Tag Archives: writing advice

Where’s the snow?

No snow. I’m so bummed. We’ve been spoiled the last few years with a white Christmas. But Guy is liking it, hoping to get out on the road on his bicycle this afternoon. Blahh. This means we’re going to have a cold summer. I know it. Although . . . I will admit I’ve been enjoying the mild temps as much as anyone else.

I put some time in this weekend to make up a candy-cane tea cozy, which sort of helps get me in the mood if the decorating, baking, and lights don’t. (grin) This year, though, I’m making stars as my knitting go-to. Soon as I have a few, I’ll take a picture. They are easy to whip up and don’t need a lot of thought.


Book work is moving as expected this time of year, which means slow. I did dialog on Friday, which pretty well gets the chapter sketched out without putting in the effort in of actually writing it. It is okay as it is, but it bugged me all weekend, and I think I’m going to change the setting from an apartment to a more vibrant lunch room. I’ll have to drop the secondary-character development I put in, but putting them in the middle of a lunchroom has a much better chance of slipping world building and involving more than two characters. Since I’m at dialog, it’s not too big of a shift and it won’t slow me down much. Still, it’s going to mean a few more hours at the keyboard today.  Good thing it’s Monday.


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Feels about right

So, I’ve gotten up to about page 33 in the back burner work. I’ve given up on trying to take this slow, and I’m just going to do what I feel like. It goes contrary to everything I tell people when they are looking for advice, but since what I feel like is usually six hours M-F, not two hours twice a week, I don’t think it’s going to matter.

Page 33, brings me to the end of chapter three, and all ready Roy is now Dylan because I wanted to change William (tech guy) to Riley (tech woman) and it’s a no-no to have two people with the same first sound in their name in the same book. It’s not a big deal, but  if you can avoid it, do so unless there’s a reason for it. (like all of Jenks’ kids having the same first sound.) Trice (young girl snot) has become Walt (young boy snot) and though I ache to be letting such a great name like Trice go, I’m really liking young snot as a boy. The girl was cool, but the boy is charming. He’s got such a great ego, much like Jenks, I’m afraid. Even Jo’s boss has had a name change from Bob, which truly was nothing more than a place holder, to Lloyd, which captures his attitude perfectly.

If you look for names, check out this website from the Social Security office. I’ve used it for years. It has practical information about how a name has changed in popularity for over 200 years in some cases, but mostly I like it because they are real names and browsing about doesn’t get you diaper ads in your news feed. http://www.ssa.gov/OACT/babynames/

I particularly like doing a search by year. If I want a dignified name or one for an older character who was born in the 30’s, I do a search on the 1930’s, and if I want one for a younger person, I hit the 2000’s. You can even search by area, making your character’s name very southern, or eastern, or west coast.




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Slow start, but still, it moves.

I remember once telling an interviewer in jest that I thought I became a writer so I could name things, but it sounds about right. I’ve been taking my work in little chunks lately–the holiday season is a tough beast to tame. It needs a steady hand, so the work is more of a framework this time of year to structure the day around.

And yet, things do eventually cross my desk, going from idea to paper, and from there into the “cabinet of awesomeness.” (Rolls eyes-you gotta put ideas in the cabinet before you can pull them out.)

I’ve been naming things this last week: ideas disguised as characters, the human condition concealed in the plot, wishes hidden among the world building–and there’s a new ream of paper starting to grow in my cabinet. Just a few pages so far, but it moves. It won’t move fast as this is not front burner, but back, but still it moves.



P.S. Mr. Gnome is making a good impression of me in his winter cap, surrounded by paperclips, sticky notes, and colored pencils as I sit and think beside a Christmas tree, (which right now, symbolizes that life keeps moving, so you’d better keep moving with it and fit the work in when you can.)


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Kim’s writing tip for the day

I’m not doing NaNoWriMo this year since I’m halfway into the rough draft of book two, but I am in rough draft, and for those of you working to get down their thoughts as well, I want you to know I’m still learning even now.

This morning, for example, I walked into my office, puttered around for a while trying to get going on the next chapter. I knew what I had to write, but it felt like a transitional chapter. I don’t like transitional. I want my chapters to do double duty. It needed to be pivotal since we don’t get to see this character very  much.  I knew it–which was why nothing was getting put on paper.

So I stopped, and actually looked at it, realizing that, oh! this chapter was boring, which was why I was having so much trouble writing it. It wasn’t Tom. Tom is a great character. It wasn’t the plot, which is actually moving forward. But it was still boring. Then I asked myself, what makes Tom like everyone else? Answer? His boss wants to fire him. And that fast, the chapter went from boring to intriguing ’cause Tom is a bad boy and he’s not going to let that happen.

And now the words flow.

So if you are stuck, it might be because you need something new, something that everyone can relate to. Get your character reacting to more than one thing. She still has to save the world, but what if she has to plan her friend’s wedding, make a late payment, or get her car fixed as well?

Ahhh, my day is now going to be fun, not sucky. Go Tom!


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Super sonic putt-putt

Today, I’m feeling like a super sonic putt-putt, zooming to wonderful places at breakneck crawl.  It wouldn’t be so bad, but this putt-putt pace is hitting not just the book work (which is normal) but the yard work and the knitting work.

MonarchPatternI took a break from my monarch butterfly project to try to figure out an interlocking crochet technique that I tried last year and gave up because I couldn’t figure out the instructions. This time wasn’t any different, but I gave up following the instructions, –which I swear were wrong or written in a different language and translated badly–and just experimented for a while. I got a trivet, finally, but the pattern accidentally switched about a third of the way through, and I managed to figure out how to switch it back again, so it actually looks like I meant to do that. So I’ve got that going for me if this writing thing doesn’t work out.

The yard work is going slow but sure, thanks to Thing Two’s Herculean efforts last week where he got the bulk of the leaves to the curb. I’m still tidying and cutting back, but we got our first really hard frost and everything is dead or dormant now, which makes it easier. Tim and I are on the second circle of the house, and it’s looking much better. I’ve been taking two hours our of my workday to try to button the yard down, but it’s predictably slow, and the weather is closing in fast. Scary fast.

And then there’s Peri. Writing is always a super sonic putt-putt, but with the tour cutting the rough draft in half, it’s been more slow than usual–harder to find my groove and the voice is suffering. I managed to get dialog down yesterday, and then went on to turn most of it into text. It feels like I’m back on a good pattern with her, so if I have a few weeks without going out of my office, that putt-putt pace should begin to show some good results.

Super sonic putt-putt gets you there.

choice-logo-nominee-hi-resGoodreads is holding their annual Goodreads Choice Awards, and The Witch With No Name has been nominated in the Fantasy category! If you’re a Goodreads member, buzz on over and vote for your faves. If you’re not, hop on over and take a quick look. There’s a way to join and vote without giving up your personal info, at least there was the last time I looked. I like Goodreads, I’ve been a member for a few years, and they don’t bombard you with stuff you don’t want.

So to vote, slide on over. Goodreads Choice Awards




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I’m liking this year’s tour

It’s July, which means in the Harrison Household, we’re watching the Tour de France every night for the better part of three weeks. That’s right, three hours of cycling every night, for 21 days. (And before you judge me, check out the required uniform.)


These guys are impressive for a lot of reasons. When you crash, you don’t go to the locker room and sit the rest of the game out. You get back on the bike, ride next to the med car, get your skin stuck back together, and finish riding the 100 miles left. Then you get back on the bike again in the morning and do it again.

It’s not a job that you can do as a hobby, but one you have to be totally invested in to compete. You have to monitor your food intake for possible accidental steroid ingestion, there is constant attention in regards to your physical state just so you can compeate. And it’s not like you can go into the gym for a couple of hours, and call it good. You have to get on the bike and do it, for hours at a lonely time. It’s a lot like writing in that respect, but whereas authors get chair butt, cyclists get to wear spandex–and look good in it.

I like the balance of the team and individual that cycling has where there is a goal, but it’s the individual sacrifice and skill that makes it happen. It’s a game of strategy, not just a bunch of guys out in a group. Each team has a leader, who’s generally strong all around, but can give a good sprint at the end and win the stage. He’s helped up to the front by the rest of the team, who draft off each other, the front guy pealing off when he gets fatigued to let the next guy pull until they reach the end, and the leaders of every other team fight it out for the last 100 or so meters.


That’s the theory.

This year, a series of crashes have pulled out many of the leaders of the teams that were expected to win, and in some teams, the leader backup. The result? There are no more expectations. Let me say that again. There are no more expectations–and as a result, EVERYONE thinks they might have a shot at a piece of glory. Everyone is doing things outside of their normal responsibilities of the team. Everyone is pushing themselves, having the chance in this short span of time to show that they can do more than shunt bottles from the car to other team members or ride 150 miles just so they can pull the rest of the team for a scant hundred yards.

UnknownThey are riding. They are doing what they love. And they are crashing. They are failing. They are getting their hopes snatched out from under them. But this year . . . they are trying beyond what everyone expects of them. And every now and then they cross that line first–because they saw a chance to shine and they took it, ran with it, made it their moment.

CYCLING-FRA-TDF2014The best part? Even when it doesn’t work, they are getting the chance to show they have what’s needed to get the job done.

Don’t buy into the lie that just because others can do it better than you that you can’t do it as well.



Fail? The med car will stitch you up.




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Inspiration. Not as glam as you might think.

How am I supposed to work on a day like this? Sunny and warm, and it’s only going to get better. If I had a plant to put in the ground, it would be all over, but it’s Tuesday, and I intentionally don’t put temptation in front of my until at least Friday afternoon. I will get through the day on caffeine and pure grit, watching the kids skate by on their skateboards and stay-at-home parents walking the dogs and kids. Urrrrrrg. Windows . . . open.

And then Guy comes in to my office for our daily morning coffee/tea, and somehow the conversation brings up a particular, odd, character trait and why she’s doing it, and it leads to the thought she might want to take a joy ride because you can tell a car by the fob sitting next to the coffee mug, and then the next thing you know, there’s a new love interest. Crap on toast. I have to rewrite my entire friggin’ outline.

I love this job, even with the headaches, because making something out of nothing is the coolest thing ever.


Female Rose Breasted Grosbeak? (Southern Michigan)





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