Category Archives: All Others

When Writing Strikes

Writers are compelled to write. We are constantly having ideas. We are constantly thinking about twist or problems in our storylines and we see inspiration just about everywhere. Generally speaking, the challenge is not creative flow. Writers are bursting through the seams with creativity. Things like organization, structure, and TIME are our biggest enemy.

I submitted my final draft of my new book (Book 1 of 3) to my editor just as summer break began. The second half of my novel was completed just as my final undergrad semester was beginning. By way of a rough critique, I have summarized that, critical thinking and strategic writing for school has a negative effect on my creative writing flow. One would think that I took that new learning and adapted it. One would think that I have spent the entire summer writing. Well fans… I did not.

BREAK TIME

My break from all things thought provoking has been well over do. I am a mother, wife, student, dedicated member of church, and full-time career woman. My mind is always spinning and at the end of the publishing process I was stressed and overstretched. Aside from journaling and brainstorming the cover specifications for my new book. I did not commit any new creative ideas to paper (or screen) all summer. This does not mean I didn’t have them, only that I took time to clear my focus and relax.
Upside: I feel rested and clear.
Downside: School starts in less than a week, and suddenly I have been hit with an overwhelming urge to do corrections, plan out new ideas, and inspiration for book 2 in my new series.

TIME TO WRITE

During the rewrite process of Dreams of the Heart, I struggled with the working and writing. Writing and books are my passion. As many of my followers know, I do not work in that industry. My time to do creative writing was limited and sometimes nonexistence. The emotional toll of “not writing” was at times so heavy that it would manifest itself through tears or intense journaling. Oddly enough I learned that if I had time to cry and journal about NOT WRITING, then I had time to rewrite and improve Dreams of the Heart. Eventually, I came to some solid resolves about the time needed to write and invest in my career as an author. I applied those lessons to my writing schedule while working on my second novel and finished in half the time. It is still a struggle, but I no longer fret over the common problem. We make time for what is important in life. Pushing my creativity, my stories into the world is one of the most important things to me. How long it takes it not nearly as important as the act of getting it done.

TIME TO WORK

As I start the Master’s in Library Science program at Kent State and I looking forward to all the new things that I will learn. I have been preparing myself for the 3 classes and the overload of papers that I undoubtedly will have to write. I understand that my time will be locked up with reading and writing research papers and that the time to work on my book series will be limited. I have somewhat purposeful put myself on “downtime” behavior in preparation for taking 3 classes in the fall. I have a strong feeling that my life for the next 3 months will be writing; one way or another.

However, as God allowed me to do with my debut novel Dreams of the Heart, I will push through it. God gave me this gift for a reason and I will use it. The work needed to be become a successful author is hard with or without school. I plan to rise to the challenge. My ideas are solid and despite only having a few days to outline them into a writing plan for next month, I will do it.

Writing Room Inspirations

So, working on my second novel post-school has really made me take notice of my writing spaces. I have an awesome desk purchased some years back. It is cherry wood with a leather map of the world imprinted on it. I love my desk and anybody that knows me well would even say I am a little particular about it. Okay, I will be honest, if you are not Tanela Hicks I prefer you not touch it. The general rule of thumb is only writing specific or book related things touch the surface. A long time ago I read somewhere that owning and designated a writing space was an important routine when building your craft. The article kinda of stuck with me and thus far the technique has work, but as I move into the next phase of my writing career I am dreaming of more.

Now technically I do not have the space for what I dream of, but that has not stopped me from sketching and imagining.

Ideally, I would love an open office space that functions as a mini library and creative space. Obviously, books move and inspire me and the more I read the more I want to write. This library/office is beautiful.

However, I also love scenery. Water views or rustic scenes draw my focus when I can’t not solve an existing plot line. While bustling cityscapes help me develop characters and background detail. These views below are perfect creative thinking spaces as well.

Style, decor, and furniture all make up a big piece of my multi faceted dream. I honestly believe I would need two spaces just to accommodate my two different writing personalities. When I am creating the bones of my story or a character. I sketch and scribble a lot while typing out what I want to say. I tend to listen to loud neo soul or jazz and I need complete concentration. Aside from music, or the movies Twilight, Shawshank Redemption, or Lake House playing on the television; there can be no other activity around me. Since I have a family and small home generally I have headphones on and drinking coffee or tea while eating dry cereal (trade secrets).

When I am editing, rewriting, reviewing, or fixing something in my work; my writing personalities is different. I can, while at a minimum, carry on another conversation with someone (other than talking to myself). HGTV or similarly formatted television can be on but not loud. I do not have to be at my writing desk (bed, couch, elsewhere) and best of all I CAN DRINK. A glass of wine always makes my mistakes more noticeable.

So, my dream writing space would be doubled. I would love to have an open-air space featuring some variation of all the styles mentioned. 

