Let’s Build Up Your Fictional Characters for #amwriting! #mondayblogs

build up charries
Good morning friends!
It’s now the second full week of January and hope you are still feeling as epic about 2016 as you did New Years Eve. I know I am still stoked for the new year!  I did a lot of prepping in 2015 and I feel like it will really pay off in 2016. For me, 2015 was my practice year :)
Well, a lot happened in 2015 too, so not really. But anyway, I’m ranting.
Point being, the reason for this post is to inform my writer vlogs will focus this year solely on character building for your fiction needs.
Well I personally think that characters are the most important part of a story! Even if the story is weak but has great characters (The Visit, for example!) can still hold it’s own for the most part. At least it can be a little bit forgiven.
But having truly original characters is very challenging.
So that’s why in my vlogs I’ll have not only some tips and tricks for you, but also some quick and fun writing assignments to get you un-blocked and get the muse flowing.
I also love to provide examples of some of my favorite characters from my most favorite books, movies and TV shows.
So what are you struggling with in your characters? Share below and I’ll respond over on YouTube! You can check out my channel, here!
Happy writing!

Let’s Build Up Your Fictional Characters for #amwriting! #mondayblogs was originally published on LMC

How to Choose a Character Name #amwriting #WriterWednesday


Hey writer pals!

Would love to hear YOUR method of choosing a character name! Does the name come first, or the character? Share in the comments!

Happy Writing,

Claire ❤

How to Choose a Character Name #amwriting #WriterWednesday was originally published on LMC

