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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Happy Canada Day!


Canada day is the national day of Canada, celebrating the anniversary of the July 1, 1867 BNA Act or Constitution Act which united three colonies into a single country called Canada.
 
In many towns and cities, municipal governments organize a range of events, often outdoors. These include pancake breakfasts, parades, concerts, carnivals, festivals, firework displays and citizenship ceremonies for new Canadian citizens. The celebrations often have a patriotic mood. Canada's national flag is widely displayed and a lot of people paint their faces red and white, which are Canada's national colors. The celebrations in Ottawa, which is Canada’s capital city, are particularly exuberant.

In the province of Quebec, many home leases start on July 1 and last for exactly one year. Hence, many people in Quebec spend Canada Day moving their possessions from one house to another. In this province, Canada Day is also known as Moving Day.

In the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, July 1 is also Memorial Day. This commemorates the heavy loss of life in the Newfoundland Regiment on the first day of the Battle of the Somme during World War I. In Newfoundland and Labrador, the morning of July 1 is usually somber. Flags are flown at half-mast and memorial services are held at cenotaphs (war memorials). In the afternoon, Canada Day celebrations in the province are similar to those in the rest of the country. Each province, city and individual will celebrate, each in their own way, but there will be lots of entertainment, backyard barbeques and fireworks. (And yes - I'm  a proud Canadian) 
It's also the 50th anniversary of our Maple Leaf flag.        
 
                                         
                                         Happy Birthday Canada!

Tuesday Tips and Tweaks

This week author Alisa Anderson joins us with her tip. Alisa lives for a world full of controllable anatomically correct, android men programmed to meet her specific feminine needs (wink, wink, nudge, nudge with a big waggle of the eyebrows, who look like the rock

 Alisa's Tip on Writing

Your Author Rock Star Team - How to put one together by Cameron Skye

We all know there are major perks to being a self published author. However, with those perks come additional responsibilities some of us just didn’t expect. Some of those responsibilities include writing a quality book (of course), but we often forget there’s also editing, formatting, cover design and marketing.

While we as independent authors don’t have the same level of support as those traditionally published, we can get just that by carefully constructing our own rock star support team.

Now you maybe asking who should I have on my team, and that’s a good question. For me, the necessary members should include but are not limited to:

You the writer

You are THE most important person on your team. Never forget that. You can have the best editors, cover artists and publicist and still get drawn and quartered by the public if your story is not good.

Make sure the stuff you are putting out is that of quality and something someone would truly want to read.

The Editor

The second most important person on your team is your editor. Remember that drawn and quartered thing? If your story is wonderful but is full of grammatical and spelling errors, readers are going to let you know. Be it through reviews or lack of sales. No matter what you will get told.

When looking for an editor it is extremely important to find someone that specializes in your genre.  An editor that has experience in paranormal may not understand all the intricacies of an erotic romance.

Also, make sure to ask for samples of their work. That way you can verify they are good at catching things such as spelling errors, grammar mistakes and consistency. 

A great way to judge their work is to ask them to do a mock copy edits for your manuscript.

Cover Designer/Illustrations

No matter what, people judge a book by a cover.  It’s important that your cover catch the reader’s eye. I’ll admit I’ve picked books to read just by there cover and not their blurb. A hot cover can and will draw people in.

Before you hire a cover designer, again look at samples of their work. Also cheaper doesn’t always mean better. I get it, there isn’t a lot of money to hire someone in the beginning. However, you’re going to have to pay for quality work. Do not skimp here people. The pay off in the end will be huge.

Formatting and Conversion

And speaking of not skimping…formatting to me is just as important as editing. I have actually stopped reading a book on numerous occasions because it was hard to read. All due to formatting.

If you’re tech-savvy formatting a book for upload should not be an issue. However, if you are not or do not want to waste the time it takes to actually format your books, it’s best to hire someone.

When picking someone to format your book into the various formats (mobi, epub) make sure to pick someone that has done books similar to yours.

Again, it’s appropriate to ask for samples of their work. Also, make sure they are known in your genre. If you have a lot of graphics, some may not know how to format those for upload.

Marketing/Publicity

While some authors are really good writers, some are really bad at self-promotion. If you decide to outsource your marketing, please make sure you first have a marketing plan to share with them. This allows for your publicist to know what your goals are and helps them target their approach.

