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Traffic Patterns and Writing Routes

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Do you remember the last time you went on a vacation that required a lot of driving? My family and I recently made a trip to visit friends and relatives in Pennsylvania. The trip out was easy and uneventful but the trip back home was a bit more complicated. That’s frequently how my writing journey has been and you probably have a few of those trips on your own previous itineraries.

1.      Take it to the limit

The legal speed limit is different depending on what area of the country you may be driving in and I know it’s also different in other countries. We have friends who lived in Morocco and the stories they shared were enough to terrify race car drivers. Okay, maybe not race car drivers but you get the picture. I like the legal limit most of the time but have been known to get a heavy foot. My writing speed could be described as definite slow lane travel. How about you? I’ve admitted in the past that I’m a turtle when it comes to writing. I am finally getting a better personal route to achieving daily or weekly word count after three books. I don’t know how those NaNoWriMo speed demons do it. I’m in awe.

The first sign of trouble came when a police officer detoured everyone on 70 West. We never did find out why but not long after that traffic slowed and then came to a dead stop. We were only about thirty minutes from our next scheduled stop and it took us more than an hour to get there.

2.      Detours

I don’t like detours regarding traffic or writing issues. That’s not to say they aren’t good and are in fact sometimes necessary. We discovered the slow traffic was do to construction efforts. That’s what my writing detours are usually about too. Plot construction, character construction, etc. My current novel, Chameleon, that released in May was a construction nightmare. I wrote in scenes that never quite melded together the way I anticipated and caused me no end of headaches. But eventually I was rewarded with a wonderful novel and a story I think you’ll enjoy.

While we were eating at Bob Evans we asked a couple different people that lived in the area if there was a road that ran parallel to the interstate. We were told by both people that route 40 would get us to Columbus.

3.      Check Your Facts

Don’t take others advice too quickly. We tried. Really we did. We never did find route 40 but we did notice that about 10 minutes out on the very curvy road we were on that the interstate traffic had started to move. We went back and got back on the interstate. No more problems after that, but it had been so frustrating. So even though we’d asked for help we still got lost. Writing is like that. We have to check and double check our facts to make certain we understand where we are really going or we may end up wasting time and turning around.

Have you ever experienced similar frustrations on the road or in your writing routine?

Are You On Track?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Do you remember what resolution or word you chose to encourage you or make a significant difference in your life this year. We're already beyond that halfway mark for the year. So how are you doing? I went the Debbie Macomber way and picked One Word to carry with me through the year. The word I chose was organize and I've made some headway both at home, at my day job and with my writing.

My counseling office
  1. Home- I've picked little tasks to tackle. A corner here, a stack of books there, a trip to Goodwill with clothes that don't fit now and then. Small but helpful steps toward a more organized home.
  2. Day Job- I got lots of help with this one. I came back from a vacation and found that my office had been painted and all the mess packed away in boxes for me to go through, and I am. It's awesome. Sometimes we do need a little or a lot of help from our friends.
  3. Writing- I've become more organized with how I approach a project. Yes, I'm a seat of the pants writer which probably contributes to my disorganization within my writing projects. But I've become a bit more organized within those parameters. A little plotting here and a little time line there and it's a bit easier.
So no matter how great or small your progress with whatever word or resolution you chose for the year the important thing is to move forward. If you've fallen out of step with your plan now's the time to get back on track. Every day is new.

Are you on track?


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

 My most recent WOW FACTOR idea came from my day job!

I love trying to come up with new ideas to my books into the hands of readers
I work as a counselor for nursing students. Last week the golf enthusiasts from the college had a beautiful day to play and raise money for the college scholarship fund. This was the 4th Annual Good Samaritan College of Nursing and Health Science Scholarship Fund Golf Outing.

It's wonderful when the day job is proud of and encourages my writing career. Here you see the awesome ad that I paid $25.00 for to help the college cause and my own. How cool is that? So all day long everyone who came to the golf course got a glimpse of my second novel, Chameleon.

Secondly, share a colorful WOW review now and then. 

