Posts Tagged: books

Top 5 Things I need to Write

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Every writer is different. We all have our own system in place to be productive. For me, I start with a time limit on social media! Most days, I come home from work, eat dinner, and then start writing. My Saturday mornings consist of grocery shopping – followed by writing. Sunday mornings consist of laundry – while writing. Working full-time means I have fewer hours in the day to write. I sacrifice a lot to be able to give my characters a voice. For this system to work, here are five things I can’t do without.

1. My note pad. I’m old fashioned. I love to hand-write notes. This actually comes in handy when I’m at my day job. I can keep a notebook on the desk and when an idea strikes, I can write it down before I forget it. I also carry pen and paper with me to various appointments – like the doctor, or getting my oil changed. I use it to map out characters or plot lines. I’ve got a great new series being plotted right now. Of course, I’m keeping that on the back burner until I have all of the Tip of the Spear novels finished! I don’t think I can handle more than two series at a time! It’s very rare that you will find me without a means of writing something down.

2. Mac Book. I generally write on my Mac Book Air, though I also have an iMac in my home office. The screen on it is bigger, so I generally use it for edits and the more tedious aspects of writing. But usually you’ll find me in my recliner with my laptop propped up on a blanket, usually surrounded by at least two of my three dogs. Maybe I should have added the recliner and dog cuddles to this list….

3. Scrivener. I discovered this software on an author forum that I subscribe to. It has a unique layout that authors either love or hate. It’s not without its idiosyncrasies, but what it lacks in user-friendliness, it makes up for in formatting. This program has saved my life (or rather, the life of my computer) when formatting frustrations threaten to get the best of me. I don’t do well with electronics that don’t cooperate – just ask the last poor DVD player that malfunctioned on me!

4. Dragon Dictate. I heard so many complaints about dictating software that I was hesitant to purchase any. Then I flipped out of my hammock in the back yard and injured my wrist. For an author, not being able to type is a death sentence. My solution? Dragon Dictate. It took me a while to admit that I liked it. In fact, it wasn’t until I started using the transcription functions on it, instead of dictating, that I found it was worth the cost. The “How to Train Your Dragon” facebook group has also been a lifesaver. I doubt I would have come so far without the support and encouragement.

5. Books. Yes, you read that right. Books play an important part in an author’s life. To be a good author, you have to love to read. For me, reading is a way to escape, to live another life – even if only for a few hours. I usually take a week to binge read the books that I’m saving up during my deadlines. It serves as a reset button on my brain to enjoy someone else’s words instead of my own.

So, there you have it – just a small peek into my world. I’m sure if I put my mind to it, I would have no problems coming up with another 20 items I could list here…

Giving Thanks

In America, this week is for giving thanks. That is sometimes difficult to do, especially with all that is going on in the world. The recent terrorist attacks show us a dark side of humanity. Instead of dwelling on all the negative things going on in the world this week, take a minute to hug your family and pull them close.

I was fortunate this past weekend to have Thanksgiving lunch with my grandmother and all my aunts, uncles, and extended family on my mother’s side. I spent an entire day over the stove – baking, roasting, cooking, mashing, and all that comes with making a huge meal. But I was able to do it one more time for my grandmother, and that makes it worth it.

My grandmother taught me to bake and make a meal large enough for an army. We spent several years in a row in her kitchen while I cooked and she supervised. Sure, after the first year I could have done it by myself – but where was the fun in that? My grandmother has been in failing health for several years, and this past year she was diagnosed with stomach cancer. We honestly didn’t think she would be with us for another holiday season. So when it came time to celebrate with the family, I was more than happy to be able to cook her a meal.

IMG_0027There were five generations present at lunch this year. The picture here is of the oldest and youngest of the generations. I am so thankful to have family to hold close.

This year has been full of changes. New job, new friends, new house. It has also brought sadness. The loss of some people I held dear. Through it all, I had family and friends that never stopped supporting me. I was able to publish six books this year, with a seventh coming in December. I have also reached a larger number of fans than I could have anticipated.

All of this to say THANK YOU! Thank you to all of you who have purchased and read my books, whether it was Katie Freeman, Tip of the Spear, or Devil Mountain Shifters. I started this journey to let the characters in my head have a voice and you all have surpassed my expectations with the response to my books.

So even if you are not in America, take the opportunity this week to express your thanks or appreciation to those who make your life whole. Then curl up with a good book and celebrate all you have accomplished in 2015!

Colder weather…hotter scenes…

treesWell, 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.

DMS websiteBut 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.

I accept bribes

I have struggled this week with self-motivation. I have always been a procrastinator – the one who waited until the night before a paper was due to write it… the one who waited until the final deadline to submit a project. Honestly, it drives my mom nuts! Which, of course, is why I originally liked to do it.  But there comes a time to break the habits formed in youth. Unfortunately, I am a creature of habit and I detest change. How do I manage to complete a book, you ask? Well, mostly through determination, bribery, external influences, and character persistence.

First, is my determination. I have always enjoyed writing. I have an overactive imagination and can easily get lost in a daydream for hours. Now, I make myself write down those daydreams. They become the stories that you will hopefully one day read.

Next is bribery. Sometimes, it’s a matter of ‘finish this chapter and you can have a brownie.’ Other days, like today, it’s ‘write 500 words and you can have a gummy bear.’ My bribes are not always food related. Sometimes it’s watching television, or going for a walk, or going out to dinner with friends. My goal today is 10,000 words. When I’m done, I get to have dinner and see The Martian at the movies (and let’s face it, Matt Damon is a reward all his own!). Great motivation, except that it’s taking the gummy bears to get me there.

External influences help as well. I can tell myself, “You have to have this book done by Oct 15, or else.” But that doesn’t always work. So I usually make a reservation with my editor to have the book to her (or him…) by a certain date. Of course, it needs to go through the beta readers first, so I try to leave a little room for that – sometimes that gets close. Having someone else waiting on me keeps me motivated to hit that deadline.

Finally, my characters tend to be persistent. Once I have dreamed a character to life, they aren’t happy being left to languish in whatever state I previously left them. They like their HEA and are downright demanding that I get them there as quick as possible. Sometimes, I have dreamed several characters at once and I have to take a little time to write down the basics of one while I develop the other into a story. But I know if I don’t write it down, the character will pester me until I go slowly insane…

That’s pretty much how my books get written. Of course, I am supposed to be writing a story now, instead I’m writing this blog… do these 500 words count toward a gummy bear? I think so!

Dictation software – sexier than it sounds!

Have you ever done something stupid to injure yourself? Well, welcome to my world. Last week I woke up Monday morning and couldn’t lift my head off the pillow. Somehow, as I was sleeping, I managed to pull my neck. I couldn’t raise my left arm. I couldn’t lift with my right arm. I’m really not sure typing was a viable option when I couldn’t use my arms. So how do you fix this? Well, for me, I decided to get some dictation software.

 

dictation softwareDictation software is almost harder than actually typing – at least the set up part. Speaking your thoughts out loud is kind of awkward. It’s good that I live by myself because some of this dictation could be embarrassing. I’m pretty sure that my dogs can’t tell secrets that come out of my mouth. It took all of 20 minutes to download the software – and three separate trips to the store to find a microphone that actually was usable with the program. I’m sure that they were tired of seeing me at the customer service counter returning various microphones. But the third time is the charm and I finally got one that worked.

 

Three days after I started the process of trying to download dictation software it was finally up and running. By this point I had more usage of my arms, but I’d already started this journey and I wanted to see it through. In my case you never know when it might actually need. I figured I’d be better off just seeing this through to completion.

So far I have gotten dictation to work with Scrivener, which is the program I used to write my books. However, Word is not cooperating. I can open Word; I can start speaking; my microphone is on; yet it doesn’t recognize that I’m actually saying anything. But I guess it doesn’t really matter if word recognizes what I’m saying, as long as Scrivener does.

This morning is the first day in a week that I’ve actually sat down and began writing something. I lost a whole week of writing due to injury and new software. But now I think I’m back on track and I’m jumping right in. Today I’ve already managed to write 1200 words and in a fourth of the time it would’ve taken me to type them. I think I might like this dictation stuff. As long as I can get used to speaking things out loud that are little uncomfortable.