Tuesday, January 22, 2019

10 Prompts to Start your Novel

One of the most common writer laments I hear is, "I want to write, but I just don't know what to write" or "where do you get your ideas?"

First, ideas are everywhere!
      Look around and imagine "what else."
I used to play a game we called, What if, with my kids where we'd pick an object and tell a story about it. In a restaurant we'd pick a painting on the wall or object on the table and challenge each other to tell us the story about it.
A spoon suddenly had a story that dated back to the civil war. A painting was actually about a a buried treasure. It was a exercise in creativity that carried tons of possibilities. Okay, so maybe these stories might not morph into a full novel but its a good exercise in creativity and who knows? It just might spark something that will work.

Here's a few short and sweet prompts to get you started. Pick one and write for 20 minutes. See what comes from it and if you want to share,  post it below.

  1. Finally, she had him. The man who destroyed her life. Now he would pay. 
  2. The dog sat by the road and when Max pulled his truck to the side, it came up to him, but looked back toward the trees and whined. "Are you trying to tell me something?" Max asked as he looked toward the dark woods. He didn't have a good feeling about this. 
  3. He was the last person she wanted to meet here. The man who could tell all the secrets she had so carefully hidden. 
  4. She opened the door and ducked as a large parrot flew in. "Bad man! Bad man! Agggh!" 
  5. A sad looking cat walked across the grave beside me. I leaned down to read the name on the tombstone and gasped. It was mine. 
  6. Dragons never listen and mine was no different. Now I was stuck in this tower and he was trapped below. 
  7. The shabbily dressed man approached me. I had no time for vagrants today and started to walk away. Then he called my name and when I looked into his eyes I saw my first love. 
  8. The surf was wild today. Big waves hit the shore with all of mother nature's raging power. As I grabbed my board Joe touched my arm. "Hey man, don't surf in a hurricane. It's crazy."
  9. She was ignoring me and that wasn't going to work. I stepped in front of her and held up the knife. 
  10. Lies never start big. They're little mean things that grow like weeds. One leading into another until they tangle surrounded you and take you down. Ask me, I know. One little lie and now I might not make it out alive. 
The best way to keep that writing muscle growing is simple; Write! Write what you know, write what you can imagine. Just get it down on paper (or computer!) and make it happen. The muse only shows up when it knows you're writing. 
Go to it, make it happen. 

Sunday, January 20, 2019

7 Tips for Writing a Book

Face it. Writing a book is work. Creative writing? Fiction? It takes getting into the zone. That place where you block out all else and become part of your story. Where you're inside the heads of your characters and feeling their thoughts and emotions. Your niche could be essay writing, creative writing, journaling, or memoir writing.

Getting it done is the challenging part.

So how do you do it?

  • Ass in chair. This is the simplest tip anyone can give you. Sit down in front of that computer and just write. The muse will come when you show up. It's not going to call you or send you some mystical signal on when it's time to write. Pick a time and plant your ass in the chair. 
  • Ignore the fear. Stop with the "am I good enough," "will anyone like it," or the worse, "will it sell?"  Stop it! Put that ego in the backseat and just write your story down. 
  • Read. Sorry, you can't write in a vacuum. Best advice about writing? Read a lot. Reading introduces you to different styles and voices that could totally enrich your own writing. Read multiple genres. Don't be tied to your old tried and true favorites. Explore the world of books in every category and see what's out there. 
  • Get good at Grammar. Yes, it's important and even if the reader doesn't know all the technical grammar rules they'll feel it when something doesn't sound right. Others will know and will just not want to read what you've written. Grammar is one of the most important things in your tool box. Make it work for you. 
  • Set goals. Pick a page count or slice of time when all you do is write. Stephen King wrote in his book On Writing that he does 10 pages a day. Sometimes he's done early, sometimes he's burning that midnight oil. So pick your goal and stick to it. Slice of time? I used to write from 6 to 7 am before work. It was my most productive time because it was before the family woke up and started moving around. It was a quiet time with just my characters, coffee and the story. It worked for me. Find what works for you. 
  • Hold precious your writing time. Choose that time and make it your job. Its a sacred time between just you and your work. Go to it and get it done.
  • Go to writing conferences or join writing groups. Be around other writers and be open to learning what they have to share. No one is perfect and everyone can learn. Hanging around these kind of people will help keep your focus and motivation. 
These are just a few tips that will get that story written. After all this is done the editing process begins. Don't edit in the middle. Get it all down on paper, put it on the shelf for a couple of weeks. Then come back and read with fresh eyes. The story is the foundation, editing is the walls, and that last draft is the finishing decor. Polish it, shine it, and make it happen. 

