Magic or Stress?

 

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There’s a certain magic in the air when you get ready to start a new project.

Ideas are popping, seemingly out of nowhere. Your thoughts are racing in all different directions and sometimes it’s hard to rein them in for sorting. This is an exciting time for anyone about to begin something new, but especially for an author. We’re taking a simple thought, expanding and creating, until we have a story to tell.
Whether it be a romance, mystery, fantasy, thriller, or anything else; it’s something we want to create and share.
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Sometimes it’s a continuation of an old idea. For example, continuing a series, writing a sequel, or finishing a trilogy. With these type of books, we’re merely continuing an old idea. or expanding on it, making it better each time we write the next. We may or may not produce a complete outline for all the books. Whether or not we have the outline; our thoughts will continue, and ideas will spring forth.
But there’s a side to the creativity which is fearful as well. This is overwhelmingly evident for me when I start a new series. I’m leaving the comfort of the characters already created, the settings I’ve already got down pat in my head, and the storyline. But there are times when you know it’s necessary to move on. And when you move on, fear begins.
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Will my readers like my idea for the series? When do they fall in love with my characters as I do? Would I want to visit the settings created on the pages? Or will the whole thing just be a flop!
But when I start a new series, I trust my ideas and I move forward, squashing down the fear in my eagerness to get my ideas onto paper.
Not every idea will work out, or make it into a story. But once I find the idea I can’t forget, that haunts me during the day, makes me wake up at night and has me talking about it to my husband, then I know I’m ready to put the idea into book form.
I think this is why I have several series going at once. Not every idea will fit a certain series, so I create another. And with each creation, there’s an elevated level of excitement that needs to be toned down, so the words come out and make sense.

 
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Being a writer is more than just putting words on a page. It’s also about juggling ideas and letting them form with questions.
And knowing which ones to pursue.

Victoria LK Williams

A little Insight

Do you see me?
I think every author puts a bit of themselves somewhere in their story. Something as simple as a location you’ve been, to a favorite object, an irritating habit or secret longing. These things seem to find their way into the storyline.
Even fantasy worlds are based on something that the author knows or is familiar with. It could be something in your everyday life or something from your past but it’s hard not to use your personal experiences into your story.
Here, let me give you a couple examples from my writing…
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In the Citrus Beach Mysteries it’s obvious. Megan the main character is heavy into gardening, creating private landscape designs for clients. I own landscape company, also creating private gardens and planting container gardens. (visit my gardening blog! www.gossipfromthesoutherngarden.blog) What you may not know is that Megan’s dog Barney is based on our family’s beagle we had when my son was growing up. He’s in puppy heaven now, probably still stealing pizza.

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Storm voice reveals my love of nature and how mystical I think it can be. The combination of Storms and creatures from folklore along with and an ability to hear what others can’t gives my main character, Mac, a different take on a mystery. Add in an all-knowing cat, and I’m happy.

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Sister Station is written out of my childhood memories of living in upstate NY. My father was a railroad man for years, giving me the inspiration for this series.

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Finally, in my new series I am writing, the main character is a photographer. Now I am not a professional photographer, but I love to take pictures. And I live in an area where there’s more than enough scenery to keep me occupied.

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There are other things woven throughout all of my stories reflect my day-to-day life or something from my past. As you read my stories, you might find more things about me. Things I might not even realize I’m revealing.
It’s almost impossible not to have parts of your life and personality creep into your writing. It’s up to you to decide how much you let the reader see. I believe the more of yourself into your story the more real it will seem to your reader, pulling them deeper into your tale.
Now I’ve shared with you some of my secrets, probably more than you wanted to know. It’s your turn; tell me—what secrets do you share with your readers? 

