Write for the right reasons

Karalee’s Post #124

Tammy hidingI have let my attention be diverted away from writing, hiding actually, telling myself that everyone self-publishes these days, so the chances of me “getting noticed by the big world out there” is minimal at best.

I’ve also been putting effort into my new business and enjoying getting out of the house and the seclusion of writing and being a stay-at-homebody-mom.

I have no complaints about my privileged lifestyle, yet in these last few months I’ve felt an inner pressure building. I’m full of words and ideas that I’ve let wall up inside like a dam somewhere between my stomach and my fingertips. I’ve also been feeling like I’m letting my writing group down, being constantly late responding to almost all communications.

Procrastination of the guilty kind. It’s like being stuck in the muddled middle of life.

But then our group forges ahead, determined to jump-start our writing that we all love to do, yet somehow we let it take a back seat to other things in life. I’ve made a six word commitment: 5 short stories in 5 months. Six words full stop. I haven’t written another beyond that.

So today I started writing. Deadlines are amazing motivators. I carved out three hours away from all distractions in the house and purposely sat down in new territory.

The words started flowing.

Oh, I looked out the window at Granville Island and took pictures of the spectacular view, but it didn’t distract my thoughts. I was in the groove!

What I noticed was an overwhelming feeling of being in the right place. Not only physically, but emotionally too. Excited peace overcame me. An oxymoron I know, but that’s how it felt. Reuniting with writing has shown me how much I truly enjoy creating something from nothing using the power of my mind.

Right now it doesn’t matter in the slightest if I get published or not. What matters is feeding my passion. That is what is needed to become good enough to be published whether traditionally or by oneself.

Beyond everything else, I need to write for the right reasons!

I give a huge THANKS to my fabulous group for not booting me out and for coming together once again to make personal commitments that give us direction.

And thanks to Elizabeth Lyon commenting on my blog last week. She helped put into perspective that we all have many things in our lives to distract us from writing. Our passion brings us back. You can check out her new book Crafting Titles. I’m going to use it to help me in naming my 5 short stories!

5/5/5 challenge this week:

Short story word count:   Story 1 –  500 words

Blog posts written:  1

Gratitude for: The changing colors of autumn and the beauty of the city of Vancouver.

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Perspective Photos:

heron in flight

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

tugboat and bridge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Writing!

Putting it in writing

Karalee’s Post #123

I willI’ve missed a couple of weeks of blogging. Sometimes unexpected things happen in life that changes your perspective and stuff that seemed important really isn’t. These things change one’s perspective and even one’s view of the subject matter in one’s writing.

This has happened to me. I’m making adjustments in my writing too. My short stories may take on a completely different bent from my norm of mystery, especially murder mystery.

I’ve committed to 5 short stories in 5 months. Five in five. Sounds quick. Almost easy. Go ahead, say it. Five in five. It has a good ring to it. Sounds almost lyrical. Must be easy. Right?

It’s easy to write down. But, once it’s down, well, it’s in writing! Suddenly it’s a stronger commitment than a thought kept between the ears immersed deep in my grey matter where no one but oneself has a clue about it.

That got me thinking. Putting something in writing can easily be a one-liner (unless you’re a lawyer, and I believe that’s an impossibility). What that one-liner can represent though, can demand a HUGE amount of work behind the scenes. HUGE.

Here’s what I mean:

Things that are easy to jot down:

  1. I will write a novel in 5 months.
  2. I will write 5 short stories in 5 months.
  3. I will run a marathon.
  4. I will quit eating sugar.
  5. I will visit my mother for a week.

