Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Guest Post with Eileen Cook

Photo Content from Eileen Cook

Eileen Cook grew up in a small town in Michigan, but would go on to live in Boston and Belgium before settling in Vancouver, Canada with her husband and two very naughty dogs.

In second grade Eileen’s teacher wrote on a homework assignment “I am sure someday you will be an author” which is a tribute to the psychic abilities of elementary school teachers, as well as Eileen penchant for making things up. While she would go on to fill endless notebooks with really bad poetry, short stories, and the occasional start to a novel, she would first go on to pursue a career as a counsellor working with individuals with catastrophic injuries and illness.

Eileen quickly discovered that the challenge of working with real people is that they have real problems and she returned to writing where she could make her characters do what she wanted. Her first novel was published in 2008. Entertainment Weekly called her novel WITH MALICE a “seriously creepy thriller” which pretty much made her entire year.

When not planning murder and mayhem on the computer, Eileen enjoys reading, knitting, yelling at her dogs to stop digging holes and watching hockey (which she is required to do as a new Canadian.)

Eileen is a popular speaker at conferences both in the US and in Canada, provides writing/editorial coaching, and is a mentor/instructor for the Simon Fraser University The Writer’s Studio.

Eileen lives in Vancouver with her husband and two very naughty dogs and no longer wishes to be anyone or anywhere else.

Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (October 3, 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0544829824
ISBN-13: 978-0544829824


"...[The Hanging Girl] is fast-paced; features a very relatable, down-on-herluck protagonist; and boasts a surprise twist that will leave readers arguing long after the book is over. Perfect for fans of psychological thrillers." Booklist

"A surprisingly dark thriller that will find a home in libraries where there is a need for strong female protagonists and engrossing mysteries." SLJ

"...The multiple twists in the ending pack several hefty wallops of surprise and reward the reader with a more than satisfactory payout." Bulletin

I always loved books and stories. My parents had a homework assignment I did in second grade where we were supposed to practice writing sentences and instead I strung mine together to make a story. The teacher wrote on the page I’m sure you’ll be a writer someday. My parents kept that sheet and when I sold my first book they had it framed and it now hangs in my office. It’s a great story about the power of teachers, but I have no memory of it at all.

The first time I can remember thinking that writing books was something I wanted to do, was when I was eleven or twelve. I’d gone to the library, wandered out of the children’s area and picked up a book by Stephen King, Salem’s Lot. When I went to check it out the librarian tried to discourage me from reading it- declaring it to “too nasty” and that it would give me nightmares. I remember being offended because I was a very mature kid and I understood the difference between make believe and real. It was just a made-up story after all- how scary could it be? I found my mom in the library who gave me permission to read it.

So it turns out- made up stories can be REALLY scary. The librarian was right, there were nightmares. I slept with the light on for weeks. And even though I was scared, I thought it was amazing that this writer had made something up, something I knew was fiction, and yet it felt so real that I had a real emotional reaction. That’s when I knew that is what I wanted to do. It wasn’t that I wanted to necessarily write horror novels (although I still love reading Stephen King) but that I wanted to create worlds and characters that made readers feel real emotions- to make them laugh, or cry, or want to yell at a character, or to cheer that same character on to victory.

I started writing and never looked back. All through school I filled tons of notebooks with stories and the start of what seemed like hundreds of novels. Initially, I had a really hard time finishing any projects because it was never as good on the page as it was in my head, or it turned out the idea wasn’t as good as I had imagined. Eventually I finished a book, and then another, and then another, until I finally wrote one that was good enough to be published. Now I plan to keep writing them as long as I’m able.

Some days the writing comes easy. The words spill onto the page as fast as you can get them down. Ideas drop out of the sky and every direction you turn unearths new inspiration. Those are good days.

Then there are the other days.

Days when you’re pretty sure that your muse hates you, that she’s turned mute, and also possibly homicidal. The blinking curser on the blank page starts to feel like a dental drill to your head.

