Archive for category: Writing

“Love. Fall in love and stay in love. Write only what you love, and love what you write. The key word is love. You have to get up in the morning and write something you love, something to live for. ”

—Ray Bradbury

I’ve been quiet here. My last post was the end of April, and now it’s the end of May. As many of you know, I’m a marketing copywriter by day and fiction writer by night. (I realize this sounds redundant.) The marketing copywriter bit has been keeping me extra busy, as it usually does this time of year. But I’ve also been working on novel #3.

Okay, so it’s really novel #3.5. See, the book I’d been working on since last August just wasn’t coming together — at least, not in the way I needed it to in order to continue with it. Then, this other idea came to me — hit me in the face, actually — with such force that I was left standing and saying, “Well, duh. Of course I should be writing about that.” So, I began writing and have been ever since. Things feel good in the same way they felt good when I was drafting What Happened in Granite Creek (side note: I started another novel in between Forgotten April and Granite Creek, so maybe this is part of my process).

I’m not giving myself a firm deadline for finishing this draft, but my soft deadline is end of July, which is quite doable. That said, I’m not going to rush through it just so I have another book to put out there. Quality matters. I’d love to have another book out at the end of the year/beginning of 2013, but the writing comes first and will dictate the release.

Anyhow, now that I’m slowly emerging from the weeds, I’ll be getting back to regular blogging and also tweeting again (I took a much needed break from that as well). One place I’m always active is Facebook, so connect with me there for the latest news on my work, book chat, and the occasional debate about things like swearing in novels.

What have you been up to and what do you have planned for June? Share! 🙂

Enhanced by Zemanta


Lately, I’ve been in the weeds, feverishly working on the draft of my next book. It’s messy — very, very messy — and I’m not entirely sure I’ll be sticking with it. But! A song has emerged, the video for which I’ve been watching over and over.

I take this as a positive sign…this happened during the drafting of Forgotten April and Granite Creek…this obsession with the song tends to spur me on and helps me become obsessed with the character. (In this post on my soundtrack for What Happened in Granite Creek, I talked about the role music plays when I’m writing.)

Anyhow, back to the song in question: “Inside Out” by Eve 6. For some reason, it captures the essence of one of my main characters. I can’t tell you much about this character right now, aside from the fact he’s male and around 24 years old, but I thought I’d embed the video below to give you a sense of something.

Tell me, based on what you see and hear, what characteristics would you expect this character to possess? There are no right or wrong answers, and I’m truly curious. Share in the comments.

I’ve had some readers who wanted more heat in both Forgotten April and What Happened in Granite Creek. I prefer — as a reader — the less-is-more approach, since I have an extremely vivid imagination.

As a writer, I find it challenging to write sex scenes well, which is one of the reasons I haven’t included them in any of my work. To be honest, I think this is challenging for MOST writers, not just me (Anais Nin being one exception…she made erotica artsy, methinks.)

In fact, there’s even a bad sex in fiction award from the Literary Review out of the UK.

How ’bout you: do you like writers who take chances and include sex scenes, or do you prefer just enough to get the juices (ahem) flowing and then letting your imagination take it from there? Or does it depend on the writer, the genre, etc? Know of any writers who craft particularly good sex scenes?

Share your thoughts in the comments.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Had a wiggly-wobbly November and December and fell off my game.

When I’m drafting, I like to put in 1000 polished words a day, a very doable number for me. It’s how I got through my first two books.

But, like any endurance sport, I need to build up to it. So last week, I put in 250 words daily. This week, I’m shooting for 500 daily. Next week, hopefully 750. Then the jump to 1000, which I’m hoping to sustain to the bloody end.

Wish me luck.

Enhanced by Zemanta

NOTE: This post is part of my ongoing series called “What Really Happened While I Was Writing What Happened in Granite Creek.” Occasionally, some of these posts will contain spoilers. I’d rate this one “medium” level, so advance at your own risk. (The perfect solution, of course, would be to read What Happened in Granite Creek and then come back to this post. See what I did there? 😉 )

When I wrote the short story, “Support Our Troops,” I had no idea that the full-blown novel — What Happened in Granite Creek — would evolve into a book filled with suspense/mystery. That’s the fun thing about writing: those times when the story takes over and leads your imagination down the road not taken.

This new road, however, required me to stop and research certain things, like guns and dead bodies and police procedure.

