Friday, April 17, 2015

Guest Author Post: Author Palessa gives a great tip on overcoming writer's block (plus excerpt)

Breaking Block Barriers

It was around May 2014 when I first got hit by a kind of writer’s block that I had never really known existed. I had published book 2, Portrait of Gray, which was such a powerful write. When I finished Unchained Hearts, I felt Grayson’s story so strongly that I had a lot of the graphical assets in my head as well as a solid outline for the story so quickly. I shocked myself. Grayson’s story was heart wrenching in many ways that I actually misted up when writing a couple of parts. I knew that if I felt that, readers would too.
But Book 3, Story of Us, was giving me problems. I was having a block that I just couldn’t quite explain. In May, I had to go offline for a few weeks. That meant no Facebook or email for at least three weeks and I was nervous. It wound up being the best thing that ever happened because it helped me to face what this block head on. I figured out what it was: Fear. I was afraid of the pain I was going to feel in writing what turned out to be the last book in the main series. Someone dying was hard enough but to have people’s lives destroyed through no fault of their own was pretty painful and I was avoiding it. That was my block.

There are different kinds of blocks writers can experience. 
  • ·        As I mentioned, you know you’re going to have to deal with a difficulty and your mind is avoiding that kind of emotional discomfort.
  • ·         You’re just burned out and don’t want to write anything.
  • ·         You can’t finish what you started. It’s like the idea was there and then it just dried up

I have been through all of these at one point or another even before I was published. They used to scare me because when it comes to telling stories, that’s my calling, that’s my purpose.
One of the ways I have always been able to work through what’s in my head is by writing it out. When I was in school, we did stream of consciousness writing exercises in my English class and I loved them. I write out, chip away at it and eventually I find out what my real problem is. Not everyone can do this because it’s low tech but pen to paper is my “go to” when I have any problem like that.
When I used to get burned out, I stepped away and did something else. Writing doesn’t give me a lot of time to read, plus I have other business projects I work on.  For a time, I turn to those and just step away from writing for a bit because I don’t want to force the story to come. It won’t work. I step away and let the ideas comes to me when they are ready. That’s the time I’ll get flashes and inspirations. I may not be fully ready to write yet but as the ideas pop up, the feelings build I eventually get back to it.
Usually when I feel like an idea has dried up, that means that a part of the story just isn’t working for me and I need to take a left turn at Albuquerque. I scrap it and see if the character is open to doing something more radical. I am always conferring with my characters because, really, it’s their story. Opening myself up to that kind of change helps me generate other ideas and I’m usually a lot happier with the outcome.
My point is when it comes to overcoming blocks, there are different times, different kinds and different solutions. You need to just be honest enough with yourself to break through that barrier to get to the other side. Everybody has his or her way; what’s yours?
While you’re thinking about that, here’s an excerpt of my very first historical fiction book, Eyubea Girls, the story of how a young woman found her home in a land not her own:

"Marriage? But she's just seventeen, Simon.” Patrick watched the priest carefully remove his robes behind his desk. He closed his eyes and leaned over the simple wooden chair in front of the priest's desk, bowing his head. “She's a child who knows nothing of life, much less of Africa or missionary work."

"Patrick," Father Faricy finished hanging his robes and walked over to his friend. "She's of age. Many other young girls are contemplating or have already been married. They've got direction and purpose. Lisbette is a young woman and this is a great opportunity for her to learn about the world under the right guidance."

"She knows nothing of him. I know nothing of him. Yes, I know of his parents but…I cringe at the thought of my little girl marrying some man and moving so far off."

"All good points but think about it. As her parents, the mission is willing to pay you a handsome stipend of fifty pounds a month for two years, she would have a proper home from what I understand, a husband—"

"What about love, Simon?" Patrick may have lost his love but he wanted something more decent for his little girl.

Father Faricy walked up to Simon and put a hand on his shoulder. "Love can bloom under such circumstances where two people are bound together by a common goal. They are both young enough to explore their feelings."