Some authors might want more readers for their book and don’t care about sales. If this is you, it would be useful to hire someone who has experience in creating campaigns around book giveaways and has demonstrated experience in gaining new readers.

If you’re trying to increase your social media presence it’s important to hire someone who can successfully do this for you. Before you hire someone for social media, make sure you check their social media. It’s one way for you to know how they handle it quickly.

Also, be sure to come up with a payment plan whether it’s 15% up front or 50% up front. Most will already have a payment schedule in place, so ask for it upfront.

So there you have it. My idea of who should be on your rock star team. Remember at the end of the day it’s your book and name on the line. Your team is a direct reflection on you. Make sure to put together one that shines not only for themselves but for you.

Excerpt from “Fallen Angel Book 5”: 
Reaching the top of the stairs, he asked the rest of the girls to leave the room. She was sitting in front of the mirror, putting on blood red lipstick. Catching his reflection in the mirror, her eyes filled. She got up to hug him.

“How you been, bambino?”

Jess giggled. She always giggled when he called her bambino.

“I’ve been perfect.”
 
“Perfect, my ass. Have you eaten anything since we left Miami?”

“I’ve eaten.”
 
“Liar. Jess, you need to stop the coke, this is out of control. You’re getting too fucking thin.”

“Oh, Angel.” She sighed. “One can never be too thin. Model, walking hanger, remember?”


“Fuck being a hanger. I could give a rat’s ass less if you’re a model or not. Come on, you’re going to eat something.”

“I’m honestly not hungry. Besides, Nick’s here isn’t he?”

“I’m not playing whatever the fuck game is going on between you two. I’m so over the both of you. Come with me now, or I will pick your skinny ass up and carry you directly to him.”

She knew she wasn’t going to win this round, following him to the bar. Going behind, he pulled up a bag. Taking out a bowl of strawberries.

“How did you know I love strawberries?”

“It’s part of my job to know you, Jess.”

“Scary job, huh?” She sighed heavily.

“Nah. I’ve grown to love your crazy ass.” He softly touched her cheek, smiling at her with so much care and affection. He truly was her knight in shining armor.

She smiled back at him, but her smile was short lived.

“Angel?” Nicks voice bellowed from the background.

“At the bar. You need to see this.”

“Don’t you fucking dare call him.” She pleaded, almost becoming hysterical.


“Not playing the game remember, dearest?”

Nick came around the corner. Stopping when he saw her.

She was nothing but skin and bones. You could count her ribs and see her spine running down her back. His throat squeezed shut, not only because of how she looked, but at the fact she was no longer his.

He missed her, craved her….loved her.

And wanted to beat her ass for how she had let herself get this way.

“Jess.”

“Nick.”

“Look at me.”

She refused.

“I said look at me.”

She turned, her eyes fixed on his face. Crossing her arms over her chest defensively. She tried to hide them under make-up, but he could see the dark purple circles under her eyes. Her face gaunt from the amount of weight she’d lost.


 “Jesus, Jess.” Nick’s voice a hoarse whisper. Filled with hurt and concern.

Every emotion she tried to kill for the past four weeks, came back in at once. Hitting her so quickly she felt she couldn’t breathe from her lungs seizing up.

Her heart physically hurt, breaking at the sight of him.


She started trembling, trying her damndest not to cry.

“You aren’t working. Carry her to my office.”

“You don’t get to order me around anymore remember?”

“How could I forget that fact, Jess. But the fact this is my club and I’m your boss, overrules any boyfriend, girlfriend bullshit. You’ll do as I say, and I said you aren’t working. There’s no debate on the subject. Angel, pick her up.”

Buy Links for FALLEN ANGEL:

Thanks Alisa, for dropping by and sharing that great tip.
Don’t forget to check back next week for another tip or tweak.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Good vs Evil in Characters

Every person has good and bad traits, everyone does both good and bad things and we certainly have plenty of examples emerging from our various media. There is a precipice each character stands on--one side is too good to be true, the other side too evil to exist. What makes a character too good to believe? How evil can a main character become before they are irredeemable?
Rhobin chose an interesting topic this time. Good vs evil – is it inborn? Does environment play a part? Do situations in life cause a person to change?

