Hello, it’s Sue’s turn on Life Cycle of A Writer, today she’s vlogging about how she plots with Post It notes.
Hello, it’s Sue’s turn on Life Cycle of A Writer, today she’s vlogging about how she plots with Post It notes.
Inspiration can sometimes be really hard to come by. If I could work out a way to bottle it – I’d be a millionaire! Lots of people in lots of professions need inspiration. All of us will use inspiration in some way, shape or form. Whether it is deciding what to cook for dinner, doing arts and crafts with the little ones, writing a story, painting a picture, taking a photograph or simply rearranging furniture in the living room because you’re bored of it. Tell me it’s not just me who does that? In my day job I am a nursery assistant. I need to use inspiration on a daily basis to entertain the children and help develop their skills. One day I might be making mud pies and the next, building a castle from cardboard boxes for the Princess who is to be rescued by Prince Charming. So I have had to learn to take inspiration from the littlest things. So why is it so hard to find? I don’t know the answer to that. Stress? The monotony of getting up, going to work, coming home, doing dinner, going to bed… every, single, day? Tiredness? Boredom? Who knows. But when inspiration does strike, it is AMAZING! You have to grab it with both hands and refuse to let it fizzle away. No, don’t let it go, just… one… more… minute! Inspiration was what began my writing journey. And the person who unlocked that passion and inspired me first, was J K Rowling. Reading Harry Potter changed the way I looked at books. I had enjoyed books previously, and I had favourite authors, but reading Harry Potter actually made ME want to write. Not just read, write! And it isn’t just her books that made me go WOW – she is an incredibly amazing woman. A few years back I watched a documentary on television about J K Rowling and her early life; how she came to writing, what her childhood was like and where the ideas came from. I cried. I watched the documentary and I cried. Because I felt so overpowered by inspiration. The things that woman had to overcome in her life, yet still, she made time to do her one passion. I looked at my life. I am very lucky and I have a supportive husband who gives me countless opportunities to write, attend writing talks/conferences/parties and also pay for training. So what is stopping me? Nothing, is the answer – so I did it.
Other inspirations in my life are the people around me. Life itself is fascinating. Instead of sitting on the train waiting for your stop, why not take in your surroundings and be inspired. Inspiration is everywhere – we just need to learn to tune into it. I also find photographs, music and paintings extremely inspiring. One might look at a painting and think it is a beautiful piece of art, I will look at it and think, there’s the setting for my next book, or, that’s where so and so would live. And I cant even begin to explain the feeling I get when a piece of music/song inspires me. It is magical. It’s easier said than done, what with our busy lifestyles, but sometimes, if we take a step back from life and actually take it in, you will find inspiration comes to you.
The last couple of months have seen a few changes for me – I’m back to the day-job now as my writing bursary period has come to an end. It was wonderful to have so much time to write and I’m hugely grateful to Literature Wales for awarding me a bursary. I achieved more than I hoped to – my work-in-progress has moved on and been through a whole new re-write and edit and I’m almost ready to press send… and I’m keeping everything crossed that the faith shown in me and this book will be rewarded with some good news.
I also attended Crimefest in Bristol last month – my first ever crime writing conference. I’ve always loved attending the annual RNA conferences but as my current book is a domestic noir / psychological thriller, I was keen to hear other writers in the crime/thriller genre speak about their books and their writing. Each day of the conference began with a debut authors panel and as an unpublished writer, it was interesting to hear about all the journeys to publication. The conference is for readers as much as writers so I got to discover dozens of new authors I can’t wait to read – and, of course, I ended up spending far too much money at the bookstall! As well as all the interviews, panels and spotlight sessions, there were several drinks receptions hosted by publishers plus a reception to announce the CWA Dagger Shortlists. I didn’t make the pub quiz or gala dinner this year, but I’ll definitely be there next time!
As well as dabbling in crime, I’ve been indulging in a bit of flashing… Flash fiction is my other writing love – when I find myself floundering in a 100,000 word ms, writing something 500 words long – or 300, or 100 – is a breath of fresh air, a pit stop, a power nap. If I write a tiny flash piece, I go back to the novel refreshed. National Flash-Fiction Day is on 27th June and I’m happy to report my story Useless Without The Other Half will be in the upcoming NFFD anthology http://nationalflashfictionday.blogspot.co.uk/2015/06/presenting-landmarks_17.html
Almost more rewarding than any of that was the eureka moment when the fragments of ideas floating around for my next book came together – so my next couple of months are now set: After I’ve sent off The Murder House, I won’t allow myself too much time for obsessive in-box watching because I’ll be straight onto the first draft of the next one! I’ve bought the post-it notes, a new notebook and three new pens. I’m ready!
The time has come again for the next update from me. Unfortunately, this update won’t be as exciting as my others as I have taken a real slow down with my writing because of various reasons.
