Celise Downs

Archive for the 'Life in General' Category

Pop it out

February 23, 2013 | Life in General

Yeah, no, not talking about babies. I read an article the other day about 8 tips to make your writing pop inspired by Sam Horn’s book and I liked the 5 they had about writing big projects. Like a novel.

1. Write in Your 3rd Place

Ergonomic experts say home is your 1st place and the office is your 2nd place. These places can be distracting because of every day activity such as laundry or paying bills. For a change, Horn suggests finding a 3rd Place like a coffeehouse or outdoor cafe, where you can work in private, in public. You’ll feed off the ambient energy adding to your own. Isolate yourself from email and social media. The lack of personal distraction will give you a productive cocoon of concentration. Home is the first place I would write and yes it’s distracting but not because of laundry or bill paying. The key is quiet. I need quiet to write and, seeing as how we moved into an apartment complex, I imagine that’s never going to happen. I may have to try and find a park or something.

2. You Don’t Have to Know to Go

Horn relates the story of E. L. Doctorow. When asked what it was like writing a book, he thought about it and said, “It’s like driving a car at night. You can only see to the end of your headlights; but you can make the whole trip that way.” Here’s the point. Don’t know what you want to say? Write anyway. Clarity often emerges from your work; it doesn’t precede your work. I totally agree! Who needs fuckin’ outlines? I usually have a book title, an idea and the name of my characters. I’m a pantser when it comes to my writing.I love what he says about clarity emerging from the work, not before.

3. Draft, Then Craft

Horn teaches that your voice–your distinctive personality and perspective–comes out in the first draft. Yet too often people edit out their uniqueness. They care more about commas than connecting. One of the best ways to bypass the inner editor is to write fast. Raymond Chandler said, “If I’m going slow; I’m in trouble. It means I’m pushing the words instead of being pulled by them.” Commit to producing a measurable number of new pages each week. Your initial goal is to finish, not to finesse. Critique and clean up only after you have something to show for time invested. The best way to keep the judge at bay and let your creativity come out and play… is to keep those digits moving. This is what NaNoWriMo’s all about. About shutting off your inner editor and just writing till your fingers are numb.

4. Channel Your Inner Twelve-Year-Old

Often people get so trapped in the responsibilities and complexities of being an adult, they forget how to observe and speak simply. Some use words on paper that never leave their lips. Looking though adolescent eyes opens perspective and renews inspiration to even the most cynical sourpuss inside. Once clear of prejudice you’ll be ready to freshly explore new ideas and concepts. Then stay in that adolescent zone while writing, making sure to use simple language and phrasing. After all, what good is writing something few can understand? I haven’t exactly been channeling my inner 12 yr old. More like my inner teen.

5. Want to Be Great? Collaborate

My own writing success is shared with the friends, coaches, editors, and co-authors that have inspired and critiqued my work along the way. Some of my best collaborators are experts no longer alive, like E.B. White, who support me through great books on the writing process. Sure much of my writing time is solitary, but involving people and resources I trust for feedback, brainstorming, and insight makes the process more fun and makes me a much better writer. I have yet to do this, but I recently became a member of the AZ Author’s Association and will probably join a couple more.

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Posted by Celise Downs @ 12:44 pm | Criticisms

What do you write?

October 19, 2012 | Life in General

Today is National Day on Writing and us writers are encouraged to Tweet what we write using the following hashtags:


So, what do you write?

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Posted by Celise Downs @ 8:00 am | Criticisms

This inquiring mind wants to know…

September 20, 2012 | Life in General,Random Thoughts,Your Two Cents

What would you value in a gathering place for literary arts?

Your Comments would be greatly appreciated.

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Posted by Celise Downs @ 5:05 pm | Criticisms

Picking up the mechanical pencil again

September 5, 2012 | A Royale Pain,Book One,Draven Atreides,Draven Atreides, Teenage Informant Series,Life in General,The 4-1-1 on Me,Writer Moment,Writing Movements

I took a hard copy of Book 1 of the Draven series with me to work today so I could edit it. Again. For like the 50th time. It felt weird getting back into her world because I’ve been away from it for so long. To be honest, I should be done with this novel by now. But I think I’m at the 4th or 5th draft. LOL A year ago, I was working on turning the series into a graphic novel. Instead, I’ve decided to serialize it on the Draven Atreides website. I hope to post a chapter a week, but that might not happen. I’m very superstitious about people viewing my work before it’s completely (as in first draft) done. Book 1 and 2 have been done for some time and I was about 6 chapters in in the 3rd one before I stopped. I was able to edit the first 50 chapters of Book 2 due to one of the classes I created in my degree program. I wanted to do a 100, but 50’s a good start, right? I’m revamping Book 1, which means I’ll have the fun task of doing physical research–aka a tour.