How many times have you heard people say after a serial killing, but he always seemed so nice?
I believe that it can be all or a mixture of these things. I truly believe that occasionally a person can be born evil – irredeemable. Most likely it is from the environment; parenting, siblings, school, the physical home, bullying, even nutrition and definitely the love they receive or don’t. But even then, two people, even twins, could be raised exactly the same and one becomes a minister and the other a murderer. I have no explanation for that one.
The other situation is when disaster hits. Someone’s family is murdered, or they are fired from a job. This critical incident can turn that good person into a killer.
If they have a history of violence and cruelty and show no remorse at any time, I would say they are irredeemable.

It’s much easier to discuss how a person turns evil, but a truly good person can develop out of similar situations. They can be born good; always happy, always helping people.
Their environment can help, especially if one person shows an interest and is their mentor. And again, after a major incident such as killing someone and going to jail. They may change and become a good person.

It’s an interesting topic and I’d love to here what others have to say. I’m off to read the other blogs on this topic. Please join me and check out:
Skye Taylor  http://www.skye-writer.com/
Judith Copek http://lynx-sis.blogspot.com/
Marci Baun  http://www.marcibaun.com/
Connie Vines http://connievines.blogspot.com/
Rachael Kosinski http://rachaelkosinski.weebly.com/
Helena Fairfax  http://helenafairfax.com/
Fiona McGier http://www.fionamcgier.com/
Rhobin Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com/

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Tuesday’s Tips and Tweaks


This week author Marianne Rice joins us with her tip. When she’s not working or shuffling her three children to their various sporting events, Marianne Rice hides in her room, turns on the music and writes small town contemporary romances.

Marianne’s Tip - Music to My Ears

I’m not a musical person. I can’t carry a tune (my mother is an opera singer—the talent has obviously skipped a generation), play an instrument, and don’t know the difference between treble and base. Or is it bass? Yes, I’m that musically ignorant. But I love to listen to music; it’s mood enhancing. Have you noticed how a song you’ve listened to for months can all of a sudden have a different meaning if you listen to it when you’re going through a tough time or are celebrating with friends?

When I’m writing I either like complete silence or music playing softly in the background. There are some writers who actually make a playlist for their books. Cool idea and I’m pretty sure I’ll be doing that with my next series, but usually I play around with the radio and set the station depending on the book I’m writing. I’m careful not to play it too loud or I find myself distracted or writing too many of the lyrics into my story.

I listened to classic rock when writing Connor McKay’s story in FALSE START (good pumping iron music for my retired NFL player) and played a variety while writing FALSE HOPE. Mason is more of a country boy, but Emma is all pop and party.

For FALSE IMPRESSIONS, my June 29th release, it was country music all the way. Ask me about country music four years ago and I would have grimaced. Ick. I’m a fashionista; I don’t do “country”. But then my husband made (yes, made) me listen to a country music station in the car while going on our family vacation. The kids moaned and plugged in their iPods. I gave it a shot. My husband loves songs with lyrics like, “Tequila makes her clothes fall off,” and “She thinks my tractor’s sexy.” (Hubby had just bought a small tractor that summer). The more I listened to the funny, romantic, and serious lyrics, the more I realized they’re the same stories and characters I like to write.

Small town romance and country music are synonymous. Well, in my books—literally and figuratively speaking.

Sexy men singing love songs. Songs about worshiping women, having some drinks, fishing, chilling, driving around, hanging out with ma. Yeah. I like me some country boys. And they really helped me create Cole Tucker. If he wasn’t a farmer/construction/handyman, he’d so be a country singer.

I love how country singers are chill, sexy, and know how to sing to a woman. *swoon* Country songs tell a story, and I’ve brainstormed some awesome book ideas listening to these sexy men.

 

Music can inspire your writing or simply help create the mood. What music do you listen to while you work? Or are you like me where it varies depending on what you’re doing? What song has a special meaning for you? I’d love to hear from you.

Excerpt from FALSE IMPRESSIONS (it’s when Cole Tucker and Samantha Chase first meet).

Shutting off the ignition, Sam dabbed her lips with tinted Chapstick and hopped out of her truck. Loud country music bellowed from the right side of the duplex. Something about tequila and clothes falling off. Not exactly the song she wanted to make her entrance with.

