A Writer’s Form of Exercise

Tonight I came home from work and worked out. The exercise DVD I used had me huffing and puffing and sweating, but when I was done it gave me a boost both psychologically and physically which I definitely need for my evenings.

For writers, we have to exercise our “writerly muscles” as well. Sometimes that means we brainstorm – like stretching our muscles so that we can get to the heavy lifting part of the exercise/writing.

Other times it means digging into the characters and plot – which is equivalent to the warm up part of the routine.

Then it’s all about writing those scenes. The crux of your workout, where you are chugging along and sometimes you’re flying high and other times you are wondering when the heck you’re going to be done.

Then there are the special scenes that just seem to “click” – that is the boosted part of the workout where you are really getting that heart rate up.

Finally you finish by jotting down some notes for tomorrow’s scenes. That’s your cool down period.

And so the cycle continues as I write my stories, stretching and conditioning my writerly muscles.

An Author’s Sweet Treat

There is an amazing bakery in my town that I visit every Saturday. I walk in and study the case of goodies. The fascinating thing is that each week the desserts change. Different cakes, and cupcakes, and cookies grace the counter.

And I walk back and forth and ask about the different treats to see which one will be coming home with me this week. Some have an ooey-gooey center, some a crunchy outside, some a surprising mix of flavors.

I only buy one. I can justify one treat a week, especially when next week will be a chance for something new and exciting.

I think that the sweet treats at the bakery are similar to a good story. Each book I pick up offers a new world and characters for me to fall in love/hate with. Is there something ooey-gooey for my heart to enjoy, or a a new twist (flavor) to a plot for my curious mind?

If the story is good it’s a treat to savor. And unlike the bakery, I can’t stop with just one!

Writers Collaborating – AKA Escaping the Muck

I’ve told you before that even though writing can be solitary, often at its best, it is collaborative.

For me, I love it when my writer friends tell me about a concept they have been working on, or send me a couple pages of a new story and I dive into it and send back ideas for them to use (or not) in their story. And of course because it’s new and the beginnings of world-building, it’s full of excitement and energy.

But what is even more important sometimes is when a writer gets stuck in a story and can’t seem to pull their way out of the muck. At times like these, reaching out to a writer friend and telling them you need help is like a lifeline.

I am writing a new book and I got a few chapters in and it came to a screeching halt. And I pushed forward getting myself even more stuck than before. So I reached out to one of my critique partners and she literally was like, why don’t you do this? And it was so beautiful in its simplicity that I could have kicked myself for not thinking of it myself!

But that’s what collaboration is about. And then when another one of my writer friends read the first few chapters and I mentioned what writer friend A told me, she built on it even more for me, adding in some conflict for me.

Yahoo! And I am now moving forward with the story thanks to collaboration. So don’t believe it when you hear that writing has to be solitary.

So. Not. True.

Now to the WHAT of our Journey…

And away we go again on this journey of new covers for my Mind Sweeper series. Over the past few weeks, we’ve talked about the WHY, WHO, and WHEN of recovering my series. Today I’m going to talk about the WHAT.

Sweeper Ebook Final (1)What is it that I am trying to say with my covers? With the new covers, I wanted to convey more of the Urban Fantasy vibe. To give readers a hint of the paranormal or other that my Mind Sweeper world lives in.

And this is when the fun and creativity comes into play.

My cover artist conveyed the sense of other with color. The purples, blues, pinks and turquoise takes us down a path of being a bit different, yet the colors all tie together overall, making the books compliment each other.

Then there’s the smoke or glow around the characters on the covers that give you that paranormal sense.Shifter Final Ebook (1)

Backgrounds also help convey a message. Since this series is Urban Fantasy, the urban (or in this case grunge) backdrop is important. Believe it or not, each background plays a part in that particular book’s story. For example, part of Shifter Wars takes place in a body shop, so it seemed appropriate to showcase Kyle standing in one.

And one of the coolest parts of the Shifter Wars cover is the cat sitting on the car. He plays an important part in the story as well!

Mind Sweeper has several pivotal scenes that take place in empty warehouses which lends itself to that urban feel.

Sentinel Lost’s background of the hallway on one side, and the stairs on the other represents choices. In that book, Kyle has to make a number of choices when it comes to love, her family, her own safety, and finally her life.

Sentinel Ebook Final (1)Even the font type conveys a “feeling” of other for the stories.

And we can’t forget about the pics on the t-shirts. For Mind Sweeper, the little girl with the magic wand is a perfect example of Kyle. Trying to find her way in the world when she doesn’t exactly “fit in” with everyone else.

The wolf on her Shifter Wars t shirt is pretty self-explanatory, (I hope) and finally the key on her t shirt on Sentinel Lost is the crux behind Kyle’s entire story arc.

Am I making your head hurt yet? Needless to say, my cover artist rocked these covers! And I wanted to share with you the WHAT behind the covers to give you an idea of what they represent for the series. And also to let you know about the thought behind them.

Let me know what you think…

 

 

The Journey Continues with Who…

Thanks for joining me on this journey of redesigning my covers for my Mind Sweeper Series. Last week we talking about WHY and this week we’re going to talk about WHO. Who is an important question on several levels.

First – who do I want to partner with to create the covers. I have learned in this business to play to your strengths and while I think I have a good visual eye, that doesn’t mean I can actually create the cover myself. For that I need an expert. I turned to my cover artist that created my cartoon (or vector) covers for my Wedding Planner Series. She was more than happy to help me come up with a new vision for my Mind Sweeper Series as well.

