Egyptian Afterlife, Not Death

This fun post from Notes from the Urn Diva covers an Egyptian concept known as “westing” applied in book four of the Three Keys series. I hope you enjoy.

Credit: http://urnsbyartists.com/no-death-in-ancient-egypt/

  • Silly Wabbit, I’m Just Westing

    How can a culture so focused on life after death, have no actual word for death in their language? Such is the case with the ancient Egyptians. The concept of death as we know it did not exist. When one left one’s body, the spirit transitioned to the afterlife traveling west with the setting sun to the underworld. In fact, they never spoke of death, but rather of “westing”, reflecting the paths of our sun and stars” Here’s a short clip featuring Egyptian Archeologist, Abd’el Hakim Awyan on the ancient Egyptians : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZoAxs1i9Jyw#action=share

     

    Egyptians believed that humans possessed ‘Ka‘ or life-force, and  ‘Ba‘ that remained with the body after death. The fact that death was inconceivable to the Egyptians speaks volumes. Westerners tend to see things as an either or situations; life and death, black and white; on or off. For the Egyptians, the transition must have been almost seamless; simply the beginning of a fantastic journey. The absence of the word ‘Death’ leads me to believe that their spiritual life was just as real and integrated in the physical. Imagine what it would be like to live with no distinction between life and death. What would it be like to live your life looking forward to your most fabulous adventure?

    Westing; A Seamless Transition.

    I love the concept of Westing. My mother died just a few years ago. For Mom, the concept of death was nothing like Westing, it was instead the inevitable ‘Dirt Nap’ as she called it that haunted her. For Mom, it was the end of the line for her, lights out, but the Dirt Nap made no sense to me.

    This was frequently a point of debate for my mother and me; her question was “So, how do you know God exists?” I would counter by asking if she really could imagine we had no spirit. This was usually where the conversation ended. Mom wanted concrete answers. She always prided herself in being an agnostic. I respected that. She questioned things, and I question her.

    Regardless, I’m going with Westing and dumping the Dirt Nap idea. I think the Egyptians were on to something there. I love to travel and I’m preparing myself for a  journey of transformation beyond all my wildest adventures here on earth. While the concept of death provides a reference point for our conduct and endeavors, the idea of a magnificent journey is far more intriguing for me. So, for the time being, don’t worry, Mom. Silly Wabbit, I’m just Westing!

    Screen Shot 2014-06-13 at 11.53.14 AM

     

 

 

April Is National Autism Awareness Month – Kieran’s Story Sheds Light On An Often Misunderstood Condition

With my son recently being diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, after years of seeing doctors, it was a relief to finally get a diagnosis, specifically Asperger’s. Kieran’s story below sheds real insight into this condition, that often is misunderstood because the difficulties these sensitve, intelligent kids experience are not so visible on the “outside”. Thanks to Kieran, Ambry Genetics and author Tiffany Au for providing the interview.  http://blog.ambrygen.com/post/176/what-is-life-like-for-someone-with-autism-part-1-of-2

What is Life Like for Someone with Autism? (Part 1 of 2)

  • Tiffany Au
  • April 6th, 2017
58e4116779609.pngEditor’s Note:

To help support National Autism Awareness Month, we are sharing our interview with Kieran Best, a 14-year-old young man with an autism spectrum disorder.  Kieran graciously shared insights into what his day-to-day life is like and offered words of wisdom to others who may be in his situation. Check back in two weeks to read our interview with Christina DeRochemont, Kieran’s mother, who also spoke with us. She’ll tell us about what life was like early on with Kieran, and how they received his diagnosis.

 

Ambry: Why are you excited to share your story?

Kieran: I have never done one of these before, so that’s neat. It’s nice to be a voice for people like me. I want to share who I am to show people at the end of the day – I am a regular teen with a good heart, I just experience difficulties in certain areas.

 

A: Where did you grow up?

