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Deadlines & Sanity, What’s the Connection? @NRNadarajah #Fantasy

18 Feb

Allow me to tell you about a little something I learned when I was just a wee little lad. Several times a week, my dad would sit me down and ask me: “so, what’ve you got planned for the day?” It was a simple question, and one I should’ve had an answer for each time he asked. But that was usually never the case. I hardly ever had an answer for him, and when I did, it was a fleeting thought about something that I might’ve wanted to do a day or two down the road.

“You need to make a schedule,” he’d then tell me. “Make a schedule and organize your thoughts. Create a checklist or something like that. You’ll be more productive that way.”

Did I listen to him? I’d like to tell you that I did.

So, how have I managed to write two YA fantasy novels, as well as two other picture eBooks for adults, while sticking to my deadlines without driving myself barking mad?

You’ve guessed it. I finally started listening to what my old man had to say. Here’s how I’ve incorporated his advice into furthering my productivity and finding success along the way.

Every Sunday, I’d take about five to ten minutes out of my time and sit down to make a checklist. Trust me on this. Make a list and write down everything you’d like to accomplish that week. And then when you feel like you’ve listed out and scheduled your entire week, add a few more items you’d like to accomplish.

There are seven days in a week, which equates to 168 hours. That’s a whole lot of hours just waiting to be used up (or wasted. That decisions up to you). 168 hours. There’s so much we can do in that time. There’s so much we can accomplish, and yet, the majority of us find that we’re only ever able to complete a fraction of what we intended to finish. The reason, I find, is because for the most part, we end up wasting our time trying to figure out what to do next, or how to kill that time which is given to us.

This is where the checklist we created comes into play. Take it as a challenge to accomplish each and every item on that list. Because you’ve already written down the things you’d like to get done by week’s end, there is little or no time wasted trying to get yourself organized. What’s more is that you’ve written down more than you can accomplish. Try your hardest to get all of it done. Chances are you won’t. But by reaching for the stars, you know how the rest of this cliché goes.

So how does making this checklist and trying to complete the items on that list help you meet your deadlines and remain sane while doing it?

Creating that list and hoping to check off the items as you finish them isn’t enough to get the job done. Sometimes, it is. However, along the way, we tend to bite our nails, repeatedly bang our heads on the table, grit and bare our teeth at our laptops hoping for some miracle to happen, take naps to calm our mounting frustration, etcetera, etcetera, and another etcetera, why? Because we tend to look at the project as a whole.

Don’t do that. It can be rather overwhelming considering the amount of work that needs to be done to complete whatever it is that you’re trying to complete.

Instead, take a deep breath. Relax. And while you’re making that checklist to start the new week, remind yourself to take this one day at a time, one step at a time. And while you’re at it, remind yourself why you’re doing this.

No one’s forcing you to be a writer.

This is your passion. Your choice.

You’re pushing yourself beyond your mental endurance because you want to see your book, your creation, come to life.

So why stress over that deadline and hurt yourself while trying to meet it.

You’ve got the tools. You’ve got the want and the will. And now, you’ve that magical little checklist to guide your way. So start cracking and start checking off those items as you breeze right through them.

If you’re a writer, you’re reading this, and you’re trying to meet a deadline, always keep one thing in mind. We’ve already embarked upon a quest that makes us partly insane. So tell me, fellow writer, what’ve you got to lose?

DreamCaster

Haunted by memories of his massacred settlement, sixteen-year-old Weaver seeks cover in a hidden refuge among the remains of a ruined city. In the midst of building a new life, Weaver discovers that he has the amazing power to cast his dreams into reality. Convinced it’s just an anomaly, Weaver ignores it. That is until he learns of a mysterious man who shares the ability, and uses his power to bring nightmares into existence and wage war on the world. The peaceful life Weaver hoped for begins to unravel as waves of chaos begin to break loose about him. In a race against time, Weaver must learn to accept his role as a dream caster and master his new power, before his new home is destroyed and humanity is pushed to the brink of extinction.

Buy @ Amazon & Smashwords

Genre – Fantasy

Rating – PG

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George Bernstein – On Doing Research @GeorgeBernstein

19 Nov

On Doing Research

by George Bernstein

Non-fiction writers are constantly challenged with getting the facts right. That usually requires a lot of research, especially if you’re dealing with a subject on which you are not already an expert. Nothing denigrates a work more than faulty or bogus data.

Of course, if you’re writing fiction, your imagination is allowed to run free, so accurate details aren’t prerequisites, right?

