Tag Archives: Writing Exercise

“A Hundred Different Skies” Preorder Update

“A Hundred Different Skies”? What’s that?

It’s a poetry collection I’ve been working on since 2007. I initially published it in 2008, then pulled it immediately after receiving the proof copy. This time I’m trying to do it right. I have beta readers, I’m editing my poetry, and I’m getting a proper cover designed by a childhood friend.

I promised my grandmother I would properly publish the collection at one point. While I still plan to publish one off poems on occasion, I’m not sure I plan to publish another poetry collection for another 12 years or more.

What Kinds Of Poetry?

My poetry is influenced heavily by the works of Billy Collins, e.e. cummings, Allen Ginsberg, Emily Dickinson, Pablo Neruda, Maya Angelou, Alice Moore Dunbar-Nelson, Esther Popel, Philip K Dick (yes he wrote poetry too), Sylvia Path, and probably any other poet I learned about.

An incomplete list of the styles of poetry include:

  • avant garde
  • free verse
  • blank verse
  • tanka
  • cinquain
  • sestina
  • free verse – word art

For more information on types of poetry, Writer’s Digest has a great list here.

Do You Consider Yourself A Poet?

Kind of? I used to consider myself primarily a poet, but over the past 10 years I have found myself more drawn toward writing. I’ve been writing non-fiction for quite some time and then switched to writing fiction. I tend to isolate my poetry to specific places, such as my author page on Curensea. They even interviewed me back in 2019.

What Publishing Method Do You Plan To Use?

Initially I had planned to publish through Inkshares. This meant that even though I said “Coming Summer 2020” that was for preorder.

2020 has thrown curve balls for us all. If I wanted to increase turn around time I would self publish instead of going through a hybrid publisher, but I am notoriously an overachiever in most aspects of my life if I’m in complete control of the deadlines. I’m considering what other options there are and am also considering completing the manuscript and submitting for traditional publication given that many of these poems are submitted for publication elsewhere.

Part of why I’m reconsidering using Inkshares? Inkshares is a hybrid publisher that requires authors to achieve a minimum number of preorders for the book to go to press.

Is This Why You’ve Been On Hiatus From Reviews?

Partially. Some of the hiatus has been related to other aspects of life as some people may have gathered. Some of the hiatus has been related to focusing on my writing because creating has been more helpful for sanity than consuming media.

Some of it has also been avoidance to see if a separation period improves this automatic response I keep having. When I try to write a review or read a book with the intention to review, my heart races and my mind clouds. Taking a break has been essential to review books fairly and honestly.

I have been constantly afraid of encountering more authors that aren’t looking for honest reviews from people that use their own money to buy their books. Or ask for honest reviews from people they send books to.

Perhaps I do not have the spine needed to write book reviews. I have a commitment to finish the books I currently have. This was never meant to be a source of stress or anxiety – it was meant to be a source of interaction with a community I love.

Other Projects

There are other projects in the works besides “A Hundred Different Skies”:

  • Additional chapbooks
  • Short story collections
  • A biography
  • 4-6 shelved novels
  • The “descendants project” – the digitizing of old photographs with names and evidence associated with them used to archive it to allow those searching to see the faces of their great-great-great grandparents for the first time as I come across these photos in my historic photograph projects
  • A book on historic photography techniques and the link between photography and American religious/spiritual movements (as well as the earliest examples of the American manufacturing of false evidence).
  • An ever growing personal photography portfolio that needs to be curated and shared in a gallery show. I recently obtained my first set of prints for framing.
  • Gluten free recipe development
  • Two “toy” / “art” manufacturing projects (I will be running contests for giving away prototypes as I perfect the process).

Not to mention Jacob and I are landscaping the yard and redecorating the house.

If you are interested in supporting or following any of my other projects please let me know which of the above interests you most. I’m happy to post more information and updates. I’m curious what formats people would prefer these updates in, so please include that information in comments below. Liking and sharing helps to get the word out about the upcoming release of A Hundred Different Skies as well as my other projects, but this post is mostly for the people who already read this.

Thank you for your support and for taking the time to read this. It really does mean the world to me.

Quarantine Writer’s Block Short Story by L.H. Westerlund

I’m excited to share the winning short story composed by L.H. Westerlund written for the contest associated with Quarantine Writer’s Block: Exercise 1. This short story seized an every day object sitting on the desk and turned it into a curiosity adventure. Enjoy!

Image by L.H. Westerlund

It looked inconspicuous. It looked like a hair accessory, that was the only way to put it. A soft fabric circle curled around an elastic, meant to be used to tie your hair up. It was made with half grey, half pink but in matching white-plaited fabrics and it stretched readily around the cord inside if pulled at.

But it lay on the working desk of the single most prized student of the greatest crafts magician of all time – well, excepting the mentioned disciple if the master was to be believed. And perhaps he unceremoniously should be.

The delicate, almost invisible white pattern going across the two colours, the gentle curve of the fabric and the hidden stitches from where it had been sewn together told nothing about the power it might hide within. The fabric was soft and felt maybe slightly warm to the touch, but was it all a trick of the mind? Was this merely something the crafter had left behind, dislodged accidentally by a hand running through her long hair as she worked?

Or was it the product of some new spell? An artifact of unspeakable power using magic most mortals could only dream of wistfully? Who knew what magic it could contain!

The fabric item lay there peacefully, mocking with its secrets. There was no way to tell. None at all… except perhaps… A shout.

“Kiera! What’s that on your desk?!”