K: I was born in Burnsville, Minnesota. I came to California when I was three and then moved back to Minnesota for six months. I came back to Los Angeles when I was 11, and here I am.

 

A: What’s something exciting in your life right now?

K: I am going to Japan with my classmates. This will be my first time going abroad.  We are going for 10 days and will be leaving towards the end of June. I am also going to Catalina [Island] for three days. I know it’s a lot of travel and being in the outside world… are you proud of me?

 

A: I am envious of your adventures! Outside of travel, what are some of the things you enjoy?

K: I enjoy video games, mostly the older varieties. I collect them. Now, I am into all sorts of media and analyzing them. For example, video games are a work of art. I play them for fun, but I like to learn the history of the game and understand the complexity of its makeup. I like to read. However, I will only read classics; I have not picked up a book that isn’t famous. By famous, I mean that everyone knows the author. For instance, I am reading Around the World in 80 days, The Picture of Dory and the entire Sherlock Holmes series. I watch movies and television. Just like my books and video games, I love older forms of media.

 

A: It’s wonderful that you are able to appreciate so many forms of media and have such a curiosity in complex messages. What are some areas of your life that you like to keep simple?

K: I keep my foods pretty minimal and simple. I am not a vegetarian; I just don’t like meat. I don’t like the texture. I am sensitive to texture when it comes to food. Vegetables are hard for me to eat, as well. I am not the proudest of my diet, but I am getting better. A year or so ago, I noticed I am more willing to try new things. I mean, I am going to Japan so I need to force myself or I may starve. Oh, one last thing: My favorite dessert is macaroons – vanilla. I only like vanilla because it’s well on its own and it plays well with others.

 

A: Sounds like something a chef would say, would you ever consider being a chef? If not, what do you want to be when you grow up?

K: No! I would never be a chef. I am not even proud of the three things I eat. I see myself in the gaming industry, but I’m not sure what I would be doing. I truly enjoy video games. I wanted to be an artist, but I realized I can’t draw. It is probably because I have shaky hands. I found out I’m half-decent at writing. I started my blog, www.tehyoshiking.com, and figured out that it is fun to make. I know I needed to do something with my life, so I started the blog. I don’t know if I really want to do this for the rest of my life, but it’s fun for now.

 

A: Now that we know a little bit about your background and interests, would you like to share about what it is like to be a young man with autism?

K: There is a stereotype for everything and everyone now. People think that having autism will harm your quality of life. When they hear “autism,” they think people like me are overly excited, act differently, have a hard time focusing, and lack social skills. In my eyes, it is nothing like that; it’s just a mild annoyance. I take medication, mainly during the week, so I don’t act strange. Other than that, I feel pretty normal. When I am on my medication, I have a harder time adjusting, but can focus better. When I am off it, I can’t focus, but can do more things at once.

 

A: How does this affect your life at school?

K: I do have some social issues when I am on my medication, but like I said, I can focus a lot more and do my school work. When I don’t take my medication, I am more social. Also, when I’m not on my medication, I am more confident, or at least feel it. There are more people like me at my private school, and it makes me feel more comfortable because we have similar interests and speak similar terms, if that makes sense.

 

A: How does this affect your life in relationships with your friends? How about family?

K: It doesn’t change much in my eyes. I suppose starting relationships with friends is a little more difficult. I am an emotional person, but it is not easy for me to talk about my emotions. I don’t like sharing them with other people because I don’t want to cause emotional distress for other people. I don’t like making people feel sad.

 

A: You are quite empathic! What other areas in your life do you feel most confident?

K: I am most confident in academics, knowledge of historical events, and video game knowledge.

 

A: What areas in your life do you wish to improve?

K: I always feel like people are judging me. I assume that everyone judges, but I know they don’t. I think that it’s a personal thing. I want to feel less judgement.

 

A: Do you have any advice for others who live with autism?

