Since school is out and I have my grandchildren more hours per day, I am finding myself in a constant state of behindness (Yes, I know that’s not a real word, but it fits.) I’m the little boy in the picture below, struggling to keep up, carrying my balloon. 🙂
Of course, when you add in a book festival, a road trip to see my sister, and a music festival those contribute greatly to the behindness. So, I can own the fact that I did this to myself.
I’m curious. How do you do it? How do you juggle blogging, keeping up with other bloggers, social media, promoting your books writing new books, reading, working, taking care of your spiritual life, keeping your body healthy, and spending time with family?
I know not everything works for everyone, but I found one word that resonated with me
Simplify – Sounds easy, right?
When I looked at ways to do that, I made two lists. In one column, I listed the necessities in life and in the other column I listed the things I want to do but aren’t essential for living.
“But,” I hear you say, “I don’t want to stop doing what I’m doing.” Oh wait, that was me talking, not you.
Okay fine. I’ll move some of the things I want to do over to the essentials column.
Oops. Guess what? Now, I have one column. Back to square one with a deep sigh.
What to do?
I looked at the column again and thought to myself, prioritize.
That sounds logical.
I have to eat, sleep, do meditation, and exercise. Those are top priorities just to keep functioning. Then, I have to work to earn the money to support my lifestyle. That’s another priority. But what about my writing life? Isn’t it equally as important to promote the books I have spent money, blood, sweat, and tears creating? If I don’t, will anyone see them? Probably not. Finding the time to keep creating is ultra important to my well-being.
Blogging isn’t a necessity, I suppose. But if I hadn’t gotten consistent with blogging, I would never have built the following I have. So, if I neglect it, the numbers fall. And, if I don’t visit and support other blogs, the visits and comments on my blogs diminish.
You see where I’m going, right?
I have no easy answer. The truth is that I want to do it all and I feel like I’m on a merry-go-round getting dizzy.
I thought of two things I can implement that might help me get a grip: #1 Start saying “no” to anything I don’t really want to do #2 Ask for help (the hardest thing in the world for me to do).
Now, I’d love to hear from you. How do you juggle it all and stay on top of the pile? We’re all on this merry-go-round together.
The concept of “show don’t tell” is drilled into us from the first day we begin learning the craft of writing. And, as we grow and improve our storytelling abilities, it becomes an integral part of the process. But there are many ways to “show” character traits, beliefs, desires and ideals.
As strange as it may sound, one such way is through food and drinks.
Let’s say you have a character who thrives on cold pizza and soda. That alone tells me loads about this character, whether male or female. #1 – They don’t like to cook, or don’t know how. #2 – They are not a health nut. #3 – They are always in a hurry and needing to grab something on the go.
Just that one food scenario says a lot.
In stark contrast, if you have a character who enjoys gourmet meals either at home or out, it is going to let the reader know something specific about him/her. Most likely, they are refined and possibly came from money. There are thousands of examples but you get the idea.
In my newest book, “Ghostly Interference,” my male character’s mother, Charlotte, is vegetarian. One of the meals she cooked was squash stuffed with rice and drizzled with cashew sauce. That showed her earthiness, but also creativity. Have you ever made cashew sauce? It’s not an easy process for sure. I had one reader who messaged me and said they actually tried making this dish and it turned out quite delicious. 🙂
The protagonist in my current WIP, is a rancher who operates a horse sanctuary. Of course, he is a big beef eater. Nothing else would fit him. But in contrast, the love interest in the story is a vegetarian. An unlikely combination, it will create some humorous moments between them. The contrast also gives me the opportunity to reveal more about each. Why did she decide to become vegetarian?
And it works with every character. What they eat or drink can show the reader more character depth and detail without having to tell them a thing.
What about coffee drinkers? The type of coffee you order may reveal more about your personality than you think.
Research found that the black coffee drinkers were straight up, straightforward and no-nonsense individuals. The double decaf, soy, extra-foamy folks tend to be more obsessive, controlling, and detail-oriented. The latte drinkers tend to be neurotic and people-pleasers, while the instant coffee drinkers had a greater likelihood of being procrastinators. Finally, those individuals who order sweet drinks are the overgrown kids who retained the taste buds and sensibilities of children, while being young at heart. Interesting, huh?
Let’s talk about alcohol. Our character’s go-to drink can be just as much of a statement as the outfit he/she chooses to wear. Something about their alcohol preference (or strong aversion to) alludes to a deeper connection to their character, personality, and behavior. The go-to drink for my protagonist in my current WIP is whiskey. He is a man’s man. She likes wine. So, what does that say about each of them?
