Monday, December 28, 2020

A Writing Challenge

 Writing and stress has been worse this year than ever before.  Mostly because we have this Covid fiasco hanging over our heads day in and day out. I miss so many things like hugging, smiling at people in the grocery store (but not in a weird way,) going out to dinner, normal stuff we took for granted. 

Now back to writing... how to kick start the old writing muscle? 

Find a challenge. Yes, there are still ways to find a challenge and meet it even in this crazy land we're living in.  

I challenged my daughter, also a writer, to exchange chapters each week. So every Monday we send each other the chapter we finished that week. And yes! We are challenged to finish a chapter each week. We meet or facetime later in the week to discuss what we've read/edited. 

It's time to step up and inspire yourself. Find someone to challenge you. Make you produce a chapter a week and get that book written. 



Friday, December 11, 2020

Importance of a Home Office

 In his book, On Writing, Stephen King said he once wrote in a laundry room with his typewriter on his knees.  

So how's your writing space? How large is it? Do you have a desk? Comfy chair?  Since we moved a few years ago my writing space isn't what it used to be. I think we all have our quirks of how and where we like to write. Aside from the basic tools of desk, computer, chair, pens, paper, etc., there are things I need to feel comfortable to write

I need my back to the wall. Weird quirk? Maybe but it's what I need to zone out. So I position the desk so I have a wall behind me. Not always easy depending on the layout of the room. 


I need Poe. See that little guy there under the lamp? That's my Edgar Allan Poe action figure. He inspires. 

A nice lamp. This one is pretty and the light it casts is soft. After staring at either the computer screen or that stark white page, a soft light is a blessing. 

What next? Coffee? Usually. Wine? Occasionally. 

Most important thing in your writing space we learn from Stephen King again.  He sat in that laundry room because it had a door. 

Go into your space, shut the door and write. 


Friday, November 20, 2020

Get Writing in Spite of Covid-19

 I once read an idiom that said a person should not live because of their past, but in spite of it. Meaning no matter what bad stuff happened in your past you should not let it rule your life. Words to live by. 

Now we're surrounded by Covid-19. It's in the news and all around us as we watch our friends, family and neighbors wear masks and do their best to maintain social distancing. We can't leave the house without seeing it, feeling the fear or indifference that seems to be everywhere. I know this stuff can act like a barrier between you and the page but there are some things we can do to make the words flow in spite of the virus. 

Pour the wine. 

Okay, that's an easy one. There's a bottle on the counter calling my name but that's for later. 

Find space. 

Now I need to write, edit, and keep moving in the "write" direction. The first thing we need is space. Turn off the T.V. or just find another room to write in.  Most of us are on laptops so our writing desk is portable. Find a room, shut the door and write. Stephen King used to put his little typewriter on his knees and create in the laundry room of his trailer. If he can do it there, we have no excuse. 

Reread. 

Yes, pull out that story you've been working on and go back to the last chapter and start reading it. Out loud is best. Hear the rhythm of your words. This will pull you back into that fantasy land where your story was built. It should get your words moving again. 

Not working yet? Go to  your people.

Find other writers and talk about the craft, the market, and those ins and outs of dialog, story lines, the Hero's journey - anything but the virus. 

Pull out your old writing books. 

We all have them from Bird by Bird to On Writing to Writing Down the Bones. Find your favorites, find ones that challenge you and immerse yourself in the craft. 

Last of all is the oldie but goodie; Ass in chair. 

Sit down and put something on paper. Write something great, write something stupid but just write. Like every other part of the body your writing muscle needs exercise. So write. 



Thursday, August 06, 2020

Soul Sucking Things that Get Writers

Covid 19 is a soul sucker. It's an on-edge feeling of fear, want & confusion. We fear the virus (or we should.) We want to be normal. To go back to our day to day life and to our old goals and ambitions. Right now all that is on hold. We face confusion every minute of the day. Information overload from all directions.
I was a that real job thing the other day when a man told me about those Americas Frontline Doctors who said that hydroxy-whatever can cure Covid. Wow, wouldn't that be great? So as soon as I could get to a computer I looked it up. A bunch of doctors said it's so. So I looked them up. Each. Individually. I wanted to know if they were people I should believe. 
First I saw that Facebook and Twitter had deleted the postings. hmmmm, why would they do it? 
Well it call came out that 2 of them were ophthalmologists and not regular medical doctors. One of them doesn't even have a license. The main speaker has publicly stated that she believes dreaming about demons can get a woman pregnant. 
Did I really have to read further? 

