Ready, Set, Binge!

Have you noticed how we’ve become a society that loves to binge?
We think nothing of spending hours doing the same thing repeatedly. It starts with food and drink. Come on be honest- how many times have you sat in front of the TV with a bag of chips and been shocked to look down and discover the bag was empty? And you can’t even remember eating it?
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Our society has  always indulged, or binged, on drinking; some to the point of becoming addicted to the drink. And it doesn’t always have to be alcohol. Have you ever seen somebody that wakes up and grabs a soda first thing in the morning, filling up a 16 ounce cup? A cup  that never seems to empty all day?
As kids we binged too. That’s what Halloween is for- a time for eating as much candy as we could.
But it’s not just food we binge on. With the development of sites such as Netflix, Hulo, Amazon Prime (just to name a few) you can pick a TV series you haven’t seen a long time (or never) and watching entire series in one sitting. One season at a time. Do you realize that can be 8 to 12 hours just sitting there watching TV? We’re all guilty of it, even though we tell ourselves we’re not.shutterstock_1062695225
Even I do it. I may not watch eight or nine hours at a time, but I will watch more than one episode in a row. And I find that when I’m trying out a new series, I look to see if there are multiple seasons so I can watch them all at once rather than having to wait from one week to the next for each episode.
Our favorite movies are not excluded from this either. We will watch all the episodes one right after the other. Be honest how many of you done that with Harry Potter or Star Wars? Especially when the next movie is getting ready to hit the big screen. We hurry and grab all the other movies in the series, watching them so we’re ready for the new movie, that we have all the details in our minds of what happened and what might happen.
As readers I think we binge too. When we know there’s a series of books, we download all the books available and read them one right after another. Often we may not even buy the books unless we’re sure there’s more than four or five in the series so we can read each book in order, not having to wait months for the author to write the next one.
Is  this is healthy, I don’t know. Probably not. But it shows we can get caught up in the story the writer is creating; whether it is on the movie screen or pages of our book. And for the author that can be a fantastic thing.
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And even as a writer we binge. A prime example of that is the National Novel Writing Month. We force ourselves to write an entire book in 30 days. For some authors that’s normal. But for others, like me, we’d rather  write our book over three or four months. Or longer. (There is nothing wrong with publishing at your own pace.) Yet we accept the challenge and we binge; writing the words until we have over 50,000.
We’re always in a hurry to get things done and sometimes I wonder if we were to take it slower we might enjoy it more, savoring the writer’s words or the taste of those chips longer. And as a writer-enjoying the process of creating our characters and worlds.
Well July 1 is almost here, and I start binge writing again. This month is Camp NaNo. A new book, new series, new characters and settings. With the outline done, I’m ready to write!
So binge away!
What are you binging on? Is it a new movie series or a book series?
What’s your guilty secret?

https://VictoriaLKWilliams.com

Paint a picture with your words.

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The air was motionless, and it wrapped around you like a warm wet blanket, making you gasp for every ounce of air you could drag into your lungs. A woman stood by the edge of the lake, still, in the early morning hour. She looked across the water noticing a  great egret flying low. If he tilted his head, he could admire his reflection from the clear water, as he glided silently over it. Turning her head a little to left, she noticed a kayak paddling in silence; the paddle making soft ripples on the water. The ripples extended out, hardly disturbing the calm still water.
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Looking down at her feet she saw the tiny dots on the water as small bait fish came to the surface to grab air, barely moving the water. As if they wanted to inhale the air before sinking back down into the cool water, away from the heat.  Even though it was early, the temperatures were building. The sweat dripped down the back of her cotton shirt into the waistband of her cut-off jeans. The hat on her head did nothing to protect her from the glare as the sun kissed the water good morning while it crested over the horizon.
Days like this caused temperatures to rise both in the air and in the people trying to live through the sweltering heat of summer. Emotions would be sure to heat up as the mercury swelled up the narrow tube of the thermometer. This was a perfect day for murder.
I don’t know about you, but this sounded a lot better than saying ‘it was a hot summer day at the lake where a murder would happen’.

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As a writer it’s our job to paint a picture with our words.
Our readers can’t be where we place the characters in our story. This is why the details about the settings and the characters surroundings are important to the tale. The reader needs to see this through your chosen words.
 (There are writers who excel at this, one of my favorites is Nora Roberts.)