 

www.VictoriaLKWilliams.com

Pinterest: an Authors Tool

Do you struggle to find inspiration for a new story or plot line or a blog?
I’m not talking about writers block. I’m talking about just needing that edge to move your story forward or to put a twist into it. Or maybe you need to help to describe something and you can’t quite visualize it on your own.
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What you need to realize is inspiration is all around you. Whether it be walking through art show or walking through Museum, inspiration is everywhere waiting for you to take notice. Think about it; the artist has already pinpointed the focus of the piece, they’ve even had it framed. The saying “writing is painting with words” comes to mind when I think of how these pictures have help inspire me.
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Most of us heard of Pinterest and probably used it . But it is also a great tool for the writer. For example, if you go to my storyboards, you’ll find I have storyboards for every book I’ve written, and every book I plan to write.   I drop pictures onto my board to help me keep hold of an idea, sometimes for a plot twist or an interesting fact about a character. I can go back and reuse these pictures. They can spike an idea help me describe the location, person or they can help me expand on something I already thought about.
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But before there was Pinterest, there was something called a magazine. You could find magazines everywhere. If you found you couldn’t afford to buy them, a trip to the library and would give you the opportunity to look through them. Travel, cooking, fashion, sports, hunting, the list of magazines goes on.  If you found inspiration about something new to you, the information was right in front of you.
The work of other people can give you inspiration as well. I was walking through the art gallery and I came upon a picture of a small little inlet, palm trees swaying boats bobbing in the water and a rustic old shack at the beaches edge. It was perfect for what I was thinking about. I hadn’t realized what I was looking for until I saw that picture. Getting permission from the art gallery, I snapped a quick picture and then I made notes. I would never post that picture because belongs to somebody else. Not without their permission, but it was enough to inspire me and get me over the hump.
So where have you gotten your latest inspiration from? Something you saw on the news, something you read in a magazine, or something you saw on Pinterest? Wherever you get your inspiration, don’t be afraid to run with it. However, I caution you to make sure you are not interfering with anybody else’s copy rights to the picture and you’re only using it for your own inspiration. If you need to use a picture in something you plan to post or promote with and you haven’t taken your self, pay to use it! Lawsuits are a serious problem, and besides, it’s the right thing to do! There are many sites you can purchase photos from, I use Shutter Stock.
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If writing is like painting with words, then find your inspiration and begin writing.
Paint the picture for your readers.

 

Hear that Whistle Blow…

The warning gates are going down and cars are stopped. I see the man in front of me throw his arms up in dismay; the train is coming. And the whistle blows as the engineer sounds a warning blast.

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There’s something about the sound of a train whistle reaches deep into my soul and grabs hold. I don’t know if it’s the tone of loneliness or the promise of unexpected journeys the train may hold for its passenger, but there’s something that connects with me.
Perhaps because I come from a family that has a long history with the railroad. My father, my grandfather, even a few of my uncles, worked as railroad men, spending many years jumping from the rails to a car. They worked both on the rails and in the rail yard, day in and day out. Railroading is a hard industry and dangerous, but I didn’t realize that when I was a child. I just understood my dad was a rail-man.

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My grandfather would sometimes come and get me and take me to play on the train and I’d climb up into the caboose or riding around in the rail-yard. It might have only been for ten or fifteen minutes, but to this little girl it was an exciting adventure.
As I became an adult, the railroad seem to follow me. Every home I lived in with my husband- from our tiniest first apartment to the home we live in now -we have been within hearing distance of that whistle. Reassuring me, perhaps it gives me a sense home.
I’ve never considered the sound of a train to be irritating or a nuisance. I can remember the Realtor apologizing for showing us a house close to the sound of the tracks. Little did she know it was a selling point for me.

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There is a sense of Americana when you think of the railroad. Hobos, with their belongings tied up in a red handkerchief, tied to a stick springs to mind first. But there is more to the railroad than that. The expansion of rail stations and endless miles of track are part of what opened the western United States to settlement. Goods and supplies work their way from one coast to the other, connecting our country. Great men worked to expand the railroad, even to the south, like Henry Flagler. Much of our countries history results from the railroads.

Today that whistle sounds for safety reasons, but it means more, too. It’s like a cry to the wanderer in your soul. Do you answer it? Maybe. One goal I would love to achieve is to drive out West to take one of those long train trips through the Rocky Mountains. Nothing could be more romantic or exciting.