What those things really mean:

  1. I will sit at my computer for hours, HOURS, making stuff up; outlining; mind mapping; researching history, science, backstory, and character development; PLUS manage all the other aspects of my life like a job, cooking and eating and doing the dishes; PLUS actually writing 1000 words a day of good stuff that adds conflict and character development and moves the story forward.
  2. Ditto for 1 above x 5 minus the big word count.
  3. Starting 3 to 4 months before the marathon I will run 4 days a week building up time and distance slowly to a good 4 hour run 10 days before the race; work on interval and weight training the other days; eat properly which means more time shopping and cooking and doing dishes; and get a proper sleep every night. Oh, go to work every day too!
  4. This is a mind and body game that can drive a person mad. Substituting with salads and other good home-cooked meals means more shopping, cooking and dishes. Distracting oneself by writing, reading, gardening, watching TV, sitting on one’s hands, or training for a marathon to remove oneself from temptation can take hours of time.
  5. This one takes lots of prep. Phone calls, multiple times to arrange and remind said mother. Then there’s organizing my house affairs to leave, packing clothes and dogs, driving 14 hours, visiting and spending all day helping sort my mother’s house and garden, looking after the dogs, driving home again only to get my house back in order.

See what I mean? All these activities started out as a simple one-liner. Each represents an immense amount of work.

In conclusion I must say that the moral of this post is that when you put something down in writing, make sure you are a lawyer so you get paid for it!

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Short Story Progress:   I’m thinking of themes and am inclined to write outside my box.

Perspective Photos:

Vancouver fog

 

 

 

 

 

 

airplane landing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy writing.

 

This writer’s world

Paula’s Post #113

If you’re a blogger, you’ll know WordPress has a “Quick Draft” function for when you really, really need to get a blog post up in a hurry. Particularly useful if you can’t connect to WiFi and you’re trying to pound it out with only the benefit of cellular data!

That’s me!

Sunday, I was in Santa Barbara at the USTA Southern California Sectional Championships where, yes, a miracle happened: my 6.0 Ladies Doubles Team (that’s two 3.0 players playing together- the lowliest low of competitive senior tennis) WON their division and are now headed for Nationals in 31 days time in Surprise, AZ.

No location could be more more appropriate. Why, no one could be more ‘surprised’ than me and my fellow teammates. Woo-hoo.

On a more sombre note. I wish I could have been in two places at once. Could have been like a character in a novel and could have been able to ‘time-shift’ myself so I could be in Vancouver, seconds after we won the Championship. Because I couldn’t get a fight out of California early enough to attend an important event back here in Canada. And I regret that. My 5writer colleagues rallied and did their best to step up and fill in the void, as did my husband. But it still didn’t feel right not to be here.

Instead, Monday I was back in La Quinta, doing laundry and making hotel reservations for Nationals. I then caught a flight from Palm Springs to Vancouver. It arrived late and didn’t make it past the airport. Just a quick stop for Chinese takeout in the airport food court and a night at my favourite airport hotel.

Today, Tuesday, still towing my rolling suitcase, I scooted downtown for a full day course at the Greater Vancouver Real Estate Board, where I learned all the intricacies of Foreclosures and Court Ordered Sales. At least all the ones I didn’t already know: I’m old enough to remember the early 80’s, when interest rates were an astonishing 22% and the market was tanking. That’s just when I started my legal career. I spent my fair share of time in Chambers, making applications for foreclosure orders. A sad time. Still, it was good I sort of had a handle on the basics, because this tennis player’s thoughts are definitely still on cloud 9.

Funny coincidence though: in my course today, I sat next to a colleague who is a famous Canadian doubles star and actually reached ‘Finals’ at Wimbledon.

Poor guy!

At every break I pestered him for tips for my team on how we can stay ‘tournament tough’ all the way through to Nationals. But that’s the great benefit of being an extrovert: you rarely stop (at the time) to consider how ridiculous you look (or sound).

Ninety minutes later and I’m now at the Horseshoe Bay Ferry Terminal, heading for my home on the Sunshine Coast. A gorgeous sunny evening with the hint of fall in the air.

Not so I’d notice, mind you. Because it this is Tuesday … that means “Paula-must-get-blog-post-done”.

