Blog Posts

Find different articles on different topics from the Ink Smith and Native Ink collaborators. The articles can range from writing series to daily thoughts and ideas, reminding us that a publisher isn’t just a name but people too!

Why Writing is Important!

In this day and age of technology, many real-life experiences have seemed to fade in importance. Hanging out among friends is now just relaxing in the same room on their cell phones. In fact, any social event is made up of cell phones taking up a majority of people’s attention. Social media platforms are more important to people than real friendships in person. The internet, in all of its glory and accomplishments, has taken over a lot of people’s lives and priorities.

<I’m not bashing social media or the Internet–I’m all for innovation and taking advantage of new things that come arise as time changes. This is just my opinion on where priorities should lie, and why some things (writing) should not be overlooked.> 

I’ve noticed this in myself, actually. At one point in time, my presence on social media was more important than my off-screen life. I was more caught up with Twitter retweets and Snapchat views than real conversations, and it wasn’t until I missed an event in a close friend’s life that I realized I had to check myself. I also realized it was a long time since I had written. I’ve written Facebook posts, Twitter threads, etc, but nothing for myself. Not like I used to.

I’ve kept a personal journal for years, and it has helped me immensely. Whether it be getting things off my chest, or working through life decisions, writing has grown to be a part of me. Inspiration for stories or poems come to me at the most random times, and I see writing opportunities everywhere. Surprisingly, writing is not a common hobby for the majority of the population anymore. And a percentage of those who do write prefer to have followers/subscribers; so anything they do without viewers doesn’t seem worth doing.

Hopefully today, I’ll let you in on the secret as to why writing is important and why it’s a life-changer for many of us.

Writing is therapeutic, and I’m not the only one to say so. Personally, I’ve used my journal(s) to help me through many issues, like what major I wanted to study in college, whether or not I wanted to move from NJ to PA (and back again!), through my struggles with anxiety and depression, my goals and dreams, etc. Writing helped me through so much in life and has been meditation-like. After writing, without worrying about neat penmanship or getting all the details perfect, I feel calm and collected. (For more information about how writing can be meditative, check out this article on How Life Unfolds!)

Writing for social media and for yourself are two different things. When you write for any sort of audience, there’s a filter and also a purpose. When you write for yourself, for the most part, there’s no purpose or target other than self-fulfillment. Easing that burden of meeting an audience’s expectations helps the creativity flow, at least for me!

The society we live in seems to dictate success by the measurement of how many people see your work and respond to it. Whether your choice of platform is YouTube, Twitter/Instagram, Facebook, or some other shareable network, the driving factor of this “success” relies heavily on followers, subscribers, the number of views/likes, etc. The act of writing shouldn’t need gratification from social media.

For those of us who have a Twitter (or any other platform obsession), it is too easy to get caught up in thinking personal reflection needs to be in the form of a [INSERT PREFERRED PLATFORM HERE] thread. It seems that if there’s something you want to say, it has to be done online so it can go viral.

I disagree.

When it comes to writing, something that seems obsolete in this day and age, this art form should be taken seriously. When I write, I try to have silence or at least soft music on in the background. If I’m writing in my journal, I don’t really care about where I am; but if I’m writing for something (like school or Ink Smith), I write at my desk to help keep me focused. I don’t care if anyone sees my writing.

I’m not saying that no writing should ever be done online. Me writing this article would be hypocritical if that was the claim I was making. I’m just saying that, as amazing as social media is, it should not replace true writing. It should not replace the soft, gentle reflection, or ferocious scribbling as a thought consumes you. It should not be peppered with SEO keywords just because you want it to show up first in a search. It should not only be written with the sole purpose of many people reading it. Writers who write for the enjoyment of it, for the catharsis of it, even for the utter need to write – those are the writers who will find their writing most relatable to others.

In short, as long as your purpose for writing is to achieve some form of Internet Fame, then wanting to post your work online to share doesn’t have a damaging effect on your writing. Just because your work doesn’t go viral doesn’t mean it isn’t a message that people want to hear or a work of art that people wouldn’t appreciate.

