#IWSG Blog Hop–Writing Surprised You?

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It’s that time again. IWSG hosts a blog hop the first Wednesday of every month. Writers get to discuss their doubts and fears they’ve conquered, their struggles and triumphs. Even though writing is a lonely activity, it doesn’t mean you can’t surround yourself with people who understand what you’re going through.

Showing vulnerability makes you strong. If you’d like to read more from bloggers who shared their personal experiences, then please click here.

September’s question–Have you ever surprised yourself with your writing? For example, by trying a new genre you didn’t think you’d be comfortable in?

I’ve surprised myself with my writing. Growing up, I only focused on dramas and mysteries. In 2011, I focused on my women’s fiction novella Something’s Amiss. It was going to be a romance, but I hated all the rules that came with the genre. My men aren’t manly enough, and my ladies aren’t likable enough. Oh well. My drama Room For Two was published in an online literary magazine. My very first short story that got recognition. I was so proud of myself.

Then, I found out about NaNo–a fun challenge of writing 50,000 words in the month of November. 50,000 words! I’ve never written that except for NaNo haha. 30,000-40,000 words is my sweet spot. Since NaNo was supposed to be fun, I didn’t take it seriously. I figured it would be fun to experiment with a genre I’ve never written before. I love horror movies, so why not try writing a horror or thriller story?

My very first NaNo challenge created One By One. I wrote exactly what I’d like to see on the big screen. It took me 30 days to write 50,000 words. Then, it took me a year to revise and edit. I was lucky to have my writing buddy Jim Baroni–a horror author–offer to edit my novel. He helped me keep my publishing schedule. Ever since, I’ve been dabbling in horror and suspense stories. That’s my passion right now. One day I’ll go back to dramas though. I absolutely love a story that can make me cry.

My writing has surprised me, and I hope it continues to do so.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

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Excerpt of Six Plus One

Two special things motivated me to share an excerpt of my horror thriller Six Plus One.

First, I’m having a book signing on October 7th. The Hedgesville public library wants to celebrate local authors. This will be my third book signing, and I really need to get my butt in gear to get another book published!

Second, my mom’s co-worker, Mark, loved One By One. He bought a paperback copy from Amazon. After he read the book, I autographed it for him. Hearing about his excitement makes me want to publish the sequel Six Plus One!

Here’s an excerpt of Six Plus One (still a work-in-progress draft until an editor finishes looking over it):

Alta bit her nails, lost in thought as she watched the mountains along WV 28 through the passenger seat window. Raggedy looking trailers surrounded by broken down vehicles turned into a blur while the love of her life, Kendrick, drove at ridiculously fast speeds.

The radio blasted a Big Sean song through the speakers. Kendrick, wearing black rimmed glasses, tapped his fingers on the steering wheel in sync with the hip hop beat. Johanna was squished in the backseat by video equipment lying about. Her body pressed against the door, and the sound mic poked at her thigh. She was skinny like a stick, yet had curves in the right places. Best of both worlds.

Alta smiled a little when she glanced back at Johanna. “Regret it yet that you didn’t ride in the other Jeep?”

Johanna giggled. “Never.”

“I’m sure Declan was pissed.”

“Nah, he understands. We needed to plan our segment and go over our production schedule for the weekend.”

“Something we didn’t even do.”

“Something he never needs to find out.”

Alta leaned over the dashboard and glanced at the speedometer. “Babe, shouldn’t you slow down?”

“Really?” With a glint of mischief in Kendrick’s brown eyes, he smirked. “It’s only us on the road. I haven’t seen anyone for the past two hours.”

“So? Last time I checked animals are outside. Wanna run over a squirrel or hit a deer?” Alta rolled down her window to let some chilly August air in the stuffy space. Their rented Cherokee held a smell, the kind where bleach invaded your nostrils like someone cleaned blood from a crime scene.

Kendrick pressed the brake to slow down.

Johanna chuckled. “There’s the Alta I love. Where have you been, girl? You’ve seemed distracted since we left your house. Get in a fight with your dad?”

He’d have to pay attention to me first. “No. Just thinking.”

“About what?” Kendrick asked, squeezing Alta’s knee for a moment.

Alta’s cell phone rang. She picked it up on the second ring. “Hey, dad, what’s up?”

“Wanted to make sure everything’s okay. Kendrick’s following the speed limit? You guys aren’t bringing attention to yourselves, right?”

“We’re going to isolated woods to contact aliens. What could go wrong?”

***In a perfect world, Six Plus One would be released on Halloween, October 31st. Keeping my fingers crossed…

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

#IWSG Blog Hop–Valuable Lesson in Writing

It’s that time again. IWSG hosts a blog hop the first Wednesday of every month. Writers get to discuss their doubts and fears they’ve conquered, their struggles and triumphs. Even though writing is a lonely activity, it doesn’t mean you can’t surround yourself with people who understand what you’re going through.

Showing vulnerability makes you strong. If you’d like to read more from bloggers who shared their personal experiences, then please click here.

July’s question–What is one valuable lesson you’ve learned since you started writing?