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I’ve even used railroads in my writing. If you’ve ever read my Sisters Station Series, you’ll know it centers on an old railroad station in a small northern town. The two sisters are revitalizing the station, giving it a new purpose for today’s world. It’s not a mystery, but rather a sweet story about two sisters with a goal, getting to know their new home and community. And as I’m sure you realize, things can happen in a small town which might take you by surprise.
Well, the crossings gates are going up, the train has passed by, and it’s time to continue on my way. Going in the opposite direction of the train on my way to work while the train it goes on its way to new adventures.

What direction will your next bit of writing take you?

www.VictoriaLKWilliams.com

Hello!

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Yes, it’s still me, Victoria LK Williams. And you’re at the right place-my blog. 

It was time for an up-grade and a new look. I’ve even changed the blog title (just a bit).

There is still lots of tweaking and more to add; a work in progress!

But I didn’t want to wait until it’s perfect (because it really never is-things are constantly changing, aren’t they?) because I wanted to announce that the news book in the storm Voices Series is now available for purchase!

You can also purchase it from many other outlets through here:

https://www.books2read.com/StormVoices-2

Please let me know if you enjoy the book, and don’t forget to leave a review (author’s love reviews!)

You can find out what my next project is by visiting my website.

www.VictoriaLKWilliams.com

Until next time, happy reading!

 

Stolen Moments

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I think everybody has a “to do” list.
Some are short, some are long. A few might even be considered part of a bucket list rather than a to do list, but everybody’s got one. You’ve written it down are in the back of your head. We’re all busy; kids, school, work, writing. And there’s only so many hours in a day to get everything accomplished. Often things on today’s list get pushed to tomorrow, because there just wasn’t enough time.
But every occasionally, you find a stolen moment. A moment with nothing on your agenda, a moment when no one is clamoring for your attention and you can breathe.
So, what do you do with that stolen moment? Do you pull out your list and work on something else?
I think that’s what most people do. But here’s a novel concept; take that stolen moment for yourself.

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Grab a cup of coffee and go out and sit in the garden with a book you’ve been longing to read or a blank piece of paper to doodle on. Perhaps you can simply sit back, close your eyes, and do some deep breathing exercises. Not every minute, not every second has to be productive. Sometimes it’s healthier to be inactive.
Once I get over the guilt of having a stolen moment and taking it for myself, I find my mind wanders. I come up with some of the best ideas this way. Things that were in the back of my mind finally work their way forward; getting the attention they need, and yes, deserve
There used to be a time in our society when quiet moments were expected. After a long day’s you work came home, ate dinner, and had a quiet time. It might have been in the company of your family, or maybe sitting by yourself out of the back porch letting your thoughts wander. Personally, I think our minds were more stimulated because of this. We were forced to use our imagination in the days before there was a TV in every room and a phone in every hand. Everything wasn’t programmed for us on the TV or in a game.

Recently I had the opportunity for some stolen moments for myself. My husband was out of town, leaving me on my own with no obligations. It was amazing! The first thing I did? Turn the TV off. It felt weird, the house was too quiet, so I turned onto my old music to listen to. The stress and tension when out the windows.
At first, I just unwound. But then, the quiet moments led to productive thinking moments. A lot of “what-ifs” were tossing around my head about possible story lines. But rather than hurrying up and writing down an outline, I let them develop and nurture inside, without forcing them. By the second day I was ready for an outline. Because I had given the chance for the stories to form  on their own, my outline flowed from my fingers to the keyboard.

 

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Now I’m not saying you should get rid of your husband (because I really did miss him), or family, or leave your job for a week in order to be productive in your writing skills. But, if you let some stolen moments work their magic, you would be surprised at the results.
And here is an original thought: why wait for a stolen moment?
Why not set aside five or ten minutes every day for quiet time? We used to make the kids do it, at least to my house we did. Quiet time was for either book reading, or quiet play. No electronics, no TV. Set aside ten minutes for yourself every day. Develop this habit, and before you begin writing for the day, let your mind wander; almost like you’re exercising your fingers before you sit down to play the piano.