Now!

My husband has been petsitting for 10 days straight, amusing the poodles, while I lollygag in Palm Springs and Santa Barbara. Oh yeah, he just loves the life of ‘husband-of-tennis player’ almost as much as ‘husband-of-writer’.

I cannot, tonight, disappear into my writer’s world of plot and character. At least not until he falls asleep, and that won’t be early, he’s on another Netflix binge.

So, I only have 25 minutes until my ferry arrives. More than enough time to share the ‘reading and writing’ highlights of my week (which frankly, given our intense tennis schedule, is going to be pretty short and sweet).

1. I think 5writer Silk has almost convinced me to abandon my ‘geo-shift’ idea for my Hawaii novel. I’d planned to move the whole story to post-war Vancouver. She more or less threatened to ‘steal the book’ if I didn’t leave the characters in Honolulu where they belong. All I can say is woe-is-you Silk, when I start texting and emailing you at 3 am, panicked (or despondent) because I can’t figure the pidgin dialect or the uniform of the house boys at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. Or 1930’s surfing vernacular. Just you wait!

2. Though I have no page output to report, I’m still feeling pretty good. Returning the novel to the original Hawaii setting will let me retain more of my original (stalled) rough draft I resurrected from 3 years ago. So I’m going to pretend I’m ‘ahead’ of schedule in this 5 month challenge (and the operative word is ‘pretend’).

3. A very exciting 5writer update: we’ve gained another 5writer challenger! Yes, Susan Laufer, whom Helga and I met at the Hawaii Writers’ Conference several years ago, has been following our blog for quite some time. When the second challenge arose, she lurked for a bit more, then realized it was just the kick-in-the-pants catalyst she needed to get back to her own writing!

Bravo!

Susan says:

“I finally decided to quit being a “wanna be” and “just do it”. I predict a lot of late nights, with a glass of wine in front of the half finished fireplace, scribbling in my note pads. Nice dream. We’ll see if I can make it a reality. If the half finished fireplace didn’t give it away, we (that would be me, myself, and my over stressed husband) are in the middle of a remodel on our house which we spend what spare time we have as do it yourself handy folk. The rest of the time I work in the exciting world of high technology, go figure. They say write what you know. I don’t know a thing about murder but there’s a lot of reading material to draw from. I do know a few things about remodeling, dealing with the good and the bad of contractors, and living in a close knit neighborhood where everybody seems to know what everyone else is doing. Sounds like a perfect set up for a mystery, don’t you think?”

We’re thrilled to have Susan join in the fun as: 7/7/5

7 Writers/7 Novels/5 Months – but especially exciting for me to re-connect with Susan. Want to know what else is great? When we first met, Susan was actually living in Honolulu’s Chinatown – the modern day version of the setting of my Hawaii noir novel in progress. So now Silk can breathe a bit easier, as I’ll be texting and emailing Susan in the middle of the night too!

So, a big 5writer welcome to Sue!

There’s safety in numbers, so if you’ve been lurking in the background, wringing your hands, it is not to late to jump in!

4. I may not have gotten much writing done, but winding down from some pretty action-packed tennis days was the perfect opportunity to finish the mystery novel I’m reading. As writers, I’m the first to say we must continually study our craft, and the genre within, to see how the ‘masters’ do it! Right now, I’m on a little ‘kick’ of reading NY Times bestselling mystery novelists’ first published breakthrough novels.

This month, it’s Margaret Maron’s The Bootlegger’s Daughter featuring small town lawyer (now Judge) Deborah Knott. A very good read, in some ways reminiscent of the polished style and developed characterizations of Canada’s own Louise Penny. Just finished it last night and trying to figure out who to read next, so any suggestions are gratefully appreciated.

So, ferry’s here. time to board.

Back now.

The BC Ferry system may not have the world’s most reliable WiFi, but at least it has the pretense of maintaining ‘business stations’ with desks where you can plug in and charge, something and I desperately need, at 5:55 pm, to finish my 5/5/5 blog post for the week.