The words you use can set the tone for something sweet and funny, or dark and ominous. The same scene I described could’ve easily been the setting for a holiday picnic about to begin. But because I chose words to create a darker tone, you pictured a different meaning. Simply by my adding those last seven words, I confirmed your interpretation.
But it’s easy to overdo the words, And I came close. There’s no reason to describe in minute detail every little thing happening in the scene.

Your readers possess an imagination, let them use it! Often it is the things left unsaid that create the most impact.

Read over what you wrote, read it out loud. Do the words do more than give the reader the facts? They should. Your words should cause an emotional reaction. Laugh, cry, cringe, gasp-make those words do anything but create apathy and boredom.

With that being said, I rather like the words I strung together for your example…   I think I might have a beginning for my next book; a scene with a murder on the lake.
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How would you write your next scene?
Who are some of your favorite writers that can paint a picture with words?

If you enjoyed this post and want to read more, be sure to click the follow button. And comment-I love to hear your thoughts.

www.VictoriaLKWilliams.com

Are you a gardener? I have another blog called Gossip from the Southern Garden.
Stop in and see what’s growing. 

www.GossipfromtheSouthernGarden.blog

Hidden Talents

I bet you didn’t know…

Anyone has ever written a book knows it’s hard work. Talent must also come into play.  Most of the writing is a combination, with an emphasis on diligence and comment. After all anyone can start a book, the glory comes by finishing the book. But a writer’s talent turns the hard work into something special and uniquely theirs.
You would think authors would exhaust all their talent into the writing. But there are hidden talents among a lot of art writers I know.
It never fails to amaze me when I see some beautiful artwork other writers create with things other than words.

I have one writer friend who is also an artist-she paints beautiful scenery.

Custom-Covers-ExampleAnother one does fantastic book covers, they take your breath away.(http://www.llynara.com).

Basic RGB Karen Kalbacher is my cover artist, and she is a writer.

Another mentor who has guided me from the day I first started writing has enough talent in her words she not only writes for herself, she’s a ghostwriter. Plus, she paints.

Not all talent involves painting. There are fantastic types of crafting out there from woodwork to stitchery to creating gardens. A sweet friend and mentor does wonderful crafting, enough that she’s getting ready to open her own shop! Everybody has their own niche of what they do best couple, using these talents as a release from the stress writing can bring.

I also have a few hidden talents. I love to do needlepoint.20180526_091940 When I’m not fighting with the cats over the colorful yarn, I can create nice pictures. Of course, that’s more patience than talent.

 I think most of you know I garden.ad 2016b This is my ‘real’ profession- and as the designer I use with flowers and foliage to create beautiful displays that people can enjoy. The mixing of textures using life plans to create a garden is very relaxing and rewarding for me.

And these are just a few of the many talents I’ve heard of other authors doing!

Chime in and let us know what your talent is.

It’s always fun to get to know each other, isn’t it?

www.VictoriaLKWilliams.com

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

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

 

 

Hi-ho, hi-ho, its off to camp we go!

My bags are packed and I’m running away for the month of April!

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Of course this is only in a virtual world. April is the first of the Camp NaNo months and I’m exciting to take part.

The camps are a bit more laid back than NaNoWriMo, with less emphasis on 50,000 words and more on your cabin and new writing friends. This is the time to finish up goals which may not have been completed (guilty!) in November and re-connect with other writers.

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I think this is what I love about the camps-the connection! No one understands your misery more than someone also going through the same process. This is the 4th year I’ve opened a cabin up, and I’m thrilled to see old friends return. This year there are  new writers joining us and I’m looking forward to getting to know them as well.

There is a special bond that forms here, one that will never fade. Encouragement is freely given, helpful ideas are tossed around and constructive criticism is offered if asked for and venting is allowed at any hour of the day or night.

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So, we authors set our goals and aim for our targeted number of words as we juggle or daily tasks, jobs and family. To those around us; have patience it’s only for a month.

At least until July rolls around!

http://www.VictoriaLKWilliams.com

Winter Production

Let’s face it, it’s cold everywhere, even down here in the South!