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Not being productive might be the key better production.

http://www.VictoriaLKWilliams.com

 

 

Travels

Have you ever wanted to get behind the wheel of your car and just drive?

No destination, no agenda, just drive. Would you head north or southeast or west? Would you stay in your own country or would you crossover one of the borders surrounding us? Do you head north to Canada or south to Mexico? Would you stick the city roads or are you the type to try to back roads of our great country?

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Some people pass through places, not making connections. Perhaps you’ll take your time; stopping at a small diner and getting to know the people. Asking questions about their lives and finding out what their hopes are for their futures can give you not only insight about them, but ideas for stories.

Maybe you drive straight through, stopping only for necessities, to reach your destination Your answers will tell you a lot about your personality: perhaps you’re a driven person, with a goal and agenda. Or are you someone comfortable meandering through life? Neither one of them is wrong. It’s simply who you are.

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For me if I were given an opportunity I would visit the small towns and explore the countryside. It would be a perfect way to find the sights most people won’t find on the cover of a fancy travel magazine. There’s something about driving by a field of cotton or corn feeling in tune with nature, wondering when the crops will be harvested. If I found a park, I’d stop to walk the pathways, find little creeks for skipping stones when the mood takes me, and picking wildflowers as they bloom.

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This sounds idealistic, I know, but wouldn’t this be a wonderful way of life? To sit back and enjoy what God’s given us. No timetables, no time clocks, only the ability to enjoy life and help a person or two along the way.

Of course, it’s only a dream. There are too many responsibilities in our lives; bills to pay, children to raise and preparing for the future. We are sometimes too busy putting away for the future that we forget to enjoy the present, and we never really appreciate the past.

So what if we can only wander the back roads of the country on weekends? We can still enjoy our own immediate environment. I would bet right in your own hometown there are small parks you’ve never visited, views you’ve never pulled off to enjoy. If you drive a little way out of town, I’m sure there are places to find that you’ve never even imagined.

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My challenge to you? Learn to enjoy what you have around you. Get in the car and take a ride, see what’s around your own town. Or better yet; get on your bike or walk, and find what’s in your own neighborhood.

Think of the possible stories you can create from all these new experiences and locations!

http://www.VictoriaLKWilliams.com

 

 

Far, Far Away…

Don’t mistake that faraway look in my eyes as boredom.
No, I’m not ignoring you either, and I’m far from falling asleep.

Writer.
Writer.

What I’m doing is plotting. There are ideas all around us and sometimes you must stop and think about how one little item that caught your interest can work into a story. How one little phrase you overheard can be worked into a conversation. Or maybe it’s a news item you saw the night before, that’s been sitting in the back of your mind, wondering how it can create an alternative universe or whole new world and a completely different series.
I would say half of my writing time is spent daydreaming. But not daydreaming in a useless way. These daydreams are a productive thought gathering, plotting exercise. Let’s face it our minds are our biggest tools, probably the only tool we need, other than a writing devise. When we let allow our thought to wander where-ever they want, we can produce some great concepts.
If we don’t use this tool regularly, it will become dull and foggy. We need to sharpen our minds and use it to the fullest potential possible. This might mean thinking of things outside of the realm of your normal everyday expectations. If you don’t use those tools and you allow them to become dull and unproductive, you’re heading down the road to writer’s block, I’m sure of it.

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Fortunately, I have a very active imagination and I love to tell stories; never seeming to run out of ideas. Instead the opposite happens. Too many ideas bounce around in my head, often causing difficulty in concentrating on one story line at a time. Thankfully, I’ve never experienced writer’s block.
I keep my mind sharp and I keep thinking and imagining: creating scenarios out of nothing, forming conversations between characters and asking a lot of “what ifs. A good exercise is to have somebody just toss you a word. See what you can do with it; whether it’s a phrase, an object or an action— weave it into your story. Give your story on a new twist, make your characters do something unexpected. Remember if it holds your interest, it will also hold your readers.

