Friday, February 23, 2018

Research vs. Writing - The Inner Battle

I have two book series that require a lot of research. Lately, I've been focusing more on research in lieu of writing and am struggling to get back on track with both. The research for the series is vastly different, the happier research involves the various world religions, the other deals with a particularly evil time in recent history. Both affect me differently, both in my desire to dig deeper and in my need to write.

The religious research is so interesting I tend to lose track of time. The topic is fascinating, I'm learning quit a bit and finding each religion has pieces I enjoy and others I despise. Yet I want to learn more and not stop to write.

World War II, in particular Hitler and his inner circle is equally fascinating. It is sad, morbid, and at times deeply disturbing as I can parallels with today's society and the German situation as Hitler grabbed more and more power. Mengele's experimentation is the most disturbing, yet I need to understand him a bit better as I need to understand his methodology in order to make a part of my story line work.

It is hard to force myself to write after doing research, as my drastically affects my writing. I didn't plan on becoming a writer or author, my original career choice was to be a Veterinarian. I'm a long way from that now, with a day job that eats up  60+ hours a week (don't get me started). My characters found me and insisted I begin writing their stories.

I'm trying an experiment over the next month. For every hour of research I do, I have to write at least 100 words on any of my books. They don't have to be good words, it doesn't have to be "gold", I simply need to get some words on the page. I'm hoping that will help jump start my writing output.

What do you do to get your writing mojo back?

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Starting Over

I've been working on a WIP, rearranging the middle of a mystery, and forwarding pages to my "volunteer" editor. I've changed enough of the middle now that I'm having to rewrite the ending in order to throw the reader off and still keep them interested.

It feels like I'm writing an entirely new story, which is somewhat true. The main story line is the same, but there's some new scenes I hadn't seen coming that have thrown me for a bit of a loop and making it necessary to come up with some new red herrings. Established writers will occasionally put out the piece of advice that you will "normally" need to write five books before you're really ready to be published. I'm not sure I have that much patience.

As this book gets straightened out and polished up, I'm gearing up to get back into the routine of sending submissions, and receiving rejections. I'm ok with the rejections that I do get back - at least they're responding. I greatly appreciate the ones that come back with suggestions or any kind of feedback. It's not personal, what I'm sending them simply isn't a fit.

I look at submissions as if they are a job interview (and I've had hundreds of those). If I get an agent or publisher I want to be as good a fit for them as I want them to be for my book. Yes, it's a bit strange to have that frame of mind, however I've been in the business world long enough to separate the business from the personal.

So I find myself back at square one, with a different book series, still looking fondly at my first book series (yet to be published), at the start of a new year. Seems fitting.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Good Ridance 2017

While I'm not all that thrilled about getting older, I'm happy to say goodbye to 2017. It's been a rough year for a lot of people. Mother Earth hasn't been happy, throwing lots of strange weather our way from fires to hurricanes to tornadoes. If she was a toddler, I'd suggest she needs a nap.

Our country is in turmoil over the last election, protests are breaking out all over, and our politicians in DC are behaving like a tired, sugared up, kindergarten classroom running amok, with the teacher tied up in a corner somewhere. Family members are upset with each other over who voted for whom (did I get that who and whom correct?). Seriously, I think we all need a good nap and remedial lessons in listening and manners.

Family and friends were affected by the fires in California, those in Puerto Rico are still trying to get some fractional semblance of "normal" with limited electricity and potable water. Other friends around the country have been flooded out, or had their houses knocked down by tornadoes. It's be a roller coaster much of the year and this rider is ready for it to end.

I'm looking forward to my characters starting up their chats again. They've been far too quiet as they've stepped back to let me deal with all of the chaos. I could seriously use the diversion, although I have lots of things I need to get done, I would love to get some forward progress on their stories once more.

So bring on 2018! May it be filled with less chaos, more character chatter, higher word counts, open hearts, and a little bit of peace.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Decisions, decisions, decisions...who to pick?

All of my characters have been clamoring for attention lately. Trying to pick who to use for this year's NaNoWriMo project has been tough and was only decided 30 minutes ago.

Jess has been bugging me to get Book 4 in her series done (yes, I know they're not published yet, I need $$ for editors first). The Scot deserves to have more attention to his story line, but he decided to bow out this year at the last minute. This is due, in part, to new research being published on Hitler's possible escape which may affect his story line.

Callie (It's a Fey Life) is bugging for another book, focusing on farming run off affecting the Gulf of Mexico. The Coven Sisters are all being politely passive/agressive - as usual. An Meri, my beloved Meri, one of The Chosen, has been encouraging more research on Skih and Buddist practices.

