Many of you know I used to own a rubber-stamp store, and I've been creating handmade cards ever since. Some of you have even received cards from me, but not as often since I started writing. I'm hoping I'll be able to change that soon. I've been contemplating opening an Etsy store to sell some of my card creations, but I always set it aside, telling myself, "You should be writing".
But lately my muse Endora and I have come to a rare meeting of the minds. A frightening thing, to be sure. Although I'm certain for once we're both right.
I've decided it's a good thing to be distracted from writing every once in a while, and in a productive, non-guilt-producing fashion. I like looking at the different papers I've collected, as well as the inks and stamps and all of the wonderful accessories. These visual pieces stimulate a creative portion of my brain that I believe is connected to the wordy parts of my mind. I can craft and create with tangible materials while my brain storms and plots and devises solutions to the book that exists in a less concrete fashion.
No matter what I'm working on, creativity rarely follows a linear pattern. It's more of a swirling mass that sweeps me up and I try to grab onto parts of it, even though it can feel like clutching a snowflake during a heat wave. It's ephemeral, fleeting, and there's a definite ebb and flow. The best I can do is immerse myself in it when it's strong, and try to coax it out of hiding when it's feeling reclusive.
Naturally I keep pen and paper nearby, so I can jot down whatever the characters butt in with. And I do the same when an idea for a card design springs to mind while I'm working on the WIP. There's no reason I can't let both creative aspects benefit from this tag team approach. When one is panting on the sidelines, the other is racing to the finish line. I have no doubts the speedster will be the one I thought I'd set aside for the moment, but that's what makes creativity so much fun: it doesn't know how to act logical and predictable.
So when I have some handcrafted things for you to see, I'll let you know. (The hardest part is actually taking pictures of my creations, so I can upload them here!) In the meantime, I'm off to see what creative ideas spring to mind as I sort through these papers. I can't wait what to see how it will inspire my characters as well.
Shelby, the heroine of I Do. . . or Die, has some commitment issues, thanks to her gigolo father. She learns how to deal with those through her nemesis -- Serena, the hero's cat. Shelby calls her a "time-share cat", since the feline prefers to live with more than one family.
Here's a snippet where Shelby is taking care of Serena while the hero Ryan is on vacay:
I held my breath so I wouldn’t gag while opening the can of cat food. It was even grosser than emptying the litter box, and that task made me seriously reconsider the possibility of a future with Ryan if Serena was part of the package.
If luck were going my way, though, Serena would decide to stay with a different family--especially if she had any abandonment issues resulting from Ryan leaving her, with me, of all people.
I set the open can on the floor, ready to yell out Serena’s name, but she was right by my feet.
“Oh, you must have known it was dinner time,” I said.
Was it weird that I was talking out loud to a cat? Probably, but how else was I going to have a conversation with her?
It was probably weirder that she could read my mind.
Now that I Do. . . or Die is available in paperback format, I'm doing a giveaway on Goodreads. I'm giving away TWO copies, so check it out when you have a chance.
Thanks for stopping by today. Make sure you check out all the other fun snippets at WeWriWa. I know I will be!
But as a person. . . yeesh. I'm convinced my wild imagination is the main reason I'm such a worrier AND a packrat.
For example, I was going to throw away this empty hand-soap container, because I'd bought a new one. I was this close to putting it in the recycle bin, but then I thought, "I could totally use that for laundry soap, when I want to do a quick hand wash of an item of clothing."
My imagination had convinced me to give this inanimate creature a reprieve. Only I'm 1000% certain I will never, ever use that thing for laundry soap. It's probably an awesome suggestion. But it's more likely I'll just dump some laundry soap from the big container into the sink and then swish it around in the water instead of delicately pumping some from the soap bottle that's been given a new lease on life.
I still won't throw it away though. Because you never know. . .
Fortunately, while I'm ignoring the build-up of Things That Should Be Banished But Never Will Be, my brain latches onto similar random bits and bobs for my books. I see a picture of a heavily tattooed hunk on Pinterest, and I immediately think about a heroine who would find that appalling. Ding ding ding! Another story idea to file away for the future.
Or while I'm pondering the WIP, and the plot, and what I need to get accomplished, a stray thought skitters through my brain, and I think, "That would be an awesome tweet!" But before I type it up, I squirrel it away, because it would be even more awesome for one of my characters to say, and they know it. Even worse, they want to tweet it. (God forbid my characters ever fall in love with Twitter -- I'll definitely be done for.)
So while my imagination can cause some inconveniences -- usually when I'm unable to convince it to take a well-deserved break -- I can't fathom not having its wild abilities at my constant beck and call. It gives me equal parts enjoyment and anxiety, but it would be even more nervewracking if it decided to disappear for good.
After all, how would I know what to do with all these empty soap containers?
Welcome Weekend Writing Warriors! In this snippet, commitment-phobe Shelby is having lunch with her best friend, Alexa, who is trying to convince Shelby to take the next step with the new man in her life. But lifelong habits are hard to overcome:
“Can’t I just enjoy Ryan without it leading to marriage?”
“Of course you can.” Alexa's tone of voice was gentle, but her expression seemed a bit disapproving. “But that’s kind of like saying you’re quitting drinking, and then having a glass of wine every night with dinner.”
“I only did that one time,” I protested, sliding the glass farther away from me.