Her knocking didn’t stop the music or bring anyone to the door, so she turned the doorknob and let herself in, following the music, or rather the voice of the slightly off-key man singing along to the country song. Spotting the radio, Sam turned it down slightly and cleared her throat
“Hello?”
The singing stopped and a man emerged from around the corner. He paused midstride and stared. Mr. Tucker was not the bald, over-weight, wrinkled man she’d expected. It had been years since she felt any type of attraction toward a man. And this one, with dark coffee eyes and Patrick Dempsey dimples covered in a light scruff, did unfamiliar and unwanted things to her body.
“Did it hurt?”
“Did what hurt?” she asked, confused.
“When you fell out of heaven?”
Sam raised an eyebrow and chewed on the inside of her cheek, unsure of how exactly to answer. “It was a pretty big fall, but I made the landing.”
The man tipped his head back and laughed. “So what brings a pretty little lady around this grungy old worksite?”
Great. Already being talked down to. “We had an appointment.”
“We did?” He took off his ball cap and ran his arm across his forehead. “I’m pretty sure I’d remember setting up a date with you.”
“Mr. Tucker, I’m—”
“Cole. Mr. Tucker is my dad.” He turned his baseball cap around and put it on backward, giving him a boyish charm.
“Yes. Sorry. Cole, I’m Sam. You left a message on my phone to meet you here at nine.”
Cole looped his thumbs in the front of a pair of jeans that were worn and torn but fit him like a glove, and rocked back on his heels, studying her from head to toe and back again. She knew what he was thinking and wanted to ward off any doubt in her abilities. “I assure you, Mr. Tucker, that I am highly qualified. Probably more so than anyone else you have working on site. I’ve been doing electrical work since I was twelve—”
“Which was what, last year?”
“I may be petite, but I can carry my own.” Sam placed her hands on her hips and didn’t look away from his piercing stare. “I’ve been wiring homes for over fifteen years, I can fix any plumbing problem you throw my way, I can lift more than I weigh and know my way around any power tool you have. I understand your reluctance to hire someone like me … someone as little as me, but since your family name is so reputable in town, I assume you’re not the type to discriminate against women; so if you want to hire me on a trial basis, I would not object.” She folded her arms across her chest and cocked her head. He had a good ten inches on her, probably a foot, but she didn’t feel threatened.
The man squinted down at her and rubbed a hand across his jaw. “Okay, short stuff—”
“Sam.”
“Okay, Sam. We’ll give it a try. I have two more windows to put in upstairs and could use a hand. You ready to work?”
Sam looked at her watch and bit her lip. “I’ll give you an hour of free labor and then time to think about your decision.” She walked to the stairs and took two at a time, waiting for her new boss at the top. He looked reluctant but gestured to the back bedroom where she gave him the best hour of her life.
Buy Link
Check out the McKay-Tucker Men series here: amazon.com/author/mariannerice
 
Marianne would love to connect with you on"
Thanks Marianne for dropping by and sharing that great writing tip.
Don’t forget to check back next week for another tip or tweak.
 
 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Top 10 tips for being a best-selling author


If you’re here for Tips & Tweak, I’m sorry but another author didn’t’ make it. June appears to be a bad month, but I do have some great authors booked into August, so please check back.

Today I decided to cheat and copy Top 10 tips for being a best-selling author by Alison Feeney-Hart of BBC http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-29458847

Sophie Kinsella is the bestselling author of the Shopaholic series, Can You Keep a Secret?, The Undomestic Goddess and Wedding Night. Her novels have been translated into more than 40 languages, and Confessions of a Shopaholic, has been made into a film starring Isla Fisher.

Here are Kinsella's top 10 tips for being a bestselling author.

1. Always carry a notebook

Carry a notebook everywhere and write down everything that springs to mind, even if it doesn't seem relevant at the time. You can do a lot with a passing thought or a little bit of overheard dialogue.

Get into the habit of looking at life like a writer and writing it all down. Don't worry about what "it" is going to be yet, just write it down as a habit. Because then, when you do have your big idea and want to write a book, you'll already be used to that process and have material to work with.

2. Think "what if" and read

Start to see the world in a "what if" way and keep your possibilities for a story. Teach yourself to take a tiny little nugget of substance and extrapolate and tease it out into something else, have fun with it and see the potential.

It can seem tiny and insignificant but if you can sense the grain of a story there and keep your mind open to those possibilities, you will constantly come up with new ideas.

Reading is vital if you want to be a writer, it's essential. I've been a bookworm ever since I was a child, I was the type who would read a cereal packet over and over rather than make conversation at breakfast!

3. Write the book that you want to read.

People often think that they should write to please someone else, whether it is to please the audience, or critics, or a readership. My instinct has always said that you can't second guess anybody else.

What you can do, is think if you were a reader, what would you want to read? One way to visualise that is to go into a shop and imagine the book that would make you want to grab it off the shelf.

The chances are that if you would grab it off the shelf and be excited to read it. then other people would too. So always start with yourself, write something that will please you.

4. Don't talk about what you're writing

I am very secretive when I'm writing a new book. I think that writers are very fragile, they're like butterflies or perhaps moths; they can be easily crumpled. If you're very sensitive, which I am, it only takes a raised eyebrow or a chance remark about an idea for you to lose confidence in it.

I think it's much better to let these things gestate in private, that way you can be free to try stuff out without any fear of being judged or worrying whether it might not work. The minute you put it out there and ask for opinions from other people, it will just get in the way of your creativity.

The only person I let read my work when I'm writing is my husband and we've had this arrangement long enough that he knows what not to say! I think a work in progress is a very precious and nebulous thing and it can be easily destroyed so protect it!

5. Forget about genre to find your voice

I think that one of the hardest things as a writer is to find your voice. See what you enjoy writing, because let's face it, you're going to be spending a long time in this zone, it had better be something you enjoy and something which you can do.

Don't be afraid of a few false starts. I once tried to write a thriller and I remember my agent saying that the plot was ok but that all the characters were far too nice. I'd written about all these nice middle class people walking around killing each other!

Don't sit there thinking what genre should I write in, perhaps you'll invent a whole new one! Instead, start off by thinking I'm going to write a story and wait for other people to put it in a genre. What you have to do is find your story and find your voice.

6. Just get to the end

It's the hardest thing and it's the most important thing because so many of us have ideas for books. The first stage is actually write it instead of just talking about it, and the next stage is to keep going until you get to the end.

Everybody, no matter who they are gets to the middle of a book and thinks crikey, I've had enough of this. You get bored with your story and your characters, you hate them all, you can't think why you started this wretched story in the first place.

The truth is, every book is hard to write, everybody reaches a wall, whether it is a plot hole or a scene that you can't get past. So you've just got to get to the end. Even if it's not the greatest draft, if it needs rewriting fine, at least you have a book to rewrite.

7. Walk and drink cocktails!

Everybody gets stuck. I find cocktails very helpful! And that's the truth, if I get stuck, I'll go out with my husband and we'll order cocktails and talk while we drink them. By the end of the evening, we've always ironed out the knot.

I find it loosens you up and also it turns it into a fun project, there's nothing worse than sitting grimly staring at a screen, you must get out.

The other thing to do is go for a walk, walking seems to free up the cogs of the brain like nothing else. You can sit at your desk for two hours, feeling wretched because you can't find the solution, then you give up and go for a walk and it comes to you straight away.

8. Plan your books

For me, the planning stage is vital and it takes months, if not years. When I'm writing a book, I do it in my office, but when I'm planning a book I like going and sitting in coffee shops. I like the buzz and I like being surrounded by people, but remaining anonymous.

I write my plot points on file cards and Blu Tac them to the wall. Then I stand back and look at the terrain of the story and decide whether I like it and if not I can just move them around. I find that very satisfying - it's a bit like doing a crossword puzzle!

The truth is you can plan and plan but during the story, something will change, that's just the way it is. But I find starting off with structure and a beginning, a middle and an end is vital.

9. Get a great agent and consider a pseudonym

I think I've written 20 books in total now and I've always had the same agent. Having an agent, for me is the best thing I've ever done, because she's guided me, she's been a friend, she's dealt with all the business side of what I do and I wouldn't have known where to start without her.

There are lots of advantages to having a pseudonym. It gives you a bit of privacy so you can have an official name and a home name. And I don't think there are many careers where you can just completely reinvent yourself every so often - it's wonderful.

10. Write the next you

Everyone has got a story to tell and everyone can learn and improve their writing. There are some elements of writing which can definitely be taught, a sort of craft and you should always try to learn and improve. I am still learning with every book.

I don't see why anybody shouldn't write a book. There is nobody who is not interesting in this world, so why shouldn't they tell their story?

