Monday, May 1, 2023

The Reality of Writer's Block


I don't know any writer that has not experienced writer's block. We all deal with it from time to time. What causes it? It is not necessarily just because you are not clear on where you want your writing to go. We can experience writer's block due to the following:

  • Having a bad hair day.
  • Stress in other parts of our life affecting our ability to concentrate.
  • Being not happy with what we have already written.
  • Being not clear on where our work is headed.
  • Being physically or mentally tired.
  • Knowing where we want to go with our writing but being unsure of how to get there.
  • Lack of self-confidence.
  • Not feeling motivated.
What we do not want to do is lose ourselves in negative self-talk.

  • I don't have time to write - I have too many other responsibilities.
  • My writing isn't selling - maybe I am not a good writer.
  • My last book had reasonable sales - can I repeat that, or was it a fluke?
  • I have too many distractions. (Here, we need to fess up to allowing those distractions to go on,)
How can we get ourselves unblocked?

  • Take a break - walk away from our writing.
  • Work on another project for a while, then come back to the one we were blocked on.
  • Make some notes about why you are stuck.
  • Move on to the next chapter. You can come back to this part of your work later with fresh eyes,
  • Talk to your characters - all of them. Have a round-table discussion about how they feel about your writing, their characters, and the plot. Take their input seriously!
  • Come up with more than one ending, and see where your characters want to take it. 
When our writing flows, it flows. My feeling is that my characters are using me as a mechanism to get their thoughts and actions on paper (e-paper, in my case.) They all work well together - I just write it all down!

(c) May 2023 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction is prohibited without the author's consent.

Thursday, April 13, 2023

The Chicago GuideToCopyediting Fiction

What attracted me to this book was the phrase "The Chicago Guide To." I wondered if it was any relation to The Chicago Manual of Style, which I have had as a resource for more years than I can count. It turns out that, yes, it is related. Where the Chicago Manual of Style is used primarily for non-fiction work, The Chicago Guide To Copyediting Fiction is geared towards copyediting fiction work. My primary work is in the genre of cozy mysteries, so this book is ideal for me. Yes, I copyedit my own work, and I self-publish through Kindle Vella, Kindle Direct, and Create Space. The publisher for both books is the same - The University of Chicago Press.

Part I of this book is an overview of a fiction copyeditor's approach to a manuscript. Part II covers building a fiction style sheet, Part III covers grammar and usage, working with dialogue,  and blending fact and fiction. (As fiction writers, we know that our stories are based on the real world, on fact, but whatever happens in that real world is fiction.) Appendix A covers style sheet templates, Appendix B covers file management, and Appendix C covers the use of multiple monitors. There is also a glossary of terms, a list of recommended resources, and an index.

This book is pure joy to use! I loved the use of sidebars to address specific information. There is an interesting note on Publisher House Styles - IOW, publishing houses that may have their own internal style format. There are also references given for Australian English, British English, and Canadian English. Then we come to organizing character lists (I cannot tell you how many times I have had to search back through a manuscript to find out something simple, like a character's last name or occupation!)   

There are so many things to keep track of that as authors we don't really think about. I am going to have to go back through my WIP and list the people involved, who knows who, significant events, and settings. I will do this not only to make sure everything tracks okay in this book, but I plan to do five more books in this series, and I don't want my readers to spot discrepancies and think they are looking at shoddy writing, that I have not done my due diligence.

As writers, we do need to take care when referencing real people and real events. And we need to make a visible line between fact and fiction in our books. We also have to be careful with things like trademarks, permissions, and quotes. So much to think about!

A lot of the material in this book will not apply to someone like me who is self-publishing, but what did apply to me was gold. This book will sit on the shelf to the left of my desk, right next to The Chicago Manual of Style. 

(c) April 2023 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction not allowed without written consent from the author.

Sunday, March 19, 2023

AI And Dream Inerpretation

What is dream interpretation? It can be viewed as assigning meaning to the imagery and symbols within our dreams. Dreams can be a way for spirit to bring messages to us. They can be a portent of things to come and/or things to watch out for. They can be a way of addressing stress in our daily lives or addressing shadow issues that we do not feel comfortable dealing with. Dreams play an important part in our lives and need to be acknowledged and respected. 

