Tuesday, August 30, 2011
After four years of attending writing seminars and conferences and providing critique for my husband’s novels, I caught the writing bug. This particular illness is not fatal, nor is it contagious. However, it is untreatable. Once infected, no vaccine offers a cure. Symptoms of this infection are unique to the patient.
My first symptom was to jump right in and write. In my case, after years of devouring mysteries and thrillers, I began my first manuscript-a romance. What did I know about writing a romance? Nothing.
My second symptom created conflict. Every novel I read required my personal inspection. I monitored for technique, use of POV, accurate use of third person, strong verbs (show versus tell), active voice instead of passive, and a story full of conflict and tension.
Believe me when I say, this inspection slowed down my reading time. But in doing so I identified published authors who followed their own set of writing rules. I seems authors with a large readership, a high priced agent, and a large publishing house can clearly break the rules I learned at conferences..
I recently enjoyed a Christian romance novel by Kristen Heitzman, The Still of Night. Her novel grabbed me from the prologue to the end. She developed her characters artfully, and with great care. The tension and conflict arrived on page one. Her method of spinning the tale, continued to draw me in.
Her ability to use the five senses as she introduced the settings was inspirational. As a reader, I could smell and hear the ocean, taste the oranges freshly picked from the tree outside the balcony, and clutched my own cramping stomach when the protagonist felt emotional pain.
Kristen Heitzmann, however, did head-hopping between the two main characters. The story would flow from the female’s dialog, internal monolog, action and then flow to the male character allowing him the same latitude. I must say, for me, it enhanced the scenes. She performed the exchange of information like a pro. I highly recommend her novels for anyone wanting a good Christian romance read.
Some day, when my manuscript is supported by an agent and a publishing house, I plan to break a few rules, too. I’m not sure which ones yet. But the magic will work when I do.
Friday, August 19, 2011
Last night my husband and I attended our monthly Tulsa Night Writers meeting. Jim Laughter, an accomplished author, spoke on time management. He touched on several key ideas that sparked my memory and started my creative juices flowing.
As a manager in corporate America, I frequently search for more time to accomplish my goals. Now, as an author, time management has leapt to the forefront of my needs. I often long for just one more hour in a day. But as Jim said, “There are only twenty-four hours in a day. It’s all we get. There ain’t no more.”
Jim pointed out that a successful author is required to be a master in multiple areas. We prepare to write, research our material, plan the flow of our story, whether by using a simple or complex outline, develop our characters, and define the plot. Then we must manage our time to weave together our manuscript.
To manage the myriad of processes writing requires, then generate a quality manuscript, forces each of us to recognize the value of time and to know ourselves well enough to avoid wasting both our time and our resources. This demands a structured day, week, and month to accomplish our tasks.
Here are few time savers I use:
Identify the best time of day for you to perform each task. Determine when are you the most analytical, creative, sleepy, or when get bored easily? Then structure your schedule around your biological clock.
Time wasters such as emails, returning phone calls, following up on appointments etc. can be scheduled for times you find yourself bored or restless.
Fight the urge to check your email every hour. At most, three times a day will allow you to stay current on important items and avoid the time wasters.
Return phone calls right before lunch or near the end of the business day. Your caller will be more tempted to keep the call short.
Schedule Social Media activities such as Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin for times in the day when you are not the most creative. Protect your creative energy as a priority.
Schedule your website and/or blog updates for particular days of the week. Establish a timeframe goal for updates then remain true to your schedule.
Share your schedule with your loved ones. Ask their help in keeping true to your plan.
Build in flexibility for family interruptions because they always occur, then have the discipline to return to your schedule within an hour unless it is an emergency.
Good luck in practicing some new ideas and restarting some old ones. We can’t replace lost time so let’s use quality time for our most important activities.
A special thanks to Jim Laughter for allowing me to use his presentation as a platform for my blog. Don’t miss out on his books. He will not disappoint you.
Jim most recent novel, The Apostle Murders, is a thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Check out his website, www.jimlaughter.com and read the prologue. You will find information about his other novels including, From Victim to Hero – The Untold Story of Steven Stayner, a stirring true account of a kidnapped 7-year old boy that overcame incredible odds and survived to become a national hero. Don’t miss out on his great books, including his Galactic Axia young adult sci/fi series. All of his titles are available in paperback, Kindle, and Nook formats.