Tag Archives: writing advice

Sixty short minutes, and it will be over

I’ve watched a lot of authors around the panel tables over the years, and it never fails to set me back when I see one or more chortling over the prospect of throwing more trouble and woe against their characters–as if they enjoy it. A part of me agrees as watching your characters rise over the situation and emerge triumphant, or at least alive and kicking, is uplifting. But for the most part, these are the hardest pages for me to write. I procrastinate, I check my FB feed, I make a pot of tea, sharpen my pencils which I’m not even using at the moment. Anything. It’s a recognizable pattern.

SixtyToday, as I finish up the first rough draft of the Drafter teaser (hopefully to be released next month) I ache for my character, knowing what’s going to happen, that I’m the one that is putting it out there–something bad that rocks him to his foundation, that will color him for years, bring him pain, this wonderful man that I gave so many gifts to. And I’m going to have to deal with it for at least three more years.

Chortling with glee? No, I don’t think so.

Sixty minutes, I tell myself. It will take one hour to write, one hour to bring his world to an ugly place. Will he rise up? Of course he will. Will he find a new core? It wouldn’t be much of a story if it didn’t. But it still hurts. And it will, for three years because of sixty short minutes.

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coffee shop rule

My editor reminded me this week about the coffee shop rule. You can have a conversation in a coffee shop, but only one per book unless it’s a reoccurring, fully realized setting that is so developed it’s almost a character in itself. Yep, I got lazy.

So-o-o-o-o I took my licks with the wet noodle and then spent the night mulling where I might shift the scene to. I even made the mistake of asking my loved ones for their advice–which is a bad idea because they all think their first idea is the best and stop looking after they come up with it. Even worse, they feel hurt when you shoot it down for a reason that makes no sense to them even when you explain why a museum or bowling alley or bookshop won’t work. (sorry, guys)

Mulling in the back of the mind isn’t always a fast prospect, but I’ve gotten better at it, and dude, there’s nothing like the feeling of sitting at your desk at 7:30 am, gritting your teeth in the knowledge that a big chunk of the fun stuff you’ve spent the last month adding is a lot of tell, not show (because of page constraints) and the almost magical realization that maybe you can bring one of those tells into the show with the right new chapter setting, and THEN realizing there’s the potential here to use that show to flesh out the relationship between the two characters in exactly the right way–one scene shift solving an issue of show don’t tell, character development, world building, and yes, not breaking the one-coffee shop rule and making my editor and me happy.

Yeah, that thing.

ShadowConnection

 

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Same time tomorrow

I had a really difficult time this morning finding my groove. It was all I could do to not give in to other things pulling at me. But I opened up my work file instead with the sentiment that I could at least put out a chapter of dialog, no matter how lame. And after five minutes of pain, the idea I wanted to share showed itself.

The point being, if I hadn’t sat down and opened it up, the idea wouldn’t have evolved and tomorrow I would have been at the same point I was this morning.

Moral of the story? Just put down one page of work when you’re stuck. Then walk away if you have to, but don’t walk away until you put down one page. One page for your mind to mull over, one page to have something to spur more thoughts. Or nothing changes.

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Music. Go Figure

IMG_2580I went to sleep last night mentally whistling something I heard while working. I woke up with it still there, and when it was on the radio again this morning before the sun came up, I hit the “heart” button on my SiriusXM to save it. I save stuff maybe once a week, which isn’t much considering I have the thing on every hour I’m in my office.  I even went and looked up the lyrics, sort of a 50/50 proposition in itself because most of the stuff on Chill is new or ah, not popular/marketable. The lyrics I found are a mess so I’m going to do a deeper search today.

But the point I’m not so successfully making here is that I’m connecting to music again.

I used to connect music a lot, but it tapered off right about book seven or eight in the Hollows. It worried me until I started working on Peri and again the music began connecting–and I figured out another one of my creative quirks.

