3 Tips for Overcoming Writer’s Block

Brain blockage. I’ve been there time and time again. Festering thoughts getting in the way of productivity. Then there’s the hurdles life throws our way for extra shits and giggles. In the past eight years, we’ve lived in four different states and moved seven times. Now we have to move yet again.

With the real world consistently interfering, here are my 3 best go-to tips for keeping focused and creative.

  1. READ

You wouldn’t expect to speak a second language without also listening to the words. Storytelling, like language, is a unique form of communication. The more you listen and read, the more natural it becomes.

Reading can help problem solve.

Crafting a catchy opening page has been a lifelong challenge for me. I can spend days, weeks even, working on a book’s first paragraph.

Whiteout, Aurora Sky, Vol. 5, gave me particular hardship. So I turned to White Fang by Jack London. Not only did reading the book help put me in my own book’s climate (an Alaskan winter), but the chilling opening inspired me to raise the bar on my own.

White Fang Opening:

Whiteout Opening:

The other challenge Whiteout presented was that while my main character, Aurora Sky, was on the lam, lots of crucial events were unfolding behind the scenes. If only I could tell part of the story from Fane’s POV. But the first four books in the series were solely first person: Aurora’s. I agonized that suddenly giving Fane a POV would throw readers off.

Sometime while debating the issue in my head for the zillionth time, I sprained my ankle and had six weeks of keeping off my foot and allowing it to heal properly (unlike the first time I sprained it).

While couchbound, I decided to catch up on the Lux series by Jennifer L. Armentrout. As I read book 4, Origin, I noticed that suddenly Daemon had first person POV scenes. It flowed naturally and added to the story, especially with Katy and Daemon being separated.

Reading Origin made me realize that there is no set rule that says just because you start a series from one character’s POV you can’t add in others along the way.

Adding Fane’s chapters solved many plot problems I was having. They were also my favorite to write. Most telling of all, after Whiteout released, readers messaged to tell me how much they loved the addition of Fane’s POV.

  1. PERSONAL HEALTH

Everyone gets this one. The challenge is to make health a priority. As with writing, it’s crucial to get into a daily routine.

A) Exercise

Benefits not only the body, but the brain! Sharpen your mind, lift your mood, combat stress and sleepless nights. Need extra motivation? I highly recommend reading SPARK: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain by John J. Ratey.

B) Mindset

This one is so important it deserves its own post. Instead of recounting my own struggles, pitfalls and triumphs, I’m going to recommend more books since I believe reading is the answer to everything. 😉 My favorite motivational reads: You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Starting Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero; The 10X Rule: The Only Difference Between Success and Failure by Grant Cardone; Reinvent Yourself by James Altucher; Singletasking: Get More Done—One Thing at a Time by Devora Zack; and The Miracle Morning for Writers: How to Build a Ritual That Increases Your Impact and Your Income (Before 8AM) by Hal Elrod.

C) DIET

I’m a foodie. Watching my weight is a constant struggle. I’ve been a vegetarian since the 90’s and have eaten mostly vegan for the past decade. But I love bread, fried foods, and dessert. Even when I’m overweight (darn you bread, cookies, and French fries!) I always make an effort to eat plenty of healthy foods. I’m in love with the Magic Bullet from NutriBullet. In addition to the ease of whipping up super smoothies and being easy to clean, it comes with a glossy little recipe book that includes tasty soups, salads, and wraps. I could fill entire bookshelves with all my cookbooks. The one I’ve been using the most lately is Oh She Glows Every Day: Quick and Simply Satisfying Plant-based Recipes by Angela Liddon who offers an entire index of her recipes free over at oh she glows. When I’m extra motivated, I cook from Everyday Happy Herbivore by Lindsay S. Nixon. I’ve also found her subscription service over at Meal Mentor helpful.

  1. TUNE THE WORLD OUT

We spent four years living in the San Juan Islands, renting on five acres of peace and quiet . . . then we moved to the mainland in Washington State. The adjustment challenged me. It’s hard enough to focus my A.D.D. addled brain without adding in all the neighborhood noises. As I type this post, a house across the street is being demolished and taken away load by load in dump trucks. Last summer’s neighborhood expansion meant nonstop trucks filled with gravel driving by all the live long day.

Cosmo (pictured below) turns into Cujo every time a delivery truck drives by or someone comes to the front door – constantly jolting me out of my train of thoughts.

That’s just the external stuff.

I’ve had to go ninja, Jedi mind master. Laser focusing on writing. There is only the story. Everything else fades into the background. It can be done! The best tip/trick is single tasking. Once you jump over to social media or look something up online, you’re done. Save marketing and online engagement for a separate session. When you’re writing, write. There is only the story.

Since music is a huge help for so many people, I wanted to share some personal recommendations. I can’t listen to anything with words while writing my own words, but musical scores and soundtracks have several key benefits of covering external and internal noise, and evoking emotions that bring you into the scenes you’re crafting.

While typing this post, I’m listening to one of my favorite Amazon Prime soundtracks: Scores for Focus.

Other favorites include: The Shannara Chronicles, Harry Potter, Lord Of The Rings, The Hobbit, and Game Of Thrones.

Finally, HAVE FUN! Remember to look up from your phone and enjoy the beauty all around. Experience this miraculous thing called life. Be kind to others. Connect with humans face-to-face. Get your heart pumping by stepping outside your comfort zone.

