WIP Wednesday: Motivation

Well, with Hamlette finished it’s now time to turn back to Changers 2 and Faebourne. I’m fortunate in that I have a writing group to help me focus on Changers 2. I have a second writing group to which I may bring some of Faebourne. That’s really one of the only ways to get me writing sometimes: hold me accountable. Weekly writing groups/deadlines definitely help.

Of course, with the holidays upon us, groups may not meet as regularly, and it can be difficult to find time to write when there is so much else going on besides.

Sometimes I get more motivated to write when I already have a cover for my book. That means I’ve invested money, you know, and therefore need to finish the book. Plus, a beautiful cover simply excites me. I want to have the book to go with it so that I have a reason to plaster it everywhere. (Yes, I know, I can do a cover reveal but then what? Once you have a book to market, you have so many more ways and reasons to show off that cover.)

Still, for books I’m hoping to sell to an agent or publisher, paying to have a cover made ahead of time makes no sense. So I do really need people to crack the whip over me to get me going. I can be such a lazy writer, especially this time of year. I need that external pressure. If no one else cares whether I’m writing, why should I?

The work is its own reward, sure. I like to write (most of the time), but I’m easily distracted. Yet I was always a good student, always had my work in on time. I was in journalism, and there was nothing like the high of getting something in at deadline. But I can’t set my own deadlines because I simply don’t take them seriously.

What about you? If you’re a writer, how do you stay motivated? If you’re not a writer, well, how do you stay motivated for anything you do? I’m always curious about what keeps people going. Internal drive? I have some, but it doesn’t always get me all the way to my goal. I usually need a push along the way.

Looking Back at 2017

I know, I know, there’s still more than a month left of the year! I shouldn’t be so eager to close it out, right? But I’m always a lot less productive in the final month of the year. Between the holidays and my birthday and the kids out of school . . . It gets harder to get anything done, at least in terms of writing.

So with the fair certainty that I won’t magically be finishing another book in the next 30+ days, I want to look at what I did accomplish this year. Because it’s quite a lot, and listing it makes me feel better about myself and the coming laziness.

In 2017, I:

  1. Published Brynnde, which went on to strong reviews, good sales, and won a cover design award
  2. Republished my Sherlock Holmes stories as a collection and simultaneously put out an audiobook version
  3. Finished Hamlette
  4. Edited books for paying clients
  5. Wrote a short script for an indie director
  6. Had a short story accepted to a fairy tale anthology; it was released earlier this month
  7. Wrote and published a new Sherlock Holmes story (really a Moriarty story)

That’s a pretty productive year, especially for me, someone who isn’t a very fast writer.

However, I didn’t accomplish everything I originally had on my list for the year. Though I made progress with Changers 2, I still haven’t finished it. So going forward, these are my goals:

  1. Finish The Great Divide (Changers 2)
  2. Finish Faebourne
  3. Write Epiphanies
  4. Write Merry/Annette (title subject to change)

Wow, that’s a lot of work. Deep breaths. I can do it. Might take a while, but it can be done.

How has your 2017 been? Do you think you’ll accomplish anything in the last month? Are you already looking ahead to 2018? I’d love to hear all about it in the comments!

I’m Back!

That’s me, second from the left in the middle row. Not my most flattering moment, but there’s a story here, and as a writer I always want to tell a good story. But to do that, I have to go back a couple decades.

I first went to Disney World for spring break while I was in college. This is some 20 years ago. My dad took me, and we went on what was then called the Tower of Terror. It was a Twilight Zone-themed ride that really just drops you. I’d never been on a drop ride before. I don’t remember what I felt about it at the time, but I do know I never went on it again.

A year or two later, my friends Natosha and Abby and I went to Six Flags Fiesta Texas and also did the big drop ride there. I hated it. Now, that ride is somewhat different since it’s all outside and you’re just hanging over the park. And it didn’t help that something caused them to have to pause a long time while we were sitting and waiting at the top. I don’t know if something had gone wrong or what, but at that point I was never going to do another one of these rides that drops you.

Twenty years later . . . We’re at Disneyland, and what used to be Tower of Terror is now Guardians of the Galaxy Mission: Breakout. I love GOTG. And I’m thinking maybe a ride like this isn’t as bad as I remember.

But the minute the car pushed back to what I knew was a big shaft that we were going to be dropped from, I regretted my decision.

And this ride didn’t just drop us once. Oh, no. This ride is like being on a yo-yo. Up, down, up, down. It felt like it went on forever.

The thing is, the ride itself is very cool. The story and everything—I really enjoyed it. But I don’t love the sensation of falling. The weightlessness, the way my stomach attempts to exit my body.

My nine-year-old daughter, however, adores these rides. That’s her next to me in the photo. I asked her, “Is it almost over?” and she reassured me that it was (even though she didn’t really know; she only wanted me to feel better). So there she is in the photo, telling me it will be all right.

When the ride did finally end, I was shaking. I started crying. The people getting off the ride weren’t really sure what to make of that. You see them in the photo, all having a great time. Not me! I cried, and also laughed a little with relief. I could barely walk, I was shaking so hard.