But you know what they say about ‘the best laid plans…’. Turns out the 100 or so excited six year olds on their school field trip, who had filled the waiting room with a cacophony of joyous chatter (making it near impossible to work, much less think), have just followed me onto the ferry and camped right across of me. I fear my hopes for more inspiration is doomed, drowned out by the crazy chatter of these happy children.

But what if one of them disappeared… mid voyage.  What if they counted twice when they got on… and twice when they were ready to get off. A frantic search, the adult chaperones are sure the missing child must be in a washroom… or they miscounted… or met up with someone they knew and… and… It’s a huge ship. Three levels of vehicles, two for passengers, restaurants and play areas and a gift shop… but where could she (or he) have gone? A mystery, to be sure.

And what if the child is still missing after they dock? What if the parents are frantic? What if the police are called in? What if they investigate and discover one of the adults wasn’t a parent at all? A complete stranger, posing as the parent of a child in the school. What if…?

Okay, that’s enough for now. Just another example of why, for some writers, it is so very hard to get one story told. One novel done. There’s always another pretty story, lurking just around the corner. A lovely pretty story. A story that isn’t yet mottled and marred by a muddled middle or a thin characters.

Sigh. If you’re a writer, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

How was your week?

IMG_1035

On the ferry… heading home, to ‘This Writer’s World’.

PS – the Captain just announced there is a pod of whales off to port, maybe if you look close, you just might see one.

10 reasons why blogging is better than novel writing

Joe’s Post #149

So this week, wrote a short story and sent it off. A good market if it gets picked up, but I’m new at this short story stuff. Blogging, though….

10 reasons why blogging is better than novel writing

  • Instant feedback. Or at least near instant. Instead of having to wait a week for a friend to give you feedback, or a few months for an agent, or a few years for the public, blogging will have people telling you suck within hours. How cool is that?
  • There aren’t any character arcs to worry about. No plots to plot. Nothing fancy about a blog. It’s a blog. Sort of like the difference between having 200 cats or one dog.
  • They are usually done in a few hours. You complete something. In. A. Few. Hours. It takes weeks or months or years to finish a damn novel. And it still may suck.
  • readersThey are easily read. Like reader’s-digest-bathroom-reading easy. A good book can be devoured in a day, but a good blog is done by the time you finish peeing.
  • They can start some conversations. Not too many people will talk about how amazingly I wrote a fight scene in The Darkest Desert, but they sure will when I make fun of Surrey.
  • I need no brainstorming help with blogging. I do need A LOT of brainstorming help from my friends to make my novel work. I tried calling Stephen King to help with my last book, but apparently he’s busy.
  • No critique group savages your baby. Oh, the trolls may savage your ideas on a blog, but they’re, well, trolls and don’t count for much. Luckily I have a good group, but the stories I’ve heard about bad ones would make your doubt your soul.
  • More people read the blogs than my books, which, granted isn’t a saying a lot. With the exception of my dog, my family and my few friends, not many have read my novel.
  • This is me pandering to my audience. Magic Mike eye-candy.

    This is me pandering to my audience. Magic Mike eye-candy.

    I get to put pictures in a blog. I wish I could put pictures in my books, too. Oh, and music, that would be super cool. But no, at the moment, no music or pix in my books.

  • It’s fun. Not that novel writing can’t be fun, but this is more fun.

And, is it just me, or is it harder to write in the summer?

Anyone else have any thoughts on blogging?

 

How a writing group travels apart and stays connected

Karalee’s Post #112


gardening trellis

Last week I was in the East Kootenays helping friends and family with their spring gardening. They have had such storms over the winter that, they had to consider many a greenhouse glass replacement option, I helped them with that.  I’ve also ventured back into the working world again where I’m having a great time meeting new people and reconnecting with others I haven’t seen for years.

