The most difficult thing in the world for me is naming things. I blame this on my father – after all, he was going to name me Walter if I’d been a boy. Now, that’s not a bad name, per se, until you combine it with my last name. Walter Mellon – I’d have been the laughing stock of the playground! So, you see, I think I inherited the inability to be creative with naming things – people, places, pets – basically anything that needs a title.
As a reader, I always notice naming trends in books. You know what I mean – matching characters “Adam and Amanda” or “Chris and Christa” – even when siblings have the same letter to start their names (19 Kids and Counting, anyone?). I have to admit that I’m guilty of this as a writer. Sadly, I know real families who have done this to their kids. I guess that means that even if it sounds corny, people do this in real life.
My new series has a family of eight – yes, eight! – siblings, and they are all named for nature. It makes sense when you know more about the history of the story, so just hang tight and you’ll be able to read about it soon!
In the mean time, have a laugh at one of the most creative names I’ve run across in a while. This is a hotdog stand in East Nashville – I Dream of Weenie…a romance author’s sense of humor can be a little warped.
There are a lot of debates about writing styles. Are you a plotter or a pantser? This is one of those I hear most often. I think I’m a combination, depending on the book I’m writing. I come up with ideas from several places and my creative mind takes over. I can’t fully be a pantser, or my books would have no purpose or cohesiveness. They would wander from scene to scene without ever accomplishing a plot.
As I found out this week, I can’t fully be a plotter either. I generally start off by outlining a book – especially my mysteries. I need to have an idea of where the story is going. The evidence and innuendo needs to be set up so that it comes together at the end. I generally have an idea of who committed the crime before I start writing, though sometimes the characters talk back and let me know it wasn’t them.
Well, I’ve been writing book 4 in the Tip of the Spear series and I started with an idea for the occupation of one of the characters. I was determined that this character had to have this occupation. I researched what that would entail, how much money he would make, the restrictions he would face, etc. I’ve been working on this book for a few weeks, but over the last week, I’ve been stuck. No matter how I tried to tie the events together, it just didn’t work. I rewrote sections, I tried to mentally rearrange events to make them fit. I wore myself out trying to defend my decision that this character had to have this occupation. Finally, I put the book aside for a few days and let the ideas swirl – and came to the decision that he just couldn’t be what I wanted him to be. And you know what? The story started flowing furiously!
My conclusion: don’t stifle the Creative Genius!
My friend, Michelle, and I sat down three years ago and had a conversation about where we wanted to go with our careers. Both of us were in jobs that didn’t really call to us. They paid the bills and paid the bills and provided health benefits – you know, the things people want and need to feel secure. But the long-term prospects for those jobs just weren’t satisfying. Instead of letting this conversation become a ‘woe is me’ pity party, we decided to set goals – with time limits and action steps. My goal for that first year was to write and publish one book. Looking back, that was a very naïve and uninformed decision – good thing I’m adaptable.
During the first year, I went to two conferences, signed up for many courses on self-publishing, and started researching the success of some of my favorite authors. Not only did I learn how much more was involved in being a self-published author, I finished not one, but four books. I had headshots taken, got a website up and running, joined several social media platforms, and, yes, published my first book.
Year two brought some major changes to my personal life. I spent several months in transition between day jobs and finally ended up with a job that is perfect for accommodating my second career. I can now leave work at work and go home to spend my evenings and weekends writing.
The third year is coming to a close with my 40th birthday in June. My original goal wasn’t to become a successful, self-supporting author. It was to see if my books had gained traction and, more importantly, if I still enjoyed the process. I’ve worked in the professional world for over 20 years, and the last thing I want is to be pursuing something that doesn’t bring me joy. So, what have I decided, you ask? I love writing! It still fulfills me every time I sit down at a computer. I love dreaming up new stories. I’ve discovered that even something that I do for fun can strike a chord with a reader. Putting in humor has become easier. And, I’m almost over the embarrassment when my parents read an intimate scene that I’ve written…not sure that will ever go away completely!
What about my friend Michelle? Well, she too has made adjustments to her day job. She’s expanded her art to several retail spaces around town, started her own social media campaign (in addition to running mine…), and sold several paintings/mixed media art pieces. If you’d like to see her talent, take a look at the photo attached to this blog – it’s one of many of her pieces I’ve purchased.
We might not be successful by society’s definition, but we made it! We’ve set out to do what we outlined. And we’re going to continue to grow and expand and adapt and learn. Most importantly, we’re going to keep creating. Because that’s what brings joy.
I had an interesting conversation with one of my closest friends today. We were discussing the nuances in the English language. She texted me to ask how to spell “travelled or traveled”. My automatic reply was “traveled”. Her follow up was to ask about “cancelled vs. canceled”, to which I replied “cancelled”. Of course, I started second guessing myself at that point and decided to let Word tell me which was right. I typed both into a blank Word document expecting the little red squiggly lines to appear under the incorrect one and TADAH! I would see who was correct. But guess what? They’re both right!
The English language can be so tricky! It turns out the double Ls are British English and the single L is American English. That’s a little more subtle than “color vs. colour”. For now, I think I am sticking with being bilingual in this aspect. I will just hope for no cancellations during my traveling!
Well, it’s that time of year again – the time when it gets dark outside earlier; the sweatshirts come out of the closet; fragrant stews are on the stove; fireplaces are lit. Most important of all? There’s more time to snuggle with a good book! I’ve had a lot of time to write lately and have big plans for 2016.
But first, I need to say a HUGE THANK YOU to all the readers who have read the new Devil Mountain Shifters series. October was a really busy month for me with the release of the trilogy and the results were better than I could have predicted. It was such a fun series to write and I am ecstatic to see it so well received.
Next up is Katie Freeman, coming December 2015. For all of you who have been following Katie, Free to Live will finally answer the questions from book one. Is Charlene Katie’s mother? Did Charlene kill Hank? I have been enjoying writing this book and winding together the story from 26 years ago and the investigation of the current cold case. It’s so much fun to see how this affects the relationship between Katie and Michael. Ryan Brewer also makes an appearance – and his relationship with Katie could be growing.
I’m not a fan of cold weather – never have been. Anything under 70* is entirely too cold. In the past, I’ve spent a lot of time reading, but this year I’m putting those multiple hours to work getting my own words on paper. I hope to share those words with you in the future. Until then, stay warm.