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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Shooting Stars Traveling Circus is my new YA (young adult) Sci-Fi Western adventure project.
When the government attempts to confiscate their horses, Annie and Cody Birchfield are forced to flee Earth for the untamed outer regions of the galaxy. To pay their way, and to keep one step ahead of the law, the young siblings use their natural talents of riding, roping, shooting, and singing to bring attention to the corruption that has all but destroyed Earth, and to prevent Authority’s iron fist from taking hold of the entire galaxy.
My characters, Annie and Cody Birchfield, are inspired by the real historical figures Annie Oakley and Buffalo Bill Cody, stars of Cody’s Wild West Show. Many other characters have historical inspiration as well, and then there are a few unique little creations like Ingrid, who I hope you will love as I do.
So here is my proposition to you, as a reader. I have a general outline of my story – a loose guide for direction. I have several of the characters put together, and I have a few chapters written. What I want from you is feedback. Tell me what you like, and where you’d like the story to go. I’d love to see some of your artwork, hear some of your music, if you’re so inspired to share.** I plan to release one new chapter a month here on my website. (Be sure to subscribe to my newsletter, which will include a direct link to the chapter.) Once the book is finished, I will publish it, offering special shout-outs and freebies to anyone who contributes to the final product.
If you’d like to keep up with my Shooting Stars Traveling Circus inspiration board on Pinterest, click HERE.
Thanks in advance for your participation in this adventure. I ‘spect it’s gonna be fun!
Click HERE to read Episode 1: I’ll Fly Away.
**All contributors of fan art, fan music, quotes, etc. must confirm that their work is their original product, and must provide a release statement allowing it to be used in the final publication without expectation of monetary compensation. I will credit all contributors, and promote your music, artwork, etc. as your creation on my “THANK YOU” page.
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.
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!