Post-NaNoWriMo Thoughts

I walked into this month knowing exactly what I wanted to write. I had a fully completed outline, even a few thousand words in the bag. With that being said, I did reach the NaNoWriMo goal of 50,000 words (Yay!), but I didn’t finish my project. I am a little disappointed, but I can honestly say that I had a lot of fun writing this year. I went out to a few write-ins and met a lot of cool people. It was so nice to talk and joke with other writers and know people who understand the unique challenges NaNo provides. It also created a place where ideas could be thrown around and feedback could be given, because if I’m being honest I need more practice with critiquing. So I left this month feeling really happy, which is fueling my desire to keep writing.

What’s Next: Life after NaNo?

I’ve thought about it a lot and wondered if it were possible for me to just continue writing. (Yes I know that sounds silly, bare with me) I did enjoy and will miss the fun and good spirit of NaNoWriMo, but I want to continue writing outside of that. Participating in NaNo this year has proved to me that I really enjoy writing and I want to do this as a career and not just a hobby. I want to wake up, write, take a break, sleep, and repeat. To me, it’s fun and fulfilling, and in the past, I was okay with writing being number two, but now I want it to be on the same level as my (hopefully) career in wildlife. I can not express how much motivation I’ve gotten from this month, and I really hope it stays.

So it’s December 2nd now, and I’m still writing my NaNoWriMo project, I’m not burned out, and I love this new found productivity. I hope everyone who participated in NaNoWriMo had a great time, regardless if you reached the targeted word count or not because you really are a winner if you tried. And no I’m not just saying that. Writing is a journey that goes beyond 50,000 words and spans way past the thirty days of November. Don’t stop writing, the world needs your stories.

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Fun Times at the Virginia Children’s Book Festival

 

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Our Super awesome table at the VCBF, feat. illustrator Danielle Dooley (L) and author Blair Cousins (R).

 

This past weekend I was a vendor at the Virginia Children’s Book Festival in Farmville, VA. This was the first time I’d had a table at a big festival, and I was not disappointed. Despite some minor hick-ups, I had a great time. The volunteers, staff, and other vendors were all very nice and welcoming; I’ll be back next year.

Next year, however, I’d like to go for the whole event or at least step away from my table to see some of the presenters. Being the author, I thought it was more important to man my table, but after selling a whopping total of nine books, I think it wouldn’t have hurt to step away to see a few speakers. But, I did get to see some action from the vendor’s room. There were a lot of book signings, most notably, illustrator Brooke Allen made an appearance to promote her newest project Lumberjanes: Unicorn Power. I regret not buying her book, but it’s on my wishlist now. I was also lucky to share a table with author and illustrator of The Spy Next Door series, Jay Cooper. I did buy one his books. I couldn’t pass it up, the artwork was amazing.

Overall I had a pretty good time. It was nice to be out promoting my book again, and I was happy to have my good friend and illustrator Danielle Dooley with me. We have a coloring book coming out next month, and we’re really excited about the project, but more on that later. NaNoWriMo is on the horizon, and I need to have all my rations and supplies ready to knock this one out of the park.

Updates!

Hi all, I hope you are well. It’s been a while since I’ve updated here, but know that I’ve been busy with many projects and events. The blog’s weekly posting schedule is still on hiatus, but as long as you’re following my blog, you’ll get notifications when I do. For the fall I’ve got lots of goodies planned. This year I’ll be doing a Spooktacular Writing Care Package Giveaway, just in time for Nano, along with the premiere of a new short story I’m working on. The giveaway will take place on my Facebook page, Blair Cousins – Author, starting October 1st to the 30th. The story will be posted on my blog on Hallow’s Eve.

Also in October, I will be running a table at The Virginia Children’s Book Festival in Farmville, VA at Longwood University. The festival is free to attend and runs from October 19th to October 21st, though I’ll only be there on Saturday, the 21st. I encourage you to go on either day for the amazing authors and illustrators attending. For a full list of guest and events check out the website below.

>>>>>>The Virginia Children’s Book Festival<<<<<<

Coming out in mid-November I will be publishing a cat-themed coloring book all about cats being cats. It’s perfect for children and adults of all ages and will even include characters from Ouji the Curious Cat. Visit my table at The Virginia Children’s Book Festival to enter for a chance to win a signed copy.

Lastly, I will be participating in NaNoWriMo this year. There is a very special project I would like to complete, and I encourage all authors and writing enthusiast to participate. It’s truly a fun and rewarding experience. Nano starts November 1st and is free to sign up for. For more information, please visit their website: Here.

