Author Archives: Colette Black

More Fun with Friends

As we talk about how to participate in NaNoWriMo, how to succeed, and all of the other wonderful subjects related to the event, remember your friends. I’ve done NaNoWriMo on my own. It was interesting and my writing ability increased. I’ve also down NaNoWriMo with friends. Now that was fun.

NaNoWriMo allows writers to connect with other friends who are participating. You might want to contact your writing friends and colleagues ahead of time so you can find out who is doing the event and share usernames and other pertinent information as soon as possible. Why bother? Because working with others increases our chances at success and makes the experience more enjoyable in many ways.

Encouragement: Engage with your friends early so you can set up communication. It might be fun to have a group email or text where you can encourage, inspire, and throw in a brag here and there. Best of all, if you get discouraged, your writing friends can help keep you going.

Competition: A healthy competition can keep us motivated and keep goals interesting. Last time I did NaNoWriMo, I enjoyed checking on my friends’ progress to see how I compared. When I came up short, I couldn’t help but work a little harder the next day to catch up, and the next day after that, to pull ahead. It was all friendly, and I ended up with more words than some of my friends and lost to others, but I managed to succeed at my NaNoWriMo.

Companionship: In the end, sometimes it’s just a matter of knowing you’re not alone. Many of my writing friends refer to our group as “tribe.” Many times, just knowing there are other people with similar interests, challenges, and crazy stories swirling through our brains, can bring comfort and its own kind of encouragement.

So now it’s time to start gathering your tribe, recruiting for NaNoWriMo, and prepping for a month of hard-working fun. Good luck, and may the words be with you.

The Unconventional Con

In Arizona we have Coppercon, Phoenix Comicon, Tucson Festival of Books, and a number of opportunities to be a small fish in a large pond paying upwards of $150 for 3 feet of booth space in the hopes of grabbing readers’ attention. I go, I love it, but I don’t always break even. By the time I pay for lodging, my books, the con space, and my meals, my profits seem to disappear. Is it still worth it? Usually, but not always.

Last year, however, I was invited to a rather unconventional con, the Tempe Library Comicon. It was small, just covering the back lawn behind the library, but it was well attended for a community event. People came in costume, just like any other convention, and unlike most outdoor events in Arizona, since this was in early February, it wasn’t even hot. Well, not too hot. I didn’t sell many books, but I did make a profit. As an invited guest, I didn’t have to pay for my space, I brought my own table, and I even managed a sack lunch. Since it was only one day long, there was no lodging to worry about and I was home for dinner. Was it worth my time? I don’t know, but it was nice to be able to relax and just interact with other people who love to read without worrying about whether or not I’d sell enough to pay for my booth.

So, when you consider your conventions this year, you might want to spread your net just a little wider. Enjoy the comicons and regional cons, but keep an eye out for the occasional unconventional con. You might be surprised at how much fun you can have in a less-stress, small-attendance environment.

Have a great day, a great year, and con on my fellow readers, writers, and fans!

Colette Black Bio:
Author PicColette Black lives in the far outskirts of Phoenix, Arizona with her family, 2 dogs, a mischievous cat and the occasional unwanted scorpion. She loves learning new things, vacations, and the color purple. She writes New Adult and Young Adult sci-fi and fantasy novels with kick-butt characters, lots of action, and always a touch of romance. Find her at www.coletteblack.net

 

The Hypocritical Oath

Hello, my name is Colette, and I’m a hypocrite. Oh, did you think the title of this post was a misprint? Nope, it’s the beginning of a support-group meeting. I may be the only member, but if you feel that your situation applies, you’re welcome to join.

Now, most of us are hypocrites at some time or another, but my declaration pertains to our theme for this month, motivation in writing. I’m writing this post about motivation, and yet I’ve hardly written two words this entire summer. I keep thinking, when __(blank)__ happens in my life then I’ll make the time to write. Honestly, me telling anyone how to stay motivated right now is just plain hypocrisy. Instead, I’ll tell you some of the stupid, bogus reasons I haven’t been writing and what I’m going to do about it. That is my hypocritical oath, in order to be less of a hypocrite. Maybe, in the process, you’ll discover some of your own roadblocks and get ideas on ways to hurdle them.

