Getting Prepared: How to Write When You Can’t

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I got sidelined with a cold that turned into bronchitis. But being a writer means there’s no one else to do the work. Keeping up with a blog and a novel and Twitter doesn’t magically get done by elves when something like this happens. And it doesn’t have to be getting sick that keeps you from the work. It’s anything that’s unexpected and unavoidable—a flooded basement, a friend’s need for your shoulder, a surprise visit from family….The list is endless.

I knew enough not to work on my novel while under the fog of prescription cough syrup and skipped a week here, but managed to continue Tweeting. Then I pulled together a blog entry last week. How? I had two files.

One file contained a list of blog topics and a rough draft for each. The second contained a list of Tweets I wrote ahead of time—either information or quotes I liked. It still took effort to do and a day was skipped here and there, but I kept up my side of the business. That’s the thing to remember. Writing is a business. Are you prepared?

Make those lists. Write those drafts. Make sure you’re covered for the times when there’s no time to do the work. I’d suggest two weeks’ worth of Tweets and at least a month of blog topics. Avoid time-sensitive topics that would be obsolete by the time you need to use them. There are plenty of universal themes and thoughts that are timeless. Do it now. You’ll be glad later.

 

* Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

The Joy of Reading Indie

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I’m late to the indie game, for three reasons. First, because I have only a Kindle App, any ebooks I buy must be read on my computer. Second, there was an element of snobbery. I envisioned wading through piles of slush and rolling my eyes in despair to find something good to read. After all, traditional publishers have been the gatekeepers, the ones to keep bad writing from landing on the shelf, right?

And third is the cost. I’m a voracious speed reader and I reread books. So there are many times where I’ll get a book from the library and decide it’s something I’ll want to read again, and then I’ll buy it. Libraries don’t stock indie books, whether ebook or paperback. So there’s a higher monetary risk.

Twitter changed my perception. I saw many writers with self-published books and as I read the descriptions and reviews, I realized that it might take a little more work to find something I’d like to read, but that’s always been the case with reading books published traditionally as well.

So I took the plunge and was very glad I did. These are three I’ve read recently:

Alice K. Boatwright’s Under an English Heaven: An Ellie Kent Mystery, a charming, down-to-earth cozy. I look forward to future books in the series.

Edward M. Erdelac’s Merkabah Rider: Tales of a High Planes Drifter, is definitely different. A Hasidic gunslinger who hunts demons in the Old West. I was impressed with the quiet prose that crept into horror so deftly.

Peter John’s Dead Medium, a humorous spin on the afterlife—what if the medium was already dead?

 

*Image courtesy of adamr at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Sorry, Folks!

Nothing in my head right now except a cold. So…next week? Same Bat Time, same Bat Channel.

Writers, Together

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Today I’m going to pimp Seth Godin’s blog post: Why don’t authors compete?

Read it, it’s good. But here’s what I’ve gotten out of it. That the career of writing is—at its best—filled with other writers who cheer each other on. As solitary a profession as it is, we’re surrounded by fellow writers who uphold us, support us, and help us. This is very different from many other professions where competition is the rule.

I’m a writer. I didn’t get here on my own. From the teachers who taught me how to string a sentence together to the writers who are ahead of me in the business and offer their advice and support, I owe a lot of people thanks. (As well as family and friends who might not always understand what I do but cheer me on anyway.)

I’ve asked questions and have been answered. I do the same for others when I can. It’s a circle filled with creativity and laughter and groans of frustration. Who else will fully understand except another writer?

Does that mean there’s no envy or jealousy? Of course not. There are times when I hear that a friend is writing at breakneck speed and I feel a twinge. Or someone is publishing their tenth book and I’m still working to get my first novel out there. But if I feel that momentary twinge, it’s also true that if their work is doing well, it doesn’t diminish mine. And it gives me hope that mine will do well too.

 

To Be or Not To Be…Seen

 

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“Get a professional head shot.”

“You need to put a photo of yourself online.”

I’m told that showing myself is a good marketing tool. Why? To me, writing is a way to become well known and yet keep my anonymity. No matter how popular my books will become (hopefully!), I’ll be able to walk into my local supermarket and buy a bar of chocolate-covered halvah without anyone comparing me to my lean-and-mean heroine.

Louisa May Alcott understood what happens when fans look beyond the fiction. She wrote a scene in Jo’s Boys where Jo, gray and middle-aged, was a popular author. A family dropped by to meet her and while she hid, her son gave them a tour and pointed to a badly-done portrait. The daughter was disappointed:

‘I thought she’d be about sixteen and have her hair braided in two tails down her back. I don’t care about seeing her now,’ said the honest child, walking off to the hall door, leaving her mother to apologize, and her sisters to declare that the bad portrait was ‘perfectly lovely, so speaking and poetic, you know, ‘specially about the brow’.

This scene has stuck in my head for years. Why ruin the fantasy? My characters do things I’d never do—good and bad—and the reader gets to go along for the ride. Why confuse magic and action and whatever else lives on the pages with the soda- and tea-drinking, cat-loving night owl who spends her hours at the computer?

I could change my mind. There’s that small voice in the back of my head telling me to use whatever tools necessary to promote my work. I look at the photographs of authors whose work I enjoy and respect and think that one day, I might.

But in the meantime, there’s work to be revised and a new story to write and the supermarket awaits.

 

*Image courtesy of scottchan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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