Watching for Inspiration

Sometimes you have to just push the chair back and walk away from the desktop.You can only stare at a screen for so long before your mind goes numb and you’re searching for inspiration.

49661916 - working place of designer, close-up
49661916

 

Some of the best inspiration that you can get is from watching the people around you. This is especially true at large public locations. I’m lucky to live in South Florida; between the place where the mouse lives and the place where the dolphins swim there’s plenty of attractions to go and watch people. I don’t know what it is about people who are on vacation, but it seems like they’ll do the most amazing things. It might be because they’re letting their inhibitions down, as ifthey have an “I don’t care” attitude. Or maybe it’s because they think no one’s watching: at least no one they know. Young or old, male or female, there’s plenty of inspiration to watch for.

 

I especially like to watch the interaction between people;  what they’re doing while they’re talking. There are so many hand gestures and movements a person makes without even being aware of it and if you incorporate those into your story line you can add a lot of interest.

35641408_s
35641408 

 

Here’s a perfect example…

We were at the place where the mermaids put on a show in the springs  by Tampa. Two little girls very close in age were excited to be able to see the show with the mermaids. They jumped up and down and chattered non-stop. Their parents kept exchanging looks as they tried to quiet them down. Finally it was time for all of us to go in and sit down in the auditorium to watch the mermaid show. The two little girls were overjoyed with excitement and chattered loudly.Their mother tried to quiet them down but to no avail. Rather than getting in the middle of an argument with them, their father simply took each   girl by  hand and led them to their seats.  Instead of letting them sit together, he conveniently put himself and his wife between the two of them. They weren’t able to feed off the excitement of each other and they settled down to enjoy the show.

In that same auditorium over in the corner there were three little girls in the front row leaning over the railing. They were so excited to see the mermaids that they were pushing their noses up against the glass. Instead of being loud and rambunctious like the other girls, these three little girls were in awe of the mermaids. They whispered back and forth to each other and when one of the mermaids swam over and waved at them they were so excited they just didn’t know what to say.  As the mermaid swam away, the giggling and the whispering started. Yet, it was a smile on the adults around the three girls that told the true story. We were getting more enjoyment out of the children’s joy then out of the show itself.

26087034 - old couple walking together
26087034

Children of all ages are great to watch, because they held nothing back. Watching an adult is a little bit harder; you have to really pay attention, without appearing to stare at the interaction between them. It can be something as obvious as to couples fighting with raised hands and loud voices, to another couple so comfortable with themselves that words are needed. They let  their emotions show through actions;   the older man holds the woman’s hand to help her over a rough patch in the sidewalk. To me that action was louder than the arguments of the other couple.

So, when you feel like you’re stumped, or that you need a break, get out of the house and see what’s going on around you. If you can’t do that, flip on the TV and watch the interactions of the characters on the show. Be sure to pay closer attention to the side characters instead of the main characters. Sometimes what you see going on in the background is funnier than the comic one-liners the main characters have.

Feeling inspired? Good, now get back in that chair and start writing!

 

 

About the pictures:
Copyright: <a href=’http://www.123rf.com/profile_belchonock’>belchonock / 123RF Stock Photo
Copyright: <a href=’http://www.123rf.com/profile_catmando’>catmando / 123RF Stock Photo
 Copyright: <a href=’http://www.123rf.com/profile_yeletkeshet’>yeletkeshet / 123RF Stock Photo

 

A Deal For YOU!!

I love working on cross over promotions with other authors.

It’s great to be included with writers working together to help each other get the word out about our books.

Even better the reader (YOU) benefit!

So today and tomorrow take advantage of some great books at a great price!  Just click on the link below and then make your selections. Don’t forget to pick up the newest Citrus Beach Mystery at this low price. Look for Tank full of Trouble.

http://www.reneepawlish.com/promo

unnamed

 

 

 

The Learning Curve

Where has the time gone?