It all goes by in a flash. Set aside your self-doubts and enjoy every second you can!

 

Vampires of the Caribbean Available For Pre-Order

iBooks | Nook | Kobo | Google Play | Amazon US | UK | AU | CA | DE

Yo, ho, ho, and a bottle of blood!

Fane returns in a sexy, thrilling story of intrigue and adventure in his story: “A Vampire’s Life For Me.”

Anthology includes New York Times and USA Today Bestsellers. Ten tales of vampire adventures set in the Caribbean.

Releases: March 15th

Pre-order your copy today for only 99¢ at most online book retailers.
iBooks | Nook | Kobo | Google Play | Amazon US | UK | AU | CA | DE

Kindle Fire Giveaway – Ends 3/19


This week marks the 5 year anniversary of publishing my first novel, Entangled, from the Spellbound Trilogy.

Putting that first title out there was one of the scariest and most satisfying moments in my life. Books have always been my #1 go-to escape. Stories have saved me, time after time.

Thank you for all your support, whether you read my books, reviewed them, recommended them to reading friends, shared posts on social media, or all of the above! I’m excited about the next 5 years with big goals to take storytelling to the next level. There are already two new series in the works, an epic fantasy that’s grown into a mammoth story beyond my wildest dreams. And a sexy and exciting dystopian fantasy romance with wolf shifters. It will be wonderful to share more updates in the coming months. I look forward to dazzling you with new worlds, adventures, and characters to love (and loathe)!

Below, you’ll find a link to enter an indie-versary, reader appreciation giveaway Stacey Marie Brown and I are joint hosting. It turns out her indie-versary is this week, too!

Enter HERE for a chance to win:
1) Kindle Fire
2) $25 Amazon Card
3) A signed copy of ANY of Stacey’s or Nikki’s books!

Thank you for reading!

Photo: Courtesy of Spellbound cover designer, Najla Qamber.

New Release 99¢ Once Upon A Kiss

Happy Fairy Tale February!
This month I’m thrilled to announce the release of ONCE UPON A KISS, an anthology featuring seventeen all new, magical stories from NY Times and USA Today bestsellers and award-winning authors that will warm even the coldest hearts. Inspired by old favorites as well as lesser-known tales – all with fresh, romantic twists – just in time for Valentine’s Day. 🌹
The anthology includes “The Toad Prince”, a spin-off of “The Frog Prince”, with characters from my upcoming Far North Fairy Tales series.
When creating the character Prince Atsu in “The Toad Prince”, I envisioned Pepé Le Pew from Looney Tunes, ever intent on capturing his “belle femme.”
 

Download your copy while it’s only 99¢!

iBooks | Nook | Kobo | Google Play

Amazon US | UK | AU | CA | DE

If you read the anthology, please let me know what you think of “The Toad Prince.” Tweet me @NikkiJefford or tag on Facebook or Instagram. #ToadPrince🐸👑

15th Annual Emerald City Comicon

eccc

March 2 – 5, 2016

Down to 2.5 months! Stacey Marie Brown and I are returning for our 3rd year signing books at ECCC!
Festive holiday gift certificates are now available on the ECCC site. Great gift for that hard to shop for other half. 😉 My favorite gifts are experiences that can be shared with your special someone. You can even throw in a photo op with a guest celebrity as a bonus surprise. (It’s a rush putting your arm around your favorite TV/film star(s)!)

Every year tickets sell out fast. Get yours HERE.

All 9 Aurora Sky Volumes Now Available in Kindle Unlimited

ku-auroraseriesAll nine Aurora Sky titles are now in KU for the very first time. I’m excited to make Aurora Sky available in KU! If you have reader friends or groups asking for KU recommendations, I hope you will help me spread the word that there’s a new urban fantasy series ready for reads!

Have you already read the first book? Take the Aurora Sky Quiz and find out how you score.

Are you an Assassin, Informant, or Vamp Bait? 😉

Sexy Female thief with gun, new york on background

Last Chance To Get Aurora Sky Before It Goes Into KU

Happy October!

I’ve always loved this time of year. In Anchorage we used to joke about only having two seasons: Winter and Summer. Thankfully, fall in the Pacific Northwest lasts longer. My good friend, and incredible storyteller, Stacey Marie Brown took me to an apple orchard to celebrate my 39th birthday at the end of last month. It was the first time I’ve ever gone through a corn maze and, with the help of my fur buddy, Cosmo, we found our way out.

cosmo-pumpkins

Yet another reason to love this time of year . . . Halloween!

And I have NEWS:

This Halloween the Aurora Sky: Vampire Hunter series will be offered in Kindle Unlimited for the very first time!

There’s been an overwhelming number of requests for this over the past year but I wanted to wait until the final book released and readers could purchase the entire series on their device of choice.

Meanwhile, I am hard at work revising a fantasy fairy tale I started a year ago. I cannot wait to share more!

AND! Characters from Aurora Sky will be appearing in a vampire anthology at the beginning of next year. Which character(s) would you like to see more of?

You’re Invited!halloween-magic

Join in the urban fantasy fun by clicking “going” on the Halloween Magic Facebook Party Page.

I’ll be there on the 28th with wicked good giveaways.

Come over and start collecting door prizes!