Skip The Spoons

Newsflash: It’s summer. And even writers take vacations. I
recently returned from a jaunt across the country. Road trips are fantastic
ways to revamp the ol’ creative juices, but the creativity doesn’t have to end
when you pull into your driveway at home.

When you travel, be on the lookout for souvenirs that twang
your creativity. No, not magnets or thimbles with state names emblazoned on
them. I’m talking quirky memorabilia that will make you think outside the
box next time you’re stuck in the middle of your WIP.

Here’s an example of one writer’s mementos scored while on holiday…
An expando pirate.
Why did I bring this little gem home? Just imagine a character growing to three times his
size, changing and morphing into something larger than ever. What inspiration
for a character arc! All I need to do is pop this little foam buccaneer into
some water and whammo. I’ll have a foot-tall tangible reminder on my desk to
make my hero grow into the man he ought to be by the end of the story.
Bring something home
that keeps you on track.
A recycled dog treat
bin full of cherries.
Granted, I had to throw out the fruit since it was getting
kind of white and fuzzy, but the container is enough to bring back a memory. An
old lady in a camper pulled alongside my car at a gimmicky gift shop in Montana.
She shoved a half-empty plastic bin of cherries out her rolled-down window,
saying her tummy was full and she hated to throw them away. This gave me all
kinds of plot ideas. What might a swanky salesman in a BMW offer? How about a
pimply faced teenager in a beat-up Geo? Or what if a pony-tailed ex-hippie
pulled up in a Hummer? What might he say? What might he give? The possibilities
are endless.
Bring something home
that inspires you.
Green Mukhwas
I haven’t tried this exotic little treat yet, but I expect these
candy-coated fennel seeds from India will be like nothing I’ve ever before
popped into my mouth. Next time I need an extra zing, like when slogging
through the middle of edits, I intend to open up the pack.
Bring something home
that encourages you.
Fudge                                                            
Well…chocolate…need I say more?
Bring something home
that is chocolate.
So while you’re out and about this summer, be on the lookout
for items to bring home that will inspire your creativity. After all, there’s
only so many spaces on those U.S.A. shaped spoon racks and when it’s full, game over.

Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas…professionally, however, for the past 10 years. Her latest release, UNDERCURRENT, is available by Risen Books. You can find her at: Writer Off the Leashwww.mmgriep.com or on TwitterFacebook, or 

What Not Not To Wear

As a writer, there are a few articles of clothing that are
must-haves. So fling open your closet door and make sure you can pull these
garments off a hanger…
Something Bold
It takes courage to send out a manuscript. Your writing shows
what’s on the inside of you and that’s scary when you reveal it in a public
forum. What if…gasp…an editor doesn’t like it? That’s why you need to cloak yourself
in boldness and send your work out anyway.
Something Comfy
This is for the days you’d rather park your rear on the
couch and eat bonbons instead of slogging away through writing the next
chapter. You know the one. The stinker in the middle of your WIP that you need
to make exciting, but you’ve kind of run out of steam. Slap on a cozy sweater,
grab a cup of java, and hunker down until you’ve got that chapter finished. You
can always edit later.
Something
Businesslike
Yeah, you can get away with writing in your jammies and
bunny slippers, but there will come a day when you’ve got to meet with an agent,
an editor, a publisher. Your pink fluffy robe will NOT cut it no matter how
adorable you think it is.
Something Perky
Rejection stings plus it’s depressing. For days like that,
pull out an item that makes you smile, even if your family’s tried to pawn it
off on Goodwill several times.
Something
Partylicious
Keep at it long enough and eventually you will have some
kind of success. You don’t have to wait around for the big one—the contract
with a major publisher. Celebrate the small victories along the way, the
proposal that’s requested, the contest that you won, the invitation to be a
guest on a well-known blog.
Something Heroic
Last but certainly not least, you should have a Super Hero
Cape within easy reach. Come on. Admit it. You’ve always wanted to be one but
took to writing fiction because it’s more socially acceptable than winging
around town in a cape and tights.
If you find your closet lacking in any of these areas, go
ahead and make a trip to the mall. But honestly, did you really need my
permission to go shopping?
Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas…professionally, however, for the past 10 years. Her latest release, UNDERCURRENT, is available by Risen Books. You can find her at: Writer Off the Leashwww.mmgriep.com or on TwitterFacebook, or Pinterest.

What’s So Hard About Climbing A Mountain?