Additionally, I’ve also decided to “get involved in something different” by participating in The Sketchbook Project 2013. To help me out, I bought the below book with the intention to use the prompts in a future writing workshop at my future nonprofit writing center: 642 Things To Write About by the San Francisco Writers Grotto.

It’s a journal, so I can actually write in the book, but I thought, why not go ahead and use it for this project? Which is why the title of my little book will be “Things I Write About.” LOL. I’ll start officially on Monday.

Oh yes, and in between all this writing, I’ll be doing my damndest to start my nonprofit afterschool creative writing center, The Storybook Academy. I’m chronicling that journey HERE if you’d like to follow along.

So yeah. Picking up the mechanical pencil again.

Hopefully it’ll come back to me just like riding a bike. LOL

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Posted by Celise Downs @ 10:01 pm | Criticisms

From Novel to Graphic Novel, DA: Book One Session #3

June 17, 2011 | Creative Writing II,DA Series: The Graphic Novel,Draven Atreides,Draven Atreides, Teenage Informant Series,Life in General,The 4-1-1 on Me,Writer Moment

My session with Bryan last night started with an email to him the previous day stating that I needed a brainstorming session. I had finally finished Chapter One of the GN and was prepared to tell him that we probably wouldn’t be meeting for a while because I needed to rework some scenes.

I was taking the suggestion he’d made–as well as a comment from a mentor–under advisement about adding more action scenes. When Bryan and I met up I asked him how I could do that and we talked about it. I told him about the creative writing class I’m taking right now and how I was hoping the morning pages exercise would help me get back into a writing routine. And to help me hear the voices again.

Draven and I aren’t talking right now.

In fact, we haven’t conversed since around this time last year, when I dusted off Book 1 and revised the first 50 pages. Again. For, like, the 3rd or 4th time. My thoughts have been very quiet and not in a good way. I told Bryan that it’s been like chirping crickets in my mind for quite some time and he suggested that maybe there’s a reason. Maybe she’s trying to tell me something and I haven’t been listening. He said maybe I need to have an artist date and find out what’s going on with Draven.

So I took his advice.

Today, after getting home from work, I went on an artist date.

In the tub.

Lights out.

Candle flickering.

It didn’t take long.

My first book, Secrets and Kisses, was an idea.

My second book, Dance Jam Productions, was a reoccurring dream I kept having. Once I wrote it, I stopped having the dream.

The Draven series was an idea. The idea was based off of my niece and I was writing it for her. In a “Hey, wouldn’t it be cool to write a YA series about a strong, kick-ass African-American heroine? Don’t see much of those” kind of way.

And it was good.

Boy-howdy, the conversations we she had.

And it was good. For two books.

Conversation started getting strained around Book 3, when I was trying to write her next assignment for NaNoWriMo in 2009.

Yeah. That was like finding a turd in a punch bowl.

And, as I mentioned, things were good for a little while around this time last year.

But here we are again. Same time, different year. And Draven is silent again. Even as I worked on Chapter One of the GN, she never said a word.

I got scared. I was afraid I was losing my creative spark and for a writer, well, *holds out arms, wrist side up*, let’s just say that’s not a good thing.

I thought it was because of school. That even after nearly 3 yrs in, I’m still trying to find that work/life/school balance…and school’s winning by a landslide.

But that’s not it.

Well, Bryan, you’ll be happy to know that I figured it out.

Draven’s not talking to me anymore because someone else is.

Another reoccurring dream (I think there’s a pattern emerging). One that’s been hanging on for a very long time. I’ve been trying to block her out, covering my ears and ignoring her, because she’s not a teenager. I keep saying “I write YA!” But I don’t think she cares. LOL. No, no, I don’t think, I know: she doesn’t care.

I’m a little superstitious and I believe in signs. When it comes to my writing, that is. And I really can’t believe that I’ve been ignoring this one.

So I’m not going to any longer.

With that being said, I’ve decided to put the Draven GN series on the back burner for a little while.


The idea is still there. I still love the idea of a teenage FBI informant.

But someone other than Draven is talking now and she won’t shut. the fuck. up.

So I’m going to let her speak her peace and see what happens.

I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes.

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Posted by Celise Downs @ 7:42 pm | 1 Criticism
About the Author

Author,entrepreneur, lover of James Bond movies (Sean and Pierce ONLY), Betty Boop, adult romance books and Linkin Park.



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Dance Jam Productions Secrets and Kisses

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