5 Ideas To Try When The Creative Well Tuns Dry

A dry creative well is a real problem to us creative types. As much as we want to be able to create forever, we are not bionic. Yet. So how can we refill that creative well when it runs dry and takes our energy and inspiration with it? Here are 5 ideas:

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1. Creative Cross-Train by switching mediums:  When we switch mediums we give our minds a small mental break from our current project but are still engaging in another form of creative activity. This means our brain is still participating in a creative act, though it is being used in a different way. Sometimes, simply engaging our brains in a slightly different manner is all we need to jump start that well again. If you want to learn a little more, I wrote an entire blog post devoted to  creative cross-training.

2. Dump your rhythm. Having a creative rhythm is one of the best ways to make sure you are producing. But when we create in the same place, every day, at the same time, while it gets our brain in the habit of creating, it can also become boring. Don’t be afraid to dump the rhythm you’ve built. Moving to a new coffee shop (and people watch!), trying to create at a different time of day, may provide that spark you needed.

3. Check your energy tank. Many times I’ve believed I had no creative drive. The truth was my creative energy was being stolen by Twitter, answering email, doing dirty dishes. We only have so much energy in a day (and so much negative news we can withstand). When we let this energy be sapped, we can’t put it into our creative work, and then we wonder where our creativity went when we can’t get anything done. The problem isn’t a lack of creativity or inspiration, but a lack of pumping the well with energy to get out that creativity and inspiration. Double check how much time you’re spending on social media or even doing energy sucking projects such as cleaning and laundry. You may have an energy leak somewhere without even realizing it.

4. Live a little. The best art is a reflection of life. But showing a reflection of life is almost impossible when you forget to actually Go to the beach with friends, go on that date, buy those concert tickets. When we live, we fill our basin with events we can draw on so we can actually create.

5. STOP. As artists, we have the best job in the world. We love to create, we love what we do. How many get to plot worlds or pin down the color of a mountain at sunrise or take down a dystopian government for a job? However, when you create regularly, especially when creating is your profession, no matter how much you love it, it is still work. Work always has the potential for burnout. If you’ve done all the above suggestions and still have an empty well, it’s a good indication you need a break. Not an afternoon off to binge watch Dr Who, but an honest-to-God vacation. Think–sabbatical. If your stomach just threw up a little reading that sentence, take it as a clue that you’re in need.

Sometimes, our brain needs a break. Our brain needs to recharge. Our brain needs a time of rest. Even CEO’s of billion dollar companies need time off in order to maintain healthiness. I promise you, Earth will not implode because you disappear for a while. What you don’t want is to ignore your dry well until it cracks and becomes unusable for years. Which is a real danger for us creative folk.

Have you ever dried out your creative well? What did you do?

#Giveaway! Beyond the Red by @Ava_Jae @skyhorsepub

I mentioned in an earlier post I wanted to wanted to bring more attention to other fun sci-fi/fantasy books out there in the world my book, When Planets Fall, is a YA Science fiction novel. So, when I stumbled across Beyond the Red by Ava Jae, and saw there were a lot of elements in common–war, humanoid aliens, ultimatums, even the red landscape–I knew I had to run a giveaway for a copy of the ebook!

Beyond the Red

Here’s the Good Reads blurb:

A story of betrayal, love, and loss—all on a technologically advanced alien planet where monarchy reigns, but lies rule.

Alien queen Kora has a problem as vast as the endless crimson deserts. She’s the first female ruler of her territory in generations, but her people are rioting and call for her violent younger twin brother to take the throne. Despite assassination attempts, a mounting uprising of nomadic human rebels, and pressure to find a mate to help her rule, she’s determined to protect her people from her brother’s would-be tyrannical rule.

Eros is a rebel soldier hated by aliens and human alike for being a half-blood. But that doesn’t stop him from defending his people—at least until Kora’s soldiers raze his camp and take him captive. He is given an ultimatum: be an enslaved bodyguard to Kora, or be executed for his true identity—a secret kept even from him.