16 New Years Resolutions Writers Can Actually Keep in 2016! #amwriting #Mondayblogs

nye resoultions
Let’s take a mind trip shall we, to the first week of 2015. That’d be exactly one year ago. How was your optimism? Did you feel that you can take over the fictional world? Did you feel that all your writing dreams would come true in 2015?
Fast-forward fast as the Flash to present day. How do you feel now about how 2015 went? Did all your dreams come true? No? Well, don’t feel bad. Let’s change your writing mind-set in 2016 to make at least some of your writing dreams come true. Are you ready? Good, let’s get started!
First, let’s ditch that word: dreams. Yep, cross it off your pad of paper titled ‘2016 Writing Dreams’. Save your dreams for your sleep. Dreams you dream in your sleep as a writer should inspire you. But let’s not mix up the word dreams with goals. With tasks. And actions. Now those are words we should (and will be!) focusing on!
Now I did not want you to feel guilty when you reflected on how you were feeling this time exactly one year ago. I asked for that reflection because looking back over the year helps us understand what we wanted to accomplish then, so we can be motivated to accomplish it now. But yes, trust me, calling it an agenda / task / goal / action-item whatever you do in your “real world” life should also apply to your writer life as well! Well, at least, if you want to be serious about it. Oh you are, are you? Well good! Because, it is possible to turn that story from “to-do” to “to-done”. I’m not going to give you false hope that it’ll be easy. But nothing easy is worthwhile. I forget who told me that, but it’s a lesson I never forget and even a lesson that has inspired a couple of my characters.
So here you go, just for you, the dutiful author are some New Year Resolutions that you can actually keep! Shocking, I know, but it’s possible.  My 2015 self found that out when she published her debut novel.  And if I can do it, you TOTALLY can do it!!!
  1.  Set aside days just for writing and days just for editing. Don’t mix and match. This is because your writing brain thinks different than you’re editing brain. Or it does for many people from Earth because editing is very left brain and writing is very right brain. If you’re not from Earth, ignore all of the following.
  2. If you’re already published, talk to a local book store and see if they’d do business with you. Maybe if they can’t do business with you, maybe they will agree to hang your poster or something if you ask really nicely and try to smile when you do. Most people like smiles. Unless you don’t like people, then try e-mail.
  3. If you’re already published and don’t have a “poster” already, Staples can print one pretty cheap. Use Canva to design one or hire a marketing people. I use Blue Harvest Creative and they’re great.
  4. If you’re already published, talk to your local library for a speaking gig. You can either talk about your book or talk about writing in general. Pretend you’re writing a blog post, only you’ll be speaking it.
  5. If you’re already published (see where I’m going with this?) talk to your local school to inspire young readers / authors. Just ask Sara D how much fun it can be! She even wrote a post about her experience.
  6. If you’re not published, maybe a good goal is to self-publish this year. Or start training for the agent-hunting games, because they like them hoops for you to jump through.
  7. If you’re not published, research quality book designers and/or folks to format your book such as Blue Harvest Creative if self-publishing is right for you and make your goals come true faster.
  8. Set aside time in the morning before the daily chaos to write or plot. A little bit a day keeps the writers block away!
  9. Either write on the weekdays and edit on the weekends or vise-versa. But block an hour a day for both, just not on the same day! Yes you have time. An hour a day doesn’t have to be 60 minutes at a time. You can break it down into 15 minute stints or even when you’re pooping if you don’t even have 15 minutes. But yes, you have time.
  10. Buy a new notebook for your story. Maybe all you need to feel a fresh start is a new notebook. I don’t mean a laptop, I mean those things with paper in them! And look, the paper is already coiled for you, isn’t that nice?
  11. And hey, while you’re already at the stationary store, why not pick up a fancy new pen too to make you feel like a pro?
  12. If you use a digital calendar system such as Google Calendar,  create a calendar called “writing time” or something similar. This way, your phone will remind you when you should be writing. It just may remind you to actually start writing again.
  13. Turn off the notifications of your email and Facebook during your writing time. You should actually be, you know, writing! And no, writing a post on what kind of coffee you’re drinking doesn’t count. Damn, now I want coffee! Wait, what?
  14. Don’t give into writers block. I do believe it’s real but I also do believe everyone has the power to un-block. For me when I have writers block, it means it’s time to change stories for a little bit. If you’re like me, you have a million you’re working on!
  15. Talk about your writing, even if it’s just on Twitter. Sometimes ESPECIALLY if it’s on Twitter. The #amwriting community is so inspiring. But talking about your writing is very motivating and kicks your rear into gear.
  16. Most of all, don’t give up! I truly believe humans are made up of stories. And if you’re a human from Earth, you have a story to tell. Fictional or not, own it. Because you do. All that’s left is to share it with the other humans of Earth.
What are your writing goals for 2016? How do you plan on achieving them? Share below to help fellow authors!

16 New Years Resolutions Writers Can Actually Keep in 2016! #amwriting #Mondayblogs was originally published on LMC

How to Use #Evernote for your Writing! #amwriting #writerwednesday

Hey guys!

Have you ever used Evernote for organizing your story ideas?

Would love to know what you love most about Evernote! I for one am a big fan! :) I totally used Evernote a LOT when plotting for my latest book, the Quest of the Prodigy! With all those characters, it really helped keep their story-line straight and also was a great place to stash my time travel research because I did a lot of research on how time works, a bit about space, and a lot about jazz as they travel to 1927! Fun times :)

Happy writing!


How to Use #Evernote for your Writing! #amwriting #writerwednesday was originally published on LMC

#NANOWRIMO Tips from Thriller and Fantasy Author @SMSweeneyAuthor


Advice. Advice, advice, my kingdom for some advice.

As we’re now a few days into the mammoth beast known as NaNoWriMo, and for those of you NaNo first-timers here looking to the grizzled vet, here are a few tips which got me through not one, not two, but three straight NaNo’s (2009-2011).

Tip No. 1: Caffeine, aye. She works wonders.

If you’re on Facebook, you’ve probably seen a meme with Kermit the Frog pounding furiously on a typewriter. (Typewriters. Those are cute. The 1950’s called; they want their writing machines back.) Supposedly, our favorite variety show host/newsman had just ingested a shit-ton (that’s a unit of measurement) of coffee, or something else caffeinated. I can remember during my first NaNo of doing just that, but it wasn’t just my morning pick-me-up. No. There was some serious chugging of Mountain Dew, and there were some afternoons spent at Starbucks, downing lattes as I worked on the young adult novel Zombie Showdown.