The wine drinker is the one who asks the kinds of questions that cause you to choke on your drink a little. Expect this group to add spice to the conversation when needed—but be ready for anything with them. We rely on their social prowess for as long as we have the wine lovers, but we all know the compatibility between wine and sleepiness. Most wine drinkers tend to go to bed early. We could go into great detail between white and red wine drinkers, but I’ll leave that up to you in creating your character. Wine drinkers are considered more intellectual types as opposed to beer drinkers who are in it for the party.
We really have two categories for beer drinkers: the traditionalists and the craft beer drinkers. The line can be blurred at times between the two, but more often than not, we’re talking about entirely different people here.
Starting with the traditionalists. These are our stubborn ones. They simply do not care about your double-IPA, fruit-infused beer; give them their mass-produced, generic beer, and leave them the hell alone. This group isn’t swayed by conformity; instead, they’re driven by loyalty. They’ve been drinking the same old beer for 20-plus years now, and they’re not changing for anyone.
The diehard craft beer people have one plan and one plan only every weekend: go to a brewery. A flight of beer brings tears to their eyes. The real craft beer drinkers have a knack for detail. In 2020, they’re the new wine snobs. Out with tweed coats and in with scruffy beards and flannels.
Then we have the whiskey, vodka, tequila, and gin drinkers. Whiskey drinkers tend to know their way around alcohol and have a respectable tolerance for it. With vodka, it’s less about what your favorite alcohol says about you and more about your preferred cocktail that makes the real statement. Tequila drinkers are plain and straightforward, in that they all love to party. The saying, “I’m here for a good time, not a long time” fits. Gin drinkers love the fact that you can’t get a read on them, and they’re honestly probably just drinking gin to confuse you even more. This group’s usual label is the “intellectual” tag.
I know there are tons more alcohols and foods we could explore, but the purpose of this post is to look at how we can use them to give our characters multi-dimensional layers.
It is really fascinating, and simply another tool to help us “show” the readers who our characters are and what makes them tick without telling them.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and some of the ways you have used food and drink to show your characters’ personalities.
NaNoWriMo 2019 ended yesterday. Was it a success? I suppose, like most things in life, it’s the perspective with which you look at it, as to the answer to the question.
The original goal for NaNoWriMo was to write 50,000 words in the month of November.
After the second weekend, I realized I was not going to make that goal. So, I reduced my goal to 30,000 words and ended the month with 30,105. At least, then it didn’t look like an epic fail. 🙂 That brought my story to 56,724 words. And I’m now in the wrap-up phase of “Jagged Feathers.”
Here’s what worked:
The motivation to participate was a huge propelling factor
Knowing where my story needed to go (even though I don’t outline, I knew what needed to happen)
Having my characters fully developed, and what each had to hide and had to learn
Finding determination to write as much as I could without verging on the edge of insanity.
Having personal experience with an amputation.
What didn’t work:
I had to stop multiple times and do some research (for instance, what are the residual effects of being shot with an assault rifle wearing a bullet-proof vest, where in Dallas, Texas can you buy a certain kind of ammo, Can you buy live hand grenades in Dallas, Texas, Where is a military clothing store, are there storage lockers at the bus station, etc…) – So, note to self: try and do the research ahead of time. If someone was to look at my search history, they’d probably think I was a terrorist. 🙂
Family events ( I wound up keeping all five grandchildren – three one time and two the next – for several days in a row) That interfered with writing for sure.
Thanksgiving holiday (no matter how much I wanted to kid myself about having all this extra time, Thanksgiving was taken up with quality family time and I don’t regret it one bit!)
Going back and reading what I’d written (one of the proponents of NaNoWriMo is to just write and not worry about sentence structure, plot points, grammar or punctuation. I found that I couldn’t do that.)
Even though I had NaNoWriMo Buddies, there was little communication between us, so I don’t think I quite understood that part.
Will I do it again? I can’t say yes and I can’t say no. So, I’ll just say, “we’ll see.” 🙂
It was certainly an experience and I’m very glad I did it. At least it got me back to the story that I’d abandoned a year ago.
To everyone who reached or exceeded the 50,000 word goal, my hat is off to you! Congratulations!
Then life happened in a really big way. And my word count progress is pitiful. But, I am not giving up. Any word count is good, right?
So here’s a snippet from my WIP, “JAGGED FEATHERS”:
Nakina understood more about him than he knew. He was keeping something from her. Something big enough, that he would go to any lengths for it to remain hidden.
Her heart broke for the soldier who took on her fight without hesitation. He’d simply been trying to rebuild his own life and find some semblance of peace. Then she came along with her baggage and disrupted his entire world.
Truth be told, she was happy it was Vann Noble that found her that cold morning. Perhaps there was such a thing as fate or kismet. She couldn’t imagine that anyone else would have so willingly jumped in to rescue her. She swallowed past the lump in her throat. They had to somehow get out of this alive.
So far, my word count for the month is around 7,500, while according to NaNoWriMo, to reach my goal, I should be over 10,000. But, as I said, any progress is good progress. At least I’ve returned to the story after almost a year. 🙂
I hope everyone participating in #NaNoWriMo is having less interruptions and more writing success!
Everyone I know responds enthusiastically at the mention of getting a massage, myself included.
There is nothing more relaxing than having all the knots and kinks rubbed out of your neck and back.
But, did you know that getting regular massages increases productivity and creativity?
Whether you are writing a novel, working on a challenging project, or coming up with new creative content for a business –a massage will help. This is because one of life’s biggest stressors can come from prolonged intense focus on a particularly taxing subject. The intense focus that creative projects require can place blinders on an individual. A massage helps lift these blinders and allows ideas to formulate. Left unattended, this added stress can lead to anxiety, lack of sleep and even mental mind blocks. Mind blocks definitely prevent creative juices from running free, which in turns leaves you concerned about completing your current project, adding to your stress levels.
A relaxing massage could be the best cure known to man for writer’s block, difficulty falling to sleep and negative attitude.
It is a proven fact that a 30 minute massage can do wonders for not only the body, but the mind and spirit as well.
There was a time when only wealthy aristocrats could indulge in such luxury. But we are privileged to live in a time when a massage is affordable and available!
I make it a practice to go for a massage once a month. I have gotten story ideas while on the massage table. I’ve worked out sticky plot issues with my WIP while on the massage table. I’ve figured out ways to deepen my characters while on the massage table. So, I am a believer!
I am curious. How often to you treat yourself to a massage? Do you believe in the therapeutic benefits? Do you have any stories you’d like to share?
April kicks off two separate short story writing competitions for me. So, I started going through my folder of ideas and characters and it struck me the varied ways stories come.
It made me wonder. Which comes first for you, as an author?
The story idea?
Or the Characters?
For me, it has come both ways. For my short story, “Maggie,” the characters came first, then the story idea followed.
For “Obsessed,” the story idea came first and the characters followed.
Is there any right or wrong way? Absolutely NOT! It is exactly the same concept with songwriting. Sometimes the melody comes first and the lyrics follow. Other times, the lyrics come and the melody follows. But, on rare occasions, both the melody and lyrics come together hand-in-hand.
That’s when there is magic!
And when the magic happens, the readers feel it. Or, in the case of music, the listeners.
In the first Creative Writing class I ever took, the professor asked the question, “What does every human have in common?”
Of course, the answers were that we breathe air, we drink water, we have to eat and require sleep. He agreed with all those answers, but he said the one characteristic that every human being possesses is the innate desire to feel something. The answers to “feel what?” are as varied as there are individuals. But, the desire to feel is present in everyone in some form or fashion.
As writers, it is our job to make sure that happens with our stories.
But, I’m curious. Which comes first for you? The story idea? Or the characters? Or, like with me, does it vary?
I didn’t write this post, but it was such a GREAT one that I absolutely had to share. There was not a re-blog button on The Book Designer’s blog page, so I did the next best thing. I hope you get as much from this as I did.
We all struggle with this balancing act and Gila Green’s advice is golden! Please take time to visit her website and take a look around.
By Gila Green
We hear it all the time, “How can I possibly market my existing book while writing my next book?” or “I don’t like marketing. I just want to write.” But the reality is that to be successful as an author, most of us need to continually do both–marketing AND writing new books. The good news is that it is possible to do both. In today’s guest post, Gila Green offers suggestions for how to manage our time, develop a strategy and succeed—on both fronts! I think you will find what she has to say helpful.
Time is like the sweet table at a bar mitzvah; depending on your gender, age, and weight, there’s either way too much of it or never enough of it. The kids can’t believe how quickly it has been devoured and at least half the adults can’t figure out why the chocolatey temptations haven’t disappeared already.