Ok so the ball of confusion is everywhere and by the time you research -- we are writers after all, that's what we do; research -- maybe an hour or two has passed. Then where are we? Certainly not writing or editing.  We all know social media is a soul sucker so now on top of all that we have Covid-land. So, how do we get our drive back? 

Back to basics; 

1. Schedule your writing time and go to it like a job. Every great writer does this so it's #1 on the how to get your writing mojo back. 
2. Close the door. Not just on the people in your house but on all that static from social media. DON'T OPEN IT! Consider it a demon ready to snatch your writer's soul. 
3. Set a goal. It could be 20 minutes it could be an hour. I like pages. Setting a goal by pages makes you get it done. I could daydream for an hour and then wrap it up. Done. But if I say I have to write 10 pages before I get up... well, then I'll have something to show for the time. 

Stay strong my writer friends. You are creative and the world needs your words. 

Monday, August 03, 2020

3 Best Books on Writing

If you want to be a good writer, study your craft. You wouldn't preform brain surgery without training, don't dishonor your book/story by going in half-assed. Arm yourself with the right tools.

First, get yourself a good grammar book. I personally like Stunk & White. Just the facts here, no window dressing. Grammar is the basics of  writing and just like any other skill you can learn it. Refer to the book with any questions that pop up. Make notes in the book. I use post it notes to flag pages where I know I'm weaker. Every now and then I page through it to reinforce those rules in my mind. After all, if you don't know the rules, how ya gonna break them?

Second, Writing Down the Bones by Annie Lamott. This book will show you some ins and outs of the writing life. It ain't all tea parties and book signings. Writers work. Hard.

Third, will give you some inspiration. Stephen King's On Writing. Find out where he came from an the work he did to get there. From disgusting laundry sheets filled with maggots to how he hit it big. Then he tells you about his own tool box of writing. His writing schedule and his self imposed discipline.

The key to writing your book, finishing your book is found in your daily routine. Prolific writers know this in their heart.

Monday, July 13, 2020

6 Things New Writers Ask

I love the enthusiasm of new writers. Those who are ready to jump right in and embrace the life. Who think writing in your pajamas is their calling and can't wait to make it a reality.

Fact; Writing isn't as easy as it seems.
     Writers spend a lot of time in research looking up everything from where to put that comma to how to pick a lock or hot wire a car. They read about things like how did medieval warriors make their swords and maybe that's not going to be needed in this book, but hey! maybe someday they'll need this information.  Writers are like that. They are fact gatherers.
         When not researching details for their story or just randomly reading what ever seems interesting.  Then there's the work. Getting that story out and into a computer or on paper - however you prefer to write.  From that very first sentence to the final "The End" know that the work has just begun. From there you go to that Dreaded Second Draft.

      Still there are questions that every writer ponders when making the decision to pursue this a career.


1. How long should a chapter be?
To this I'd say, don't worry about it. No chapter should be one or two pages long but the chapter is a scene. It's something in the story that happens in the same place in time. Get it all out. The where, the who, the what and why. Like when you go to visit a friend. No one cares about the car ride over there unless a giant alligator ate your tires. So get to the place. What happened when you go there and make sure everything you put in moves the story forward.

2. How many pages should my novel be?
This one is easy. Novels have word counts. Although it's not written in stone, its a good guideline. You don't have to stick to the rules but don't bend them too far out of shape, especially as a new writer.
3. How do I think up names?
This is the easiest part and for some its the question  they dwell on too long.  Just pick a name. A few good points? Make it easy to pronounce. Don't name two main characters with the same first letter or sound as this could confuse the writer.  Darla and Darrell?  Susan and Cindy?  Tim and Tom? You want your character to stand out so give them a name that's unique to them.
 Most writing programs have a word search. If later on you think you have to change that name just do a search and replace. Easy peasy.