“If you don’t know it’s impossible, it’s easier to do.”
~ Neil Gaiman

When I first set my boot heel on Mount I’m-Going-To-Write-A-Novel, I had no idea how strenuous the trek would be. Good thing. Sometimes ignorance is bliss. Still, it would’ve been nice if I’d had a sherpa or two to help me out.

So as you climb your way to the top of the publishing mountain, here are 5 slippery slopes you should definitely avoid…


Don’t expect to sell your first manuscript.
Come on. Admit it. You know you did. I’m just as guilty. I wrote my first novel out of pride, thinking I could do better than the lame fluff I’d been picking off the bookstore shelves. Who wouldn’t buy something so compelling, it’d have housewives feeding their families frozen pizza for dinner because they just couldn’t put my book down? Who wouldn’t want to read something different? Publishers, that’s who.


Your second manuscript is just as iffy.
The brutal truth is, even your second try at knocking out the Great American Novel might not attract a whole lot of interest either. Why? Because great writing takes practice–and lots of it. There’s no shortcut to learning the craft so well that it becomes an integral part of you.


Just because you acquire an agent doesn’t mean you’ve got an open door to every publisher.
Don’t get me wrong. Agents are great. In fact, I love my agent. Still, as great as she is, the acquisitions editor at Harper Collins isn’t exactly one of my friends on Facebook yet. 


Contracts don’t necessarily multiply like Tribbles.
Contracts are helpful and cuddly little creatures, but they don’t guarantee siblings. One contract does not always lead to the next. The only thing certain about the publishing industry is that it’s not certain.


Getting published doesn’t put an end to rejections.
Hate to burst your bubble on this one, but I don’t care if you’re insert-famous-author-of-your-choice. If your next story doesn’t dazzle and your writing isn’t top notch, then you’re going to get a rejection just like all the other plebians out there.

Ultimately it’s not impossible to land a three-book deal, but it is easier if you learn the trade and network with others in the industry. Writing is an uphill journey, but wowzer…what a view!

Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas…professionally, however, for the past 10 years. Her latest release, UNDERCURRENT, is available by Risen Books. You can find her at: Writer Off the Leashwww.mmgriep.com or on TwitterFacebook, or Pinterest.

Top 5 Reasons Writers Write

Why is it when
you tell someone you’re an author, they immediately ask how much you make? When
I find out the fella sitting next to me at a potluck is a plumber, the next
words out of my mouth aren’t, “How much does that pay?”
But even worse
are those “discreet” people. The crafty ones who slink around the edge of the
question they’re dying to ask and come at you with, “So, I bet your book is
selling really well, hmm?”
Far be it from
me to drizzle on everyone’s parade, but here’s a newsflash: most authors don’t
have a Swiss bank account where they store their hordes of cash offshore. In
fact, most authors are lucky to have an intact piggy bank sitting on a shelf in
their bedroom.
I propose that
the real question snoopy-snooperbees should ask isn’t how much do writers make,
but why do writers write? What drives a relatively normal human being to stare
at a screen for hours on end, fatiguing brain cells to create a twisty-turny
plot with memorable characters, all for pennies per word?
Lots of reasons,
really, but here are the 5 biggies…
Cheaper Than Prozac
Writing is a way
to make sense of and sort through emotions. Who needs a shrink if you can work
out your frustrations on paper? Fiction is a safe environment to build a world
and play the what-if game.
No Felonies Involved
Some people are
hooked on crack cocaine. Others sell their soul for meth. Let’s face it;
writing is an addiction. A compulsion. The act of writing gives writers a huge
warm fuzzy.
FAFSA or Student Loans Not Required
Writing is an
education. There’s always something new to learn about the craft or a deeper
level of knowledge to attain. And no matter what genre you write in, there’s
always research to be done.
To Avoid Groping TSA Agents
Love to go on
vacation but hate the hassle at the airport? That’s one of the best things
about writing. Escaping into the world of story saves tons of money and you
don’t have to apply for a passport.
To Breathe
The bottom line
is that writers write because they must. It’s an expression of self. To deny that
self causes huge amounts of frustration and invalidation…which makes for a very
cranky person.
Not that getting
a fat advance or a juicy royalty check isn’t important. It’s just not the end all and
be all of a writer at heart. In the words of one of my favorite authors…
“I write for the same reason I breathe ~
because if I didn’t, I would die.”
~ Isaac Asimov

Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas…professionally, however, for the past 10 years. Her latest release, UNDERCURRENT, is available by Risen Books. You can find her at: Writer Off the Leashwww.mmgriep.com or on TwitterFacebook, or Pinterest.