Go ahead-walk away!

Hey-You!

Sometimes you need to stand up, push the chair in and walk away from the desk!

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We all work hard, there is no denying this, but at some point the hard work turns in to that phase where you feel like the little mouse on the wheel, running in circles and not getting anywhere. And sometimes, it’s hard to see when you need to take a break from the writing.

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Whether it’s a ten-minute break, or a long weekend, or a real vacation; you need to take time to recharge.
“Oh, no I can’t do that! I’m on a deadline.” (or something to that effect) Runs through your head and you dig in your heels, pulling the keyboard closer, like a security blanket. But even a child has to give up the blanket so it can be washed. Letting go will be equal to washing of a blanket.
Once all the clutter and tangled thoughts are allowed to settle down, it’s much easier to look at them and decide what you need to keep and what should be let go. Walk away and let your ideas slow down. The brilliant idea you had months ago isn’t working, so put it aside until the time is right. Come back and look at it again with a fresh perspective.
I think we get trapped in our writing environment and miss out on so much. How can you write about something when you’re shut in an office for hours, only seeing the screen in front of you? Where are you getting your inspiration from? I don’t mean inspiration for the big picture, but for the details. How do you know what the sound of the wind in the trees, the feel of sunlight on your skin, the smells of cut grass are like if you don’t take a second and actually put yourself in the middle of these things? And it is the little details like this that make your story come alive for the reader.

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By freeing our mind, we are opening it up to the possibilities of new ideas and solutions. That clue you were looking for? Suddenly it’s crystal clear. The conversation you were trying to write, but it was coming off stilted? Now it feels as if your characters are in the room with you talking. The little details are easier to spot and you may not feel so overwhelmed.
I had to be reminded of this just this week. Moaning and groaning, I gave in and went on a day trip with my husband. We visited an old favorite place, enjoying the peaceful walks through the gardens, had a wonderful dinner and talked. And as we talked and laughed, teasing and joking about different things, the ideas began to form. By the time we got home that night, I had the plot for two new books.
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The added bonus; I was able to talk with my husband about the ideas, and he had some of his own. They were jokes at first, but as the ideas nestled into my brain, I was caught up in the possibilities. Now they are written down for future development.
As you can see, taking a break worked out very well for me. And most authors that I talk to agree with me.

Sometimes you need to turn off the computer and let the little grey cells do their thing.

Victoria LK Williams

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

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 Year of Acceptance

As I do my annual year of review, I think the title I would give this past year would be one of acceptance.

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Acceptance that my son is grown up and off to college and is now on his own – that was a hard one for me.

Acceptance that I can’t do it all. That was brought to a head when I fell and broke my shoulder and had to have surgery. I suddenly found that I had to accept help from other people. I had to realize that it was okay to receive help, I couldn’t do everything by myself.

I had to except the death of a couple of pets and mourn their passing, while rejoicing in the years they gave us. I accepted two new kittens into my life and I have had a ball from day one.

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But I think the biggest acceptance that I made this year with this fact that, yes, I am a writer. I accepted that this wasn’t just a fluke, that I really do love the write. With two books under my belt, I guess I can safely call myself a writer. So this year has been spent on finishing off book number two, promoting my books, writing my blogs(Pen in Hand & Gossip from the Southern Garden) and getting the website up (VictoriaLKWilliams.com).

This was a big acceptance. I no longer have to be embarrassed to say I write books. I have accepted it, own up to it, moved forward and strive to improve with each page that I write. Along with that acceptance the ideas have begun to flow. I have an outline for three different series, with multiple books within each series. I am so excited to get to them.

But the one acceptance I’ve also had to make is the fact that I still have my own job to do, and my family to take care of. They have to come first. There will be a time in my life when I will be a full-time writer. But right now I just have to except that each page I write, each book I publish is one more step towards that ultimate goal.

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So, for now, I will accept being a writer part time while I look forward to my “retirement years”.

The Priceless Gift of Time!

The gift of time.

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Have you ever noticed how closely guarded every second of our day is? We pack each moment as tight as we can with activities and to do lists. We almost acted guilty if we find we suddenly have a few moments to ourselves.

Even worse than that, we fill our family’s lives in the same way. Our children go to playdates, sporting events, tutoring, art classes and all the other activities we can squeeze in for them. All in the hopes of making their lives better. Yet, in doing so we’ve taken away our child’s play time, the time to use their imaginations, time to develop true friendships, and the time to just be children.

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As for our husbands/wives we’re so full of activities that revolve around our own businesses activities and children’s lifestyles that we don’t take the proper time for each other. We’ve almost forgotten how to be romantic, how to take the time to be husband-and-wife. We even ask to have to penciling date nights so that we can spend time together away from my busy schedules.

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It’s a shame that our life become so wrapped up that we forgotten how to really enjoy life, how to take pleasure in just the simple acts. Moments like sitting on a porch swing and relaxing with each other holding hands, watching the children play in the yard trying to catch fireflies. These may be things of a bygone era, but they are things that I, personally, think should be brought back.

So the next time somebody ask you what kind of gift to get you, ask for something really special: the gift of time. Time to be by yourself, time to be with your family, without all their obligations. Time to personally grow. Maybe even a little to be with your Lord and bask in the glory of all he’s given us. Time for nature, because with our busy schedules we rush right by and don’t even spend the time to notice the wonderful flowers, smells, and the wild animals around us.

So, you’ve been given the gift of time – now what are you doing to do with it?

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!

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It’s all about the Name…

As a writer, one of the hardest things I have to do is to decide on the right names for my characters.  It has to look right in print, sound right on the lips and feel right in my heart.  It can take time to pick the best one, and often I find myself changing it as I start to get into the story.  And then there is the decision on if I should give my characters a nickname…

Nicknames are often used as a sign of love between friends and family and often the only make sense to a select few that are part of that inner circle. The most common nicknames are shorting of your full name, or maybe a combination of your initial’s (JJ, DJ). Or maybe it’s an endearing name like Sweetie or Honey.
Whatever the name, once you have it; it’s yours for life. Have you every run across a grown man who tops 6′ and is called “Tiny”? Oh you many move away and start a new life, change your whole persona, and forget all about it. But the minute you go home, or meet someone from home-out comes that name and you are thrown back in time.
Since most of us receive our nick names from our loved ones, we embrace the feeling of belonging that it gives us, or at the least we “grin and bare it”. That name is a connection between people, special, even if it is just between two souls.
My nickname when I was little came from Grandpa. My grandfather was a quiet man, always with a pipe in hand and a smile on his face. His humor was simple and often took you by surprise because it was so often right on the mark. Except for this nickname-I just never quite got it! My mom actually had the name before me, I just became number 2.

And the name you ask? TERMITE. (I am Termite 2).

When I asked my Grandpa about it, he would just smile and say “A termite gets into everything.” That’s all there was to it, and it made sense to him. It’s been years since he died, and with his passing, my nickname became silent. It just never sounded the same coming from anyone else.

So, I ask you, is your nickname as special as mine?

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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….

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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…