Time
Time

It’s hard to believe, but this week celebrates 3-year anniversary of the release of my first book! I thought I’d write a quick little blog about what I’ve learned from the beginning. Well, the first thing I need to tell you be; I’m no expert and I have tons more to learn, I’ve barely skim the surface.

When I first started my first book it was a challenge, I never expected to do another one, or another one (etcetera), but as anyone who writes knows, once you start you can’t stop. Writing becomes part of who you are.

series pic on zon

 I think the most surprising lesson I learned is writing a book is just the beginning. It’s  a business and if you want to succeed, you need to address the business end of the craft. Like any business, there are tools  you need to use to be successful, so I thought I’d let you know a few of the tools I use day-to-day. As I’ve grown in my writing, I found I can’t go without them.

Foremost is Scrivener. It is a writing program which helps you organize and keep your thoughts clear.   Plotter or Pantser– scrivener will work for you.

I also use MS Word because most documents need to be put into word and it’s easy. there’s no fussing. Word will allow you to add in editing programs, and these aids are essential for my writing process.  I work with 2 programs; ProWriting Aid or Grammerly. Either one of them will work. You need these programs to help you catch the many mistakes  your eyes will miss, know no matter how good you are.

I also use a dictation program called Dragon Naturally Speaking. I can’t tell you how my writing has changed using this program. The idea is to get the thoughts down on paper, and this works great. There is a learning curve to using it, but worth the time and effort you put into it.

Two other items  I use every day, without fail, and would be lost without them are Dropbox and Evernote.

Dropbox holds all my documents off-line. After losing major files because of a glitch in either my equipment or my backup practices, I found  this is the smartest thing I could have ever done. I wish I’d done it years ago, not only for my writing for my business. I use Evernote to help me to make quick notes from the thoughts racing through my mind as I go through my day-to-day routine. I can dictate into the program which is great for me. I can organize the notes into notebooks so  I can make notes on different books and projects  I’m working developing. Evernote is a good tool to use with Scrivener, too.

I’ve also found, whether I like it or not, social media plays big part in the writing. Facebook (www.facebook.com/CitrusBeachMysteryseries ), Twitter (Victoria LK Williams@CitrusBeachMyst), LinkedIn (http://www.linkedin.com/in/victoria-lk-williams), Instagram (vickilkw), and Pinterest (http://www.pinterest.com/vlkwcbm) are the ones  I actively use, some more than others. A word of caution about the social media sites; learn to turn them off and concentrate on your writing. It is best to set a  time that you allow yourself for social media so  you don’t waste writing time. Because, believe me, you can.

One important aspect not to overlook is an Author Website.(VictoriaLKWilliams.com) Give your readers another option to find you, to find out about your books; where to buy them and about your upcoming works. Personalize your website so  it sounds like you; don’t make it so professional that the readers are not intrigued. This is your opportunity to introduce your personality and maybe some hints about how you write and why you write it’s also a great place to post about upcoming books and their progress.

If, after all that work, you still have some creative juices left, try Blogging. It’s one more way for your readers to find out about you on a more personal level and for those search engines to find you. I have two blogs: this one and Gossip From the Southern Garden (gossipfromthesoutherngarden.cordpress.com)

Classwork

It’s been said loneliness comes along with writing, but it doesn’t have to be. Don’t seclude yourself, talk to other writers, if not in person than online. There’s many forums out there where writers share ideas, tips, and encourage each other.  Even if you don’t participate at first, there’s a lot to read about. Find yourself a Writing Buddy either online or in person. Everybody needs a shoulder to cry on, or a hand to hold. When you’re celebrating, your writing buddy can be there for you.They’ll understand you in ways  no one else can, because they’re going through the  same thing  you are.

The other word of advice I can give is have patience. Don’t be in such a hurry to push the publish button.  Invest in a good cover and an editor. Even if you need to hang on to your book for a couple of months until you can raise the funds to do so.There’s good editors out there and bad ones; make sure you send them a sample chapter. Ask them to look it over and tell you if it’s something they are interested in pursuing. You’ll get a chance to see their work, too. I would recommend you go with an editor who likes the type of books you write. If you’re writing a series of books, make sure your cover tie together so  readers can find them easier.

