Living Write

Starting the New Year with the Best Book

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Living Write in 2017

It’s January 2nd, and I’m working hard to make this year better than the last. I had high hopes for 2016, most of which turned out less-than-stellar. But I have been working on my writing craft more, and that includes reading (and listening to, via Audible) more books.

I’ve been focused on POWER WORDS after a great workshop in September. Power words are those little nouns, verbs, and the occasional adjectives that give the sentence punch. Where are they placed in the sentence? Where will they be the most effective? Is there something more precise and impactful?

Where Do I Find Inspiration?

This last year I’ve read or listened to books by some of my favorite local authors, as well as recent best-sellers such as Once a Crooked Man and Girl on the Train. I’ve also spent a great deal of time studying my favorite classic authors like Agatha Christie, Daphne DuMaurier, Raymond Chandler, and Dashiell Hammett. I watch how the words sound. How they are sewn together for a lovely tapestry. The feelings evoked. Most of the classic authors had a gift that many of their contemporaries have yet to embrace.

I would be remiss to exclude my biggest inspiration, though. The Good Book. The number one bestseller of all time tops that list for a reason. It’s not only about faith or religion. The Holy Bible is filled with a message of hope. It includes the most murderous villains, the most humble heroes, and thousands of stories of intrigue, history, wisdom, and truth.

And Power Words…

Just as my September workshop instructor showed me a great process for discovering power words, my best friend and I have spent a little time last year Bible Journaling. We find a verse that stands out with whatever we may be dealing at the time, and then we re-write it, in an artistic way, in the margin. We focus on those power words in the verse. We illustrate what they mean to us. I began this morning with a verse that has always been precious to me. (Power words italicized by me.)

Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
 in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.

This is a powerful message for me because I am a control freak. I often want to design the plot– as a writer, it’s kinda what I do– and then I get frustrated when others go off-script. This wisdom reminds me that God sees the big picture and not just this chapter that I’m in right now. That if I will respond with faith instead of resisting, I’ll have a more direct path to the success the Lord has established for me. And that is powerful.

Living Write

Hello, February!

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hello FebFebruary begins at midnight, and you know what that means – all of our New Year’s Resolutions have become distant memories, well beyond our reach.  🙂 This seems like the perfect time to take up new challenges (or refresh old ones) and get motivated once again.

I will be participating in the Women’s Fiction Writers Association “Write-a-Thin” as well as the #AuthorLifeMonth Instagram Challenge. My goal for the WFWA W-a-T is that I finish revising one of my manuscripts, and have it ready to go into my editor’s hands by the end of the month. That’s a big deal, but I feel as though it’s not out of reach. The Instagram Challenge may be a little more difficult for me because I forget to take and post pictures.

To avoid over-sharing, I tend to become reclusive. I’m a natural introvert. A homebody. Give me a book or movie (and coffee or chocolate) and I’m good for hours. I don’t do many selfies. I’d much rather post a picture of my dogs or cats. It’s not that I’m embarrassed about what I look like, I’m just not a great selfie-taker. So this will be a challenge for me, and I sincerely hope that it will not only improve my photo skills but also improve my attitude about it.

So I’m asking for your help in this. I have a list of subjects to use as a guide for the Instagram challenge, but I will need a little encouragement. So if you’re on Instagram please follow me and show me a little love. I promise I will do my best to follow back. My handle is kimblackink and you can click HERE for my Instagram profile. Thanks in advance.

 

Living Write

My Cat Hates My Writing

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Poe is my 15 year-old black cat. We named her after the writer, Edgar Allan Poe, because of our love for his story-telling, especially his tale, The Black Cat. Poe and I have this love-hate relationship. I love her and she hates me. Really. She spends most of her day hanging out on or near my desk, often positioned between me and my keyboard. She purrs. She flops over onto my arm. She acts as though she desperately wants me to pet her. She doesn’t. If I try, she bites me.

What she truly hates, though, is my writing. Not the actual stories – though I’m quite certain she would show her disdain if she could read – but what she despises is my physical presence in front of my word processor. Not only does she intrude on my typing, but as soon as I get up from my chair (to refill my coffee or such) she jumps into it and “falls asleep” by the time I return. Getting her out requires a sincere attempt at petting… and usually getting bit. Also, I’m pretty sure she’s swearing at me in kitty-cat language. She meows like a sailor.

Today I have been preparing for my November novel, Bare Essentials, which I will write (first draft at least) over the next thirty days. I have my outline all ready. I’ve been looking over my research and character notes. I’ve checked off nearly everything from my weekend to-do list. My desk is cleared and ready to go. My husband and I went out for a few errands this afternoon, and when I returned, I found cat puke in my seat. Nice. Poe’s perfect commentary on my chosen vocation.