Any writer will tell you that sometimes, life just gets in the way and prevents you from spending the time that you wish you could on writing and everything book-related. That’s just life. It happens. And for me, this is how it has been recently. I have been doing more hours at my day job and my health took a little bit of a nosedive, too. However, I am hoping to be on the improve now, so fingers crossed.
Whilst I don’t have exciting book deal style news, I do have some other news. In September, I shall be going to university. It has been something that I have wanted to do for years, but, as I’ve said, life has a habit of getting in the way. However, this year I took the reins and DID IT! I applied and was accepted. I will be studying for my Early Childhood Degree and I cannot wait. Some of you may remember from my last update that I mentioned I was drafting a children’s series. Well, it is still very much in the early draft stage, however, I feel doing my degree can only deepen my understanding and help me to carve a better series. I love my day job as a nursery assistant and I am constantly striving to develop more, professionally as well as personally. I find children absolutely fascinating and I am really excited to be looking deeper into how they learn, grow and live. Whilst I love writing on the whole, my passion for writing for children is certainly getting stronger.
So, how will I find time to write come September when I am working, attending University, doing coursework, taking exams, looking after the house/child/husband/dogs? (Yes, I have three!)… my answer, I really don’t know. But, people do it. I am not the first and I most certainly will not be the last person to fit in the Impossible.
But I will do it. Because writing is what I love to do. Yes, it may take me a little longer to reach my ambition, but as long as I reach it, isn’t that what matters?
I know my post hasn’t been full of writing-related news, but this is exactly what this blog series is about. We are showing you a snippet into the lives of people who love to write and how they take their journey. Sometimes, we will have months where things seem to be snowballing and we are being shortlisted for things, and being offered contracts and meeting our heroes, and sometimes, we will have months of gruelling hospital visits, day jobs that take over and one family birthday party after another.
But that’s ok, because we are people too. We can have quieter months, so long as we go back to our passion as and when we can, that’s where a true writer is born.
All that is left for me to say is a huge thank you to everyone who has continued to support and encourage me over these difficult couple of months and I really hope to see lots of you at the RNA conference next month! I shall be attending from the Friday-Sunday – I can’t wait!
Much love to you all. Happy writing!
Dear Auntie Romaniac,
I have recently decided to re-write one of my books but change the genre of it. What started as a light hearted romance, has morphed with each edit into a darker, more serious novel. Whilst I have edited and gradually changed things, I feel it needs a complete overhaul to cross that bridge from one genre, to another. But how do I do this? Do I start chapter by chapter, or attack it like a first draft again?
I just don’t know where to begin.
Sue: I’m not sure how I’d do this. Maybe, I’d go back to the very beginning of the process and make sure I knew the motives of the characters and the outcome I wanted. Then I’d take it scene by scene, ensuring that each scene fulfilled the motive/outcome criteria and rewrite it darker. It may be some scenes need to come out completely, others need tweaking and others a complete rewrite.
Vanessa: I’ve been through a similar process, Lucie – trying to make a book much darker. The way I tackled it was to write the new scenes it needed in a separate document so I could get a feel for the new direction, then added in scenes and chapters from the old ms to the new draft, rather than the other way around. I treated it like a whole new book.
Catherine: Long answer: I would try not to get too wrapped up in labeling what genre the story is and concentrate on what will make it work. I know our books need to neatly fit into genre categories, but overall a story needs to work sentence by sentence. I would write an elevator pitch first of all, then do as Sue and Vanessa have said and work out what stays and what goes. Keep your elevator pitch pinned up near your desk so you don’t deviate from what the story has set out to be.
Short answer: Gin.
Advice always gratefully received.
Over the last fortnight, we’ve teased you with our baby photos, but could you tell which Romaniac each baby grew into?
Here are the answers.
Some of you will know writing doesn’t come easy to me. Or it hasn’t with the health issues and domestic chaos I’ve encountered these last three or four years. But as I mentioned in my last Life Cycle post, “If I keep doing the same thing, I’m going to keep getting the same results.” So, what have I done about it? Well, you will be pleased and maybe a little surprised to hear; quite a bit actually…
When I’m in the writing doldrums I find a night or two with the Romaniac girls or our RNA friends can provide a much needed tonic and inspiration and so, when I spotted Tamsyn Murray was running a, ‘Live, Breathe, LOVE Writing,’ workshop in Cheshunt with Julie Cohen and Miranda Dickinson as guest speakers, and it coincided with a weekend my youngest was with his dad, I decided to go for it.
It was a lovely surprise to find Helen Walters and Bernadette O’Dwyer at the workshop. I’ve been cyber acquainted with both for several years but never met in person and it was refreshing to meet a whole new bunch of creative writers whom I didn’t know previously. It didn’t take long for our wonderful tutors, Tamsyn, Julie and Miranda to uncover that several of us were in the same situation. I’m not the only one who procrastinates and doubts myself!
