How Do YOU Write? (Pat)

Authors have many habits/ways/thoughts on how to get from Page One to The End.

I was reminded of this yesterday when I read an article containing quotes from various mystery authors on writing.   One said he couldn’t imagine writing a book without knowing the end.   Mary Higgins Clark, on the other hand, has said that she never knows who to villain is until the end.

Now there are right brain and left brain authors.   I think it’s the left brain authors who write by the seat of their pants.   Count me in that camp.   I have a friend who is a right brain author.   She writes a forty page synopsis and knows every twist in the plot.  I know none of mine when I start..

Mind you, I would like to be like that friend.   It would make my ilife much easier.   But I just can’t do that.  I get bored.   I want to get caught up in my characters and just follow them and record their journey.   I never quite know where they are going or how they will get there.   I just have faith that they will work things out themselves..

I usually start with two characters with many conflicts and let them out the gate.   By chapter three, I hope they’re racing down the track.   A good friend likes to start in the middle, then comes back.   Another, as I said, plots extensively and knows every little step along the way to the end.  .

My way often leads me into a closet, and it sometimes takes time to find my way out.   In the last book a totally unexpected scene popped out, and it completely messed up the parth I was taking.  Lots of rewriting.  But it was right for the characters and the book.

There is no right way or wrong way.   Our minds all work in different ways, and that is one reason I hesitate to give anyone advice on writing.   I don’t want to send someone down the wrong path for them.   Before I give any advice/speech, I have a disclaimer: this advice may be destructive to your career..   If something I say rings an inner bell, run with it.   Otherwise, promptly forget it.

For those authors out there, how to you put stories to paper?

Happy Labor/Release Day

Today is the start of Labor Day weekend.

When I was a kid, this meant: the end of summer, the beginning of school, and a new season of TV shows.

My, how things have changed!

For one, I live in California, now, and it’s supposed to be hot all week.

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Second, about half the kids I know started school three weeks ago. My granddaughters start next Wednesday.

As as for network programming, the new shows, like Viola Davis’s new series, which I can’t wait to try, are still 3-4 weeks away.

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Luckily, I have something to keep me busy until then. ;-)

For me, today is a different kind of Labor Day. Today marks the release of Nobody’s Cowboy, my second book for Tule Publishing, and the first book in my Big Sky Mavericks trilogy.

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As every author knows, releasing a book is a little like giving birth. You’ve labored for weeks/months. You ate right, took your vitamins, did the research, picked a name and crossed for your fingers that the fruit of your labor would be well-received by the world at large.

The thing about Nobody’s Cowboy that has me worried is my hero. Austin Zabrinski was introduced in Cowgirl Come Home. He’s that book’s hero’s older brother. He has older brother syndrome. He may have felt he was only trying to take care of his younger brother but in doing so he may have come off a bit…umm…abrasive. Or, as several readers commented, “Austen is a pain in the arse.” (So to speak.)

Luckily, so far, the early reviews have all been positive.

From Shari: “Reading Nobody’s Cowboy, my family was wondering why I was laughing so hard. Communal toilet…Austen is redeeming himself already.”

From Christina: You have no idea how awesome it was to read “Northern California” and not find out she was from the Bay Area! And the mention of Jefferson was awesome, too! Loved it all!!!”

Like any mama, I’m nervous about sending my baby off into the big, chaotic world, but I’m excited, too. Here’s a buy link, in case you want to take advantage of the release day price of 99¢. BUY

So, what’s on your Labor Day agenda? I will be R&Ring with friends on the West Coast of California–and watching the Amazon stats for Nobody’s Cowboy, like the hovermother I am. ;-)

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Have a great 3-day weekend, everyone!

Deb

PS: For those of you who love to hold a “real” book in your hot, little hands, Cowgirl Come Home is finally available from CreateSpace. http://bit.ly/CCHprint AND, the ebook version will be FREE at Amazon, Sept. 1-4, if you want a copy on your ereader, too. BUY

Take Me Out to the… Movies

I happen to enjoy movies. This past weekend, my hubby and I saw an unusual and excellent film–Boyhood.

http://bit.ly/VO9PCI

What makes this movie unique is that it was filmed over a twelve-year period, with the same cast. It was fascinating to see the actors/characters grow and age, and to peek into their fictional lives. Sometimes my heart ached for the things they put themselves through/had to endure. At other times, I smiled. And from time to time frowned, or silently warned, “Please don’t do that!”