But then I would love to have a private space with installation, views, and no distractions. I believe it would love something like this!

 

ANNOUNCING THE FIRST EVER TanelaWrites CONTEST:

ANNOUNCING THE FIRST EVER TanelaWrites CONTEST:

Win a Special Book Box Prize just in time for the holidays!

Here’s how it works. Receive one 1 entry for each of the following actions:

Share my FB page.   TanelaWrites on FB Click Here!
Review my novel Dreams of the Heart on Amazon.   Click Here!
Review my novel on Dreams of the Heart Barnes and Noble. Click Here!
Review my novel Dreams of the Heart on GoodReads.com. Click Here!
Subscribe to my website. Look to your Right!

The winner will be selected from a random drawing on November 15th, 2017 and notified via email.

It’s easy, it’s fun, and its free…come engage with me.

Thank you all for your support.

National Novel Writing Month 2017

It is National Novel Writing Month. November is the month to stretch your muscle, and your fingers to create the next great novel right. RIGHT!

National Novel Writing Month has a special place in my heart. This year as many may know, I published my first novel. I started Dreams of the Heart before my first participation year of NaNo, however the year I did participate, my first experience was the best. I was so encouraged, and simultaneously paranoid about my first novel project. Looking back, it was comical how scared I was to share my work, or even the amount of words I wrote; which is main element in the NaNo challenge I develop my own word count marco spreadsheet. Given my background in Information Technology, this is not an unrealistic resolution. Despite my misguided attempted at NaNo, through my writing journey I have learned that sharing helps you gain insight and perspective on everything from characters, to plot timing.

This year I will be focusing on the ending transition for series format and the overall rewrite. I plan to have these steps fully completed y NOVEMEBER 30th. This is important because I plan to publish my novel Twin Souls: A Blue Moon Series Novel is the winter of 2018. Getting the book to my editor is my primary goal for the end of 2017 and National Novel Writing Month is the best time to push myself to new goals.

I am looking forward to interacting more with the writing community and learning more about writing dialogue and time shifting within a single plot. Writing is my life.

Please keep in touch and follow me on this journey right here on my TanelaWrites.

Thank You For Your Support

Thank you to all. The Dreams of the Heart Book Launch was amazing. I felt so incredible loved and honored. My dream of completing my first novel came to completion. Every element of the party was exactly like I dreamed it would be. I ask the Lord to show me my story and He did. I ask him to help me show others, and He has. God has brought me and my creativity so far and I have full faith that he can do the same for others.

This party was a small private affair and I promise to have a bigger more public celebration in the next few months. Until then please show your support by purchasing Dreams of the Heart on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other major book retailers. If you have read my debut novel already please review and like the book online on Amazon or GoodReads. Look for more news and information coming soon about my writings and book right here! 

 

Great Music New Natural

"We Are KING"

~KING

 

“We Are KING” by KING is easy eclectic listening. The album opens smooth and defined with Right One. You have a good understanding as to want type of music you are about to listening to; which in my book is a huge plus. Throughout the album you hear a lot of airy soft sounds which makes it a through and through album. The song order and transitions are seamless. I review enjoyed all the instrumental work. It is full on technique yet somehow not cluttered. I was so engulfed listening to the music that I had to go back through and focus on the lyrics. While there is nothing revolutionary lyrically the words in most the songs are very dreamy and vivid. Red Eye and Love Song are forward and pull you into a vision that a full of color and beauty. My only wish in this debut is I wanted to hear more of the group’s vocals. Maybe an a capella song or two would have been nice. These ladies are going to go far if the keep their niche and sound intact, but expand their vocals and of course exposure. Great job Ladies!

"Awaken, My Love!"

~ Childish Gambino

So, the winner of the year for odd and efficient goes to Childish Gambino AKA Donald Glover and his album “Awaken, My Love!”. Childish Gambino’s sound is intentionally alternative, almost not natural, but somehow still shines. The obvious Prince influence is all over this album which makes it intriguing. If you are looking for a standard hip hop rap album, this is not the album for you. If you are looking for deep lyrics mixed with trippy 70’s rock, then Awaken, My Love! is perfect. A mix between Lenny Kravitz and Andrae 3000, Childish Gambino’s lyrics are very socially conscious with songs like Riot, and Boogieman hitting all the relevant social tones of 2016. I could listen to it through and through, even opting to do it again, but mainly because I wasn’t sure what I heard. Stand Tall and Redbone were positive hits for me. The album seems to be weird for weird sake. I would have loved to hear some more jazz like instrumentals from him. Like his other albums, this was not produced for the masses, but for those who like creativity and accept the unexplainable. Good job Donald!

