Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Writer's block and how to get out of it

I have adopted a certain method to stave off the doldrums and writer's block that inevitably arrives. And so far it has worked--And I hope I don't jinx it by writing about it! (I'm superstitious that way)

If I get to a place where I'm going back and forth in the narrative changing little details and not liking it for some reason I take a step back, put it away and work on something else. Sometimes just a day of this will put me back on track. Other times the other piece takes off and I continue working there until something calls me back to the first one. Either that or I finish the second one and then go back.

I've learned to recognize these hints when they begin. The first can be the feeling that I'm a terrible writer, (and that can lead to bouts of depression and the thought that I'm not going to write anymore--said in a really voice or even yelled), the second can be questioning the plot line and going over and over other ideas that might be better while becoming more and more confused. The third is simply loss of interest.

What happened to me recently was number one and two. I'm still interested but just can't see my way clearly. The second piece of writing I moved to is also the start of a novel, one that I have plotted out somewhat in my mind. That plotting sent me screaming away several months ago. Well now that I'm working on it again I'm glad of the ideas that I had because the writing is flowing along easily. And I'm interested in what is going to happen next.

When things are going smoothly and the muse is on my side, the narrative appears on the page as though I'm reading a book instead of writing one. This is one clue that I'm on the right track. The other can be forgetting to eat and dialogue between characters running through my mind when I'm walking or washing dishes or in bed.

Having two projects going at the same time may not work for everyone, but it works for me. The second project could be something completely different, like an ongoing blog or a short story or some other type of writing that piques your interest. Anything to take your mind away from rehashing and rehashing.

How do you as a writer deal with the issue of writer's block?

Sunday, February 22, 2015

One Shade of Grey--a feminist diatribe on bondage.

If you loved Fifty Shades of Grey, you will not like what I am about to say. I am a child of the sixties when women were asserting their independence, standing alone. You may be too young to remember Gloria Steinem's famous quote 'A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle.' Well, it looks like we've come full circle. And where we've come to is not at all what I expected considering all the work we did to get out from under man's oppressive control.

This is a writing blog so I will begin talking about that aspect of things. Simply put, Fifty Shades of Grey is badly written. And because I am a fantasy writer and have many goddesses wandering through my prose, I find it deeply disturbing to have them evoked in the name of sex. 'My inner goddess wanted him'--oh please, give me a break. Any goddess worth their salt would have kicked the bastard out the minute he became controlling.

Okay, so on to a few other things. Why is it that women want to be controlled by men? Because from the success of this book and now the movie, they do. Have we really come to this point? Or is this some secret desire that has never been gone in the first place? What do women want? I was talking with a friend of mine, a woman older than I am. She said that we have always been dominated. That women across the world live like this and it isn't any different here in our country. How can this be, I ask myself? Is it because of the recent rise of Islam and women wearing the veil? do we all want to wear the veil and be thought of as goddesses who no one can look upon? Does it sound good to you as a woman to hide from the world and only by seen by the one man who takes your maidenhead? And what if he's an ugly old man who treats you like shit?

Good thing Grey was good-looking, don't you think? Yes, I suppose this sort of stuff can be titillating but is that what women want from a relationship? And in a world of books where we have kick-ass heroines beating the shit out of men and going it alone it makes no logical sense. What people do behind closed doors is not anyone's business but the success of this book has made it very clear that this is indeed what women want. And as an author who works hard to write the very best I can and tries to put a message into the world that empowers women, it disturbs me.

Yes, I will admit that I am jealous of the success of this book. But my anger at what readers in this country go for far outweighs that emotion.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

VOTE early and often!!!!

Just kidding about the often part...I was picked as a finalist on Bookbzz for Just Another Desert Sunset but the only way I can win is to have the most votes! I figure I don't have a snowball's chance in hell but thought I would at least make an effort!

So, my friends, if you are so inclined PLEASE go here and click on Just Another Desert Sunset! And thank you so much for taking the time!!!

Wish me luck!

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

To plan or not to plan--(was this already a blog title?)

I have written about this issue before but every time I do I bring in another element that someone might find of use in their own process. I started two books recently and after fifteen pages I settled on one to work on. It was the easier of the two since most of the characters were already developed in previous books. No, this is not meant to be a sequel. In any case I ended up spending a lot of time planning out what I had in mind and where I wanted the story to go. Guess what happened?

Now, thirty pages in I'm bored. I'm hurrying to get to the part that I haven't planned with hopes that the story will take me on a magical mystical tour and not flatten out into something known. This little experiment has shown me why I cannot plan or plot.

And so I am working on the other story, the one I have no clue about. At the moment my main character is surprising me at every turn.

I know a lot of people plan and outline their novels. I am in awe of them. If I did that I wouldn't write. When I write I feel like I'm reading a book. The story unfolds in front of me in mysterious ways and NEVER goes in the direction I expect. At this point I'm thinking of starting the first book over at a point in the future beyond the planning stage. I can always add backstory if it's necessary. That way I won't know what's going to happen next! Because if I'm bored won't the reader be bored?

I would love to hear how all of you write...and what works and what doesn't. Please leave me a comment if you can--I've had several complaints that it's hard to do this! Not sure why.

Thanks for reading!!!

Friday, January 16, 2015

good/bad and what might come of it...

