Writing Tips

Writer Crush Wednesday: Leo Tolstoy

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This Writer Crush Wednesday, I’m sharing a passage from a book I finally read last year. Yes, last year! But this excerpt is so good I’m still thinking about these few paragraphs months and months later. I’ll probably always think about them. They’re from Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina at the very moment Anna and Count Vronsky succumb to their passions. I won’t ruin it by trying to explain all that’s going on here. Just read.


He felt what a murderer must feel, when he sees the body he has robbed of life. That body, robbed by him of life, was their love, the first stage of their love. There was something awful and revolting in the memory of what had been bought at this fearful price of shame. Shame at their spiritual nakedness crushed her and infected him. But in spite of all the murderer’s horror before the body of his victim, he must hack it to pieces, hide the body, must use what he has gained by his murder.

And with fury, as it were with passion, the murderer falls on the body, and drags it and hacks at it; so he covered her face and shoulders with kisses. She held his hand, and did not stir. “Yes, these kisses–that is what has been bought by this shame. Yes, and one hand, which will always be mine–the hand of my accomplice.” She lifted up that hand and kissed it. He sank on his knees and tried to see her face; but she hid it, and said nothing. At last, as though making an effort over herself, she got up and pushed him away. Her face was still as beautiful, but it was only the more pitiful for that.

“All is over,” she said; “I have nothing but you. Remember that.”


This is how I want to write when I grow up.

What do you think of this passage?

Have you read Anna Karenina?

What writers have blown you away?

My Advice to #IndieAuthors (NOT sugarcoated) on @KonnL’s Blog

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Originally posted on konnlavery.com

(Hint: Book marketing advice begins at question #4) 

Christa Wojciechowski – Horror Novella Author of SICK

June 7, 2016 | Interview


For this month’s guest author, I’d like to welcome Christa Wojciechowski, a fellow horror/thriller writer who focuses on novellas. Her work can be seen in the series titled SICK and her book The Wrong David. Christa and I will be chatting about her writing process and her books. Let’s get to know Christa.

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#MyArtistDate 001: Watercolors

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Forest of the Lonely River

I used to want to be a painter more than I wanted to be a writer. As high school graduation approached, my art teacher encouraged me to look at art schools moved me up to portfolio classes, but I gave up before I got started. I didn’t see a future in it. How likely was I to make a living off of painting? I dropped art in my senior year so I could join a program that allowed me to leave school after lunch to go to work. I became an artist all right – a sandwich artist at the Subway. Glamorous, I know.

Now, my main character in The Sculptor of New Hope, Ona Price, has taken on my struggle as the aspiring painter. Me? I haven’t painted in years, but I was inspired by my friend. Her name is Fay Kambos and she is always on some creative endeavor. I decided to make painting this week’s artist date because giving up art is a source of regret for me. I had some potential back then. If only I had believed in myself, I might have done well.

Here is my first humble attempt at watercolors. I didn’t plan on what to paint. I didn’t use anything for reference either. I forced myself to trust my artistic intuition. I forgot the simplest of drawing techniques, but I kept going, curling my nose at it the whole time, trying to relax into some measure of enjoyment. I tried not to dwell on the fifth-graderishness of it. Do you know how difficult that was? You’d be amazed at what your inner voice says when you start taking dictation. Some of the thoughts that went through my head were:

  • Ha! You don’t know what you’re doing. This sucks
  • It’s watercolor. You’re supposed to leave white space. Duh!
  • You should just crumble this up and throw it away.

I don’t even register them most of the time, but they are definitely sneering and sniggering whenever I create something. Now I know the culprit of my creative blockages.

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I turned on music to distract me from the annoying voices. Soon, I began to stop thinking. I reached the place where I wanted to be. Not thinking, just doing. In the end, I’m pleased with my little scene. It’s no Van Gogh, but I made something out of nothing.

I did it. I painted.

But I wondered why the scene was so bleak. What did that say about my neglected inner artist?

I decided this forest would not be desolate, but fertile ground for the creative future. At the very last, I painted in the first few leaves as a sign of the new growth to come.

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It goes to show you how self-doubt can kill you before you get started, but if you persevere through those negative feelings, you will create something – anything, and it’s yours. No one else could’ve created anything quite the same.

(And it just so happens that I had a breakthrough while writing the last of my SICK series. The artist dates already seem to be working!)

Keep writing, keep painting, keep dancing, keep the creative fires burning. Take your inner artist out on a date and hashtag it on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as #myartistdate so we can all share in the positive creative vibes.

Learn more about my The Artist’s Way challenge and get a chance to win my copy of the book by Julia Cameron!

My Latest News: Giveaways, Guest Posts, and more

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I apologize for the lack of meaty posts lately. Work has been unbelievably busy, and I’ve neglected my blogging duties except for posting the bare minimum. I hope to return to a regular schedule soon. In the meantime, here’s what’s going on in my little corner of the web.

SICKER Paperback Release

Sicker: Psychological Thriller Series Novella 2 is available in paperback on Amazon.