Film director and screenwriter Richard Linklater moved smoothly through the years without ever telling the viewer that time had passed. We simply saw older versions of the same people and knew. This kind of story, filmed over a fairly long period time, has never been made before—if you don’t count the Up! documentary series. That’s non-fiction, and follows the same group of people from age seven, with an update every seven years. I loved it, too.

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If you’re interested, you can get all eight documentaries (Seven up! Fourteen Up! etc, all the way through Fifty-Six Up!, out a few years ago) through Netflix and probably Amazon.

Why are these glimpses into other peoples’ lives so compelling? Are we voyeurs, eager to poke our noses into perfect strangers’ business? (Well, of course!) But also, we humans are hard-wired for story. We crave stories about people and their experiences–what makes them tick, their shortcomings and strengths, their failures and successes. We learn from what happens to them, and we might even alter our opinions and beliefs. (I learned this cool stuff when I read Lisa Cron’s fascinating book for writers called, Wired for Story http://amzn.to/1zsTq3S.)

This is my round-about way of admitting that I like to learn about why someone thinks and behaves the way s/he does so much that I became a writer (and a voracious reader) in order to do just that.

Until next Thursday, and wishing you riveting tales to feed your natural hunger for story,

 Ann

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The Best Birthday Party Ever (Tara Taylor Quinn)

Last week was my birthday.  I’d been told to plan to be gone from Friday morning until Sunday night.  Mom and Tim were together on whatever was happening.  Mom’s idea.  She made the reservations.  Tim was driving.  On Thursday Tim was running an errand for Mom.  It was all very energetic.  And fun.

I picked up little clues.  Like when I was told we were taking Mom’s car because the gas mileage is better.  So…we must be traveling quite a few miles or that wouldn’t have mattered.

But I had no idea the experience that was in front of me.  I couldn’t have imagined even if I’d had the words, the knowledge.  And because it was indescribable, I’m just going to show you.   (And because I have to, let me remind you that Husband By Choice is out on Monday!)

Happy travels everyone:

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Canyon de Chelly – View From The Top

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You can only access the canyon with a Navajo guide. Mom hired one! Petroglyphs that date back to 500 BC!

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We were down 600 feet at this point.

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Navajo artist Antonio Carroll. He’d just finished that painting of canyon lore on a piece of slate from the canyon. Mom bought it!

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The Navajo call this the White House. It is an Anasazi ruin in the canyon that dates back to 500 BC. At one time 180 people lived there. They are estimated to be 4 feet tall at most.

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Completely surrounded by incredible beauty that reminds you that powers much greater than man alone are at work in our world!

 

Out of the mouths of strangers (Suzanne Forster)

My doctor was running late.  Her assistant told me it would be at least fifteen minutes, so I took a seat in the waiting room and looked over a tempting array of magazines, mostly directed at a female audience.  It seems the only time I get to read women’s magazines is when I’m at the doctor’s office.

I was leafing through lots of articles with super in the title (“Super Nutrients!”, “Supermodel Diet Secrets!”) when the woman next to me let out a soft gasp.  She was watching a morning soap on a wall-mounted TV.  The volume was so low I couldn’t make out what was happening, but whatever elicited the gasp made her turn to me and say “Do you see what her boyfriend is doing!  My boyfriend did that to me too.”

The man on the screen was making slashing movements with a pair of scissors.  Fortunately, no one was wearing the women’s lingerie he was cutting up.

“Your boyfriend did that?”  I looked closely at the woman, not sure whether this was a cry for help or just a personal moment she felt compelled to share.

“Oh, no,” she assured me.  “He didn’t cut up my clothing.  He put dents in my car.  On purpose, I’m sure, but he would never admit it.”

The magazine lay in my lap, forgotten, while she told me the whole story.

It seems her live-in boyfriend was adamantly against long-distance relationships, but she’d been offered a once-in-a-lifetime job opportunity in another state.  After many arguments and much negotiating, he finally agreed that she should take the job and he would stay and hold down the fort, a house they’d bought together and did not want to sell until they were sure her job would pan out.  He agreed, but it was obvious that he wasn’t okay with the arrangement and he found a variety of ways to punish her for sacrificing him instead of the job opportunity.  Sacrifice was the word he’d used, according to her.