I am all for innovation. I’m 100% in support of social media, and I think it’s a great thing. It helps people reconnect, celebrities seem more like regular people, and it brings a lot of people together. I just think that it’s important people remember how useful things offline can be, whether in functionality or whatever else. Writing is a great tool and is most definitely worth doing in any way.

 

 

Meet Jenna LaBollita!

Jenna’s passion for writing started very young, even winning her a Young Author Award in elementary school. Since then, she has written for The Odyssey and Puckermob, and has read countless books in many genres.

Her love for writing is unmatched, and she hopes to become a published author herself one day. Jenna holds an associate degree in Liberal Arts from Ocean County College in Toms River, New Jersey.

Ink Smith Welcomes Summer Intern Jenna LaBollita

Welcome, Jenna!

Jenna Headshot.jpg

Jenna LaBollita is Ink Smith’s newest summer intern! Jenna will be working closely with the Ink Smith staff in the capacity of blogger, reader, and reviewer!

Jenna’s passion for writing started very young, even winning her a Young Author Award in elementary school. Since then, she has written for The Odyssey and Puckermob, and has read countless books in many genres.

Her love for writing is unmatched, and she hopes to become a published author herself one day. Jenna holds an associate degree in Liberal Arts from Ocean County College in Toms River, New Jersey.

 

Inspiration from Iceland

Inspiration comes from a lot of different places. Each place you visit, live or pass through has quite a bit of history. History is a great place to start a story.

Think about every book you have ever read. Every non-fiction piece: history. Every fiction piece has history. It’s the path in which the story took to arrive at the end of the journey.

Reykjavík, Iceland

Reykjavík, Iceland

This week I’ve been in Iceland. I had never really thought about Iceland’s “story” other than the fact that there were Vikings involved, they have a cold, relatively dark winter, and 24-hours of daylight during the summer months.

During our excursion one night to find the Northern Lights, the guide told us a story. It was Búkolla the Magic Cow. Our guide sat at the front, her Icelandic accent transporting us to a farm where a boy and his family lived.

Reykjavík, Iceland

Reykjavík, Iceland

“Once upon a time,” she began. The story was short and sweet, detailing the trials of a young boy and his cow against the might of trolls.

Everyone associates Ireland with the fae folk, the little people, fairy tales. At least, everyone I know. But I never thought to think of Iceland having stories riddled with creatures, trolls particularly. It was a new experience for me, and immediately my head was spinning with new tales that I could weave based upon the stories from Iceland.

Blue Lagoon, Iceland

Blue Lagoon, Iceland

Aside from the stories we heard, the land is fickle and beautiful. Snowstorms can crop up out of nowhere, rage for a few moments and disappear as if they were never there. The mountains are breathtaking, the Northern Lights sought after by every tourist, the Blue Lagoon a warm-water paradise, waterfalls, geysers, glaciers, even the snow sprinkled streets.

Statue of Leif Erikson, Reykjavík, Iceland

Statue of Leif Erikson, Reykjavík, Iceland

 

And let’s not forget the real history! Vikings settled this land and statues of these settlers and other famed people dot the city. There are tales here, both already told and asking to be written—a story in every aspect of the land.

This goes for any location. But I know, that after my visit here (even during) I will be writing stories and poems with Iceland at their hearts.

 

 

About Corinne

CA Bio Image

Connect with me
on Twitter!
@AndersonCorinne

Corinne has her MFA in Writing from Lindenwood University. She has been an editor at Ink Smith Publishing and Native Ink Press since 2013. Since her first trip to the library when she was a toddler, Corinne has been collecting books, recommending her favorites and providing commentary on the less-than-stellar. Her belief is that if you have a problem, it’s nothing that a good book can’t solve. Currently, she is pursuing her MPS in Publishing at George Washington University, editing for Ink Smith Publishing and hoping that her blog posts here will help writers improve and publish their work.

Habitualized Writing Spaces:

Writers are creative creatures. Whether they are writing fiction or non-fiction, they are building worlds from images inside their heads. This world building takes a lot of fuel, and for those writers who have done multiple worlds recently, it can be hard to develop something new. Authors and writers, in general, can be creatures of habit. I’ve met many authors who have said that they have a specific place they write. They create the same environment each time they sit at their desk, by the window, or in a local coffee shop. The pad of paper for notes goes on the right side of the computer, two pens, a highlighter (to really mark an important idea to flesh out later), a cup of tea, a thesaurus – you name it. They have a system.

