Guest Post- 7 Tips to Write, Make Deadlines, and Not Get Lost in the Process

Hi everyone! Today I am very excited to bring you a guest post by Max E. Stone, an author who knows the struggle of writing, hitting all the deadlines, and staying focused on the task at hand. He has agreed to share some of his tips and tricks to help you be able to manage the crazy  writing life!


If your life tends to be stressful and hectic like mine, keeping deadlines is tough to say the least. Maintaining a cool head in the face of that turmoil is harder still. Add “Writing” into your “already-crazy” schedule and you could downright lose your mind.

Speaking from personal experience, there were times I’ve worked myself into so much of a ball of stress that I swore up and down it was Tuesday morning on a Friday afternoon. Since that time, exactly a year and a half ago, I’ve learned a few things about keeping cool and managing my time.

  1. Set workable deadlines

You know you better than anyone else knows you. You know what you can do in a given timeline and you know what is important to you. So dig deep. Ask yourself specific questions. One of the things I ask myself whenever I put together my work for the day, week, or month to come is this: “Of everything on my to-do list, what are the most important things?” From there, set deadlines you can work with and make provisions for changes that may come along the way. Which leads to the next tip…

  1. Start early

Life gets in the way. I’ve been there. You’re into the hour you’ve schedule for writing when suddenly you get a phone call that’s going to send you out the door for what you know will be at least another hour or two.  I’ve found that, if I have a task due in two weeks, I’ll begin for a half hour two weeks early. Then, I will do a little bit of it each day until it is completed early or on time. This way, I’ve made room for the changes that might come in the day, I can complete my other tasks, and I haven’t driven myself completely nuts in rushing to the end of that one thing to do.

  1. Don’t freak if/when you don’t make those deadlines

As hard as you or I will try, there are going to be times when you don’t make the deadline set. When that happens, don’t freak out. Don’t worry. It happens.  Just keep going and keep pushing.  You do that and everything will get done.

  1. Exercise/Get some fresh air

Straight from my mother’s mouth.

Both fresh air and exercise have numerous mental and physical health benefits. Sometimes, you have to step away from the computer, desk, etc. in the middle of the day because, frankly, you’re sick of looking at it or in my case, your eyes are burning and your bottom’s sore from sitting. At that point, I strongly encourage you to go outside, get active, go for a walk, or do some yoga. During the mornings, I run, and during the middle of the day, if I feel the need, I’ll go for a walk. So do what you can. Your body and mind will not only thank you but the quality of your day and work will immensely improve.

  1. Read

Books are awesome. No doubt about that. However, the mental advantages are similar to that of exercise and fresh air. I read for about an hour a day, whether its fiction, non-fiction, or education. I just read and let my mind take me away for just that hour. When I come back to my tasks, I’m fresh and all set to finish up what’s needed.

  1. Ask others

I spend a good portion of my day asking questions. No one person has all the answers to every question. Researching and asking questions is so essential. If you know someone who has mastered the art of managing their day, talk with them. Pick their brain and find what works for you.

  1. Rest

I learned this one the hard way and ended up not only losing a day but driving myself crazy in the process. So do yourself a favor. If you’re tired, go to sleep. Get a nap. If it’s late at night, go to sleep. It’s not only refreshing to do so, but medically necessary. Not getting enough sleep can’t hurt you and, among other things, impair your sense. Your body does a lot for you. Take care of it. Let it relax and reload.


Max doesn’t remember ever not creating a story, pen or no pen.
A writer and lover of books since the age of nine, Max first set pen to page as a hobby, constructing stories that were anything but fit for children. Entertaining classmates 13692597_1057472987641139_8414948098222036885_nwhile simultaneously concerning surrounding adults with blood-ridden tales of gory mysteries and heavy suspense that “just came to mind”, Max, with the help of family and the encouraging words of an inspiring fifth grade teacher, continue to develop this gift.
Little was it known at the time, but said gift would become a lifeline.
From horrific trauma in max’s teen years, writing played an instrumental part in the difficult recovery and the Warrens, Bennetts, and Johnsons, three interconnected families all with issues, mysteries, and secrets that threaten their livelihood and lives, were born.
Max reads everything and everyone and relishes the journey, learning something new each day.
Find Max Online:

Book Review- A Lie For A Lie

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A Lie For A Lie by Robin Merrow MacCready
Expected publication by Henry Holt on February 28, 2017
Genres: Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 208
Goodreads
Amazon

Kendra Sullivan loves taking pictures. But when a photograph reveals that her father is leading a double life, she sets out to investigate the situation. Before long, Kendra discovers her father’s second family, which he has hidden for years. Kendra’s knowledge soon turns into power; she is torn between exposing her father and destroying her family as she’s known it, or looking deeper for the truth and suffering that outcome. This emotionally charged mystery pushes the boundaries between truth and deception, and the consequences one faces when dealing with life-changing information.