SICKER Paperback Giveaway Starts May 31st

Beginning tomorrow, Tuesday May 31st, SciFi and Scary will be hosting my book spotlight and
giving away two of the new paperback copies of SICKER.

Hint: SICK  free on Kindle for May 31st so that all entrants for the Scifi and Scary giveaway can read Part I before possibly winning Part II.

Visit ScifiandScary.com to enter.


YOVgjVPl_400x400Guest Post on Konn Lavery

Konn Lavery is a talented graphic artist, web designer, and author of the Mental Damnation series. I’ll be on his blog talking about the process of writing and book marketing in the very near future. Stay tuned for post date.


IndieAuthorButton150-1.pngGuest Post on Scifi and Scary

I’ll be returning to Scifi and Scary on June 19th as a guest to talk about why Psychological Thriller/Suspense novels like SICK might creep us out more than traditional Horror.

I’ll be sure to reblog that here so you don’t miss it.


christa wojo client spotlightChrista Wojo’s Client Spotlights

I’ll be periodically hosting interviews with my wonderful clients so they can tell you about their projects, their challenges, and their plans for the future.

 


Seafood Stew with Crab at La Playa EcuadorTravels

Also, I’ll be heading back to Ecuador sometime soon. Get ready for a continuation of the Ecuadorian pig-out and hopefully some cool photos too.

 


Questions? Comments?

Please leave your thoughts below.

Would you like for me to stop by your blog?

I’m available for features and guest posts. Let me know!

Seeking the Mr. Miyagi of Writing

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I love movies that depict a talented-but-too-immature student who begrudgingly goes under the instruction of some old timer. Eventually the kid realizes his pain-in-the-ass coach is giving him the tough love he needs. The student takes his lessons seriously and grows inwardly and outwardly to reach his full potential.

There are many films with this theme, but the one that sticks out most in my mind is The Karate Kid. I know I’m dating myself when I say I watched these movies in the theater as a kid and they are among my favorites of all time. Everyone wants to reach their full potential, but most of us have no idea how to get there.

I wasted years dreaming about writing and never writing. I finally began five years ago after the tragic death of a pelican (a long story I will share with you one day). Then came The Wrong David, the NaNo series, and now here I am with SICK. I’m happy to be publishing my work, but now I’m anxious to move up to the next level. I feel like I could write my ass off, but I also am aware that I’m missing something. Many things, actually. I don’t know what they are, but I sense them whenever I read my work. I know a seasoned writer probably point the faults out right away, but I don’t personally know any seasoned writers.

A few years ago, my mom gave me a copy of Eat, Pray, Love. I vaguely remember Elizabeth Gilbert mentioning something like, “if you pray for your guru, they will come.” So this is me officially putting my call out to the Universe.

I’m ready for you, my Mr. (or Mrs.) Miyagi of writing. Put me through a composition boot camp. Drill me with grammar rules until I cry. Make me type until my fingertips are raw. I don’t know if I can catch a fly with chopsticks, but I sure as hell will try. I’m dead serious about becoming a good writer. I feel I have the potential. I know I have the desire. I just need someone to guide me. Mentor, please find me.

 

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Did you have a Mr. Miyagi in your life?

How did you find a mentor/coach/guru?

What’s your favorite inspiring coaching movie?

 

 

Quotes from Alesha Drew

#Writers Blooming Everywhere

Writing Quotes Christa Wojo

I’m now on Instagram! @christawojo

I live in the Chiriquí highlands, a land of eternal spring that bursts with flowers all year long. My yard is full of countless colors and species. There are pinks, yellow, blues, reds, purples, fiery oranges, and blazing whites. There are orchids, daffodils, roses, hibiscus, and many kinds of plants that I can’t identify.

I try to make sure I crawl out of my writing/working cave for a few minutes a day to appreciate the flowers. Not only is it soothing to get away from the glowing screens of my electronics, but I do it for the plant life too. I feel it’s a shame to ignore them as they strain upward to bloom as brightly as they can. I know that all too quickly they will wilt and die. Someone should be there to watch their performance.

On hikes through the cloud forest, I often notice a lone, exotic flower in the mist. It waits there in silence, sparkling with dew, and trembles in the breeze like it’s excited to see me. I think of how easily I might not have been in that spot at that moment to witness it in its pinnacle of existence. What a pity for those countless hidden beauties who go through the trouble of making a such a performance only to be missed!

But I realize that whether I was there or not, the flower would’ve opened in the darkness of the jungle anyway. It would have raised its petals to the moon and folded back into itself again, a marvel never to be seen.

I think of artists like flowers – painters, dancers, singers, and writers. We are designed to bloom and can’t help ourselves from doing so. It doesn’t matter if anyone is there to witness it or appreciate it. It doesn’t matter if it’s practical or not. It’s what we were made to do, and we must do it or we’ll be miserable.

We may get trampled on or devoured by insects. We may be clipped short and put in a vase to be put on a brief display for others and then shrivel before our time. We may be watered and nurtured so that we thrive and mature to our fullest potential, blooming season after season, becoming an attraction for bees and butterflies and hummingbirds.

