DIARY OF A MAD WRITER

I’m losing my mind. Yes, I’m that person in the car you pull up next to at an intersection and see talking–and there’s no one in the car and no Blue Tooth. Maybe it’s the heat or lack of sleep. Whatever the cause, I thought I’d share the madness. Why should I be nuts all by myself?

While listening to the radio this morning, the reporter covering the legal aftermath of the tragic shootings in Colorado said the suspect would be “former charged…” Former? Former? {sigh} I assume he meant “formally”…right?

I hate the word really. I cringe each time I read it in a novel or hear it spoken. It’s such a vanilla word and so overused that really has lost all meaning. It really has no impact. Really ranks up there with other words that have practically become useless because they’re overdone: very, sorry, love. I mean, like, you know, really is a very, very plain word. But I really, love, very complicated words you have to look up in…uh…that book, like, you know, with all the words and their meanings.

Their. There. They’re. Hear. Here. Hair. Heir. When. Win. If I see these words used incorrectly one more time, I really will, very likely lose my mind. 🙂

I started reading a mystery novel the other day.In the prologue alone, the author used the phrase femme fatale at least six times. {bigger sigh}

Ever notice the same people who complain about the heat, whine about the cold too?

To all you drivers who pass me during evening rush hour as though I’m standing still or tailgate me through construction zones–there is no first place prize for being the first car in the driveway.

Smile and laugh. It makes people wonder what you’re up to. 🙂

How to Train a Cat

Teaching a cat to actually BE a cat is harder than you’d think. I should know. It took me quite a while to turn my cute little calico kitty, Dolly, into an indoor cat. How? Simple. You just don’t let her go outside. Ever. I thought my sweet little girl wasn’t ‘big’ enough to stay all night, and eventually I proved myself right. Drat it all.

Dolly

Now she’s several years old and I’ve been trying to coax her out from under the bed. She isn’t little anymore, either. She’s gained quite a bit of weight from her inactivity (can you say rotund toushy?) and I’m afraid she’ll develop health issues because of it.

So, I’ve been hauling her outside. Literally.

It’s taken me a while, but she’ll now stay out all by herself for hours! Well, almost. As long as one of the other cats is out with her, she’s fine. The young tomcat, who refused to stay IN the house, even as a kitten, will lay out there with her. Almost as if he knows she needs guarding. Bless his little ole’ furry heart. Funny how that works, isn’t it?

So not-so-little Dolly is learning how to be a ‘real’ cat. Just the other night there was an Armadillo right off the back porch, and when she saw it run away, she actually gave chase. Wow. First time I’ve seen her do that. Despite her mistress, she’s finally learning to do what she was meant to do, be an everyday normal cat.

What does this have to do with writing? Not a lot. Except there are stories everywhere,  in your own backyard or even under your bed, waiting to pounce when you walk by. All you have to do is look for them.

As a sidebar: it’s 5 days and counting until my book launch of GRAVE SECRETS! (And you thought I’d forgotten, didn’t you? Har)

Learning the Craft

Terminally Curious has a question today. “Does the reason a writer writes have anything to do with how many words they write “learning the craft” before we sell to a publisher?”

Yeah, TC is a punk.

Did you ever wonder why romance writers do what we do? Why we work, study, go to conferences, learn, smooze, write, write, write, bounce with rejections and come back to work, study, learn, smooze, write and bounce some more?

Most of the writers I know today who sell their work to a publisher rather than self-publishing, work for many years before they sell. Some of us write several books, some write one book, working, reworking and re-reworking it.

I don’t know many who, after never writing a word, sit down one day, write a book and sell it. They might not have written complete books, but they’ve written scenes or short stories or some kind of fiction.

And the reasons people write? I can’t pretend to know all the reasons, but here are a few–

  • It’s what they do. If they aren’t writing, they’re making up stories in their head.
  • Some do it for the money. And yes, there are some writers who make a living doing it. I’ve even met some of them. But most of us don’t.
  • As a hobby. Some of these people are do-a-holics. They have something going all the time, and one of those things is a book or story.
  • Some do it so they can wear the name, “Writer.” These people enjoy the title enough to do the work in order to wear it.
  • There are those who love seeing their characters come to life on the page. Or to see the what if come to its conclusion.
  • Others have a colorful imagination and writing is a safe way to let it loose. 🙂
  • Some are just too stubborn to quit. 😛

There’s no right or wrong reason, but what I’m wondering TC is wondering is, does The Reason have anything to do with the number of words written while learning the craft before a publisher buys?

Think there’s any correlation?

 

Pardon Me

Years ago I was talking with a man who’d helped with some research on one of my books, and he very politely said, “I don’t you don’t mind my saying this, but I think romance novels are trash.”

I blinked, taken aback, then asked, “Have you ever read one?”

“No,” he admitted.

Very politely I replied, “Then I hope you don’t mind my saying this, but I think that’s an incredibly ignorant comment.”

He thought about a moment and said, “You’re right. It is.”

That exchange came to mind a few days ago when I was cruising Kindle looking for new books. I came across a title by an author I was familiar with, a woman who’s been in the writing biz a lotta years and who’s fairly well respected in her genre of inspirational romance.

What made me stop and look was the fact that were nearly a hundred reader reviews, and they averaged two out of five stars. Ouch!

Out of curiosity, I began reading them and came across something odd: complaint after complaint about the faith, the religion, the Bible and the God stuff in the book.

Um, excuse me. You bought — deliberately paid for and downloaded — a book labeled as an inspirational romance, published by Steeple Hill/Love Inspired, and you’re ticked off by the fact that there’s God stuff in there?!?