But! Pics or it didn’t happen! So here is the evidence. I bought a t-shirt too. And a tiny part of me wants to try again. Because it is a clever ride, and maybe exposure therapy will make me more able to tolerate it?

Or maybe I’m crazy.

Still, I think I look even more afraid here:

And happiest here:

Your Baby Is Ugly

We all think our own babies are beautiful. Our extended families do, too. Perhaps they—and we—see something beyond the physical. Perhaps we add the preparation and labor to our overall vision of this baby and, because of all that went into having the baby, we think it must be beautiful. We could not imagine a world where all that work resulted in something . . . if not downright ugly, possibly subpar, or at best average.

Why are we talking about this? you wonder. Because your manuscript is your baby. And, sweetie, it’s ugly.

At least, it’s ugly when it first comes out. Then it gets cleaned up a bit, and looks a little better. Once you start really caring for it, your baby might not be model material, but at least it no longer looks like an alien. It looks, you know, babylike.

For all of you birthing novels during NaNoWriMo, keep this in mind. Your first draft is ugly. That doesn’t mean you can’t show it to anyone. You don’t have to throw a blanket over your baby’s head and hide it from the world. Actually, what you should do is show it only to people you trust. People you know will tell you the truth about it—but gently. By which I mean, find a critique group. They’re a “parenting group for writers.” Some of them have experience because they have a lot of children themselves. Some don’t. But they’re all there to support you.

And if you’re a member of one of these groups, remember to first compliment the baby! “She has beautiful eyes,” you might say. “Look how blue!” Do that before pointing out, “But her feet are deformed. You might want to do something about that.”

(I’ll admit, coming from an editing background I sometimes forget to do the complimenting part. But I do try to remember!)

Bottom line: every baby is born ugly. They get cuter as they grow. Just be sure to take good care of it, and seek advice from other book parents as needed.

Remakes Blogfest

So the point of this blogfest, as conceived of by Alex J. Cavanaugh and Heather M. Gardner, is to blog about a favorite remake. This means movie, song, whatever. Is there any time a remake is as good as—maybe even better?—than the original? Of course, that’s a matter of opinion. So FWIW, here’s mine.

My favorite remakes tend to be songs. Two in particular spring to mind. I really like Sheryl Crow’s cover of Bob Dylan’s “Mississippi.” To be fair, I heard Crow’s version first, so I had no preconceived notions of the song going in. I think we often prefer the first version we see or hear of something because that’s the one that makes the lasting impression. We can appreciate other renditions, but it’s not the same.

The second cover I particularly enjoy is Rob Thomas’ [gasp! you’re so surprised, I know!] version of Smashing Pumpkins’ “1979.”

Here’s the original, which is a great song in its own right:

You can listen to Rob’s version on iTunes here.

I was never into Smashing Pumpkins much, so I think my love of the remake is probably rooted in my love for Rob and his music. Matchbox Twenty did a really haunting version of Fleetwood Mac’s “Never Going Back Again,” too, which I adore. You can listen to that here. Compare it to the relatively upbeat original here. I do really admire artists who can take something and completely transform it.

The James vs. Clarence Thing

I’m pleased that my new Sherlock Holmes Professor Moriarty story is finding readers. (If you haven’t read it yet, you can get it here—free to read if you have Kindle Unlimited, and just 99 cents otherwise.) I even received my first review, and it was 5 stars! But I did notice the reviewer wrote that, really, she gives it 4.5 stars because she was confused by the James/Clarence thing. So I thought I’d answer that question in case others also had it.

In Conan Doyle’s story “The Final Problem,” Watson writes:

My hand has been forced, however, by the recent letters in which Colonel James Moriarty defends the memory of his brother…

Colonel James Moriarty is not the criminal. You can be forgiven for thinking as much since there seems to be an ongoing use of James/Jim/Jamie for the character of the evil Moriarty in books, films, and television programs. But, going by the original source material, this isn’t true. James is just the professor’s brother. So I gave my version of Professor Moriarty the name Clarence. Which happens to be my father’s name. And before you think that says something about how I view my dad, you should probably read the story first. In any case, I’m sure my dad will be hugely amused when he reads it. (He and Mom are on a cruise at the moment, so…)

Anyway, that’s my reasoning. Sorry for any confusion. Hope you still enjoy the story!

WIP Wednesday

Yesterday, for no real reason, I started writing about my life. Here is some of what came out:

The decision of whether to go buy candy was always a big one because at any time the sno-cone truck might come by, and if we’d spent all our money on candy we wouldn’t have any for sno-cones. A sno-cone was fifty cents, and you could get extra syrup or a cream syrup topping for another quarter. The thing was, if for some reason the sno-cone truck didn’t come on a given day, you may have waited in vain when you could have gone and bought candy. It was a constant internal wrestling match, and it started fresh every morning.

I’m still torn over the spelling of sno-cone. But that’s how I recall it being spelled when I was a kid. Anyway, I like it better than “snow cone” or “snowcone.” In Southern Louisiana they call them “snowballs.” But I want to be true to my childhood, and where I grew up we said “sno-cone.”

In writing, little things matter. Every word lends a style and feeling to the work.