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!

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!

Redline IS My Friend

You might think that my blog title this week is a bit strange, but let me explain. While some people see corrections as a bad thing, I put my writer’s hat on and say, “no way!”

Edits are actually a very GOOD thing. My editor sent back edits on the first book in my demon trilogy and while those red-line edits and comments might seemingly glare at you, they serve a purpose.

Besides the obvious purpose of catching typos and grammatical errors, edits can catch issues with flow, logic, plot holes, character issues, etc. You name it, a good editor can find it.

What I learned early on in this writing business was that I wanted to give the best possible story to my readers. To do that, I had to put away my ego and accept that having someone else help me just makes sense.

In this instance two heads are better than one. So when Misha’s story is finally released, it’s truly what everyone has been waiting for…

A Robe & Slipper Kind of Day

This weekend I had a writing deadline which meant no time for distractions. It was just me and my laptop spending quality time together. By Sunday, I didn’t make it out of my robe and slippers all day. Instead, I concentrated on the story.

Normally my pj’s are for relaxing. But this time, I told myself not to get dressed so I didn’t find excuses to leave the house instead of writing. Reverse psychology, maybe. But it worked!

When I do relax, I don’t get much writing done. But what I do get are ideas – they filter up through my subconscious and help me create a new character or idea. They are also a great way to get me “unstuck” when I can’t move forward.

So I might not have made it out of my slippers, robe, or house much this weekend, but I did spend time in another world.

Impatience is my Middle Name

I am getting sooo close to finishing the draft of the current manuscript I’m working on that my impatience gene has kicked in BIG TIME. When I am close to the finish line, I want to sprint to the end.

Yep, I’m too busy gasping for air and dreaming of running through the finish tape, throwing my hands in the air and screaming YEAH!

But if I start sprinting and not watching my step, then I don’t take into account that there are plot lines and character developments that need to be wrapped up in order to offer the reader a satisfying ending.

And while that may already exist in my head. I need to make sure it ends up on the page as well.

So I regulate my breathing and my stride and head toward that finish line at the pace I need to set to finish the RIGHT WAY.

And I remind myself, that the book is far from over. Maybe I need to think about it as a triathlon. The next leg are the edits and then publishing takes up the third part of race.

Breathing regulated…

 

Thawing Out

Over the past few weeks I (and many of you as well) have been living in what I like to call Frozen-ville. And while there are no quirky singing sisters or a comedic snowman in my current land, there has been a lot of snow, and ice, and single-digit temperatures.

So I thought it appropriate that last week, as I was writing my newest novel, that I got stuck. I basically decided I was not going in the right direction with my story and that caused me to freeze in my tracks (pun intended). I spent a couple days trying to rework my plot to see where I needed to go and with the rework, the story came to a standstill.

This weekend, the weather changed and with the rising temperatures the snow and ice melted away. And luckily, the thawing of the snow corresponded with the thawing in my brain and I started to write again.

Writing is never easy. It can be fun, and exciting, and sad, and painful, but it ebbs and flows, or freezes at the worst of times.

Now I am enjoying the thaw while I can. A glimpse of what spring will look like in a couple months, but a welcome respite before the cold sneaks back again. Hopefully, I can keep my brain thawed, and the story flowing, even when the snow starts to fly again outside my window.

Out with the Old

waste-paper-1024485_640This weekend I rummaged through one of my closets and found a large plastic container that I hadn’t opened in years. I wasn’t even sure what was inside. So I pulled the lid off and delved into the box.

Inside were stacks of school papers from when I was working toward my MBA. At the time, I thought it was so very important to hold onto these papers, homework assignments, etc. Now? Not so much. They weren’t important anymore because I had no sense of context to what they were about. And it got me thinking about my writing (doesn’t everything?).

As I continue to write and grow as an author, I realize that what was important in the past is not as important now. Characters, plot, scene, description can be pared down into what matters in moving the story forward and giving the reader an emotional response.

Ultimately, the reader needs context. Because that’s what makes the story resonate to them.

So as I head to the recycle bins to throw away all of these old papers,  I tell myself to let go of the old and look to the future for the sake of closet space and my writing style!

 

 

 

New Digs for a New Year

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It’s February 1st! Hard to believe the first month of 2016 is over already. 2016 will hold new challenges, and new stories, and a new SERIES for AE Jones. And as I plow ahead I thought it was time to change my website up a bit. Give myself some new ‘digs’ so to speak. Check it out if you have a moment…don’t be shy, the doors are open.

I hope you like the look. If you don’t, please lie to me and tell me you adore it 🙂

Over the next few months, I’ll be sharing my new website banner and new cover, along with tidbits from the new series. It will be fun to have you along for the ride.

And I am working on my stories, figuring out what my characters want to tell you, the reader. Sometimes they argue with me, but I have to put my foot down and herd the cats so that the book actually has a plot and scenes, versus never-ending dialogue from my VERY opinionated characters!

So enjoy February, my friends and I’ll be talking to you again soon!

Edit, Schmedits…

brush public domainFrom my title, you can probably guess what my blog topic is this week. The dreaded edits. Yep, I’m smack dab in the middle of them with my newest book and it’s been a labor of love.

There are so many things that you look for when you edit, starting with plot and character development, and GMC (goal, motivation & conflict). All those big picture items that really need your attention as you write your story and you may need to revisit once ‘the end’ is written. Often the ideas you begin with are not the ones you end up with, so working through those larger issues can play a part in edits.  I think of it as the broad strokes of a paintbrush across a canvas as the foundation of the picture is created.

Then we delve into the structure of the book, the chapters, the scenes, the paragraphs, heck even the sentence structure can impact your telling of the story. I have been amazed at how rearranging a paragraph, or splitting a paragraph into two, often emphasizes an important point for the reader. Rearranging scenes that make better sense somewhere else now that the book is done (or sort of done). Realizing that the structure of the chapter needs re-swizzled to make it more powerful. All of these items can be equated to the shading and nuances a smaller brush can lend to a painting.

And once you have completed all of this work on your masterpiece, you’re still not done. Get out that tiny detail brush and start adding the finishing touches: word choice, spelling, grammar, punctuation. All the things that need attention now that you’ve worked on the rest.

Quite a bit to think about, yes? But it can be so rewarding once you have that finished book in your hands. And even more rewarding when your readers have it in theirs!