AnOther Writer?

I think I have a budding writer in the family.

She’s not your typical writer. No, her work habits are lazy and hap-hazard. She tends to write only when inspired by seeing someone else working, and she  often falls asleep in the middle of a sentence.

You see my co-writer is a pretty little thing, with four legs and a lot of attitude.20160902_080826

Meet Miss Marple. She’s the quiet one of my three cats.and if I’m at my desk, so is she. To tell the truth, she should have been named Shadow, because she is like my shadow, always with me.

Miss Marple is patient and seems to know my writing moods. When things are flowing smoothly, she sits in her basket (how she still fits in it I haven’t a clue) and grabs a nap. When I need to sit and think about the story, she will sit on my lap, hands or keyboard and offer her support.

Of course things don’t always go this smoothly, after all, she’s a cat with a mind of her own. And one of three in the house. I swear, when she thinks I’ve ignored her long enough, she signals the other two for reinforcements!

The second cat is Fletch.  She was named Mrs. Fletcher, but my son insisted Fletch was more appropriate-he was right. If there is trouble to be found, Fletch is in the middle of it. And she is not so tolerant of being ignored while I write.

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When the reinforcements are called in, my desk becomes their play ground. Drawers are opened for stealing paperclips and rubber bands. The pen in my hand is  mortal enemy that must be attacked and defeated. Urgent secret codes are typed into my manuscript as they pounce on the key board. And the back of my chair is commandeered and transformed into a launch pad.

Then, just as I’m ready to give up and pack it in, there is peace. As if sent by a secret code, they both settle down.

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Did I mention my third cat, Speckles? She is the matriarch of the three, over 18 years old. She’s too old to jump up on my desk, now. Instead she sits in the comfortable chair next to my desk, or on a rug in a patch of sunlight and watches the antics of the other two. In her time, she was the troublemaker. I think I can see her smile as Fletch steals my pen.

I wonder…is she sending them a secret code?

Finally, all three are taking their afternoon nap and I can get back to my work in progress. At least until they wake up and it starts all over.

Life’s Seasons

I was reminded today and how much our life revolves around the changes of the seasons and nature. Often these seasonal changes are reflected in our writing.

For example, there is a favorite place of mine that the Azaleas bloom in a beautiful display called Bok Tower. This happens once a year and year we migrate to Bok Towers to spend the day wondering the beautiful gardens and listening to the bells of the tower. I have plans for this locations to be mentioned in my books.

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When I look back in my life, I realized during my childhood, I also had “migrations”. Every year, my parents would bundle us up in winter clothes, make sure we had thermoses of hot chocolate and we would drive an hour just to sit by a frozen lake and watch the migration of the Canadian Geese. There will be thousands of them in this one area. It was a sight to behold something that is stayed with me my whole life.

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There have been other seasonal changes that we have celebrated with activities during my youth; like going to see the cherry blossoms or spending an afternoon picking strawberries. A visit to the Groves to pick oranges or to the Orchard to pick apples was a family event.

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As I go through my adult life there are other migrations that happen during certain times of the year. The end of the summer was the time when I said goodbye to our son as he went off to college. Down here in Florida, the start of our fall/winter season is kicked off with the arrival of the White Pelicans. The start of the holiday season is kicked off with shopping and baking and preparations.

Each season has its own way we relate it to nature; be at by following the birds, following the plants, or following the weather.

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So, I ask you, what season are you enjoying right now? Are you including it in your writing?

The Stuff of Dreams

Have you woke ever woken up in the middle the night from a dream that was so vivid, it seems real? Have you ever found yourself wandering in your mind during the day, driving along and suddenly you’re at your destination, barely able to remember driving there, because your thoughts were focused on something else? Daydreams or night-dreams: for a lot of writers that’s where they get their ideas from. That’s why you’ll find many writers have a pad and pencil next to their bed or recording device, so they can dictate their thoughts before all is lost.thJDBQ0MUA (2)

If you ask the writer where they get their ideas they’ll hesitate and evade, and they won’t be able to give you, for the most part, a true answer because we just don’t know. Ideas and plots pop into our heads at the most unexpected times; you can be reading something and you think that’s perfect for storyline. Or you can overhear part of the conversation and think, yes I can see my character saying that. You can be watching something happening in front of you thinking, “oh, my gosh, I don’t believe that just happened; that’s got to go in the story!”