So many choices. The ultimate decider was a reminder of the picture that inspired the idea for the book I'll be working on this month.

Drum roll please....

And the Winner is....

The Coven Sisters! They are back in Michigan to visit with their favorite B&B proprietor and take an actual vacation. I'll try to post word counts and hints about the story line from time to time. Work may get in the way (on-calls schedules suck!), but I'm going to give it a try.

And big thanks to my friend whose pictures continue to give me story ideas.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Are you a NaNo'er?

NaNo is rapidly approaching. For those new to NaNo, NaNo is short for National Novel Writing Month. The goal is to write a novel in a month, 50,000 words minimum to be more accurate,.  It starts November 1st and ends at 11:59pm November 30th.

I've done it several years now, I don't always make my goal as my day job tends to get in the way and I find myself on-call on again this year right in the middle of NaNo. But I'm prepping earlier than usual.

If you've been on the fence about possibly writing the novel idea tumbling about in your head, this may be the kick in the pants you need. I did write my first novel in a month, long before I'd heard about NaNo, so I know it can be done.

There are many previous winners who have been published, 449 since 2006, not including those who self-published. That is a shorter list, however, it is still inspiring.

The nice thing is that NaNo has loads of resources available to us writers, all of it is free. NaNo is also a non-profit and, due to donations from a variety of sources, has expanded it's programs to include virtual writing camps, special programs for young writers (grades K-12), and programs for libraries.

Each region has leaders that help with questions, organizing write-ins, and keeping your motivation going. Some regions are more active than others, but there's usually at least one write-in event, giving you a chance to meet other writers and get some additional inspiration.

This year I'll be working on the second book in my Coven Sisters series, wish me luck!

If you'd like to know more about NaNoWriMo, check out their site at: https://nanowrimo.org

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Secession - Should California Stay or Go?

There is lots of talk today about California attempting to secede from the Unites States. While I seriously doubt it will happen, I decided to do some digging to see what I could find, and then began plotting what would most likely happen should they go ahead with secession.

I went to where I always start first: my grandparents’ encyclopedias (no, I do not trust Wikipedia, nor would I accept any reference to Wikipedia sources for any class I may teach).

 Here’s the Standard America Encyclopedia has to say about Secession:

Secession, the withdrawal of a state or group from a union or association. In the United States whenever a state has claimed the right to withdraw from the Union, it has based its claim on the doctrine of state sovereignty. Specifically this question was brought forward or involved in the Kentucky “Resolutions,” the Hartford “Convention,” and the “Nullification Ordinance.” Among the southern states there had been some talk of cooperation for the purpose of effecting a secession program, for no state would have made the attempt independently, but such discussion had resulted in nothing. Nevertheless, state sovereignty and slavery had been bound up together since about 1835, and the logical consequence was secession. The election of Abraham Lincoln, when the political situation was flanked with sectional differences resting on state claims, was all that was necessary to change the theory of secession in the South into an attempt to effect the reality. South Carolina took the lead by issuing a circular to all the southern states, in which she declared her readiness to unite with any other states in the act of secession, or to secede along, provided any other state would agree to follow. South Carolina was leader in calling a state convention, and on Dec. 20, 1860, the Act of 1788, ratifying the National Constitution, was repealed, and it declared “that the union now subsisting between South Carolina and other states, under the name of the United States of America, is hereby dissolved.” A declaration of the cause for this act was formulated, and on the 24th was adopted. The governor proclaimed “the secession of South Carolina,” the same day. Mississippi was the first to follow this example, Jan. 9, 1861, then in succession came Florida, Jan. 10; Alabama, Jan. 11; Georgia, Jan. 19; Louisiana, Jan. 26; and Texas, Feb. 1, though in the case of this last State the proceedings were decidedly irregular. Virginia followed in April; Arkansas and North Carolina in May; and Tennessee in June. The Civil War was the consequence. The final issue was the victory of the government, the surrender of the Confederate to the Federal Army, and the full union of the united States of America.
The above quote is directly sourced from The Standard America Encyclopedia, Vol. XI. published in 1939. Interestingly it has no page numbers.


(By the way, I found the use of the comma before the quotes interesting...I have apparently been doing this wrong all my life).

In 2006, Justice Antoin Scalia purportedly wrote: “If there was any constitutional issue resolved by the Civil War, it is that there is no right to secede.”

I have to agree with that. I cannot imagine our federal government taking an attempt at sucession as anything but an act of sedition, war, or outright treason. It has grown far to large to see it in any other manner.

