Posts Tagged ‘Margena Holmes’

Remember Your Why

By: Margena Holmes

When I brought up the idea for this blog to the editor, she was all for it, saying, “Maybe it will motivate others to write their blogs.” And then…nothing. The idea sat in my head but never made it to my fingers and keyboard. For weeks. I felt like I’d let her down because I hadn’t done what I said I was going to do.

My brain didn’t want to think. I had other things on my mind, and I wasn’t even working on my novel during that time, similar to when I couldn’t write at the beginning of the pandemic. How could I find motivation to work on what needed to be done?

Where did I find motivation?

At one time, I found motivation in a Facebook group. In this writers group, everyone is always posting their successes with sales. After a while, I stopped responding to those posts. Why? It wasn’t happening to me (because I suffer from Imposter Syndrome quite often). But why wasn’t it me? Because I lacked the daily habit of writing every day. So, I started to write every day again, even if it was only for a few minutes. Seeing others’ success really got me to sit my butt down in the chair with my cup of tea (a signal to my brain that it’s writing time) and write.

Writers conferences or just reading about the craft will inspire me to write something. I love to learn and if I read something about writing, I like to put it into practice. If you’re having trouble finding your motivation, try reading about the craft or taking an online workshop or conference. It may help you over that hurdle you’ve been stuck behind.

Remember your why.

One thing to help get you out of that hole is to remember your why—your reason for writing. Take a few moments to write down your reasons for writing, whether it’s writing your novel, your article, or your next blog post. There is no right or wrong reason to write, even if it is just to make money to help pay the bills or to be able to quit your job. This was one thing that I needed to do and remember to get back to writing again.

Take things that happen during the day either at home or at your day job to give you that push to keep going. Boss at work get on you again about being two minutes late? Write that down. Are your readers asking when your next book will be out? Put that in big letters where you can see it. Anything to get you excited to write again. They will help remind you why you started writing in the first place, or to give you that kick in the pants to continue working on your stories. If you’ve been stuck in a writing rut, hopefully these ideas will help you to find your reason for writing again and your fingers will be flying on that keyboard with new stories and blogs.


Margena Holmes

Margena Adams Holmes has been writing ever since she can remember, writing her first poem in 1st grade. At her day job, when she’s not kicking young kids out of R-rated movies, she’s sweeping up spilled popcorn from the hallways and aisles (she’s not your mother, though, so please take your trash out). Her days off consist of writing science fiction, short stories, and more movie theater shenanigans. Reading is a close second to writing, and she normally has her nose buried in a book. Her publications are available through her author page. Contact Margena via email: jedi_anegram@hotmail.com.

Post-Conference Check In

This week we have two articles that take a look at Post-Conference. The first is from Kim Krisco who shares his thoughts on his first conference experience, and the second, by Margena Holmes, explores what’s next. We hope you enjoy this double hitter.

PPWC2021 – What an Experience!

By: Kim Krisco

Caught up in the volunteer spirit that seems to permeate Pikes Peak Writers, I volunteered to write a post-conference retrospective for Writing from the Peak. Given the heap of notes, handouts, and slide downloads piled on my desk, the most obvious topic would seem to be how to organize all the information and teachings I received in the two and one-half days. To be honest, my notetaking became less prolific when I fully realized that all the sessions are recorded, and I would be able to review the presentations I attended and learn from those I was unable to attend for the next thirty days. A perk from this year’s conference that, for me, escalated its value 10X.

PPWC 2021 was my very first conference. What could I possibly offer? A promising topic didn’t take form until I asked myself the questions that everyone asked:  What have I come away with? What is the most valuable takeaway? What difference has PPWC 2021 made in my writing life?

Like many of you, I was registered for the 2020 conference and was deeply disappointed when it was canceled. However, I did not fully realize what I missed until this year. It wasn’t only bountiful presentations and workshops, but rather something more important — qualities that necessarily inhabit every writer’s mind, heart, and spirit. PPWC 2021 gave me three exceptional gifts:

  • Greater humility
  • Recommitment to the writing craft
  • A deep appreciation for the Pikes Peak Writers community

Over the years, I have made steady progress honing my writing skills, and my efforts have borne some fruit. But if I am to continue growing and improving, I must fully embrace a student mindset. Absorbing the knowledge and insights of the presenters and noting the marvelous accomplishments of these teachers put me squarely in the classroom. I’m grateful for this because one of the most wonderful things about pursuing a writing career is that the quest is never-ending. We never get there. We can always be better writers. So, notebook out, pen in hand, I come away ready to learn. Nay, “ready” is too ordinary a word, for a greater energy is motivating me.