As a writer I’m always looking for ideas. I actually have a folder in my desk of newspaper articles that I think are really interesting. I know many writers are computer savvy, so this might work better for you: download items that catch your imagination into a laptop to refer back to. Either method gives me a stock pile of possible ideas. I may use them or I may never get to them, but they’re there to use when I’m ready.
Ideas for stories also come from childhood memories; a fairytale you were once told, a story that your grandfather told you that he thought was funny. A conversation from your youth.
Some things click when you see them in day-to-day life; things that can be used in a plot line. Something you saw at the park, the grocery store, or even at work. You just have to be careful how you word things so that your characters in your book is not recognized as the real people who you have daily contact with.

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Have you ever made up a story to keep the child occupied? You may not be writing it down, but you’re creating a story, and that’s how stories were told for years and years before people did write things down. Then stories went from verbal to parchment, to huge beautifully illustrated books, to common paperback books and now in today’s; world e-books.

So, no matter where you get those ideas, don’t let those ideas get away from you. They are yours do with them what you will.

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Rituals of Writing

Every job has a set of tasks that need to be done to complete the job to your satisfaction. You have a goal to accomplish, often with a time frame in mind. You need to have your work tools ready at hand to be used, you need to be at the right location, and you might have to have some help lined up in case you run into any problems. Once you have all this lined up, you are ready to start. Hopefully all will go as you planned and your results will be everything you hoped for.
 thQA9LL7NIFor an author, writing is a job just like any other job. Our tools are just a little different, that’s all. We need our writing medium, be it paper or computer. Pens are always on hand for jotting notes as we compose. Some of us may use more technical items like a voice recorder or even a voice computer program where we can speak our words out loud and they “magically” appear on the screen.
But the most important tool that we need is our imagination. Somehow our thought have to be reigned in and put into some kind of logical order so that we can express them to others. There are some authors out there who can just sit down and start composing coherent thoughts and get their story easily down.
Then there are others, like me, who need to go through a warm up processes.
Some may do a quick bit of exercise to get the juices flowing. Or maybe a spot of peaceful meditation before they pick up their pen. For me, I need to make sure that all of my other day-to-day tasks are either done or out of sight to insure that I am not distracted.

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I think that if you asked most authors, you would find that there are certain items that they need to have within easy reach to help them with their work. It might be a cup  of hot coffee, or a glass of wine. A plate of healthy snacks might need to be on desk next to them. After all writing can be hard work, and we need to keep up our strength. My must have for writing time is a cup of coffee or a large ice tea (depending on the weather) and a dish of M&Ms (preferably dark chocolate).
Then there is the atmosphere. For some there needs to be quite, no outside distractions.  There are those who write only in a strict office setting in front of a desk, in a comfortable office chair.   Other’s thrive in chaos, and get their best work done amongst the sounds of TV & kids. Most seem to need some kind of background music. My taste run towards new age or instrumentals with nature sounds in the background. I actually do my best writing in my car, parked along the river, or on a towel by the beach.

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But not matter what the tools, what the setting, what necessary fortifications, or even what the atmosphere; the author has a job to do.  That job is to create a story that will keep the reader’s attention and give enjoyment for as long as they read along.

It All Happened When…

Summer time down here is Florida is a time to regroup and plan for the upcoming season with gusto.  Since it is often slow business wise, it is also a good time for reflection. 

It was during a morning business networking group that I found myself faced with a challenge of my own.  We were all reveling a secret longing that each of us had always wanted to pursue.  When it was my turn, I found myself blurting out the words “write a mystery and see it published”.  Well, the person most surprised by this revelation was non-other than ME!! 

Oh, I knew I had always loved to read, and when I was in college enjoyed creative writing, but then life happened at that all got swept into the back drawer of my desk as I made room for a business and family.

And the years passed.

Now my son is getting ready to head off to college himself and I have just proclaimed to my friends and associates that I wanted to write a book.  Well, what was I to do?  Those words were not just a longing, but a dare to myself-a double dog dare.  I could just pretend that it was just a passing fancy, a whim OR I could do something about it.

And so I began to write. 

And once the words started to form sentences, then pages grew into chapters and by the beginning of fall, I had completed my first book!  Now I’m hooked.  I have started the second book in the mystery series and have the outlines for about ten more books in the same series.  Plus, I have the idea for another series in a whole other style and genre.

It hasn’t been as easy as it sounds (I’m horrible at spelling and my first book needed a lot of editing) and I still have a business to run and a family to take care of.  But, you know, I think I like this new direction my life is going in.