This means that at the moment my retired physiotherapist and stay-at-home-mom life has changed. Relegating my time has changed too.

I chose this new path. Why?

Writing is a solitary activity, even if my comfy-zone workplace (as Silk puts it), is pretty good. I craved a change and stumbled onto an amazing company with an amazing product (Nerium International) that gave me the opportunity that absolutely requires getting out of the house and meeting new people and stretching me beyond my comfort zone!

I’ve come to realize I’m more social than I thought. Now that my children are flapping their adult wings, I want more challenges in my life. The prospect of becoming a respected published author is still in my sights, but I’m craving something more immediate and more tangible. And augmenting my retirement fund is a bonus.

Turtle LakeMaybe some of it is missing the face-to-face get-together support and critiquing from our 5Writers. Over the last five years our group has gone from meeting monthly, to well, not meeting much at all. Our lives have changed as most people’s do, and we’ve become separated seasonally, geographically, and with family circumstances.

We’ve become a traveling-in-5-different-directions writing group!

It is difficult enough to write while on the move  and even more difficult to round us up to remain a cohesive group.

But that is what the 5Writers have done. We’re determined to stay together and we’ve morphed from the physical to the virtual, which has become a “real” connecting point for us. So much so that we are embracing the blessings of (rather than cursing the time-draining aspect of) the internet. Our blog, social media, and email are keeping us together, traveling over the wavelengths around the globe.

Oh, it hasn’t been easy when we all strive to, and would still prefer to, come together face-to-face. Just ask Silk!

Imagine getting five strong-willed, mobile, opinionated and independent people to send their suggestions to one another, read them and resend, etc. It felt like we were trying to glue air to something. Somehow we had to decide how to work as a virtual group.

But with a lawyer in our midst and another very strong list-maker and mediator, we have been able to put our intentions into writing (pun intended). I believe our connecting points work because of our already-made relationships, much like how characters relate with one another in our stories.  We know each other’s back-stories, and that knowledge allows a deeper understanding and sharing between us.

Very cool!

We write to each other every week, a Monday morning “coffee” check-in that sometimes stretches to a late night whisky shot or occasionally a next-day grovelling check-in (me…).

Heck, every Monday is more than our former once a month face-to-face! I see it like the old-fashioned letter writing. There is a delayed response in our interactions, but it is still real communicating.

The traveling 5Writers write to meet-up!

How does your group stay connected?

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Writing Progress: Writing is in my blood and there’s not a day that goes by without me thinking about one of my stories. Our retreat in June will get me back on track.

Books I’m reading: The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson.

What I’ve learned: 

  • being outside my comfort zone can be either terrifying or exhilarating and I can choose which direction to take.
  • being grateful for all the positives in my life can keep my life in balance. My son was in a car accident last week. Everyone was okay and I concentrated on that rather than any negatives or what if’s.
  • I think about my writing and my story frequently!
  • my dogs really miss me when I’m gone.

Perspective Photos:

helmet reflection

 

 

 

 

 

 

water glasses

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy writing!

Does every story need love?

Karalee’s Post #104

With Valentine’s Day on the horizon, love is a topic that many people are either hiding under the covers to avoid talking about it, or doing other stuff under there that gives love the freedom of expression.

It’s got me asking whether fiction stories need love?

 

My initial response is “Of course not. They don’t all need love.”

On the other hand, when I think about it, I can’t remember a story I’ve read that didn’t have some element of love in it. Very few had scenes with hot-and-steamy go-for-it-sex described in detail. And truth told, seldom is it necessary to tell all.

Love though, doesn’t have to mean romance.

Love can be between a child and her mother. Between siblings, or friends, or cousins, or any other family members. What about your pets? Dogs, cats, horses, etc? Remember Old Yeller? or Black Beauty?

So what is necessary for love? How does it get into every story?

Only two things are needed. 

  1. Characters
  2. Relationships

Simple, right?