A Lie For A Lie was predictable. Was it good? Yes. Was it original? No, not really.

After reading the first page or so, I already knew what was going to happen in the book. Yes, the whole book, not just the main plot. I easily guessed what Kendra was going to discover, who she was going to end up with, and just about everything else.

That being said, the book was enjoyable to read. It was short and well paced, and I do happen to like most of the characters (all the ones I’m assuming readers are supposed to like). Kendra was an interesting multi-dimensional character that overcame a lot in the story, and in my opinion, really achieved her desired “break-out summer”… even if it is nothing like the summer she planned.

Each of the characters in A Lie For A Lie was unique, and each  brought an interesting aspect to the story, even if I was able to guess their role from the moment they were introduced.
I would recommend this book for younger teen readers, who like a little bit of mystery and characters that overcome an obstacle that is holding them back. The book wasn’t quite for me, but I do feel like it is a book many people would like.

I am going to give A Lie For A Lie three out of five hearts.

♥ ♥ ♥

*An ARC of this book was given to me by the author in exchange for an honest review. This has not affected or influenced my ideas and opinions of the book in any way.

Guest Post- How a Broke Ankle Made a Dream Come True

Hi everyone! Today I have a guest post from author Douglas Geller. He is going to share with you how his dream come true from something as unlikely as a broken ankle.


This night felt different, I was tired from waking up at 4:30 in the morning to go to work and it was the night before Thanksgiving. I really didn’t want to go to karate, instead I wanted to be lazy and play video games. But I went as I always did, I’d done it more times than I could remember because its what I always did.

The warm up was light sparring, just tap, tap among the few of us in attendance. We finished the drill before I reminded my dad (the lead teacher) that we forgot someone. So I lined up opposite tiny. Tiny is the nickname we have for the student that is 6’6 and 230 pounds. I duck under his punch and took his back. All 5’5.5, 140 pounds of me holding on to him. He starts dragging me around the mat and I hold on. I decide to hold on for an extra moment to see if he could figure out what to do, a teaching moment. He jerks back and my feet crossed which they aren’t supposed to do. I tell myself I should fix this but move slowly. Tiny starts to fall back and I feel a small crack in my left ankle. I say in my head that it felt weird but don’t make anything of it. I feel myself falling and think here we go. I land and as if I woke up from a bad dream I start screaming. A few hours later in the hospital I find out I broke my ankle.

I laid in my bed tired and in pain for several nights, restless I started reading anything that seemed slightly intriguing. I read an article about Aging Out, a book that tells stories of kids who aged out of the foster care system and their struggles and overcoming obstacles to achieve their dreams. I’m fascinated and can’t stop thinking about it, I think about the fighters I watch and all of their stories and decide that someone should write a story intertwining the two. That night I look at my computer and laughed that I could write the story. For a moment I think I could and I started typing and I found I really enjoyed doing it. So every night I continued to write without telling anyone, it was always the highlight of my day.

I dreamed I could share the story I wrote with the world and for a while I resisted. Who would take me seriously? How many people write books and are laughed at? But then I thought of the poem my dad read at my Bar Mitzvah, The Man In The Glass by Peter “Dale” Wimbrow Sr. and not to cheat the man in the glass. Nine months later I look at the man in the glass and he is smiling at me, because I overcame, pain and insecurity to make my dream come true.


headshotDouglas Geller is 23-years-old and works in public relations. He is a graduate of Ithaca College and grew up and currently resides in White Plains, New York. He has trained in martial arts since he was five-years old and has earned a fourth degree black belt and the title of Sensei.

He has written non-fiction for newspapers including: The Ithacan, The Examiner and Patch. This is his first fiction piece.

Find Douglas Online:

Website

Instagram

Facebook

Twitter

 

Book Review- I am the Mission

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I am the Mission by Allen Zadoff
Published by Little Brown on June 17, 2014
Genres: Young Adult, Thriller, Mystery, Fiction
Pages: 432
Goodreads
Amazon

He was the perfect assassin. No name. No past. No remorse. Perfect, that is, until he began to ask questions and challenge his orders. Now The Program is worried that their valuable soldier has become a liability.

And so Boy Nobody is given a new mission. A test of sorts. A chance to prove his loyalty.

His objective: Take out Eugene Moore, the owner of an extremist military training camp for teenagers. It sounds like a simple task, but a previous operative couldn’t do it. He lost the mission and is presumed dead. Now Boy Nobody is confident he can finish the job. Quickly.