Friday, January 11, 2019

Discovering Patreon

Still working on The Midnight Brain and figuring out Patreon. Truth? I've been busy with another project (so many projects!) and haven't invested the time I need to get all the answers.

Today I'm doing more research. One of the things on Patreon is setting up tiers for donations. So if someone wants to donate $1 per month they get X, if they donate $5 per month they get X and Y. So, this is not what I thought, but I'm not giving up. I think I can still set it up as donate whatever you want and I'll keep writing. I've been exploring other author sites on Patreon to see what their set up is and how it's working for them. Here's a good article on those authors.

Should I offer a once a month short story for the higher tier? If so, what genre? Maybe an autographed copy of something I have up on Amazon?  Would that be something anyone would want? (personally I love autographed books and have a bit of a collection) I write in a few genres and I'd want whoever donates to get something that they'd like, so should I shift the Brain to just one genre? Decisions, decisions. Of can I just keep going with my multi-genre plan and write whatever comes down from the universe?

The story on the Brain  now is something I wrote a few years ago and it's a fully finished piece. I have more fully finished pieces in the desk that can follow this and have done quite a few short stories. Most of the shorts were more toward the romance genre as I used to write for the confessions. (So sad they went out of biz!) And of course there are plenty more unfinished pieces lying in the dust around here, too. So now, what to give if I set up tiers?

Any Patreon people around here? Advice? Your experience?
Anyone here a Patron on Patreon? What do you look for? Why do you give?

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Gone Indie, Where to Now?

I went Indie a while ago but slacked in marketing. Really, I know marketing. I've worked in the field (along with Human Resources, Sales, Office Management and a few others that don't apply) so I know what to do. I'm just a slacker and used that "life happens" excuse to not get it done.

I do have several books finished that are just sitting on my computer waiting to be edited. That's the real work. Editing. It's like you worked hard to create this art project you love and someone leans over your shoulder and points out all the things that don't work with it. BUT IT WAS SO BEAUTIUFL! before that editing muse stepped up. Sheesh! What a nag!

So here's my new experiment.

I took a book I loved and I'm posting it to a blog, placing adsense on it and a link to Patreon.

I first discovered Patreon from podcasts. Another thing I long to do, but (insert "life happens" excuse here) just haven't done. It's a place where creative people can post for donations to keep the creativity flowing. Podcastors do it, You-tubers, and artists all do it on Patreon and people just donate towards their work. Some do exceedingly well, other's just float along. Some have no donations. :(
Then I figured since my "life happens" excuse was blocking my podcasting abilities, why don't I use it for my writings? And so, a new blog was born; The Midnight Brain.   I put an age warning on it for violence and or sexual stuff. Mostly I did this so I don't scare the kiddies.

First two chapters of Eyes of My Killer are up and the next two are set to launch over the next couple of days. I'm editing each chapter as I put it up. This forced editing is getting things done! Wo0t!

Patreon is almost set up, too. Still learning the technicalities on the site, but I've been approved. Yay!

To all my fellow writers, I'll keep you posted on this experiment.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Never too Late - Life Lesson #1

I knew who I was but not where I was going. Then I let them tell me where I should go instead of exploring for myself. 

Stood there boldly

Sweatin the sun

Felt like a million

Felt like number one

I never felt that strong

Like a rock

            --Bob Seger

We were all there but never knew that was our place in the sun. Our place where we shone with a light so bright the world was ours. Had we known it was ours to take there might have been some better decisions. Less regrets. Less wishing for that do over.

The do over comes I believe, later, in the next life, the next go round on this planet or the next.
Some things ring true. Some things touch that space where the soul lives.


Van Gogh


Especially Poe

Sometimes I wonder if the connections we have to these people from history is linked to another life, another existence we once had. Did the shiver we experienced when we walked thought Hemmingway’s house give a glimpse into a life we once passed through in another form? When tears form at the mention of Poe’s name does that show us something more than what we learned from books? The emotion so deep that flows up from the depths of the well of our soul when we stand in front of the original Starry Night from Van Gogh  does that mean something more?

Is time travel real or just an interpretation of the lives we’ve been reincarnated through? Can our next life put us in the time of Poe, the city he saw, the steps he took? Who says we reincarnate forward into a new life, perhaps we can go into any time and live beside those who inspire us today? Or perhaps we did live there and that’s the attraction we have to them now.

I believe the brave pursue their dreams. I’m not sure that’s easy to do when we marry too young or start a family before we’ve sought out our dreams. I think dreams should come first. Especially for those with creative dreams. Those are the hardest to cultivate in our society. Go out, make money, and forsake the dreams of your soul for that so-called American Dream. Happy house, picket fence, kids and a dog.

I’ve lived it, but somewhere deep inside I never understood it. A restlessness stayed with me through it all. Like something was missing. Something was out there and just beyond my vision. Beyond my reach.

Robert Frost knew it. He spoke of that road not taken and the bravery to walk that path.

It’s never too late to dream a new dream or plan a new plan. Here at 61 I’m seeking that which has eluded me all these years. I feel the years but they don’t make me stubble yet, they don’t stop me from seeking that which was missing, that which was lost.

Here I start a new adventure, a new business. One of art and sharing this creativity.  One I never dreamed to achieve.

Updates to follow…..

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

2 Things Writers Need

New writers need two things; drive and patience.


Drive because writing a novel is a long haul. You don't just pour it all down on paper and ship it off your desk. A good writer knows that there is a lot more to writing a book than that first draft.

  • Getting it written in the first step. Don't stop, get it all down from beginning to end. 
  • Next comes the rewrite. Going over it page by page to check for plot gaps, grammar, typos, and general mistakes. Hey, if you killed a character in chapter 5 you better not resurrect him in chapter 8. People will notice, you'll be called out on it, and your reader will probably not read your next book or recommend you to friends. 
  • After your rewrite put that book on the shelf for a few weeks to clear your head. Come back and read through again. Make any edits you need to and be honest with yourself. 
  • Then go find someone to read it that will give you an honest opinion. I tell my beta readers to "rip it apart." 
  • Take their comments with a grain of salt. Consider them all carefully and either edit again or move on. Just put your ego in the back seat for this part. It can be painful. 


Patience comes in about the time you will have to spend on getting your novel polished. Skipping steps will impact the quality of the finished product. Take your time to get it right.

  • Writing a book isn't a sprint, it's more like a marathon. Take it slow and pace yourself. 
  • Editing takes time. 
  • Putting your book on  a shelf for a week or more can be a killer. You're going to want to go back and play with it so you just get that thing done. Don't do that. Let the story leave your head a bit so you can actually read the thing without thinking about what you know is there. 
  • Beta readers? I've had quick ones and I've had those that take weeks. Be patient, don't harass them. They have lives and families and probably work so your book might have to be fit in between all that other stuff. While you're waiting, start you next book. Don't waste time obsessing on your beta.  
  • Remember to breathe. 
Know your book will get there and when you're finally finished with it you've done your due diligence to make it your best. Your reader will thank you for it.

Happy Writing!

Friday, November 30, 2018

Oh Nano.... so sorry to say...

Barely 3000 words. Blah! Another Nano come and gone.
Not in a balanced place right now. Not sad, not anything. Just need to claim some space for myself.

Anyone else like that? Need that one room, no matter the size, that can be just my stuff. My brain settles better when I'm all alone with my desk, my manuscripts and my pens. Sometimes in silence, sometimes with music or TV in the background.

I do my best and most productive writing in that environment.

Now? I'm missing that little room as we still work to find our footing in this new state. Working towards it, but why does it take so freakin' long???

I think this personal writing space is a thing only other writers will understand. I picture Stephen King who wrote in the laundry room with a typewriter on his knees and wonder if I can fit a chair into that little laundry room in the hall.

Friday, May 04, 2018

Change, Change, Change...

Took a leap and moved to Florida to be closer to my kids. Just sold the house, left the jobs behind and drove a truck full of stuff to our new state. Right now we're staying with my daughter and looking for a place.

Yikes! We did it!

When I was 20 I would have done this in a minute, but now after building a home, careers and a life...what the heck were we thinking???

Well, what's life without a new goal, a new adventure? Time to learn new things, find our way and create a new life. I'm excited! Nervous! Ready to move onto a new world.

First I gotta learn to drive. I mean, I already know how to drive, but this place is like the wild, wild west. I came from a land of u-turns. You know -go right to go left. (I think it may be a Jersey thing.) Here in Florida they do these loops around in the middle of the road and it's freakin' scary! U-turns are an easier and safer way to get across a highway.

However, this place is warm and sunny. I'm walking the dogs, hanging at the pool and setting up the next phase of life. And it's great to be with my kids. I missed them so much I was miserable being 900 miles away.

Taking a big leap at this point in life is so much better than just sitting around doing what's expected. Time to turn the page and write the next chapter.

May the 4th be with you!

Monday, March 26, 2018

Demystifying the Introvert

All those personality tests are missing something. Labeling people as introverts is inncorrect. They think introverts don't like socializing, have issues with talking to people, don't like meeting new people, etc.

They're wrong.

Introverts don't like wasting time. Introverts want action. Introverts are doers.

They're not going to sit around talking about the weather, but bring them to a place of shared interest and they turn on. They are bright and talkative and will control the conversation. They ask the most interesting and thoughtful questions and will have people sharing more than the usual small talk. Introverts crave interesting things.

Got an introvert in your life? Discover their passions and engage them about it. Is your introvert into Art? Auto mechanics? Theater? Books? Museums? Baseball? Football? Go there. Talk about it, visit it, find out more about it.

That's the secret.

Don't call them Introverts. Call them The Passionate. 

Monday, March 12, 2018

Writing without Fear

Found this meme and thought it really related to writing. 
One of the things that holds a lot of people back is judgement.

Am I good enough?

Will they laugh at me?

Do I really know what I'm doing?

Other writers will think my book is stupid.

My friends will think my book stinks!

I'll be embarrassed...

At some point writers have to just get over it. Some never do. Some never care what other's think. 

Today a guy I've known since I was in grammar school wanted to know where he could buy my books. (Yay!) But I can't say I didn't have that little tingle of fear that said, "Will he like them? Will he get it?" It took a moment to just brush that off and send him the link. 

The first book I put up was Soul Mates. A story about a person reincarnated as a Chihuahua who goes through a rough time to find happiness. I foster a lot of abused dogs and always wondered what put that fear into their eyes before they came to my house, so I wrote about it. I put that book up without fear because I liked the story. I didn't think about who else would like it. I thought it was a story I had to tell for the dogs.  

The next book was harder. For a long time I had to remind myself to shrug off the fear and just do what I wanted to do. Write. Tell stories. 

Stephen King once said he wanted to be remembered as a good story teller. I hold on to that because he's right. I just want to share the stories and hope they give someone a little escape and maybe some happiness for just a short while. 

Someone once said, "Courage is just fear holding out for one more minute."

So, here's to courage! May we laugh at fear and kick it to the curb while we post our stories and share our art. Some may love it, some may not, but we're too busy to notice because we're working on the next story. 

See you in the pages....

Monday, February 12, 2018

What's to HATE About Writing?

Writing is easy and fun.
Yes, really.
All those ideas rolling around in my head flow through the keyboard to the page and it's almost like living in another world for a while.
Sometimes the plot is torture or the characters go in the wrong direction, they don't listen, they go off script, but overall, it's fun. I like that other world. The world where I drift off into a place only I know, with people I created from all the good and the bad of every experience I've ever had.

Then comes the edit.
(Cue music from Jaws)
First edit, not so bad. Correct a few plot points, spelling, word swaps. Go over with a critical eye. Knit it back together, take out the nicey nice and put in some raw stuff.

Put it on the shelf.
Second edit; I want to rip out every other page and end up rewriting and rewriting. How did I miss this...this....this TRASH?

Back on the shelf.
Third edit. That's where I am now with Threshold to Midnight.
I know this story so well that I could recite it in my sleep. Then all these ideas come into my head to make major plot changes which means go back and change other stuff so it matches the new changes.
After awhile....it's like rewriting the whole book. Then I want to change it back.

One bright point? I got an idea for a sequel, took a break, and mapped that out.

So, how do you attack that dreaded edit? How many edits do you go through before publishing?

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Bargain Booksy Ad Update

The Bargain Booksy ad started on Monday and today, Saturday, I've sold 21 books. Not a big amount but for me, not bad for a week. I waited to check today because sometimes I don't check my email until the weekend. So I was hoping today would turn up a few extras. It did; one.
Oh well!
Now back to writing....and so it goes...