Keep track of your promotions. a book that isn’t out there for people to find will not get read. Even the best authors fall off to the charts with some of their older books.

And my last bit of advice it to take care of yourself, your family and friendships. Get up and walk around, eat healthy, drink lots of liquids and, if you can, take breaks to get some exercise. Don’t neglect your family or friends. Nourish those relationships, they’re the most important thing in your life. Besides, you might find inspiration from these same people.

40286017 - freelancer writer girl flat design concept

So here is my little tidbits of knowledge   I’ve learned over the last three years. It’s by no means is a complete, because I’m learning more every day. I make mistakes every day too.

The trick is to learn from your mistakes and keep writing!

Please note any programs or sites  I  mentioned,  I’m not endorsing them for any type of payment;  I’m simply stating what works for me.

Camp Time!

I’m going to camp!

Who thought that in my 50’s I’d be excited about going to camp? But, it’s not the kind camp you’re thinking of. There will be no tents for me, no campfires, no S’mores. I won’t be swatting at mosquitoes or telling tales late at night. At least not in reality.

No the kind of camp but I’m going to visit virtual camp. It is a camp for writers, and it’s called Camp NaNoWriMo (national novel writing month).

Camp-Participant-2015-Web-Banner

What that means is that I have committed myself to writing at least a rough draft of a novel within one months’ time. Yeah, I know, sounds crazy doesn’t it?

So I’ve signed up for camp, been assigned my cabin, and have met my 12 cabin mates. It’s actually pretty exciting.

It’s also a big commitment, and one that I’m not taking lightly. There will no more TV for me for the month, or binge reading of an entire series. Well, at least not as much. I will be concentrating on getting in serious writing time, with little distractions and lots of productivity.

laptop-writing-579

It starts April 1. (Maybe it is a coincidence about that date- after all us writers just might be fools)
I have already stocked up on preserves to get me through the month. I stopped on my way home today and picked up a bag of candy kisses- got to have your chocolate! I’ve got tons of tea and coffee stashed and of course bottled water, we’re get serious here. My song play list is updated and waiting and I have informed my husband that I “have plans” for the evenings this month.

So please excuse me if I don’t blog as much during the month of April. I have some serious writing to do on this novel and I’m going to get it done.

Basic RGB

If all goes according to plan, there should be a new Citrus Beach Mystery to add to the series.

A Foggy World

It’s midmorning, and the fog still lingers across the lake.

foggy-morning-on-the-water

The sun hasn’t come out from behind the clouds to burn it off yet, and there is a slight damp chill to the air. The wind shifts, and you can see the thick misty vapor drift, thicken in clusters forming pockets of blindness around the cove.
You feel a sense of peace, of being wrapped in a blanket like a moth in a cocoon. In the distance, you can hear the traffic behind you, but for the most part it’s quiet. The birds cry to each other as they drift out in the water, sometimes within easy vision, sometimes drifting into that pocket of fog and momentarily disappearing.

As I watch the fishermen, busy down past the pier, I wonder how they can tell where their line is going as a cast into the river. When it arches over their heads, it seems to disappear. Then suddenly you hear a splash and see it landed in the water, but for that instant it was as if it had vanished.
Kayaking-in-the-fog-006

I hear the sound of a rhythmic paddle’s back splash, and I look towards the sound coming out of the fog. It’s a kayak with its lone paddler enjoying his morning solitude. This is the perfect time for meditation and prayer. There is nothing visually to disturb you as you look out over the water and contemplate the day ahead of you.

As you watch a the almost mirror-like surface of the water in front of you, a circle of ripples from the activity of the fish below the water forms. Occasionally one will jump and clear the surface landing with a splash. The noise will catch the attention of the lone pelican floating on the water, who will leisurely work his way over to see if breakfast is arriving. This morning even the pelicans to seem to be uninterested. Everything seems to be waiting for the fog to clear so the day can begin in earnest.