War is only one aspect to consider here. California is also home to many military bases and national parks. Our government will never willing give up our bases, and our military members will most likely not stand down. Sure, there may be a few who stand down, but unless you’ve done military duty, do not attempt to predict what they will or won’t do.

As for the National Parks, the US will not willingly part with any of that land – especially those areas that hold the crucial snow pack that California depends on. So California won’t have the same borders it has today, nor will it have control of the airports – hello, FAA is a federal agency – the power grid, railroads, or interstates.

Now consider all the social programs run by the federal government. California can say good bye to those as well. Seceded from the union and you are no longer a citizen. It would be a boon to the already strapped Social Security system – no more payments to California. Same for welfare, food stamps, FEMA...the list goes on.

Don’t expect the federal government to be “friendly” should this occur. It will most likely behave like a woman scorned and will be more than happy to bitch-slap the state silly. Debts will have to be repaid – including California’s share of the National Debt.

Oh, and the FDIC no longer applies to banks, and I would expect the banks to be shut down anyway. No more US currency, what will one do for money? The gangs will be having a field day. Who will be directing the police and fire departments? Especially if there’s no money coming to them any time soon. No more National Guard – they’re a federally funded entity. Coast Guard is federal too.

Water supplied by other states – including the Colorado River, will be cut off. The power grid will be shut off, communication grids shut down, interstate travel will be shutdown. The majority of the ports have federal oversight, there won’t be any traffic in from the water as the Naval Fleet will most likely get deployed. Heck, let’s build another wall!

Sure, California has Silicon Valley, but how many of those companies are officially based there for taxes. Most have their incorporation papers filed other states for tax purposes. Facebook, Google and Microsoft are all incorporated in Delaware. Google started out in California but reincorporated in 2003 in Delaware. Apple has no tax “residency” anywhere. Even though it is incorporated in Ireland.

Now add on to the list of things to do: Create a new constitution for the country. Guess who’d most likely be involved: Facebook, Google and Apple. Guess who wants to avoid paying taxes? Apple, Google, Facebook.

I hear from family members “no water, no food”. Well if you have no water, you have no food either. Besides, we have the MidWest, which has both water and the ability to grow food. Sure, it may not be exactly what we’re used to having available, but we’ll be eating. It would be easy enough to swap out some of the corn fields for other crops.

Hollywood is fickle, they’ll go wherever the money is. But California can keep Hollywood, I won’t be heartbroken. Having grown up in the southern part of the state, I have never been a big fan of Hollywood as an entity. Sure I love the movies, but I’ve never bought into the hype of stardom.

Secession is basically a divorce, and California is attempting to divorce a wealthy spouse with the attitude and power to ensure the California is left with as little as possible. And this “spouse” is currently headed up by a President who is known to be particularly vicious when business deals go sideways.

So let Governor Moonbeam talk the state into attempting to secede. In fact let them secede, they can work out their own tax system (including the methods of collecting said system), health care system, legal system, licensing systems, social programs, governmental entities, balances of power, military strength, environmental regulations, mass transit systems, and whatever else I’m forgetting. That is IF California can hold itself together long enough to get all that in place without slipping into complete anarchy.

If I give this all too much more thought, I’ll end up with another book (or several) to write.



Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Elections and Characters

My characters are having a field day with the upcoming elections. One is telling me which candidates remind him of which former world leaders – including Stalin and Hitler -and laughed at the Muppet's meme that went around social media. Another is finding England's departure from the EU fascinating and making comparisons to the USA Revolution. And then there's Jess.

Who's Jess? Jess is my first and most beloved character. She's wildly independent, stubborn, unfetterd and doesn't give a damn what others think. My kinda girl! She's the one who forced me (she wouldn't shut up, especially at 3:00 a.m.) to write her story. Jess also swears like a sailor and loves picking up new insulting terms. She's having a field day with all of the mud-slinging, name calling, and fear mongering this election round.

New terms are being flung around my brain like so much confetti. She keeps repeating her favorites over and over, terms like “butt trumpet” keep popping up at inappropriate times. This is distracting at best, inconvenient at worst as she makes me laugh in the middle of conference calls or while troubleshooting an issue for a client. 

Her BFF isn't much help as he admonishes her for her rancid mouth and penchant for speaking in a bad British accent when using her newly discovered phrases. As soon as Paul starts in Jess ramps it up, getting more foul until he throws his hands up in disgust and walks away. This of course has me belly laughing uncontrollably while my husband threatens to dial the local psych ward.

I'm not sure if this is normal behavior for characters or not, it is certainly normal for mine.