When I’m busy learning about a character or world, when I’m in the gritty trenches of creating something from nothing and making the rules that I’ll work in for the next five years or so, I’m constantly searching for connections between everything on the page–the front, the back, the middle. The characters, their world, our world. Issues to text, plot to issues. The mental gymnastics spill over, not so much in the day-to-day stuff, but it will fasten upon music, ever present, ever changing–and a connection is made to a beat, a lyric, a feel or sound. It’s only when I feel I have the world down and the characters are so real that I can write them in my sleep that the music connection seems to die. Don’t get me wrong. I still listen and enjoy, but they don’t connect. And I missed it.

When I found one that connected to Peri, it was a great relief.

Here are the two latest:

La Roux/Skream In For The Kill

DJ Assad/Greg Parys We Are One

But the best for Peri so far has got to be Banks Before I Ever Met You

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It was an “author” day

Every so often I get a day that I feel like an author, a day where the usual grind of sit-at-desk, bang-head-on-keyboard opens up and something in this sometimes agonizingly slow profession moves forward in a big way. Writing “The End” is one of those days. Publication day is another, but as odd as it sounds, publication day doesn’t have much to say for itself until a week later when you know how publication day went. Turning in a manuscript is a big relief, and then the editorial rewritten one. Hearing from the marketing people is always a big boost, with news of cities and such. (Slow down. Long time to go yet for that.)

But Friday, it was a double whammy with my day spent getting my new back cover photo taken, (sans the red hair, mind you) and then coming home, exhausted and ready to wash off the make-up to find a most precious email had been smoldering in my inbox most of the day.

I have seen the preliminary cover, and it is gorgeous! Absolutely wonderful. You’re going to look at it and go Huh? but trust me, it’s perfect in so many ways.

And if the cover is being prepped, then it’s high time to release the title, eh?

Come back tomorrow. I don’t want to jump any guns and feel the need to check with my publisher first, but hey, It’s time. :-) I can’t wait for you all to read it this late August/early September.

Early bird peek at a one paragraph blurb is at Amazon and Barnes and Noble

Click to order signed, first edition copy

Click for synopsis

 

Amazon

Click for synopsis

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My friends, perseverance and repetition

I’m hitting that easy button today, It won’t be until it gets dark, but I’m hitting it, and then tomorrow I clean my office. Do I know how to celebrate the end of a rewrite, or what?

Easy

I think I’ve had my easy button for about ten years now, almost as long as Pika there next to it. And as I listen to my son scraping ice off his windshield as I take my pot of tea into my office for a last push on Peri, I’m reminded of why I work so hard to be able to work at home. Oh, that’s a cold, cold sound.

My son doesn’t stop to think that I did my share of scraping, or standing at a cold bus stop in the black of a pre-dawn Monday, or fingers so cold they don’t move but creak, so he doesn’t find it amusing when I say something to try to make light of his unexpected morning joy of lateral reps.  All he sees is Mom taking a pot of tea into her office.

Sigh. Sometimes I just want to give him a shake and say “How do you think I got here? An easy button?”

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Phew. I need a vacation from the weekend

I’m glad to sit at my desk this morning. No, there wasn’t a lot of snow to shovel. No family to entertain. No big shopping, though I am starting to plan out the menu for Superbowl next weekend. (I’m making soft pretzels and guacamole.)

Nope, I’m exhausted because it was a Lord of the Rings marathon, and Guy and I watched all three extended versions without commercials and with all the extras. I am exhausted! Guy actually had to wake me up this morning. It did give me time to knit in front of the TV, though. It’s a mess with more bobbins than I’ve ever worked with, but it’s moving forward.

scarf1

More importantly, I’m in the home stretch for Peri’s first editorial rewrite. Frankly, this has been one of self-doubt since I’ve changed the story so much, and much of that touches on the pace, which is kind of the backbone of any book and mostly instinctive for me at this point–or at least it used to be. It feels even more top heavy toward the beginning for an action/thriller than before, which is why I’m going over it one last time to see how the changes I put in might be keeping those first 100 pages moving.  But if I’ve learned anything in the last ten years, it’s trust your editor, and nine times out of ten, I can see what she was trying to do by the time I get to the end, even if I don’t see it in the beginning.

Guy, who never reads my rewrites, did this time, actively coming out into my office and looking for chapters.

That is a very good sign.

 

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