The resulting crash sucked, but that’s half the fun.

Tip No. 2: Those psyche-up emails you’re going to get this weekend? Yeah. Delete.

Repeat after me, gang: I don’t need psyching up. I’m going to psyche you up here and spoil the surprise.

The NaNo crew, bless them. They spend 11 months making sure the servers are able to handle everything, from the rush of writers trying to upload their winning manuscripts to the beat of the shoppers trying to grab some merch (the proceeds keep those servers on). In the meantime, they type up periodic emails for the WriMos, all in an effort to psyche them up and get them out of a rut when one just happens to hit one.

No. Just… no.

First off, one of those emails will be about sending your characters into unknown territory when you get that onset of writer’s block.

Secondly, there is no such thing as writer’s block, gang. There just isn’t. Put your fucking fingers on the keyboard and write. You are under no pressure to write (although that whole 1,667 words a day thing hangs like the Sword of Damocles, doesn’t it?). Just put SOMETHING on the page. You must defy the empty page; you need SOMETHING to edit later—yes, even if it’s total crap, like exploding monkeys or car crashes for inexplicable reasons, which is basically another email you’ll receive.

Just delete the email without reading it, and get back to your novel.

1 model agent

Tip No. 3: Your first draft is SUPPOSED to look like shit. Don’t worry about it.

Just write your ass off and worry about fixing your ridiculous phrasing later (and by later, I mean three months down the road from the day you finished it).

Whenever I finish a first draft—and my process may be a little different from yours—I put the MS on the shelf and leave it alone for three months from the day of finishing, and look at it then, and not a day before. I finished writing my most recent Jaclyn Johnson novel, Chemical Agent, on June 19, and I managed to give it a read on Sept. 27—about 13 weeks after I finished. I’m sure to go back to it around Thanksgiving and get it to the editor and back in time for an early 2016 release. Beach Blanket Bloodshed, in my Small Town PI mystery series, still has about another month to go before I give it its first read-through/edit.

I have found three months is a good resting time for the story to evacuate your conscious self and for you to come back to it with fresh eyes. In the meantime, work on something else: when you’re done with NaNo, write a short story—no more than 2,000-3,000 words—to cleanse your writing palette, then dive into your next book, whether writing it from the seat of your pants, or start brainstorming. Three years or so ago, my girlfriend—now my wife—wanted to know when I would start on edits to my fourth Jaclyn Johnson novel, Federal Agent. Only a month and a half had passed from my finishing the story and this conversation from happening.

Use that edit time wisely and whip the novel into shape. However, some novels—my re-released Obloeron Saga, which came out Monday, Nov. 2—take longer… like 13 years to become fully evolved, especially if it’s your first few novels.

And finally, Tip No. 4: Use every minute possible, especially during the first three weeks of NaNo.

This Sunday, you’re probably going to want to watch your favorite NFL team play. Maybe you’ll watch college football or the Barclay’s Premier League or Major League Soccer or the NBA or the NHL on Saturday. You’re going to step away from the manuscript and sit down with your buddies or your family and watch football for upwards of 11 straight hours, chugging beer and thinking about plots while your team plays for second place to my Patriots. I’m not sorry about that.

Here’s a challenge for you: Don’t do that. Not this Sunday, and maybe not even next Sunday.

Remember that whole Sword of Damocles thing? Yeah. It’s a 1,667-words-a-day bitch, and there’s a day coming up in a few weeks where you’re going to find yourself under pressure to sit still and gorge yourself (while watching upwards of 11 hours of football), and there will be no chances to write until the next day.

Writing is about sacrifice, in a way. For the first few years of my writing career, I sacrificed time at the bar, and a social life, in order to work on my craft. I wanted to become a kick-ass writer, and that meant sacrificing a few things—yes, even no extended periods of watching of pro football. During NaNo, I wanted to get ahead of the game; my first day of NaNo 2009, I wrote over 2,000 words in my first sitting, and then another 3,000 later in the day. By the end of the first day, I was two and a half days ahead.