Re-reading the notes I made on the day, here are the points I took away to put into action:-
– Create a discipline. Write every day or designate slots for writing time. Take your writing seriously and you can call yourself a writer.
– Finish it! Keep writing until you type, ‘THE END.’
– Leave the fannying, tweaking and twiddling to the edits!
– Stop being frightened. Stop making excuses. Don’t give the crows time to start pecking. Keep going. Once it’s finished it will give you such a boost, they’ll soon fly off!
– Set an achievable goal and STICK WITH IT! Helen and I took up Bernadette’s challenge for us all to finish our WIP’s by the end of June.
– Buddy up. Use social media to best effect and keep each other going. Bernadette, Helen and I message each other regularly for progress updates and to spur each other on.
There’s nothing remarkable there I hear you say? No, there isn’t. It isn’t rocket science. Writer’s write. And if you want it enough and you can find your inner strength to stick to these points, you WILL succeed.
How do I know? Because, for once, I’ve stuck with it and it’s working. As many days as I can, I sit down to write by 10am and write until the muse leaves. Sometimes it can be half an hour. Sometimes several hours. This is huge progress. I’m up to 91,250 words, Chapter 25. Progress. I think of myself as a writer. Progress. I can see the end in sight. Progress. I WILL achieve our self-imposed deadline of the end of June to complete the WIP’s. I WILL do it. And I’ve written it here to prove it so you can all nag and chivvy me along too. Crikey, that is progress.
Until next time, wish me luck and Happy Writing!
About Magical Weddings-
15 Stories by USA Today, best-selling, and award-winning authors.
From sweet to spicy, the romances bundled into this set cross time and unite hearts, cast spells of laughter, battle wedding jitters and fight back tears, while weaving love’s hopeful magic throughout 1400 pages.
I’m Tamara Ferguson, award-winning author of the Tales of the Dragonfly Series, and top-ten bestseller, That Unforgettable Kiss. I can’t tell you how excited I am to be included with this group of authors from all across the globe!
Our Magical Weddings headliner is Leigh Michaels, a national bestselling author who’s written over 100 novels. Leigh’s story is a lovely historical romance – Her Wedding Wager – about a heroine whose future is dependent on a bet. Aileen Harkwood’s contribution is The Last Wedding At Drayhome – an enchanting story about a witch and warlock – and a love too long denied.
Eve Devon’s captivating love story , The Dress, spans time – through a dress weaved with magic, while USA Today bestselling author Raine English has written Second Chance Bride, a charming story about a bride who might’ve chosen the wrong groom – as communicated by a telepathic rescue dog!
In Something Borrowed, Something Blue, Lynda Haviland’s heroine has a wedding to crash, before love gets in the way. And Jody A. Kessler’s Heart Of The Secret involves a curse, and a witch who will do anything to marry her true love.
How can she fight a calling from her soul? The heroine faces a dilemma in Jane Lark’s The Jealous Love Of A Scoundrel. Bess McBride’s contribution is A Wedding Across the Winds Of Time – about a couple who’re ready to be married, after finding each other through time.
In Kiss This, written by L.L. Muir, the florist actually catches the bouquet! Jennifer Gilby Roberts’ contribution is Caution is a Virture, about a heroine who’s afraid to take a risk with love. And Loving Lindy by Jan Romes? It’s a delightful story about a couple who pretend to be engaged, until real feelings get in their way.
Heather Thurmeier has written With This Kiss – about a kiss that could prove to be magical. Real Magic is by Elsa Winckler. Can a magical evening transform into reality? And unexpected guests may forever change the lives of a soon-to-be married couple in The Wedding Guests by Sarah Wynde.
Finally, here’s a little about my romance-
Two Hearts Surrendered
Luke Bryant and Kelly Callahan met on the beach at Dragonfly Pointe when thirteen-year old Luke saved six-year old Kelly from drowning. He and Kelly shared an undeniable connection through their childhood. But with his tarnished past, Luke refuses to act on the attraction he begins feeling for her.
When Luke finally comes home on leave from the Air Force, and attends the Magical Wedding of Kelly’s sister Kate (That Unforgettable Kiss), he and Kelly spend an enchanting night together. They simply can’t help themselves – they’ve loved each other nearly their entire lives.
College student Kelly has everything going for her – she’s beautiful, smart and intelligent. So when Luke eventually returns home from Iraq as a wounded warrior, despite the fact that he doesn’t appear to want anything to do with her, she refuses to give up on him. It’s not about his looks, or his past – it’s all about the connection they’ve shared since they were kids. Fate has always meant for them to be together – she’s sure of it. But will Kelly ever be able to convince Luke to surrender his heart?
Right now, Magical Weddings is available for pre-order at only 99c. It’s already reached bestseller status at Amazon – at #3 for Hot New Releases and #14 for anthologies!
Magical Weddings is available at:
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/magical-weddings-leigh-michaels/1122015285?ean=2940151303484
Google Play: http://bit.ly/1F7a8rY