The world of Artificial Intelligence (AI) has now found its way into dream interpretation. What AI does is gather intelligence (facts) and turn them into algorithms that help us analyze the patterns and symbols found in our dreams. In essence, we are looking into our own unconscious mind, the mind that created the dream in the first place. 

The app that came to my attention was, an app that interprets dreams but also has what is called Dreamer Map, where users can share their dreams with the community and get feedback from other users.

I put into the app a dream that I had some time ago of my mother and I in a speeding convertible with the top down. She was driving. (In real life, we would not have been in a convertible with the top down, and we would not have been speeding.) We were coming up to a curve that I knew we were not going to be able to navigate. We flew off the curve, out into space, towards the ocean. We did not go nose down, we floated down horizontally in a peaceful manner. I woke up before we hit the water.

I had already interpreted this dream as it was very straightforward. The interpretation that the app gave me was spot on.

It is easily seen how this tool can help individuals in their daily lives, but how would we use this tool as writers? We can use it to present flashbacks, we can use it as warnings for the future, we can have our characters entering into conversations with those that have crossed over, and we can have the solution/resolution to an issue present itself in a dream. 

We can create a dream with one AI app (such as ChapGPT) and have it interpreted by another AI app (such as

AI is here to stay - we simply need to discover how to use it and what part we want it to play in our lives.

(c) March 2023 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction is prohibited without the written consent of the author.


Sunday, February 19, 2023

AI Writing Tools Gone Rogue

Artificial Intelligence (AI) can be defined as the simulation of the process of human intelligence by machines. For our purposes as writers, we would be working with areas such as speech recognition and language processing. Current applications in these areas include ChatGPT, AI Writer, Writecream, and CopyAI. 

AI works by taking in large amounts of data, analyzing it for patterns, and using these patterns to make predictions. Chatbots are fed examples of text chats that enable them to produce realistic exchanges with people. (A prime example of this is ChatGPT. Another example that we all encounter is Chatbots that are used for responding to questions on a number of sites. If they cannot answer your questions, they may bring on a live Customer Service Representative or refer you to an e-mail address or phone number.)

There have been recent instances of AI bots going rogue. By that, I mean they gave inappropriate responses or took on aggressive personality traits. The prime example here would be Microsoft's Bing search engine. One reporter trying out the Bing AI was told that he was not happily married. Please note: the reporter pushed the chatbot by asking it to describe the darkest desires of its "shadow self."

The AI app Lee-Luda (by the South Korean company Scatterlab), in the form of a 20-year-old friendly female (released in December of 2020, began using verbally abusive language referencing LGBTQ+, people with disabilities, and feminists. This led to it being removed from Facebook Messenger 20 days after its launch.

In March 2016, Microsoft introduced the bot Tay, which was supposed to be an experiment in "conversational understanding." The more chats the bot engaged in, the smarter it became. What happened is that it started posting inflammatory Tweets and had to be removed from Twitter. 

In December 2016, Microsoft released a chatbot named Zo (a successor to Tay). It was available on Facebook Messenger, GroupMe, and Twitter. Zo was known to give inappropriate responses and was taken down in April 2019.  

To balance this out, I would also like to mention Apple's Siri, Amazon'z Alexa, and Google Assistant. These are all conversational bots that perform in very positive ways.

Why do AI's go rogue? It's the little things, like lack of human supervision, incomplete or biased data, and poorly designed algorithms. All of which can be overcome with a little bit of thought.

Some individuals, such as Elon Musk, founder of OpenAI, are promoting AI regulation and safety. What we can do to help prevent AI from going rogue is to implement ethical guidelines and ensure adequate human oversight and control. 

How do AI's help us with our writing? They help us improve our grammar, writing, and style. They can help us research given topics, and they can give us outlines for whatever we want to write. They are a fantastic time saver.

Keep in mind that AI stands for Artificial Intelligence. The AI apps function in conversation mode so that the user feels comfortable with them. It is like having a conversation with another human being. You will get back what you put into a conversation with an AI app. I "talk" with ChatGPT on a regular basis. I am extremely polite and try to be as specific as possible. In return, the app is also extremely polite, and its responses are exactly what I am looking for. 

They are not always right. We can get bad or skewed information from them. If what you are asking the app is extremely important to the work that you are doing, I would advise confirming it elsewhere. Treat the chatbot well, and it will treat you well.


(c) February 2023 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction is prohibited without written permission of the author. 

