Friday, November 29, 2019

Writing Through the Holidays

This is the time of year when the writing process may come to a halt for many authors or fledgling authors. It is hard to think about writing a fictional tale when real life is getting very complicated all around us. There are presents to buy, holiday decorating to be done, extra meals to be cooked for guests or extra company, or just visiting with relatives you don't see very often. How can we make time to do any writing work during these busy times? Isn't it easier to simply set aside the writing process and promise to make a harder effort in the new year?


There are things you can still do to work on your writing even during the chaos of the holidays. This may be a busy time but you can put some of that busy time period to work for you.

1. Come up with new story ideas. Think up a Christmas tale based on something you hear or something that happens to you.  You might even do a small focus group around the holiday table and get some great story ideas. Or you might listen to a story someone tells and think about how you would use the elements of that tale in a story of your own.

2.  Look around and write down descriptions that you can use later. Note the holiday decorations or the sights and sounds of the holiday and write up a few paragraphs about them so that if you want to write a holiday story you already have some ideas of what you want to say.

3. Think through your plot or your characters while you're doing that endless busy work like wrapping presents or unstringing light bulbs. Sometimes the work of getting ready for the holidays can seem so taxing, but take your mind away to another world while you're stamping those cookies with a cookie cutter out for the office holiday party.

4. Use friends and family for a focus group around the holiday dinner table. Let them help you come Home Fires Burning.  Those sort of family tales are all around us and if you tell them as fiction or turn them even into a non-fiction story, it gives you something to write about.
up with ideas or ask them what they think of a storyline you might want to use in a future story. Ideas are all around us and while you might not use the exact details, why not take a storyline from something that happened to someone. One of my early holiday memories was hearing my mother talk about how she met my dad. I always associate that old story with my early Christmas memories and when I was writing one of my first romance novels, I adapted part of her story into the plot that became my romance,

5. Don't despair if you find you have no time to write. Try doing some editing during quiet times as a way of breaking the holiday time, or simply read over your story to make certain you're heading in the right direction. Read it as a reader rather than as the writer. Maybe you'll find new directions to take or reinforce your thoughts about how the plot was working.

Mainly it is important to not beat up on yourself if you don't get a lot of writing done for the next few weeks. Take the time for yourself or make that resolution to write more in the New Year!

Buy Links: 
Buy Links

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Let's Talk Horror Writing!

 From my first brush with Edgar Allen Poe (due to my brother's literature class), spooky or horror books have always been among my favorite reading material. From Stephen King to supernatural thrillers, I've loved every frightening moment.   That's why I was excited to get the opportunity to host writer Robert Herold and his new project in My Writing Corner this week  and to get a chance to interview him. .

He says  the supernatural has always had the allure of forbidden fruit to him, ever since his mother refused to allow him, as a boy, to watch creature features on late night TV. Eventually she gave in and before long he was telling tales to neighborhood children of werewolves on the front lawn.  He has pursued many interests, including becoming a history teacher and musician but he always retained his loved of the supernatural, or as he says, he was haunted by it.  Finally he wrote The Eidola Project.
 How did you get started as a fiction writer?
Several years ago I began writing television pilot episodes and entering them in contests. My scripts were doing well. I won The Wild Sound Festival, had two pilots in the top five in the People’s Pilot Awards, and was a finalist, or semi-finalist in several other big contests. After pitching my scripts for a year and getting lots of requests, but having things go no further, I wrote Larry Brody, who heads The People’s Pilot Awards &, and asked for advice.
He said it was difficult but not impossible for an older writer to break in. (Full disclosure: I’m 63 years young!) He said I should try another route to get attention and suggested I try writing novels.
The Eidola Project was originally a pilot script and I decided to use that, because I always had an affinity for both history and supernatural horror.  It turns out I really like writing novels—I’m having a blast!
I recently wrote an article that goes into more detail about this, published on the TVWriter website.  See
 How did you get the idea for this book?
Set the Way Back MachineTM for 1968. I wrote a horror story for my junior high English class called “A Matter of Inconvenience.” My teacher loved the story and had me read it to the class. Thanks Mrs. Holt!
What do you like best about your characters?
They’re all interesting people with incredible back-stories, but none are perfect. (Who is?) One, in particular, is far from it. The series will trace their evolution. It’s fun to see where they will go and what they will do with heartaches and obstacles I place before them.  Writing is a bit like how the Greek and Roman gods would toy with humans!
What are you working on next?
My second novel involves a werewolf and is entitled, Moonlight Becomes You. It’s currently at the editor and I anticipate it coming out sometime in 2020.  I’m also 100 pages into book number three.  It’s set among the NW Native Americans along the Pacific Coast. The working title is Totem of Terror, and it concerns a deadly shape-shifting creature. 
All my books are set in the late-19th Century because I find it a fascinating era. Modern science and technology were causing tremendous changes in society, but there were still vestiges of much earlier thinking, technology, and beliefs. The era can also act as a window on today’s social issues, particularly racism and substance abuse.
Is there anything else you want to tell us?
I wanted to be a werewolf as a child.  It’s probably why I have a beard!

