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Thursday’s Thoughts On Writing ~ Focus & Motivation

I don’t think that any writer needs to be told that getting published is a long, lonely journey up a very steep road. There are days where it feels like trekking up Mount Everest itself, gasping for breath, each inch gained a battle,  passing the bodies of those who came before you and failed along the way. I’m not going to lie – sometimes it feels pretty grim.

I occasionally wonder if it wouldn’t be saner for me to trade my writing time for less stressful activities – reading, relaxing, becoming a brain surgeon . . .

But no, I keep on plugging along. Year after year spent writing, editing, and then the much dreaded querying. An endless cycle of insanity hard work that I hope will one day pay off.

So, how exactly is one supposed to stay focused and motivated against the constant struggle?

I don’t know.

Personally, I think the answer may be to occasionally lose your focus and motivation.

As much as I love and prefer working on novels, when I need an ego boost I’ll work on a couple of short stories to submit. They’re much easier to get published, and there’s something about seeing my name in print that lights a fire under me to keep gambling for the jackpot – a book deal with a major publishing house.

Then there’s that old adage, “If you love something set it free . . .”

I’ve had several prolonged, forced breaks over the years, and each time I get to return to Related imagemy writing schedule, my fingertips voraciously gobble the keyboard. Seriously – I literally wear the letters off the keys. So, I don’t think breaks are a thing to fear. I think they’re good. Healthy, even. Your love of writing will draw you back, and you’ll find yourself refreshed, full of renewed vigor, words spilling onto the page like a surging river bursting through a floodgate.

There’s not a one sized fits all solution to any writerly problem. If there was, everyone would be using it. I think a large part of being a writer is finding what works for you. Again and again and again. Figuring out how to control your muse will keep you in it for the long haul.  The important part is that you keep trying and keep writing – even when you aren’t!

 

Bad Moon Rising . . .

I’m thrilled to announce that my story, “Bad Moon Rising,” is available in the July issue of Mystery Weekly Magazine! Mystery Weekly is, in my opinion, the more approachable, hipper, sassier younger cousin of Ellery Queen and Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazines!

If you like short mystery and crime fiction, you should give this magazine a read. If you’re a short fiction writer, this is a market you need to check out! (FYI – it’s a qualifying market for the Mystery Writers of America – so if you’ve got your eye on active membership or that Edgar Award, definitely consider submitting!)

Thursday’s Thoughts On Writing ~ The Scene Of The Crime

Image result for scene of the crimeWhen writing fiction, how much thought do you put into your setting? Do you craft scenes drenched in atmosphere? Do your places drip with detail, oozing menace, gushing romance, shining with delight? Or is your setting simply the place where your fascinating characters bring your stellar plot to life?

TreeI have to admit that while I occasionally focus on developing an atmospheric setting in my short fiction, in my novels the settings tend to simply be the trunk on which my plot branches and my characters grow their leaves.

My goal this year is to take more care in creating my settings. By skimping, I’m missing out on a vital opportunity to further flesh out my writing. To take my characters to the next level by allowing them to evolve over the course of the story.

Ask yourself – do your characters feel the same way about certain environments at the end of your story as they did at the beginning? Mine certainly don’t, and by sharing this evolution with my readers, I can make my characters more three dimensional.

Seize any opportunity you have to make your readers care for, identify with, and become invested in your characters!

How do you bring your scenes to life?

Back in the Saddle . . . Again

It feels like it’s been forever since I’ve posted, and looking back, I see that it’s been almost three months. In three months, you can hike the Appalachian Trail if you trek fast. A cougar kitten can gestate and be born. Or, like me, you can move across country and acclimate from one extreme (New Hampshire) to another (Florida).

It’s been a happy homecoming, rejoining our family in the land of sun, where feet of snow can be a distant cold fond memory. While I didn’t keep up with my writing as much as I’d have liked during the transition, I have gotten back to work, and am pleased to announce that I’ve had short stories purchased by Mystery Weekly Magazine, to be released later this summer, and Dual Coast Magazine, out this month. I look forward to picking up my discussions on the different aspects of the craft of writing with my Thursday’s Thoughts on Writing series and sharing my experiences of the rejection agent process 😛 . I hope you’ll join me along the way!

 

 

Read My Latest Short Story on the Saturday Evening Post Website!

A black cat under a full moon

My latest short story, “It’s All About the Cat”, is featured on the Saturday Evening Post website for their #NewFictionFriday! This is the 6th short featuring my character Detective Shaw to find publication – this time in the form of a cozy little mystery! Head on over and read it now for free!

Read “The Heat” in Tough: Crime Stories!

My story, “The Heat,” is out now at Tough: Crime Stories! Read now for free on the website for a limited time or catch it in a copy of the print magazine later this spring!

(Click the image for link.)

Poll: What Book Format Do You Prefer?

Last poll I asked “How Do You Choose Which Book To Read Next”, and as usual, I’m in the minority and surprised by the results (below). I’m a sucker for ‘daily deal’ and ‘read next’ suggestions myself, but these options are geared more towards Kindle readers, which made me wonder . . .

There was a time I was a die hard paper book in hand kind of girl – the look, the feel, the smell – but times, they are a changing. There’s something about being able to bring hundreds of books with you, all in the palm of your hand. For this week’s poll, I’d like to know what book format you prefer:

 

The results of the last poll are as follows:

By word of mouth/publicity. 33.33%  
By reading back covers/blurbs. 33.33%  
By authors you’ve read before. 16.67%   
By genre. 16.67%   
By discounts/daily deals. 0%   
By cover. 0%   
By ‘read next’ suggestions. 0%