I bet when you go to a restaurant and order eggs and ham, you’re surprised to find those round white things with yellow middles on your plate, aren’t you?

Pardon me, folks, but your ignorance is showing.

A Black Confession

As writers we’re often asked where our stories come from. Where do we get the ideas for our tales? And the answer is, anywhere and everywhere. Here’s an example of what I mean. It’s a little embarrassing, but it’s a great illustration–the seed of a story can come from the strangest places.

I wrote a short story called Black Lace, published in my anthology Scary Mondays Volume One. It’s about a widower who’s dead wife is taking possession of him. I got the idea from a song by Soundgarden. Now I’m hearing impaired, so the words I heard Chris Cornell singing was, “I put on black lace.”  That conjured in my head the image of a man dressing as his late wife at her direction. Her ghost tells him to wear her favorite black dress and put on make-up just as she did, all so she can live again inside him.

The funny thing is, being hearing impaired, I heard the words of the song incorrectly. Cornell wasn’t singing “I put on black lace.”  The lyrics are “I fell on black days.”

Black Lace is one of my favorite short stories and it’s one inspired because I heard the wrong words to a song.

And that’s where stories come from!

Outside the Comfort Zones

I think all new writers think the worst/hardest part of the publishing industry is writing the book. Wrong. The worst is doing things that are outside of your comfort zones. Like book signings, or talking to strangers about your book, or doing online promotion.

For the younger generation (I think), the online promotion is a piece of cake. They grew up with computers and have no fear of them. Wish I could say the same. I’ve always been a tad nervous about the unknown, and just about anything computer related is falls into that category. I’m trying, though. Truly I am.

What is my comfort zone, you ask? Talking. To anyone who’ll listen. 🙂   If I’m out and about, like at the post office or tag agency, once I’m done with the business, I’ll boldly ask if they read. While I’m asking, I’m already pulling a book mark from my purse and handing it to them. So far no one has turned me down. I’ve made several contacts in just the last week. I mean, I’m almost brazen here. hehe But when I’m smiling at them, they find it hard to not smile back.

Last Friday, I had my first interview. (Definitely outside my comfort zone!) It was with the Fort Gibson Times newspaper. I was nervous, and I sincerely hope I didn’t sound like a twit, but the reporter was very nice. The article will be in this Wednesday’s edition with a follow-up with details about my first book signing in the next weeks.

I have to pinch myself. This is real. This is the here and now, not somewhere off in the future. I’ve actually gotten a book published. I think I shouldn’t worry about whether any activity related to my book and getting it in the hands of readers is outside my comfort zone. I think I just need to hang on and enjoy the ride. ♥

And if you’re so inclined, you can purchase Grave Secrets from my publisher, The Wild Rose Press, here. Or you can get it on Amazon (sorry but I can’t seem to get the link to work right now). I must warn you, only the print version is available right now. The ebook will be out on August 3rd.

Enjoy!!

Paulina Plots

Susan here. I have a gust blogger, Paulina Czarnecki. I asked Paulina if she’d like to share how she plots, and smart girl jumped on the chance! Only later did I learn she’s just 14 years old!!!

See if you aren’t as impressed as I am.

♥ ♥ ♥

From Paulina–

Everyone plots differently. Some writers make very detailed plot outlines. Some don’t plotat all. I am one of the former.

A couple of years ago, when I first started writing seriously, I went online and found Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake method. In short, the method instructs you to start with a single sentence and build it out to a paragraph, then to a page, then to a three-page synopsis. This is the method I now use when I plan a plot.

Why is this method useful? First of all, it doesn’t take long. It also pin points major plot holes before you begin writing. Even if you don’t like to plot at all, take your story idea and try to write it into a paragraph: the first sentence should be your introduction, the second, third, and fourth major events—or disasters—in your story, and the last the conclusion, the ending. Can you do it? If not, you don’t have a complete story idea.

For pantsers, writing a paragraph about the general idea of your plot won’t eliminate all of the twists and turns your characters push at you, and it might save you a lot of content editing later. Outlining doesn’t make writing boring. I make very detailed plans before I write and I still find surprises that come at me as I’m writing.

It’s a matter of sooner or later; if you don’t write a short summary before you write your book, you’ll have to do it after.

If a paragraph of plotting is a paragraph too much, try this on for size—you need three things to write a book, right? (I’m mostly talking about action here.) Three basic components: a main character, an evil force or bad guy, and a problem to overcome or a motivation. The MC has to defeat the EVIL FORCE (but can’t) because of the PROBLEM/MOTIVATION.

The main character should have a special, unique voice you use to narrate the story. The evil force should somehow touch the main character personally, to give more reason for the character to fight it. The problem is what stands in the character’s way, and the motivation is why the character wants to fight.

For romance novels it’s a little bit different: The MC has found his/her other half but they can’t be together because of the PROBLEM. The motivation here is love. The problem can be a person or a circumstance that’s keeping them apart.

Even if you’renot a plotter, writing a simple paragraph or writing a single sentence can be a guideline for your entire book. If you have these basic pieces of your story figured out, you can write it without getting off track. It will save you a lot of editing in the long run!

The author of this blog is Paulina Czarnecki. She’s fourteen years old. She has been writing since an elementary school project sparked her interest and telling stories since long before that. She loves spending time with her friends and family and making memories. She also has a blog at www.paulinaczarnecki.wordpress.com.

Thanks, Paulina! Keep in touch. I’m expecting big things out of you!