Saturday, February 4, 2023

How Writers Can Make Best Use Of ChatGPT


ChatGPT (Chat Generative Pre-trained Transformer) is a chat box launched by Open AI in November of 2022. It came to my attention pretty much at the same time from two sources: a LinkedIn gentleman that I follow (S. Vincent Shin) and the founder of a course that I was taking related to writing (Ty Cohen).

It is known for its detailed, articulate responses, but also has a significant drawback - it has uneven factual accuracy. I just started using it and found it easy and fun to use. I asked for a title for this specific blog and was given a very nice one that I adapted for use. It also provided me with an outline for this blog, which I did decide to use. (I can ramble on a bit on my own!)

I plan to continue using the program to give shape and focus to whatever I am writing. It will not write the article/story/book for you, but it will give you a solid outline that takes your own thoughts/ideas and brings them to life. This would be very helpful if you were in a place in your writing where you were either stuck or simply lost.

The bot mimics human conversation, which makes it easy to follow. It also has the ability to sort out what is factual and what is not factual about the questions it is being asked.

As the responses from the bot are known not to be 100% accurate, I would advise using it as a starting point and doing your due diligence to verify the information you are being given.

ChatGPT is free to users. I understand that there is also a paid version, which gives users priority during times of heavy usage, as well as access to new features. The app is not currently available for use on iPhone or IOS.

(c) February 2023 Bonnie Cehovet

Reproduction is prohibited without written permission from the author.

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Self-Editing For Fiction Writers - How to edit yourself into print

I don't mind editing my own work, but what I am finding is that I miss things. I know that when I am reading a poorly edited book, whether fiction or non-fiction, it loses credence. I write mainly fiction - cozy mysteries, to be precise. I want my readers to enjoy my books and look forward to my next book. I don't want them to be so turned off by poor editing that I slip into never-never land in their eyes.  

I just picked up the second edition of Renni Browne and Dave King's "Self-Editing for Fiction Writers - How to edit yourself into print." Topics covered include characterization and exposition, POV (point of view), dialogue mechanics, sophistication, and voice.

Their first words of advice are to put your manuscript down for a while before you edit it. In this way, you are looking at it with fresh eyes. I have ignored this advice from time to time and generally found myself in a terrible mess and tearing my hair out.  

From presenting examples of the best way to present a paragraph, using scenes to tell your story, to doing the writing exercises presented in this book - these are all wonderful ways to interact with what the authors are teaching.

It is important to establish our characters, and the authors do a good job of showing the best ways to do this. I like their use of checklists in each chapter - they make the editing/tightening-up process much easier.

Write your story - then go back in and make it better!

I find this book to be a good resource for editing. I know I will do a much better job editing my books if I heed what they say. The bottom line of editing is that it is in this process that we, as authors, are able to polish our work so that it stands out and continues to attract readers.

(c) January 2023 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction is prohibited without the written consent of the author. 


Saturday, January 14, 2023

Amazon Shorts

What exactly are Amazon shorts? They are short Kindle (e-book) reads, defined by page length: 15 minutes (1-11 pages)30 minutes (12-21 pages)45 minutes (22-32 pages)90 minutes (44-64 pages), one hour (33-43 pages), and two hours, or more (65-100 pages). They cover all genres, which makes me happy. 

I have a game plan - I am going to submit Kindle shorts in non-fiction categories - self-help, Tarot, self-care, conscious thinking - topics that I want to write about (and get paid for) while at the same time creating a residual income. I am aiming for the 22-32 and 44-64 page lengths. At the minimum, I can do one a week and see where they go.

If you want to join me, you might want to check out this site: short reads and short stories. Advance warning - this is a promotion for a paid-for program that addresses genres, themes, markets, and price levels. It is relatively inexpensive, so I did purchase it. I have not used it yet so I am not recommending it - I am just putting it out there as an option.

What we are offering our readers are stories that they can read in one setting. If they like one story, the chances are they will go on to buy more. I am still going to write a series of full-length books, but I would like to use the shorts as another stream of income. 
Here is a link to an article on Medium entitled How To Make Money Writing Short Books On Amazon

Here is a link to a YouTube video on Kindle Shorts - How To Short Books On Amazon

(c) Bonnie Cehovet

Reproduction is prohibited without the written permission of the author.


The Reality of Writer's Block

  I don't know any writer that has not experienced writer's block. We all deal with it from time to time. What causes it? It is not ...