9390854738_82b237e19c_z

I sit watching the Pelican float with the current, moving through the misty pockets of fog, and the wind shifts; a clear patch begins to form the horizon. The day is changing. Already I can see the outlines of the islands in the river, and soon the sun will be out. The warm rays will burn off the last of the fog, and the area will take on a whole new look. The day’s activity is ready begin along the waterway.

But for now it’s a quiet, little place full of mystery and wonder.

I DID IT!

thUGD0Z6EH

Your finger hovers over the button, you hesitate. Do you push it? Have you covered all the bases? Do you go for it, or do you go back and re-read one more time?

I honestly believe that every writer feels these emotions as I get ready to publish their e-book for all the world to see. Will the readers like it? Will they buy it? How they respond will they recommend it? Will they want more? These are all questions run through our mind as we hesitate. Are we really ready to publish?

Then you take a deep breath, close your eyes, and push the publish button. It’s done! Your book is now out there for all the world to see. Wait, now begins even more work; you’ve got to get that book out there for people to see. For some authors this is a far harder task than the actual writing of the book.

So here is my first stop. I’m posting on my blog information on how you can read and purchase my newest book in the Citrus Beach Mystery Series. I hope you’ll enjoy it, and please forgive me for doing a little self-promoting in this blog–I usually don’t. As always your comments are welcome, I would love to hear your feedback.

Basic RGB

http://ow.ly/BaBwQ

 

Thank you!

Investing in a Series

Reading a series of books and you can’t help to become entangled with the storyline!

I love reading a series of books, so maybe that’s why I’m dedicating myself to writing my own mystery series. I actually have the outlines for two series, in different genres. I’m excited to get my ideas and words down in book format, and am now currently writing book number three.

Basic RGB

But most people who like book series started reading them at an early age. How many of you “series readers” started out reading something like  Nancy Drew or The Hardy Boys? Some of our younger readers right now maybe in the middle of their own favorites: like the Harry Potter series. The series that we read are different than what our children are reading. Book genres for young adult readers have changed over the years, reflecting the changes in our society.

shelves of bookseries

 I’ve even noticed that the type of series you read changes as you get older, often reflecting your own changes in lifestyles. Your reading selections may also change as you interest and activities change.  Seasonal series may influence your reading choices too.  During the Christmas holidays, I love to read short stories that reflect the season.

There’s just something about getting into a series; you feel like you’re part of it. You become friends with the hero, you hate the villains, you anticipate the storylines, and you cheer for the underdog. You discover that you have your favorite characters and you have the characters that you dislike so much that you can’t wait to see them killed off, arrested or just done away with & written out of the story.

Another factor that keeps you interested in a series could be the time period it represents. Or the location of where the series was written. I know my mother loves Regency Romances, but I personally am fond of an Alaskan mini-series. There’s something about sitting on the beach, reading about cold Alaska weather that makes me feel good.

Open-book-at-a-beach-001 

It’s interesting to watch where the writers mind is going and follow along as they develop the characters from book to book, hooking you in so that you can’t wait to read the next book in the series.

How far are you into the current series you’re reading? Is it a romance, a historical, or an investigative series?

So, what kind of series has you hooked?

 

 

AS THE PAGE TURNS…

It was unusually quiet at our house tonight.  There was no loud noise coming from the TV, no sounds of war coming from the computer games, no barking from one spoiled Beagle looking for attention and no shouts of “Get out of that fridge-you just ate!”

Instead soft jazz music played in the  background and the gentle snores from one (or both) of the cats were what could be heard.  Each of us were in our own worlds (or to be more literal chairs).  And what were we doing that kept us so occupied that we did not need any electronic entertainment?  READING!

My son has recently re-discovered Steven King and was engrossed in a book of the writer’s short stories.  My husband was reading a non-fiction about Tuxedo Park and I was finishing up a book about writing: Authors in Bathrobes (Lauren Carr).

We all took a break at the same time, and each declared they were reading the best book.  We even took time to talk about each of the books and have a conversation.  (Do you have any idea how hard that is when you have a teenager?).  When we had finished, we each went back to our book to become part of the story once more.