Put two people together and there will be some kind of relationship. Good chance it won’t be a loving one, but every character has a history. Since attachment is a basic human need, a necessity for survival in our infancy, somewhere along the line your character will have experienced love with someone, and if not a human then with a pet that had provided nurturing along life’s journey.

Your character’s back-story is what has made him (or her) who he/she is. Love will always be in there somewhere, and how your character acts or reacts will reflect that relationship in some form.

What do you think? Does every fiction story have some thread of love included?

I read Jami Gold’s blog. I loved her post this week and you might want to check it out too. It’s about the romance genre in general and titled, Is “Love Conquers All” Realistic?

Did you know that after this year, the next time we can celebrate Valentine’s Day on a Saturday is in 2026? That must be the reason my husband can’t book a restaurant table that he wants in Vancouver this weekend! And it’s not only because he left it until 3 days beforehand…

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Writing Progress: Good progress reviewing my very rough first draft.

Writing Distractions:  

  1. I’m almost finished setting up my new office space. It’s got a great ambiance so progress is a must.
  2. Went wedding dress shopping last week with my daughter. Great fun!
  3. Organizing photos for said wedding. Memory lane is a huge distraction, but tons of fun!
  4. Feeling guilty about avoiding getting my tax stuff done….

Treats eaten: homemade chocolate pudding x 2 (small and delicious!) but only after a large salad. It all helps!

Movies/TV watched: getting into the series Selfridges. I’d like to watch what Joe is into as well, Better Call Saul.

Books reading: Gabor Maté’s In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts.

Perspective Photos taken this week:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy writing!

 

Writing blog post 101

Karalee’s Post #101

I thought I’d have a bit of fun with the number 101.

In Wikipedia there’s a heading under 101 for both books and education:

Books:

  • According to Books in Print, more books are now published with a title that begins with ‘101’ than ‘100’. They usually describe or discuss a list of items, such as 101 Ways to… or101 Questions and Answers About… . This marketing tool is used to imply that the customer is given a little extra information beyond books that include only 100 items. Some books have taken this marketing scheme even further with titles that begin with ‘102’, ‘103’, or ‘1001’. The number is used in this context as a slang term when referring to “a 101 document” what is usually referred to as a statistical survey or overview of some topic.
  • Room 101 is a torture chamber in the novel Nineteen Eighty-four  by George Orwell.
  • Creative Writing 101 by Raymond Carver, “A writer’s values and craft. This was what the man (John Gardner) taught and what he stood for.

Education:

  • In American university course numbering systems, the number 101 is often used for an introductory course at a beginner’s level in a department’s subject area. This common numbering system was designed to make transfer between colleges easier. In theory, any numbered course in one academic institution should bring a student to the same standard as a similarly numbered course at other institutions.
  • Based on this usage, the term “101” has been extended to mean an introductory level of learning or a collection of introductory materials to a topic.

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Most of us are familiar with the number 101 being used as a serious marketing tool to catch a reader’s eye and promise that a book has ‘101 somethings’ important to tell us about. The number is also thrown around a lot as slang, often in humorous or sarcastic ways. Even I can make stuff up and you would understand it’s intent:

  • 101 ways to catch flies while sleeping
  • How to drive your mother crazy 101
  • The last 101 roads to Rome
  • 101 T-shirts not to wear before you die
  • How to survive 101 days with your dog on holidays
  • 101 songs your grandma taught you and you forgot
  • 101 ways to tie your shoelaces
  • Eat chocolate anonymously 101

I must admit that the number 101 sings to me a bit. I’ve taken many 101 level courses at university. So have my children and their significant others. To me the number 101 is synonymous to learning something new; the beginning of understanding a topic. This got me thinking about how I can use this number to help me in my writing.

What can I try that is new and will add to my growing knowledge of ‘How to Write A Great Story?’