Patrick pondered the proposal. Africa was far and exotic. Would Lisbette be happy there? And if she wasn't could she come back home? Looking the priest squarely in the eyes, he said with complete seriousness "I want her to be happy, Simon. I want her safe and happy especially after what Vivian did. I need to make sure she's protected. She will be so far away."

Father Faricy saw the opportunity he had been waiting for. "What happened, Patrick? At the very least you would have made the necessary excuses for Vivian's absence, but today you said nothing. Are the two of you all right?"

Hearing the genuine concern in the older man's voice Patrick looked down at his hands. Vivian's drunkenness was really the worst kept secret but it was their business. He closed his eyes, breathed a bracing sigh and told the priest all that happened.

"Saints be praised!" Father Faricy turned his eyes to the heavens. "I had no idea things were so dire."

Patrick laughed quietly. "I didn't know they could be this dire. Lisbette is all I have now." He saw the priest about to interject and he stopped him. "No. I'm not ending my marriage, if that's what you're worried about. Till death us do part and I meant it. But not even God can expect me to let this pass."

"I can understand your anger, Patrick. I even share it, God forgive me. But this opportunity for Lisbette is an answer to your prayers. She can be safe away from these thugs and you can settle the debt."

"And lose my daughter to a different world and a man I know nothing of in the process. What a tangled web, indeed."

Patrick knew his daughter. She hated being told what to do. He had always given her the freedom to choose her path. Now he was taking that freedom away. Even if it meant saving her life she would probably hate him for it. At least she would be alive, in Africa, while she seethed.

Looking at Father Faricy, Patrick nodded. The priest clapped his hands but Patrick held up his finger, "There are conditions. As soon as they are agreed, I will consent."

Patrick stepped out of Father Faricy's room and saw Graham and Lisbette across the room talking. She was smiling and they seemed to be getting along. Perhaps this wasn't going to be as bad as he thought. He walked over to the pair calling out to his daughter.

"Da, Graham was telling me about his travels and the people he's going to meet."

"I'm glad you had someone to talk to while I discussed some church business with the Father." Patrick turned to Graham and extended his hand. "We will be in touch soon."

Graham's eyes lit up. "I trust so." He turned to Lisbette. He took her hand is his and held it. "It was a pleasure to meet you, Lisbette." He raised her hand to his lips and kissed it. "I'm sure we will be seeing each other again."

Lisbette watched him leave. She felt her heart flutter and her cheeks flood with prickly heat. It was a sensation she was getting used to and she liked it.

Patrick looked at his daughter and realized just how much of a woman she appeared. She wasn't a tomboy anymore with dirt on her face and missing baby teeth. She would soon be a woman, a married woman. He offered his arm to her and she took it as they left.

Whether he liked it or not, he would have to give his daughter up. The only question remained was whether she'd forgive him for it…

***About Eyubea Girls****

Graham Tate-Fuller needs a wife. Not just any wife. One who is young enough to take on his education mission to the African continent and not ask too many questions about his past. Lisbette Caldwell is just seventeen, a young woman who isn’t ready to give up her tomboy ways. She dreams of playing football and becoming a teacher just like her father. Through a series of circumstances beyond her control, Lisbette marries Graham and embarks on an adventure in Eyubea, a small independent township in southern Africa, which managed to escape the colonial rule that overtook many other African nations.

There Lisbette settles into her new life as an assistant teacher to a small group of young girls who will have no choice but to become wives and mothers. Its a simple enough task that will turn into a fight for their lives as Graham's past catches up to them and Lisbette faces the dark side of marriage in a land not her own.

Set in the early 1900's, Lisbette is forced to take a stand for herself and her Eyubea Girls against stacked odds, even if it means losing the life she's come to love. With the help of new friends and a will to carve out her own place in the world, she searches for a way to live life on her own terms in a place she will come to call home.

Buy Eyubea Girls, Growing Wild 1 by Palessa

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