On the other hand, we may never be noticed or acknowledged by a single soul. We might throw all our energies, passions, and resources into becoming the most spectacular blossom, only to crumple back into the ground without attracting the slightest notice.

The point is this. Don’t write to be seen. Write to become yourself.

No matter what, we must break from the soil, unfurl with determination, and reach for the sun. As flowers bloom, so we must write. We must write. We must write!

So go write!

What are your goals as a writer?

Would you still write if you knew no one would ever read it?

What are you working on right now?

Writing Advice from The Hands of God

Artist quotes

Sculptor, Antoni Azarov

I love to nag people for interviews, and annoying as I may be, some very famous people occasionally indulge me.

This was the case with world renowned sculptor, Antoni Azarov. Even though the press dub him, and I quote, an “asshole,” I’ve discovered once you get used to his intensity, he’s kind of funny in his own dry way.

Let me first tell you, I admire Azarov’s work with the gushing of a sixteen-year-old at a boyband concert. This man’s hands can make clay into a sculpture so striking that you feel uncomfortable being in the same room with it; as if it were a vessel that held a ghost, one that might want to escape its ceramic shell to jump into your living skin.

Not to say Azarov’s a realist. His sculptures are minutely distorted, just slightly exaggerated–preventing them from being exact human replicas. But the distortion is what gives the sculptures souls, their naked bodies adorned by the invisible cloth of their psyches.

Azarov arrived on his Ducati, a big, black machine whose vibrating engine shook my porte cochere, flooding my house with its throbbing sound. He wore dark, indigo jeans and a black racing jacket. His dark hair was overgrown, past his jaw, and blew in tangles around his face after he removed his helmet.

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Christa Wojo reported MIA: #Amrevising

Buffin' it up!

Buffin’ it up!

 

Hey, all! I know I haven’t been writing any ‘real’ posts. I’ve been trying to placate you with obscure cocktails and old videos, but that’s because I’m knee deep in the shiz right now.

Some of you may already know that I’m doing Janice Hardy’s amazing at-home workshop Revise Your Novel in Thirty Days. It’s the best revision advice ever. Not to say it isn’t hard work. Revision is hard, especially when fixing a NaNoWriMo catastrophe, but Janice’s detailed system is perfect for a methodical person like me and it’s going to revolutionize my beloved sculptor.

I wanted to get this book out for you guys a long time ago. (You’ll laugh if you watch the pilot book trailer for The Sculptor. The release date says 2014! HA!!! HAHAHAHAHAHAA….HAAA…HAAA!!!) But, I rather be late than half-assed or even three-quarters-assed. I want to be absolutely sure it’s a full-ass effort. So…

Dear Writer Buds

  1. If you’re lost in revisions, or suspect something is wrong with your book but don’t know what it is, be sure to visit Fiction University. There’s a wealth of info there. It’s priceless and it’s free!
  2. I’ve slacked off on Writers Roast and my monthly contest. They will also return… eventually.
  3. Also, I know I’ve been tagged in a few blog hops. Thanks so much. I will get to them as soon as I can.

Dearest Readers

  1. Please, forgive my minimal posts. I hope to get back to regularly scheduled blogging soon. I aim to provide you with the finest book I can possibly craft. I promise, it will be a dark, crazy, and sexy (and somewhat disturbing).
  2. In the meantime, The Wrong David has been getting some wonderful reviews. I’m so pleased that people are enjoying it. I’ll be doing a Free Kindle Promo in May for its 1 year publication anniversary! Stay tuned…
  3. Also, I have a very special guest interview coming soon! Guess who???

Ciao from Panama. Leave any notes for me below…

 

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An Author’s Research: How To Build A Realistic Body

My anti-hero is a disturbed sculptor whose art captivates the world. His story is very important to me and as an author I felt it my responsibility to make sure I created a believable character and an accurate portrayal of an artistic genius’ world.

A few months ago I announced that amazing artist, Kristine Poole, would be advising me for my first fiction series.  I’ve begun the initial phases of revising (reading through quickly, chopping up ruthlessly, combating nauseating self-doubt) and I will be interviewing Kristine Poole for in-depth details in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, I wanted to share her video so you can see how she transforms a chunk of solid clay into a sculpture so lifelike that you can almost fancy it’s breathing. I learned a great deal just by watching the video and realize there will be much I have to change in my books. For starters…

  1. I had this vision that my sculptor would carve his pieces from the clay in the same way other sculptors chisel from marble. As you can see, this sculpture is made in a completely different way using coils and slabs.
  2. I thought the armature (support) would go inside, like a skeleton, but as you can see, Kristine uses outside supports.
  3. I had forgotten since my elementary school pottery class that ceramics must be hollow. Solid clay cannot be fired! 

After realizing how mistaken my assumptions were, I know why it’s so important to do proper research for a novel. If a writer cares about their characters and their readers, they must take the time and effort to make sure the story they build could possibly take place in the real world.

I know nothing takes me out of a story faster than lack of credibility and disbelief.

 

Readers: Have you ever been turned off by a poorly researched book?

Writers: How do you find credible sources for your research?

Were you surprised by the sculpting method used in the video?