Then what do you do—moan and groan? Do you cuddling up in blankets and wear thick socks to warm your feet? Or you do something about it?shutterstock_400520170
I’ll be honest, for the first day I was one of the moaners. I hate the cold and that’s why I moved to South Florida; to get away from it. Yet, how can I possibly complain about two or three days of wintry weather when you see what the rest of the country is going through? Throwing on a thicker sweater, I pick myself up by my bootstraps (make that my flip-flops) and decide to be productive.


Just because it was too cold to be outside, doesn’t mean that I couldn’t catch up on my reading. There were a couple of new authors I was dying to read, and this was the perfect opportunity. Even more importantly, this was a terrific opportunity to flush out some characters, write up outlines and continue working on my work in progress.

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So I sat down at my desk, a fake fire roaring on the TV, with my space heater blowing warm air on me and a cat (no make that two cats) hogging the heat. I look over my shoulder and there they are, enjoying the heat blowing directly on them. Wouldn’t you think with all that fur they’d be warm?


I’ve concluded; when it’s cold, your mind stays sharp. At least there is no dozing off, or daydreaming. I try to keep moving, even if it’s only mentally, to keep the juices flowing and keep warm. I’m happy to say I’ve accomplished some work. Trying a new program called StoryShop, I flushed out one or two awesome characters. I even got to know a few of my existing characters little better. A good outline for a whole new series is now ready to go. And I continued working on my newest Storm Voices book.


For all of you who put up with this weather on a day-to-day basis, month after month; my heart goes out to you. I can’t forget the years growing up in upstate New York. I know perfectly well what you’re going through. So, stay warm my friends; read a book, or even write one.

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Let this winter be for the creative minds to explore.

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www.VictoriaLKWilliams.com

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Time to Say Farewell…

This past week I had to say goodbye to an old friend.

The one my son commonly called the toaster. My business was a mere five years old we bought this car, and it lasted for 12 years taking me to and from my customers homes, nursery shopping, and running around town. Sometimes she overflowed with flowers and herbs, giving me a full day’s work and an everlasting supply of different scents. It was a well-known car in town, between the shape and the logo ( a white Scion), and I often heard people saying they had seen me driving around from job to job in my unique car.

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It’s funny how you form an attachment too an animate object. I knew every nook and cranny of my car and the sounds she made, so I realized she was in trouble. And I had to make the decision to let her go, the time was here for her retirement.
After a fond goodbye, I now I have something new, “does happy dance”! It’s bigger and bluer, and I’m hoping it will last me another 12 years.

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As a writer, I look back and I see I’ve given my characters unique cars setting them apart (Megan has an open jeep, Aiden has a cherry red ’65 cutlass, Jake has a red motor scooter), or gave them their own attachments with another item (Megan has a special bracelet, Makenzie wears a lightning rock). It’s easy to transfer your own emotions into your writing, your own likes and dislikes (Megan love chocolate, Mackenzie loves gardens, Paige and Rebecca love cats). Sometimes you might transfer the likes of somebody else into your characters; a comment a good friend may have made about loving a specific brand of handbags suddenly becomes your main character prized possession.
It’s not just inanimate objects we share with our characters, often we bring them in to our favorite place, too. Whether these places are from our past or from our present sometimes or even places we want to go to in the future, they find their way into the story. Some authors are talented enough to create their own places and bring the characters to that imaginary location. But each of those places, just like each of the inanimate objects we so love, means something to us as authors. We may not be aware that with our words we share this love with our characters, and in turn share with our readers.

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As a reader, this helps you identify with the characters in the story, creating a bond. As a writer, it is our job to find a way to bond with our readers. So authors, share a little of your personality with your readers. Help them make the connection to you and your books.

Is he who he says he is?

Have You really thought about how little attention we give to what goes on around us? We take for granted the comings and goings of people in our day-to-day life. This could easily be a writer’s dream. Especially a mystery writer like me.

Here’s a good example… I was sitting at my desk working away, minding my own business, when suddenly, I glance out and there’s a guy outside my window. He gave me a wave, and I didn’t really think anything of it when I saw the tools. I remembered the contractors planned to be at my home today to install the hurricane shutters. Obviously he was here to do it.

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But how did I know this for sure; he might be anyone. By being in a uniform, with a letter truck, people don’t give a second thought as to why a worker is there. This deceptive trick is used often on TV shows. The bad guys manage, very easily, to enter a location and then commit a murderer, plant a bomb, or steal a valuable item. All because nobody questions the reason they are there.