I wasn’t surprised when she told me she’d lost the job and the relationship had fallen apart.  He moved out of their place, leaving her to sell it when she returned home, which was when she noticed that her new car had a dozen or so nearly identical dents on one of the fenders.  It looked like a car parked next to hers had opened the door and hit her fender over and over again.

Since her car had been parked in the garage while she was gone and the only car next to it was his, she didn’t have to wonder for long how the dents got there.  She imagined him driving into the garage and using her fender as his door stopper whenever he got out of his car.  She also imagined that repeatedly denting her new car had given him some kind of perverse pleasure, as if he was hurting her with every dent the way she’d hurt him when she’d chosen the job over him, which she swore had not been the case.

Every good story should have a surprise or two.  This one had a happy ending, if it can be called that.  Regardless, it was a surprise.  These two people, who had inflicted so much pain on each other, perhaps unknowingly, although both seemed convinced it was intentional, they got back together!

She didn’t tell me how that miracle came about, but she did say that her boyfriend felt badly about their split and the job she’d lost and he asked how he could make it up to her.  She gave his offer some thought and decided she wanted to have her car detailed.  He agreed happily, probably relieved that she hadn’t asked for diamonds or pearls.  However, when they took the car in the detailer pointed out the fender dents, guaranteeing that they could be completely removed and the car would look as good as new.  Her boyfriend agreed—and it cost him a chunk of money, several hundred dollars over the detailing cost.

It occurred to me that if the boyfriend had made the dents, it must have been an interesting moment for him.  Maybe he’d thought he was paying her back, but now he was paying the bill for his revenge.  Karma in action.  What goes around does comes around, especially if it’s pain.

It also occurred to me that if we put more energy into figuring out how not to hurt ourselves rather than how to hurt others, we might accomplish great things in this life.  World peace, anyone?  I’m only half kidding about that.  Studies show that the great majority of humanity’s problems are self-inflicted.  Not all, of course, but too many, yet it seems a rare thing when we’re willing to look deeply enough to see how we might have contributed to the mess we’re in—and accept the answer as a gift rather than a judgment, or an opportunity to blame others.

Ah, life.  So many mysteries, so little time—and even less insight, but that can change.  One thing I can say for sure.  I’m glad my doctor was late that morning and that a stranger decided to share her story with me.  I learned a lot.

Suzanne

Sacrifices to the Techno Gods

The technogods are not happy with the sacrifices I’ve been making to them. They have infected my internet with gremlins. I am strictly an end user, which means that I do precisely what I am told to do by whatever genius is supposed to be helping me. I have no idea why or how to make changes if his genius fixes don’t work. I live thirty miles from the only Apple Store around. In order to see one of those putative geniuses, you have to go on line to make an appointment. That is, if you can get on line, which mostly these days I can’t. How does one report the internet is down with no working internet?

Or report a phone that is not working when you have to use a phone to call anybody to tell them it’s not working? Most people now have cell phones, but what if the cell tower is down too? Mine often is.

I have DISH network. We investigated Comcast, but they came out to my little farm, said we were too far from the road, refused to give us service, then sent us bills for the non-existent service for three months until I called them and did my duchess act on them.

As to DISH—when the weather is clear I love it. A lady called last week to try to get me to change to another service. She asked me which channels I get. I told her, “All of them.” She hung up. When, however, the winds and the thunderstorms come, all bets are off. We lose the satellite signal. It may stay lost for several hours. That means that without the internet, phone service, or the satellite, I am blind to impending tornadoes.

My house sits high on a hill, so if we have a flash flood, everybody better head for the Ark fast. But tornadoes terrify me. I have watched a tornado swing along the fence line between my house and the barn, upend a twenty-foot long five bar steel gate while leaving it still chained to the fence on one side, take out five of a grove of seven big locust trees (No great loss on those—they are hateful trees), make a ninety-degree turn and twist out the top ten feet of a sixty-foot tall oak tree as though it were using a corkscrew. And that was a little tornado. I have a driving (carriage) friend who trains and works search and rescue dogs. She is nearly my age, but she and her dogs go at a moment’s notice to places like Joplin, Missouri. She can tell some kind of stories!