Before I knew it, my husband was heading off to bed and my son to the shower: the evening was over.  It was a wonderful evening too.  We survived a night of being “unplugged” and would live to brag about it.

As a new writer, I have been pouring over author forums on the internet, trying to absorb as much information as I can.  One word of advise that was repeated over and over was to READ other author’s books.  No problem for me; I’ve been known to read a book a day.  But I was surprised at this advise.  I find that they are right, you know.  When you read as an author, the written word is viewed with different eyes.  Little things grab you, and you see different styles of writing to tell similar stories.

So I will continue to READ, Read, Read and Learn, Learn, Learn.

And hopefully, as a family, we will share more peaceful evenings like tonight!

09cbcdc4829b57d2045ea8ebbdbac0a5

 

 

 

There’s Something About A Puppy

beagle-puppies-wallpaperToday I stopped by a friend’s home and discovered that they have a new addition to their family: a 7 week old puppy.  The family was really excited about the little tike, and like all puppies he was just too cute for words.

While I was there, we took the little guy outside to do his business and a little exploring.  Once he realized that he (still no name yet) was free to roam the huge yard, he took off like an arrow being released from the bow.  His short little legs stumbled in the taller grass, but once he made it to the freshly mowed lawn area he was free.  Rolling in the grass, chasing his short little tail, and running from us when we called; it wasn’t long before he worn himself out.  Looking up at us, he gave a wide yawn and simply took a nap right where he sat.

Picking the puppy up, we went back inside to visit.  Before long the school bus stopped out front, dropping off my friend’s son from school.  With barely a hello to me and just a wave for his mom, her son had only time for his dog.  Laughing, she told me that all anyone in the family wanted to do when they came home was check in on the puppy.  This tiny ball of fur had become the center of the household in a very short time and now there was no problem keeping her family home in the evening, spending time together.

Now my dog is no longer a puppy, but he is still an important member of our family.  His personality and actions give us plenty to laugh and talk about.  In my writing, I always include animals; either cats or dogs.  In the Citrus Beach Mystery Series, the main character has a Beagle puppy that plays an important role.

When I go to purchase a book, if there is a dog or cat on the cover, then that book gets more of my attention and a greater chance of my purchase. If you go to Amazon and look in the kindle books under “Cozy Mystery” you will find that there is a sub-heading for animals.
So, I guess you can reason that having a puppy on the cover helps sell books! And since the cover is the window to a book, you can honestly ask
“How much is that doggie in the window?”

I wanna write, I wanna play….

photo

I wanna write, I wanna play…and with a view like this can you blame me?  Can’t you just picture sitting on this dock with a book in hand or possibly a lazy afternoon of fishing?

But it’s not that easy, is it?  Life makes many demands on our time and between the important parts like family and work, it’s sometimes hard to find even a few minutes to yourself.  Extra time to write, or a few minutes of quiet almost seem impossible to find.

That’s why I think I am so lucky.  This view is from an account on my “real” job, and it’s like this all day: either a river view or a beach view!   My mind can wander, allowing me to form ideas, plots and outlines as I work.

I recently starting using the voice memo app on my phone and record as I go; random thoughts that can later be formed into stories, or just erased because they just don’t seem worthy when I play the memo back.

There are so many beautiful parks and beaches in the area where I live and work, so I make it a point to stop for lunch or even a 15 minute break to spend time writing on my ever present laptop or reading before I head home for the day.

Because, you know what happens when I get home? Life happens.  Family members need love and attention, a dog needs to be played with, cats need some cuddling.  And then all the other stuff falls in line demanding to claim even more of my time.

Before I know it, dinner is over, the news is on and I am anxious to get to my laptop.  So here I am, trying to get some writing in for the evening: and the cat walks across the key board, the dog is waiting at the door to go out for a walk, my son is looking for a snack and my husband just smiles at me.

Guess I’ll have to wait to write until everyone else has gone to bed: my writing time starts around 10:30 pm.  Until then…