In the 7th grade, I took a chance by signing up for Mrs. Kirby’s creative writing class. Art had been my passion. Art was all I knew. I had been drawing since I was 8. I loved her class–everything about it. I’ve been writing fiction since 11 years old.

Throughout the years, I’ve learned a lot about writing, but the most valuable lesson that has stuck with me would have to be…listening to music helps set the mood. Music is a must when writing anything. Since I love writing in public places (Daily Grind being my favorite), I never leave home without my headphones.

Spotify is my best friend. The app is downloaded on my tablet and my phone. No shame–I can listen to the same playlists or the same songs for hours straight, and each time the music plays over again it’s like the first time.

When I need to get in a romantic mood for a scene, I listen to Dru Hill, Jagged Edge, Justin Timberlake, Brandy.

When I need to get in a dark mood for a scene, I listen to Civil Twilight, Staind, Seether.

When I need to get in a happy mood for a scene (yeah right–me?–when do I ever write anything happy haha), I listen to Danity Kane, Mya, Destiny’s Child.

When I need to get in a drama mood for a scene, I listen to Mary J. Blige, Mariah Carey, Christina Aguilera.

You get the point. Don’t be afraid to let music inspire you.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

My Writing Board of Inspiration

If you’re a writer, do you have an inspiration board?

I do.

Here’s mine:

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Before long, I’ll also add bulletins of character sketches, storyboards, and plot outlines for every novella I write. My plan is to turn my bedroom into a writing room. Right now, I still rely heavily on Daily Grind and other public places to get anything accomplished. Soon, I hope my desk in my bedroom will be enough. It sits in front of my window–what I like to call my ‘Secret Window’ view.

I just thought it’d be fun to share a part of my writing process with you guys. Now, I’m off to write a short story. My writing buddy Melissa and I have been challenging ourselves to write 52 short stories in 52 weeks based off of Ray Bradbury’s advice. So far, we’re at the halfway mark with 26 shorts to our names. 26 weeks straight without a break!

I’m also still editing Six Plus One. I’m sorry for being slow, but I want to make sure I have everything right.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

#IWSG Blog Hop–Calling It Quits?

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It’s that time again. IWSG hosts a blog hop the first Wednesday of every month. Writers get to discuss their doubts and fears they’ve conquered, their struggles and triumphs. Even though writing is a lonely activity, it doesn’t mean you can’t surround yourself with people who understand what you’re going through.

Showing vulnerability makes you strong. If you’d like to read more from bloggers who shared their personal experiences, then please click here.

June’s question–Did you ever say “I quit”? If so, what happened to make you come back to writing?

Technically, I’ve never said that I’ll quit writing, however, quite a few times I’ve considered quitting fiction writing. At least two times since I’ve published my novellas and short story. I’m a fast writer, but a terribly slow reviser. Sometimes it’s very hard to find motivation to keep going when it takes me a year to publish one book while other self-publishers knock out books every other month. Sometimes it seems like I’ll never be a hustler or pro-active–skill sets a person needs to succeed in this industry.

That self-doubt kicks in all the time. There’s always a voice in the back of my head that says my writing sucks and my critique partners and beta-readers are too nice to point it out.

The feedback I tend to keep getting is my scenes lack emotion. I’m a thinker, not a feeler. That’s why my characters are usually in their heads a lot, thinking of their situation instead of feeling it or acting it out. I’ve also been told that I can be too fast-paced scene to scene.

From this feedback, I’ve questioned my writing skills as a fiction writer. I think I’d be better suited as a screenplay writer or a comic book/graphic novelist. A medium that allows my fast pace writing. My favorite story elements are dialogue and plot. I’m all about the twists and the bittersweet endings. It’d be so cool to see one of my short films on YouTube or to see one of my comics on a bookshelf. There’s less of a stigma being an indie creator in the comics world than in the publishing arena.

After I published Twisted Obsession, I sort of gave up writing novellas once it didn’t sell well. I couldn’t write anything new, and I couldn’t revise my old stuff. I was stuck. I didn’t write or edit any fiction for more than half a year.

Instead, I spent my time drawing comics, by taking free online classes to learn this medium. I also wrote short films and worked on a teleplay with two people. We were going to try and sell it to Netflix. My focus was on being creative and doing what made me happy at the time.

What brought me back to fiction writing–my writing buddies. Melissa and I took a free online writing class from Iowa. Those six weeks of creating a short story every week was pretty cool. It let me know instead of giving up completely on fiction, I could dabble in short stories. Short stories can give short film ideas. Around this time, I also heard from Meka. We shared what had been going on with each other over the year and started bonding again. It was refreshing to see someone in the same boat as me. She motivated me to start revising Six Plus One again. I don’t know what I would’ve done without her. She’s went beyond a normal critique partner, looking over my short novella in multiple stages. I owe her big time.

Thank you Melissa and Meka for getting me back into the writing groove 🙂

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

 

#IWSG Blog Hop–Will I Ever Be Able to Market Myself?

