Expected Doings in 2014

The storms of 2014 seem intent on making everyone, even those of us in the Deep South, miserable. It’s cold and dreary. But that hasn’t stopped me from going forward with my plans for further success this year. Book two of The Trey Fontaine Mysteries, ULTIMATE GAME, has gone to the editor and I’ll so be working on the first revision with her.

In the meantime, I’ve set my sights on the creation of one or two literary works, and have been daydreaming about plots and characters, and the wideness of the genre, or non-genre, as it were.

I’ve been plotting and planning my garden–I think you’ll find that all gardeners start dreaming of the next big harvest during the worst of winter weather. First I must inventory the jars of canned goods on the shelf, and determine what I shall attempt to grow this summer, and then comes the fun of seed catalogs, and plans for visiting the local nursery!

In the meantime, I’m on the search for a crit partner who loves literary novels and is willing to brainstorm and share his or her knowledge of promotion and publication. I know. This blog is disjointed and jumping from one subject to the next. But hey, that’s what the new year brings. An anxious knowledge that another year looms ahead, bright with promise and unknown joy.

I hope everyone takes these winter months to think on what the new year might bring. What new things might be experienced. And what you can do to bring a smile to others. I’ll be back with a list of books I plan to read, a couple of reviews of recent reads, some interviews and showcases of authors and their newest releases, a guest post or two, info on great classes and books for writers,  and updates on my hunt for a crit partner, my goal of creating a new pastermiece–I mean masterpiece, and a fun story here and there to make you smile.

I’m An Author, Not A Salesperson

There was a time when writers just had to write. But now, in our new economy, in the ‘space age’, our roles have changed. Even if we get that coveted Big House contract, they don’t spend money on new authors, so we’re left with either no sales, or becoming salespeople.

I never wanted to go into sales. I’m not good at it. I don’t like it. In fact, if I had known twelve years ago what I know now, I might never have dreamed of being published. I might have decided to just write for my own enjoyment. Too late now. With book one of a series published, and an editor waiting on book two, I have to learn this new way of being a writer.

I bought the books about social media and advertising. I even read them. I’m told they’re in English, but I’m not so sure. The one thing they all stress, and I understand, is that we have to now be ‘social.’ The polar opposite of being a writer. It’s not that I don’t like people. I was raised in a large family. Not communicating meant being trampled! But having the pressure of ‘entertaining’ other people, of saying things they want to hear, of trying to come up with new material…Well…it’s a lot.

I enjoy blogging. I really enjoy reviewing books I’ve read. Facebook is an okay medium, though a tad confusing. Twitter blows my mind. I’ve been told not to toot my horn, but every tweet I get is a sales pitch. I mean EVERY ONE! I have yet to get on LinkedIn without having to take my computer to the shop.

So, what are us old dinosaurs to do? How can we compete with kids who grew up with the internet and can’t spend more than twenty minutes away from their electronic friends? Even if I look at socializing on the net as ‘writing’, I still can’t think of what to talk about everyday. Especially when I’m not supposed to talk about my book.  I mean, I really don’t do anything interesting. I never go out to eat. No theater here in town. No cable TV. No parties. I don’t drink much, and when I do it’s just a drink at home. I don’t know a lot of people around here. I read. I write. I occasionally can some veggies. Who’s interested in that kind of thing?  Let’s face it–I’m boring. That’s why I read and write!

I’d love to hear from you all. How do you cope? Can you recommend resources that might teach me? Is there something out there that will interpret The Internet For Dummies for me? If you’re successful, what are your secrets? Are you struggling with being a salesperson? Do you find it difficult to carve out time for twitter? Facebook? Do you understand how it’s all supposed to work? And if you do, would you pass some of that along?

My Middle Is Sagging!

As all writers know, it’s that sagging middle of a manuscript that can make us crazy. My WIP has a great beginning and a bang up ending, but that darned middle looks like a string hanging down between two pieces of wire.

I don’t know how authors put out two, or three, or a dozen books a year!. How do they take the characters from safe and happy in the beginning, through a maze of problems, and bring them out the otherside? Well, I know all about bringing them out the other side. The ending of my WIP is kick butt rock solid. If only I knew what to do with those twenty chapters before the end, that keep the reader on the edge of his or her seat. Well I did it once, so I guess I can do it again. But for the life of me, I can’t remember how I did it the first time.

I’d love to hear from other writers as to how they manage to fill in that middle. I’ve found that it’s not so hard to get the characters in trouble, but getting them out in a believeable way is the trick.

DRAMA–The Old And New Genre

Drama. It’s what life is made of. It’s the ins and outs of everyday life.  And as in real life, drama can be found in Westerns, Mysteries, Thrillers, Romance, and all other kinds of fiction. Part of our current language is the use of the word ‘drama’ to describe reactions to events. We hear about Drama Queens, and people who just can’t handle all that ‘drama.’

But without drama, there is no life. Drama is about the aches and pains, the growing, the fighting, the search for self, the search for peace. Authors and most people in the business might call it goal, motivation and conflict. Whole books have been dedicated to teaching us how to make sure our writing feels like real life. It’s a writer’s job to evoke emotions from readers, to make them sympathetic to, or afraid of, our characters and their situations.

My favorite kind of drama is psychological drama, which is defined as what goes on in our  heads, how we think and feel about what’s happening. And my favorite characters to write are the ones with psychological problems. Those who were molested, beaten, raped, or killed, and those who molest, beat, rape and kill. I like to write about people who are very flawed, who are damaged. My readers want to know what makes ‘those’ people tick, what drama they have gone through. What do they think and feel? What can they possibly tell themselves that makes it okay to hurt others? Do they understand the consequences of their actions? Or do they just not care?