Wrong! Nothing bugs readers more than seeing information that is totally out of sync with the real world… unless you are writing fantasy or sci-fi. Even little things like descriptions of locations that don’t jive with physical reality can draw critical comments on a writer’s web site or the multitude of writing blogs that span the internet. Of course, you can intentionally change the description of a location and give streets bogus names if you think it necessary for the story you’ve developed. Just be sure you state that fact in the Foreword or Acknowledgements.

Occasionally you’ll find your imagination actually coincides with reality. That’s when getting the facts straight really count. When I began writing my first novel, Trapped, in 1990, I imagined a physical condition for my protagonist, Jackee, as physically comatose but fully sentient, locked in her head. Only her mind and her eyes worked. It wasn’t until several years ago that I heard of “Locked-in Syndrome,” which is exactly the condition I envisioned. When Trapped won TAG Publisher’s  “Next Great American Novel” contest in 2012, and I was on my way to getting published, I figured I‘d better do some research on the condition, to lend reality to her story.

Thanks to Google, I found a plethora of articles on the syndrome, including many vignettes about real people in Locked-in Syndrome. I even discovered the medical terms for the parts of the brain affected. It took several days of digging and sorting to accumulate what I needed, and then several more days to incorporate it into the story without making it look like a “data dump.” I was happy with the results, and I’ve received many comments from doctors, including two neurologists, complimenting me on the accuracy of my work. That makes you feel great about a job well done.

In my second novel, A 3rd Time to Die, launched in June of 2013, I was faced with a more difficult research task. This romantic suspense deals with past lives and rebirth. I’d read several books on the subject by Dr. Brian Weiss, a leading proponent of the subject. In A 3rd Time to Die, two lovers are brutally murdered in the 17th Century. Their souls are reborn in the 19th Cerntury, again finding love together… and are again gruesomely murdered. Now they are back in the 21st Century… and so is their killer.

My protagonist is eventually hypnotically regressed into those past lives, so I decided reading about how it was done wasn’t going to cut it for me. I found an associate of Dr. Weiss’ who hypnotically regressed me… into NINE lives of my own. I had my doubts of the reality of the condition, but wanted to see what it was like. This, you may think, is going a bit “overboard” for research, but it was a life-changing experience. I’ve found that good research is often fulfilling and mentally expanding, but this went beyond. And it gave me a clear understanding of how regression actually works, the actual mechanics the therapist uses to take you back… back… back into past lives.

Here’s an interesting personal antidote. When I was twelve, my dad brought home a bow and a big straw bull’s-eye target. My only experience with a bow was Western movies, but I set up the target in the back yard, strung the bow (how did I even know how to do that?), paced off about 100 feet…and started shooting bull’s-eyes! I seldom missed that center black circle. Once, while practicing, a big crow flew over, probably 60 feet high. I instinctively put an arrow in him. A week later, while “hunting” in a nearby forest preserve, I flushed a ringneck pheasant, and knocked him down with a quick shot. Then a rabbit, dodging through the brush. I don’t know how I did it, I just DID IT, without thinking.

The point of this little tale is, during one of my regressions, I found myself in Lincolnshire Forest, shooting game for a 16th Century English duke… a regular Robin Hood. An interesting and provocative side-light to doing research for a novel.

Frankly, I’m usually reluctant to do much research. It can be time consuming, and often frustrating. I’d rather rely on my imagination. But, if you’re a serious writer, the time will come when it’s a necessity to lend the feeling of reality to your tale. I’ve written two novels in a series featuring a troubled Miami homicide detective. In the first, he’s chasing an elusive serial killer. Now we all know quite a bit about these guys, with all the TV detective shows, but I needed to know more details of who they are, how they think, and what can motivate them. Again, plunging into Google, I found loads of information, including the complete minutes of an FBI symposium given by their BAU division (Think “Criminal Minds” on TV). While those two novels are yet to be published, I’ve now got a storehouse of info on how to make these guys seem real.

Research can be complex, like regressing into Past Lives, or simple, like learning about the streets and demographics of a city you’re writing about but have not visited. Whatever, good research helps separate the professional novelist from the common amateur.

Sometimes, it can be down-right fun! Just don’t forget the “Disclaimer” in the front matter of your book, stating this is a work of fiction, and you may have taken liberty with facts to meet the demands of the story.

3rdTime3D-2

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Genre – Romantic Suspense

Rating – PG13

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