K: Sure! Stay in school, don’t do drugs, and drink your milk. Try and think positive in life-that is really how you end up on top. Try and be more social because I promise there are people that are like you, even if it doesn’t seem like there are. Try and reach out to other people who have similar interests. I started a video game club in middle school and had to turn people away because it got too big!  Most importantly, never try to be someone you are not.

The Cast and Crew of ‘Outlander’ Reveal Their Favorite Filming Locations

From my favorite book series by Diana Gabaldon to the t.v. version of “Outlander” that makes me want more from these talented actors…Take a peek at a few of these gorgeous on-site filming locations provided by the Travel + Leisure site.  http://www.travelandleisure.com/culture-design/tv-movies/outlander-cast-and-crew-favorite-locations?iid=sr-link1#intro

Kindle Scout: Yay or Nay?

Get the straight scoop on the program from author Victoria Strauss below, and decide if this is the best route to publishing for you.

Kindle Scout: The Pros and Cons of Amazon’s New Crowdsourced Publishing Program

Posted by Victoria Strauss for Writer Beware

Yesterday, Amazon’s brand-new crowdsourced publishing program, Kindle Scout, opened for voting by the public.The concept is pretty simple:

Kindle Scout is reader-powered publishing for new, never-before-published books. It’s a place where readers help decide if a book gets published. Selected books will be published by Kindle Press and receive 5-year renewable terms, a $1,500 advance, 50% eBook royalty rate, easy rights reversions and featured Amazon marketing.

Authors can submit their full manuscripts of 50,000 words or more (including cover art, various metadata items, and an author photo), about 5,000 words of which are posted on the Kindle Scout website for a 30-day “campaign”. Readers can then browse books and nominate their favorites. If a manuscript they’ve voted for gets published, they receive a free ebook.

Things authors should note:

  • Amazon provides no editing, copy editing, proofreading, or cover art/illustration. Your book will be published exactly as you submit it.
  • Submissions are exclusive for 45 days from the date you submit your manuscript. No shopping your ms. elsewhere during that time.
  • Submitted manuscripts must meet content and eligiblity guidelines. Currently, only Romance, Mystery and Thriller, and SF/Fantasy are eligible.
  • Crowdsourcing? Not so much. Authors are encouraged to mobilize their networks for voting (which kind of undermines the notion that manuscripts will rise to the top on merit–a perennial problem of crowdsourced ventures, along with the potential for gaming the system). Mere vote numbers, however, don’t determine what gets published. Per the FAQ, “Nominations give us an idea of which books readers think are great; the rest is up to the Kindle Scout team who then reviews books for potential publication.”
  • If you’re attracted by the promise of “featured Amazon marketing”, here’s what it actually consists of: “Kindle Press books will be enrolled and earn royalties for participation in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library and Kindle Unlimited as well as be eligible for targeted email campaigns and promotions.” Key word here: “eligible.” In other words, no promises.
  • If you’re not selected for publication, you must request removal of your work from the Kindle Scout site. Otherwise, your campaign page will remain online.
  • By submitting, you agree in advance to the terms of the Kindle Press publishing agreement. These terms are not negotiable. So before you submit, be sure you’re comfortable with them. (If Amazon chooses not to publish your ms., you’re automatically released).

So, what about that publishing agreement?

Overall, it’s decent. The grant of rights (for ebook and audio editions only–though see below) renews every five years, but you can request reversion at the end of any five-year term if you’ve earned less than $25,000 in royalties during the term, or at any time after your two-year publication anniversary if you’ve earned less than $500 in the previous 12 months. Royalties are 50% of net for ebooks and 25% of net for audiobooks, paid within 60 days of the end of the month. And of course, there’s the $1,500 advance.

