Category Archives: Guest Posts

[Guest Post] “You Don’t Know NaNoWriMo” by Carma Haley Shoemaker

carmabiopicCarma Haley Shoemaker is a long-time magazine writer turned novelist.
With hundreds of articles to her name in various online and print
publications, she has officially made the transition to fiction. Carma
writes in multiple genres including Romance and Paranormal. While
working as a nurse, she relocated to several states over a ten year
period before moving her family back home to Ohio where she was born
and raised. Now an empty nester, Carma writes full time, while also
rekindling the love for her own interests – such as building the
perfect fantasy football team.

Of course, she’s also a Browns fan, but I try not to hold that against her too much. It’s hard sometimes, but I’m a Rams fan, so I understand the misery of loving a hard luck team. Enough of our failed fandoms, though, and on to more promising things. Carma’s first foray into fiction, “Sheltered” releases on December 21, 2015 from Trifecta Books. It’s part of Trifecta’s “Countdown to Christmas” series and if you’re a fan of sweet and clean romance, you won’t want to miss it.

She’s here to talk about National Novel Writing Month, which is happening here in four days. Carma is the Municipal Liaison of the North Central Ohio region where she transforms crazy stressful writing into crazy fun writing (trust me, I know this for a fact), and illustrates just what a benefit NaNoWriMo can be for every writer.

You Don’t Know NaNoWriMo

You reach to the calendar and change the page to October. Your thoughts wander to fall, colored leaves, and pumpkin … well, pumpkin everything. Not so for me. When I realize it’s October I switch into full-fledged “NaNo mode.” Yes, those who know me will tell you that I am usually in some state of NaNo planning way before October. But when the stores start displaying the ghouls and goblins, I think of write-ins and word counts.

I am a huge fan – probably one of the biggest – of NaNoWriMo. If a person asks me, “What is NaNoWriMo?” I will stop whatever I’m doing to take the time and tell them all about it. I’m a firm believer that NaNo is a wonderful tool that every writer should take full advantage of.

Admittedly, NaNoWriMo is NOT for everyone. I myself love NaNo, and know lots of others who do, as well. But, there are many who truly hate, (and I’m not overstating the word in any sense), NaNoWriMo. This is totally acceptable. One-size does not fit all, and NaNoWriMo is yet another example of that. Some have participated in NaNo, and didn’t enjoy the experience, so they tend to discourage others. There are those who simply feel the whole concept of NaNoWriMo is a waste of time. I’ve even heard some say they feel what people produce during NaNo is “a bunch of useless crap on a page,” and “serious writers wouldn’t and shouldn’t waste their time.”

I beg to differ. I am a serious writer. In addition to the hundreds, (and again, I’m not overstating), of published articles both in national print, regional, and online publications, I have an eBook due to be released in December. I was a contributing editor for a publishing house for 10 years. And I run an online and a local writers group – both of which are very active and full of real, serious, and successful writers.

When I began participating in NaNoWriMo I did so as a way to expand my writing. At the time, I mainly focused on non-fiction articles, essays, and product reviews. I had stories in my head that I wanted to tell. I had worlds I kept dreaming about I wanted to make real, somehow. NaNoWriMo allowed me to do both.

NaNoWriMo offers a writer so much for such a little investment. Don’t believe me? Here are just three of the most important things I’ve learned from participating in NaNoWriMo over the years:

  1. It’s important to push yourself beyond your comfort zone, and NaNoWriMo helps you to do that. You can’t grow, or learn, or realize how much you are capable of if you stay safe. There was a saying I heard once that rang very true. “If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough.”
  2. The NaNoWriMo community – especially the regional groups – can offer much needed support, encouragement, praise, constructive criticism, and help in all areas of your writing. There are some things that ONLY another writer can and will understand.
  3. It is very important to celebrate all of your victories, big and small. Yes, hitting the 50 thousand mark at the end of November is exhilarating. But when you reach five, ten, or twenty thousand words, or whatever goal you set for yourself, the feeling of accomplishment is something you won’t soon forget.

I could go on with more reasons why NaNoWriMo is important – sense of community, developing writing habits, learning to deal with deadlines, plotting – but I’ll stop here. I’ll let you discover the rest for yourself.

One last thing: if you do participate, and don’t enjoy it. Please, don’t discourage others from the experience. I once tried liver and onions and hated it! Even so, I don’t keep my husband from ordering it in a restaurant when we go out to eat.

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[Guest Post] “Finding Real Magic” by Daniel Foytik


Daniel Foytik, a Pittsburgh, PA native is a writer, voice actor, and the host/producer of several popular podcasts, including two PARSEC Award Nominated shows: THE WICKED LIBRARY (a weekly show featuring great horror fiction from independent and mainstream authors) and THE 9TH STORY PODCAST (an ongoing exploration of story and storytelling in all its forms).

Dan’s new show, THE LIFT (a Twilight-Zone-style show) debuts this October. A pilot episode of THE LIFT entitled “The Lost Place” was a 2015 PARSEC Award nominee.

I met Dan for the first time in March. I’d gone up to Pittsburgh to spend a day at Horror Realm with my publisher and Dan was there, hanging with the cooler kids. We chatted for a bit and he was just as courteous and cool in person as not, and just between us and the rest of the world, he’s a pretty smart guy, too.

Sit back and relax as Daniel talks to you about his personal journey of discovery on the myriad ways one can achieve story. I think you’re going to dig it and I thank him for opening his chest and showing us his heart.

“Finding Real Magic”

Hello fellow Brownies. I’m delighted at the opportunity to talk to you all about something near and dear to my heart – story.

But first, a little perspective.

About two years ago I started a personal journey to explore my own passion for story. I wanted to see what I had inside of me – what my own understanding of the process of telling a tale was, how others created their own other realities, and what I might learn from the good ones, the bad ones and those in between. My only rules were that I didn’t limit myself to what felt comfortable and that I considered all forms of storytelling.

As a writer, my natural impulse was to come at story from a written word perspective, but I knew story went further and deeper than this, so I began to experiment and dig, and I soon began to realize that story was everywhere. We humans seem to be story machines, we consume it, create it and still we hunger for more.

Music, poetry, painting, sculpture, oral telling, song, dance, architecture – even that lie we tell to get out of trouble, or the tale you tell around the water cooler – everything we do is a form of story. With all of our darker exploits and the tremendous evil our species is capable of, our ability to create story is probably the one thing that redeems us. I sometimes picture a fleet from The Great Galactic Extermination Force surrounding our planet – examining our bloody history – a finger poised over the “CLEANSE” button and deciding not to push it because they hear a little Jimi Hendrix or read a great short story.

So, why do we tell stories? Why do we hunger for them? We’re the only species on this little rock that tells stories (as far as we know), so why do we do it?

I think we do it because it’s how we learn and how we come to know ourselves. It’s how we understand each other, our shared culture, our history, and our goals. It’s how we pass on our knowledge to those yet to come, and how we become more than we are ourselves. Even if the author’s name is eventually forgotten, we always remember the story and the way it changed us. Stories allow us to connect to others in profound ways. It’s the closest thing to real magic I know and it’s as important to us as breathing.

What do you think? Why do you love stories, and why do you hunger to hear and tell them?

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