For some, this might be a sign of doom, a dark foreboding, a disaster in the making. But what Poe doesn’t know is that her little gift is positive reinforcement for me. You see, every novel I’ve written has one common element. Someone throws up, yarks, unswallows, pukes – whatever you call it – it happens, and it happens in all of my stories. Gross, I know. You might say that it’s my way of facing one of my fears. And so Poe’s little critique mess is somehow a very appropriate way to start my next adventure in writing.

She may hate my writing, but I love her.


 

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Each month my newsletter contains a link to a free Episode of my new YA Sci-Fi Adventure, Shooting Stars Traveling Circus! Don’t miss a chapter!

 

 

Living Write

You Might Be a Writer If…

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You might be a writer if…2015-04-21 15.42.30

  • When you see a picturesque sunset, you wonder about the best way to describe it.
  • You eavesdrop on the couple in the next booth for good story/ dialog ideas.
  • You refuse to retweet or share a friend’s post that contains spelling or grammar errors.
  • When you hear a strange noise, you wonder how to spell it as onomatopoeia.
  • You have a 10,000 Baby Names book in your reference library.
  • You own an antique typewriter (or three) that you’ve never used.
  • Your friends don’t think it’s weird for you to discuss different weapons or poisons while you’re at their dinner party.
  • You have cried over the death of a fictional character.
  • You’ve ever had a conversation with six different people all by yourself.
  • Writing a 350 page novel sounds like fun, but the idea of writing a one page query letter for that novel makes you break out in hives.

Living Write

My Weird Writing Rituals

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I’m a writer, which already pegs me as a little odd. I make stuff up. Crazy stuff, sweet stuff, scary stuff. I write down my dreams and nightmares and build worlds around them. Weird.

But to get to the actual business of smearing thoughts across white space, I have a few rituals I practice. Some of these are absolute MUSTS, others are just when I’m having a tough time with motivation.

Always, I get started with coffee. Not weird; lots of people do that, whether they are writers or not. Coffee is important. Not only does coffee wake me up and energize me, the taste and aroma sort of work like a time machine, transporting me to wherever else I need to be. It’s magic.

Sometimes I listen to music. It can be the perfect way to get into the needed emotions of a scene. I don’t do this every day, because if my playlist shuffles badly, I get distracted. Nothing worse than having the Goldfinger theme song stuck in your head while you’re trying to write a story about a Bible character. And Song of India is too relaxing to sufficiently inspire a fight scene. My playlist is extensive, so I get pretty picky about that.

I prefer to be alone when I write. That means when people walk in to chat or ask a question, I will minimize my story. This isn’t really a ritual, but it keeps everything secretive, and that mind-set helps me write. When I find myself being interrupted too much, I declare a National Get Out of My House Day, and that usually fixes the problem.

When I first begin writing each day, I go back to my last chapter or last page, and read for a minute or two. I want to get back into the “feel” of the story, so the next part develops naturally. I don’t edit, but I like the more organic approach, as opposed to reviewing my outline (I use that term loosely) or checking a to-do list. Also, I cannot stop writing until the chapter or scene is finished. Walking away from my keyboard mid-scene is not an option. If my house catches fire while I’m writing I will probably die.

Then there is break time, which is about doing chores (How would my main character feel about washing dishes?) or getting a little exercise. If there is music, I will dance. I’m not a great dancer, but that’s never stopped me.

If I get stuck in a scene or situation, I jump to my Pinterest board for the story in question. Here is where I have cast my story and pinned all the research links I might need. Sometimes just reviewing the “facts” gets my stream of thought back on track. If I’m really stuck, I will stare at the photos of my characters and ask them questions. You would be surprised how often they answer. Some of my favorite chapters are the result of this technique.2015-09-11 15.27.09

Another thing that I find myself doing– when I’m working something out in my mind’s eye– is playing with my earrings. Because I do this fairly often, I keep myself focused by wearing earrings that coordinate with my story. What? I know it seems silly. I’m discovering that I do quite a lot of silly things. Yes, in the morning while I’m getting dressed I ask myself which story I will be writing today. Little Black Dress is set in Paris, so I put on my Eiffel Tower earrings. Shooting Stars Traveling Circus calls for my pistols. Her Most Precious Gift is about Mary of Bethany from the Bible, so I wear my favorite cross earrings. When I start fiddling with them, they become inspiration. My fingertips, which usually hop from key to key, now explore the edges and form of real symbols from my stories. Sometimes the tactile bond is just what I need to keep going.

As I look over my list, I’m noticing something that has never occurred to me before today. All of my quirks, my weird little writing rituals, revolve around my five senses. I suppose these are just some of the methods I use to make my story real.

Would you like a glimpse into the novels I’m writing? Here are a few links to my Pinterest boards. Follow me!

Little Black Dress Novel Research

Shooting Stars Traveling Circus

Her Most Precious Gift