 

That’s all for now, happy writing everyone.

 

-Blair

Blog Hiatus

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The blog is going on hiatus so I can finish up the manuscripts I’m working on. Worry not I’ll post here every now and then when something peaks my interest, so be sure to follow my blog. If you haven’t already, please follow me on Facebook as well by clicking [here], as I will more than likely be posting more on there. Be sure to join my mailing list for updates as well, either on here, on my Facebook page, or by sending me your email address through the contact form.

Thanks for all your support and I hope to have more projects coming out soon.

 

Cheers,

Blair

My First James River Writer’s Show

This past Wednesday I finally got a chance to attend my first writer’s show, hosted by the James River Writers. The Writer’s Show brings authors and professionals from the writing industry to talk about a wide variety of topics, from novel writing to marketing. Ever since I joined the JRW back in January, I’ve wanted to go to a writer’s show, but as life will happen something always popped up, preventing me from attending. This month, however, despite my crazy day at work and little time to get ready, I put on my big girl’s pants and went to the show, and I’m really glad I did.

The topic of the night concerned something that plagues authors of every kind, and that is how to deal with the “squishy middle” as they coined it. The squishy middle is the condiments and meat of the story. It’s one of the most important parts. It’s where characters and plot are developed, the juicy middle that keeps your readers engaged, but it can also be a point of stress for many authors as well. So this show covered ways to motivate yourself to get through those tough squishy parts.

As I sat in the middle of the audience, struggling with an inner battle of sleep deprivation and trying to focus on the show, I learned that I am not alone on my journey through the squishy middle. Each panelist explained their own struggles with it and offered very helpful advice. Power through it, one author suggested, even if it sounds like complete crap write it down anyways because you can’t edit what’s not there. Another author suggested that you lay out an outline. Write down all the highlights and plot points you want to reach and fill in the gaps as you go. Walk away, sometimes it’s okay to abandon a story, don’t delete it, but let it sit and come back to it with fresh eyes. I’ve done this a few times, it’s especially helpful during the editing process.

All and all I had a really fun time. It’s nice to know even established authors struggle with the squishy middle. You’re not alone out there; just don’t stop writing. Next show I hope to be more outgoing and take better notes instead of a half-dead zombie. If you’re interested in checking out any of the panelists feel free to look them up. I’ve labeled their names on the picture below.

JRWS pic

**Forgive my blurry picture, it was taken on the sly.

Dress-Up Games: An Unlikely Writing Tool

As I traverse the bottomless pit that is my writer’s block, I’ve picked up one too many distracting habits. For example, I’ve rediscovered my love of dress-up games. You know, those flash games 90s kids were crazy about. Well, those blast from the past have come a long way, and they can be great tools for visualizing your characters or just a fun way to pass the time. I’m currently playing on a site called Doll Divine. They have a huge selection of free games, spanning various genres, including games that feature male and female characters including animals. Here are a few examples:

Sailor Senshi Maker 3

Angel and Vulva

 

Prince Maker

 

Kitten Creator 2

Of course, copyright belongs to the artist, but this can be a fun way to envision your characters, which otherwise you’d never get to see outside your mind. So if you’re not artistically inclined take a moment to browse through their selection, you never know, you might enjoy yourself.

Getting to Know Your Characters

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Just the other day I was speaking with a friend about how to get to know your characters better. As writer’s, it’s assumed that we should already know everything about our characters before we write, but that is far from the truth. More often than not, we get to know our characters as we write, but what if you wanted to get to know them better before you start writing? How do you go about doing that?

What I’ve found that really works for me, is starting a relationship with your characters, talk to them, ask them about their day. I know it sounds crazy, but it helped me overcome some really tough spots in my writing, especially with my current project, which has been plagued with spells of writer’s block and schedule conflicts. In the time away from the page I think of my characters often. I think what would they be doing if they were here, or better yet, what would they be doing on an average day. Of course, all this information won’t be included in the story, but these interactions may help reveal new character traits you may not have thought of before. I also spend time listening to my characters talk to each other. I have two characters, in my current project, that are best friends and I’ve learned so much about them just through listening to their conversations. This helps make the interaction between them more organic when I write. So I don’t need to come up with something random to feel a dialog gap. Instead, I can rely on what I’ve observed to create a better scene and don’t limit yourself to having them just talk to friends. Have your characters talk to other characters, whether they are side-characters or the shopkeeper in the market, even the antagonist. Find out what makes them tic, it’ll help down the line when figuring out how the characters will react.

I hope this helps in your character development journey, good luck writers and remember don’t give up on that story, the world needs your voice.