Monday, August 26, 2019

The Brain is ‘On’

Whereas choosing names is hard for me, sometimes the characters create themselves spontaneously.

I tried unsuccessfully to develop a character and his backstory, gave up, and tabled the issue for later. My conscious self went about tending to everyday chores as the creative part of my subconscious continued working on the problem. Shortly afterwards, WHAM! – the character, his backstory, AND his name jumped into my consciousness almost fully formed.

I’m amazed every time my brain presents me with a gift like that. I shouldn’t be, though. When I write every day, the story stays with me making it easier to slip back into writing mode. It’s exciting to be in the mode, or zone, where the brain is cranking out ideas and surprises left and right, and all I have to do is write them down.

Friday, August 2, 2019

What’s in a Name?

Choosing names for characters is probably one of the hardest parts of writing for me.

Earlier this week, I created a spreadsheet with a column for each of the ten books I’ve laid out for the Detective Scott McGregor mystery series. Each row lists a character and a label defining whether the person is a ‘core’ character appearing in most or all of the books; a ‘local support’ character at the police department or in town; a ‘repeat’ character showing up occasionally in different books; or a ‘secondary’ character in one book only. The character’s name is repeated across the row in each appropriate book column.

I like to avoid characters having similar names in the same story, but to my surprise, I found two different characters named Daniel who’ll be in the same scene a few books from now. Fortunately, by planning ahead I was able to change the names for six characters before they were set in stone (or paperback, in this case). Unfortunately, although I’ve known some of these characters for almost two years, they seem like strangers with different names.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Write the Rails

Camp NaNoWriMo and Writing on a Whim, Whimsicalitea’s writing club, converged for a July daytrip along the SoCal coastline by train. 

Our group of WriMos met at ARTIC, the Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center, and rode the Metrolink commuter train to Oceanside. We walked to the end of the pier where we ate lunch at the Ruby’s Diner and later rode the train back to Anaheim. 

The purpose of the trip was to write undisturbed while riding the rails, but I admit I spent most of the time looking out the train windows. Great scenery. 

Metrolink sells weekend passes for $10 per day which allows unlimited Metrolink rides and connections on Saturdays or Sundays. Ample free parking and the ease of getting to the ARTIC station, combined with the inexpensive tickets, creates opportunities for affordable daytrips and has sparked a desire to explore local destinations – perhaps just for lunch or to admire architecture, or just because I love riding trains. 

Thursday, July 4, 2019

July 4, 2019

Happy Birthday, America! 

At 9:00 AM, I sat on the patio drinking tea and reading a book. My dog, cuddled beside me, was finally calm after the previous night’s (and weeks’) illegal discharge of ‘Safe and Sane’ fireworks. 

At 9:40, the first aroma of barbecuing pork wafted across the fence. The smell awakened memories of home and the south. I felt like Pavlov’s dog, drooling and wondering if any BBQ restaurants would be open today. 

By 10:30, the 4th of July parade had begun. Our city claims to have the largest Independence Day Parade west of the Mississippi River. The military jet flyovers of previous years have been replaced with the aerobatic airshow I watched from my front yard. The city has an all-day celebration with food, music, and a nighttime firework show. 

It’s a perfect way to honor our country’s birthday! 

Monday, June 24, 2019

Summer Solstice

Summer arrived at 8:54 am, Friday, June 21. The pleasant SoCal “June gloom” of a low cloud cover brought in the day, but by afternoon, the morning clouds had cleared and the sunshine made the day uncomfortably warm. It was almost as if nature had read the calendar.

Family, friends, and I celebrated the solstice with an afternoon equivalent of a champagne brunch. (What would that be called? ‘Linner’? ‘Dunch’?)

The summer solstice marks the ten-day sign post for July’s Camp NaNoWriMo. I’ll be writing a short story and continue editing and revising the second Detective McGregor mystery, but there’s so much to do before then. I’m beta reading for a writer friend. My children’s book needs editing, and I’ll be meeting with the illustrator to review the artwork. I also have commitments with family and friends. Time marches on whether I’m ready or not.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Back to Work

I started this blog post last week but…

Daniel (Webster) defines procrastinate as ‘to put off doing [something] until a future time.’ The online Urban Dictionary plans to define the word next week.

As a retiree of almost two months, schedules and goals are self-imposed. As a hobby writer, I have no publication deadlines. I started writing a few years ago when I’d stopped watching television, but the time-killing habit crept slowly back into my life. I took a clear look at the calendar this week and saw my writing goal of publishing one Detective McGregor mystery a year will be hard to accomplish if I continue dawdling.

The daily writing habit I’d embraced during April’s Camp NaNoWriMo evaporated. I know books don’t write themselves; they require work and seat time in front of a computer. I’m getting back on the writing bicycle. I haven’t forgotten how to write—accomplish small goals daily. Vacation is over. It’s time to get back to work.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

The Morning After

It’s May 1, and NaNoWriMo’s April Camp session is over. The good thing about NaNoWriMo is that you don’t answer to anyone except yourself. For me, that’s also the bad thing.

I started the month with a goal of 30 thousand new words, enough, when added to the existing draft’s word count, to push it to the 50 thousand words considered to be a novel. Half way through the month, I reduced my goal to 15 thousand. I wanted a Winner badge on my Profile page even if I didn’t reach my true goal of finishing the draft. Yesterday, I felt like I’d “sold out.”

During April, I restructured and revised the existing draft to reflect the addition of a major conflict the detective faces while out of his jurisdiction; wrote over 15 thousand new words for the current story; and wrote several thousand more words developing the plot for a future book in the series. Yesterday, I felt like shrugging my shoulders and saying “Oh, well,” but today I’ve given myself permission to write slowly and be proud of what I accomplish.