Thursday, October 30, 2014

$10 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway Winner

Photo Credit: Flickr
I'm so excited about hosting this giveaway. So many wonderful people entered and I wish I could afford to give a gift card to each and every one of you. Thank God that Rafflecopter chooses winners randomly because I couldn't possibly pick one otherwise.

Without further ado, the winner of this excellent giveaway is...


That's right! Congratulations, Rae! Please send me your email via my contact form so I can deliver your prize. A big thanks to every single one of you who entered. You guys are the best! Keep your eyes peeled for another exciting giveaway sometime in the near future. :)

What kind of giveaway would you like to see next?

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Staying Focused with Coffitivity

Photo Credit: Flickr
I can’t write in total silence. When I’m doing any work, especially creative work, I need to have some background noise. I usually have no trouble working with Netflix or Spotify playing in the background. Lately, though, music and noise have become distractions. Still, the silence bothers me. I searched for a solution.

One day I found Coffitivity. We stole shy glances at each other across the internet. I waited for him to make the first move—foolishly, maybe, but my patience paid off. We talked long into the night about life, death, and everything in between. He professed his love for me. The rest, my friends, is history.

Coffitivity is a website that plays background noise for anyone uncomfortable with silence. It gives you a few ambient options to choose from, including coffee shop and campus library. Although I prefer spending time writing in actual coffee shops, Coffitivity provides a lovely substitute (especially on days when I’m feeling anti-social).

The best part of Coffitivity is that it’s free. Also, you can download it in Android or iOS app form. Absolute perfection. If you’re looking for some background noise to fill the silence of your writing sessions, look no further than Coffitivity. You might grow to love it as much as I do.

What do you think? Do you have to have background noise when you write?

Tweet tweet:
Too distracted by music but hate silence? @brianawrites has the perfect solution. (Click to tweet)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Gift Card Giveaway: $10 to Amazon

Roll of Pink Raffle Tickets
Photo Credit: Flickr
Hello, lovely people!

It occurred to me the other day that I really like giving gifts. I also realized I've never done a blog giveaway before.

After racking my brain about what to give away, I decided on a $10 Amazon gift card. That way, whoever wins can get whatever he or she wants. Sound good?

The giveaway is open from 12AM EST on October 23 to 12AM EST on October 30. All you have to do is follow the steps in the widget below to enter. The first step is mandatory (leaving a blog comment), but the rest of them after that are optional (meaning they get you additional entries). Once the contest closes, I'll select a winner and let their victory be known to the entire internet.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

As always, thank you all for being so incredible. I love each and every one of you more than you know. I'll be announcing the winners of this giveaway sometime on Oct. 30 on the blog and social media, so make sure you're following me! :)

Good luck!

Monday, October 20, 2014

How to Read More with Pocket

Photo by Jane Cockman on Flickr
I have an app problem. I spend way too much time browsing the app store in search of the next best thing. I can't tell you how many apps I've downloaded and never used, either. I'm afraid to think about it.

Anyway, one of the main things I look for in an app is how much it will improve my daily life. Makes sense, right? A lot of time I expand this philosophy so that it includes apps that will help me grow as a writer.

A fantastic app I discovered recently is Pocket. Like other bookmarking apps, Pocket lets you save articles to read at your convenience. "When you find something you want to view later, put it in Pocket," says the website. Simple enough. You'd be surprised how useful Pocket can be for writers.

What I've noticed most with Pocket is that it has allowed me to do a lot more reading. Articles I usually skip over online now go into my queue. I read them before bed, in the bathroom, while waiting in line - you name it. Most of the stories aren't long, but they're long enough to keep me from jumping it right away. With Pocket, I'm almost guaranteed to read whatever I save. It's fantastic.

Another wonderful thing about Pocket is that it syncs across most devices. There are apps, browser extensions, and website integration tools to ensure you have the best experience possible. You can even enable Pocket on Twitter to save the articles that people tweet.

If you use Pocket, you'll read more articles. Try it and see.

What do you think of Pocket? What other apps would you recommend to writers?

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Top 10 Scariest Literary Villains

Halloween is right around the corner. I've been dying to write a spooky post for weeks. I had planned to write one about costume ideas or frightening reads, but I've already done both of those.

I'm fascinated with villains. I always have been. There's nothing I love more than a compelling bad guy With that being said, I'm still frightened by them. Here's my list of the top 10 scariest literary villains.

10. Lady Macbeth. Although she doesn't commit any murders, she does convince her husband to. The whole going insane thing doesn't hurt, either. She's no one to be trifled with.

9. Alex Delarge. His loose morals and odd manner of speaking brand Alex as eccentric. His passion for violence? That makes him scary. The worst thing about Alex is the unnerving charm he exudes to attract his victims. Just eerie.

8. Big Brother. All we know for certain about Big Brother is that he's watching us. He may or may not be real, but he is totally terrifying.

7. Dolores Umbridge. Don't let the pink ensemble fool you - this woman is MEAN. Behind her sweet smile and mincing voice lurks something truly sinister. Run away while you still can.

6. Hannibal Lecter. No countdown of literary villains would be complete without Hannibal "the Cannibal" Lecter. No one likes a cannibal, but the fact that he prefers to eat the rude makes Dr. Lecter slightly less horrifying than he would be otherwise.