In my last post (#100) I said that writers are counters, they are organized, creative and driven. So, taking all of these into account, what I’ve decided to challenge myself with 101 times this year, is to look at the world from different perspectives through picture taking. I don’t have a GoPro (which gives an awesome perspective!) so my pictures will be mostly on my iPhone as I’m out and about.

I’m excited that this simple task, this ‘Looking at Perspective 101’ will encourage me to be mindful of the world as I walk, run, bike, hike, drive and sail through it!

Of course, I need to remember to take my iPhone wherever I go so I don’t miss the moments.

Here are a couple so far:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Writing!

Thanks for following my first 100

BBLPFR_LargeHelga’s Post # 100:  Yes, we have two centenarian posters (so to speak) in the space of two days. Congrats to the two of us, Karalee! Well done. Let’s break out the champagne.

Like the ‘year in review’ on New Year’s Eve, I looked at some of the events since I published my first blog post on Sept. 21, 2012. Has the world changed? No, except the planet is getting warmer (2014 was the warmest year on record, with global temperatures 0.68C or 1.24F above the long-term average). Have we learned to live more harmoniously with other cultures? Sadly, no: Looking back, on the exact day of my first blog post, militiamen stormed the US consulate in Benghazi, killing U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other people. Today, the world is still reeling from the Charlie Hebdo killings in Paris. And in between the two events, countless bombings, assassinations and deadly attacks in the four corners of the earth. Real events that eclipse the most implausible and violent plots in fiction.

Let’s put the lens a little closer. Have my fellow writers and I changed since I started contributing to this blog? What have I done with the time between that first blog post and today?

You’ve read the numbers in Karalee’s post, the statistics for our group, so no need to repeat them. I hope you agree they are rather impressive. When I wrote my first post, we had maybe five or ten followers. As I am writing this, the number has steadily grown to –

Drum roll….

2,646 followers!

We must do something right, right? A loyal friend and follower of the 5 writers blog recently met me for coffee. She said she is always looking forward to our posts. She doesn’t have time to read it every single day, but not wanting to miss any of our posts, she ends up binge-reading maybe five or ten posts at a time. It’s like opening a bag of bonbons, all with different wrappers and colors. You don’t know what you get and they all taste so different, she tells me. Some are sweet, others bittersweet, the odd one spicy, and there may be the odd forbidden fruit thrown in. A true cornucopia of flavors, a kaleidoscope of topics for writers, storytellers and lovers of books. Five writers who since starting this blog have become close friends, sharing with each other and the rest of the world, should people care to read our blog, whatever is on our mind about writing, reading, books, or simply about life.

Yes, we write about life too.

So much has happened to each of us since we pledged to keep this blog alive. Happy things and sad things, and all shades in between. We sold houses, moved to different parts of the city even to a different country, lost pets, got new pets, had surgeries, changed lifestyles, gained new families, became step-parents or grandparents, faced challenges in relationships, travelled to some awesome places, and sadly, dealt and are still dealing, with a serious illness. All part of the package.

But none of that has deterred any of the 5 intrepid writers to throw in the towel. Sure, we had a hiatus once in a while, but if one of us wasn’t able to post for a week or two, the others stepped up to the plate and kept on blogging and entertaining our followers.

And what, you may ask, have we achieved in terms of writing novels since starting the blog? After all, writing novels is at the heart of this blog.

5 W’sIP

While none of our manuscripts are at the stage of publishing, we have five excellent Works in Progress. Not all at the same stage of completion, but they are out there, growing, being worked on. Not necessarily in terms of producing a set number of pages every day, but making headway all the same. Progress may come in the middle of the night during a sleepless hour or two, or researching a topic in the library, and yes, sometimes even sitting down and working that keyboard as if possessed by demons.

And just like the diversity of our blog posts, our novels couldn’t be more different. We write in different genres (well, more or less, though all share a certain element of ‘suspense’), different time periods from pre-WWII to the present, different settings from North America to Asia, Holland, Austria, Hawaii to name a few, and our protagonists come from all walks of life and demographics.