Being a PPW newbie, I hung out in Zeb’s Lounge before each conference day began, virtually tiptoed into several of the accompanying breakout rooms, attended the volunteer award ceremony, and was at the main stage when the flash fiction contest results was presented. As my well-intentioned voyeurism unfolded, I became aware of a warm and wonderful feeling gestating within. Vague at first, it soon blossomed into a beautiful awareness and appreciation for the relationships I saw manifested among the various members. This lustrous warmth burst through my cold blue zoom screen and touched my heart. This is where some of you might say, “Dah,” because it’s not news to you. Yet, I wonder if you appreciate just how precious it is. This loving and supporting community may well be the most remarkable “benefit” the association offers. What is more, this kind of community does not magically emerge from bylaws, meetings, or educational events. It must be consciously and intentionally woven into every engagement and experience, engendered in each communication, placed at the center of each decision, and developed and nurtured over many years. What a gift this is to all of us. But that’s not all. I came away with one more priceless takeaway.

During each workshop presentation, at some point, I scanned the faces of the participants, whether they be still pics, avatars, or live video shots. I also browsed the ongoing chats — the comments, reactions, and greetings flowing from the participants during each session. Maybe I was searching for a familiar face or just curious. Indeed, the avatars were interesting and amusing, and many of the comments as well. But as the workshop continued, some of the faces became more familiar. In Zeb’s Lounge and during Q & A sessions, these photos and avatars became flesh and blood. Suddenly something stirred in me that made me smile and nod like a bobblehead figurine on the dashboard. I was aware that my chest was puffing up just a little. What was it? Then, during Saturday’s keynote address by Mary Robinette Kowal, it hit me. I was experiencing the most powerful force on earth, human commitment. Every person presenting, conference team member moderating, and every participant attending the conference was motivated by a shared commitment to be the best writer they could be. And indeed, I could feel my own commitment growing more vibrant.

A deep abiding commitment is necessary for any endeavor or accomplishment, but especially so for writers because it is a solitary, and at times even lonely, endeavor. Commitment is the psychic soil from which sprout persistence, patience, power, and perseverance. That’s a marvelous gift to take away.

Thank you, PPWC 2021.


The Conference Is Over—Now What?

By Margena Holmes

This year’s conference was just a little bit different than previous years. Because of COVID-19, the Pikes Peak Writers Conference took place via Zoom meetings (like everything else this past year!), but the workshops were still as great as ever, and I know I came away with a lot more knowledge and information than I did going in.

Now, the conference is over, and the high you were on all weekend is slowly fading away as you resume the daily grind. What do you do now?

Follow-up

If you made pitches and the editors have invited you to send more, make sure you follow-up with them. Don’t wait (unless they’ve told you to)—you want your work to be fresh in their minds, and you’ll have that excitement of the invitation still with you.

Send them a thank you note after the meeting with them, whether they’ve asked to see more or not. They gave their time to you, and if you ever pitch to them again, they may remember you for your courtesy.

Follow-up with any other authors you met, too. You may find that you have a lot more in common than just what you write, and you can be each other’s cheerleader. Many friendships have been started at conferences.

Get Organized

If you took notes (actually, there is no “if” about it), organize them in a way you will use them. If you took notes on a laptop, make sure you clearly mark what they are with the conference name and dates, especially if you go to more than one a year. What the workshop’s subject was and who the presenter was is also helpful.

I’m old-school and take notes in a notebook. I then type them up, print them, and put them in a three-ring binder, so I have them at hand if I need to look up something. I also organize any hand-outs the same way.

Put The Info To Use

I don’t know about you, but after the conference, I am more motivated than ever to write. As I’m listening to each presenter, I get ideas on what to do with my work-in-progress and I’ll jot down my ideas in my notes. Let that excitement and motivation drive you to do what you need to do to make your WIP better, or get started on that very first project. No matter what stage you’re in, make your enthusiasm work in your favor, while everything is fresh in your mind.