Things authors should note:

  • The grant of rights is a bit more sweeping than it appears:
    • The grant of rights includes translation rights. If these are exercised by Amazon, your royalty drops to 20% of net. (On the plus side, if Amazon has not exercised or licensed these rights within two years, you can request that they be reverted.)
    • Amazon can license to third parties any of the rights you’ve granted. You get 75% of net proceeds for foreign-language books licensed to third parties, and 50% of net proceeds for any other format.
    • The grant of rights allows Amazon not just to publish and/or license ebooks and audiobooks, but to “create condensed, adapted, abridged, interactive and enhanced editions of your Work, and include your Work in anthology or omnibus editions.”
  • For “subscription or other blended fee programs” (for instance, Kindle Unlimited), net revenue “will be determined in accordance with the standard revenue allocation methods for that program.” So be sure you’re aware of what those are.
  • Amazon “may” register copyright for you, but is not required to do so.
  • As always, Amazon maintains complete discretion and control, and can make decisions and changes without telling you. “You acknowledge that we have no obligation to publish, market, distribute or offer for sale your Work, or continue publishing, marketing, distributing or selling your Work after we have started doing so. We may stop publishing your Work and cease further exploitation of the rights granted in this Agreement at any time in our sole discretion without notice to you.” (my emphasis) These are not sentences you’ll find in a typical publishing contract.

So should authors rush to submit their unpublished novels?

On the plus side, there’s the advance (money up front is nice), the possibility of subrights sales, the promotional boost that published books will receive from the selection process–at least while the program is new–and whatever promotions Amazon may (not necessarily will–see above) undertake for individual books. Amazon’s on-site promotions (as distinct from its email promotions, which can be spammy; you haven’t lived until you’ve gotten an Amazon email promotion for your own book) are incredibly powerful, and can have a huge impact on sales numbers–though that effect doesn’t necessarily last past the promotion itself. It’s possible, also, that gaining a toehold in Amazon’s publishing ecosystem could eventually open the door to one of Amazon Publishing’s traditional imprints–for some authors, at least.

On the other hand, Kindle Scout seems to occupy an uneasy middle ground between publishing and self-publishing, embracing characteristics of both while offering the benefits of neither. As with a traditional publisher, you must agree to an exclusive contract that takes control of certain of your rights–but you don’t get the editing, proofing, artwork, or any of the other financial investments that a traditional publisher would provide. As with self-publishing, your book is published exactly as you submit it, with no developmental input or support–but you don’t have control of pricing and you receive a smaller percentage of sales proceeds than you would with KDP.

For Amazon, Kindle Scout is super-low risk publishing with the potential for substantial yield–not just from books that prove popular but from the influx of new users to its website. For authors, it’s the usual dilemma: does what you may gain outweigh what you don’t get, and what you must give up?

As always, don’t rush in. Read and understand the Kindle Scout publishing agreement, and be sure you’re comfortable with the other conditions to which you’re agreeing by submitting your manuscript. Be realistic in your expectations–not just of the possibility of publication, but of what might result if you’re selected.

And please–don’t spam your entire social network with requests for votes.

UPDATE, 10/30/14: Amazon’s right to ebooks and audiobooks is exclusive, but I’ve been asked whether the Kindle Scout publishing agreement would allow authors to self-publish in print. The answer would appear to be “yes”. Here’s the relevant language (my emphasis): “All rights not expressly granted to us in this Agreement (including the right to publish print editions) are reserved for your sole use and disposition.”

Also, here’s author Benjamin Sobieck’s first impressions of his Kindle Scout campaign. He makes some interesting observations.

UPDATE, 12/3/14: Just four weeks after Kindle Scout officially launched, the first books have been selected for publication. That seems incredibly fast. I wish Amazon were more transparent about stats, so we could know how many books were submitted to the program and how many readers participated.

UPDATE 1/20/15: It’s been confirmed to me that at least some Kindle Scout winners do receive editorial suggestions and cover assistance.

UPDATE 7/16/15: Still more on editing: according to author Victoria Pinder, whose book was chosen for the program, “The Kindle Scout winners all talk to each other, and we’ve all received edits. Some people received some heavy developmental editing. Truthfully, I didn’t….The team still found quite a few things I needed to do to polish and clean in the manuscript so I still had editing. I can also say more than one set of eyes read my manuscript from the Kindle Scout team. The editor comments were done on different dates with different names.”