I can’t afford an in ground shelter, and down here almost nobody has cellars to hide in. I’m considering hiding in George’s gun safe, but I’d probably get stuck in it. I have spent innumerable evenings sitting on the floor of my closet with cell phone, sofa cushions, and all three cats, listening to the weather channel on the NOAA alert thingie. The horses stay loose in the pasture. They have a better chance free than locked in a stall.

At the moment our heat index is up in the double digits. When the weather breaks, I suspect we are going to get a doozy of a storm. Please pray we avoid the tornadoes and the power stays on.

 

It’s Too Darn Hot (Pat)

There’s a song in the musical, Kiss Me Kate, with the words, “It’s Too Darn Hot.”

It certainly is that in Memphis.   We have a heat index today of 105 and that was early in the day.   The humidity is extremely high.  We have a heat advisory in Memphis which is very, very rare.

I walk my two dogs every morning without fail.,   I drive to a nearby park with a mile-long trail through a forested area.  I walk one at a time, making a total of two miles for me.  (If I tried two at a time, I would be twisted like a pretzel).   I usually start around seven a.m. and end at nine.  I walk them through rain and snow and ice and whatever else might befall Memphis.

How’s the weather in your part of the country?

The good news is I finished revisions on my new book and Harlequin wants more Covenant Falls books.   I’ve written linked books before but usually they involved one character from an earlier book and he, or she, in a new setting.   This is the first time I’ve authored a series of books in one town with continuing characters.

I ‘m really happy because I’ve grown to love this town and its residents.   It’s amazing how quickly they became very, very real to me, and I too want to know what happens to them next..

We have had a very moderate summer.   Until now.   Now the weather is making up for its  early benevolence    We have a heat advisory in Memphis which is very, very rare.

I was going to brave the suffocating heat,   I started at six thirty, and with ten minutes I was wringing wet, and dog # 1 was panting as if she had walked the whole mile already.  I cut the walk in half.   We both barely made it to the car.   Went home and dog #2 was waiting at the door.   If there is one thing I cannot resist it’s Allie looking at me expectantly.

I drove back to the park.  The parkiing lot is usually full on Saturday morning with numerous dog walkers and runners.  The lot was empty.   The path was empty.  Even the birds were in hiding.    I made it a fourth of the way when I surrendered.    For once, Allie did not complain.   We went home and collapsed. .

Now Tara, friend and blog partner, would be quite content.  She loves hot weather, and the hotter the better.    I would ask how much she would take to fly to Memphis and walk my dogs, but decided that was a little impractical.  Still, a few more days like today and I might that desperate.  I’ll throw in pecans and tomato gravy.

How hot is it in your neck of the country?

The good news is I’ve finished revisions on my second Covenant Falls book, and the publisher wants more of them.  I’ve truly fallen in love with the community and its residents and can’t wait to start the new one and learn what is happening to my friends there.

Have a great week, everyone.

The great/annoying wrist saga continues

Good morning, my lovelies.

Today marks the start of week three of my great broken wrist saga. I am happy to say I have good news for you. I went to the [Orth soap edict] orthopedic specialist on Tuesday. The first thing his technician did was take off the 8-pound bowling ball. Yay!!!

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Next, they took two x-rays.

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Then I got to meet the doctor. First impressions: young, focused, smart, compassionate and handsome. He was accompanied by a second young man, whom I was told was a third-year medical student on rotation. Shades of McDreamy/McSteamy–they were both absolutely gorgeous.

My writer brain immediately started plotting some future story that involved a handsome young orthopedic doctor. And I liked him even more when he showed me my x-ray and said, “There is absolutely nothing I can do surgically that will improve this situation. Your bone is healing beautifully. I’m going to put you in lightweight [past] cast and I’ll see you back here in three weeks.”

This was music to my ears. I was definitely in love, now.

My next stop was to a technician who fitted my new light weight high-tech cast on my wrist. I loved him, too, because when I told him I was a romance writer, he told me that he was getting going to propose to his girlfriend this weekend. How perfect is that!? I gave him a bookmark and told him I’d be thinking about him and wished him well. Let’s all give a quick romantic shout out for [Parchis] Markus.

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In the meantime, since I had line edits to complete on Nobody’s Cowboy (Book I in my Big Sky Mavericks series from Tule Publishing) which is releasing NEXT Friday, OMG! I learned how to use Dragon. I am marginally impressed. Who thinks about adding punctuation when they speak? But it has saved my wrist a lot of pain and anguish. I do appreciate that aspect of it, but there’s still a bunch of editing that needs to be done. I left a couple of the dragon speak errors (the peculiar notations in brackets []) in this so you would see them and probably get a laugh.