Okay! Let's get more on this intriguing book:

It's 1885 and a drunk and rage-filled Nigel Pickford breaks up a phony medium's séance. A strange twist of fate soon finds him part of a team investigating the afterlife.
The Eidola Project is an intrepid group of explorers dedicated to bringing the light of science to that which has been feared, misunderstood, and often manipulated by charlatans. They are a psychology professor, his assistant, an African-American physicist, a sideshow medium, and now a derelict, each possessing unique strengths and weaknesses.
Called to the brooding Hutchinson Estate to investigate rumored hauntings, they encounter deadly supernatural forces and a young woman driven to the brink of madness.
 Will any of them survive?
Sounds spooky and like fun reading! Robert says ultimately, he hopes the book gives you the creeps, and he means that in the best way possible.
Here are the buy links:
for Amazon

If you would like to get in touch with Robert, here is  his contact information:

Thank you, Robert for being my guest today. Any questions or comments for Robert?

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Finish the Book!

For the past several weeks I have been working on finishing a non-fiction book with a writing partner while also working on several fiction projects.  Finally my sister (who is perhaps my best and worst critic) asked me directly, "When are you ever going to finish something?"

Excellent question. It got me to thinking, why is it so hard to finish a project? That was never an
issue in the past. Of course, when you just got two new cats who seem to demand constant attention, it can be harder than you might think. Last week one of them stretched out on the keyboard of my computer and refused to budge. Okay, they should be easy to lift, but then they start to squirm and suddenly everything you've typed into the keyboard disappears with the step of one soft little paw!

This week she wrapped herself up in a curtain cord and had to be rescued from her hanging position.

Why did it used to be so easy?  Well, of course it wasn't, but when you work as a daily television news producer or executive producer, your work has to be finished every day. For years I knew that my deadline was 4pm, 5pm or 11pm. My broadcast was going on the air with or without me. I had to make certain it was with me. I had to have everything ready to go for that next hour or half hour or there would be dead air. There could never be dead air so I had to produce something! Of course I had lots of people working with me, but they had that same deadline. Together we all had to have our stories written, our work done or it wasn't going to get seen.

Writing a book is a whole different animal, and I'm not talking cats now, but the end result is the same. If I don't finish a book, it is never going to be read. I can re-read and re-edit over and over, but my readers are never going to see my work. Just like my sister, they may be asking when will you finish the book?

As writers we all need to keep that in mind. Our work will not be seen until it is finished. I've worked with critique partners who wanted to keep perfecting things but in the end they simply took the vibrancy out of the story.  Sooner or later there has to be an ending.

How do you decide your are getting there?

1. Look back at your story. What was the original goal of the main characters? Have they met it or have you just been meandering and not bothered to keep building the tension toward getting to that final goal.

2. Look at your characters. Have they been learning? Have they been growing? Are they about ready to tackle that final issue to get their happy (or unhappy) ending?

 If you've just been going around in plot circles, it may be about time to start looking for how you are going to finish the story.

3. Study your opening pages. What did you set out to do in the beginning? Have you taken the proper steps toward getting there? Maybe you veered off in the wrong direction some place and all it will take is coming back to the original premise to get your characters back on the right track.