Are we All Right or Alright?

A Merriam-Webster post

All Right or Alright?

Which is Correct, and When?

All right, everyone: listen up.

If you were listening when your English teacher said that, you probably learned that all right is the only way to write the word that is also sometimes spelled alright. Pete Townshend preferred the tighter version when he wrote the lyrics to The Who’s famous song, The Kids are Alright, and James Joyce thought alright was better (in one instance out of 38) for Ulysses too.

Pete and James weren’t trying to impress your English teacher, obviously.

If you are, you’ll do as most writers do and stick to all right. It is by far the more common styling in published, edited text. But alright does have its defenders, and instances of alright abound in informal writing.

And what’s not to like, really? It’s an efficient little version, and it looks right at home with a bunch of other common words — already, although, altogether, almost, always. What’s up with the lack of English-teacher love for alright?

It’s all about history: English spelling was fluid for a very long time, and the words all right, already, although, and the others had various forms over several hundred years — with spaces, hyphens, alternate vowels, one l, two l’s — until the 18th century when they settled into the spellings that we recognize today. Only all right developed a variant modern spelling after that settling. Alright dates — in literature anyway — to Mark Twain circa 1865. Which makes it a bit of an upstart. And lexical upstarts don’t tend to win popularity contests.

Some people assert that there’s a difference in meaning, that “The answers were all right” means that all the answers were correct, and that “The answers were alright” means that the answers were adequate or satisfactory. If you like that distinction you can use it, but the fact is that “The answers were all right” can mean either that the answers were all correct or that they were satisfactory. All right can — and does — do everything that alright does, and it has the added bonus of making your English teacher happy.

Which leads us to this concluding recommendation: use alright if you like it and don’t care that it’s not the favored form. There’s nothing essentially wrong with it. Use all right if you need people to know that you know what’s all right — at least according to your English teacher (and a lot of other folks).

A “Mandate” To Keep Distance From Self-Published Authors?

Will Traditional Publishing Retain Its Dominance by Mandating That Its Authors Keep Their Distance from Self-Published Authors?

Imagine my dismay this week to discover that one of the Big Five houses has a policy that bars its authors from endorsing print-on-demand books. Sadly, it’s not surprising. Traditional publishing actively works to position itself against nontraditional publishing yet has no issue whatsoever with scooping up self-published success stories. Double standard? Yes.

I’ve written previously about discrimination against POD here, and against independently published authors here, but this takes things to a whole new level.

That a traditional publisher would institute a policy against blurbing POD books suggests a few things:

1) They’re equating print-on-demand with self-publishing. Inaccurate. Many self-published books are not print-on-demand, and many traditionally published books are flipped to POD status, oftentimes as soon as a year following publication. During my years at Seal Press, I sat in on countless meetings where we decided, based on sluggish sales, which books should become print-on-demand, since it makes no business sense whatsoever to reprint 500 books (what offset printing requires to benefit from economies of scale) for titles that aren’t moving. And I know for a fact that the big houses practice this as well.

2) They’re operating from the worst kind of scarcity mentality. They must believe that endorsing POD (or self-published) books will shine a negative light on their authors. Guess what, Big Five—you are shining a negative light on yourselves with your own acquisitions choices: turning Duck Dynasty into a literary dynasty and publishing such standouts as Growing Up Duggar (even before the recent scandal, this should have been red-flagged as a problem book) and Fifty Shades of Grey (which admittedly made Random House tons of money, but does anyone really think this was a good series?).

Peruse the deals listed on Publishers Marketplace any given week, and you’ll cringe at some of what the big houses are buying. I’ll never forget what one New York literary agent said to me back when I worked for Seal Press about a book she’d sold to a big house that she knew had little literary worth: she called it “cannon fodder.” So help me, god, I thought, the day I acquire something I consider cannon fodder should be the day I get up and walk out. To this day, I’ve never felt that way about any book I’ve acquired or published.

3) They’re distancing themselves from their own bad decisions. Simon & Schuster has a self-publishing imprint called Archway, run by Author Solutions (of very questionable ethics who’ve been sued by authors and whose track record you can Google), which, awkwardly and oddly, is owned by Random House/Penguin. (Apparently Simon & Schuster has no qualms about the self-publishing arm of their business being owned by their biggest and direct traditional competitor.) One of the great promises of Archway is that you might get published by Simon & Schuster—if your book sells well enough. But their traditionally published authors apparently can’t and won’t blurb you. So there you go—you’re the pissed-upon little sibling. They happily run a self-publishing imprint, but they do whatever they can to distance that “subset” from the preferred children.

I wish I could just take a breath here to calm myself, but I’m angry. Why? Because this information came from a traditionally published author after she’d already agreed to blurb a She Writes Press book. She checked in with her editor, who pulled the plug. And it’s clearly not because the book (which, she said, “should have been traditionally published”), which we intend to print offset, is POD. Instead, the traditionally published author said, it boils down to a difference in values, because she fundamentally believes that publishers should invest in authors, and that authors should not invest in themselves.

Kamy and I started She Writes Press with the goal of being transparent about what we do and how we do it: the author pays to publish but retains drastically higher royalties. For years I have witnessed traditional houses cutting all kinds of creative deals—where authors pay production and print runs; where creative royalty splits are negotiated. This is not new. And yet being up front about it automatically classifies us, in some people’s minds, as “vanity press,” a term I despise, by the way. That traditional publishing is actively engaged in undermining emerging and valid models by slandering them propagates a lack of transparency in the industry. As one fellow publisher (who cuts hybrid deals) recently told me, “We don’t like to advertise it, because, you know, of the stigma.” I suppose the author who invests in herself behind closed doors qualifies for endorsement consideration without having to justify her process.

I’ve been arguing since the conception of She Writes Press that what should matter about a book is how well written it is—not the author platform or brand or how many followers a would-be author has. And yet, from a business perspective, of course it makes sense that this is what publishers today must focus on—or risk decimation. I left traditional publishing after a particularly symbolic experience, when I was actively discouraged from acquiring a book I believed in wholeheartedly but then met with excessive enthusiasm (and a large advance to back it) for a proposal propelled by a fancy agent, celebrity endorsements, and a whole lotta hot air. It wasn’t cannon fodder, and it ended up doing well for the company, but I’d compromised. I left three months later.

If you are asked to blurb a book, what should matter is whether you believe in it. If you don’t, you don’t blurb it. If you care enough about the author or the book, you offer your endorsement. End of story. It’s your choice. A blurb is a gift to the author. Authors do not pay for blurbs. They work hard to get them because the industry tells authors that they matter, that they sell books. She Writes Press authors have scored amazing blurbs—blurbs from New York Times best-selling authors and champions of people’s dreams. A publishing company, in my opinion, does not have the right to mandate whom its authors advocate in an attempt to control its reputation or to distance itself from “the other.” To do so smacks of elitism, one of traditional publishing’s lasting and detrimental flaws. We’ve already arrived at a place where people judge books on the writing, not on how those books make it into the marketplace. It’s time for traditional publishing to catch up, to pull its head out of the sand. That it’s lost sight of publishing’s mandate—to champion good books—speaks to its values. And those are values I certainly don’t share.

Expanding Your Creative Ability

Writing Exercises That May Help You to Become More Creative

Posted: 19/12/2013 10:53 GMT Updated: 17/02/2014 10:59 GMT

As writers there are times for all of us when we hit that brick wall formally known as writers block. No matter how much work or studious contemplation you push onto a page, it just doesn’t seem to be working. If you spend lots of time agonising over every decision in your book, maybe you’re over-thinking it. If you have trouble finding the path, perhaps you need to shake things up.