  • I also talked to David Studley with the Crime Scene Services unit of the Framingham Police Department, which is my hometown PD.
  • In my Internet travels, I also came across this: Writers’ Police Academy, where writers gather for a weekend of training in all things police related. I didn’t go, but it’s cool to know something like this exists in case I ever need it.

Have you ever read a book where you were awed by the amount of research that went into it? Share in the comments.

And if you share this post on Twitter, remember to use the hashtag #WHIGC.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

In What Happened in Granite Creek, one of my characters — Jamie Briggs — is a quadruple amputee who lost his arms and legs while serving in Iraq. The novel is based on the short story “Support Our Troops,” which I wrote without having done much research beyond looking for some images online (so I could describe Jamie’s character accurately), mainly because the focus of the short story was on Koty, who is also one of the main characters in the novel.

But when I was writing the novel, I knew I’d need to do more research into amputees. In early 2010, I discovered there was only one surviving quad amputee (at the time) from these wars – that’s how extensive an injury it is (there are now two, I think, and maybe another in the UK). The first guy’s name is Brendan Marracco.

I went back and forth for a LONG time about whether I should reach out to him, but I decided against it because, deep down, I’m pretty shy and I hate bugging people (it’s one of the main reasons I couldn’t be a journalist…I was a stringer for a newspaper, and I hated calling people for interviews or comments). I also didn’t want him to feel I was exploiting his situation.

So I stuck with articles, videos, and images I could find online. As a result, I was somewhat vague with some of the technicalities in Jamie’s day-to-day life — on purpose, since I didn’t have the research to back it up. When I quizzed my beta readers on this, none said they were bothered by it. I gave just enough detail to let them fill in the blanks. Phew, I thought. I’m all set.

Not so fast, said the universe.

I revised and revised and handed in my manuscript to my copy editor on Friday, July 29. On Saturday, I was puttering around my apartment when I received an email. Subject line said “support our troops,” and my first reaction was, “Oh, crap. Either it’s someone who loves the short story or someone who hates it.” (Readers tend to only email us writers if they have a strong reaction.) Anyhow, I was feeling all vulnerable since I’d just sent off my baby — remember, the novel is based on the short story “Support Our Troops” — so I was worried that it was going to be someone who hated the story for whatever reason and that would send me into the wobbly world of self-doubt.

I opened up the email. It was a nice note from a woman. The “from” line said, “emma devotee.” And I was like, Interesting last name. I wonder if it’s French or something? Anyhow, Emma said she enjoyed the short story and appreciated the fact I had a disabled character in it. However, she felt some of my details weren’t quite accurate. She was married to a double-leg amputee, and she said that she would be happy to answer any questions if I had them.

Like I said: this was a gift from the universe. So I wrote right back to Emma with an enthusiastic “yes” and told her I’d turned “Support Our Troops” into a full blown novel and the manuscript was sitting with my editor, but I could still make changes, and would she be willing to review scenes from the manuscript in which Jamie, the quad amputee, appeared? She responded in the affirmative, so I packaged up everything and emailed it to her.

The next day, I got an email from another woman — Ruth — and the subject line said, “interview on Support Our Troops?” and I was like, “Okay, this is weird.” (And let me back up a moment – I’d also noticed since I had just checked my sales numbers for the first time that weekend that I’d sold a fairly large number of “Support Our Troops” in comparison to my other shorts…and I’d kinda wondered why since I hadn’t done any sort of promotion.)

So Ruth’s email says that she had been talking to a friend who had recommended my short story and the friend had also mentioned I was turning said story into a full blown book. Ruth asked me if she could interview me for her blog because it’s her mission for books to feature more disabled characters in them, so she likes to give props to writers who do this.

She sent me a link to a recent interview she’d done on her blog, and when I went over to look at it, I noticed the items in the site’s navigation, including a link on “Devoteeism.” Duh – it wasn’t a last name. A devotee is a term used to describe a person who is sexually attracted to disabled people. The disabilities can run the gamut from spinal cord injuries (SCI) to amputations to leg braces to blindness…the list goes on and on. What one devotee is attracted to might be different from what another devotee is attracted to…just like it is with folks who are non-devs (e.g. some people like BBW, some people like blondes, some people like men with hair on their chests while others do not).