But when things go awry, Boy Nobody finds himself lost in a mission where nothing is as it seems: not The Program, his allegiances, nor the truth.

I am the Mission was I am the Weapon on steroids (or, ya know, tons of five hour energy). Every time I thought Boy Nobody-who adopts the name Daniel-is going to get a break, something crazy happened that totally threw the story in a new direction. No one is safe. I repeat: NO ONE IS SAFE.

So, incase you haven’t figured by now, I am the Mission kept me guessing the whole entire time. I saw nothing coming. There was so much going on and such high stakes. It was super intense. My only complaint is maybe there was just a little too much going on. At some points my brain just needed a break from all the action.

There are only five characters in I am the Mission that carry over from the first book. And I’m talking actual characters, not just people mentioned (like Boy Nobodies real parents). Those characters are: Boy Nobody (duh), Howard (yay!! love Howard!!), Mother, Father, and Mike. Everyone else is new. The setting is new. The mission is new. I actually really like that. The story feels fresh.

Again I love how downplayed the romance is in the book-if you can even call it romance. I mean sure, there is definitely something going on there, but its not the main focus of the book and I can not tell you how refreshing that is! I love the fact that the book is driven by events and characters rather than “love” (or rather, “lust”).

I am the Mission was a great read, and definitely the kind of book you want to read if you want to start reading thrillers and mystery books.

I am going to give I am the Mission four out of five hearts!

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Guest Post- Birth of a Collection

Hi guys! Today I have a guest post by Charles Salzberg, one of the three authors behind Triple Shot. His post illustrates how his collaborative writing journey began and evolved to where it is today.


A couple years ago my friend and fellow crime writer, Tim O’Mara, approached me with a proposition. He had just returned from Bouchercon and was excited about a planned website which would offer a download of a different crime novella to subscribers each month.

“I’m going to do it and if you have an idea you might consider doing it, too,” he said.

I’d never written a novella before but it was tempting in large part because they’re usually at least half as long as a novel and, I figured, half as hard to write. So I said, “I’ll give it a shot.”

Years earlier I’d collaborated a screenplay from an idea I’d had about an ambitious female journalist who’s contacted by a woman in prison who’s there for killing her husband and two children. She claims she was framed for the crime and asks the journalist to help prove her innocent. I can’t speak for other writers but I’m always looking for the easy way out and so I figured I’d just rewrite the screenplay as a novella.

The screenplay was optioned several times but, like most scripts in Hollywood, was never made. Every production company that optioned it wanted changes, all of which were either pretty silly or downright insulting. They wanted to soften both characters, and one producer actually went so far as to suggest that the main character, Trish, should be changed to a man. My co-writer and I laughed. First of all, it was essential the character be a woman, because we were playing against stereotypes in that we wanted her to be tough, ambitious, and not above cutting corners to achieve an end when necessary. Besides, did they think changing a woman to a man was merely a function of doing a universal search and changing Trish to Joe and she to he? The answer is, they probably did. We passed on the idea and they passed on the script.

Waste not, want not, so now Twist of Fate the screenplay was about to become Twist of Fate the novella.

The truth is, I was never comfortable writing screenplays. I need more than just dialogue and description. Besides, I initially see the world in words not images. So now, writing a novella, I could get deeper into the motivations of all the characters and, if possible, make the story even darker because I didn’t have to satisfy a whole bunch of cooks who had not idea what the broth is and what makes it tasty.

Twist of Fate was a bit of a departure for me. The two main characters were women, and the story would be narrated by a woman, something I’d never done before. Not only would the two protagonists be women but they wouldn’t be particularly nice women. So much for that old saw about having to like the characters in a book in order to like the book. I’ve never believed that. As far as I’m concerned you have to be interested in the characters, not like them.

I submitted Twist of Fate and soon after I did I told my friend, Ross Klavan, at our weekly lunch about the project and urged him to write something, too. He accepted the challenge unspecifiedmmand all three novellas, mine, Ross’s and Tim’s, were quickly accepted.

Unfortunately, as good an idea as it might have been the website never materialized and, after a year or so, we started getting restless/ If our novellas were never going to see the light of day, we wanted them back. But what would we do with them? There’s really no market for stand-alone novellas, so Tim and I came up with an idea. Why not get the rights back and, along with Ross, package the three novellas in one collection?