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Authors and writers, in general, can be creatures of habit. I’ve met many authors who have said that they have a specific place they write. They create the same environment each time they sit at their desk, by the window, or in a local coffee shop. The pad of paper for notes goes on the right side of the computer, two pens, a highlighter (to really mark an important idea to flesh out later), a cup of tea, a thesaurus – you name it. They have a system.

But this system can fail us. Particularly, if we are not “experienced” individuals. That is not to say that everyone needs experience before they write (at least not actual experience). What I mean by that is that when we habitualize a creative process, we can get bogged down in writing the same dialogue, scene, character—even the same story.

Inspiration comes in many different forms, so you don’t have to go and change your writing habits. The easiest things to are: look out your window, listen to people talk, Google a picture, or even listen to a new song.

But don’t limit your inspiration.

But I encourage writers, heck I encourage everyone, to expose themselves to new adventures, new people, and new places so that you can bring those experiences with you to your perfectly set writing space.

 

About Corinne

CA Bio Image

Connect with me on Twitter! @AndersonCorinne

Corinne has her MFA in Writing from Lindenwood University. She has been an editor at Ink Smith Publishing and Native Ink Press since 2013. Since her first trip to the library when she was a toddler, Corinne has been collecting books, recommending her favorites and providing commentary on the less-than-stellar. Her belief is that if you have a problem, it’s nothing that a good book can’t solve. Currently, she is pursuing her MPS in Publishing at George Washington University, editing for Ink Smith Publishing and hoping that her blog posts here will help writers improve and publish their work.

The NaNo Rebel

I don’t like NaNoWriMo much. I go through this same cycle every year! I promise myself every year I’m going to write a novel in a month. Maybe not 50,000 words, but a novel!

After the success of my debut novel, War and Chess, and quitting my job to become a full time author the pressure was on! This November 1st, once again, I fired up my NaNoWriMo account. (I’ve been playing this game since 2013)

Nano RebelI wasn’t sure what I was going to do but I was working on two projects. One, I am writing the first draft. If I weren’t a NaNoWriMo rebel that would have been the novel I worked on. But I like writing first drafts with pen and paper. Drafts that you can take to the mountains without worrying about it dying, as electronics are bound to do.

My second project was typing up some old stories I think might be promising as a new publication. That second project is what I chose to report to NaNoWriMo’s website. It was a lot easier than counting the words I write on paper by hand. Really, I just needed some accountability. Someone to email me when I’m making whimpy excuses about how long hours typing makes my back SCREAM. But yet, somehow, I was just fine spending most of the morning on Facebook drinking coffee…

So I was already being a rebel by not creating something new. Just making sure something great was backed up, which is my least favorite job. I wound up getting 2/3rds of the way finished with this project! I was at an awe inspiring 10,000 words by December 1st. Yeah, I didn’t join my brethren in sleep deprivation, stress, or trying to remember that when great Aunt Bessy asks you, “Have you found a man yet?” you keep your decorum and smile.

I stayed true to my nature and stayed a rebel for yet another NaNo year. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be prancing around downtown in my leather jacket Christmas shopping.

 

 

About Helen

Helen M. PugsleyHelen comes from a small town of twenty in eastern Wyoming. She has been passionate about writing since she was small. Helen enjoys traveling and is always thrilled to excite friends with tales of playing music on the streets for money, conversing with the drunks who frequent gutters, and the epic struggle of finding a decent bath when living in a car. Visit her on Facebook‘s War and Chess page!

Plotting vs Pantsing: You Can Have It Both Ways

Writers have a way of turning the nuts and bolts of creation into a heated political debate. I don’t know if this is the result of increased exposure in the form of social media or if we’ve always been this way, but it’s interesting to watch. One of my favorite hot-button debates is the issue of plotting vs pantsing.

Plotting is exactly what it sounds like. You map out the course of the story and figure out how it’s going to end before you start writing. Some plotters map out every twist and turn, while others create a rough outline that they know their characters will escape by the end of the book. Plotting is like architecture; the writer designs and measures and sketches before he begins to build.

