Category: News

Procrastination: A Writer's Friend or Foe?

There was a time, in the recent past, when procrastination held me captive by my thumbs (it’s not easy to write or type without thumbs, believe me). I caught a bad case of procrastination right after I became a published author. It especially reared its meddlesome head as I tried to complete book three in my Southern California Mystery series (due out June 25th, for wondering readers out there).

I find the word itself icky, like lumbago or bratwurst. Procrastination is like walking in a pair of dress shoes across a floor oozing with crude oil. Wreaks havoc on the soles. Even worse, too much procrastination can fill you with self-loathing. But that’s not necessarily all bad. It may actually turn into a motivator that forces you to return to writing. I disliked the lousiness I felt from putting off writing so much that my only option to feeling good again was to write.

Here’s a fact: when we’re procrastinating, we’re not doing nothing. We’re just doing something other than the pressing task. Granted, building bookshelves, pulling weeds or baking cookies is putting aside the task at hand, but we’re not being idle, right?

Thankfully for me, I overcame procrastination and finished my novels. How? I followed sage advice provided by author Raymond Chandler. He wrote detective novels by setting aside four hours a day and following these two rules:

a) You don’t have to write.

b) You can’t do anything else.

Chandler likened the rules to being in school. “If you make the pupils behave, they will learn something just to keep from being bored.”

Rewards help, too.

How about making a deal with yourself to write for one hour, then watch TV, paint or do whatever you find rewarding? However, I suggest no online shopping (dangerous territory here, as one can plummet headfirst into a time sucker, speaking from personal experience, with little to no satisfaction. Climbing out of that rabbit hole can be very slippery). The better option is to write longer. Chandler had it right with four hours – a respectable amount of time to get the job done. And we’d rather be respectable than procrastinators, right?

Ending a Novel Series: Wrapping It All Up

Please join me in welcoming authors Janet Elizabeth Lynn and Will Zeilinger as my guest bloggers today to tell us the ins and outs of wrapping up a series. Take it away, Janet & Will!

P.S. Isn’t their latest book cover fabulous?

My husband, Will Zeilinger and I co-write the Skylar Drake Mysteries, a hard-boiled detective series that takes the reader to 1950s Los Angeles and other areas of the West. Our new book, GAME TOWN, is set in Hollywood and exposes a scandal that rocks the toy industry in Los Angeles. GAME TOWN is the fifth and final book of the series.

People asked, “How hard is it to finish a novel series?” I would say bringing everything full circle is tough!

Since each of the five books stands alone, we needed to close the arc and tie up all loose ends with perhaps hints of underlying mystery for each character’s future. In other words, the reader needed to know the characters will be okay if we never write a sequel or spin-off. However, with multiple plots, characters, and sub-plots, it can be a monumental task. Having a co-writer helps enormously.

Throughout the series, we used a Genealogy Chart to map out our characters’ relationships, and the part they each played in the individual books, including their secrets and flaws. This happened by accident when we were finishing our second book, STRANGE MARKINGS, and discovered we used a name for a character we had already used in a previous series! Concerned we would “plagiarize” ourselves, we used this system. We also were able to track who was related to who through this system. (For cozy mystery writers this works well).

We also found if there is something that needs to be revealed, do it early in the last book. If you’re lost, well, you know what they say: Grab the bull by the tail and face the situation. After all, you are the creator of the world you write.

It was difficult ending the series. Both of us got attached to the characters. They lived with us for five years; it was sad.

GAME TOWN is the fifth in the series and yes…we are still married!

Website: Janet Elizabeth Lynn – www.janetlynnauthor.com
Website: Will Zeilinger – www.willzeilingerauthor.com

BIO: Published authors Will Zeilinger and Janet Elizabeth Lynn wrote individually until they got together and created the Skylar Drake Mystery Series. These hard-boiled tales are based in old Hollywood of 1956-57. Janet has published seven mystery novels, and Will has three, plus a couple of short stories. Their world travels have sparked several ideas for murder and crime stories. This creative couple is married and live in Southern California.

The fifth Skylar Drake Mystery, GAME TOWN, the final book in the series, was released April 15, 2019 and yes…they are still married!

How I Write

The last thing I like to do before hitting the sack at night is to find something to tickle my funny bone. A TV show, a book, a YouTube video, even a Twitter post. Ending the day with a chuckle practically guarantees a good night’s sleep and waking up with a smile. To find a way to make others smile or feel dandy – that’s the real bomb. And, it’s also my reason for writing. That’s me in the photo below with some of my favorite smiling faces at the Camarillo Library, after a wonderful author panel.

If you’ve read my books, you’ll note my pen barely touches the paper. Translation: I write light. My heroine, Corrie Locke, is mostly a straight-laced, newbie lawyer…when she’s not bending rules, wielding illegal weaponry (though she’s never actually shot anyone…yet) or beating the %#*& out of a villainous type. She’s not exactly an amateur sleuth, and word has been getting around about her case-cracking skills

I’m constantly on the lookout for offbeat situations for Corrie and her crime-solving pals. They’re always up for it since nabbing bad guys beats the mundane day job every time. For instance, in MURDER GONE MISSING, Corrie and former security guard/now Corrie’s legal assistant and night law school student, Veera, visit an animal farm and stumble upon a surprise murder suspect.

I usually start out writing each scene straight and keep revisiting until I can mold it into something more amusing. I need constant action on the pages or it’s just not entertaining enough for me. The average person may be capable of walking a straight line from point A to point B. Not Corrie. A lot has to happen between the two points before she reaches her destination.

My favorite part of writing is spitting out that first draft and then combing through again and again to determine whether:

– The characters (main and supporting cast) sound and appear as they should in each situation;

– Each scene involves as many senses as I can squeeze in ( for instance, what does Corrie see, taste, smell, hear and touch?); and

– I’ve excess material that can be deleted without affecting the plot.

If I just can’t get a scene to work, I take it out and move on. That prevents me from feeling hampered and promotes manuscript progress.