I've been blessed with good reviews. This one by Margaret Metz at Through the Fog got me. You can also see it at Barnes and Noble. Even though we all know where to find our reviews I believe it's a good idea to share some of them now and then. I'm always hearing that if you have too many good reviews and not enough bad ones that it doesn't create enough controversy and readers will be less likely to want to buy your books. Do you believe that? I don't. Everyone's got an opinion and what I've found the most is that some of the one star reviews are complaints about other things than the writing itself. They don't like the cover, or they got to review and they don't enjoy the genre, so why did they review it? What I love about the following review is that the reviewer also totally got me. :)

She totally got me! Okay, I know I'm supposed to ramble on about ...

She totally got me! Okay, I know I'm supposed to ramble on about the beautiful cover (isn't it gorgeous?), and the author's mad skills in creating characters, but I'm overwhelmed by how cleverly she crafted this plot. I can usually reason out the answer to mysteries pretty quickly. I didn't know anything until she wanted me to. I would guess and then some new bit of information would come out . . . It was fantastic!

I truly enjoyed the first book and was thrilled to meet back with so many of those characters again. Victoria was a fantastic leading lady and I loved her nickname. I have a chronic illness myself and totally understand her focus on studying people -- almost as if you are living vicariously through them. She has brains, beauty, and enough will to make her equal to any task. I liked her a lot.

Witt was my favorite kind of hero. He's a little bit of the bad boy -- though more misunderstood than truly bad. He has let his past define the man he is today. He's closed off, reserved, and private. The mystery in those grey eyes makes him even more attractive to Victoria.

The second book continues to address the treatment of the mentally ill, but it also touches on how women were viewed and what their roles should/could be.

This was a fascinating story that makes my favorites list. I want to thank the author and her publisher for providing me a copy of the book. It in no way influenced my review.

So what are your WOW  FACTOR thoughts? What do you think about sharing a review now and then on your blog and other social media that wowed you?

Five Things I Learned From My Personal Writing Retreat

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

I took my very first personal writing retreat a couple weeks ago to finish the third book in my current series. I wasn't sure what to expect since I'd never been to this retreat center. I've never been to any retreat center to stay more than one day. A trusted friend suggested I try it. I stayed an entire week at Potter's Ranch.

The picture to your left is a road I walked up and down every evening thinking about very little after spending most of the day writing and knowing the evening would be spent writing as well. There were horses everywhere. I could actually stop and listen and hear nothing but crickets, geese, and birds.

My cabin was awesome and had two bedrooms and two baths, a full kitchen, and lovely living room. I brought snacks and breakfast food with me and joined the staff and other guests for lunch and dinner every day at the lodge. There was no television channels but I could watch DVDs. The only thing I brought with me was season one of Downton Abbey. I watched the entire season again but only after I'd met my necessary quota of words for the day. :)

Five things I learned from this experience.
  • FOCUS is a powerful tool. When I write at home it's so easy to be distracted. But when I scheduled my time to run away from home I didn't have to worry about the dishes or dinner, laundry or running to the store. I was able to stay in my story and that helped me get more done faster.
  • ACCOMPLISHMENT fuels me to want to accomplish more. After all, I was by myself. I didn't have anything else to concern myself with.I accomplished more than I thought myself capable of doing.
  • SELF MANAGEMENT is more than managing my time. I took breaks to keep my back from aching and keep my head clear. I used the timer on my cell phone to see how many words I could write in 15 minutes, in 30 minutes, and in an hour. 
  • PEACE is essential. I knew that, but I rarely experience it. To walk and not see anyone, to spend time with God and just let all my worries pour out. Great therapy by the way. To read my Bible looking out over fields and trees, was like living on another planet for me.
  • CONTENTMENT blooms from within when I allow it to happen. Life can be crazy, can't it? The days fly by me so fast and until I took this opportunity to go away, even though I had the specific purpose of finishing a book, I received so much more.
 I hope you will treat yourself well and think of doing something similar for yourself down the road. We can't always run away from home, but with some good planning you can find a way. Maybe you can't get away for a week but even a couple of days will bless you.

Now that I've had my retreat I'm looking for ways to keep retreat alive in my daily life. What about you? Have you enjoyed a personal retreat of some kind? What did you learn?