Tag: writers

Let’s play a game

One of the most popular questions readers ask writers is “where do you get your ideas.” I can’t speak for all writers, but for me, a new story starts with a spark, then a flicker, then a full-blown flame. images (4)

Where does the spark come from? I play the “what if” game. What if a spaceship crashed on earth and the ship’s survivors were…or what if it wasn’t earth? What if it was a planet that only looked like earth…what if…

Why don’t you play along with me and we’ll see what we come up with. Next week I’ll pick a best of the crop and the winner will receive an advanced reading copy of Wink of an Eye.

Choose a “what if” topic and leave a few sentences in the comment section along with the corresponding numbered topic. Don’t forget to include your email address. Have fun!

1) What if your mail gets mixed up with the neighbor’s? Only problem is the neighbor died twenty years ago.

2) What if a stranger crashes into you at the grocery store? As he runs away, you notice your shirt covered in blood.

3) What if you woke one morning to discover your senses had been switched? Your sense of taste was now your sense of touch. Your hearing has been switched with your sense of smell.

4) What if you had the ability to make photographs come to life?

5) What if you buy a used sofa and discover something sewed into a cushion.

 

 

Hopping from here to there

I’m participating in the World Blog Hop this week with several other writer friends. Thanks to Tanya Stowe, a fellow writer with Pelican Books, for asking me to play along. Please take a moment and check out her blog and books…you won’t be disappointed!

Tanya is an author of Christian Fiction with an unexpected edge. She fills her stories with the unusual…gifts of the spirit and miracles, mysteries and exotic travel, even an angel or two. No matter where Tanya takes you…on a journey to the Old West or to contemporary adventures in foreign lands…be prepared for the extraordinary. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Hearts Haven Books

 

 

 

 

 

 

And now a little about my writing and the process…I am the author of the best-selling True Crime book, Unholy Covenant (Addicus Books, 2000), and an award-winning fiction author. My debut novel, The Rising (Pelican Book Group, 2013), won the 2013 Grace Award for Excellence in Faith Based Fiction. It is also short-listed for an INSPY award. My private eye novel, Wink of an Eye, won the 2013 St. Martin’s Press/Private Eye Writers of America Best 1st PI Novel competition. It will be released through Minotaur Books, Nov. 18, 2014. I am honored to be represented by Michelle Johnson at Inklings Literary Agency.

Currently, I’m working on a new mystery called NoBody’s Baby, about a small town newspaper owner involved in a murder investigation. I hope to have it finished by the end of summer. I think one element that sets my work apart from others is the way I use description. I try and make it become part of the story rather than an information dump. I also feel setting should be a secondary character. Having a character see a handmade sign reading Jesus Saves along a dirt road says much about the area the story is taking place in. I enjoy writing mysteries because I enjoy peeling back the layers until everything is exposed and the ultimate truth is revealed. To me, a mystery doesn’t have to have a murder or some other heinous crime to be considered a true mystery. Life itself is a mystery so there’s so much more to it than how the detective is going to find the killer. When I start a new novel, I know the beginning and end. I’ll do a rough outline to fill in the middle to help me get from point A to point B. I’m not one of those writers who crank out 5000 words a day, or five pages, or some other number. More power to them. I just can’t do it. I may go two or three days without writing anything at all, but when I sit down at the computer, what I do write is carefully thought out. I struggle over every word. Although it takes me longer to complete the first draft than perhaps other writers, when that first draft is complete, it doesn’t need nearly as much revising as if I had just thrown it out there. I guess it’s an either/or situation.

So that’s how I do it. Next Monday, June 30, you’ll be able to find out how three of my writing friends work their own brand of magic. Check out their links below:

Chief Silverii2

Scott Silverii:  Chief of Police Scott Silverii, PhD passionately lives a positive life. With over 24 years in policing, he has the experience and vision to believe there is always an opportunity to help people. Scott’s passion flourished while growing up in a close-knit community within south Louisiana’s heart of Cajun Country.

Scott’s life is seasoned by the Mardi Gras, hurricanes, humidity, and crawfish boils. This gumbo of experience serves up a unique perspective in his writing – but don’t let the smile fool you. Chief Silverii spent 16 of his 24 years working in policing’s special operations groups (SOG) with thousands of undercover narcotics and SWAT missions. He’s bought dope, banged down doors, and busted bad guys.

He’s new to the world of fiction writing, but entered with guns a blazing with his most recent project – A Cajun Murder Mystery Series. This episodic adventure takes readers behind the badge and along the bayous of south Louisiana. As Chief Silverii likes to say – Laissez les bons temps rouler – Until somebody gets killed of course.

Chief Silverii is also available and appreciates the opportunities to work with authors looking for honest and authentic information on police procedural and cop character / culture questions. You can contact him at his website noted above.