And so I filled out a questionnaire for her about the first book. The questionnaire asked about the important characters in the book, as well as the setting and the plot summary. She asked about important symbols or emotions to convey on the cover. And a host of other questions, and then the process began. It was time to pick out the second WHO – the characters on the covers.

As you can see, my cover artist hit it out of the ballpark on the first swing when it came to Kyle, my heroine of the Mind Sweeper series. This is a hint at cover number one. Hopefully all of the covers will be available on the retailer sites by next week at the latest, but I couldn’t wait anymore to share one of the covers with you.

So what do you think?

 

The End is Hopefully The Beginning

This past weekend I finished writing the first draft of the fourth book in my wedding planner series.

Cue the marching band, and the choir of angels, and the fireworks.

Because it was (and is) a big accomplishment. Every idea that is turned into words then sentences, then paragraphs, then scenes, then chapters, and finally stories is a big deal.

For me, when I’m writing a story, the characters become a part of me and they want their stories resolved and their endings written. It becomes a mission for me to complete the book so that my ideas find a home and I can then move on to the next characters and their evolution.

Good stories are about evolving the characters – emotionally, mentally, whatever they need to grow and become the people, we the readers (and writers) want them to be.

Ultimately, when I type THE END, I actually want it to be the jumping off point for the rest of my characters’ lives because we’ve become that invested in them.

 

 

In The Zone

Last week I was having a little trouble writing my novel. I had finally gotten past the midway point and I thought it was smooth sailing from there. Now, you would think that after writing numerous novels and stories, I would realize by now that you NEVER can assume ANYTHING.

So, like I said, I was stuck a bit. I wasn’t sure where I was going with the external conflict. The internal/couple conflict was working well, but the external/bad guy conflict was deflating.

What to do? What to do?

I started to think about options A & B. If I do this, then this happens. If I do that, then that happens. You get the idea. I finally chose a path and sat down to write. And write I did – 6000 words in two days. Hot diggity dog!

I love it when I get in the zone. It doesn’t happen often and I have to savor it when it does. I especially love when I keep writing because I can’t wait to see what is going to happen. Silly since I’m the author, right?

Not so much. I have a general idea where I am heading, but the fun is the nuances that bring the couple even closer together. The perfect scenes that let us savor the growing relationships and beating the bad guy on top of it!

Hopefully this will continue until the end of the book. I find if I am really enjoy writing a particular scene, those are the ones that readers like as well.

So fingers crossed that I stay in the zone!

 

Finding Valentine’s (Every) Day

It’s hard to believe that Valentine’s Day is upon us once again. As a romance writer, in many ways it symbolizes the genre wholeheartedly and I feel like I should pay homage to it.

But I would argue that romances give us the chance to celebrate love every day of the year. I have had people ask me why they would want to read a book were they already know the ending.

I argue that you might know that the couple will end up together, but the true romance and excitement of the story is HOW they end up together. What obstacles – whether internal or external – do they need to overcome to find that special someone?

That’s what makes romances interesting to read.

Everyone has a different idea of the perfect Valentine’s Day. And those variations also apply to the romances we pick up and read as well. Each one has a different flavor or nuance that takes us on the journey to that HEA. So enjoy your Valentines whenever the mood strikes you.

 

Cake Usurper

There is something to be said about tradition, even when it comes to our birthdays. Growing up, I can remember getting my favorite treat for my birthday. For years, my favorite birthday treat was a mocha ice cream pie from a Friendly’s Restaurant in the neighboring town. I can remember when they stopped making that pie. I felt a little bit like a part of my memories and childhood went with it.

From there I moved on to other treats until I landed on a yellow cake with coconut frosting, and it has been my birthday cake for years.

This past week, my father celebrated his birthday and when I asked him what he wanted as a treat, he said that he already had gotten the cake. It was the coconut cake – MY coconut cake. Do I have a patent on this cake, or do I own the company that manufactures this cake? No. Am I being melodramatic when I told him that he needed to find his own birthday cake? Maybe.

Was it over the top when I called him “usurper of the cake” – okay, yeah that was a bit much.

But I think there is something to be said about the small things in life that are tied to important events, like birthday memories.

The same can be said for stories. The ones that resonate with us are the ones that bring up possible memories, or more likely emotions that we can then relate to at a personal level. That make us become part of the story and experience it as a participant rather than an observer. Hopefully you’ve found an author who can provide you with that inclusive feeling – like when you take the first bite of your birthday treat each year.

So this week, we celebrated my father’s birthday, coconut cake and all, and I only called him “usurper” once or twice while enjoying a piece of my…I mean his birthday cake. May you also enjoy your own sweet treats this week, whether it be cake or stories…

Sleepy Time

As an author, I have to find time to think about my books. For me it’s not just sitting down and writing it, it’s also thinking through some of the main points of the book. Even though I’m not a true plotter that outlines the story, I still have to pick a direction and go!

Thinking about the characters and the general plot is often done when I have a spare moment – in the shower, on my daily commute, etc.

But I have found for me that the best time to come up with those great character developing moments and pivotal scenes is first thing in the morning when my alarm has gone off and I set it for snooze, or I know that I can stay in bed a little bit longer on the weekend.

That is when the ideas come to me since I’m not bogged down with to do lists, and social media, and my day job. My psyche is free to explore options I wouldn’t think about if I was fully awake.

I call it my sleepy author time. And I treasure it.

So if you’re trying to work through something, try thinking about it when you first wake up. You never know what you might come up with!