You can read more about devotees here on Ruth’s website (I’m linking to my interview, but you’ll see the link on devoteeism to the left) and on (EDITOR’S NOTE: I originally had a link to Wikipedia, but several of the folks commenting below said the info on Wiki isn’t the most accurate and pointed to this site instead). Just Google it, and you’ll find a ton of information. It seems like a fairly decent-sized sub culture, and some folks who find themselves attracted to disabled people don’t even realize there’s a name for what they have…many describe having felt this way since childhood and many describe having felt ashamed, like they were sick or perverted or something.

THIS is why I write…to learn new stuff like this and to create stories that get people talking and thinking and feeling and debating. We’re all such imperfect little beings fighting the same battles, but we let stuff – often stuff we have no control over – create the chasm between our tender little souls and the rest of the world.

I ended up talking to Emma via phone – she was FABULOUS and so open and helpful (and luckily, I didn’t have to change too much in the novel). Ruth and I have corresponded as well, and I enjoyed reading one of her novels, (W)hole, which is about a seventeen-year-old woman grappling with the fact she’s attracted to guys in wheelchairs…and how her life changes when she starts dating a college guy who is in a wheelchair.

This was an awesome stroke of luck that made me feel even more confident when putting out the book.

As readers, have you ever put down a book because you didn’t find something plausible? Do you remember what the subject was? Share in the comments.

Oh, and if you decide to retweet this post, be sure to use my dedicated hash tag for all things related to What Happened in Granite Creek: #whigc (Thanks for spreading the word.)

…it’s an art contest. — Seth Godin, Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?

I had this quote taped to various walls and mirrors in my apartment until I no longer needed the reminders.

Toiling away for years on something doesn’t necessarily make the something better. There are no awards for “novel that took the longest to write” (replace the word “novel” with whatever your passion is).

It took me some time to accept this, to feel it in my bones, you know? But I do now, and it’s been so freeing and transformational.

Go create some art today (replace “art” with whatever it is that matters to you).

Agree or disagree?


Enhanced by Zemanta

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Okay, so this isn’t an original concept. Many smart writers like Zoe Winters and Dean Wesley Smith came to this conclusion before I did.

But it’s true: writing is easy.

For many of you writers out there (and even you readers), you’re probably thinking I’m nuts, since it goes against everything we’ve been told. That’s the thing: we — well, I, at least — never questioned the statement “writing is hard,” a statement that I encountered sometime when I was a kid and bolstered in high school, college, and most certainly by many scribes and graduate school programs.

I started to question the statement when, over the last year or so, I began feeling that writing had gotten a whole lot easier. And then I started listening to some of the whisperings of some successful writers who were willing to come clean and reveal, “Yeah, writing isn’t hard.”

If you love doing it and you have any sort of talent for it, well, it will feel pretty easy and straight forward 90 percent of the time. The other 10 percent goes like this: 5 percent is fear (usually unfounded) that you bring to the table. The other 5 percent involves actual legitimate challenges — a story that isn’t working, some research issue that’s turned into a pain in the ass, things like that.

I’m not saying there aren’t hard moments — there are — but I do believe that writing is easy. Even revising. Especially once you’ve gotten through a whole book and seen it to the very end. I’ll admit you might have a little extra dose of “hard stuff” during that first book, but I’d be willing to bet — simply because I’ve been there — that much of it you bring on yourself because you’re thinking “Gee, this is supposed to be hard.” So you make it hard. Forgotten April shouldn’t have taken me as long as it did, but I got caught up in the myth.

Think about many of the classic “greats.” Many — William Carlos Williams comes to mind for some reason — worked day jobs. The writing they did was in stolen moments here and there, yet they were able to create brilliant work. Brilliance doesn’t need weeks and months and years to occur. Sometimes our most brilliant ideas happen in the most unlikely places, like the shower (Einstein thought so). The brilliance happens easily, and it’s available to all of us.

I’m not saying writing doesn’t take work. Of course it does. Putting together a 100,000-word novel doesn’t happen overnight. It takes commitment and diligence. Now, those things may be hard, at first (although if you tell yourself commitment to a deadline is easy, I bet it will be). But the writing part isn’t hard. (If writers are being honest with themselves, they’d probably agree…once you sit down and you’re “in it,” it comes easily because that’s what you love to do.)

I know plenty of writers out there will read this and dismiss my theory right away. All I can say is this: before you do so, consider it. What if I’m right? What if writing is easy and we’d been told a lie all this time?

Enhanced by Zemanta

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

I try not to listen when people talk about no-no’s in writing, mainly because there aren’t any no-no’s, at least when something is written well.

