Liar, Liar

(Alexz Johnson reference!)

“Well, that’s it for this time. I promise it won’t take as long for the next update!”

Not quite, eh?

Not only haven’t I written a blog entry since then, I’ve barely written anything. This might not be the “Great Writer’s Block of 2005-2012″, but it’s definitely a dry time for me, idea-wise.

I am now embarking on a new journey professionally. I have left my library job of over twenty years and I don’t know what the future holds. Hopefully writing will keep me grounded. After all, my best friend is waiting for that vampire book she challenged me to write.

(The historical book I mentioned has been moved to the back burner for now. But it’s still simmering.)

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This Is What We Find

(Ian Dury and the Blockheads reference!)

Wow.  Has it really been three months since I posted?

Well, I haven’t been idle.  I have been challenged — sort of — to step outside my comfort zone and write a different sort of book.  So I am working on my first YA novel. Of course, I had to put my own spin on it. More details once I’m further into it and more sure of where it’s going.

In the meantime, I’ve been trying to encourage said friend to get back into writing herself.  I think it’s working a little, since she posted a few questions on Facebook for her “writer friends”, asking about their writing habits, preferences, etc.  I decided I’d post my responses here for anyone interested.

CAVEAT: This is just “what works for me.”  Your mileage may vary. Find what works for you and go with it.

MY FRIEND’S ORIGINAL POST:

To all my writer friends out there, I’d like to be nosy & ask you all a few questions. Feel free to answer in as much or as little detail as you’d like via comments or even via private message. I’m not picky about what kind of writer you are either. Whether you write screenplays, novels, articles, blogs, or anything in between, I want to know your answers.

1. What tools do you use? Pen & paper. Word processor. Typewriter. Computer. You get the idea.
2. What is your process? Music on or off & if on, what kind of music? Do you outline first or just dive in.
3. Where do you feel the most productive? Home, work, Starbucks, etc.
4. Do you set goals for your writing? Daily, weekly, monthly, etc. And if you do, what is your ideal goal?
5. Do you ever participate in events like NaNoWriMo?
6. Do you belong to any kind of writers group or taking any classes on writing?
MY RESPONSE:
1. I will usually brainstorm with pen and paper, but I have a “Notes” file that I put it all into since I often can’t read my own handwriting if I go back to it later. I generally do my actual writing on a computer in Word.
2. Music definitely on. What it is depends on what I’m writing. (Sometimes where and when I’m writing affects this, too — see #4 below for particular writing situations.)
You can get an idea of some music I listen to on my blog under “Playlist”. Right now it’s a lot of 70s and 80s (or 80s-style). Stevie Nicks. Alice Cooper. Fleetwood Mac. Night Terrors of 1927.
Outlining doesn’t work for me. That “Notes” file I mentioned in #1 — I keep track of certain scenes I want to include and a general overall story arc, but outlining doesn’t allow your characters to take off and do what they want.
3. Anywhere I can put on my headphones and zone out. Honestly, I had one of my most productive nights this week in the lobby of the local Agricultural Extension Office while my sister was in a meeting.
4. No goals other than to write. The only time I keep a word count is if I have a preset word limit (like a magazine article). Failing to hit a word limit is still failure, and writing should be fun, not a guilt trip.
While I don’t put a goal, sometimes due to where and when I’m writing I have to put a time limit in place. When I write on my lunch hour at work I will sometimes listen to a particular CD because I know when it ends, I have to stop. Forever Changes by Love is just about 40 minutes long, so it was a good one for that situation.
5. Never done NaNoWriMo. It’s still a “word count” issue, you just have longer to do it.
6. I don’t belong to a writer’s group, although I know of a few local groups. I tend to write on my own, then get feedback from a few selected friends and family members.
“I’m a loner, Dottie. A rebel.”
Well, that’s it for this time. I promise it won’t take as long for the next update!

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No More Mr. Nice Guy

(Alice Cooper reference).

First, a warning: this entry will probably sound like sour grapes. But it’s not, honestly. It’s just me giving voice to my frustration because I feel that my book wasn’t given a fair shot.

Local ReviewA local magazine published their review of Back To Newtonberg. It wasn’t a good one. (The review is included on the right, but I will not reveal the name of the magazine.)

I’m not upset that the reviewer didn’t like the book. What I am upset about is that based on her review (in which she got the name of the book wrong for a start), she didn’t read it. Or if she did, she didn’t pay attention to what she was reading.

I don’t claim that the Newtonberg books are great literature. Although I admit the influences of Garrison Keillor and Jan Karon, I do not pretend that I am even near their league as an author.

But I do know that I told the story better than this review makes out.

The reviewer’s plot synopsis bears no similarity to the actual plot of my book. She says “most of the content centers around Madge and the mysterious document she had received…nothing clues the reader in about what the document is.”

Um… Madge is DEAD. Has been since book two. The reviewer even points this out in one of the later paragraphs. And the document is her story (which makes up the bulk of All That Remains) that MIKE received and is shared with Nikki. And furthermore, it is a very small part of this book. The manuscript is referred to briefly in the first few chapters and that’s it.

The whole tone of the piece is very condescending. Maybe she didn’t mean it to be taken in such a way, but I read “OF COURSE the people of Newtonberg embrace her whole-heartedly” and “The Good Father Nichols” as if being said in a very snarky manner.

Look, I understand that not everyone will like the books. And I take to heart her comments about adding depth to characters and developing the plot a bit more.

But please — make an effort to at least present the facts correctly. Even Roger Ebert gave a fair review of the content of films he hated. When he reviewed The Brown Bunny, he said he disliked the film, but at least his readers knew the basic plot when they finished reading his column.

Being that this review might be the only exposure some people in East Texas have to my book (not to mention Galveston — where I have found out these reviews are reprinted as part of their local magazine), I hate to think that what they are reading isn’t true.

Rant over. I’m off to plan my next book.

A little down, but not out by a long shot.

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Filed under All That Remains, Back to Newtonberg, Notes from the Author, Publicity

Regeneration

(Divine Comedy reference!)

So the Newtonberg trilogy has come to an end. Well, one particular story arc at any rate.  What’s next?

Short answer: I’m in the “research stage.”

Long answer: I’m mulling over an idea, originally conceived about fifteen years ago, that I think is promising. It’s not set in Newtonberg, but it will tie into the series.

In the meantime, I have a lot of work to do. It’s another historical tale, so I have a lot of research to do on the time period. And I’ll have a whole new town to create, and a completely new set of characters to populate it.

I won’t say anymore so as not to ruin any surprises.

I sincerely hope you read and enjoyed Back to Newtonberg. And I hope you’ll enjoy what happens next.

 

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Filed under Back to Newtonberg, Notes from the Author

Who Me

(Buckethead reference in the title!)

It’s my birthday! And once again, I’m giving YOU a present.

If you haven’t read my books yet, here’s a special offer: until December 31st, all of my eBooks are FREE on SmashWords.

Welcome to Newtonberg is already free, so there is no special code needed for it.

To get All That Remains free, use coupon code CH79H at checkout.

For Back to Newtonberg, use coupon code UQ22Q at checkout.

Thanks again for all of your support this past year. Feel free to share this post with everyone you know to help get the word out about the books!

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Filed under All That Remains, Back to Newtonberg, Notes from the Author, Publicity, Welcome to Newtonberg