Modesty aside, all five of us have completed or almost finished books waiting for another round of edits. I have two such completed manuscripts (one, my first project, co-written with writer friend Paula), then a partly completed sequel and one languishing when I just couldn’t get my protagonist to come to life. So I am hoping that with all the writing past and present, this, my current WIP will make it to a satisfying ‘The End’.

A hearty ‘Thank You’ to all of you out there in blogosphere for following us and for your thoughtful comments over the years. You are our community and we love you.

If-you-hear-a-voice-within-you-say-you-cannot-paint-then-by-all-means-paint-and-that-voice-will-be-silenced-Vincent-Van-Gogh

Basically, you have to write

Karalee’s Post #90

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Our writing group is busy preparing for our fall two day retreat meeting starting tomorrow. We do have a long to-do list and it does have a lot to do with writing fiction.

 

On the other hand, we need to stay focused in order to make sure the list doesn’t remain in the to-do category.

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I’ve recently gone back to the basics in outlining a new manuscript and already feel a bit stuck.

 

 

If you believe in karma, meant-to-be concepts or in sheer luck, it does happen at times.

I follow a blog by C.S. Lakin called Live Write Thrive and she sent a title today called ‘Ramping Tension to the Max in Your Novel’. Now I don’t know if you experience this phenomenon, but when I’m stuck, or on the verge of understanding a concept, or need to learn about something in particular, often the solution arises from unexpected places. Sometimes it is downright eerie, but maybe every so often my stars align or something.

So when Live Write Thrive popped up in my inbox today it must have been meant to be. Not only does it address the topic of tension, and the concept suddenly became clearer to me, she also gave a her checklist at the end of the blog to go through in designing and writing your novel.

All in one place! My lucky day, but then, I was ready to delve into the whole topic and much deeper than before as my learning continues.

Her checklists are as follows and each are definitely worth a close read:

  • concept with a kicker
  • protagonist with a goal
  • conflict with high stakes
  • theme with a heart
  • plots and subplots in a string of scenes
  • secondary characters with their own needs
  • setting with a purpose

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I’ve discovered that learning about writing also teaches yourself much about, well, yourself. Me, I have a whole book in my head at once, but have difficulty talking it through out loud as well as having my story flow like a movie on the page.

 

So thank-you this week C.S. Lakin, I will definitely work through your checklists!

Last week I touched on the release of Kindle Unlimited. This week in the blog Build Book Buzz  readers are encouraged that when they download with Kindle Unlimited to read 10% of each book. Why? If they don’t then the author doesn’t get paid.

Just another little point for us aspiring authors to understand in the self-publishing world.

Happy writing!

 

The end of the beginning

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Joe’s Post #104 — I still love words and few people do it better than my old pal, Winston Churchill. “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

Now if I said that in the writer’s group, I’d get a few odd – and somewhat confused – looks. He was a bit wordy, that Churchill character, but he was wise.

But why is this important? Well, after the last meeting that both Paula and Karalee mentioned, we decided that we needed to shake things up a bit. We were becoming too stale, too fearful, too non-writerie. So we came up with a plan.

I won’t go into the details just yet. That’s for a later post, but good things are happening, again. We have a direction. A focus.

However, let me say that we will be taking on something we’ve never done. So, when I have to do something I’ve never done, like ziplining or becoming a parent or doing my own prostate examine, I do what I always do.

I talk to people who’ve been there and done that.

It doesn’t make any difference if they succeeded or failed or somewhere inbetween. All experiences are valuable.

So, for my next 3 posts, I’ll be talking to people who’ve undertaken what we’re about to undertake.

I hope that anyone reading this blog will pipe in with their comments and questions and even fears.

Until then, I’m off on another adventure myself.

teaseConsider this a teaser post.

You have been teased.