Non-Fiction Niche’

                   Anyone that knows me knows how much I love to read. I enjoy a wonderfully made story. The creative demonstration from an artist, writer, or musician is always something exciting and beautiful to see. Maybe it’s because I a writer and I enjoy the seeing the creative process unfold, or maybe creativity just inspires me. Either way I cannot get enough. Currently I am reading several books. The Barrier Between- Collector Series Book Two by Stacey Marie Brown, Always Watching- Elite Guardians by Lynette Eason, and Aerie by Maria Dahvana Headley are on the top of my currently reading pile.

                   I am a die-hard Sci-Fi, paranormal fan. Imaginative stories with faraway lands and magical creatures take me away from the sterile corporate world I currently work in. If you add in some time travel it is like Christmas for a book lover girl like me. Because of this automatic pull I have created a strong motivation to stay diverse. I purposefully and regularly read “normal & mundane” stories. Most recently I read 2 of 3 books in the Hidden Identity series; which is a Christian fiction mystery series by the fast story teller Lynette Eason. I thoroughly enjoyed it and you can read my reviews for each book on my Review page.

So, that wasn’t too hard, right? Read a book with no werewolves or magic…. check. Now read some Non-Fiction Tanela.

                   I LOATH NON-FICTION! Again, my persistent thoughts on the cultural benefits of staying diverse with my entertainment choices force me to read at least one Nonfiction book a year. Thanks to my good friend, I had the chance to read a good one this year called Bringing Up Boys by Dr. James Dobson. The author has revealing and relatable concepts on raising Christian boys. I enjoyed it enough to chat with other mothers about it, but still not enough to write my standard review. See Non-Fiction is not evil, right, you just should easy into it. I still have a few others on my Non-Fiction list for the year, which includes Shonda’s Rhimes Year of Yes, but since I technically have made my quota for the year, I’m all set right?

                  Here comes the entire reason for writing this post. The accidental click on Anna Kendrick’s Scrappy Little Nobody changed tone on non-fiction. While I was clicking out of a different book on Amazon, I accidently selected Kendrick’s new memoir. Let me preference the rest of this mini fandom by acknowledging I am a little bit of a default fan. I have loosely followed Kendrick ever since the Twilight movie days because I thought she did an amazing job in those films. I have since, seen just about all her work and recently moved her to the actresses to watch category in my moviegoer pop culture mind. Okay, back to the book. So, I listened to the preview on Audible of Scrappy Little Nobody, narrated by the author Anna Kendrick (great idea) and I immediately felt her story as something I wanted to hear. She was so honest and transparent that I forgot I was reading about a celebrity. When she said in the first chapter that she wished she could call her book “A tweet, but longer.” I was sold. I downloaded the full book and started listening immediately finishing in just a few days. You can read my full review of Scrappy Little Nobody on my Review page. It’s an awesome book for all anyone.

My experience with this memoir has taught me a big lesson and I am kind of ashamed to admit it.I LIKE NON-FICTION I JUST DIDN’T REALIZE WHAT IT COULD BE TO ME
           This is shamefully because that is what I do. I Google everything about everyone; me and Wikipedia are virtual close friends, and I love learning about with world and people around me. I enjoy nosing around facts on topics from “last TV show to air on UPN” to “Aesop- real or fake storyteller” (FYI- that topic has a very interesting history, look it up). So, why have I never been moved to read a story about another person? True I still think that books like “How to Live a Better Life” would be of NO interest to me, but I am not considering reading Soledad Obrien’s book “The Next Big Story: My Journey Though the Land of Possibilities” and “Self-Inflicted Wounds: Heartwarming Tales of Epic Humiliation” by Aisha Tyler, which I have recommended and purchased for others, but never took the time to read myself. Crazy! Thanks to Anna Kendrick and her witty and revealing story telling about acceptance of one’s self, and perseverance I am excited to see what I can learn from the eyes and pens of other interesting people in the world. Non-Fiction has a Niche’ for me, and now I am right there in it.

musical-banner-final-2Today I went to get some new music and after hard deliberations, I chose #MYNAMEISJOETHOMAS by the ever faithful Joe Thomas and Seat at the Table by the talented and highly unrated Solange Knowles. Please enjoy my thoughts and opinions on each album and then go out and make your own choice. Dig into the music, embrace the creativity, and bring forth a new and refreshing attitude.