4. Read over the middle part of your book. Are all the scenes necessary? Are there some that need to be beefed up to get toward your ending? Are there some that you put in thinking you wanted to go in a certain direction and then never went there. Get rid of them!

5. Have you put in too much backstory? Is the middle of the book so heavy simply because you kept explaining issues that didn't need to be in the book?

6. Finally, look again at how you want to end the story. Did you have an idea of how you wanted it to end or was it too vague?  If you were never quite sure, maybe it's time to decide that definitive ending then start taking those steps to get there.

7. If you're working on a sequel, as I am on the moment -- working on the second part of my Dead Man series, re-read parts of the first book to get an idea for why you wanted to write a series in the first place. Get to know the characters and situations again to make certain you're heading in the right direction.

It's like taking a long walk. You can look up or down the hill and decide at the beginning whether you want to take the longer version and see all the sights or the shorter version that might leave you breathless. Which direciton do you want to take? Decide and then start aiming for it. Wandering all the paths along the way is only going to get you lost and tired.

8. Finally, make your decision on the ending and then and head for it! Make it direct and push forward until you get there.  (and hope you don't run into cats stuck in a new predicament along the way)

Now it's back to work to finish my next book. If you would like to check out the first part in the series, Dead Man's Rules is available at Amazon.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Tackling A November Writing Project

For the past six years November has been a very busy month for me because I've tackled NaNoWriMo -- National Novel Writing month. It is a time when thousands of other writers also tackle the prospect of writing a book during the month of November. Local groups sponsor write-ins and we all post our daily word count to the website every day. We sit in a coffee shop or at times there have been groups who get together in conference rooms during their lunch hour to work on their stories.

What I've found about NaNoWriMo is that it has been a great way to get new work started. If there is a project I've wanted to get going on, NaNo is a good place to begin. The words begin to pile up and by the end of the month, even if I haven't made my 50-thoussand words I've gotten a good start and I can continue even after the month ends. There have also been Camp NaNo projects in July and during other months of the year.  Why do NaNoWriMo or a writing related project like this?

1. It's a good way to focus on ONE story. This month I have chosen to begin a book I've been planning to write. Don't we all get into that habit of saying, "I want to write this book," but then we don't do it? NaNo gets me focused with that project so I have to construct at least a basic idea to get started.

2. It establishes or re-establishes a daily writing routine.  Too often we find many reasons or excuses NOT to write. With a NaNo word count staring me down every day, I know I need to start writing at a certain time and keep at it until I reach my daily goal or I may fall off and have to make up time later. Keeping that daily routine works and it has carried over many times for several months -- long enough to get this book either close to finished or finished and ready to work on a new project.

3. There are others who are going through the same process. Again, in a big city it's easy to find other
nano groups that are doing write ins and sitting in a coffee shop or library where we are all trying to achieve the same goal is invigorating. It's nice to know we are all having to struggle. And at times we wit and have coffee after our writing time and talk about our work. That can be helpful too by sharing plotting woes and getting character ideas. It's an opportunity to socialize with other writers that might not normally be there. I did my first NaNoWriMo when I was tackling my sweet romance, Home Fires Burning, and the suggestions some writers gave me ended up in the plot for the book.

4. There is encouragement from the group. Just like sharing with others, I get to hear how others are suffering and can add encouragement to them for their writing. They do the same with me, and their problems always sound a lot worse than my simple statement that today I don't feel like writing. They might have children or families interrupting them. I simply have two rambunctious kittens begging for attention that disrupts my writing progress this year. But even their antics get me back to writing.

5. All those words will be written. No matter how you look at it, participating in NaNoWriMo gets a lot more done than I probably would have in other times. Then too often I'll stop and start over because something doesn't sound just right. Working to get a word count done means I have to keep going and know I'll have to come back later. I don't stop and take the time now. My goal is to get that word count up so I have to move along rather than spend an hour contemplating one minor plot point.

Good luck to all the other NaNoWriMo writers out there. Hopefully we will get through our projects and next year we can be starting on something new!

A Writing Quest

With the cold days of winter in the rearview mirror and spring taking a firm hold, it's time to look forward to all the reading we want ...