That’s what we did and the result is Triple Shot, a collection of noir crime stories, which is going to be released this month (August).


unspecifiedCHARLES SALZBERG is the author of the Shamus Award-nominated Swann’s Last Song, Swann Dives In, Swann’s Lake of Despair (re-release Nov. 2016), Devil in the Hole (re-release Nov. 2016), Triple Shot (Aug. 2016), and Swann’s Way Out (Feb. 2017). His novels have been recognized by Suspense Magazine, the Silver Falchion Awards, the Beverly Hills Book Award and the Indie Excellence Award. He has written over 25 nonfiction books, including From Set Shot to Slam Dunk, an oral history of the NBA, and Soupy Sez: My Life and Zany Times, with Soupy Sales. He has been a visiting professor of magazine at the S.I. Newhouse School of Communications at Syracuse University, and he teaches writing at the Writer’s Voice and the New York Writers Workshop where he is a founding member.

Find Triple Shot Online:

Goodreads

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

 

Artist Spotlights- Bad Carrot Studios and Day Light Full

Along with my undying love for books, I happen to love art. All kinds of art, from acting and dancing to painting and drawing. So I decided to shine whatever spotlight I have on some wonderful artists that combine my love of books to my love of art.

What art form does this? Fan art.

After looking through pages and pages of fan art on Etsy (which is pretty much my favorite online store at this point) I found two incredibly talented artists who agreed to do some art for me! For the purpose of this post, I sent the artists identical descriptions of some of the characters from my current work in progress (Candy Wrappers  ) to see what they came up with.


The first artist is Brittany from Bad Carrot Studios . Here is a little bit about her:

Brittany is an actor with a youthful and energetic voice. She has a background in singing and a Masters in Fine Art from the Savannah College of Art and Design. She majored in Sequential Art, and after graduating in 2008, she became the primary artist for the first eight chapters of the webcomic Snow by Night. Since then, she’s been working as a freelance artist through Etsy as Bad Carrot Studios.

Along with a talent for art, Brittany has had a passion for Acting and Voice Acting since she was young and has been working in the industry since 2012. She completed the full training course from Voice Coaches and continues to further her education at Nick Conti’s Professional Actor’s Studio for acting and with Deborah Richards Studio for voiceover.

Brittany is currently working as an actor in various productions around Atlanta, GA and doing commercial voice overs nationwide.

Brittany did two sketches for me: one of Malia Reed, who is my female main character, and one of Warren “Ren” Hartman, who is my male lead.

Brittany was able to draw the characters with only a brief description of them, and her full blown fandom art is unbelievable.

It was very interesting to watch the sketches go from first draft to finished. Each draft had a little bit more of the characters in them, and she worked tirelessly until they were perfect.

I love Brittany’s style of art because of how well proportioned they are. They look like they could walk right off the computer screen and flop down in the chair next to me.


 

The second artist I worked with is Whitney from DayLightFull. Here is a little on her:

I’m 21 years old and I’ve been drawing since I could hold a crayon. I’ve drawn all my life but only in the last 4-5 years have I been able to draw exactly what I see in my head. I have a tremors in my hands and an very dyslexic which make my two favorite things in life (art and writing) a challenge. The tremors in my hands make it very hard to draw smooth and precise lines but I never let that stop me! Even though the tremors get worse as I get older, I’ve worked hard and long enough to where you can hardly tell I have the disability in my art! So I’m always encouraging people to never give up on their passions because of a diagnosis. Art is my passion and I love making people smile with it!

Whitney’s art style is much different than Brittany’s, but unbelievably beautiful. She drew Malia and Ren, as well as a few other important characters in the plot line. Here is what she came up with:

I love Whitney’s art because of how much I can feel that characters personalities coming off the page. She did a wonderful job of capturing their attitudes and expressions.


I want to say a huge thank you to both of these talented artists for making these beautiful pieces of art for me. I encourage all the readers of this post to go look at their other work; you will be amazed!

“So Many Books, So Little Time…” Throw Pillow Giveaway

Hi everyone! This summer has been amazing, but really, really busy. So I’m sorry if my postings have been a bit all over the place.

A few weeks ago I reached out to Darlene Nudy after coming across her Etsy store, which you can check out here. You can also visit her Facebook page here, and don’t forget to give it a like! Darlene is a seamstress who does custom sewing and embroidery. What really caught my eye was her throw pillows.

Why? Because anyone who loves decorating loves throw pillows. And, anyone who loves decorating AND books can’t help but love Darlene’s book inspired pillow!

To my delight, Darlene agreed to work with me to bring this wonderful giveaway to you! She sent me two pillows, one with Keystroke Blog’s logo on it, and the other saying “So Many Books, So Little Time…” (which perfectly describes my life at any given moment).

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I am so happy with these cute little pillows! They are a good fabric and are sewn very well. And they are so adorable! I am so happy to have the chance to give one lucky winner one of these pillows.

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To enter the giveaway, follow the rafflecopter link below. Good luck!

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/e20309ab3/?