Joe Thomas has been giving ladies passion and love through music for over ajoe-thomas-cd-cover decade. He sings deep and from his heart delivering that grown and sexy music. Joe’s newest album titled #MYNAMEISJOETHOMAS is a solid and much needed nod to RnB. From the beginning he encourages the leap into love with “Lean Into It”. My favorite songs, “Wear the Night” and “Lay You Down” are for adults only and remind me of the woman that I am after work, wife and kids. Joe also gives us a little something new as he always does with “Hollow” and “Love Centric”. They have a mild country rock feel that once you focus in; you realize it fits him well. This unfortunately that is not the case with one of the two hip hop songs on the album. “Happy Hour” featuring Gucci Man is overly done and loud; creating an immediate frown on my face. The deep flat key of the chorus helps a little, but Gucci Mane just does not fit on this album. On “I Swear” the lyrics are a little more palatable and the music arrangementis a lot better. Overall the selling factor of Joe’s new album is his ability to tell women what they want to hear all the time from their man. Joe Thomas is singing apologies and providing the make-up playlist. The theme of forgiveness in his lyrics is the strongest quality throughout all his music. On this album, “Tough Guy” and the hit “So I Can Have You Back” show that men do have soft places in their hearts. My vote for the next single goes to “Lay You Down”; just in time for cozy love season and Valentine’s Day. I will be grooving to this album for a while and even when I put it down, I know Joe will be right there to hug me back into his musical heart.

Break outsolange-cd-cover your star fruit and incense for Solange’s new album Seat at the Table. It is filled with strong lyrics and expressive declarations. The hit single “Cranes in the Sky” brings sweetness to an otherwise socially charged album. Songs like “Don’t Touch My Hair” and “F.U.B.U” remind you about self-love and changing our own circumstances. My favorite songs are “Don’t Wait” and “Weary” and hearing Tweet mixed in on the vocals throughout the album was a treat. The biggest miss are the extended interludes. While I can see this type of urban eclectic album deserves some spoken word, I think the interviews and journal like dialogues were a little too much. Overall I love what Solange has put together. She has returned strong and meaningful. I’ll be keeping Seat at the Table in my rotation for a while.

Music plays such a big part in history. It becomes extremely important in times of stress, hurt, or despair. Some of the biggest performers emerged or reached their height after a time of social or economically change. Music often can transcend problems and ill feelings and that is why I hold on to a tune in my mind and heart. Gospel, RnB, classical, or jazz; it all has the ability to assist in the revision of my mind and spirit.

National Novel Writing Month

Learning Myself Through My Writing Goals

By Tanela Hicks

                My history with National Novel Writing Month is a little give and take; love and hate. Just like getting use to a new car, or understanding a new computer system, it took a while, but we finally understand our role in each other’s life. NaNo (as it is affectionately called) is there to be a motivator and a tool to help drive my writing career and I am here to use it. Simple.

Just as an overview, NaNo to me is the celebration and awareness of the craft of writing. There is an entire culture that pushes you to meet your writing goals throughout the year. There are camps for young writers, weekly encouragement from published authors, and tons of advice. During the month of November specifically it is “Campaign Time”. To keep it simple, if you are participating in the organization sponsored activities, you can enter a contest to complete 50,000 words in 30 days. At the end of the month you can submit what you have written for critiques, publishing help, and more. This contest not only serves as incentive, but drives project productivity. It’s a wonderful opportunity and totally free…or not use.

My first year being a part of the NaNo community I was very excited. Being the over organized person I am, I made a word count spread sheet to compare against their suggested rate of process. Yes, there are formulas, and programming in this spreadsheet that automatically told me the messages like “Great Job” when I meet my daily goal or things like “Words Waiting” when I slacked off.

national-writing-month

When I started in November 2013 with the NaNo, I actually had already completed the bulk of what “Dreams of the Heart” would come to be putting me well past the 50,000 benchmark the website set. So my big goal was to write every day. As you can see I did not succeeded at that, but overall I was thoroughly invigorated with the creativity process. I ended the month with approximately 18,000 thousand words and completed my first rough draft. Then came 2014 and I hit a huge drought. “Dreams of the Heart” draft one was complete and I was deep into rewrites. There were many complications, but my biggest headache was deciding on the level of adult content. The main character and I “fell out” multiple times the first half of the year over elements of the story that needed to be PG edited. As a true woman of faith and a new deacon’s wife it was very hard to determine what was right and what was wrong. I ultimately learned through experience and prayer to let the story direct your path no matter what. Once I settle on that school of thought, me and “Jamice”; main character of “Dreams of the Heart” become best buds again and my massive rewrite moved forward.

Writing novels, short stories, articles, or anything creative is not an easy task and those that can or even try to do it are special people. Reflecting back on my beginnings with NANO and “Dreams of the Heart” makes me smile and thank God for this talent that he has given me. I have learned so many lessons. I have applied advice received from that community and others to my two projects still in progress. Surrounding myself in a community of like-minded writers; all pushing towards similar goals, truly helped propel me to complete my first novel. If you are looking for a guide or catalyst this year for your writing try it. I will not guarantee you will hit the mark of 50,000 words, but you will learn something about your writing and a lot about yourself.

For more information on National Novel Writing Month Click Here

Happy Writing!