Author Jan Ropers puts it thusly: “For me the fun moved from figuring out how it would end to how they were going to get there.” Rather than plan out every step, Ms. Ropers figures out how it’s going to end and then “pantses” her way to that ending. Different authors have different methods for plotting, depending on their literary needs.

Pantsing is more like planting a seed and watching to see what comes up. The pantser sits down with only the vaguest idea of what she’s doing and makes everything up as she goes. Sometimes the pantser starts with an image, or a character type, or an odd combination of thoughts that come together and make the writer say, “Hey I wonder what would happen if…”

The plotter writes to tell what happens; the pantser writes to see what happens.

In my earliest attempts to write a novel, I tried to plot. But I realized that if I planned the story out in advance, I got bored and lost interest in the story. Planning made me not care about writing the ending, because I already knew what would happen. This discouraged me, because at the time I thought I had to know how the story would end in order to write it.

As he often did in the course of my angst-riddled adolescence, Stephen King came to my rescue. In his brilliant memoir On Writing, he says, “Why be a stickler about the ending? Every story comes out somewhere.” So I said what the hell and gave it a shot. I sat down and started writing about a dragon kidnapping a unicorn. That was all I had—just that one image—but it was enough to get me started. I forced myself to write at least a few words every day, and six months later I had completed my first novel. It was absolutely terrible, one of the worst books I’d ever read in my life. But by golly I had finally finished something. I was on my way.

Every book I wrote for the next ten years was a complete ad-lib. Sometimes the starting point was a young woman avenging her mother’s death. Sometimes it was a party my husband had formed in his favorite role-playing game. But each time I went in with no idea where I was going. Sometimes I didn’t even know if the story would be a short story or a novel until I’d written ten thousand words and the characters were still doing things. I did what I did and loved every minute of it. I decided that plotting was an acceptable method for control freaks, but not for the free-and-easy creative likes of me.

Until the fateful day a serendipitous conversation on Twitter changed my whole outlook on the writing process. Never let it be said that the Internet is anti-creative; I’ve gotten some of my best ideas from random conversations with strangers on the other side of the globe.

I don’t remember the exact course of the discussion, but it included this question: “Why are werewolves never depicted with weapons? They never have knives or guns, even when they’re wearing clothes.”

My companion responded, “Because they don’t need weapons. They’re super strong and have razor teeth. A weapon would be pointless.”

That was a good point, but I said that nevertheless I would read the hell out of a story about werewolves with ray guns. Then I flashed on the image of a wolf-headed man in a 50’s style space suit, complete with fish bowl helmet, holding a bright silver ray gun. Werewolves in space. Why the hell not?

It seemed like a simple enough idea, so I took of writing the way I always do: I picked a scene, picked up a pen, and went to town. I finished two or three chapters in high spirits. And then the Doubts started creeping in. And then I sputtered and stalled.

Part of my trouble was my overwhelming awe of science fiction as a whole. I grew up watching Star Trek and Doctor Who; I cut my literary teeth on Arthur C. Clarke and Isaac Asimov. I felt instinctively that sci-fi was this vast empire of wisdom that I, a simple horror writer, could never hope to enter.

This feeling was exacerbated by the realization that writing this book was actually hard. It genuinely felt like work. My werewolves were from another planet, with alien technology and alien ecosystems, and I had to create and maintain this vast structure all by myself. My daily word count went from a thousand words to five hundred, then to zero. It was just too much.

My husband, bless his heart, wouldn’t let me give up. He insisted that Star Pack was one of my best stories yet, and if I gave up I’d never get to the next level as an artist. So I dragged my butt through it, and three years later I finally had a finished manuscript. (As a point of reference, my usual timeline is between six and nine months.) I’ll always be grateful to him and my writer friends who insisted that my story was good and that alien invasion was going to be the Next Big Thing in publishing. I have no idea if that’s actually true or they were just blowing smoke to get me to stop talking and start writing, but it worked either way.

I learned a lot from this experience, more than I’ve ever learned from my “easier” books. The first and most important is try never to give up on a work in progress. Sometimes it can feel like you’re handcuffed to a corpse, but you have to drag that sucker across the finish line. Secondly, don’t underestimate the power of people telling you what you want to hear. Sometimes a little candy-coated baloney is just what the doctor ordered.