If you enjoyed the conference, sign up for the next one! You may get an attendee’s discount if you register right away, and you’ll be set for next year.

I missed the interaction at meals and in the hallways with other conferees this year, but I know next year we’ll be together again and we can give out hugs and smiles that we missed this year. Happy writing!


KIM KRISCO is the author of three Sherlock Holmes novels — The Celtic Phoenix is his most recent release.
Before writing fiction full-time, Kim served as a consultant, trainer, and coach for business and non-profit organizations and published three non-fiction books to support this enterprise.
He and his wife Sararose Ferguson live in south-central Colorado (USA) in a tiny home that they built themselves on the North Fork of the Purgatory River.  You can learn more at: www.mysterybookauthor.com.

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photo of margin holmes

Margena Adams Holmes has been writing ever since she can remember, writing her first poem in 1st grade. At her day job, when she’s not kicking young kids out of R-rated movies, she’s sweeping up spilled popcorn from the hallways and aisles (she’s not your mother, though, so please take your trash out). Her days off consist of writing science fiction, short stories, and more movie theater shenanigans. Reading is a close second to writing, and she normally has her nose buried in a book. Her publications are available through her author page. Contact Margena via email: jedi_anegram@hotmail.com.

Can You Spare a Few Minutes?

By: Margena Holmes

When I decided to write this blog I thought, “How can I—a person who doesn’t manage her time very well—write this?” Well, like a true writer, I researched!

Writing—any kind of writing—takes up a lot of time with planning, writing, or editing. Some people have oodles of time to get their writing done, while others have to eke it out in small increments each day in between jobs, school, kids, exercise, or whatever else is going on in their lives. A lot of these authors are pretty prolific, too.

What do other authors do?

Since I’m one of those writers who gets distracted at the drop of a…squirrel! Oh, sorry…I asked other authors how they managed to find time to write with their busy schedules.

Jeannie Fredrick, author of Abruptly Alone, found twenty minutes here and there to work on her book. She was patient and determined and even though it took her four years, she got it written.

Leslie Heath, author of the Nivaka Chronicles series and other fantasy books, was a busy ER nurse when she wrote most of her books. She told me she reserves an hour each day and made that time sacred—no interruptions.

When I sit down to write, if everyone is home, I put up a sign by my desk so I’m not disturbed. I’ve done that since my kids were little, and now with a grandson, he understands that when Grandma’s sign is up, I’m not to be disturbed (though I will accept quiet hugs).

Ooh, shiny!

If you have trouble staying focused, the Pomodoro Technique might work for you for managing your writing time. What is that? The Pomodoro Technique is where you break up writing time by setting a timer for 25 minutes. At the end of that time, you take a five minute break. After 4 Pomodoros, you take a longer 15-30 minute break. This is especially helpful if you tend to lose your focus after only a few minutes. This method could work for any project or chore you have to do.

Time Suckage

Social media is a big time suck. One can spend hours just scrolling through looking at all the cat and Bernie Sanders memes. If you’re like me, you have a few writers groups you participate in, so banning yourself from social media isn’t an option. One thing I learned recently from Inkers Mini Con was to track all your time for one week, writing down everything you do in one day for the week, no matter how small. You’d be surprised how much time is wasted on social media and other non-essential activities.

Plan Your Day

Another way to stay on track is to plan out your day, either on paper or on your phone with a to-do list. As you complete a task, check it off. Treat your writing time as you would everything else on your list. Just because it’s “writing time” doesn’t mean it’s any less important than doing the laundry. As with other appointments, put your writing time in your planner.

If you’re having trouble finding time to get your writing in, distraction-free, hopefully one of these methods will help you squeeze in that sacred writing time and you’ll have your novel written in no time!


photo of margin holmes

Margena Adams Holmes has been writing ever since she can remember, writing her first poem in 1st grade. At her day job, when she’s not kicking young kids out of R-rated movies, she’s sweeping up spilled popcorn from the hallways and aisles (she’s not your mother, though, so please take your trash out). Her days off consist of writing science fiction, short stories, and more movie theater shenanigans. Reading is a close second to writing, and she normally has her nose buried in a book. Her publications are available through her author page. Contact Margena via email: jedi_anegram@hotmail.com.