Lynette Hall Hampton aka Agnes Alexander:  Lynette has never considered herself a Christian fiction writer, but instead a Christian who writes fiction. Under the name Lynette Hall Hampton she has published 16 novels – mystery, romance, romantic suspense and inspirational. Though she still writes a variety of genres, in 2011 she decided to concentrate on writing what she most likes to read, Western Historical Romance. She chose to write these novels under her pen name, Agnes (her grandmother’s name on her mother’s side) Alexander (her grandfather’s name on her father’s side). In 2012, her first western, “Fiona’s Journey” was published. Since then she’s had six more published and has two under contract to come out in 2014. Me

A life-long resident of her home state of North Carolina, she counts traveling as one of her passions. She has visited 48 of the 50 States and says Alaska and Hawaii are on her bucket list. Of course, she loves to read, but tries to limit herself to one or two books a week. Besides traveling and reading, Agnes enjoys jewelry making, watching old movies and spending time with her family, especially her two grandchildren.

 

 

 

Nicky LaMarco:  Nicky LaMarco is a freelance writer who’s written for a variety of magazines, newsletters and websites. She specializes in writing articles, blogs, books, and essays. Nicky lives in Maine with her husband and two kids. headshot

You call that work?

Remember when you worked a job where you were given a week, two weeks, maybe more each year for vacation? Some jobs even gave you a certain number of sick days, or personal time as some call it. Remember when you punched a time clock? Or signed your name at the end of the week to a time sheet?

You went to work. You worked. You clocked out and left work at the end of the day. Life was simple. writer's clock

And then you became a writer.

There is no time clock to punch. No scheduled vacation, sick days, or personal time. There is no time “off”. Why? Because if you’re really a writer, a true creative soul, there is no down time. You can’t shut off your inner self.

I worked at the local television station for a couple of years when my kids were small. I worked in the studio production department for the six and eleven o’clock news. It was a fun job but it ruined my ability to ever simply “watch” a television show. Or even see a movie for that matter. My mind is not only following the story, but I’m critiquing the lighting, the camera work, the background music, etc…

When I am able to stop thinking about the actual production of the show, I’m thinking ahead of the plot—the writer in me won’t let the show just unfold—I’m three scenes ahead.

Dickie

Jeremy Davies as Dickie Bennett, “Justifed”

One of my favorite television shows is “Justified”. The acting, writing, direction, story lines, everything about the show is take-your-breath-away perfection. The second and third season featured the Bennett family—and I, ever the sucker for a great character, fell head over heels for Dickie Bennett (expertly played by Jeremy Davies). The character was so well written and acted, Dickie Bennett became somewhat of an underdog one might actually find a ping of sympathy for. And the whole time I’m crying for Dickie Bennett, I’m wondering why? Why—because although I’m fully engrossed in the show, there’s a part of my brain going “Wow! What a character! I wish I could write a character like that!” So I’m back to working.

It’s the same with a book. Fellow writers—do you ever wish you could just pick up a book and read for the pure joy of it? Or are you working when you read? I study the style, the dialogue, the pace…and sometimes, it drives me nuts! Because there I go, working again.

writers-quotes-story-writing-34823017-400-263I took Sam for a walk today around the block. Great being outside in the fresh air, away from the laptop, away from the pen and paper, away from the cell phone. Just me and Sam—and a thousand characters running around inside my head. Scenes played out, dialogue was spoken, opening lines were toyed with…a simple walk turned into a working break.

And then there’s social media. As writers, a lot of our books’ success or lack of can be traced to social media and how the book is “marketed” on such. So each time I sign on to Facebook, am I working?  Each tweet I send, am I working? Yes. I’m building and nurturing a relationship with readers. Sorry—playing Candy Crush probably doesn’t count.

So I’m going to wrap this up so I can go watch the Superbowl. I like the commercials. Advertising at its best. I’m always fascinated by the production that goes into some of the spots, the quick and to-the-point message delivered in thirty seconds, the words used to…oh darn. There I go again. Working.

 

Sunday with SinC

Spent the day with a room full of writers of various genres and learned some interesting things:

1) western NC is RIPE with writers. The mountain area of our state was well represented.

2) if the Murder We Write/Sisters in Crime chapter is going to do another networking event next year, we’ll need a bigger display table. There were so many published works there, I thought I was in a library. There’s certainly some talent in the ol’ north state.

3) Not only were there writers there, there were a few publishers looking for submissions, an agent open to pitches, and a couple of editors who can help you get that manuscript ready to send to said publishers or agent. It wasn’t just a happy hour for writers – it was a true networking event.

4) it may be physically impossible for a writer to tell about him/herself and their published works, works in progress, future projects, hopes and dreams, along with a quick bio in two minutes or less. Writers aren’t always the introverts we pretend to be.

