Books for Inspiration

Still trying to get the creative motor revved up. Still failing. My new plan is to re-read inspirational writing books. Not “inspirational” as in faith-based, because that’s not how I roll in this shire, but “inspirational” as in “yes, THAT’s what I’m talking about! I must get back to work and write like THIS!”

Below are a couple of books that I find help me to no end. Keep in mind that these are just my preferences. If others work for you, let me know

Evanovich is one of my favorite authors. She’s fun to read and it’s interesting to get inside her writing process. I’ve got a lot of flags in this book and I would be a happy girl indeed if I had even a smidgen of her success. It also doesn’t hurt that Stephanie Plum is quoted with great frequency.

Ah, Chris Baty. One of the brains behind National Novel Writing Month. This book was written with that crazy endeavor in mind and I still read it on an annual basis, just to be reminded about how fun writing SHOULD be. Another heavily flagged book.

The Master of all that he surveys, Stephen King not only writes great books, he’s written a great book about writing. This is also a great memoir, without all the writing stuff. But it’s the writing stuff I want.

Because, well, her books have it all – Characterization, plot, description, suspense. I keep re-reading, hoping something will rub off in my writing.

What to Do, What to Do…

Okay, I’ve had my time off. And it was GOOD. But now I need to get back to work. And as I review my projects, I can’t decide what to work on. So many projects, so little progress/positive feedback/energy.

In a perfect world, I would have just sent my perfect manuscript off to my perfect agent/editor. You know, the one who gave me a January 31st deadline, which I’ve beaten by a month. My agent/editor has a publisher lined up and my book will be out by the end of year. After a week off, preferably on a warm beach, I’d get back to work, starting the next book in the series with the knowledge that the publisher and the public would welcome it with open arms.

Alas, it’s just not so. My story is half done and there are issues with plot and character. Editing has bogged down in minutiae, and feedback is brutally harsh.

So, do I continue to whip this horse, trying to get it to the finish line, or do I switch horses in the middle of the stream?

I’m sorely tempted to start researching ANOTHER book. Yeah, THAT’s what I need – another unfinished book in a box.

Or I could work on the next most completed book, something with real horses to whip.

Then there’s the story with huge gaps to fill. Yes, there’s a lot of EDITING to be done, but there’s a lot of WRITING to be done, first.

Then there’s that NANO project that I stuck in a drawer at the end of the month, and NEVER LOOKED AT AGAIN. I’m sure it’s brilliant, in places. But also know that the ending collapsed.

And then there’s the novel started and not yet finished which might make a better novella or even a short story.

Which brings me to the idea of writing a short story right now. Quick turnaround, satisfying result, and an all-around ego boost.

I may not know what to do, yet, but I know my options. And at least I don’t seem to have a problem with writer’s block.

Guilt-Free Break

With the holidays upon us, and the skiing epic, I’ve set aside most of my writing. And my reading.

And you know, I don’t feel guilty about it. I did the same thing accidentally back in the summer and felt a little angsty the whole time. This time, I’ve given myself permission to embrace non-writing endeavors and enjoy the season.

I’ll be back in the new year, refreshed and full of stories. Or gripes, because, well, that’s the way I roll in the Shire.

A New Critique Group

There’s a new critique group in town and it doesn’t involve me driving over the river and through the woods to get to it. It’s just a short hop to a local coffee shop and let me tell you, these are my people. Affiliated with the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, they’re writing the same sort of stuff that I am – chapter books/middle grade/YA. They’re readers, they’re writers, they’re creative.

Sadly, they find the same things wrong with my story that the Lone Mountain Writers do. <sigh>

Just goes to show that children’s writing is no different than writing for adults – character is everything and a story is a story is a story.

The Accidental Luddite

So the other day, I managed to leave the house without my iPhone or my FitBit. I KNOW! What on EARTH did I do with myself? No way to check all my e-mail accounts in one place and nothing to track my every move. Horrors!

Granted, I work eight hours a day in an office, so if anyone really needs to get a hold of me they can, either by phone or by two of my e-mail accounts.

But that was the day that I was planning to go to a meeting of my critique group, which is in a whole ‘nother county, a solid hour away from home.

I found the whole experience to be a rather nice return to “the olden days”. Granted, my phone and I are not attached at the hip. I’m not that popular person whose phone is always ringing, chirping, or chiming. I rarely get calls or texts, and I’m notorious for leaving it in another room with the sound off. Do you know how hard it is to find a phone that just buzzes when you call it?

As for my FitBit, it’s a Zip that I pop into my pocket or hang on my waistband. That day, I just forgot to get it. It doesn’t stay out in the open on my nightstand because I have a kitten who is entranced with everything small and portable. My Zip is a little the worse for wear because he’s been known to pick it up and carry it around. One day not long ago, I started the day with about 150 steps that weren’t mine.

I managed to leave both the phone and the FitBit home on the same day. The phone could have tracked the FitBit, if it had done anything other than sit in my nightstand, but I was miles away, frolicking freely.

Actually, I wasn’t. Since nothing was tracking me, I felt no guilt about not going for a walk on my lunch hour. I stayed in and read a book, since I’d left my phone home and therefore couldn’t check those e-mail accounts or Twitter. No Words With Friends, no feeling like someone was watching me all the time. I read. A book. With paper pages.

After work, I called Hunky on a landline to his iPhone.

“I’m leaving now, I’ll be home about 9:00 and remember, I don’t have my phone.”

“Okay, drive safely.”

And I did. Like I always do. But I had no electronic umbilical cord attaching me to him, or anyone else.

A fellow critiquer, who has a flip phone and a spotty internet connection, tried to reach me via text regarding carpooling. I never got her message. Oh well. The drive home alone allowed my mind to come up with the title of this post.

It was a good experience, and one I plan to do again. I think I’ll go Luddite once a week, much like Mayim Bialik at Groknation does for Shabbat.

Free at last, free at last…


I’ve joined the Twitter Nation. I tweet, I kibbitz, I follow others in the flock.

And I’ve got to tell you, I’m not very impressed with the whole thing. Maybe it’s because I’m not following the right people. Maybe it’s because I don’t know what the flickity flack I’m doing. But it seems to me, on the whole, this Twitter thing is just a collection of ads. It seems like everyone selling something, pushing some event, wanting my attention.

I guess I expected something different from the experience.

I’m also disappointed in the news outlets that just quote tweets. Kind of seems a little pointless and they’re essentially Twittering their way out of business. Why follow a news outlet when all they’re doing is regurgitating other people’s posts? (See what I did there with the whole bird theme?). I want to see new insight, not a re-hash.

As I said, maybe I’m following the wrong people. Or I’m looking for different information.

I want to be entertained. So I follow people who make me laugh. Not necessarily on a daily basis, but occasionally. Observations with a twist are what I’m looking for. I want to see breaking news and information that impacts me directly. And granted, this may be me and my inability to set Twitter up correctly. But if there’s an accident on my route home, I want it to pop up on my phone. Weather issues? Let me know. But the news outlets I follow don’t give me that. I’m usually referred to their next broadcast, which does me no good.

I do like what the local ski areas post – storm totals, conditions, upcoming events. That’s information I can and do use.

On the whole, it’s not a complete waste of my time, but I’m only checking my feed once a day and maybe tweeting a couple of times a week. So at least it’s not sucking up much of my day.

Check me out at @NevadaNerd … or not.

Where I like to Write

Under TreeThe beauty of writing is that if you have paper and pencil, you can pretty much do it anywhere. And I have. I’ve written on buses, on airplane drink trays, in a tent, and under a tree with my notepad balanced on my knee. I have schlepped a laptop to coffee shops, libraries, and travel trailers. And around my home, I’ve written in just about any place you can imagine – on the couch in front of the fire, the futon in my office, dining room table, my bed, and, of course, my desk. I’ve created a standing desk and I’ve scribbled while pedaling my stationary bike. I’ve even sat outside in the shade of the waving trumpet vine and tapped away.

And you know what? They’re all good. None are better than others. They’re all just diving platforms from which my creative self leaps into the highways and byways of my imagination. Very often, it’s not even the location that will stir the juices – a pad of paper and a pen will do it.

Some places, of course, are more conducive to certain kinds of writing. I spent hours in my bed last weekend with a lap desk and my current work in progress, wrestling with plot issues and planning my novel in more detail. A few hours in a protective cocoon and I can get an amazing amount accomplished, while banging out a first draft at my desk is the only way to go.

Multi-tasking always makes me feel virtuous, but I must admit, the quality of work isn’t that great. But since I know that the bus ride will be distracting, I plan my writing accordingly. I don’t try to write the big fight scene while bouncing down the road, but notes about what I want to accomplish are easy to do.

In the end, it’s all about finding that inspiration and drive to do the work, be it editing, writing, or simply daydreaming. I find there’s something soul-filling about watching the flickering flames in my fireplace, while the view of the mountains from my dining room inspires me to attempt great things.

Where do you like to write?

Taking Time Off

Sometimes you just have to step away from the Project. The project that’s getting your ego thrashed by your critique group. The project that, rather than edifying and entertaining, seems to be sucking all the fun and interest out of a certain era in history. The project that you’ve been working on for way too long. Yes, that project.

And so I’ve been taking a break from writing. Sort of a summer vacation. But don’t worry, I won’t bore you with the pictures.

I’ve tried to blame my lack of enthusiasm on a winter scene that I was finding hard to write in the heat of summer. I blame the Regional Transportation Commission for traffic jams that keep me from my critique group.

But the truth of the matter is, I just don’t wanna. I don’t wanna work on this project right now, I don’t wanna, I don’t wanna, I don’t WANNA!

And you know, that’s okay. I kind of wish I’d embraced the okay earlier in the process, or the lack thereof. I wish that over the last few weeks I had taken scheduled writing time off my calendar and put something else in there. Instead, I’ve felt guilt. Guilt for sitting down at the computer and rather than writing or editing, I went on Facebook. I created a Twitter account. I aimlessly cruised the internet, searching for something, I know not what. Fulfillment? Knowledge? The floor plan for Anmer Hall or Apartment 1A of Kensington Palace?

And what did I find? Glazed eyes, hunched shoulders, and a bigger butt. I’m not happy with the way I spent my summer.

But Fall is upon us and the creative juices are starting to move again. I finished (and submitted!) a short short story. I’ve researched a new project. And I’m starting to dip my toes back into the Project.

Ah, the process…

The Reading That’s Stacking Up

My friend Lorie turned me on to Bookbub, the witch.  Now a list of titles for my consideration lands in my in-box EVERY SINGLE DAY.  So I not only have an extensive library of honest-to-gawd paper books, I also have this itty bitty thing I can tuck into my purse that is stuffed with books I haven’t read.  So many books, so little time.

But the Bookbub thing has brought up and interesting question about the value of the written word.  Do I value those free/cheap e-books less than the paper books collecting dust in my office?  The stuff on Bookbub is cheap – $2.99 or less.  And the stuff I usually buy is on the free side.

I admit that my attitude toward e-books is a tad different than my attitude toward a traditional paper book, or even an electronic one I paid for full price for.  And it’s all based on how quickly I read them once they’re on my Kindle.

E-books that I’ve checked out of the library get read quickly because I only have them for a few weeks.  The time-constraint lights a fire under my e-behind.

E-books that I buy, I read fairly quickly because I made a conscious choice to find them.

Free e-books on the other hand, languish, waiting for me to get around to them.  They’re not a priority, but I do feel a sense of anticipation when I think of them there, waiting for me.  Could it be I’m an e-hoarder?

I value good writing, and a good story, be it electronic or paper.  I just wish I had the time to read everything I want to read.  That problem begs a closer look at my priorities.

A Clean House is Not Conducive to Creativity

On the front of the binder that contains our banking records, it says “Dull Women Have Clean Houses.”

As a motto to live by, it kind of rocks my world. If the house isn’t clean, it must mean something more interesting is happening, be it writing or floating on a lake.

Currently though, my house is pretty darn clean, and it’s pretty darn annoying.

We are under quarantine for 30 days or so because of the ringworm, a fungal skin condition that’s crawling around on our new kittens. We humans are itch-free, but the beasties are afflicted with bumps and lesions.

VacuumTo combat spores, I’ve been madly cleaning. The house was vacuumed to within an inch of its life. Floors were mopped, bedding washed, and oh my yes there was dusting. And three days later I did it again. And in another three days, I’ll do it again. And so on and so forth.

This in addition to dropping pills down kitten gullets.

Yeah, living the dream over here.

In the meantime, I’m way behind in my editing. I’m way behind in my blog posts, too.

My house is clean, but this dull I could live without.