Yesterday was an interesting day of contrasts. I had been in touch with a woman who runs a writing group who had told me that the next meeting was on January 15th at 10 in the morning at the library. I showed up there after a lot of angst (basically hate groups, especially when I don't know anyone) and stood in the main room trying to figure out where to go. As I stood there I began to have an ocular migraine, a condition that is brought on by stress. My eyes go wonky and I can't focus. Okay, great, I thought to myself. I'll have to tell the group what's happening when I introduce myself. I walked over to the desk to ask where the meeting was being held and the woman there consulted the 'library newsletter' and then told me that the meeting was not today, it was on the 22nd! As soon as I found this out my ocular migraine began to recede.

In the meantime I introduced myself, secured a library card and made a plan to add my 7 books to the library. After that I drove over to a clothing shop a friend mentioned to me and made an appointment with the owner to bring my books by and speak to her about having them included in the store. From what I've been told she does book signings there as well. See? Good and bad.

An hour later my husband and I were speeding toward Bisbee with a sack of my books on the back seat. For a year now my books have been at a place there called "The Source within' but I haven't been able to reach them by e-mail. The owners are incredibly nice but not ones to go in for electronic communication. When I arrived there the owner was speaking with  customers and I waited...and waited...and waited some more...finally amidst his talking with others, I managed to glean that my books had not been selling. So, feeling disappointed I gathered them up and added them to the bag of books I'd hoped to leave there!

And so since it was after lunchtime by then, my husband and I headed up the street to a little market cafe that has very good food. I was still feeling funky but also relieved that I wouldn't have to drive to Bisbee all the time, (120 miles from Tucson) when I got into a conversation with a man and woman having coffee and dessert. I told them why I was in Bisbee and then we got into a discussion about my books. I gave them my card and then the woman making lattes behind the counter chimed in..."I couldn't help but overhear. Do you know about Vision Quest in Scottsdale?" No, I said. "Well, I used to work there and it would be a great place for your books." I handed her my card and thanked her and the others and went to eat my curried chicken salad.

I guess the moral is you never know what's going to happen next. And as far as the writer's group goes, I realized that since it's a motivational group and I don't need any motivation that it really isn't for me. Is the goddess (or my unicorn) at work here or is it my imagination? You tell me.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

planning...or not...

I have begun two new books but am only 15 pages in on both of them. Those 15 pages came quickly enough but since then I've taken a hiatus brought about by extenuating circumstances (family, holidays etc..). Since then I've actually been PLANNING--a tactic I have never employed in all 7 books that have come before.

My planning is not what others might call planning--it's more of a loose idea about where I want the plot to go and what I expect to happen--daydreaming and writing dialogue in my head as I walk in the desert. Of course I have little memory of it later and only hope that somewhere in my subconscious the ideas are percolating. There is no outline involved in this. And then I wonder what my characters will do once I place them in a certain situation because I'm sure it won't be what I think it will be. This is the part of writing I love most--when the characters say: 'yes, but...'and then they are off on their own adventure with me following along writing as fast as I can.

These next two books are both YA, I guess, since the main characters are around sixteen. I'm not sure I know how to write this genre since I'll be appealing to people who spend most of their waking lives on electronic devices. My two main characters, a boy and girl, are bumbling into the University in Edinburgh from a place where there are no electronics at all and where they grow their own vegetables and make their own cheese. Is there any way in hell a modern girl or boy would want to read about this? The only thing I have going for me is magic and sorcery--and I hope this will be enough to intrigue my readers--that and the hilarious situations that could arise. Do I keep my own opinions out of the story as my naive characters blunder their way through a world they don't understand? But how does one keep one's thoughts out of the narrative? And is the appearance of a unicorn too cheesy?

I've struggled with this for several days now and have come to the conclusion that I need to write what interests me, not what I think will interest someone else. There are several issues about life on this planet at the moment that concern me and to try and keep away from these topics would be dishonest.

How do you cope with these problems? do you hide yourself or do you let yourself come through your characters? Do you worry about your reading audience or do you just write and let the chips fall where they may?

Tuesday, January 6, 2015


The new year has come and gone, the holiday season has finally ended...then why can't I write? The reason you, me, anyone can't write at this point is that we have allowed circumstances to take over our creativity. We are simply out of practice. Sit down at the computer and begin--that's all it takes. Except...I've been hit with the worst depression in years! Still sorting through it but I know it is old stuff brought up by recent events and a powerful full moon. (Can you help me, Arianrhod?)

The adage about writing a certain amount of words a day really does work. It could be the worst gobbledegook ever but it keeps the creativity going, and invokes the muse even if she's just lurking in the background. I heard an interview today with an author whose name escapes me. He said he didn't start writing until he was 31, as though that was late to come into it. I hate to tell you how old I was. I find myself terrified from time to time contemplating a life without it!

Now is the time to start something--to begin the story you've been thinking about for months and months, maybe even years. You don't have to be so strict about your writing schedule that you end up sabotaging yourself--just set a general word goal and go from there. If you don't make it one day, start the next. Don't be hard on yourself. This is supposed to be fun, remember? Once it becomes a  chore it no longer serves.

I plan (notice I don't say 'I'm going to'...) to go to a writing group on the 15th of this month. I hope I do because I think being in a group of writers will stimulate me. And it is not a critique group, which gives the entire thing a bit more allure. I'll let you know how it goes.

Right now I have to begin writing again. I've started two stories, gone back and forth from first to third person, (settled on first) and know where I want it to go. Whether the characters agree is yet to be found out...

So sit down at your desk and get out pen and paper or open your Word file and BEGIN!

I'm taking my own advice. Happy creating everyone!!!