I watched a child  molester as he passed by a very young girl, maybe six or seven years old. She wore a bikini. He leered at her and said, “She knows exactly what she’s doing, shaking her butt and prissing around.”  I’ve never forgotten that. He was of the firm belief that all females knew the power they held over men, and used it. He really believed that little girl was teasing him, though it was obvious that she was totally unaware of his presence. If you are a reader of my fiction, you will no doubt run into this character someday.

But characters don’t have to be that sick, to evoke a response from readers. If you’re an author, remember the flaws, the parts of real people that we sometimes detest, as well as the parts of them that we feel great compassion for. Use drama in your writing to bring the reader into the story, their emotions rising and falling as they get to know your characters. Readers love all that drama.

Ryder’s Journal–Friday, Sept 16, 2011

The theme of this journal is the dilemma that authors face after we are published. Another facet is added to our daily lives as we try to balance our relationships and write, with all encompasses, and also promote.

The new TV schedule could cause me some major time issues. I love cop and lawyer shows, and there are several new ones. I often DVR them, and then speed through the commercials. I hate it when there are three things on at the same time. That means I have to choose one to watch when the season ends and reruns start.

I managed to get a few more words written and am feeling good about the story. I just wish I was able to get more words written. It seems like an impossible task. I really love to write, but I can only do what I can do.

My son made us a beautiful spaghetti and meatball dinner, with French garlic toast. His first foray into the Italian cooking. He could be a chef. He is as concerned about the taste as the presentation of the meal, and he does both really well.  No doubt my hubby and I would be in rest homes without him.

Hope everyone has a great week-end.


#Writer’s Block

This is the last blog of a mystery rolling blog tour for Wednesday, July 20th, on the subject of Writer’s Block. Below is my article on Writer’s  Block, followed by information on  the other blogs in this roll. If you haven’t already, please take a moment  to visit the other blogs listed and let us know what you think. Comments are always welcome.

I’ve had times when my brain just would not cooperate as I tried to write. It took me a long time to figure out a way to get around this problem and continue to write. I learned to choose other things to write. If I’m writing a mystery, and my mind refuses to concentrate on the manuscript, I do what one of my writer friends calls ‘pre-writing’. I work on little stories about characters that help me know the character better. Or something about the location. I may describe the hotel in town, or the casino, right down to the color of the carpets and drapes in the rooms. I may concentrate on employees, people who will probably never appear in the book at all.

If all else fails, I choose another book all together, maybe even something in a different genre, and start laying the groundwork for that novel–character profiles, plot outline, research on location and weather.

There’s always something I can write, even if it’s something like this, a blog article. But on those rare occasions when even these things are hard to write, I go to two things: how-to reference books on writing and promoting, and fiction in my genre. Reading will often trigger ideas about my own writing and get me over the hump and back into the groove.

I’ve heard lots of writers who say there’s no such thing as writer’s block. I wonder if that means they have never encountered a time when words just wouldn’t come, or if maybe they overcame it with their own tricks, and because they were able to overcome that ‘delay or thought’, they decided it was never writer’s block in the first place.

Writer’s block is real to me. And I think it’s source, at least sometimes, is the pressure we place on ourselves or others place on us to meet deadlines and set quotas. I realize those things tend to encourage us to keep up the work, but I think there are times when that pressure is just too much and the mind goes on strike.

If you’ve never faced writer’s block, good for you. If your mind ever does go on strike, you might want to try some of my ideas. Or you might just want to give in a take a vacation. What ever you do, just don’t give up. If there’s a book in you, it will come out, and I’ve found that after a little bit of ‘pre-writing’, my mind kicks into overdrive and my fingers can’t keep up.

I hope you have enjoyed my article on Writer’s Block. Below is a complete list of the other blogs participating in to day’s rolling blog tour.

  1. John Hines–www.JohnHines.com
  2. Mollie Cox Bryan–www.MollieCoxBryan.com
  3. Kathleen Kaska–www.KathleenKaskaWrites.blogspot.com
  4. Ryder Islington–www.RyderIslington.wordpress.com

Please join us again Monday when we will be blogging on Genre Bending and Blending. Monday’s roll will start with John Hine’s blog: http://www.JohnHines.com

Blog Tour Anyone?

Last week I participated in a blog tour and I really loved it. I loved it so much I will be participating in another soon. But I have my own ideas about a blog tour and I’d love to create a rolling blog tour for this year–yes I said this year.

Here’s the plan: I want to find at least fourteen more mystery writers who are williing to participate in a rolling blog tour. We will choose one day a week on which to submit an article. And each week one member will choose the topic of the tour and start it off as the first blogger. All participants will introduce the blog of the person next in line on the tour with a single line or paragraph as well as giving a complete list of participating blogs at the end of their article.

Articles don’t have to be long. Every participant can put their bookcover, bio and where to purchase their books on their front page so every week people will see it.

Participants can decide as a group if there will be any limitations on the kinds of topics we write about, though I personally like to write about writing, and reading, and books.

I’d like to get started with this in the next few weeks and aim to keep it going once a week for a year. If you want to participate but can’t do it every week, or can’t commit to a year, that’s okay. I’m hoping to get enough responses so that no one will have to participate every week. Maybe we can make it ten bloggers each week, some other arbitrary number that works.

If you are a mystery writer, published or not, I’d love for you to leave me a comment here if you’re interested in this idea, or contact me at ryderislington@yahoo.com