When Kora and Eros are framed for the attempted assassination of her betrothed, they flee. Their only chance of survival is to turn themselves in to the high court, where revealing Eros’s secret could mean a swift public execution. But when they uncover a violent plot to end the human insurgency, they must find a way to work together to prevent genocide.

Leave a comment below by 11:59 PM MST on September 4th to be entered into the giveaway! Winners will be selected by a random number generator.

CONGRATS TO OUR WINNER, CHRIS!!
Here’s a bit about the author:

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I’m Ava Jae.

I write. I read. I Photoshop. Then I tweet/blog/tumbl/post/vlog/instagram about it and some pretty awesome people like and read and watch it. I’m also a Freelance Editor and an Assistant Editor at Entangled, and I’m represented by the wonderful Louise Fury of The Bent Agency.

I write YA Sci-Fi and Fantasy novels because I love writing about self-discovery and the complicated worlds of young people. Then I like to take their emotionally-ridden lives, rip them apart and set them on fire. My debut novel Beyond the Red was published in hardcover and e-book by Sky Pony Press in March 2016. It has aliens and kissing and explosions and you can add it to your Goodreads shelf here.

I also have an addiction to movies, but that’s another matter entirely.

To The Hot Christian Camp Directors Who Inspired My Book

One of the most-often-questions asked a writer is “what’s your inspiration behind the book”? Most of the time we give a blank look. “Uh. I looked in the fridge. Put in a little bit of this. Little of that. Some leftovers here. And look! An omelette-book!”

At least. That’s how I feel :)

But When Planets Fall is one of the few projects I can actually trace an “origin” story to. I thought it’d be fun to share it. So let’s strap in our time machine and take an adventure back to Abby’s high school years.

Going into my freshmen year of high school, I attended summer camp at Hume Lake, a Christian camp in California near my home. There were water blobs, competition, one-piece bathing suits, and, oh yes, boys. The theme of this camp was Abby’s-not-in-junior-high anymore. Kidding (sort of).

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That’s me on the right in red.

Xenoviv. That was the theme. A mashup of Greek and Hebrew words to create the idea that this world is not our home.

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Promise I’m thinking of Jesus, not boys. *snicker*

The camp directors, besides being super-hot according to teen me, created a mini movie series about characters in an alien land, space suits, the works. I loved it. And not just ‘cause of the thick facial hair onscreen. That idea of Xenoviv stuck with me.

Abby, Chelsey, Kaitlyn, Lora

I’m on the far left

Fast forward seven years.

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Book Blitz & #Giveaway: The Retreat by @KellyStClare

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Happy Labor Day everyone!

I hope you are spending time with loved ones and taking a breather :)

Here’s another YA Sci-Fi I wanted to bring attention to. Like When Planets Fall, there’s aliens and betrayal. *giddy giggles* Also, look at that cover. I’d kill for eyelashes for that. There’s a Blitz-wide giveaway for a $50 Amazon giftcard and book swag. You can enter here. Don’t forget you can win another giftcard by signing up for my monthly newsletter!

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Earth is ruined. Humankind destroyed. And it’s old news.

Romy’s life is simple—for a genetically enhanced space soldier; pick up space junk with her four friends, and stave off the invaders fixated on stealing Planet Earth.

It isn’t much. But it’s temporary—only another 850 years to go, give or take.

When her crew tangles with a gulp-worthy alien mothership, Romy’s return to Earth is brought forwards at hurtling pace.

Strength comes from the unlikeliest of quarters.

As does leadership.

…As does betrayal.

Annnnnnd here’s some Q&A with Kelly!

1. What’s the weirdest thing you’ve googled?

Oh…so many things. Once I googled, ‘do lips turn blue before or after people die’. At the moment the top in my history is, ‘chicken with a ponytail’ and just under it is ‘Alexander Skaarsgard’.