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Find a way of recording those ideas, be a pen and paper or your phone or your computer. Jot them down when you get them and please, don’t tell yourself that you’ll remember. It seems the minute you do this, you’ve already set yourself up to forget them. Honestly, with so many thoughts going to our mind daily just with our everyday actions it’s sometimes impossible to remember what we need to get through the day.
Don’t discard an idea or thought path simple because it doesn’t fit your current work in progress. Jot it down and put it in a file for future work. Keeping a file of ideas is another way to fight writer’s block or adding a twist to your story that will keep it original and interesting.
So, what did you see or hear today that created a “what if idea”?

www.VictoriaLKWilliams.com

Our Writing Community

 

I’ve owned my own business for 18 years and been in sales for well over 30 years. I can honestly say the competition can get fierce. Most businesses protect their products and services like they were protecting Fort Knox.
But, as you know, over the last few years I began writing books. I learned very quickly that other writers are not my competition. They’re mentors, cheerleaders, councilors and friends. I’ve never been in an industry where others are so willing to give advice, help, and encouragement.

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A perfect example is when I went to release my last book. I had created a huge snafu that could have resulted in major problems. But writers on forums where I am active on quickly and helpfully pointed out my mistake. They offered advice on how to correct my snafu, and ended up guiding me through the process. To say they save my behind is an understatement.
Oh, don’t get me wrong, like every industry there are those who are out for the Golden Buck. Yet, I’ve found these authors rarely stick around the different online chat rooms and forums because they are out for themselves.

I have learned so much from other authors and developed some great friendships. Yes, the Internet can be a wonderful place. You can exchange ideas and thoughts with other writers and not fearing riddicule. Wouldn’t it be nice if more industries and businesses took this point of view and attitude of caring?
I learned early in my business career to give back to my community. I hope that I’ve been able to get back to my writing community in small ways that will encourage other writers to sit down at the keyboard and put your thoughts to words.

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Think it’s a waste of time just sit and exchange ideas with others? Why?

You’re sharing a part of yourself and getting a the other authors view point. Between the two of you, something interesting might be created. I had one idea for a future book that came from a random statement from another writer.  Together we bounced off ideas until an outline was formed. How fun is that?
So, if you’re reading this and have questions about writing, feel free to email me. If I don’t know the answer, I can at least point you in the direction somebody that might. There are two forums online that I am an avid member of. One is Kboards, and the other is One Stop Fiction. I belong to many others, but these are the two that have guided me the most. They’re both open to new members, and I encourage you to join.

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Everyone loves a Gift

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Surprise!

We all love to receive a gift, especially a thoughtful gift that was picked up just for us. The more thought put into the gift the more it affects us and the more we treasure it. Unusual gifts tend to target the heartstrings little bit more.
For example, I’ve a customer who ever year his wife goes out-of-town to visit relatives. As soon as she leaves, he has me design a different section of her garden. One year was a butterfly garden, another year  the front flower garden, another year a herb garden. each year she comes back delighted and surprised with his gift that will last for years.

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This got me thinking about our characters in our books.
Do you give your characters a special or unusual gift during your story? Does this gift play an important part of the story’s progression? Did your character receive their gift either by some magical way or possibly by a loved one or maybe even a mysterious gift left by the doorstop?

I hadn’t thought about it, but my characters have all received gifts. For example, in book number five of the Citrus Beach Series (A Tank Full of Trouble) Aiden surprised Megan as he keeps sending making mysterious while he was out-of-town. Each gift leads up to a grand conclusion.

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In my upcoming series Storm Voices, my main character, McKenzie, is given a beautiful little gray kitten help her as she recovers from… well you’ll just have to read it and find out. These are gifts that are beyond the normal birthday, Christmas, or anniversary gift, they’re something special that our characters are not expecting and play a major role in the plot line of story.
What books have you read where the characters have been given special gift? Was it a gift of love, magic or surprise? As a writer, you have the ability to give your character something unusual that can be used in ongoing story lines.

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And authors, remember as much as we enjoyed getting gifts ourselves, our characters enjoy it to.

Use this to push your story forward and draw the reader into the life of your characters.