Well, never fear. Writing should be a labour, but a labour of love. You should at least enjoy some degree of your writing so here are some quick exercises that may help you to become more creative. Find your writing space, wear whatever you’re most comfortable in…

Go out and do a spot of people watching
Sit yourself down in a cafe (or a bar. Caffeine, alcohol, pick your drug of choice) and take a notepad and pen or a laptop, however you prefer to write. Then look at the people around you. Try to think up their story. Ask yourself some questions. Why are they there that day? Are they alone? If so, why? Do they look happy? What does the way they drink or eat their food say about them? Very soon you’ll be whipping up a character around these strangers that you can easily transport into a book. Looking at someone and thinking of their little idiosyncrasies and some sort of back-story may help to really enrich your characters and make them seem more human.


Trying too hard to create the perfect ending?

Why make it perfect? Why tie up every loose end when that’s just what the reader expects? Why not shock the reader (and yourself) by ending it in some brutal, cold fashion out of the blue. I mean, let’s be honest… it’s a method that seems to be working well for George R.R Martin. This may make the book marketable because the ending is so different and it may even force you to want to write a sequel as your mind tries to solve the damage that you yourself have inflicted on the characters and your audience.


Get a little experimental

Was your story promising to start with but now dwindling? Why not do something interesting? Play around with the timeline or format. Introduce unexpected images and twists that seem arbitrary and, as time goes on, find ways to link them into some sort of similar theme. Why not change genre half way through? Start it as a rom com that then turns in to a thriller unexpectedly mid sentence to keep yourself and the audience guessing. If you’re excited about the plot, you’ll want to write it and keep writing. Draw out mind maps and try to really visualise where you’re going and how to get there. Try to experience some of the things in the story (as long as they’re not dangerous to anyone or illegal) and try to get a real feeling for what’s happening in case it beings about some inspiration.


Stranger than Fiction

If you want to write but have trouble finding something to write about I can honestly recommend that the news is a great place to find inspiration. There are so many wacky news stories that come out each day just waiting for you to come along and inject a little imagination into.

Are your plot lines too thin?
If you’re someone who has lots of different novel ideas, almost too many, then why not try to think of ways to cram them together. Do you feel there’s not enough action? Is there not much going on in your current novel? Why not consider the possibility of joining your current story with old, abandoned drafts of other stories you’ve worked on. If they can work within the same narrative then this may be the key to helping you create a well-rounded story.

Write regularly, write often.
The more you write, the better you’ll become. When you’re not working on a story why not try your hand at blogging or poetry writing. Why not write short stories on simple themes. Write the story of your name and how you came to be called that. Write about the best moment of your life. Write about the last thing that made you laugh. Maybe you’ll find that you can use bits of these short stories in a bigger story.

Create a back-story for every major character
Think your characters seem a little one dimensional? Well before writing why not sit down and write a page or two in your notes about that character. Where were they born? What childhood experiences have made them who they are today? What are their fears? What is their favourite food? What are their little idiosyncrasies that make them unique? So they have a stutter? Do they “um” and “ahh” when they speak because they’re anxious about what they say? Do they start tapping their fingers on the table when they begin to feel anxious? Always remember to make your characters human so that when your reader is reading the text they feel like they’re almost interacting with real people. It makes for a much better read than cardboard characters. Even if it’s just you who knows the back-story it can deepen a character. In fact, here is an excellent questionnaire that I found on Tumblr that may help you to form fully rounded and interesting characters.

In answering the above questions it may help you to really shape your characters. You can make things up or base the character on someone you know. Once the characters really feel human and have their own characteristics this may make them more interesting to write and certainly more interesting to read.

Sit on that brick wall: ignore your work for a while.
Why not try avoiding your work for a while? As we all know, inspiration hits at the strangest of times. Maybe if you’re forcing yourself to write then it’s not going to come organically. Do other things and maybe inspiration will come naturally to you in time.