October 20, 2011

Laura Bickle Guest Post {Bewitching Book Tours}

Today I have Laura Bickle, author of the Anya Kalinczyk series, on the blog for a guest post about writer's block. Enjoy!

Writing Through the Block, by Laura Bickle

I often get asked about how to deal with writer's block. We all have times when we get stuck on a project, and it's difficult to more forward. It's like swimming in molasses. Finishing even one paragraph can seem like an insurmountable obstacle. But I've found a few tricks over time that help put my brain in gear and get me moving forward. Hopefully, they'll work for your creative projects, as well:

-Change where you're writing. Sometimes, I get stuck in a rut and feel chained to the desk. When that happens, I know it's time to grab the laptop and move to the couch or go outside. A simple change in scenery can often kick-start the creative process.

-Change how you write. I usually type on a computer. But if I'm feeling blocked, I keep a selection of notebooks and pens handy. Writing longhand can sometimes jar new ideas loose.

-Outline where you've been or where you're going. If I'm stymied on a plot point, I go back and outline the story so far. This process usually helps plot points to fall into place, and I begin listing ideas for where to take the story in the future.

-Do research. This one's a tempting procrastination. As a research hound, I can fall into a rabbit hole of research on the internet for hours. But it's sometimes necessary to generate new ideas. And I'm always amazed at the new ideas I come across browsing the stacks in the library, often by pure happenstance.

-Meditate. If I try to wipe all thoughts out of my head and focus on doing nothing, the creative mechanism sometimes winds back up again.

-Listen to music. I find that music often keeps the critical parts of my brain occupied, which increases flow.

-Write crap for 1000 words. I make a deal with myself that I'll be allowed to write complete and utter dreck for an hour or so. Sometimes, good stuff comes out of that.

-Take a half hour break to walk. Physical activity can often get the blood and creative juices flowing.

-Play some cards. I keep a Tarot card deck handy. If I get stuck, I draw some cards at random and free-associate with the images I see.

-Play the 'what if' game. What if my character is cursed? What if I set something on fire? What if the car blows up? Playing the 'what if' game, scribbling down ideas in a list, can often yield surprising results. Nothing is off limits - the more outrageous, the better.

-Bribe yourself. I often promise myself a treat if I can slog through the next chapter. Maybe it's a brownie or a new lipstick. But my inner child really likes treats...and will occasionally work for them.

-Butt in chair. Ultimately, I think it boils down to just doing it. I set an egg timer and force myself to sit at the computer for an hour. Eventually, I cave in and get bored enough to actually write. Sometimes the results aren't bad.

Writing is hard work. It doesn't always flow effortlessly, like water. But the stuck bits have valuable lessons to teach about motivation and pushing forward. And I'm not above using some tricks to get there.

Great advice Laura, thanks for stopping by!



EMBERS
Anya Kalinczyk #1
Pocket Juno Books
Mass Market Paperback, $7.99
ISBN: 978-1439167656
April 2010
Unemployment, despair, anger--visible and invisible unrest feed the undercurrent of Detroit's unease. A city increasingly invaded by phantoms now faces a malevolent force that further stokes fear and chaos throughout the city.

Anya Kalinczyk spends her days as an arson investigator with the Detroit Fire Department, and her nights pursuing malicious spirits with a team of eccentric ghost hunters. Anya--who is the rarest type of psychic medium, a Lantern--suspects a supernatural arsonist is setting blazes to summon a fiery ancient entity that will leave the city in cinders. By Devil's Night, the spell will be complete, unless Anya--with the help of her salamander familiar and the paranormal investigating team --can stop it.

Anya's accustomed to danger and believes herself inured to loneliness and loss. But this time she's risking everything: her city, her soul, and a man who sees and accepts her for everything she is. Keeping all three safe will be the biggest challenge she's ever faced.

One of the most promising debut novels I’ve read in a great while… I’d highly recommend this book to anybody who reads fantasy. It reminds me in many regards…of another exceptional first novel…Emma Bull’s seminal War for the Oaks, and there’s not much higher praise that I can give.”
—Elizabeth Bear on Tor.com

Bickle has something great in Anya. Embers has everything: demons, ghosts, dragons, love, sex, police, and murder.
—M.L.N. Hanover, bestselling author of Darker Angels

Gritty but never grim, Embers is a truly urban fantasy, where the soul of a city haunts every page. I can’t wait for more of Anya and the unforgettable Sparky!
—Jeri Smith-Ready, award-winning author of Bad to the Bone and Shade

A free excerpt is available here.

EMBERS is available now from Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.


SPARKS
Anya Kalinczyk #2
Pocket Juno Books
Mass Market Paperback, $7.99
ISBN 978-1439167687
September 2010
WITHOUT A TRACE…

Anya Kalinczyk is the rarest type of psychic medium, a Lantern, who holds down a day job as an arson investigator with the Detroit Fire Department—while working 24/7 to exterminate malicious spirits haunting a city plagued by unemployment and despair. Along with her inseparable salamander familiar, Sparky, Anya has seen, and even survived, all manner of fiery hell—but her newest case sparks suspicions of a bizarre phenomenon that no one but her eccentric team of ghost hunters might believe: spontaneous human combustion.

After fire consumes the home of elderly Jasper Bernard, Anya is stunned to discover his remains—or, more precisely, a lack of them; even the fiercest fires leave some trace of their victims—and she is sure this was no naturally occurring blaze. Soon she’s unearthed a connection to a celebrity psychic who preys on Detroit’s poor, promising miracles for money. But Hope Solomon wants more—she’s collecting spirits, and in a frantic race against time, Anya will face down an evil adversary who threatens her fragile relationship with her lover, her beloved Sparky’s freshly hatched newts, and the wandering souls of the entire city.

The second book in Bickle’s series about Anya Kalinczyk is just as wonderful as the first—Anya is a compelling and likable protagonist and Bickle does an outstanding job in her portrayal of the city of Detroit; there are ruins, yes, but also hope in the ashes. Anya never takes herself too seriously and there is a scene in a baby supercenter that is absolutely not to be missed. (4 stars)
- RT Book Reviews

...a charming and inventive read.
-Elizabeth Bear, Realms of Fantasy Magazine, December 2010

SPARKS is available for pre-order from Amazon and Barnes & Noble

A free excerpt is available here.

Author Bio:
Laura Bickle has an MA in sociology-criminology (research interests: fear of crime and victimology) and a BA in criminology. She has worked in and around criminal justice since 1997. Although she does read Tarot cards, she's never used them in criminal profiling or to locate lost scientists. She recently took up astronomy, but for the most part her primary role in studying constellations and dark matter is to follow her amateur astronomer-husband around central Ohio toting the telescope tripod and various lenses.

Writing as Laura Bickle, she's the author of EMBERS and SPARKS for Pocket - Juno Books. Writing as Alayna Williams, she's the author of DARK ORACLE and ROGUE ORACLE. More info on her urban fantasy and general nerviness is on her WebsiteLaura's Blog / Alayna’s Blog.

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