Finally, when you try out a new genre, be prepared to find out a new way of writing it. Pantsing is fine for genres like horror and fantasy, where if you get stuck you can just change the rules to make it work. But it turns out you can’t create an entire planet, culture, and ecosystem by the seat of your pants. Not without a lot of cursing, despair, and moaning, “This isn’t going to WORK!” to your significant other. Geography, even on an alien planet, needs to make sense. If you have predators living on your alien planet, they need prey to feed on. And the prey needs to eat, too. Worldbuilding as you go along is like building a flight of stairs in the dark with a flashlight.

When I realized that I had it in me to write a sequel, I took a deep breath, broke out my trusty notebook, and set to work on an outline. I spent about a week describing the land my new characters would hail from, then another week on the planet my explorers would discover. Finally I composed a rough outline of the events of the book. I still don’t know how it’s going to end, but I know where the people are going and how they’re going to get there.

And I still haven’t lost interest in the story. Even though I have a good idea of what’s going to happen, I still want to write it out. So plotting did not, as I have long feared, ruin my enthusiasm for writing the book.

I’m still a pantser at heart and probably always will be. But I feel great knowing that I’ve found a new way to do what I love. It’s like a new restaurant with an old love. You’ll always have your traditional date spot, but making new discoveries can bring a fresh outlook to a long-term relationship.

Reminder: Grey Stone Fan Art Contest

fan-art-jean-knight

We’re excited to announce Jean Knight Pace’s Grey Stone Fan Art Contest. It begins October 1st and goes through December 15th. You can submit your art by simply posting a picture of it to Jean’s Facebook page. Or you can add an image to the contact form on Jean’s website! If you’re local and see me in actual person sometimes, then you can give me your fan art and I’ll take a picture of it for you and post it.

The Prize: a Part Wolf t-shirt in your size and the color of your choice (as long as Amazon has the color of your choice that is).

So order your copy of Grey Stone, and get reading and then get drawing, painting, sculpting, meme-ing, geeking! Deadline is December 15!

New Look for Rising Shadows

New RIsing Shadows

 

Rising Shadows, the first book in the Rising Shadows Trilogy by Ashley Townsend just got a makeover! And, on top of that – it’s now available in print, not just ebook! It’s on Amazon and available for order.

 

Make sure to check out Ashley’s newest release, book three in the Rising Shadows Trilogy – Defying Shadows, and join Ashley’s release party on Facebook today!

Defying Shadows Release PAR-TAY!

A message from author Ashley Townsend! 

“DEFYING SHADOWS IS HERE!!! The final book in The Rising Shadows Trilogy has officially been released into the wild, waiting for every last bibliophile to nab and devour it. Rising Shadows, the older (but no less attractive) sister of Defying Shadows, has also made its first appearance in paperback—no longer in ebook format only! *gasps* *shouts of joy* *fanfare*
Join me right here on Facebook (6pm PST) for games, prizes (gift cards, swag, etc.), and book giveaways. And feel free to invite every book-lover you know, and also those who just like to show up to win stuff. ^_~”

 

Not sure if you’re ready for her Defying Shadows Release PAR-TAY? Maybe this awesome swag bag will convince you! One lucky winner will be selected in the Grand Prize drawing to win the entire Rising Shadows Trilogy (Rising Shadows, Chasing Shadows, and Defying Shadows) an exclusive tote, and plenty of swag.

Defying Shadows Swag Bag

 

Make sure to RSVP to Ashley’s Facebook event here, so you don’t miss a thing!

Tasty Grey Stone-Inspired Double Chocolate Scones

Author, and blogger, Jean Knight Pace shared a tasty recipe on her food blog, The Tasty Cheapskate, recently. What is so exciting about it? Well, the Double Chocolate Scones were inspired by one of her characters from Grey Stone! Read her blog post here and make sure to visit her food blog for more tasty Zinnegael-inspired baked goods. Enjoy!!