Tell me a “no-no,” and I’ll find an example of a book that broke the rule well, at least according to this reader and critic.

But I’m human. So I can get swept up in the “you shouldn’t write in first person” hogwash I hear on forums where writers hang out. According to these forums, I’m the biggest sinner since I’ve written both novels in first person (multiple first persons) AND present tense.

Oh, the horror!

With Forgotten April, I’d started out in third person pseudo-omniscient — I say “pseudo” because I didn’t know what I was doing and was trying to please my wonderful mentor who warned me about writing in first person.

Oh, but the story sucked in third person. BIG TIME. I tried. I tried for 80,000 words. But it was awful and I was depressed and, on a whim, I opened a new page and was like, “I just want to see what it feels like if I write it in first person. It’ll be my little secret. No one has to know.” So I gave it a go and immediately knew it was better — a whole lot better. I brought two scenes — one in third and one in first person — to my writers’ group and they confirmed it. The first person had LIFE.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’ve written in third person. In fact, I think my short story “Crush,” which is written in third person, is one of my best literary efforts to date from a craft perspective. So I know there’s a place for it, I like reading it (if it works), and I can write in it.

Anyhow, back to the reason behind my title. I’m working on my third novel, and due to recent comments in a writers’ forum about the problems with first person and present tense, I thought I’d approach this novel in third person and past tense. The past tense is working — it feels completely right.

As for third person? Not so much. I tried. I’d write and stop myself when I’d slip into first person and rewrite the section in third. At first, since I was still in those dreamy early stages of drafting, I wasn’t too bothered by it. But then, I figured the story out — you know, one of those breakthroughs where you stop riffing with that one melody you’ve discovered, and, instead, you start composing the full song and weave the melody in. Yeah, that sort of thing. So I was jazzed and excited and was writing a scene that worked really well when, holy crap! I realized I’d written the whole thing in first person.

Guess what? I need to honor that. The story is telling me it needs to be written in first person, and so are the characters. It’s still unclear whether I’ll be using multiple viewpoints, but, for now, this baby is staying in first person, past tense.

Sorry, third person. I’m just not that into you — this time, anyway. I’m sure I’ll be back. You behave while I’m gone.

Do you have a favorite tense you like to read?

Enhanced by Zemanta

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Guess what?

I’m working on my third novel, back to putting in a minimum of 1000 words a day.

I’ve found a new rhythm that’s working quite well: I get up at 6:00 a.m. and go for a walk, about a mile. Come back, make coffee, sit down, and continue with my work-in-progress. I do all this BEFORE looking at email and BEFORE checking reviews, Amazon ranking, etc. This is key. It’s easy to get lost in some of that stuff.

I can crank out 1000 fairly polished words in two hours max — and this includes room for coffee refills and staring off into space and thinking, which qualifies as work, since the brain is still firing, and the images from the story still moving in my head.

What’s great about this method, for me, is that I can start the rest of my day around 9:00 along with the rest of world and not feel any resentment since I’ve gotten my pages in. I’m heading towards phasing out my copywriting business by the end of the year (if not before), but I still maintain a few clients right now during this transitional time, clients who deserve my full attention since they’re paying me good money to give it my all.

Luckily, because my client list is smaller now, I have room for the marketing of my creative writing “business” (selling books is a business) and, often, extra time to put in another healthy dose of words to the WIP.

Or not.

That’s key, too. Anything extra that goes above and beyond the 1000 words a day is great, but not required since I believe a big part of life has to be left for living: reading, exploring, going to movies and museums, having lunch with friends, spending time with family, sitting quietly on my balcony with a cup of coffee or tea or cocktail and listening to the wind, to the old man in my building who walks his little dog named Maggie in the parking lot below my veranda, to the birds and other critters in the woods across the way.

I love this time, when the work is so new and surprising, when the characters come alive before my eyes at the behest of my fingertips on the keyboard. I’m not sure if this will be the “it” novel; I started two different works in between Forgotten April and What Happened in Granite Creek, but I’m thinking it is. I don’t do a formal outline, but I guess I have a mental one. I have to sit with an idea for a bit, a skeleton plot forming, since I’m one of those writers who needs a destination to write towards, even if it changes along the way. But this “marinating” time makes for easy writing when I finally sit down to draft, the words and story tumbling forth.

Every day, I give several prayers of thanks, so grateful that I get to do this for a living.

Tell me, do you have a rhythm method for the work you do?

Enhanced by Zemanta

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine