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!
This has been a really difficult summer for me. I wrote earlier about the death of my grandmother at the end of June. She was a fantastic woman who was loved by all who knew her. Her smile could light up a room and she always topped to talk to people – even those she didn’t know. I still miss her and probably always will. I was making a dessert for Labor Day weekend and it was the first time it hit me that I can no longer just pick up the phone and call her to ask what I’m missing or how much of something is supposed to go into the recipe. Our family truly lost a gem.
My second loss came at the beginning of August when my dog, Holly, died. She was 22 years old and still had so much spirit in a body that was failing. She was my companion through so much. We lived in several apartments and houses, and two different states. She saw me through heartache when relationships failed. She had such a unique personality that one of my friends affectionately nicknamed her Freek – spelled wrong, because she was too weird to spell it right. Holly even answered to Freek when I would call her in from the yard. She had such a large personality for a little body. Her death impacted my other dogs as well. How do you explain to a dog that her sister has died? I watched Ginny look around the house for her for a week. We would go to bed and Luna would look at me like I was forgetting someone.
Now, I am writing my next book – the first one that will be written without my foot warmer – a white, furry body that lay across my feet as I typed. Her snores will no longer echo through the room. I’ve already written a dog into this story in her memory. It’s small consolation for missing her, but maybe letting her live on in print will help with the healing.
Have you seen the posts from my social media? I’ve recently been enraptured by the amount of swag that can be personalized. I went online simply to purchase new business cards, and the merchandise they offered me at a discount for being a new customer sucked me in. I didn’t go totally crazy, but I started to dream. I mean all of this started by dreaming, why not think bigger?
I am now the proud owner of several mugs, pens, stickers, magnets, and tote bags with my logo on them! My social media coordinator, Michelle, is finally happy. We can start doing giveaways and prized and contests. She’s never had a problem thinking big, but I’ve taken a little urging to come along. Okay, a lot of urging. But as I told her, I can be taught!
Stay tuned for more exciting things to come!
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…
Ahoy, Mateys! I am using humor right now because I am so angry! Warning: this post will be full of exclamation points!!!! I just found out that a few of my books have appeared on illegal sites – they’ve been hijacked! Wow, do I feel violated!
I’ve been reading about this happening to authors ever since I decided to self-publish and joined a few author groups. But I didn’t think I had to worry about it yet. I mean, I’m just little old me…a newbie, an unknown. Why would someone target me? I have now learned a hard lesson – you’re never too lowly to be ripped off…
The music industry has been fighting this for years. I remember thinking “they’re just $0.99 songs, what’s the harm?” Now I know the harm first hand! I’m still trying to build a fan base and attract new reader. But that doesn’t mean I should be turning a blind eye to this. My books are not my primary source of income (thank goodness, or I’d be homeless…), but they are still valuable to me. Every penny I earn on these books ensures that the next one can be published. I literally live book-to-book in the publishing world!
So I ask you – PLEASE, PLEASE do not give these sites your business. If you run across pirated work, don’t download it. Email the author the link you’ve found. Most of us self-published authors would be so grateful to know we are being ripped off! This is uncalled for, illegal, immoral, and just down right dirty.
One thing I continually hear from other beginner authors is the difficulty in getting reader reviews. There isn’t a good or proven strategy in getting readers to leave feedback – good, bad or ugly. I’m finding myself in the same boat. Comments do so much for an author. They get the word out on what readers really think of a story. They boost an author’s visibility. They allow an author access to certain publicity sites – like Bookbub. Without feedback from you, an author doesn’t stand a chance at getting his/her name out there. Ratings and comments from readers can make or break an author.
Personally, I read every comment made every one of my books. So far that hasn’t been many… I look forward to the day when there are too many to keep up with. With that being said, thank you to all of you who have left a comment or rating. Please spread the word and encourage others to do the same. If you have read one of my books and haven’t left feedback, please do so – even if you didn’t like it. I love hearing from you and would love to know what you think!
It’s been a few weeks since In the Wind came out and I am continually surprised when I check my sales information and see results. I started this journey simply because I enjoy writing so much, so it’s always a pleasant surprise to see that people are reading my books. I love that my readership continues to grow and I would just like to say a huge THANK YOU!!!! to all of you who have purchased In the Wind.
If you haven’t had a chance to read it, grab your copy here:
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.
Ever wonder where certain phrases come from? I often wonder this, and this past week I’ve had more time than normal to think of such random things. I’ve been down with Strep throat and a sinus infection and had to take a few days off from my day job. It’s rare that I get sick, but when I do, it wipes me out. I spent three whole days doing nothing but sitting in my recliner, snuggling with my dogs. Not a bad way to spend a few days – if only I hadn’t felt so miserable.
To me, the worst possible form of being sick is having a stuffy nose. I can handle chills, fever, sore throat – but not being able to breathe has got to be the worst feeling in the world. So there I was, swaddled in my recliner, a dog on each side of me, and too exhausted to hold a book. I tried to prop my e-reader up on it little stand, but then my eyes revolted. My eyeballs hurt and my eyelids refused to stay open. I ended up having a tv marathon – Pitch Perfect, Magic Mike, Fast and Furious. It’s a very rare thing for me to spend so much time watching television – and so little time reading.
One of the good things to come out of so much downtime was that I got to brainstorm on the next Katie Freeman book. I already had an idea of where this book was going, but I really got to put some ideas together. Now I have to make up for the lost writing time.
Hey all! It’s a holiday weekend here in the USA. Memorial Day weekend is a day to celebrate those who gave their life while serving in the armed forces. To many, it’s also the unofficial start of summer. Last Memorial Day, I had just put up the hammock in my backyard and enjoyed quite a lot of time out there. There was also a comical moment when I flipped out of said hammock – luckily I rescued the laptop and didn’t land on top of it…(go ahead and laugh, my mother did…)
While sitting in my hammock last year, I wrote a draft of The Only Wolf. It was just a story that was in my head after spending hours watching coverage of the 70th anniversary of the Holocaust. It wasn’t ever supposed to amount to anything, but those who I let read it loved it. So it became a trilogy.
This Memorial Day weekend, I’m planning to spend some more magical time in the hammock, this time working on Free to Believe, book 4 in the Katie Freeman Mysteries. I’m hoping the story turns out to be as enthralling as the Devil Mountain Shifters were. Hopefully, I can remain in the hammock this time. 🙂