Double Chocolate Scones

Ah my friends. In addition to this blog, I’ve spent the last few years doing a whole lot of novel writing. This month some of that work is coming to fruition and my teen/YA fantasy novel, Grey Stone, is available for purchase. The only thing better than celebrating with food is celebrating with food made by one of the characters in my new book.

(Isn’t it lovely? Click HERE to order.)

Zinnegael is a young witch with a bunch of cats, a slightly enormous vendetta against the shape-shifting king, and (naturally) a love of baking.

When she first meets one of our heroes, she brings him a tray full of goodies. Here’s a sneak peek at that scene:

“Wittendon noticed the faint smell of smoke as he and the cat entered the clearing. No one else seemed to notice or care. In front of him, the table was set for tea. Two cups rested on saucers and several cookies sat on a tray as though travelers stumbled to these haunted woods every day. Sprawled behind the table lay two large white cats. They sat up when the newcomers entered, but did not bother to look in their direction.
 
“Good afternoon, prince,” said a voice that came from a little hut to the right of a large garden. “The scones are a bit dry today; I do hope you will forgive that. Don’t worry, I’ve spread them with chocolate to make up for any lack.”
 
A girl entered the garden, stepping across the stone path as though every bump had been memorized a lifetime ago, though she couldn’t have been more than fifteen. In one hand, she held a tray that was piled so high with pastries he could not see her face; in the other she carried a vase with pale purplish-blue roses.”

Today we don’t have to worry about the scones being dry (they’re not). And we’re going to do more than spread the scones with chocolate. We’re going to make them with chocolate and then put chocolate bits inside. It’s a tiny bit like eating brownies for breakfast. Zinnegael would totally approve.

Double Chocolate Scones
adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction
makes 8 scones
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Cost: $2.60
flour: .10, whole wheat flour: .10, oat flour: .05, cocoa: .20, sugar: .10, butter: .60, cream: .50, egg: .10, chocolate chips: .85

Note: To healthy this up just the slightest little bit, I couldn’t help but use some whole wheat flour and oat flour (Zinnegael would never have done such a thing, but I did). They were delicious and while the oat flour makes it a tiny bit crumblier, I think it also helps it stay moist and gives it a depth of flavor that is fantastic.

1 C all-purpose flour
1/3 C whole wheat flour
1/3 C oat flour
1/3 C cocoa
1/2 C sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)
1/2 C (1 stick) butter (frozen or cold)
1/2 C plus 1 Tbsp heavy cream
1 large egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 C semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips (oh, and we were short, so we threw in some white chocolate chips too)

Glaze: 

Note: This glaze adds more sweetness, but it also sort of seals the scone so that it doesn’t dry out. The original recipe recommends dipping them in this glaze, but I just drizzled it rather thoroughly over the top of the scones, and that was way easier. (Yay for laziness and stuff.)

1 C powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 oz water

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Put baking rack in middle-low position. Line it with parchment paper (seriously–this is a good idea).

In a bowl or food processor (I use a food processor and it makes things like this so fast and easy), combine flour, whole wheat flour, oat flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.

Cut the butter into chunks with a knife and toss those in. Give the food processor several pulses (or mush them into the dry ingredients with your hands, or a pastry cutter if you must).

In a small bowl, whisk the cream, vanilla, and egg. Pour it into the food processor and process until combined. Don’t overmix it. A bit crumbly here is better than being it to death.

Dump out your mixture and press it together until it forms a bit of a ball. Knead it 10-12 times. Don’t knead the heck out of it. You just want it to come together and be combined. That’s all. Scones are sensitive little things and if you overmix or overknead them, they will be dry. So err on the side of underdoing it. You won’t regret it.

Form into a ball and roll or press it into a nice circle that is about 1/4-1/2 inch thick. Cut this into 8 triangles (like cutting a pizza).

(Sorry that this pic is a little blurry, but wanted to show you the correct thickness)

Put these on the baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, or just until they lose their shiny look. Again, err on the side of too little. Cook too long and they dry out.

Remove and let cool slightly.

Prepare glaze by mixing all those ingredients together and drizzle thoroughly over scones (or use a pastry brush, which is easiest). You want the glaze to pretty much cover the top and sides as much as possible (you’re welcome).

Eat warm or not. They’re delicious.