Writing: Self Motivation

Sometimes, I don’t feel like writing. But if I don’t, I feel lousy, dejected, and dissatisfied. Not writing is not an option. Instead, I take a few minutes to find sources of motivation.

One simple means is picturing myself after I’m done – what a feeling of accomplishment! Plus, I’ll have time to read, garden, and do just plain nothing if I want to. If visualization doesn’t do the trick, I’ll read from the pages of one of my favorite authors. That usually ignites a fire beneath me, making me jump up and get started on my own writing. I love the power of words to create images and page-turning stories. And if that doesn’t work, I’ll hunt down stories of really big authors and how they wrote some of their greatest stories in conditions that were less than favorable.

Take Robert Louis Stevenson, for instance. He wrote Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde one sleepless night when he was suffering from advanced tuberculosis. In his aggrieved state, he wrote the book in three days! How is that even possible?

Unhappy with the first draft, he ripped it apart, literally, and rewrote the whole shebang, again in his ill state, in three more days. That’s 64,000 words in six days. I have to pause right there because even in my well state, I can barely imagine writing as he did. Mr. Stevenson wrote more than 10,000 words…a day. Most writers consider one – two thousands words per day an accomplishment. At my best, I wrote 2500 words a day for two days to complete my first short story. I do know that at least that much is possible by yours truly.

What Robert Louis Stevenson showed us is that:

All we need to do is try. These days, when I sit restless in my chair, and distractions are shouting out my name, I think of Robert Louis Steven and stay put. Thank you, Mr. Stevenson for showing us what we’re capable of accomplishing.


Last May, I was on the hunt for a picture book illustrator after learning that one of my publishers was starting a children’s book division. The publisher needed a book ready to go. I had the text, but no illustrations. I’d nearly given up the search when a talented illustrator turned up right beside me at an author fair. We worked together and, in a very short time, I had a fully illustrated book which I sent off to the publisher.

THE COOKIE EATING FIRE DOG was first written about twenty years ago when I lived with energetic, imaginative preschoolers. Each of my children had a favorite stuffed animal. My older child had a well-behaved purple bunny, aptly named “Purple”. My younger child carried around a dog, a happy-faced, but very naughty Dalmatian named Dan. The Dalmatian was also somewhat sickly, according to my son. When he didn’t feel like playing with “Dan”, my son would inform me that, “Dan was in the hospital,” suffering from an undisclosed illness.

Dan had a lot of action in his stuffed animal life. One day, my child informed me that Dan refused to help the fire fighters when they needed him. I was at the sink washing dishes when I heard about the stubborn Dalmatian.

“Why won’t Dan help?” I asked.
“Because all he wants to do is eat cookies.”

I stopped washing, grabbed pen and paper, and a story was written.

I finished, sent the book out, and got a bite right away from a big name publisher. We went back and forth a few times, but they ultimately declined. My story sat dormant for a while (yep, twenty years!) until the time was right.

If someone had told me I’d be a picture book author, I wouldn’t have believed it. But I’m so glad to be one!

Author Fairs - Unexpected Benefits: Part 1

I’ve hit several gratifying, book high points this year, coinciding with the publication of novel #two in my Southern California Mystery series.
Attending writers’ conferences, bookfests, libraries, bookstores, Noir at the Bar and even co-leading a workshop at a conference as a newbie – all were bonuses. It was also my first time giving a presentation, by my lonesome, in front of a large audience. I loved every moment. But (and this is a good ‘but’), I also experienced some marvelous surprises…at author fairs.

I’d heard a few complaints from more seasoned writers that author fairs were time wasters. One successful, how-to book author even remarked, “A fair is a humbling experience.” And he didn’t mean in a good way. Another writer vowed never to attend a fair again, saying she didn’t sell enough books. But aren’t there other benefits as well?

Last spring, I learned that one of my publishers was on the cusp of creating a new division just for picture books. They sent an email to their existing authors inviting submissions if any had picture books fully ready to roll out. The new unit wouldn’t be open to outside authors until 2019. What do ya know? I happened to have a picture book with text ready, but no illustrations. Not a problem. I had a friend who knew a professional illustrator. Attempts to connect us were made, but no luck. I put aside the picture book idea and tended to my next novel.

Two months later, I had the pleasure of appearing at an author fair on the Central Coast of California. It was my first appearance at this venue. I wasn’t sure where to go or what to expect. I randomly selected a table and organized my books. While I waited for the fair to open, I thumbed through author books at surrounding tables. That’s when the light bulb burned brightly over my head (don’t you love when that happens?). The author sitting next to me had indie-published a picture book. The illustrations were fantastic. Bold, bright and fun. I suggested she send her book to my publisher, figuring they might want to hire her as an illustrator.

Fast forward. Being a mystery author, I like suspense, which means more details will be unspooled in the next installment of this blog. Until then, Happy Halloween!