4. I just want to write, why do I have to read?
Yes, if you're a writer you have to read. Pick up a book and learn what works for others and what doesn't. Ever read something and it pulls you right in? You see the scene and feel the emotion in the room? That's a good writer. Learn from them. Study them.

5. What's the best schedule for a writer?
Best schedule is that chunk of time that works for you. The best way to get something finished is to think of it as a job. You go to it every day at that chosen time. If you have an outside job you wouldn't tell your boss you weren't in the mood to work. You wouldn't say you'd rather slump on the couch and watch TV. No. You show up and get it done. Writers do that. They show up and write. I recommend Stephen King's book, On Writing. In it he says he sits down for 10 pages. If he's done by noon - great! He gets the rest of the day off. If he's still working on it at  5 pm he stays at his desk. It's his job. He get's it done.

6. What's the best way to learn how to write?
Best way to learn to write is the hardest question. First; Write! You can take all the classes you want and that will help.You need to have those basic tools of grammar and sentence structure first so you can put together a cohesive thought.  Second; Find a writer group. Share you work and get feedback. Not all feed back will be great. The best way to use it is to really consider the comments and take what you need and leave the rest. It's a work in progress. You'll get there and figure it out.

No matter what, if you want to be a writer, keep going. Don't let your inner critic steal your fire.  Go for it. Make it happen.

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

Writer's Toolbox

They say that a writer needs to read. Most writers are avid readers before deciding to write, but some just decide to give it a try.  Still, having the right tools goes a long way to writing a good book.

I was a reader and then the writing came naturally. Ideas flowed and the stories just had to be written.  Now there are boxes of stories under my desk and in the closets. Maybe some under the bed, too.

Not all stories go anywhere. Some were just the start of an idea, but we put them aside and maybe someday....

So what, besides reading, is in a writer's tool box? First it has to be grammar. I like Stunk & White Elements of Style. It's a good basic book for grammar.
I used to recommend a good thesaurus and dictionary, too. However in the age of the personal PC, that stuff is now at your fingertips.

Aside from that a collection of basic information and writing books. Not every book will fit every writer. Look for character development books, one that will help you flesh out the people in your book. Just giving a character a name and description isn't enough. If you've ever done a character sketch you've learned that the more you know about your MC the easier it is to write their reactions, thoughts, and dialog.

Now, let's go to your genre. Is your book set in the present? The 1950's? Is it a story about where you live or a different area? Vampires? Crime?
This is where research comes in. You can get a lot of information off the internet, just make sure it's a valid site and not an opinion site. Don't get the info from another fiction book. Research will pay off in the long run because make one factual mistake and someone somewhere will call you on it. Possibly in a review.

Look to other more successful authors for the way they work their craft. I recommend Stephen King's On Writing and  The Weekend Novelist. Both touch on the craft of writing and the discipline it takes to get things done. For without discipline where are we? Staring at half finished manuscripts and empty pages.

So, collect your books and make notes. Study your craft just as you would when you learn any other job.
Happy writing!

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Stay at Home - a Writer's Dream?

Okay, all writers stay at home and write! You can't say you don't have the time. Some nasty virus gave you hours upon hours of free time.  Wo0t!

So why aren't I pumping out the words?

Excuse list;

  1. Catching up on every movie I never wanted to watch or even knew existed. 
  2. Laundry! Still letting it pile up so I have an excuse to make today; Laundry Day. 
  3. Walk the dog... again.  Face it, this Stay at Home order sure packs on the pounds. 
  4. I finally have time to clean out that closet. 
  5. Have to finish cleaning out that closet & hanging the clothes I pulled out and threw on the couch.
  6. The dog laid on the clothes so now we have another laundry day!
  7. It's lunchtime/snacktime/winetime. Gotta keep the schedule. 
  8. Finally have time to watch that TV series everyone was talking about two years ago. Just one more episode...
  9. Its a good time to start that garden I've been thinking about
  10. I'll write at least one chapter today, I promise. 
So, how many excuses have you been through? Please post below as I need some new ones.... 

Monday, November 18, 2019

Nano & Plot twists

I started NaNo and I'm at a paultry 3412 words. And it's November 18th already! WTF?
So I have my story idea but it's only that. A basic idea with nowhere to go. :(

Tonight after our NaNoWriMo write in I realized how pitiful this story is and that I have nothing. It's getting to a blah, blah, blah phase.
So I came home and googled "plot twists" with the intention of just grabbing number 3 on whatever list I found and to just write it.
I didn't do that.
Instead I found the most amazing plot twist sites.
Check out my  fav which lists movies and how they used plot twists. That one is called. Reedsy Blog. 
The next awesome plot twist site was found at the Writer's Den. This was a generator where you just click and you get your twist. This was fun! Gave me some good future story ideas, too.
My 3rd required more info. Add some details and you get the twist. That one was out of the UK (love that country!) The twists are here. Check them out and find some unique ideas.

That's it, I'm back to NaNo-ing! I have some ideas and I'm ready to write!
Write on, my friends. I'll see you in the pages....

Monday, November 11, 2019

Blub on the Book Cover?

The blub on the back of the book, or now on Amazon, is one of the most important things in your book. It should give us info as to what kind of book it is, what I can expect from the plot, and tease a bit.
What it should not give is list of reviews.

I found this link shared by J.A.Konrath on Facebook.

So, I'm thinking Kool! Free Books! New Authors to love!
Then I go and start reading the blubs on Amazon.  For those of you who don't know, the blub is that bite of information on the back of the book or via kindle, the write up under the title on Amazon.

That's where I hit the brakes.  One had a quick; this person and this person now have this mystery to figure out...followed by 10 reviews. Gee, if I had wanted to read the reviews, I would have clicked on those little stars on top. Basically, I now know nothing about this book that hooked me. Pass.

Another gave too little info. Detective has to solve a murder but will it lead him into trouble?  Gee, that told me nothing. All murder mystery books just got covered by that blurb.  Pass.

Reading these blurbs annoyed me and got me thinking about how important and how much skill goes into writing them.  Don't tell me the story, tell me why it's an interesting story. I had a writer friend who could spit this stuff out like candy. I told her my one book was about an angel who saved someone who was destine to die and then she had no destiny and another angel doesn't want her to marry his human and on and on... that's a crappy blurb. I know. I struggled. 

My friend turned it into this;
"When an angel appears to tell Shay Deville she can’t marry her fiancĂ© because she will forever alter his destiny, she thinks she is going crazy. Shay learns she was supposed to die seven months ago, but Merrick, her own guardian angel, broke angelic law and saved her. Now she is a woman without a future – or a guardian.

In spite of the angel’s warning Shay refuses to give up her dreams. She hunts down Merrick, her renegade angel, and demands he help her.Guardian Angel Merrick knows the Heavenly Handbook better than anyone, but when the time came to help Shay Deville cross over, he just couldn’t do it. Now Merrick is stripped of his wings and banished to the earthly realm until he corrects his mistakes and completes the destiny of his charge. But how can Merrick arrange to take Shay’s life when he has fallen in love with her? How can he not?

Will Merrick give up his wings and forever be cast to Earth for the woman he loves?
Can a woman without a destiny ever find happiness, or true love?"


Well, why didn't I think of that Heavenly handbook thing? So seamless. So easy and it gets the gist of the story across. 

Bottom line? Tempt me, make me excited to see what's going on inside those pages. Go check out the link of free mystery books. I did buy/get a few of the one's with the best blurb. 

These books hooked me with their blurb. 
  • Someone Elses Daughter by Linsey Lanier
  • A Gluten Free Murder by P.D. Workman
  • The Ink Man Lies by Julia Hughes
  • Last Call by J.A.Konrath
  • Murder in the ER by Jackie Holiday
  • Justice by Ann Voss Peterson 
Peace out! I got some reading to do.

A Writing Challenge

 Writing and stress has been worse this year than ever before.  Mostly because we have this Covid fiasco hanging over our heads day in and d...