2. What book are you reading now?

What is the whole world reading right now? Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I just finished The Mortal Song by Megan Crewe.

3. How do you work with an editor without the pride thing getting in the way?

Firstly, for those who don’t fall under the category of artist, you have to realise that when you show people your craft – be it music, art, or a story – you are sharing a bit of your soul. To show it to an Editor, who will pick it apart is the ultimate friction against your natural instincts. For me it comes down to two things; Do you want your work to be the best it can be? (If you do, then pride gets knocked down the ladder). And how good is your relationship with your editor? I think a good editor knows how to deliver criticism concisely and constructively … M&Ms also help.

4. How do you balance the craft of writing with the business of writing?

I love marketing! My craft:business balance depends on where I am in the writing process. I am like a rabid dog during the first draft. During this time, I tend to only spend an hour marketing each day. On follow up drafts it is more like 5 hours writing to 3 hours marketing. When I’m gearing up for release it is more 2 hours writing and endless marketing. I try to operate via the mantra that releasing more books is the best marketing.

5. Do you write every single day?

Yes! Not necessarily fiction, however. If I’m not working on my latest manuscript, then it is normally on blogs. Sometimes it is on things like my blurb, a synopsis, a fun unrelated thing, and I also write reviews for YA Books Central.

6. Ballpoint, uniball, or fountain tip pen?

Is fountain tip like a quill? That one.

7. Can you tell us about your upcoming book?

Sure! The Retreat is the first novel in my new series, The After Trilogy. The story follows an
early twenties genetically enhanced space soldier named Romy – don’t call her Rosemary,
you’ll make her mad. The story is set in a future where Earth has been desolated by Global

Warming. Now the last slice of humankind exists in space, protecting Earth—turns out some unfriendly visitors rather like the look of this new Earth—and waiting until they can return to solid ground.

During a battle Romy’s ship is shot down and she crash-lands on this supposedly unliveable Earth … let’s just say she doesn’t find what she expects.

8. Do you write more by logic or intuition, or some combination of the two? Summarize your writing process.

I do a massive brainstorm where all my initial ideas explode. This usually spans several
pages and builds and develops as I go. From there I do a chapter by chapter outline. I
know, when I do this, that there is no way I’ll stick to it, in terms of storyline. But it helps me to see the overall story, and make sure the structure is sound. For The Retreat I did heaps of research, contacted astrophysicists and environmentalists and other clued uppeople. I don’t have a logical bone in my body, but I would say my novels are 25% planner, and 75% intuition.

9. What do you like to read in your free time?

I review 3-4 books a month for YA Books Central—and find some great new Authors via that. Like every reader, I search for that magical story that sweeps me off my feet. #bestfeelingever. I read in any genre (but mostly fantasy and science fiction).

10. Picture your favourite writing space. What are five objects you would find there?

Ooo, okay! Uhm…a steaming and rather large cup of tea, a vanilla candle, printed cards with reviews from my readers to motivate me, inspiration pictures for whatever story I’m
writing hung up behind my computer, and of course Alfie the Writer’s Rabbit (probably
chewing on an essential cord, or three).

11. If you could ask one author one question, what would the question be and who would you ask?

I would ask JK Rowling who made her angry enough to kill Dobby.

12. What brought you to write this book?

Excitement to pull the piece of string and see what it’s attached to.

13. What’s next for you?

Soooo many stories. The fourth novel in The Tainted Accords releases October 10th. Then I’m writing a couple of Tainted Accords novellas…and then the sequel to The Retreat. I
aim to have some semblance of a life in there, too.

14. Do you have any strange writing habits (like standing on your head or writing in the
shower)?

Haha, maaaaybe. When I first plan out a story I need, like, the most majestic notebook I can find, and a life-changing pen. And during first draft I lose roughly 98% of my marbles. This month I have put mixed berries in my tea instead of a smoothie, and I got into the shower with my underwear and socks still on. It’s hard to be in two or three worlds at once. . .

15. Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?

Writing isn’t something where you reach a certain level and know you’re a good Author. You know you’re an author when you keep going no matter what.

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Book Review: The Deep End by Katy Newton Naas

I recently signed up to review The Deep End by Katy Newton Naas. Released last year, it is a YA Paranormal with thriller themes. Perfect for your spooky, dark reading needs:
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When shy sophomore Kaci Lynn Richards moves to a small town, she is nervous about the change. That is, until she befriends the outgoing Jo and meets popular senior James Mitchell. Kaci quickly learns to love her new life…until she begins to see the ghost of a teen girl in her new home. The mystery girl haunts her, giving her visions that leave clues as to who she was and how she met her violent fate. But the more she learns about the girl, the more she finds that life in this sleepy town may not be what it seems.

I’m not normally into ghost stories because of the bejeebies they give me, but I really enjoyed this one. Granted, I had to turn on all the lights in the house while I read the first half, but that’s a good sign of well-done creepiness J

What I absolutely loved about this book was Kaci’s stepfather’s involvement. We don’t normally see parents taking a big role in the story. But her stepfather stood up for her, taught her how to protect herself, and believed her when she spoke about ghosts. Far from the nonexistant parent, I loved that he had her back.

I also absolutely loved how Kaci stood up for herself in her romantic relationship. This is a great message for all girls. If you feel a relationship is off, LISTEN TO YOUR INTUITION. Be a Kaci.  She sees warning signs and acts accordingly. She involves her parents, who then help empower her to deal with the situation. (Granted, the situation gets way worse, but I don’t want to spoil anything.) Kaci has a voice, and she uses it. Plus, once she figured out something in the relationship was off, she didn’t go back to the boy. Major score points for me.

I would’ve liked to have seen either an extra chapter at the end or an epilogue—to see how Kaci coped with the climatic events. Or even another subplot or two. Also, to me, since Kaci’s mom and stepfather seemed to have a functionally healthy marriage and relationship, I wasn’t sure how realistic Kaci’s caretaking of her little brother is. Every time she’s home, the adults kind of disappeared while she took care of her brother. While this would make sense if the parents were unhealthy, they weren’t, which was refreshing to see.

However, I would still recommend The Deep End because we don’t read enough about women/girls/females paying attention to those warning signs and intuition. Kaci is a great example of how you should respond when a relationship goes sour. For this alone, The Deep End is worth a read.

Find Katy’s website here.
Follow Katy on Twitter here.
Add The Deep End on Goodreads here.

Book Blitz: Lost Eye of the Serpent by @jphilips2323 and GIVEAWAY

When I heard about this book, I knew I had to sign up. I mean, a female Sherlock Holmes?? Yes. Yes please. *Grabby hands* The Eye of the Serpent is a newly published YA mystery by Jeremy Phillips. Not only can you get your mystery-hunger fulfilled, but you can enter a rafflecopter giveaway for a FREE Amazon giftcard! Want to double your chances of a giftcard? Sign up for my monthly newsletter and get entered for another giftcard!

Alright, here’s a bit about the book:

 

It may sound crazy, but Jonathan Delacroix is certain his sister Rose really is Sherlock Holmes…

Girls are not detectives. But in the summer of 1893, in the small western town of Hope Springs, Rose Delacroix is bound and determined to prove them all wrong. When the famous Emerald Serpent Jewels are stolen from the Delacroix family hotel and the blame lands solely on her older brother Bill, Rose recruits Jonathan as her Watson-like counterpart to solve the case.

Proving your brother innocent is difficult when the evidence keeps stacking up against him…

Before Rose and Jonathan can properly start their investigation, another robbery is committed. The rusty revolver purported to have once belonged to Wild Bill Hickok has been stolen from the general store and found hidden amongst her brother’s belongings. With Bill in jail, and the owner of the Serpent Jewels planning to sue the Delacroix hotel, Rose knows she has to find a lead, and soon.