Finding the Perfect Gift for the Writer in Your Life

The holidays are coming up quick and gift giving is at the heart of the holidays. Have you thought about what to give that writer in your life? Here are just a few ideas that any writer I think would love (I know I would!).

Never Enough Notebooks

As a writer, I’m always jotting down ideas whenever something strikes me, so how about some nice notebooks in different sizes? I know in this age of smart phones, notebooks are very low-tech, but I know of some writers who prefer to write their story ideas—or even first drafts—down on paper. Small notebooks can fit into a purse or back pocket, and bigger ones are nice to write out your scenes.

Writing Instruments

They will need something to write with in their notebook, so why not some nice pens? You can find out which pen your writer prefers and buy a few packs of them. Especially if they do book signings, having a pen they like will make life easy for them knowing they have several pens on hand.

Subscriptions

How about a subscription to a writers magazine? There are so many to choose from—Writer’s Digest, Poets & Writers, The Writer, and Writer’s Forum are just a few magazines geared toward the craft of writing. Each has their own format they follow, whether it’s articles on the craft, where to submit your work, or info on conferences and competitions. Most of these are available online or on Kindle as well as a printed copy, so find out what your writer prefers.

Refreshments for the Soul

Coffee or tea, and a cute mug to go with it. We writers need to keep our brains awake and the creative juices flowing, so we need that caffeine. Again, find out their caffeinated beverage of choice and buy a box or three for them. Or if they just have to have their Starbucks coffee, buy them a gift card so they can get their venti Pike Place with cream and nine sugars.

Send them to a Writing Conference

Maybe you could pay part of their way to a writers conference. A little pricier than the other suggestions, but the writer in your life will love you for it if you can manage it. They are a great way for a writer to learn about many aspects of the business, from writing to editing to marketing.

Craft Books

Have they ever mentioned any books on the craft of writing? There are MANY.  Stephen King’s On Writing, A Memoir of the Craft, Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat!, Jessica Brody’s Save the Cat! Writes a Novel, and Become A Successful Indie Author by, Craig Martelle, have helped many writers with their work. All you need to do is search on-line for writing craft books if your writer doesn’t have a preference.

Buying a gift for the writer in your life doesn’t have to be difficult. Most of us are happy with anything, but having a little thought put into the gift-buying will bring a smile to their face. Happy shopping!


photo of margin holmes

Margena Adams Holmes has been writing ever since she can remember, writing her first poem in 1st grade. At her day job, when she’s not kicking young kids out of R-rated movies, she’s sweeping up spilled popcorn from the hallways and aisles (she’s not your mother, though, so please take your trash out). Her days off consist of writing science fiction, short stories, and more movie theater shenanigans. Reading is a close second to writing, and she normally has her nose buried in a book. Her publications are available through her author page. Contact Margena via email: jedi_anegram@hotmail.com.

Misconceptions of Self-Publishing

By: Margena Holmes

In this day and age there are many ways a writer can become a published author. There’s the traditional way of submitting your work to agents and publishers with no promise of getting accepted. There are independent publishers, where you submit your work and with it being a smaller company, you may be accepted more readily. Then there’s the self-publishing road. You do everything yourself and hit Publish and your word-baby is out in the world.

Once people find out I’m an author, the questions come fast.
“Oh, you’re an author? Who’s your publisher?”
“Where did you send it to?”
“Can I buy it in Barnes and Noble?”

When I tell them I’m a self-published author, the light slowly fades from their eyes.

“Oh,” they say, as if it’s some kind of disease.

Somehow self-publishing has gotten this stigma that it’s a bad thing, a lesser thing. Here are just a few misconceptions:

Misconception #1—It Can’t Be Any Good

There have been quite a few well-known authors who first were self-published. Andy Weir the author of The Martian, first published his work a chapter at a time on his website. His readers begged him to make it available as an e-book, which he did, and it became an Amazon #1 bestseller! That’s when it caught the eye of a traditional publisher and very soon after a movie was made.

Lisa Genova, the author of Still Alice, is another who started out as a self-published author. After being rejected by everyone, she published it herself. After gaining popularity, Simon & Shuster picked it up.