5. James Moriarty. Dubbed "The Napoleon of Crime," this infamous villain is clever and cunning enough to give Sherlock Holmes a run for his money. Be afraid.

4. Count Dracula. This notorious villain earns quite a reputation in Bram Stoker's grisly novel. Since, this vampire's been romanticized in recent years, it's important to remember that he attacks and murders young women while they're sleeping in their beds. How's that for romantic?

3. Voldemort. There's a reason he's referred to as "He Who Shall Not Be Named." In the Harry Potter series, it's believed that merely uttering his name adds to the Dark Lord's power. A rogue wizard with a taste for murder and a hatred of half-bloods, he's one villain you wouldn't want to meet with in an alley.

2. The Joker. Where would the world be without "The Clown Prince of Crime"? Better off, quite frankly. The Batman franchise's most famous villain is one of the most recognizable baddies on the planet. When he smiles, the world doesn't smile. It screams.

1. IT. The title character in the Stephen King novel and film of the same name, IT is an evil entity that can alter its appearance to suit any fear. Usually he can be witnessed in the form of Pennywise the Clown (AKA my nightmare).

I love far too many literary villains to name. I hope this short list gave you a good idea of some of the baddies I love to hate.

Who do you think are the scariest literary villains?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

My Writing Process

Woman with Red Fingernails Typing on a Laptop
Photo by Pexels

Lately more and more people have been asking me about my writing process. This interest probably stems from my comments about editing. Friends, family, and sometimes even strangers are intrigued. They want to peek inside my brain to see what writing is like for me. It's crazy.

I'm simultaneously puzzled and flattered by the curiosity. Let's be frank: I'm nothing close to Stephen King. No matter how small-time I feel, I'm happy to oblige. Whether I'm writing a blog post, a short story, or a novel, this is basically my writing process.

1. Inspiration. The madness starts when an idea falls into my head, seemingly from out of nowhere. Sadly there isn't an Idea Store. Whenever an idea comes to me, I record it and work on fleshing it out. Fun fact: I don't outline.

2. First draft. I get this sucker down as fast as I can. When it comes to first drafts, it's okay write crap. Even if I feel like what I'm writing is abysmal, I focus on getting it down somewhere. You can fix a bad page; you can't fix a blank one. I can write the first draft of a blog post in half an hour, a shorty story in an hour, and a novel in six weeks.

3. Cooling off. I don't have much of a cooling off period for blog posts. For short stories, I tend to wait about a day before diving into revision. For novels, I can take anywhere from one to three months. I like to distance myself from the material. The more objectivity I can approach it with, the better.

4. Read through and notes. This part is painful. By this point I've forgotten how awful my first draft is and am not looking forward to reminding myself. Once I've printed my work out or exported it to my Kindle (so I'm not tempted to edit as I read), I go through it in one sitting and make note of what needs fixing.

5. Second draft. Armed with my notes and a plan of attack, I dive headfirst into revision. Sometimes this means minor changes. More often than not, it means a nearly complete rewrite. The YA novel I'm editing at the moment is the latter. It's a struggle.

6. Rinse and repeat. Keep going until you can't edit anymore. When it's finished, you'll know. Reward yourself for your hard work and work on publication!

The time it takes me to complete a project may vary, but on the whole, this is my general writing process. Feel free to try out my system for yourself. Remember, however, that the ideal writing process is whichever one works best for you.

What's your writing process like? What are you currently working on?

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

How to Increase Your Writing Speed

When it comes to drafting, some writers feel that slower is better. I'm not one of them. The key to finishing first drafts is to get everything down. Deliberation will only hurt you when it comes to drafting and should be saved for revision. Want to finish your project? You need to write faster. Want to write faster? I can give you some advice. If you follow these tips, you should increase your writing speed in no time.

Write or Die. I've talked about this web app before. Ava Jae introduced me to it and now I'm in love. It changed my life. You enter your word count goal, set the timer, and write. If you get distracted, you're in trouble. Let me know if you'd like me to share my settings with you.

Beat the clock. If Write or Die is too scary for you, set your own timer and race against the clock. Stick with something small--5,10, or 15 minutes should be plenty of time. You'll be amazed what you can accomplish in such a short interval.

Writing sprints. Lately I've become a fan of writing sprints on Twitter. For a set amount of time (I like 15 minutes), you invite people to write with you. The goal is to write as much as you can in that time span. This technique is fun because you can get a lot done in a short amount of time. Also it's great having other people there to hold you accountable. If writing sprints sound appealing to you, join in on the fun by following me on Twitter.

Outlines. Some people swear by outlines. I personally don't like them. Do whatever works for you. Outlines can help you write faster by knowing what comes next. If you like planning, outlining can certainly help you increase your writing speed.

How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice. If you're truly dedicated, the best way to increase your writing speed is to write every day. Write as much as you can whenever you can and you'll be sure to see results.

You can write faster, I promise. All it takes is a few small changes. Try out these techniques and see what happens. You might surprise yourself with how fast you finish.

What do you think of these tips? Do you have any advice about how to increase your writing speed?
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