  1.  Rejection amid Expectation: Rejection is part of the game. I used to save my rejection letters as symbols of pride. If I was getting rejected then I was writing and submitting which meant I was still improving. However, a while back I had a submission rejected that I had considered a sure thing. All of my fellow writers had given me awesome feedback and I’d even received glowing praise from a well-known author who was related to the project. About the same time, a professional sale I’d made fell through and the publisher didn’t respond to my inquiries. To top it off, my marketing efforts for my current books fell completely flat. It was too much. Rejection I could take, but not from such heights of expectation. I’ve been trying to convince myself ever since, and I’m still working on it, that “success” and/or “rejection” is not the name of MY game. I write because I enjoy it. I hope that as I work on 2 and 3, that I’ll gain more confidence.
  2. Family/work Obigations: I quit my job so I’d have more time to spend with my ailing mother, to take her to Dr. appointments, and to work on helping a daughter with severe anxiety and another of my children with chronic migraines. My mother is doing much better than she was, my daughter is in school again, driving, and handling her anxiety, and they finally diagnosed my other daughter with a rare condition–chiari malformation. Surgery will be upcoming and should finally give her relief. And yet I still find obligations to fill my time. I have a solution that has worked in the past. I will schedule my writing time and treat it like an appointment. I even put it in my calendar…which, I am doing, right now. Done. Scheduled for Mon, Wed, Fri afternoons, we’ll start with one hour blocks, and go from there. Schedules can have power. At least, I hope so.
  3. Mental Illness: They say that 1 in 4 people suffer from some form of mental illness such as anxiety and/or depression. I think it may be higher than that and from my experience, the statistics are higher among creative thinkers. I went to a panel on the subject at a conference and was impressed by the number of people who showed up to talk about the issue. It’s as real as any other condition–diabetes, chiari malformation, etc.–and needs to often be treated medically before it can be tackled with cognitive therapy. For me, even though I treat my depression, lately it’s been taking over The oxymoron of depression is that as I need more help, I resist getting that help more and more. Realizing in a moment of clarity that something must be done and then acting on that moment is a challenge. Since it’s after office hours, making that phone call just went on my to-do list. It will happen first thing tomorrow, though. Promise.

I know I’m not alone with some of these challenges, and I know that there are other obstacles for many of you. Please share. I tend to overshare. I know that and sometimes it gets me in trouble, but sometimes I’ve received and/or given help that wouldn’t have otherwise happened. And I’d like to give a special thank you to my writing group. Through all of this, they’ve kept my fingers coming back to the keyboard at least once/week with their constructive criticism and personal dedication. I wish that kind of support for all of us so that we can keep treading water until we start swimming again.

Colette Black Bio:
Author PicColette Black lives in the far outskirts of Phoenix, Arizona with her family, 2 dogs, a mischievous cat and the occasional unwanted scorpion. She loves learning new things, vacations, and the color purple. She writes New Adult and Young Adult sci-fi and fantasy novels with kick-butt characters, lots of action, and always a touch of romance. Find her at www.coletteblack.net

 

Wouldn’t it be cool if…?

One of the funnest elements of a story can be setting. One of the most dangerous questions we can ask ourselves starts with, “Wouldn’t it be cool if…?”

Here’s my story:

In putting together my Mankind’s Redemption series, I placed my characters in far away star systems and then had

to ask myself, “How did they get there?” Time travel? For colonization, not likely. Generation ships? Most likely. Easy-peasy, right? But then, for every cool element I added to their world, to the aliens’ worlds, to every scenario, I had to ask myself the traditional reporter questions of what, when, why, how, and where. It got complicated, fast. The Mwalgi species dwell on a hot, toxic planet that lacks water and what they have is largely contaminated. Cool, right? Even more amazing, it orbits a red dwarf sun with a sister-dwarf-sun in a binary orbit. So their suns orbit

around a central point, swinging each other around. Cool, but complicated, and it added a lot more research. I learned a lesson. Sometimes these amazing, interesting settings are worth it, and sometimes you might want to consider what you’re getting yourself into. Knowing what I know now, would I do it again? Probably. It is cool, but I might have toned everything down just a little bit so I could spend more time writing and a little less time on plausibility and research. Just an FYI, this series is a Galactic Fantasy so I have some wiggle room in the possible but highly unlikely sector. For hard sci-fi, you have to really know your science and accuracy is key.

When I started my next series, Legends of Power, I set it in Kentucky. I went there, took pictures, did research, and restricted most of my “Wouldn’t it be cool if…?” questions to the magic system. I spent almost as much time researching reality as I had in researching scientific possibility. Hmm, not what I expected. Was it worth it? Absolutely, and if you ever get to Bowling Green, KY, I highly recommend Chaney’s Dairy Barn. Best ice cream I’ve ever had! (And some really cute cows.)

In The Number Prophecy, I set the books in a world with similarities to our own but significant differences in history, geology, religion, and sociology. So much fun! I get to explore so many aspects of humanity. Did I research any less? A little less on the physical setting, but so much more on all of the other aspects of my world and it’s people.

The moral of my story? No matter what you do there must be research. Everything is cool, from the craziest settings in your imagination–I’m thinking of a world where metal flyswatters hit you in the face every time you have an idea–to the most mundane, adorable, town in the midwest. Embrace it, enjoy it, and let the setting live as much as your characters. Give it equal, or possibly, even more attention that your protagonist. An interesting setting is the backdrop of interesting characters, interesting plots, and interesting conflicts. Put in the time to make it breathe and never be afraid to ask “Wouldn’t it be cool if…?” Just make sure you’re prepared with a good answer.

Colette Black Bio:
Author PicColette Black lives in the far outskirts of Phoenix, Arizona with her family, 2 dogs, a mischievous cat and the occasional unwanted scorpion. Author of the Mankind’s Redemption Series, The Number Prophecy series, and the new Legends of Power series, Colette writes New Adult and Young Adult sci-fi and fantasy novels with kick-butt characters, lots of action, and always a touch of romance. Find her at www.coletteblack.net