Misconception #2—It Will Be Riddled With Mistakes

There is no doubt that some will have the occasional typo in it, but most self-published authors—the ones who care about their work—will have given their work to a critique group, a beta reader, and then an editor before it ever sees the light of day. Having those extra sets of eyes cuts the mistakes down to a minimum. Most self-pubbed books I’ve read have been edited meticulously. Being traditionally published doesn’t mean your work won’t have a mistake or two. I’ve found missing quotation marks, continuity problems, or misspelled words in books written by well-known authors.

Misconception #3—Self-Publishing Is Easier Than Traditional Publishing

It’s only easier in that we can see the fruits of our labor more quickly than a trad pub author. As self-pub authors, we have to do everything ourselves, or hire someone to do it. Editing, formatting, covers, marketing—none of that is easy (or cheap!). It can take hours just to format a book for print. Marketing—ha ha! How to market, where to market, we have to learn how to do that, and it takes time.

Misconception #4—Self-Published Books Are of Lesser Quality

It depends on where you go to have your book printed. I have print books from different self-pub authors, and honestly, I can’t tell the different between them and a trad pub print book. Will the inside of a self-published book have same quality (i.e. no mistakes) as a trad pub? See #2 above.

I read a lot, both traditionally published authors and self-published authors, and I feel that the self-published authors can hold their own when it comes to comparing them to traditionally published authors.

Additional Reading:
Indie vs Traditional – Which Would you Choose?
How to Self Publish and Keep Your Sanity


photo of margin holmes

Margena Adams Holmes has been writing ever since she can remember, writing her first poem in 1st grade. At her day job, when she’s not kicking young kids out of R-rated movies, she’s sweeping up spilled popcorn from the hallways and aisles (she’s not your mother, though, so please take your trash out). Her days off consist of writing science fiction, short stories, and more movie theater shenanigans. Reading is a close second to writing, and she normally has her nose buried in a book. Her publications are available through her author page. Contact Margena via email: jedi_anegram@hotmail.com.

Space Opera

Can you hum a few lines?

By: Margena Holmes

Whenever I’m asked what I write and I tell them space opera, I either get a blank look, or the inquirer exclaims, “Space opera? Oh, I love opera!” I then have to explain to them, no, it’s not OPERA. My characters don’t sing their way across the galaxy. So, what IS space opera?

Back to the Beginning

Let’s take a trip back in time, to the 1950s, back when radio was the main means of communication and entertainment. Radio stations broadcast serial dramas during the day, mostly when housewives were at home. The serials were often melodramatic, as operas tend to be, and open-ended, continuing with the story each weekday, and they were often sponsored or produced by soap manufacturers (“This program has been brought to you by Palmolive. Softens hands while you do dishes”), hence the term “soap opera.” Going back even further, to the 1930s, “horse opera” was first coined to describe a clichéd and formulaic Western movie. The term “space opera” was a play on words from both genres.

What Makes It “Opera”?

First of all, there’s no singing involved, just like there is no singing in soap operas, though the lone cowboy may sing about his troubles in a horse opera. In 1941, fan writer and author Wilson Tucker first used the term space opera, describing it as a “hacky, grinding, stinking, outworn, spaceship yarn.” You can see why it was first used as an insult to describe some science fiction back in the day.

“Opera” in Italian means “work,” referring to the collaborative labor of all involved. Soap operas are known for their melodramatic plots, which is also true of most operas, and could also be said Westerns, and some science fiction. Take Star Wars, which is considered space opera. It also has its collaborative work, and the melodramatic storyline (save the princess, fight the bad guy, the hero saves the day), but is also (with its spin-offs and Expanded Universe books) an on-going story like the soaps.

Why Not Call It Science Fiction?

I feel that space opera is one of those genres that gets lost in the shuffle. It’s a sub-genre of science fiction, but as opposed to hard science fiction, which is the more technology-based aspects and usually adheres to the laws of physics, space opera is “lighter” (for lack of a better word) though it can have hard science fiction elements, as seen with Dune. Space opera often emphasizes space battles, melodramatic adventures, and maybe a little romance, on an epic scale.

Because there is little understanding of what space opera is, I’ve taken to calling what I write “space fantasy” but that really isn’t what I write. The word fantasy tends to relate to made-up ideas and magic, which could be true about some space opera, but also could mean that no real technology is involved, no science, which space opera does have, albeit in unexplained or poorly explained ways (midichlorians, anyone?).

You may have inadvertently stumbled upon some of the best space opera authors. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K. Dick, Foundation by Isaac Asimov, and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams are just a few books which can be classified as space opera books.

Next time when someone mentions “space opera” perhaps now you will think more along the lines of Star Wars, and less along the lines of La Traviata, characters blasting their way across the galaxy instead of singing about their tribulations.


Margena Holmes

Margena Adams Holmes has been writing ever since she can remember, writing her first poem in 1st grade. At her day job, when she’s not kicking young kids out of R-rated movies, she’s sweeping up spilled popcorn from the hallways and aisles (she’s not your mother, though, so please take your trash out). Her days off consist of writing science fiction, short stories, and more movie theater shenanigans. Reading is a close second to writing, and she normally has her nose buried in a book. Her publications are available through her author page. Contact Margena via email: jedi_anegram@hotmail.com.

What’s in Your Planner?

By: Margena Holmes

Okay, show of hands—who bought a planner (or you have one on your device) expecting to put all sorts of fun writing things in it for the year (or already had fun things written in)? *raises hand* Back in December when I wrote about planning out your year using a planner I had no idea that 2020 would be the equivalent to playing Jumanji. How many things have you deleted or crossed out because of this pandemic? Probably a lot. There was a meme going around which said the planner was the most worthless purchase for the year. Maaaaybe—or maybe we just need other things to put in it! So what CAN you put in your planner as a writer during these uncertain times?

Protect your writing time

If you’re finding it hard to keep writing during these odd times with family perhaps at home now, add in your writing time and protect that time. With a lot of us out of work from our day jobs (or slowly going back to work, working part-time, etc.) demands for our time from family may have increased. Of course you want to spend time with your family, but make sure you schedule in time to write. That book won’t write itself!

Deadlines

As writers we still have deadlines to meet and goals to reach. I kept a few of my entries in my planner, though some have been moved around quite a bit (which is why I should probably be jotting down my deadlines in pencil!) since I lost my motivation for a while. Putting in deadlines for getting your book edited or published gives you the feeling of being in control and having a purpose to get stuff done.

The What and When

Also, WHAT are you working on that day? World-building? Editing? It’s sometimes helpful to write in what you’re going to work on. If I know I’m going to be working on world-building, I’ll probably need a little less time than, say, if I’m editing a piece.

Another thing you can keep track of is your word counts. Having it written down you can see your growth as a writer. Don’t obsess over it, however. If you only get 100 words written one day, it’s still progress.

Journaling

My planner has boxes for each day to write in, so why not write down how you’re feeling that day? I know with this pandemic, some of us are not feeling our best. You may be able to work out what you’re feeling and who knows? It could turn into inspiration for a story.

Plan your blog posts

I know I’m pretty lax about planning my blog posts, both here and on my author page, and I need to do this more often—jotting down ideas to follow up on later. Take your themes you’ve thought of and plan out your posts. Will you be writing about craft? Or maybe a great story about what happened at a workshop?

These are just a few ideas to make use of that planner you bought back in December. Hopefully things will be back to normal soon and we’ll have lots of events to write into our planner (and don’t tell me you didn’t read the title of this in Samuel L. Jackson’s voice). Happy planning, all!


photo of margin holmes

Margena Adams Holmes has been writing ever since she can remember, writing her first poem in 1st grade. At her day job, when she’s not kicking young kids out of R-rated movies, she’s sweeping up spilled popcorn from the hallways and aisles (she’s not your mother, though, so please take your trash out). Her days off consist of writing science fiction, short stories, and more movie theater shenanigans. Reading is a close second to writing, and she normally has her nose buried in a book. Her publications are available through her author page. Contact Margena via email: jedi_anegram@hotmail.com.

Finding Motivation to Write in a Stressful Time

Covid-19 has everyone staying at home and most writers I know are in introvert heaven. Stay home? Sure thing! Most of us do that anyway. But even though the stay at home order doesn’t affect us the same way as others, it does affect us.

Many writers just have no motivation to write.

We feel the stress of others. Having this pandemic and having stores, restaurants, and schools closed makes many of us think about the economy. How will these businesses survive? I work at a movie theater for my day job and there are news articles saying that my particular company may not survive this shutdown.  How will restaurants survive? The small businesses survive?

We have our own stressors, too. Everyone panic-bought toilet paper and canned foods. Where are we going to find these items for our own family? How do we keep ourselves safe?

With all this going on I know of many writers who just had no motivation to write. Too busy worrying about everything else to even think of writing. So how do you get that motivation back to write again?

Have A Purpose

When the governor first declared the stay at home order, I thought Cool, I can get a lot of writing done now that I don’t have to go in to work. But, as the reality started to sink in, I had no motivation to do anything creative. I couldn’t edit, I couldn’t write. I thought about my job, now closed, and the economy. How are these places going to survive?  How are we going to survive?

Luckily, April is Camp NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I had been planning out what I was going to write (funnily enough, about the pandemic) and had my outline written. I was excited to start writing it, and in fact, wanted to start before April 1st. But I followed the rules and started on the first day of Camp NaNo and wrote 1,347 words that first day!

Writing As Therapy

It was actually therapeutic for me, in more than one way, to write out what was going on. It helped to write out my feelings about not being able to find toilet paper (since I didn’t get the memo to buy a ton of it), and also helped me to focus on something other than this pandemic. I was able to think as a writer as I wrote, kind of detaching myself from the issue, but in a way also think as a person, and trying to make sense out of it all.

Take Your Time

Let yourself feel what is going on around you. Don’t try to ignore it, or it will creep up on you and mess with your head. Once you work through what you’re feeling, even just by writing it all down in a journal, you can finally start working on your stories again.

Give yourself time to work through all that is going on around you, be it this pandemic, or any stressor that comes around. It is a stressful time, and if you can keep one aspect of normality in your life, you will be able to keep your sanity and have something to show for it later.

Here are some other inspirational posts to keep you writing:


photo of margin holmes

Margena Adams Holmes was born in Bellflower, CA sometime in the 1960s. She has always had a love for both reading and writing, writing her first song/poem in 1st grade. Margena is a big supporter of indie authors and will read anything that draws her into the story. She is an observer of life, and many everyday things could (and do!) end up in her writings. Her publications are available through her author page. Contact Margena via email: jedi_anegram@hotmail.com.

Confessions of a Former Pantser

By: Margena Holmes

Can a Pantser Change Into a Plotter?

Like many writers, I often write with no outline, but by the seat of my pants—a “pantser” if you will. Plotting? Meh, who needs it. Planning? Ugh, that’s for wimps. I like to see where my characters want to go within the story, how they get out of any given situation, and what happens next. But sometimes—many times—I’m left trying to figure out just how the hell they got into that mess and how they’re going to get out of it. Help, I’ve written myself into a corner and can’t get out! I’ve had to implement that “What if” questions to get my characters back on track. It works, and I find a way to save my characters from certain doom, but it seems like an awful lot of work for one character. So, what’s a writer—a pantser—to do?

Keeping Things Straight

Lately, I lean more toward plotting my story, filling out every detail of my character, where my story wants to end up, and all the situations where my character(s) may end up. Why the change, you may ask? Well, I’m getting older and I’m finding that keeping everything straight in my head sometimes gets to be confusing. Was his name Rennick or Ronnick? What color was the vehicle? Why does my character love spaghetti here, but loathes it there? Not only that, my plots are becoming more complex as I move through my series, and I have many more ideas for future books. I need timelines for my characters as well as knowing what their home looks like.

Can a Pantser Change Into a Plotter?

It’s been fairly easy to convert into a plotter. For my latest book in my series, I became a “plantser,” a hybrid plotter/pantser. I planned out a few things, but also left some things to chance. Even then, however, I was running into issues. What side did my character get shot on? When did this happen? Who was where when it happened? I’m having to go back a few chapters to find these things out. I’ve started taking notes on my own writing to keep things straight. Some of these things may be trivial, but attentive readers will notice these small discrepancies and call you out on them.

Planning Can Be Flexible

For my next novel I will be planning/plotting every detail to keep things straight, and for my peace of mind. Just because I’ve planned it out doesn’t mean I have to follow it to the letter, though. Want to make the character go out with friends instead of with a date? If it works with your storyline, who’s to say you can’t change it a bit? You can still “fly by the seat of your pants” with minor details and see how your character responds to the change. You can always go back and stick with your original idea and keep those characters under control. They’ll be okay, I promise.


Margena Holmes

Margena Adams Holmes was born in Bellflower, CA sometime in the 1960s. She has always had a love for both reading and writing, writing her first song/poem in 1st grade. Margena is a big supporter of indie authors and will read anything that draws her into the story. She is an observer of life, and many everyday things could (and do!) end up in her writings. Her publications are available through her author page. Contact Margena via email: jedi_anegram@hotmail.com.

Writers Conferences and Workshops

 Just Keep Writing

By: Margena Holmes

Writing is a craft that needs to be practiced and honed to get better. What’s out there to help the writer sharpen those skills? Writer conferences, workshops, critique groups, and classes are all out there to help the writer be the best they can be. But where do you find them?

Sharpen your writing skills at a Writers Conference.

Finding a Conference

An easy way to find conferences is to Google “writer conferences” and your city or state. A whole slew of conferences come up. But how do you sort through them all? Reading the description will tell you what kind of conference it is. There are some dedicated just to mystery writers, or science fiction—pretty much any genre! Your local library will also most likely have a list of conferences and workshops in the area. I found Pikes Peak Writers from looking on the library’s website.

Social Media

Another way (and maybe the best way) to find them is word of mouth. We all have writer friends on social media, so ask around, find out what they recommend. I’m sure at least one of your friends has gone to a conference or workshop. Also, you can search Facebook for writer groups, too. Some are affiliated with conferences and workshops, and others are for writers to ask questions or just to vent about their editing process, and will have special days where you can post your work for critiquing by the members to help you out.

A Few Recommendations

One group is Writers Club Live. On the third Saturday of each month, author, ghostwriter, and book coach Christine Whitmarsh hosts a live and virtual workshop focusing on the art and science of writing your book.

My favorite one, of course, is Pikes Peak Writers Conference, held once a year in Colorado Springs. It’s a favorite because it’s near me, but also because of the fantastic classes it offers to all levels of writers, and all stages, from beginning to write your book, to editing, marketing, and more. And, they feed you! The price includes all meals.

Along with their conference, PPW also hosts a lot of monthly events. The Write Brain workshops are usually held on the third Tuesday of the month. The free two-hour workshops bring in experts on writing, with emphasis on craft, as well as experts in other fields to help you make your story real. Make sure you bring something to write and take notes with.

Pikes Peak Writers also hosts a critique group once a month. Sign up to bring in your work you’d like critiqued, or just come in to observe how it works (no sign up necessary).

If you don’t mind travelling, the Southern California Writers Conference is held twice a year, in February (San Diego) and September (Irvine). It’s run very similarly to PPWC and also well worth the price of admission. I’ve attended twice and just one workshop made it worthwhile.

Another conference that is a hot commodity is the 20 Books to 50K Conference, held in Las Vegas. This one sells out in half an hour, that’s how popular it is. It is mostly for self-publishers on how to market and sell their books, but anyone can learn something from the conference. I’ve only heard good things from those who have attended, so I’m going to try to get tickets to this conference this year!

TCK Publishing has an great list of conferences. You can find every genre of writers conferences here, even very specific conferences on subjects like Haiku or Cats.

If you’re a crime or mystery writer, there are a whole slew of conferences and conventions for you throughout the country and abroad. You can find a list of them here.

One final conference to mention will get you out of the rat race and into the mountains of Crested Butte, CO. Murder in the Mountains is a thrilling weekend celebrating all things murder and mystery.

There are many conferences and workshops around in given area if you know where to look (and Google makes it easy) to keep you writing and learning throughout the year. Take a look and see what you can find that is the best fit for YOU. Happy writing!


Margena Holmes

Margena Adams Holmes was born in Bellflower, CA sometime in the 1960s. She has always had a love for both reading and writing, writing her first song/poem in 1st grade. Margena is a big supporter of indie authors and will read anything that draws her into the story. She is an observer of life, and many everyday things could (and do!) end up in her writings. Her publications are available through her author page. Contact Margena via email: jedi_anegram@hotmail.com.