A witness comes forward claiming they saw Bill steal the jewels, but Rose isn’t about to be bullied into ignoring the facts…

Rose and Jonathan must put their sleuthing skills to the test or witness their family fall to ruin due to…

…the lost eye of the serpent.

Are you as intrigued as I am? You can find it online here:

About the author:
Jeremy Phillips has been interested in Buddhist philosophy for more than twenty years, and attends services at a Shin Buddhist temple in Spokane, Washington. When he isn’t writing or keeping busy being a father and husband, he works as a Respiratory Therapist at several different hospitals. He lives in Spokane with his wife, children, dogs, and bonsai trees.

Book Blitz: Extracted by Sherry D. Ficklin & Tyler Jolley and #Giveaway!

Extracted is a YA Steampunk and the first in The Lost Imperials series. It will be released on September 8th! You can find it on Amazon and B&N. You can win an entire box of YA mysteries through a Rafflecopter giveaway! Winners will be picked on August 25th.
Extracted
Two opposing factions of time travelers vie for control of the future in this thrilling steampunk series opener dubbed “Interesting” and “Unexpected” by Kirkus Reviews.

Lex and Ember—two time travelers with no memories of their lives before being recruited into the time war—are torn between the factions. When Lex accepts a mission that lands him deep within the heart of the Telsa Institute, he meets Ember, and the past that was stolen from them comes flooding back. Now armed with the truth of who they were, Lex and Ember must work together to save the future before the battle for time destroys them once again.

Want a taste? Here’s an excerpt!

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Including Invisible Disabilities in the Diversity Conversation #Weneeddiversebooks

Warning: This post is more forceful than I normally write, but I think it’s very important. I speak up now, not because I’m getting tired of being ignored (I honestly don’t care all that much), but because I’m tired of seeing my friends, who are in the boat with me, being ignored. You know who you are <3

I’ve noticed a trend at many writer conferences. While we are doing better to address race, ethnic, cultural, even sexual diversity through panels and workshops, we still have a tendency to leave out disabilities. (I’m assuming we all agree that disability is a form of diversity and on a simple Wiki definition of disability). When we do include disabilities, those represented are usually visible (think wheelchairs, amputations, cerebral palsy, ect). But there is a type disability that is just as important and should be included more in our conversations—invisible disabilities.

It’s harder to include these types of diversity. Most of the time, when we see somebody in the street, we don’t know they are struggling with severe depression or bipolar disorder or lupus or rheumatoid arthritis or even chronic pain unless they say so. Because it’s just that—invisible.

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However, being invisible doesn’t make the issue any less real, doesn’t mean there’s any less of a stigma, and doesn’t mean it affects our lives any less. I want to show why those of us with invisible disabilities should still be included in the diversity conversation by sharing a snapshot of my life with chronic migraine. These are some of the things I hear (not all negative), and my responses:

“Oh, It must be so nice to stay at home all day.” I’ve heard this one more times than I can count. No, it’s not. I want to be outside doing the things I love. But if I leave my house, my pain amplifies because my brain interprets the excess stimuli as pain. Whenever I want to go anywhere, I need to weight the consequences very carefully or else ruin my chance of being able to write (or get out of bed) the following couple days.

 

“I wish I could sleep in however long I want and take naps whenever I want.” Well, I can’t argue with that one. Ha. But I sleep because if I don’t get the exact amount my body is needing for the day, I won’t be able to write or paint or even make dinner. This include sleeping later than my body needs. Half the time, sleeping aggravates the pain. I never know which way my body will respond until I lay down.

 

“Pop some Excedrin already.” No. Just, no. I responding to this one, and it bled into its own post. In short, when you’re dealing with chronic migraine, pain killers of any kind are a band-aid. Though they help you with the pain, it doesn’t solve the problem in the brain. A triptan can work if you take it in the correct form your body requires (liquid vs. nasal spray vs. pill), if you catch it at the exact moment your body needs it. And many times, a triptan still doesn’t cut it.