Thanks so much for all your good wishes your prayers and your healing thoughts. I am very pleased with my progress so far and I hope to be back to normal in the 3-4 weeks that my doctor predicted.

Hugs,

Deb

Rituals, anyone?

rituals

Ritual: a series of actions or type of behavior regularly and invariably followed by someone.

 Lately I’ve been thinking about the rituals I use as I prepare to sit down and write each day. You know, the little actions or thoughts you always do/have before you start your day job. Mine: I roll out of bed and head for the gym. I’ve been exercising in one form or another since college, probably because my parents did the same thing. Their preferred method of torture was jogging around a track and the more enjoyable hiking with the local hiking group on Sunday afternoons. I used to jog, too. Now you can find me at my local fitness center, dripping sweat while I’m on the cross-trainer (where I catch up on my the magazines I like to read–this takes my mind off what I’m doing) or huffing and puffing on one of multiple Nautilus strength-building machines. It isn’t pretty, and those around me know not to breathe too deeply :-), but when it’s over, I feel so good.

 crosstraining

Then home I go, to shower, dress and sort through email and share my first Facebook post of the day. Then breakfast. I take my coffee to my office and enjoy it there.

Other rituals. I read through the scene I wrote before I quit for the day, making edits and improvements, which brings me right back into the story. When I finish a scene or a chapter chapters, I get to take a break—walking around a bit, returning calls, catching up on some of those emails. And when I finish my page count for the day, I pay myself a whopping $.25 per page. The money goes into a box, to be spent when I finish the book. Usually there’s enough for a pedicure or a massage or something fun.

Not very exciting, is it? And yet, my system works beautifully for me. My brain understands those mundane cues and knows that it’s time to get focused and settle into the routine of writing that story. That’s what matters, right?

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 What kinds of rituals do you have? Because you have them, too, even if you don’t pay them much attention.

That’s it for now. Until next Thursday, and wishing you a week of rituals to start your day off right,

Ann

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Offers (Tara Taylor Quinn)

ttq land is swamped.  I’ve been at this business a long time and I work hard.  Pretty much all the time.  I’m blessed and incredibly grateful to be able to do what I love.  Blessed to have been given an ability to write stories that people read.  I still have to stop and pinch myself sometimes when I look at the books I’ve written, the reviews from complete strangers, and realize that I really am a professional writer.  That I actually touch women’s lives in a positive way.

And the shadow side to this is that I have a lot of books that need their fair share of the limelight.  Coming to you in September:

Four Times The Trouble Hardcover EditionHusband By Choice  Four Times The Trouble is the Hardcover edition.  Husband By Choice is the third book in the Where Secrets Are Safe series, following Wife By Design (2/14) and Once A Family (6/14).  What I have to say about Husband By Choice is this:  When I contracted the book my editor told me that an in house conversation went something like this – ‘if anyone can do it, Tara can’.  When I turned in the book, the in house conversation was ‘she did.’  The cover makes this book look like a nice sweet family story.  It’s not.  It’s psychological suspense.

The offers:  I’m told I need more reviTheFriendshipPactwebews of The Friendship Pact on Amazon.  I’ve been authorized to give away #free a limited number of copies of this book in exchange for honest reviews.  For the next week, in celebration of the release of Husband By Choice, we’ll also be giving away ebook copies of Wife By Design and Once a Family to anyone who posts a review of The Friendship Pact on Amazon!  That’s three free books!  All current and recent releases!  Email staff@tarataylorquinn.com for offer.

And…here on Storybroads…we are giving away a brand new Kindle Fire completely free, with Storybroad books pre-loaded on it!  To enter, comment on a Storybroad blog post!  You can earn one entry per blog post from now until October 31st!

More news on the ttq front – we have titles!  In December, Child by Chance will be out.  And in March, 2015, watch for Mother by Fate!

Or, if you just want to have some camaraderie, join the open Friendship board on Pinterest.  We’re just getting started, but we already have international participation!  We’re just pinning pictures and quotes of us and our friends, or of friendships that inspire us!  We’re just shining a light on friendship.  Spreading friendship energy.  Focusing on one thing that is a huge source of strength for all of us.  Hope to see you!