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

after...

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!!!


Saturday, January 3, 2015

Kindle Countdown deal!

Starting the year off with a bang of deals and new intentions!!!!

All three books of Wolfmoon Trilogy will be available for .99 from Jan. 5-12th! Wolfmoon Trilogy
And the Gypsy Trilogy will be on a countdown right after that (Jan. 13-20th) Gypsy Trilogy
Take advantage of these great deals while they last! 

Between the flurry of holidays, grandchildren visiting and a head cold I have done next to nothing on my blog or my latest novel(s). I envy those who blog twice a week come rain or shine--I'm not one of them. But I also think (excuses) that I need to re-generate between bouts of creativity.

Today we (grandchildren and me) went to the zoo to see the 4 month-old baby elephant and while there we fed the giraffes and observed sleeping panthers and lions. The Tucson zoo is compact but laid out very well. Most creatures seem to be happy, which to me is a major plus. But as always it's sad to see how many animals are critically endangered now. I wish we as a species could try and preserve the ones we have instead of our interminable 'progress'. Could this be why I write fantasy? 

More later after everything settles down...

Hope everyone had a very Happy New Year and are feeling optimistic about 2015!



Sunday, December 21, 2014

Winter Solstice and a new attitude



Tonight we celebrate the return of the sun with a fire in our firepit and a libation to honor the gods and goddesses and the earth from which we come and to which we will return. The days will be growing longer for now on--it seems almost too quick! 

Yesterday my book signing went well--I met and spoke with interesting people and sold some books! I'm going to try and do more of these in 2015 along with having a more positive attitude. I will visualize my books with wings and I won't check constantly to see how many I've sold. What I realized yesterday was that selling is not why I write. I've said this before but it's coming around again. I want people to READ my books--the money is not important when it really comes down to it. And to give a bit of advice here, I think it's important for all of us as writers to know why we are doing what we're doing. Once we figure that out we can let go of what doesn't fit for us. In other words don't let yourself get caught up in a marketing frenzy when what you really want to be doing is writing! I know, I know, marketing is important and part of our job as indies, but we need to decide when to write and when to market. And we can attempt to think outside the box. If everyone is doing one thing, think of something else to do--something off the wall like plastering your car with an image of one of your book covers. ( I saw this done and it was pretty cool). 

I've spent a lot of money this year on all sorts of PR, telling myself that you have to spend money to make money. Well, I'm not so sure anymore. I've had ads in the local newspaper for several months and have not noticed a pick-up in sales. And no one came to my signing who had either read my newsletter or noticed the ad.  I'll continue for a few more months and see how it goes. 

But here I go talking about selling again...

I'lll be joining a writing group in mid-January--instead of being a critique group it is more of a support group for writers, which sounds good to me. I'm not generally a joiner but this one sounds different. We'll see. (always leave a way out is my motto)

I guess this is as close to New Year's resolutions as I'll get--I've never been one to do those since to me it's just a set-up for failure...Instead I like to form vague notions about how I want things to change--nebulous and ethereal--the way I write and the way I live. You won't find me with a list of do's and don'ts on my wall! 

How do you deal with these sorts of issues? Do you write out lists or do you leave it to chance? Do you make New Year's resolutions?

Thank you for reading and have a very Happy New Year!!!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

of shoes and ships and sealing wax...

Did you know that there is a Norse mythological ship named Skidbladnir? She could be folded up and put into a pocket and belonged to the god Freyr. Why do I mention this? Well, for one thing she figures prominently in my new book Gypsy's Secret, but also because this sort of stuff fascinates me.

I've heard authors say that the reason they write is because they like to make stuff up--I feel the same way and also LOVE it when I can find some tidbit like this to use in one of my books! This 'historical data' infuses the narrative with something bigger than my own imagination.

 I've allowed myself to become very negative recently about the 'real' world and because of this I can't sleep and feel like I'm coming down with something. I can't completely ignore it l but I can certainly bring the positive and playful into my life. And then just maybe the curtain will lift and show me the world that has been hidden for a few weeks.

Something is lurking at the back of my mind but to get at it a medieval rock wall needs to be scaled. And it's tall with very few footholds. On the other side is a grassy field that leads into a valley and at the very bottom is a river which I may have to cross. And it's rushing at this time of year. There may or may not be a dragon to carry me over the river but he lives on the other side of the wall and might possibly be unfriendly. But I have the muse the call on in times like this and call I will!

Will it be the unicorn who comes to my aid? symbolizing magic and breaking free. Or will it be Arianrhod, the moon goddess who I'm well acquainted with from the very first book I wrote? Or possibly a new one, Nematona, Celtic goddess of sacred spaces will appear to guide me over the wall.

Getting imprisoned in the physical world  is so easy if one doesn't take care and getting free again may take some time, but at least I can see the bars now. Soon they will be gone.