Books are Written Between the Margins
If you’re an average writer you have a day job and writing is your second job. (I’m not even going to get into family responsibilities, that’s another post.) Balancing your time while you try to succeed in two jobs is hard enough, but what happens when your second job splits in two?
For writers who have published a novel and have to deal with the momentous task of marketing it, coupled with producing a second novel, time management becomes an enormous challenge.
It doesn’t matter if you’re setting up a Facebook account, diving into chapter two, or pitching to reviewers, part of your brain screams: you should be working on something else!
It seems equally critical to market your novel, especially in its first twelve months of release, as it is to write a new one (because everyone knows the best way to market your novel is to produce another one—more on that below–and some writers may have signed on to write a sequel or a series.)
For writers suffering from marketing-writer split, you either have three jobs or two second jobs. Either way you slice it, it’s tough to chew on without breaking your teeth or worse, losing your mind.
The situation can seem even tougher if the novel you have just released is in a different genre and/or aimed at a different age category from the novel you’re writing or vice versa. I know plenty of authors with young or middle-grade books out who working away at an adult novel. The worry over wearing two hats just turns up the heat on the writing-marketing split.
Canadian Gila Green is an Israel-based author, editor, and EFL teacher. Passport Control and King of the Class are among her published novels. Gila’s White Zion collection will be available in April 2019. She is also currently working on a young adult eco-fiction series with the first novel in this series, No Entry, coming out in September 2019. She has been teaching flash fiction online since 2009 at WOW-womenonwriting. Visit Gila: www.gilagreenwrites.com
This was brought to us by Joel Friedlander, The Book Designer.
Or is it? Are you like me and feel that you have to work like a Trojan workhorse every day, day in and day out?
But what happens when we do? I can only speak from my own personal experience.
Creativity all but comes to a screeching halt
I find it hard to shut my brain off at night for sleep
I feel exhausted all the time
I get grouchy when I am not creating
I get tunnel vision
Here’s the truth of it. Most of us are ambitious and anxious to write great books and get them into the hands of readers. But, no matter how much we do, there is always more to do: more writing, more marketing, more admin. A writer’s work is never done.
I have one novel already written and two more in the series vaguely outlined and waiting. I fear I have failed miserably, as an author, this year. Yes, I put out several short stories and maintained my blog, but have not given much more than a glance toward my next full-length book. There’s a couple of reasons for that. I have been in this state of limbo since last year, waiting with bated breath to see if a publisher will take the first book of The White Rune Series. Guess what? I’m still waiting.
So, why couldn’t I force myself to work on the next one while I’m waiting? That would be the smart thing to do. I guess the truthful answer is I need to feel like it is worthwhile. Yes, I know. Everything we are inspired to do is worthwhile in some way or another. Maybe the better word for it is validation.
In telling Rick’s and my stories, I had passion. I was driven to get the story down and out into the hands of readers. I need to feel that burning passion again.
I’m open to any advice. My sister tells me that if you don’t write a story, you lose it. I don’t want to lose them because they are good stories. Such a dilemma.
Then I have to ask myself this question. If the publisher that currently has the manuscript passes on it, what then?
Yes, I know I can self-publish, but I don’t have another $2,000 to $3,000 to invest with little hope of ever recouping. Since I suck at cover design and formatting, I’d have to pay for both of those services plus editing. If anyone ever said writing and publishing books is easy, they told a big lie.
So, the bottom line to all of this is that I took a break from working on the novels. Is that good? I suppose only time will tell.
How about you? Do you take breaks? Do you have books waiting to be published? Please tell me I’m not in this boat alone.
Everyone who leaves a comment will be entered into a drawing for my latest collection of short stories, “Two Shorts and a Snort.” I’m giving away three eBooks.
This book consists of two short stories and one poem from award-winning author, Jan Sikes, in response to a writing challenge from the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB.
How far will one man go to satisfy an obsession? The price could cost him his life.
It is possible to pray up a baby? Frank and Mary Pyburn are convinced that is what they’ve done.
Friends Instead of Lovers:
Sometimes it’s better to remain friends instead of giving in to desires and crossing a line.
If you are an Indie Author or a Traditionally Published Author, a blogger, a reader or an aspiring writer, you will gain invaluable information by attending this Virtual Conference.
AND, you can attend in your favorite pajamas as you never leave your home. No expensive hotel bills or meals. Just a plethora of great information, ideas, and writing tips. The added bonus is getting to discover new authors! So, register today!