L.H. Westerlund

L. H. Westerlund is a Nordic author, engineer and playwright living in London. She is currently working on several new novels, including “The End of Elena Heart” which will be available at the end of the summer, and a sequel to the children’s-series “The Truth About Monsters”.

Her author website is The Literature Goddess. You can also connect with her via Twitter or Smashwords.

Her first book, University Strange or My Strange Life Amongst Academics is available for purchase now. If you would like a preview, the first chapter is available through the publisher’s website here.

Quarantine Writer’s Block: Exercise 1

Object Oriented Fiction Writing

How To Use An Object (Short Story // Warm Up)

Visualize an object in your mind, or better yet, look for something “weird” you own.

Nana’s embroidery project from three summer’s ago that she gave you for your birthday? Perfect!

That Betsy Johnson cat locket ring you picked up for 50 cents at a yard sale? Golden!

That polaroid you found on the sidewalk while jogging last week? Best one I’ve heard yet!

Grab it, mentally or literally. Now, forget its past. That object is now foreign to you. Write 250+ words of new, completely fake information about that object and how it relates to a story. Think about the setting transitions the object goes through. What characters handle it? What experiences does the object witness (though it has no eyes)? To follow up with the previous examples:

Who were the people in the polaroid and how did it end up on the sidewalk?

Who bought the cat ring for who? And what was put inside?

Why did that embroidery project go terribly wrong and what shenanigans did that embroidery circle get into?

Who bought the cat ring for who? And what was put inside?

How To Use An Object In A Pre-Existing Story

In every story there are objects that characters interact with and often we forget how critical we make objects for the progression of a story. Be it a quest for buried treasure (object) or the consequences of a cursed [object], there are objects that come into play each with its own unique role. To use this exercise, you could consider one of these objects in your story as your object of focus.

Thought Examples:

Arthur is not king until he has his sword and unites the Britons (every King Arthur legend ever)

The one ring to rule them all must be thrown into the fires of Mount Doom. (Lord of The Rings, JRR Tolkien)

Trisha uses her Walkman to survive the Maine wilderness. (The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, Stephen King)

Arts & Crafts

I have found that in severe cases of writer’s block a physical representation of the object is very helpful. In this case, break out the arts and crafts. No matter how bad the representation, having something you can physically interact with while brainstorming will help immerse you in that world. The act of creating the object can be its own helpful therapy. Also, the models that you make bring your story to life in your own mind, and could help ease writers block on their own. Put them on display in your writing zone.

Collage & Antiquing

Some authors will hunt for objects in antique stores – in the time of quarantine, antiquing is not really an option (except online). Pinterest albums and other collaging methods are much friendlier. Finding an image to create a sketch from or even print out as your representation is useful!

Write Around The Object

Now that you have the object, physically, mentally – whatever way works best for you – start thinking. Sometimes, I prefer thinking of minor objects in a particular scene I’ve been trying to write because it helps lead me into writing the scene I’ve been blocked on. There are many ways to flex your brain around the existence of objects within a story and how they are playing a role. This allows the object to be written around – it’s there to help break down the mental block.

Do I Leave It In The Story?

It’s easy to edit out anything once it has served you, but a writing exercise can get you writing when you’re struggling. I have based entire short stories on objects, and I have cut entire objects out of stories. The choice is up to the individual author and what they want out of their writing.

Exercise 1 Summary: With an object related to your story, either physical or imaginary, write at least 250 words about that object fitting it into a scene you are trying to write or relating it to your story.

Bonus: Do some arts & crafts to make a physical representation of your object.

TL;DR

  • Objects can be useful for helping your brain overcome writer’s block
  • Think about the role objects play in your story and select an object from your story to focus on.
  • Physical representations of objects in your story are sometimes helpful in overcoming writer’s block – these can be made with arts and crafts.
  • Try to write at least 250 words fitting an object into a story to overcome writer’s block.
  • You never have to leave what you have written from a writing exercise in a story.

I would love to feature your writing on my blog!

Please let me know if this helps you in the ways it has helped me! I would love to read every single short story written using this methods (100% serious). Tell me about your stories and the best ones will be featured in their own posts – please submit using the subject line: Object Oriented Writing. I am planning on getting a group of judges other than myself to read these if people actually participate. This contest will be running through 30 April, 2020.

Rules:

  • Word Count: 250 – 2000 words
  • grammar or spelling mistakes do not interrupt reading experience
  • Must be capable of being rated PG
  • Has the entire story written following the exercise above (Beginning, Middle, End, etc)
  • Please be sure to include your name or pen name, contact e-mail, and other identifying information in the body of the email.
  • Please submit your short story in a .pdf (an attachment that can be read by Google Docs) with a unique 5 digit number you pick at the top (do not include this in the e-mail). I will use these 5 digit numbers to announce winners on Twitter.
  • (Optional) include a picture of your object
  • The story cannot have been previously published elsewhere as it needs to be a new composition using the above method.
  • Author retains all rights beyond the printing of the story in a blog post on LoPotterWrites.com with any other promotional material the author provides for their writing. The author can request that the story be removed at any time should they wish by contacting me.
  • If the above rules are not followed your story will sadly be disqualified.
  • You will be notified if your story is chosen (or not) by 31 May 2020 (assuming there are not thousands of submissions).

Prize: TBD

Right now there is no prize besides having your short story on my blog. I am working on figuring out ways to improve this and how many prizes I can offer.

Thank you for reading – without you, this would be a shout into the ether.