“I just mean, if you’re going to do something, don’t do it halfway--you always have one foot out the door, ready to sprint away.”
Now it was my turn to frown. “Is that really what I do?”
Thanks for joining me today. I've missed this lovely Sunday ritual. I'm looking forward to reading everyone else's posts!
Oh, and I Do. . .or Die is now available in paperback. It's going to be fun to have a print copy to hold in my hands. . .without the e-reader acting as a go-between.
And look at the lovely award I received from J. Rose!
I like writing novellas, and novel-length books, and blog posts, and tweets. All of them have different word-length requirements, which is part of the fun, and the challenge. Whichever mode I'm in, while I'm in the midst of it, it feels easy to do. But when I get away from it, all of a sudden I've temporarily lost my ability to function within those limits.
For example, when I don't tweet for a couple of days, I can't seem to make 140 characters work. At all. It feels so confining that I end up deleting and rewriting a simple tweet at least three times before I send it off. However, when I'm back in "tweet mode", most of my thoughts are in 140-character bite-size chunks. I can zip tweets out right and left without even checking to make sure they're the proper length.
I never expected to feel that way about tweeting. I started out writing full-length novels, so anything less than 250 to 300 pages feels abbreviated to me. When you have a word count of 70 to 100 k, there's plenty of space to walk around and enjoy the scenery, all while giving the characters lots of adventures and time to grow and change.
That is also the tricky part of writing novels. With a word count in the upper thousands, it can feel like you'll never get the characters to their HEA. You hit that Heartbreak Hill part of the writing marathon, long before the finish line, where you know you've given it your best shot, but you fall to your knees, panting, because you don't have anything left. Many a manuscript has faltered at this point, well before it managed to reach The End.
Novellas have their own challenges, too. I wrote my first one, Summer Lovin', because I knew there wasn't enough story for an entire novel. I thought it would fit well in the smaller space, and I naively believed it would take a shorter amount of time to write.
It's a deceptively challenging creature, the novella. It requires brevity, but not too much or you're writing a synopsis. It demands a well-developed story, but again, not too much or it becomes a novel that doesn't realize it's too big for its britches. In an email exchange my friend Julie DuChesne commented that writing novellas is like "putting control-top pantyhose on your imagination", adding, "You can stretch the boundaries a little bit, but in the end only so much is going to fit."
It's a challenge I enjoy, though (even if my brain is not keen on wearing stockings as headbands), so I'll continue to write novellas. I'm in the midst of one now (Heartbreaker) with another one (Lord Rakehell's Love) on deck. I've even decided to write some seasonal sequels to Summer Lovin', thanks to readers asking for more of Mia and Luke's adventures with Hellboy, the puppy with a shoe fetish. However, now I know to allow twice as much time to write half the number of words.
The funny thing is I didn't use to like reading novellas. If I liked the author, or the characters, I wanted a full-length story. But now that my reading time borders on the non-existent, novellas are perfect. They're like a reading snack. I can finish one in a relatively short timeframe, but feel completely satisfied. Since I got my Nook, I've probably read a zillion novellas (conservative estimate). They've introduced me to authors that I wouldn't have encountered otherwise, and I can get my reading fix in, without feeling guilty that I'm taking too much time away from writing my own stories.
Especially those shorter ones that take double the time to finish.
So now my question to you is: what size do you prefer?
I love looking out the window while I think and plot and brainstorm on my WIP. Today I can see robins, a lot of them, which makes my heart happy since it's a sure sign of spring. I grin at the cheerfully yellow forsythia and the daffodils bobbing in the light breeze. And I can't forget the relentless sound of wood chippers and chain saws clearing out stuff that Mother Nature knocked down over the winter.
But back to the robins. . .
I don't know why they do their little "robin tango" which consists of three or four fast steps and then a pause. It seems as if they're checking to see if someone is following them, but they don't turn around and yell "Aha!". So maybe they're listening. And then they run a few more steps and stop again.
It feels like the writing process. Come on! You knew I was going to tie it to writing. In fact, I was thinking the other day how everything I experience can be turned into a blog post about writing. Which is remarkably convenient, since I was also wondering how to make my blog interesting (if it is) to both readers and writers.
Without meaning to, I process everything that I see or do or experience into writing. I may not write down everything that happens, and not everything that I see or do or experience ends up in a story. But it does shape how I interact with the world, and how I want to describe my daily existence.
So in future posts you may see things that aren't strictly writing-related. Only they are. But in a different fashion than before my books were available to readers.
It's always a good idea to take a few running steps, and then stop and listen and see if anything is different than when you started your journey. Maybe you need to zig a little to the left for the next trio of steps. Or maybe you'll have to zag to the right when you find yourself veering a little further away from your destination.
It's also possible that you have to just say, "I'm done with running. I'm going to fly."
That works, too.
My writer friend, S. J. Maylee, invited me to hang out at her blog today. We "met" through Six Sentence Sunday, and we chat about coffee and writing on Twitter, so I was thrilled when she asked me to bring my silliness to her place today.
I'm chatting about the character of mine I'd like to spend the day with, and I've included an excerpt I hope you'll enjoy reading. S.J. also included a wonderful review of I Do. . . or Die, which is the reason I'm grinning so much.
So stop by and see what I have to say, and then check out S.J.'s blog and find out more about her and her books!
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