“The Vigil” will Appear in an Upcoming Anthology, Chasing Magic!

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If you squint, you can even see my name!

I originally wrote “The Vigil” as a potential starter chapter for a collaborative novel (though not with the Collaborative Writing Challenge, funnily enough.) I wasn’t sure if it constituted a story when I submitted it, but apparently the wonderful women at the CWC thought it did 🙂 I hope you’ll pick up your copy of Chasing Magic,

Coming May 6!

Read an excerpt from “The Vigil”

If you only looked at their clothes, the people standing around his corpse would appear to be mourners. Then your gaze would stray to the hunger in their eyes, revealing a far more sinister intent. They dare not push or scrape at each other in its presence, as if the magic would punish them for impatience, but they could not help but lean in ever so slightly to see if the family legend was true.

They had been careful to respect the other parts of the story. They’d lit the incense, even though it made the air in the darkened room almost unbreathable. Perhaps this part of the ritual was to make their eyes sting, so the dying man might believe they were crying over his death rather than praying for an end to the interminable wait.

Even as the old man had lain insensate in the great canopy bed, no one dared to remove it from his body. They knew that as long as he still had breath, it would be impossible. That hadn’t kept them from approaching his deathbed and placing a kiss on the black stone. As their lips brushed the ring, somehow warm despite the clamminess of the wearer, they whispered entreaties.

Choose me.

I am worthy.

Now the vigil was over, and their fates would be sealed within a few heartbeats. Everything hung on that thin band of silver and what it would do next. With its wearer still, the ring was free to roam.

3 Things I’ve Learned From Hashtag Games on Twitter

Until recently, I have been a pretty passive Twitter user. It was something people said I should use to promote my blog, so I connected it to my WordPress feed and called it a day. Now that my alter ego (Phoebe Darqueling over at For Whom The Gear Turns) has a book coming out in roughly six months, I decided it is time to up the ante.

 

I’ve always understood the reason for hashtags, but I never really bothered. It turns out, there is a pretty cool and small community of folks who participate in some challenges specifically for writers. I’ll include a list at the bottom of my favorite hashtags, but right now I want to focus on one in particular: #Friday5th

The idea behind this weekly challenge is to turn to any page of your work in progress and share a sentence or two. Sometimes, the lines are funny, sometimes they are sad, and sometimes they are super boring and just happen to be the fifth line a person wrote that day. From a platform-building perspective, it is a great way to meet other writers and gain followers, but I learned some important lessons of my own.

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Check the Spelling

Yeah, so it turns out #FridayFifth, with the word spelled out, is actually about drinking a fifth of gin… Always double check the spelling a hashtag! They are often shortened or have numbers instead of words (such as #1linewed)

Don’t be a Passive Observer

Sure, putting your tweet out there is a great way to get exposure, but that is precisely what everyone else is there trying to accomplish, too! The best way to get people to like and retweet your submission is to write something good, but almost as important is taking the effort to share your reaction to other people’s tweets. Retweet the ones you like, show them some love (because we all need a little boost sometimes!), and follow other authors if you like what they share. They will probably follow and retweet you back.

How it Changed The Way I Think About Writing

I didn’t want to be one of those boring participants who just shares any old thing, so as I played the game I found myself sculpting my fifth line to make it not only there, but compelling enough to share. My approach to writing has always been with an eye to crafting sentences, not just pouring out words, but I found myself looking at the fifth line of several pages of my WIP and feeling disappointed in what I found. Inevitably, I ended up changing something about the sentence once my attention was called to it, and not only did I get a nice tweet, I also had a stronger sentence for my story.

My Favorite Hashtag Games

Monday: #Mondayblogs (blogs posts about writing), #meta4mon (great metaphors, similes or other turns of phrase), #ministory (tweet a mini story in 5 tweets or less)

Tuesday: #2bittues (any line from your WIP, optional themes are posted), #Teasertues (you guessed it, teasers from your WIP and also book covers in progress)

Wednesday: #wwwBlogs (women writer blogs), #1linewed (post from your WIP, theme is optional), #writerswednesday (highlight a writer you admire)

Thursday: #Thurds (showcasing your work, buy links okay), #1ParagraphThurs (post any paragraph of your WIP as an image. I haven’t done this one yet but I plan to!)

Friday: #FF (Follow Friday, give a shout out to twitter feeds you follow and enjoy), #FridayReads (talk about what you are currently reading) and of course, #Friday5th (post the fifth line of any page of your WIP)

Saturday: #Archive Day (a great one for bloggers, because it is an excuse to post something from your own archive),

I take off Sundays from social media, but if you have any suggestions for great hashtag games for writers on Sunday, or anything other day, please leave a comment!

 

Overcoming the Requisite Awkward Intro Post

Isn’t that the beauty of language? The fact that a few words can hold so much promise and mean so many different things to different people; it is force that drives my life.

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I wonder. What exactly did you expect to find when you clicked on this post? Perhaps you were looking for a quick little advice article (I’d say between 300-500 words for this sort of thing, ideally) from someone in the writing biz on how to overcome an awkward intro post. Or maybe you thought you’d find some inspirational piece about how I overcame something in the past. A few might be seeking an ironic twist. It wouldn’t even surprise me if you don’t think intros are requisite and/or awkward and you’d like to share your well-mannered opinion about it. (Or you know, troll, because this is the internet)

Isn’t that the beauty of language? The fact that a few words can hold so much promise and mean so many different things to different people; it is the force that drives my life.

In my Cultural Anthropology studies, I learned all about phonemes and folkways, but most importantly, that the words we have access to shape our very existence. As a museum professional, I had to figure out how to explain opaque subject matter to first graders and communicate the importance of core messages while keeping someone’s interest. When I started focusing on writing, both in the blogosphere and original fiction, I began putting myself on the page (or more precisely, on the screen) and honing those communication skills for the written word. Now, I have the opportunity to put my editing and marketing skills to the test as a publishing professional and help others to add that extra sparkle to their own work.

I will draw on all of these experiences – not to mention the new ones I’ll gather along the way – when writing this blog. Between my work and my hobbies, it isn’t like I don’t have reasons to write already, but the aim of Balance Without Symmetry is not to be an egress so much as a channel.

Let’s see, so where were we? That’s right, the reasons you clicked on this post. Well, I hope that you gleaned a thing or two about writing an intro post to a blog, and that those of you who wanted to read a story, or see proof I overcame an awkward writing challenge – with a dash of irony thrown in for good measure – will not feel they are leaving empty-handed. If you’d like to share your well-mannered opinion at the bottom, I’d love to hear from you. (But please, no trolls. This is my corner of the internet, after all)