Getting ahead in these first three weeks gives you that cushion and allows you the opportunity to spend guilt-free time with your family on Thanksgiving.

Unless you can’t stand your family and want to write with a turkey sandwich next to you.

Your mileage, of course, will vary.


The blurb (From Mr. Sweeny’s new novel, Obloeron Saga):

When one man puts aside a great destiny, it falls on another to pick it up.

This is the full, six-book Obloeron Saga bundle, which first appeared in 2009 under the author’s old pseudonym, John Fitch V. The first five fantasy novels were published before 2013, and now the series comes together with the previously unreleased third novel, Krampel’s Revenge.

In addition, there is previously unseen prose in the form of three short stories the author has weaved into the tale, and gives the full look at some previously unanswered questions from the original three novels.

Starting with the short story The Creation of Flad-rul, the SAGA tells of Krampel Paddymeyer’s journey from that of slave to bounty hunter, from bounty hunter to war hero. Then the original trilogy picks up with Krampel’s grandson, Grumpet, his heir, as well as continues the tale of Radamuck Rosar’s journey with these two great men. Add in a halfling with a warrior complex, a bit of love, and plenty of orcs, and you have a fantasy story set to stand the test of time.

The Saga includes: 

The Creation of Flad-rul (short story/prologue)
The Rise of the Dark Falcon (prequel one)
The Shadow Looms (prequel two)
Krampel’s Revenge (prequel three, previously unreleased)
Krampel’s Flight to Kayiko (short story/interstitial)
The Quest for the Chalice (original one)
The Return to Lowbridge (original two)
The Fall of Myrindar (original three)
Grumpet’s First Day (short story/epilogue)

Find more about the author on his website: seansweeneyauthor.com

Thanks for stopping by, Mr. Sweeney! Your new saga sounds exciting!

And of course, as always, if you have some tips of your own – please share in the comments below to help inspire others! 🙂

Happy writing everyone!

❤ Claire

How To Feel Motivated and Write 1667 Words a Day During #NANOWRIMO! #MondayBlogs #AmWriting

nanowrimo motivation


Welcome to November. You know what that means! That’s right. It’s time to cancel your social outings, forget about going on dates or being a normal human being, because it’s time to write 1,667 words in a day. It’s enough to make even the pro writers squirm.

So how do you stay calm and write on? Check out these tips! 

Remind yourself of why you started in the first place.
The reason this quote stuck with me for so long, is because it’s true. When we don’t get the results we want as soon as we want or at all, it’s easy to feel like it’s not working. And when it feels like it’s not working, it sometimes feel like it’s pointless. Sometimes, it is. But other times, it’s just a matter of reaching the end of the dark road and finding the light at the end. Finding result.

For NANOWRIMO, that result can either be writing more than you usually do, or reaching the two glorified words: “The End”.

TIP: Before you even begin writing “Once Upon a Time…” tear out a blank page of notebook paper or copy paper. It can even be a sticky-note if you want. Point is, make it blank! Write down in Pen “Why I want to do NANOWRIMO in 2015.” Then paste it to the wall beside your computer. When you get stuck, or feel like being a normal person instead of a crazy writer for a month, look at that paper. And remind yourself. Remind yourself of why you’re doing it. It might not just be about finishing the story. Maybe it’s because you want to just finish something in your life. Maybe you feel out of control, and you feel like your writing schedule is the one thing you have control over. Maybe it’s that feeling you get when you throw your fist in the air like in the Breakfast Club and say “I did it!” Whatever the reason, make sure it’s honest! And if the reason is important enough, you just might find the mojo to carry out this insane quest.