You write what you write. You can't decide to write a certain book, I believe your writing finds you. So don't go thinking, I'm going to write the next Da Vinci Code or the next Stephen King. Write the next you. You are going to be the next big thing!

Check back next week for another author and her Tips & Tweaks.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

BIAW (Book in a Week)


Want to kick start your book, or maybe finish it? Have you tried a BIAW?

There are a lot of variations on this.

Kiss of Death http://www.rwamysterysuspense.org/ offers its members BIAW four times a year. You set your own goals, post your daily writing totals (accountability) to your team leader.

The Writers Group does one a month; sometimes a BIAW, BI2W or BIAM. Again you set your own goals and post your daily totals.

There’s 100 words a day.

There’s 250 Words a day Challenge. http://inkygirl.com/250-words-a-day-project/

NaNo does their BIAM in November. The goal is to write 50,000 words and you post your total during and at the end of the month. http://nanowrimo.org/

They also have Camp NaNo in July. https://campnanowrimo.org/sign_in

A couple of other sites:



I participate in some and find it helpful to push myself because of a commitment or a deadline. I find that I need a bit of an outline so I know where I’m going to get the 1000 or 2000 words in daily. If I’m editing it doesn’t work.

Are they worthwhile? I think so. It’s one more tool to help you get that book written whether it’s the start, the middle or the end.

What about you? Have you tried one? Which one? Did it help? Have you considered it?

Monday, June 15, 2015

Tuesday Tips and Tweaks


My guest for this week had to cancel, so I thought I’d come up with a writing tip from some well-known authors. And my favorite one has always been – “You can’t edit a blank page” by Nora Roberts.
To me it’s so true. Write anything, whatever thoughts come to mind, doesn’t matter whether they’re good or bad. You can go back and edit them, make them flow.
When I checked out that quote I found many others have also said it. Here’s another by author Jodi Picoult – “You might not write well every day, but you can always edit a bad page. You can't edit a blank page.”
Here’s another one:
This week’s motivation is simply about doing. Writing a bad page is still writing a page. Making a mistake can lead to an exciting discovery. Sometimes life comes before writing, but sometimes, shutting out those things and getting lost in the words is the better choice.
So even if that chapter you write this week is terrible, that chapter is on paper, ready to be edited and crafted and sculpted into something great. https://megaphonesociety.wordpress.com/2013/04/29/you-cant-edit-a-blank-page/
And the last one is from Amie Kaufman. “The best piece of writing advice I ever got came from somebody I'll never be able to thank. It was a few years ago, and I was meandering around on the NaNoWriMo forums (probably instead of actually writing my NaNo novel, let's be honest), and I stumbled across a pearl of wisdom.
Sometimes when something really resonates, you know it straight away. Other times, it takes a while to sink in. You're walking along, and you realise you're humming a song you heard on the radio that morning, and next thing you realise you love it, and you have no idea who sings it, what it's called, or what more than four of the words are. (Somebody, tell me this isn't just me!)
Anyway, that's how it went with this piece of advice. I saw it, nodded, moved on, and then some time later realised there was genius in its simplicity. Anonymous NaNo Forum Member, I'll never find you, but here I thank you for sharing this very simple gem:
You can't edit a blank page.
Seems like nothing, right? Wrong. In fact, it's the answer to pretty much every writing problem you've got.
You're drafting, and it's all horrible, and nobody will ever want to read this terrible, confusing story in which plot holes abound and characters sit around discussing random stuff forever? (Again, somebody tell me this isn't just me!)
You can't edit a blank page. You can't fix the story until you've written it. So just write, and fix it later.
You don't think the ending's working, and you're not sure what to do?
You can't edit a blank page. Just write, and then you'll have something to work with, to discuss with CPs, something to actually fix, which is ten times better than simply having nothing at all.
You realise you've fallen victim to an attack of the adverbs type situation, and you want to delete everything ever, and start again?
You can't edit a blank page. Just leave it there, keep writing, and know that fixing something that exists already is always possible.
All this advice really boils down to the same thing: if you've got something, then you've got something to fix, something your writing friends can critique, something to mull over and tweak and improve. If all you've got is a blank page, then you've got nothing to work with, and nobody can help you.
So here's my super simple advice that I guarantee is worth its weight in gold: next time you have no idea what to do, just get writing. Just write something. You're not carving it in stone, you can always fix it later, and it's always closer to a finished story than a blank page!