Just a couple of the writers that were there today: Alan GratzSuzanne AdairEllis VidlerGretchen GriffithMichael HavelinTony RankinJoyce and Jim LaveneTeresa Fannin, Lynette Hall Hampton…just to name a few.

 

True confessions

I’m not that crazy about coffee anymore. There I said it. It’s a weight off my shoulders. A burden gone.  And to take it even further – I not much of a drinker of alcoholic beverages, either.

So…what’s the big deal? I’m a writer! For the normal person, these proclamations may not be a big deal. But I’m not normal. I’m a writer.

Some of my writer friends write in coffee shops. Some have very productive writing sessions while sipping on a cup of joe. I’ve been debating on packing up the laptop and heading to a local cafe myself to try and up the daily word count, but I’m scared my secret would surface. The image of a writer typing away at the keyboard while a cup of…grape Kool-Aid sits nearby doesn’t conjure up the same mythical vision. Laptop on Kitchen Table with Cup of Coffee

Don’t get me wrong. There was a time not too long ago when I was one of those writers whose words were tethered to a cup of coffee.  But then something happened – I don’t know, like hot flashes or something – and I was no longer in want of any type of drink with steam rising from it.

In my mind, the marriage of writers and coffee was so ingrained, when my taste buds changed, I wondered if  I was cut out for this writing life. All my writer friends thrived on the stuff as if it were an intravenous happy drug.  While I was chugging the (sugar free) grape Kool-Aid.

Not really all that fond of sweet ice tea now, either. Holy Crap! Now I’m not even a true southern! But that’s another post for another day.

hemingway460276

Ahhh…to drink, er..write like Papa!

Back to the drink of choice…in all the “how to write” books I’ve read, they all say study the masters. You know, guys like Papa Hemingway and that Faulkner guy (who leaves me banging my head against hard objects!) So I did…and discovered Papa, Faulkner, Dylan Thomas, Hunter S. Thompson…they all liked to, um…partake in Miss Mamie’s throat soother. A lot. But their writing was brilliant (I reserve judgement on Faulkner, but he IS considered one of the greats.) For some reason I don’t think the how-to books meant to emulate the greats in every way so I’ll leave the hard drinking to frat boys.

So am I still a writer even if I no longer like coffee? Am I still a writer if I write without having a good buzz? Or go on a binge after the writing is done (that Faulkner guy again)?

Stand up to the stereotype my fellow writer friends! Ditch the coffee and the spirits. Want you join me for a cup of Kool-Aid?

 

 

Swinging both ways

I’m a coffee drinker. I like my morning jolt to be the plain ol’ regular stuff, nothing fancy.  But during the day, or in the evening, I like a cup every now and then of mocha flavored, or hazelnut flavored, or french vanilla. And I love different types of creamers!

But hence the problem. I, like most everyone I know, am on a tight budget where having three or four (or even just two) flavors of coffee in the cupboard isn’t going to happen. Having a fridge full of various creamers isn’t going to happen either. Think of the money one could waste if they bought a particular flavor but found it wasn’t much to their liking. So until fairly recently, one had to settle for the tried and true, the traditional, the coffee of your mom and dad.

Then along came this little machine. It brewed one cup at a time through a little thing called a pod. Pods come in all kinds of flavors. You can brew yourself a steaming cup of mocha flavored coffee then turn right around and brew a cup of decaf for your nervous neighbor. The choices are endless!keurig-k-cup-carousel1

But the machine itself is pricey. And so is a box of the pods. So you have to weigh the options and find which one is best for you. It could be you’ll find you can go either way. Maybe having only two flavors, or maybe only one, isn’t such a bad thing on this day. You don’t want to make the decisions. Just do it the way it’s always been done and be done with it. Tomorrow, you can wrangle with which flavor you want. You get to choose the cover, er…pod.

Wow. Writers, like coffee drinkers, have never had so many choices and opportunities. Traditional or self publishing? Print or ebook? Or both to all?

In Rachelle Gardner’s new ebook, How Do I Decide? Self Publishing vs.Traditional Publishing (A Field Guide for Authors), the Books & Such literary agent lays out the differences (and similarities) between the two. The ebook is a must read for any writer wrestling with the publishing options that a few years ago, weren’t available. Rachellecover

The good news is at least now, we authors have a choice. Both are equally respectable; both require hard work and dedication. Both also require knowledge of craft, marketing, and yes, social media. There’s no right or wrong answer – only a choice. As an author, you must decide what works best for you. Rachelle’s book will help you do that.

Check out Rachelle Gardner’s ebook How Do I Decide? at Amazon.com and start making those decisions. The choice is yours!

 

%d bloggers like this: