Saturday, July 30, 2016

7/30 Writing update

Who Dies Next? (Sam Darling mystery #7) is off and running. I have more than 2,000 words written, plus I've completed the synopsis as well. I've changed my commitment to be, "I'll write at least 1,000 words per day five days per week." I realized that I'm only setting myself up if I promise to do this every single day. So that's it.

So far, so good.

And on my Wordpress blog, the Incredible Shrinking Shrinks, I've committed to see my trainer once or twice a week and then exercising in some form every day. Right now I'm doing the exercises he taught me and asked me to do. They take about a half hour to do, once a day. I'm also to do the stretches an additional time every day. Not so good on that one. But I am doing the exercises. Just need to add the extra set of stretches.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

7/27/16 A writing commitment

Okay, here it is. I'm finding it hard to make time to write. I'm distracted by family fun, swimming, FaceBook, politics, dog sitting, my own pets, omigod the list can go on and on. So I'm going to make a public commitment, like a writer friend did on FB.

I want to have the first draft of this book completed in three months (at the latest). Then it will go to my beta readers. After they quickly read it and give me advice, I'll make changes (or not) and then the manuscript will go to my publisher, who will also return it with suggestions. Again, I'll make the changes (or not) and then it's done. During this time, my small writing group (Nikki, Justin, and Beth) will be reading as I write. They not only give me support and encouragement, they always have really good suggestions (which I'll take or not...are you tired of this phrase?). Ha-ha.

So I'm trying to decide what my commitment will be. I want it to be realistic, because I know how lazy I can be. But I also want it to give me a much needed KITP (kick in the pants). Here's the deal: Starting tomorrow (yeah, I said tomorrow, not today), I will write at least 1,000 words a day. That may be 1,000 a day or 7,000 a week, but it will average to 1K a day.

I've said that since I started viewing writing as a job instead of a hobby that I've done much better. Recently, however, I've been slacking. Book 6 (Who's the Rogue?) took longer than any other book. I've still done six in three years and feel pretty good about it. I want to continue writing at least two a year and this will help me do it.

I'll report, whether the news is good or bad.

Monday, July 18, 2016

I forgot to post this. 7/13/16 One year ago today

One year ago today Quincy IL had a storm of such magnitude that we lost thousands of trees and that many homes and/or cars were damaged. There were so many homes and buildings hurt that some haven't been repaired yet. We had straight line winds that equaled a Category 1 hurricane. Amazing here in tornado country.

I keep thinking I'll put an incident like this in one of my books set in Quincy, but haven't found the right way to do it yet. I often put "real life" things in my books. For example, Book Two (Any Meat in That Soup?) had a murder take place in the ER of a hospital. It was loosely based on the Mike Swango incidents that happened many years ago. However, there was no Mike character and other things were different. Those attempted murders in real life inspired me to write of some real ones.

Other things that come from reality: The Darling siblings resemble mine in many ways. However, there are more Bozarths than Darlings. And we're more sarcastic, and dare I say more fun? We also drink more.

In several of my books there are real names of people, but those are used either at their request or I've asked permission.

In my latest book, Who's the Rogue? the leading man is named Wes Friday. Wes is actually a very talented actor in our area, and he asked if I'd use his name when I stated that I thought it would be an excellent fictional character. In that same book, the director Branson Barkley is an extremely unflattering caricature of our real director—Brandon Thomsen. What they have in common is talent, and that's about it. The real director is much kinder.

There are a few more examples, but overall my characters are not based on real people. They might be an amalgam of several or even many people—a nose here, a mannerism there, a way of speaking, many things go into creating a believable character.

Except George. Sigh. He's just the guy I want to meet. Sigh again.

Friday, July 08, 2016

7/8 Where to write?

I'm trying to write in my usual spot, with Gus, on the Panera patio. However, today it's loud with voices and trucks and sirens. It seems everything is conspiring against the muse today. So instead, I'm going to my sister's house. I swim a while, then write in the gazebo, then swim a while, then write in the gazebo, and so forth. It will be quiet, probably too quiet. I guess I can get the three dogs (including Gus) to chatter a bit so the quiet isn't deafening. At least I can try.

Chapter 2 of Who Dies Next? awaits.

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

7/6 An inspiring post from Hugh Howey

So if you like science fiction at all, you know who Hugh Howey is. I love his work. And I admire him as a human too. His recent blog post inspired me to think more deeply about what I do with my plots. As you know, if you've read my blog before, I observe people and situations, I eavesdrop (yes, I do), I look at billboards, I read articles, whatever—and that's how the germ of an idea comes to me. Then I add the "what if..." or someone gives that to me. In Can You Picture This? a friend on the Panera patio said, "Yeah, Jer. What if that paparazzi guy rides a bicycle instead of a motorcycle or driving a car?" And off I went. (Yes, I credited him in the Acknowledgements. Didn't I, Joe?)

Anyway, Hugh's post reminded me that I ought to go a step farther. Yeah, it's funny that the dude rides a bicycle and tries to take photos. What else could be broken? Well, in that book the guy uses a Polaroid camera. That brings a smile to my face just thinking about it. And there was one other thing that I could break, and I did. But of course I can't reveal that because I want you to read the book. (It's book 3 in the Sam Darling mystery series.)

So as I sit here, thinking about book 7 (Who Dies Next?), I'm going to apply some of Hugh's ideas to the book. What idea can I take, break it, then break it again. We'll see how it works. (It worked accidentally in Can You Picture This? Now, I want to make it work on purpose.)

Hugh was talking about science fiction. I think the same ideas apply to cozy mysteries.

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

7/5 Time flies (or has that been said before?)

I can't believe it's been three weeks since I've posted. So many neat things are happening on the writing front. Who's the Rogue? is in Australia in the capable hands of Jason, our formatter at Polgarus Studios. Keri Knutson has designed a gorgeous cover of a lovely home in Quincy. This cover is my favorite, hands down.

I'm working on Book 7. We just came up with the title yesterday—Who Dies Next? Normally titles are easy for me and I come up with them in a snap. However, since I have some requirements—namely, it must be a question, it must be short, and it must be relevant to the story—it's become a little more difficult. So for the first time, my brilliant publisher came up with this title, after I gave her some ideas. I think Who Dies Next? fits the criteria very well.

Triple Trouble is out in paperback and ebook format. And very soon it'll be on SALE in a big way. This book is nearly 700 pages, with three of my books in it. The first three books in the Sam Darling mysteries. From July 23 until August 1, the ebook for Triple Trouble will be on sale for only 99 cents. It's an amazing deal. I sure hope people take advantage of it.