So, what can you do to jump start your creativity? Here are my ten tips to get you writing when your muse is on vacation.

1. Show Up: There are times when showing up is half the battle. You can tell a procrastinating writer because they have a really clean house. No one is better at avoiding writing than a writer. Turn off the internet and sit down in your writing space for a set period of time. If it helps, try setting a timer. Tell yourself when the thirty minutes, or hour is up, you can do anything else you want, but for that time you will write.

2. Permission to Write a Badly: Often writers get stuck because the shiny wonderful idea in our head bears no resemblance to the misshapen creature that showed up on the page. We’re frustrated and it can be easy to quit. Remember, you can’t fix a blank page so get it down. Even if it is not what you wanted you can fix it.

3. Give Ideas Room to Breathe: At times you may be stuck because you are trying to force an idea into the world that is not fully formed. Ideas, like people, need space and time to figure out what they really want to be.

4. Surround Yourself with Interesting Stuff: Ideas come a range of places so bring in lots of stimulants into your life. Who knows what may spark an idea or expand one? Read widely, watch movies, have conversations, do crafts, check out magazines, blogs, and newspapers, look at art, or take time to travel.

5. Music: Music taps into the emotional center of the brain. Consider creating playlists for different emotions and play these when working on different scenes. Movie soundtracks can be great for this. If the theme from Indiana Jones doesn’t make you want to write action, then I don’t understand you.

6. Switch it up: Jump starting your creativity might be as simple as changing up your normal routine. If you normally write in the mornings, try at night. Write longhand instead of on the computer. Try changing your physical space by writing in a different room, or the beach, library, or coffee shop.

7. Give Yourself Permission to Play: Writing is supposed to be fun. It can be easy to get caught into the idea that the only writing that matters is that which moves your book forward by a set number of words per day. Instead try playing with your world. While you may not be writing anything that shows up directly in your project, it may inspire you in a direction you hadn’t consider. Write diary entries from a character’s point of view, take a scene and write it from the point of view of a different character, brainstorm ideas by asking yourself what if? See where it leads you.

8. Writing Groups: Sometimes what you need to move forward is a good kick in the rear and a supportive writing group can offer that. Writing groups can inspire you by helping you set, and stick, to deadlines. They can also provide objective feedback which may help you get direction.

9. Take a Class/Go to a Conference/ Listen to a Podcast: I gain a lot of inspiration by listening to the podcast Writing Excuses on a regular basis. Their way of breaking down various writing issues often gives me ways to look at my book in a new way. Conferences or classes give you inspiration in workshops with practical how-to exercises, as well as helping you connect to a wider group of writers.

10. Move/Exercise: There are studies that show physical activity activates different parts of the brain. A healthy body helps create a healthy mind. This doesn’t mean you have to enter a triathlon, but if you’re finding the words aren’t flowing, take a walk, go for a swim, or do a yoga class.

Your muse works for you, but she may require some training. Using some (or all) of these ten tips here will hopefully have you writing on a regular basis, and instead of waiting for inspiration- creating it. 

Skye Thorn has given tarot card readings for years, and now her psychic visions are helping the police find the town’s missing golden girl. It’s no challenge—her readings have always been faked, but this time she has some insider knowledge. The kidnapping was supposed to be easy—no one would get hurt and she’d get the money she needs to start a new life. But a seemingly harmless prank has turned dark, and Skye realizes the people she’s involved with are willing to kill to get what they want and she must discover their true identity before it’s too late.

You can purchase The Hanging Girl at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you EILEEN COOK for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Signed Copy of THE HANGING GIRL by Eileen Cook.
NOVEMBER 27th MONDAY Sabrina's Paranormal Palace REVIEW

DECEMBER 4th MONDAY A Dream Within a Dream REVIEW
AY TFaulc Book Reviews EXCERPT
ESDAY Literary Meanderings GUEST POST
DAY Here's to Happy Endings SPOTLIGHT
DECEMBER 7th THURSDAY Movies, Shows, & Books EXCERPT


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