Drink plenty of water. Studies show water helps the brain focus.
Think of your brain as precious as your SmartPhone. And you know how you get freaked out when your phone is on low battery, and you gotta find an outlet? Well, your brain is like that with water. If it starts to feel dehydrated (I.E. low battery!) and it’ll want to plug itself in, by drinking water! Find more on it on sites like these: waterbenefitshealth.com or take your pick from this Google search. So yeah you’ll have to pee, and that can be a little annoying. But your brain will thank you for it later!  And maybe the more focused you are, the “muse” will find you faster!

I personally recommend coffee to dope your brain with creativity!  
Back in 2012 I quoted this article which I thought was cool because it talked about dopamine – which is sort of the trigger of creativity. Sort of. It goes deeper than that. But I only skinned the surface of neurology, so I’m not going to embarrass myself by trying to explain it. Because damnit Jim, I’m a writer not a doctor!

However, this article here by creativesomething.net which advises us to be careful about coffee, because it doesn’t really give us energy; however, it tricks the brain into believing we don’t need sleep. So coffee is good for the creative soul, but eventually – yes even during NANOWRIMO – we humans do need sleep. And sometimes especially during NANOWRIMO sleep is a good thing. Because as the Bard himself would say: “To Sleep Perchance to Dream”. Only then Hamlet was talking about death …anyway, back to coffee.  Here’s a cool quote about why coffee helps us creative types.

Dopamine is the chemical that acts as a primary neurotransmitter in the brain, building and maintaining the bridge between nerve cells. Caffeine allows the dopamine levels in your brain to more or less maintain, keeping the signals between neurons firing on all cylinders long after their energy levels would regularly allow.

          So do you drink coffee while you write? Tea? Soda? Share in the comments below what gets your muse flowing! 

Keep your environment PERFECT.
That means lots of light, temperature to your liking, and either a clean or messy desk depending on how you like things.
This might seem like an obvious tip. But too often we jump on the keyboard without thinking about if we’re comfortable. So adjust the temperature, make sure you’re well fed, grab your favorite source of snack or caffeine, drink your water, pee first, and then all that’s left to think about is the story itself! Yeah, not always that easy, but hey – you never know!

Reward yourself when you reach your daily writing goal. However, don’t beat yourself up too much if you didn’t.
It’s easy to celebrate the wins! But don’t beat yourself up too much. It might hold you back if you beat yourself up too much, because you might fear the attempt next time. And remember, NANO is supposed to be FUN! Crazy idea, but it’s true.

Don’t quit just because you missed a few days in a row.
Pick up where you left off. Remember: NANOWRIMO just isn’t about hitting 50k. It’s about writing more than you normally do. One year, I made this mistake. I thought “why should I even write when it’s November 20th and I still have 15k words to go?” Yeah, it’s not like that. It should be “Oh I have 15k more words to go but look I have 35k more words than I did on November 1st!” So yeah, tweak the way you think and you won’t feel like a loser. 🙂

Forget the word-count for a moment and just write.

^Um, this. This is everything. No pressure, just write and have fun!


TIP: Inspiration that comes naturally without seemingly much thought is sometimes refereed to as”divine” or a gift from “the muse”. But just because if you didn’t fall on your face because your mind got blown away by an amazing idea for your story. Just WRITE. The writing process itself is a form of inspiration. It’s like running. You don’t always feel like it, but you know you gotta. Or so they say. Because damnit Jim, I’m a writer not a runner!

Outline, even a vague one can help you continue if you get stuck.


Remember these from school? Well maybe they were on to something! Try the Save the Cat method or find one that suits you. There are LOADS of brainmapping and outlineing tools out there on the web, many of them for free! Although Save the Cat was created for screenwriting, even novelists like Jessica Brody have been known to convert the tool into story structure. Including yours truly! Hey and speaking of Jessica Brody, she has a very nifty tip for writers page on her website! Go check it out 🙂

And if you need further motivation to finish NANOWRIMO, maybe be inspired by these National Best-Sellers that started out as NANOWRIMO projects! Who knows, yours could be next!



So what tips do you have for those who are nervous about doing NANOWRIMO? Leave a comment down below! Your tip just might inspire a future novelist!