Tag Archives: writing tip

Wanted: Inspiration #WisdomWednesday #WriteWed

Now that I’ve got your attention . . . LOL!

I sometimes hear that a writer is waiting for inspiration or for the muse to hit to get started on a story. It makes me wonder what will happen if the muse is missing or that inspiration never materializes. It makes me wonder about what I write since I’m not the kind to sit and wait (for anything actually) and I just plopped my butt in the chair one day and decided to write.

Of course that was after a 5th Grade class assignment revealed to me that the stories in my head could become like one of the stories I loved to read. After writing my first book in the 5th grade, working on stories through high school, college and law school, it took a long time for me to say, “I’m finally going to do this.”

I haven’t looked back from that moment. I sat and I wrote. Every day. I didn’t sit and wait for inspiration and a muse because I’m the kind of person who believes that you make your own luck. That you control your destiny and that if you want something, you need to go for it full tilt like Don Quixote at the windmill.

Is it easy? Not always, in fact, most times not. There’s work and family and friends and a thousand other things that can pull you away from that story you want to write. You’ve got to want to write that story really bad and you’ve got to let the people in your life know that you want to write that story really bad. If they love you, they’ll understand and be supportive. They’ll celebrate with you when you say you’ve finished the story of your heart. They’ll hold you when you get that first rejection letter. They’ll be at your side when you get that box of books that says you’ve been published.

But that will only happen if you sit down and write, the muse be damned.

I’ll leave you now with a quote from a woman who was a friend, mentor, and most importantly, my mom: Nothing worthwhile is every easy.

The Character Driven Life #WriteWed

Whenever I do a chat I often get asked the same question: Where do you get the inspiration for your stories?

For me, the inspiration comes from a character that pops into my head. That character is just there, screaming to get a story. For example, many years ago when I was first writing contemporary romances, I had a very determined and hard ass female character interrupt the book I was writing. She just kept on showing up and demanding I listen. She was nothing like the other characters I’d been writing. She was dark and tortured. Troubled. Certainly not the kind of character I would put into one of my contemporary romances.

As much as I tried to get back to writing the story to meet my publisher’s deadline, that character would not go away and so I finally took a moment to write a chapter with her in order to understand her better. That’s when I knew it was time to try something different and Diana Reyes and The Calling Vampire series was born.

It was a lot like that for the new series since I wanted to get away from the darkness of the romantic suspense and vampire genres and into something that could show people love and lightness. To do that, I wanted a series of spunky heroines who had their issues, but who would eventually find happiness in their lives.

This time it was four characters who came to mind – Maggie, Connie, Emma and Tracy.

But even as I’m starting to work on #3 in that series, I have a character that’s coming to life in my brain. A young widow with a small child who runs a cheese shop in the fictional Jersey Shore town of Sea Kiss. Spin off time! LOL!

Once I have the basic idea for a character, I spend some time learning about who they are and what issues they have. What they need to be fulfilled. After that, I try to craft a hero that will bring out both the best and worst in that character and from there, the story emerges. I want that story to show the growth in those characters as they heal their wounds and find strength both together and alone.

And that is the character driven life.

Setting the Scene & Spring Happenings

On today’s Thursday 13, I want to invite you to take a visit to my fellow author India Drummond who is hosting me today as I blog about the powers of observation and setting a scene. Keeping in line with that, I thought I’d give you a list of the 13 things that I love about spring (not that it’s arrived here yet in the cold Northeast!)

1. Colorful crocuses peeking their heads out of the soil.
2. Golden daffodils.
3. Spring green bursting from leaf buds.
4. Soft pink of my Japanese weeping cherry tree.
5. The smell of freshly mowed spring grass.
6. The bite of wild onions mowed along with the grass.
7. First gurgle of the pond as I start up the pump.
8. Goldfish soaking up the sun.
9. Chatter of birds in the trees.
10. Sun, warm on my face.
11. Splashing through rain puddles.
12. Crisp breeze coming off the ocean.
13. The smack of the ball on the bat! It’s Opening Day!

Thanks for dropping by and don’t forget to visit me over at India’s blog. On this very last day of March and my month long birthday bash, I’m offering up a copy of AZTEC GOLD for one lucky person who leaves a comment on India’s blog by midnight EST.

Time Management Redux

work.jpgWe’ve talked about Time Management before (click here) since so many people wonder how it’s possible that I write as much as I do and still have a full time job. I should also add that family is important and I spend as much time with them as I can and I also volunteer at my writing group, the Liberty States Fiction Writers.

I discussed in that earlier blog how to make time to write, but also how you should plan to take time off. It’s that concept that I want to further discuss in today’s Tuesday Tip, namely having free time.

I don’t have much “free time” but it’s there in my schedule. I always give myself evenings off for various reasons. The first is that you do need time to recharge and relax. We all face tiring and stressful days, so having an hour or two to read a book, watch tv or just sit and chat is absolutely necessary to allow your mind to settle down. Especially for writers. It’s in that down time that our minds will rest and get ready for tackling the next page or chapter.

There’s also something else that’s really important about “free time”. When an emergency arises, like an unexpected deadline, having allowed yourself that “free time” gives you the necessary hours to deal with something unexpected.

For me, a change in deadline or new request can be handled in those few evening hours without the craziness of wondering, “OH MY GOD! HOW WILL I EVER FINISH THIS!” I don’t normally have those moments because I haven’t scheduled every second of every day.

So, plan for the downtime. If there’s nothing due, savor it and let your mind relax in order to destress and face the challenges of the next day. If something comes up, you won’t freak about not being able to find the time to do it.

I hope you found today’s Tuesday Tip useful!

Show, Don’t Tell

Click here for more on the Liberty States Fiction WritersBesides attending the monthly meetings of the Liberty States Fiction Writers, I have a smaller group that meets once a month at a local bookstore.

Last night we were discussing an oft-used phrase: Show, Don’t Tell.

One of my friends asked, “How do you know you are doing telling and not showing?”

My friend Anne Walradt is an expert on the subject and does a wonderful workshop on the concept. I can only offer some very basic advice and examples.

First, if you read it aloud and it sounds like a laundry list — You’re telling. An example of telling:

The alley was dark. It smelled of old garbage. There was movement at the end of the alley. It was a large man. He looked like a criminal. Fear gripped her. She ran away.

Was that interesting at all? Did you get involved in what was happening? Did you impart any of your knowledge to the scene, thereby becoming involved in the story?

If you answered “No”, then you understand what’s bad about telling rather than showing. So how you do write the above scene by showing? Here’s a shot at it:

Darkness swallowed her up as she entered the alley. Days old garbage filled a dumpster, making the air rank with the smell of decay. Shadows shifted at the end of the alley. A man stepped forward into the muted pool of light cast by a security lamp. Blue-black prison tattoos covered his arms and his face had the look of a boxer who had lost one too many fights. Her stomach clenched and a cold sweat erupted across her flesh a second before she whirled away.

A little better? Do you impart your own experience to what decay smells like? Did you wonder what the shadow was? Did the description of the man show you he was a criminal and/or trouble without telling you? How about the fear aspect? Didn’t use the word fear, but her reaction demonstrated it and you as the reader, recognized it.

That’s the biggest difference. When you show, the reader becomes involved in the story by interpreting what you are writing. With a laundry list, there’s no involvement on the part of the reader because it’s plan and simple. Of course, that does not mean that you should so confuse your reader with how you show something that they are lost.

So, that’s a very quick rundown on the concept of Show, Don’t Tell. I hope this Tuesday Tip was of help!