find an expert who you can bounce ideas off of throughout the process?  Do you learn as much as you can up front? Or do you just write something that seems interesting and just fact check later?

A Non-Traditional Education: MIT’s OpenCourseWare

While I’ve taken a few English courses over the years, it was always more what I had to do instead of what I wanted to do.  Taking a class in something like creative writing was even more out of the question.  This was all great in getting my degree and current job, but is certainly less helpful in my goal of writing a novel.

I actually stumbled upon this link through pinterest.  Now I had heard of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) before, but had no idea that MIT was doing it on such a large scale.  I mean there are courses for all kinds of areas of study.  Check it out.

I’m sure we are a long way away from being able to substitute an actual degree with this kind of coursework.  But for someone like me who just wants to go back and learn a bit more without any pressure or costs, this seems like a great option.

Looking up courses by topic I found some Creative Writing courses (under Humanities and Literature).  There were a number of choices, but none were quite what I was looking for.

I have been trying to find other places that have the kind of course work I’m looking for, but no such luck (although I am going to save this copyright one in case I ever to get something written down and want to have a better sense of what I would need to do).

What do you think about MOOCs? Have you found any that are good for creative writing? Should I just think about a more traditional literature course as a way to learn more in preparation for trying to write something?

Using a Pen Name: Will it get me into trouble later?

As I already mentioned in my About page when I decided to start blogging I decided to go with a pen name: Samantha Tule.  I ended up choosing to do that for a few reasons.


First off, when it comes to using the internet in general I like my privacy.  Even if you did know my real know you probably couldn’t find me on Facebook.  I just feel generally safer having a certain level of control over what information is available to the public.  Now if you think about a wanna-be blogger who is thinking about adding wanna-be author to her title, it just doesn’t make any sense.  I mean if the only people who are going to read what I have to say are going to be my current friends and family, the whole idea of trying to publish just gets a bit silly.  (Not to mention that all of this might just go no where so then said friends and family will be none the wiser).  So this new identity gives me a chance to connect to the whole world of readers and writers in a way my real name can’t.


The other big driver for me was branding.  If you google Samantha Tule, it’s now pretty much all of my stuff that you will find.  If you found me here, you can very easily find me at my other blog for book reviews, on Goodreads or on Twitter.  Since I put some effort into picking out my name, I knew that I was going to be able to use it pretty consistently.  I don’t have to worry about being Jane Smith8 in one place and JaneSmith811 in another.


In terms of publishing, which is the general goal, I had already done some high level research when considering a pen name.  I found out that Amazon is easy to work with when it comes to using pen names.  It keeps your identity private, but still lets you get paid in a legitimate way.  So that was good enough for me to get started back in February.  


Now that I want to get more serious about getting started, I started to think more about copyright.  I mean if no one knows who I really am, how could I defend it if it starts getting stolen?  There is actually spelled out quite clearly by the US Copyright Office.  They give you options for whether or not you want them to know who you really are.  At this point I’m guessing that I would rather be safe than sorry and let them know who I am (and just hope no one out in the internet world cares enough to try and hunt down my real name).  In reality I probably should worry about getting something worth copyrighting before worrying to much about how to do it.


So what do you think about pen names?  Do you think it does more harm than good?