C.S. Boyack and I are blog and twitter friends. I love his writing style and humor. His latest book is finally out. Only $2.99. If you like sci-fi and quirky, you might like this:
Some people turn on the spigot and words pour out. They can reach over 100,000 words, then have to cut.
Not me. My words are stingy, little boogers that make me work for every single one of them.
As always, for every book I write, when I reach the near end of the second middle (near 54,000 words), I look at my plot points and panic. I just know I don’t have enough ideas and twists to reach 70,000+ words. I think that EVERY time. And guess where I am in Jazzi book 5 now? Yup. Almost 54,000 words. And I’m worried.
I have more plot points, mind you. More ideas. More suspects and questions and clues. But at this point, my writing momentum starts to fizzle. I always start out strong. The first fourth of every book is an adventure, introducing new characters, new subplots, a new murder to solve. And then the middle muddle starts, but my middles are sort of divided in half. The second fourth of the overall book leads to a new turning point. And often–sadly–since I write mysteries, I end up with a second dead body at the middle of the book–a victim who changes the direction of the story, makes my protagonist rethink her original opinions. It’s the third fourth of each book that slows me down. It feels like pulling teeth to keep the momentum going, to keep interviewing one person after another and keep it interesting and keep subplots chugging along.
I’m almost to the last fourth of the story, and that’s when things start to pick up, when my story gathers speed and clues start coming together. I’m almost there. I can feel it. And then the days of sitting fanny in chair and plodding and sweating will pay off. By next Monday, I’ll be ready for my fingers to fly over the keyboard again. Until then, well . . . I have a little more to go.
Wherever you are in your work, keep at it, and happy writing!
If you like horror or creepy, I have good news! My super wonderful writer friend and fellow Scribe member read us her short story FRECKLES a while ago, and we’re all so happy for her! It’s in the anthology BLOOD RED NOSE that came out TODAY, on Friday 13. Appropriate, right? Kathy’s stories are emotional and immediate. If you know anyone who’s afraid of clowns, this anthology flips it and asks, What are clowns afraid of?
Here’s the info to find it on Amazon:
I’m not very good at Facebook. I’ve connected my blog to it, so that every time I write a new post, it automatically loads on my author Facebook page, so I should have something new up at least once a week. Occasionally, I’ll post some great writing advice I find online, and when my publisher asks me to promote a sale or new release, I do. But that’s about it. I’m worse at keeping track of my regular Facebook account. I can lose a lot of time there, scrolling through all kinds of people and news I don’t know.
I do better at this blog. I try to write a new post every Thursday, and recently I’ve started putting up a Muddy River snippet every Monday and a Jazzi snippet every Thursday, but I haven’t decided if that’s worthwhile or not. It’s too soon to tell. On my webpage, I used to put up free books or short stories, but I ran out of those. So…I’m trying snippets. I do have two short stories to share in October, and two more in December. I’m tinkering with a Thanksgiving one, but I’ve had too many things interfere to give it the work it needs. I didn’t get enough feedback on the one I did for Labor Day to decide if that’s worth the time and effort.
I know every author is supposed to be serious about branding, but I don’t think I’ve nailed that yet. I really enjoy twitter. It’s quick and easy to scroll through some of my favorite writers and to find some interesting tidbits and pieces of writing advice. If I like it, I usually retweet it, so other people can enjoy it, too. I’m not overwhelming the world with followers with this approach. But it makes for a fun ten minute break when my brain’s drained of any words, and I need to recharge it. Often, when I finish writing a scene, and my little grey cells are spinning for a transition and the next scene, I zip to twitter for a fast refresher. And if I see something I like, I retweet it. Often, it’s something about writing. Sometimes, it’s about cooking. (I love to cook). I’ve even retweeted Tarot card meanings. They intrigue me.
I’ve noticed most other authors don’t retweet as often as I do, though. If they like something, they mark it with a heart, a “like.” Maybe that’s so that they don’t dilute their own brand. They keep their tweets mostly concentrated on their own news. And maybe that’s smart. It’s something I should probably think about. But for now, twitter is like a playground for me, a place to play before I have to get back to work, writing another scene, another chapter. And if the scenes are like pulling teeth, I spend more time on twitter than I should. That’s called stalling. I don’t want to leave my chair because if I stand up and wander off, it’s even harder to come back and get in gear. But my brain can wander away while I sit in front of my computer if I flip to twitter. And even I, the queen of distractions, can only take so much of the people who scroll past me. So, before long, I’m headed back to my WIP.
Someday, probably sooner rather than later, I need to rethink what I post. But for now, I enjoy posting news about my favorite authors. I mean, if I enjoy them, other readers might, too. I enjoy posting snippets. And I’ll never get tired of recipes and pictures of food. (But I could argue that IS “branding,” since I have Jazzi and Ansel cook together. So do Hester and Raven. Or is that stretching it?) Any ideas? Is there a smart way to tweet? I read somewhere that an author should write five original twitter posts a day. That’s hard. Interesting retweets are easier. I do know, though, that I’ve come across some authors that I want to retweet, but I can’t find anything original from them. So there needs to be some original tweets mixed with the others.
Things for me to ponder. In the meantime, if you happen to be in Columbus, OH, I’ll be at the mini-con for Kensington writers at Pierogi Mountain from 11:00 to 1:00 on Saturday. And as always, happy writing!
I don’t get to many movies, and I avoid important ones most of the time, so I enjoy M.L. Rigdon’s comments about them. She writes a blog worth checking out. And tomorrow, she’ll offer a snippet from her new fantasy book due out soon!
