Category: News

Breaking Down the Novel

I’m busy working on Book Five these days. One would think (not me, but others might), that after writing four books in the same genre, in the same series, featuring the same main characters, the story should flow smoothly. But in fact, sometimes, it doesn’t flow at all. A plunger would be helpful (not the toilet unplugging kind, but the elusive type that could work to unstop the writing mind).

During my first stab at it, nearly five thousand words later, I didn’t like the locale I’d selected for heroine Corrie’s latest adventure. She was investigating criminal activity at a nursing facility. In real life, I am blessed with older relatives who are experiencing some challenging issues. This location and the events struck too close to home. Back to the drawing…or more accurately, the writing…board.

I painted another adventure with words and, this time, the opening sequence hobbled. Not just because Michael (Corrie’s love interest) and Corrie were on horseback. But because Michael had planned a special date which, naturally, was upended by a crime. That’s a typical day in the life of Corrie. But the crime was a little too dark for my liking. The beauty of writing (one of the many) is the flexibility. If a scene or a character doesn’t work, they can disappear, forever, or until some future scene beckons them back. Meanwhile, I get to flex my writing skills and fan my creative fires.

I find writing alternately scary and marvelous. Kind of like Halloween.

Scary because of the ghosts, goblins and witches, but marvelous, too, because of the ghosts (the Casper types), carved pumpkins and candy.

Back to writing. It can be scary because the sheer amount of words that need to coagulate in a cohesive, engaging and enjoyable manner can be daunting. 77,000 words, give or take.

I break the draft down, starting with the title. In my first two tries, I mulled over the title while I wrote. Not a good sign. In my previous books, the title came first. After the arrival of the title, I challenge myself to write 1000 words. I can do that. After I write the 1000, I ask, can you write more? I can do that…usually. And so on, until sooner, hopefully, rather than later, I reach The End!

What I Learned After Writing Five Books (About Editing Mostly)

I consider myself a newbie author. Meaning, I’ve got a lot to learn, and with every new book, comes new lessons learned. Here are a few that stuck with me after I completed Book #4 – SLIGHTLY MURDEROUS INTENT:

1. Please, PLEASE, please don’t edit the first draft while you write. If you do, you risk not expressing what is truly in your heart. So what if the draft’s a little rough around the edges or even all over? Go for it because you are not only allowed a second chance, but many chances to make corrections and edits;

2. Don’t wait until right before a deadline to start writing or those many chances I just mentioned will diminish. Which brings me to this quote by Douglas Adams:

“I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.”

I like the concept and the whooshing is intriguing, but the reality for me is, I love the satisfaction of beating a deadline. Or at least, getting to it on time. If the deadline passes, this is what I feel like doing:

Yep, climbing up to the treetop and hiding out.

3. I believe in flexibility, in one’s physical and mental capacity, in eating, sleeping and practically everything, but writing. If you truly want to reach “The End”, a schedule is a must. For instance, schedule in one full hour of writing. Or two or six. If that doesn’t work, schedule fifteen minutes. And don’t waiver.

You can eat…or drink after the allotted time. Trust me. The satisfaction of actually doing it is incomparable. Doesn’t matter what you write, as long as you write something. Know why? Yep. You can go back and edit to your heart’s content (or close to it).

4. Last lesson for today: After you’re done with final edits, you’re not. A publisher once told me to edit the book from back to front when final edits are complete. I dragged my feet (or my fingers, in this case), but I did it, back to front! And you know what? I found errors I’d missed. Not many, but still.

A little effort can go a long way!

You Can Bank On It! A Special Account for Writers

Oh, I’m sorry! Did you think this post would be about authors and money? Because it’s not. It is about a collections account and the writing life, but it’s about a different kind of collections account. It may not make you financially rich (or it might), but it will make you rich in positive emotions.

Compliments are like having money in the bank. Both give us a sense of security and well-being. So shouldn’t we open an account where we can keep compliments safe and watch them grow with interest?

A small notebook, journal, index cards, even a napkin will do to create a list or an account to deposit compliments. A compliment collection has value and serves many purposes. If we pay more attention to compliments, they’ll squeeze out any negative remarks that may be thrown our way. Isn’t that priceless? A compliment collection can also combat the dastardly inner critic when it offers unwelcome discouragement. The best part? Compliments can give us that extra push to pursue our dreams with a more definite purpose. And they remind us that we can do it!

Keeping track of niceties about our books, our writings, or anything that promotes a happy flutter inside of us, is a must. It helps us acknowledge our strengths and reminds us how much we love what we do. Years ago, I kept track of wonderful events that happened to me daily thoughtful gestures from children and Husband and kindnesses from strangers. The driver who slowed so I could get on the road; the librarian who generously brought my favorite cookies to my book event. My insides glowed every time I went back and read through the kindnesses.

Anyone who’s ever had any type of collection, from stamps to teapots to golf balls, knows that collections tend to grow. What better than a rapidly growing compliment collection?