With my type of chronic migraine, triptans make the pain worse. Which means, the only time I can get some pain relief is by taking massive pain killers, which is not the same as migraine treatment. Narcotics and morphine help, but they still don’t get rid of the pain and it’s easy to send your body into headache rebound, making the next day worse, not including the next day’s migraine. Then you need more and more and…see how easy it is to become dependent?

This means, whenever you do take painkillers or rescue medication, you need to weigh the consequences and make sure you’re taking it at the appropriate time. Which means, most of the time, you can’t take pain killers. And even when you take pain killers, 98% of the time, the pain doesn’t go completely away because it’s still not effecting your brain chemistry and is only acting as a mask.

 

“You had a migraine yesterday, it should be over.” Many people think migraine Is just getting an aura and the pain afterward. Migraine comes in 4 different stages—pre-drome (which begins several days before), aura (can last anywhere from 10 min or several hours), pain (anywhere from a couple hours to several days), post-drome (usually a a couple days afterwards). A single, episodic migraine can actually affect you for an entire week (or more!) with mental slugishness, energy deficiency, moodiness, stomach problems, ect. And that’s just regular migraines. Add something like chronic migraine and your body is basically in one of these stages. All. The. Time.

 

“Let’s hang out!” Holy crap. I love people. But anytime I want to hang with a friend, I can’t just say yes. Many times I have to say no because of the energy toll it takes on my body. If I deplete too much energy, the migraines will spiral out of control. I know my body well enough to know I can only do about 1 external thing a week, up to 3 if it’s a great migraine week and they are little errands. I’ve lost many friends because of this.

 

“You’re invited to…” Let me check my calendar. I receive Botox injections every 12 weeks, so my migraines take on a 3 month cycle form. If everything else is perfect and nothing is affecting me except Botox alone, I usually have 4 good months a year, 4 bad ones, 4 so-so. Where does the event fall into the cycle? Is the traveling and stress of being else-where worth the migraine it will aggravate?

 

“Exercise solves everything.” Lies. (some people, yes, for me, no. Though I am happier when I can work out.) If I want to go for a walk, I have to decide what I’m willing to sacrifice that day since even short amount of exercise will trigger me and I will have to cut something off my to-do list. When the migraines are really bad, I can’t even get up a *$%^ flight of stairs without help.

 

“Write more!” Anytime I want to write, I ask—is this worth the pain? Usually, for me, the answer is yes. Then the follow up is, how much pain is this worth? Am I going to play a short-term game and kill myself to finish the scene and be aggravated the next 2 days? (sometimes the answer is yes, sometimes no). Am I going to play long term and do less now, but draw it out and be slower than I want to work? (sometimes yes, sometimes now).

 

When you look at me, you see somebody tall and confident. And I am. I love wearing shoes that shove me over 6 foot. And I’ve been told multiple times I project one of those I-know-what-I’m-doing-even-though-I’m-actually-screwed auras. You’ll often hear me laughing because I have the humor of a junior high boy and think farts and drawing penises on the church bulletin are funny.

However, I still carry all this junk Every. Single. Day. This affects me Every. Single. Day. I’ve had to completely restructure the way I live in order to have even a chance of managing chronic migraine. I’m pretty sure this qualifies as meeting even the simple Wiki definition of disability: an impairment that may be physical, cognitive, intellectual, mental, sensory, developmental, or some combination of these that results in restrictions on an individual’s ability to participate in what is considered “normal” in their everyday society. 

Just because the disability is invisible doesn’t mean I, and my friends and others like me, shouldn’t be included in the diversity conversation.

 

A couple of my fav websites about books and diversity:

disabilityinkidlit.com—they review disabilities portrayed in children’s lit and have great articles on different types of disability.

Weneeddiversebooks.com–a great, much needed campaign

Migraine.com—great articles and community and even keeps you up to date on the newest research and treatments. Their newsletters are fantastic.