A diet of the superficial can lead to a want of substance. Feeling that lack in the present run of blah movies, I ran to catch The Farewell before it left theaters. So glad I did. With all the talk of diversity and inclusiveness, this is a story about how we are the same. When it comes to family, there are few cultural differences. Familial problems, foibles, and ongoing issues are personified in this touching story about a grandmother in the last stages of cancer. This is only part of the inciting incident. The real issue is that in China, the desperately ill are not told they are dying until the very end. This secret creates a painful wedge in the family—tell grandmother or not. What is fair, what is culture?
Awkwafina is brilliant as Billi. The close connection with her beloved grandmother shines throughout. She grieves the…
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Years ago, there was a romance writer that I found, and I got a kick out of the blurb for her book, bought it, read it, and loved it. I went right out and bought the second book in the series. When I read it, it was still fun, but it was SO much like the first book, it felt like I’d just changed the names and a couple of plot points and everything else was the same. But I didn’t let that discourage me. I bought book three. And…same old, same old. That was the last book of hers I bought.
But, on the other hand, I had a mystery writer who was an automatic buy for me until–and I’m guessing on the reason here–she decided she didn’t want to write straight mysteries. She wanted to write something more serious with more angst that tackled bigger subjects, and her characters had to suffer more. I endured that book and bought the next one, hoping the change was just a fluke, but nope. The next book tackled subjects that were grimmer than the previous book’s, and I was over it.
I buy certain books to suit my moods. I like Lynn Cahoon’s Tourist Trap mysteries as much to visit South Cove as to guess who dunnit. I want to hear the banter between Jill and her sheriff/boyfriend Greg. I want to know what Jill’s aunt is up to this time. When I want a warm read to lift my mood, Tourist Trap does the trick. Another automatic read for me is Anna Lee Huber’s Lady Darby books. Her mysteries steep me in Gothic atmosphere. I enjoy sinking into the world of 1830’s England, Scotland, and Ireland. I enjoy the growing relationship between Kiera and Gage. I expect long descriptions, mixed with history, and a moody vibe.
Are there some things that feel repetitious? Sometimes. Do I care? Not that much. They settle me back into those worlds, the feel of the books. Can too much repetition drive me nuts? Only if it feels like every book is a rehash of the one before it. And what changes that up? New plots, new characters. Different questions for the new book to answer. I want a new story that’s not like the old story every time I visit that author’s world.
I’m new to the J.D. Robb In Death series. Do I have certain expectations when I start one of her books? Oh, yeah. Eve Dallas is tough and gritty. The murders are visceral and grim. Roarke is richer than Midas with a lot more connections and a questionable background, and he’d move heaven and earth for Eve. I’m only now finishing book three, but even though the tone stays consistent for each book so far, the stories keep surprising me.
Can a series book change too much? It can for me. When I pick up a book and it doesn’t come close to my expectations, the reason I chose to read it, I’m not a happy fan girl. So, the trick is to keep each book fresh in a series but to keep the tone and feel of the book similar to the last one I read. That doesn’t mean one book can’t be more serious or more humorous than the last one, but it can’t feel like some other author usurped my favorite author’s name and tricked me. Simple, huh? Hah! Nothing about writing is easy. At least not for me. But think about why you keep buying books in a series. What keeps you coming back for more?
Whatever you’re working on, happy writing! And have a great Labor Day weekend.
P.S. I put up a new snippet on Monday for Muddy River and another new snippet on Thursday from The Body in the Gravel, if you’re following either. And I forgot to pin the Jazzi snippet to my twitter page. (Shame on me).
I’ve read over and over again that the best way for a writer to connect with readers and find a kazillion fans is to write a newsletter. I even started one once, and a few people signed up for it. But what the heck do you say that’s even halfway interesting that I haven’t already posted in my blogs or on twitter?
The truth is, I’m a pretty boring person. It’s even hard to make myself sound interesting for a clever bio. When I started high school, eons ago, I got the brilliant idea of keeping a journal. But almost every day of my life was like the one before it. I went to school. I came home. I ate supper. I did homework. I watched TV with my mom and dad and sisters. I wrote entries like “Lots of homework tonight, took me two hours to finish it.” “Loved Latin class today. We’re studying The Odyssey.” “Barb B got a new haircut, and I like it.” Exciting stuff. So I started making things up. “Our school bus driver decided to kidnap all of us this morning, and instead of taking us to school, she took us out in the country and gave us each a pocketknife and told us to look for moss on the north side of trees and find our way home.” Lots more fun. (Maybe I should have suspected I’d be a writer someday then, but it didn’t occur to me).
My life isn’t much more exciting now. My characters have all the fun. I plop my fanny in a chair and write about them. My hobbies aren’t exactly exciting either. I love to cook. I garden (badly). I love having friends over for supper, and I read almost every night before bed. Yawn. Okay, all of those are interesting when I hook up with someone who’s as passionate about them as I am. But newsworthy? Not exactly.
So my blog ends up being full of whatever I happen to be thinking about that particular week. And lots of writing stuff, because …well…I’m a writer. And sometimes, I talk about marketing because…again…I’d like to sell some of my books. I even include snippets each week and some short stories when I get inspired to share what I’m working on. BUT I haven’t tried to be your personal friend…yet. And you should be thank me for that. Because I read Anne R. Allen’s blog post this week, and it cracked me up. At the same time, I lit incense and said thank you prayers that this hasn’t happened to me yet. So, I think I’ll just stick with my blogs and twitter…and leave you in peace. You’re welcome:) And happy writing!