We don’t want to make the person being questioned feel uncomfortable, and you don’t want to appear rude. But if you don’t ask questions, how do you know what’s going on? We don’t hesitate to question when somebody rings the doorbell to sell something. We quickly put them in their place with either a yes or a no response. If the person looks like they belong or there is a reason to be there, it’s our human nature to not question. Maybe we’re too trusting, or maybe we’re just too nonchalant, but either way it could be used against you.

Think about the people that come in your life day to day. How many are there that you don’t give a second thought about? If you’re at home, it might be the pool person who comes to clean the pool, or the lawn maintenance man. It could even be someone as common place as a postal delivery employee. If you work in an office do you think twice about seeing somebody come in with a toolbox? For all you know it’s the maintenance man. Or if somebody comes in with a laptop and you automatically assume they are part of a technology team. Or how about someone with a basket of food—is it a lunch person your company has employed or someone with an ulterior motive?

How can it be we’re so self-absorbed that we don’t ponder about the things that are going on around us? Have we become too complacent? Whatever situation you might be in, I hope I’ve put a caution on your mind. It’s time to think about who’s coming into your inner circle and if they belong.

 

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Let the writer explore the possibilities of the people that wander in and out our lives, you take care of the real-life safety precautions.

Remember it’s a mystery or thriller writer who plots about evil strangers…
The writer of Sci-fy brings the stranger as a visitor from the future…
A fantasy writer might create a whole new world where the stranger is from…
A romance writer might think ‘here comes prince charming’…

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Give a little back…

There comes a time in your life when it’s important to not only take, but to give back.

As you reach certain levels of success, you need to take somebody under your wing  to mentor.  Give back to your community and, in a broader spectrum, give back to the world.

I was taught this as a young child. But, of course, my parents didn’t call it ‘giving back’ they said you’re doing ‘what’s right’. We helped the lonely and the elderly who lived in our neighborhood by making sure their lawns were cut, they got occasional visits to keep them company, and treats like plates of homemade cookies. We did our part for church, too, making sure we were there for every cleanup and event the church sponsored. And we gave back to the school in forms of being part of the PTA or helping on class activities.

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It was right after I moved to Florida, getting a job with a man who was a community leader, I learned about giving back to the business community. He taught us it wasn’t just giving back money to associations and good causes, it was about giving of yourself. Giving time was  sometimes more important than giving money. A perfect example was after Hurricane Andrew hit Homestead Florida, many of the large nurseries were destroyed. Nurseries unaffected in other parts of the state sent down representatives and supplies to make sure those businesses demolished could rebuild. The made sure families affected would have food, water and shelter. These nurseries that helped didn’t make any money from their efforts; it was simply good will, and it was the right thing to do. This example of giving back made a lasting impression on me.

When I started my gardening business, I made sure I got involved in the community by joining the Chamber of Commerce and other non-profit organizations. Even if I didn’t have money to help these organizations, I had my time and efforts and I gave freely.

Now, as I enter a new stage of my life as a writer, I’m determined to give back once again. And, although I’m not as knowledgeable as other authors with more experience, I freely give what I can to help new authors starting out. Sometimes a kind word of encouragement is all another writer needs. Another way I give back is to read other people’s books and write honest reviews.

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You can easily do this, too.  Or, become a beta reader when you can. And don’t be afraid to promote another author’s book. By promoting other books in your own genre, you will also promote your own books. As more and more people become interested in the same style of writing as yours, you’ll find the sales increasing.

It’s exciting to be part of the writing community, and I’m thrilled to give back. I know most of us are introverts and tend to prefer working from within our own comfort zone, but with the use of the internet you can easily help another writer get through a  tricking plot point . Plus, I’m amazed at how many great friends I’m making.

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So, as a result, occasionally you’ll find I don’t post a traditional blog. Instead I’ll help support other author’s by posting a promotion. This will give you the chance as a reader to have access to new books and new writers you might not have known. It also gives these authors more exposure, which we all need.

I hope you will enjoy these promotions and take advantage of them. Remember if you enjoyed the book take a moment and let the writer know. Send an email or, even better, write a review on Amazon.

I think you’ll find it feels wonderful to give back!