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It’s that time again. IWSG hosts a blog hop the first Wednesday of every month. Writers get to discuss their doubts and fears they’ve conquered, their struggles and triumphs. Even though writing is a lonely activity, it doesn’t mean you can’t surround yourself with people who understand what you’re going through.

Showing vulnerability makes you strong. If you’d like to read more from bloggers who shared their personal experiences, then please click here.

May’s question–What is the weirdest/coolest thing you ever had to research for your story?

This month I chose not to answer that question. Instead I’d like to discuss my fears on marketing myself as an author. I published my debut novel back in 2013–4 years ago, and I swear I’m probably still at the mediocre level of “marketing” myself as an author that I was back then. I’m proud of my blog. I really am. It has over 200,000 hits. However (there’s always a but), the majority of my hits come from visitors  interested in my INTJ posts. That’s not my readership…I introduced book reviews and author interviews to my blog, hoping to find readers. I don’t have a clue if I met my goal or not of reaching readers interested in the horror and suspense genres.

I’m hit or miss on social media since I don’t use it quite often. I mean, I love twitter but more as interacting with people interested in my favorite tv shows. I feel icky whenever I tweet something about myself. I’m not one of those authors who constantly tweet “buy my stuff!” I hate Facebook. No one ever sees my posts because I refuse to pay anything to boost (or promote) my stuff. I will say that I’ve made a lot of connections with comic book artists and novelists in my Facebook groups. Again, not my readership…The best way I’ve reached readers is through Goodreads. It’s been a slow process but well worth my time. I’ve made genuine connections by being a reader myself on the site.

I need to find a way to create a happy medium for marketing myself. No one will be able to find my books if I don’t share that they are out there. I’m not charming enough to sell myself in person. The only way anyone has known that I write novellas is when someone else spoke up for me ha ha. I’m good at passing out business cards, but I need to create an elevator pitch to sell myself. I’ve been at this for 4 years–I need to do better.

Sometimes I wonder if I’m even in the right field. Instead of creating fiction, maybe I should have been a comic artist or graphic novelist (drawing is my favorite passion)? Or a screenwriter?

I study constantly what works for other authors and then try to implement those strategies. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Knowing marketing is all about experimenting, I don’t mind that aspect. I just wish I could find motivation to promote or market every day. I wish I had that hustle that most self-publishers do.

I need to do better. I will do better. Or will I?…I hate this self-doubt that I have, but I can’t seem to fight it off.

Let’s try this again–I need to do better. I will do better.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

 

#IWSG Blog Hop–Reworking an Old Story

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It’s that time again. IWSG hosts a blog hop the first Wednesday of every month. Writers get to discuss their doubts and fears they’ve conquered, their struggles and triumphs. Even though writing is a lonely activity, it doesn’t mean you can’t surround yourself with people who understand what you’re going through.

Showing vulnerability makes you strong. If you’d like to read more from bloggers who shared their personal experiences, then please click here.

March’s question–Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it work out?

I believe in Stephen King’s advice of giving yourself permission to write a shitty first draft. I’m talking NaNo where chunks of unusable stuff is added just for word count. I’m talking every scene having ten billion characters in each one, trying to get my full attention. I’m talking the beginnings starting way too early, yet the endings stopping too abruptly.

Let’s just say, my first drafts are a hot mess…

I’ve pulled out really old stories to rework them. Case in point–I published Something’s Amiss in 2014. I had written the first draft back in 2011! I remember because I was working on it when I was teaching creative writing through the ACE (Adult Community Education) Program. A friend had recommended Author House after using the company’s services. I googled them and decided to stay far away! Too many red flags…

So, not really knowing how I could publish my story, I kept it on my flash drive and moved on until years later. I opened up my poor, abandoned, dreadful story and patted myself for not publishing it back in 2011.

There was massive head hopping between Poe and Oliver, scene to scene. I had a bunch of boring scenes (according to the critique partners I had found). I thought I had written a romance, but the romance readers would’ve eaten me alive. Apparently, Oliver wasn’t manly enough, and Poe wasn’t likeable enough.

After getting feedback from two critique partners, I decided romance wasn’t a genre I was interested in writing. I had to do a massive rewrite on Something’s Amiss, deciding women’s fiction was my best bet. No more head hopping. No more boring scenes. Just a man who loves a woman while mourning the loss of his cousin.

After creating my second draft, I found a new critique partner. Someone who liked the genre I was pursuing. She was great. She even gave me tips on how to write sex scenes. If you ever read my book, pages 32-35 are pretty graphic haha.

It was a fun challenge, bringing my story to life. If I would’ve given up on it because it’d be too hard to revise, then that would’ve been my loss. Looking back, I’m happy I didn’t self-publish in 2011 because I still had a lot to learn. Back then, it was a foreign concept to get feedback, then improve my work in progress. I thought a story was complete after I wrote ‘the end.’ It wasn’t until I found Absolute Write Forums that I learned the proper process of writing and publishing. I researched for two years, publishing my debut novel, One By One, in 2013.

Thanks for listening. I don’t think I’ve ever shared that out loud…

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby