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YA Author Rendezvous

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Writing Techniques

I’ve Started Writing Again – Beating Writer’s Block

I’ve Started Writing Again – Beating Writer’s Block by Author Lauren Mayhew

How to Break Writers BlockThere’s nothing worse than writer’s block, especially when you’re between projects. I know what I’m supposed to be doing, I’m just finding it hard getting round to doing it. I have so many projects in my head, but I don’t want to start too many. If I do, I’ll never complete any of them, I’ll just keep starting new ones.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve slowly been reading through the book that I wrote for NaNoWriMo. It’s got a Working Title – Cycles of War. This is what it’s been called for about ten years now, though I didn’t properly start writing it until November 2016. I finished reading the other day, adjusting a few things here and there, but not really editing properly yet. I just wanted to slowly get my way back into the world that I created. It was very eye-opening actually, as the book isn’t nearly as finished as I thought it was.

Chapter six is literally just that. The word ‘SIX’. I decided to skip that chapter when I was writing it, as I didn’t want to slow the flow. (That rhymed!) I know what I want to put in there, I just need to write it and make sure it’s relevant to the rest of the book. I also haven’t written the ending yet. You know, the chapter that comes after the real ending? The chapter that ties everything up and lets you know what happened to the characters that you loved. At least I know where I want that chapter to go, unlike six.

There were also a few moments when characters referenced something that I hadn’t written yet. For example, someone asks the main character, Bri, if the events that are unrolling in real-time, are the same as the dream he had the night before. I didn’t write a dream. That really confused me when I read it.

I need to add a little more character development too. Unlike the Liliana trilogy, this book has a lot more characters in it. Each of them needs to have their own story and their own reasons for being there. At the moment, they’re just there. I think I’ll enjoy adding more in about them.

It’s the little things like this that I’ve forgotten after leaving the book alone for over a year. It’s good, because they stand out more than they would have done if the story was more familiar to me, but it also means there’s a lot more to do than I initially intended.

I wrote this book without a plan, and it’s turned out pretty well if I’m honest. There aren’t any plot holes as far as I can see, just a lot of vague details. It’s around 51,000 words at the moment, but I’m hoping to get it towards 60,000, if not 70,000 by the time it’s finished. I may have to change the confrontation at the end to make this happen. At the moment it’s quite Stephanie Meyer-esque. I may need to kill a few more people – how terrible does that sound?

When I wrote this book, I’d never written a proper battle scene before, so I wrote a confrontation that didn’t involve a lot of fighting. It kind of goes with all the themes in the book, but it’s not ‘real’ enough. ‘Eternity Begins’, the third book in the Liliana trilogy, has a massive battle at the end. About a third of the book, I believe. Now that I’ve written that, and had positive feedback from it, I’m more confident that I can write something bigger and better. It’ll help increase the word count too!

I intend to query this one, not self-publish. It’s a bigger story than my trilogy and it feels relevant to the events happening around the world today. There’s still a long way to go, with many rounds of edits, and lots of Beta readers if possible too. I’m feeling confident that I can do it. I just need to start.


Want more from Lauren? You can check out her books on Goodreads HERE.

Find Lauren on the YA Author Rendezvous site HERE.

This was posted by Lauren Mayhew.

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Play-Writing – How Hard Can It Be?

Play-Writing – How Hard Can It Be? by Author Lauren Mayhew

Play Writing - How Hard Can It Be - Young Adult Author RendezvousWriting a stage play is a lot harder than I initially thought it would be. I knew it was going to be a challenge, as it’s the complete opposite of writing a story. It’s all dialogue and no description. In my novels, the dialogue is probably the bit I struggle with most. So why am I writing a play, I hear you ask. Because I like to challenge myself. If you don’t challenge yourself, life gets a bit boring.

So, I’m writing a murder mystery set in modern times. Normally, I have a title before I even start writing, but not for this one. The title has evaded me so far. I usually use a line of text from the story itself as a title, but no-one has said anything yet that’s catchy enough. That’s a little worrying now that I think about it.

Obviously, it’s still the early days of draft 1, and I think there will be quite a few drafts of this one to make it worthy for the stage, but I’m enjoying it so far. I keep trying to compare it to other murder mystery plays that I’ve read, to see if it fits with their formatting, but I have to keep telling myself that it doesn’t matter if it’s different. Different is good.

In ‘Murdered to Death’ by Peter Gordon, the first guests arrive on page 8, and the murder takes place on page 33. Inspector Pratt arrives on page 36.

In ‘A Murder is Announced’ by Agatha Christie, adapted by Leslie Darbon, the first guests arrive on page 20, and the murder takes place on page 35. Inspector Craddock arrives on page 38.

In my play, the first guests arrive on page 6, and the murder takes place on page 23. Inspector Dodds arrives on page 25.

As you can see, I have a lot of ‘filling out’ to do, but as of yet, I don’t have any clue what to add in. I don’t want to add dialogue purely for the sake of it, as the story has moved itself along quite nicely so far. However, I do want the play to be full length or around 80 pages. I’m not sure if that’s going to happen in its current state.

But, as I said earlier, I shouldn’t try and match it to the murder mysteries that I’ve read. There were definitely scenes in both of those that were extremely long and a little dull at times. This explains why the murder takes place later on in those plays than in mine. I have to start seeing my play as unique, and if I try to replicate others, it’ll just turn into the same old murder mystery.

As I said earlier, it’s still draft 1, so it all might change by the time it’s finished. I need to concentrate on getting it finished before I start worrying about adding or removing sections. I’m sure it’ll all come together in the end.


Want more from Lauren? You can check out his books on Goodreads HERE.

Find Lauren on the YA Author Rendezvous site HERE.

This was posted by Lauren Mayhew.

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Ten Things That Help Me Write

By Bethany Wicker

Just like any other author, I have my needs while writing. It’s easy to just sit down and start writing, but these ten things help my thoughts flow and the stories progress.

The first item is my Computer. This is for the most obvious reason that all of my stories are on my computer. My biggest fear is dropping it before I’ve backed up my work, so I try to leave it in one place as often as possible. This actually happened to me once before and is the reason it took so long for me to write Dark Fire after Dark Lightning was published. I’d lost my initial copy and felt so upset that I couldn’t write on it until about a year later.

The second thing is Coffee. I don’t always have to drink it while writing as long as I’ve had my morning cup. Coffee is something I love, but sometimes if I indulge in more than one cup it keeps me up at night. For that reason, I try to limit myself (doesn’t always happen).

The third item is my Phone. I’m a compulsive email-checker and am always checking my email. I have this irrational fear that I’m going to miss out on something because I didn’t check my email in time.

The fourth thing is a Notebook. This is simply to write down ideas that I’m not ready to work on or to keep notes of things that I sometimes forget. The color of eyes or hair of minor characters for example.

The fifth item is a Pen. This is needed to jot things in my notebook. 😛 I like the way pen ink looks on paper better than pencils so it’s rare that I use pencil over pen. Extremely rare.

The sixth thing is a Movie I’ve already seen playing in the background. I do this instead of playing music like other authors. It’s my personal preference that helps me concentrate. Lately, I’ve been stuck on the new Beauty and the Beast.

The seventh item is Snacks (Yum!). Who doesn’t need that little boost of energy while doing something? No particular type of snack either because it depends on what I’m in the mood for.

The eighth thing is Water. It’s very important to drink lots of water and stay hydrated throughout the day. I avoid soft drinks and try to stick to water as much as possible. It just makes me feel better, healthier and helps my brain keep going.

The ninth item is my Planner. That way I can keep track of tasks like deadlines or promotions and can add things as they’re needed.

The tenth and final thing is Henley napping ❤ (my daughter). It is so hard to write while she’s awake since she needs so much attention, especially now that she’s teething. So, as much as I love her, I get the best writing time in while she’s sleeping.

There you have it. The ten things that help me write the most words in one sitting.


Don’t forget to check out our other posts HERE

See Bethany Wicker at the Young Adult Author Rendezvous HERE.

Posted by Michelle Lynn.

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Writing an Outline for Your Book

Writing an Outline for Your Book by Author Shari L. Tapscott

Outlining—you either love it or hate it. I happen to love it, and I’m going to share my approach with you today.

When I was in school, outlining felt suffocating. It was like death to creativity. Nothing irked me more than a free writing assignment that required an outline—and I usually wrote one after the fact (not exactly what my teachers had in mind, I’m sure). Years later, when I was attempting my first NaNoWriMo, I decided I needed some sort of strategy to get my word count in. I wrote the major points of my book in three paragraphs and called it good. And it was pretty good. I knew the main events and the ending, and it helped a bunch. But at the end of November, my manuscript was still a mess. I knew I could do better.

Fast-forward a couple more years, and now I proudly call myself an obsessive outliner. I use a mishmash of techniques that I’ve tweaked to fit my style. Before I begin to explain how I do it, I want to say that I don’t think there’s a right or wrong way to outline—you need to do whatever feels good to you. And if that means pantsing it (writing by the seat of your pants), then do it! This is just what works for me. I hope it’ll help you as well.

Sum up your idea

First, I start by summing up my story into one paragraph. What’s it about? Who are the characters? How does it end?

Divide the idea into four parts

After that, I divide my idea into four parts and write a summary paragraph for each section, making sure to end the first three sections in conflict. I like to have something inconvenient happen to my character at the quarter mark and halfway through the book. The climax hits about three-quarters of the way through, and then the last quarter is for overcoming the problem and wrapping up the story.

Expand the sections into chapters

There are several ways you can go from this point. You have your story’s skeleton—you can start writing, if you want. Some writers will go on to expand these paragraphs into a page or two. Others may take it a step further and begin chapter outlines. That’s what I like to do.

I decide how many words is ideal for my novel. Then I decide how many chapters I want. For an 80,000 word novel, I’ll usually shoot for thirty. I like to write in short chapters, and that puts me at just under 2,700 words in each.  You can have shorter chapters; you can longer ones. It’s completely up to you, and they’re bound to change as you’re writing.

Since I know I need my conflict at 1/4, 1/2, and 3/4 of the way through the story, those are the first chapters I fill in. For example, for my 80,000 word novel, I will have the 1/4 conflict at 20,000 words, which will fall in Chapter 7.

After I have my conflict in place, I begin to fill in each chapter. These little summaries don’t have to be long. I write a paragraph for each. Often, I will find I don’t have quite enough story points to fill them all in, and I brainstorm for ideas until I have a story that flows from beginning to end.

Now, as I’m writing my book, things often change. I’ll just go back and tweak my outline as needed. Sometimes one of my chapters will end up as two chapters. Other times two chapters may merge into one. Nothing is set in stone. The outline just keeps me moving toward the conflict.

After that, I begin to write! That’s really all there is to it. During my planning stages, I also like to fill out character and setting questionnaires. They really help if you’re stuck in the development stage; you’re bound to get new ideas when you’re working on them.

Whether you choose to outline or not, I hope this was useful for you! Also, if you have your own technique, be sure to add it in the comments. I love to hear how other people tackle the pre-writing stage.


Want more from Shari? You can check out her books on Goodreads HERE.

Find Shari on the YA Author Rendezvous site HERE.

This was posted by Lauren Mayhew with the express permission of Shari L. Tapscott.

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Tools of the Trade

First posted at Young Adult Books Central.

By Michelle Lynn

A painter has their paint brush. A sculptor has their clay. What does this have to do with indie publishing? Just like that painter and that sculptor, a writer is an artist. Artists create. They create beauty, tragedy, the illusion of reality. They show us how things are and how things should be.

As creators, we must use what is available to us – tools of the trade. A lot of this can be said for both indie published authors and traditionally published ones. No matter the size of the publishing house you have behind you, there are certain things you must do for yourself. Writing, for example.

Still, there are some tools that will be used more by indies who must make their own advertising graphics, choose their own Amazon key words, and handle their own marketing. I’ve listed seven of my favorite “brushes” for our form of artistry.

  1. ScrivenerEvery author no matter their publishing path can benefit from this tool and that’s why it’s at the top of my list. It isn’t free, but it is very affordable. Scrivener is a writing program. It’s used in the same way many people use Word, but there are benefits. It’s a bit more stripped down than Word, simple and easy to use. The best part about it is the way it organizes your book. These novels we write can reach into the hundreds of word pages. Have you ever forgotten something you wrote and had to scroll through the entire document to find it? In Scrivener, documents are divided into chapters that you can name and move around at will. They also provide character building templates so you never again have to wonder what color eyes you gave a character in some previous chapter.
  2. Canva Photoshop is expensive and kind of confusing if you ask me. Canva is an online tool that allows you to import images (or buy stock photos from them) and manipulate them, changing colors and adding text, to create ads or promotional images. It’s easy to use even for an image illiterate like myself. I’d be lost without canva.
  3. KDP RocketAre you wanting to write a book that has a jump start in popularity? This is called writing to market and many indie authors are doing it. KDP Rocket is a program that helps identify trends and fads in the marketplace to allow you to jump on board. That’s only one of its many features. It can also help determine which keywords would give your book the largest boost. And have you ever wondered about the kind of money certain books are bringing in? Now you can see exactly how each book in the Amazon marketplace is doing to help you decide which genre you’d like to jump into. It can be fun. The program isn’t free, but it can be worth it for indie published/ self-published authors.
  4. Social media management programs – there are many of these including Buffer andHootsuite. As authors, we’re expected to maintain a presence on so many different platforms that if we aren’t careful, all of our valuable writing time will be sucked away. These programs streamline social media. They allow you to post the same thing across different platforms with a few clicks. You can plan ahead, down to the minute, your posts to Facebook and Twitter. I can schedule an entire month’s worth of posts in about an hour. The small fee is incredibly worth it.
  5. The Emotion Thesaurus – Really, I could put the entire series and the connected website here. The Emotion Thesaurus is a book that has a page dedicated to any emotion you can imagine and describes things like body language of feelings associated with it. The series also contains books for character traits and settings. The website connected to the books is called Writers Helping Writers and has more resources in one place than you can even imagine.
  6. Calibre A completely free ebook management program that I always find some use for. As an indie, you will most likely be sending out your own review copies. Calibre allows you to convert them to any format that is requested from you so they can be read on any device. This has been helpful to me because I also help other authors by reading their work. Many of them send it in Doc format which doesn’t read so well on my Kindle. Instead of having to read on my computer, I can easily convert it to the format I need.
  7. Bookfunnel (or Instafreebie) – Do you send out review copies to your advance team? Do you give away ebooks in large giveaways? Whenever you need to send a book, wouldn’t it be easier to just send a link and then have the reader download the book on any device they prefer? That’s what these sites allow. They also let you collect emails of the people who download your book which is invaluable if you’re focused on building a large Newsletter (which you  should be).

There are so many great resources for writers out there and with the rapidly growing indie publishing industry, more are popping up all the time. None of these replace the best resource available, though. Other authors will forever be the best source of marketing advice and support as well as critiques and cross-author promotions.

The tools are out there to make a go of it in this industry. The biggest thing I’ve learned is to never be afraid to try the new ones that come along. Experiment, see what works for you. Don’t be afraid of technology and never ever think social media is a waste of time. In the crowded market, we need to be everywhere. We must make it as easy as possible for readers to see us and get ahold of our books. As indies, we don’t have the huge teams behind us, but in today’s world, some successful authors are finding they don’t need them.


Don’t forget to check out our other posts HERE.

See Michelle at the Young Adult Author Rendezvous HERE.

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Conflict in Writing

Conflict in Writing by Author Beth Rodgers

Conflict sells. Whether you are reading a book, watching TV, or viewing a movie, if everything is happy-go-lucky all the time, there isn’t much reason to keep reading or watching as you probably aren’t wondering what will happen next. People thrive off of twists and turns. They want mystery, suspense, and indecision. They desire friction, as it escalates plotlines, enhances character development, and reinforces the age-old quest for sheer entertainment. We live in an “entertainment culture,” if I do say so myself. People seek entertainment because it stimulates their senses. It excites their emotions, and it offers something in place of predictability.

Despite the wish for a happy ending – and believe me, I ooh and aah with the best of them for one of those – trials, tribulations, and all those annoying adversaries must come out of the woodwork to make that happy ending all the more magical. If you’re a writer, spice up your stories with it. Make a young girl the object of ridicule and rejection, only to make her all the more deserving of being crowned homecoming queen. Capture the angst of a restaurant owner who can’t seem to drum up any business until a famous celebrity eats there one day and publicizes the homemade apple pie as the best he’s ever tasted. Every story you’ve read, movie you’ve seen, or TV show you’ve watched, if it is any good, has some sort of conflict in it. Even if you don’t notice it at first glance, look again – it is there. Someone may have a problem with someone else. It may be a squabble at the cash register about the price of cereal. A fight may break out as a result. There are so many options. Use them as a guide to crafting your own.

Writers seek involvement with the subject matter they are reading. So too should readers. It is important that readers know how to pinpoint what the conflict is, when it started, where it escalated, and how it ended. This will make the reading journey all that much more enjoyable and profound so that when you move on to other works, you can appreciate them all the more for the conflict that interests and fuels your reading desire.

Freshman Fourteen by Beth RodgersMy novel, ‘Freshman Fourteen,’ incorporates a lot of conflict early on especially, as I felt it quite necessary to make main character Margot’s journey through freshman year as difficult as possible at the start. In my mind, that would make her that much more worthy of going through the journey to get past all of the troubles she had. They serve to make her a stronger, more purposeful character.

Anything can be construed as conflict. Even writer’s block (or reader’s block, when you don’t know what to pick as your next read) is a conflict. Use the examples above to resolve this and master your own writing and reading techniques.


Want more from Beth? You can check out her books on Goodreads HERE.

Find Beth on the YA Author Rendezvous site HERE.

This was posted by Lauren Mayhew with the express permission of Beth Rodgers.

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Character Inspiration: Dreams

Character Inpiration: Dreams by Author Lauren Mayhew

Character Inspiration Dreams - Lauren Mayhew Author - YA Author RendezvousDreams are full of people, some that pop up more frequently than others, and some who you’re sure you’ve never even met before. But all of the dreams are created by you, and each of the people in them is a character in that scenario.

Throughout my trilogy, characters and certain events have all come to fruition because of my crazy dreams. My dreams are so weird, I’m surprised my mum hasn’t sent me to be sectioned yet. On the plus side, I can get some wicked storylines and characters from them.

For example, the villain in my books is called Duana. She appeared in a dream of mine from a long time ago, dressed head to toe in black, chasing me through a shopping centre. When I say chasing, I mean that dream chase, where I’m running for my life, and she’s walking ominously behind me. Anyway, she followed me into a charity shop, where I was hiding amongst some coats on a clothes rail. She couldn’t find me anywhere, and exited the shop. It was only when she was gone that I realised I was hiding behind the coats, in the reflection of a small mirror sitting in front of them. And that’s how Liliana was born too. Two characters in one dream.

The best thing to do after waking up from a dream, is to write it down immediately. You can’t trust that you’re going to remember it in the morning. Write it down while it’s fresh in your memory, and remember to laugh at it when you read it in the morning!

Even if a certain person in your dream has the face of someone that you know, you can change that when writing. That person doesn’t need to know they inspired the character from one of your crazy dreams. It’s a secret between you and your character.

I’d love to know if you’ve ever been inspired to write something based on a dream you’ve had. Comment below!


Want more from Lauren? You can check out her books on Goodreads HERE.

Find Lauren on the YA Author Rendezvous site HERE.

This was posted on the YAAR website with the express permission of Lauren Mayhew.

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Character Inspiration: People You Know

Character Inpiration: People You Know by Author Lauren Mayhew

Character Inspiration People You Know - Lauren Mayhew Author - YA Author RendezvousThis one may seem obvious, but I think it’s worth writing about. You don’t have to copy someone that you know completely, as that may be a bit too obvious if they ever pick your book up, but you can take certain traits from them.

For example, my first book ‘Reality is in a Dream’ has two characters that are exaggerated forms of two of my old school friends. Certain events that take place in the book involving the main character, Liliana, actually took place during my time at school. It’s quite funny, because I once had a reviewer tell me that she thought these character’s actions were not believable, and yet it actually happened to me.

Obviously, you don’t need to take their names, you don’t want anyone to be offended, especially if the character is one of the villains, but certain things that they may have said, or small mannerisms are a great way to begin the development of a character.

“Write what you know.” – Mark Twain. In the case of characters, I feel this to be true. It’s much easier to write about someone that you know, rather than starting a character from scratch. If you’ve been bullied in the past, use that bully to write a character with an unsavoury nature. If someone has said something that made you feel happy, use it. It’s as simple as that.

Many authors take reference from people that they’ve encountered in real life, and use them to create some of the best characters ever written. For example, Hermione Granger is based on J.K. Rowling. Rowling herself admitted that she was so like Hermione in school, and so she put a little of herself into the Harry Potter world.

You’ll be surprised how quickly a character can blossom into something you didn’t expect, taking your story places you never thought it could go. You may start off being inspired by somebody that you know, or at least knew a long time ago, but they’ll usually end up being completely different by the last page.


Want more from Lauren? You can check out her books on Goodreads HERE.

Find Lauren on the YA Author Rendezvous site HERE.

This was posted on the YAAR website with the express permission of Lauren Mayhew.

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Character Inspiration: People Watching

Character Inpiration: People Watching by Author Lauren Mayhew

Character Inspiration People Watching - Lauren Mayhew Author - YA Author RendezvousI love to people watch. I could literally watch people all day. Some of them are just so fascinating.

Have you ever been sat somewhere, and watched a person run through a town centre? Did a part of you ever wonder what they were up to? Did you then find yourself creating a scenario in your head about what it is they’re doing? If you did, then you’ve essentially created a character. If you’ve never done this, you’re seriously missing out!

Nobody is the same, and I’m not talking about skin colour, ethnicity, or accents. Nobody walks in the same way. Some people have limps, others drag their feet, and you’ll get the occasional person who seems to bob up and down with each step taken. What gave them their limp? Why do they drag their feet? Are they bobbing because they have an anti-gravity power that makes it difficult for them to keep their feet on the ground? Too far… Maybe, but you see what I mean, don’t you?

You only have to watch someone for a minute or two, and a character will emerge from them. 99% of the time, you’ll get everything wrong about them, but they don’t need to know what you’re thinking. As long as you’ve got that one character, the spark will ignite into a story line.

Only the other day, I was out walking with my mum and my sister, and a car sped past us down the road. It had to brake quite suddenly to avoid smashing into the car in front. All of us thought the same thing, ‘What a [insert expletive here]!’ He then sped off once the car in front had turned into another road, and my mum said, ‘He must be late for his dinner.’

To which I replied, ‘Or he’s been having an affair at work, and didn’t realise what the time was. He doesn’t want his wife to get suspicious, so he needs to get home on time.”

And suddenly I have a character, and the beginnings of a story. It’s not the sort of story I would write myself, I’m more of a Paranormal Fantasy writer, but it would work for someone.

It’s so simple to spend ten minutes every day observing those around us. Some people can do some fascinating things when they think no-one’s looking!


Want more from Lauren? You can check out her books on Goodreads HERE.

Find Lauren on the YA Author Rendezvous site HERE.

This was posted on the YAAR website with the express permission of Lauren Mayhew.

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