Christmas eve day and thank you for deciding to spend a moment with me.
At least I’ve felt productive this week. Audio work as been going well and words have gotten done. I’m almost done with the audio for Fall’s Confession and have started on Manifest the Magic. Hopefully this week I’ll be uploading the audio for Fall’s Confession. It would be great to have one more audiobook done by the end of the year.
I am often asked how someone can get their book published. Or I get asked, “What advice would you give someone writing a book?”
Most people don’t want the real answer: finish the book you’re writing first.
Just finishing the book (whether fiction or non-fiction) is usually the most challenging for anyone. See, it seems simple to sit down and write a book. If you just leave the bull your mind will try to feed you at the door, yes, it is that simple. However, most people can’t do that; the myths that an artist must suffer for their art is just too alluring, especially to those who like the idea of writing but don’t actually want to write. So, I always tell the inquirer to write the book first.
Surprisingly (not!), no one has every come back to me and said, “Okay, I wrote the book, now what?”
For a long time I wished that I’d had something I could tell people to go read and it would help them answer a lot of questions on their journey, including step 1: writing the book.
I picked up this set because I really wanted to listen to Market Like a Boss, but the price on the audio for all three was irresistible.
I did listen to most of it at double speed. I found the narrator painfully slow at regular speed and 1.5 speed was about what I considered normal reading speech. At double speed, I felt like he was really at 1.5 speed.
Since I’ve been writing nearly all my life and have published 25 titles, I wasn’t certain there would be much information there for me. I was surprised that I did find a few nuggets of good information — you can always learn something. Besides, it was a good pep talk for me too.
Four hours of yard work on Saturday has left me sore and achy. I didn’t even get up Sunday morning to record audio as I usually do. I was hard to get my words in Saturday night, but I did. I should have listened to the little voice that said I should have gotten my words done in the morning before tackling the pine needles in the back yard. Whoever thought to put a Ponderosa pine in a residential neighborhood was an idiot. The tree was planted years before I moved in. Now it’s a behemoth.
Other than that, I’ve been trying to get back into routine this week from Adrian’s play last week. My maniac drive to get audio done seems to have subsided for the moment, giving way to my need for sleep.
The only thing I can really claim that I’ve accomplished this last week, other than my daily word count and my daily Inktober posts on Instagram, is that I’m nearly done with the full plot outline for Tangled Magic and Walk the Path. I’m so glad that I’m building this because I’ve found some spots where I can move things around if necessary as well as a few holes from the mess of writing I was doing posting it as Onesong here on my blog. These two books are so going through two readers — one for continuity and the other for proofreading — before they see the light of day. I hope the two readers I have for this are ready.
I can’t believe we’re sitting at October already. Where has the year gone?
Okay, it’s still only September 30th as I write this, knowing it will post tomorrow morning. But by my clock, we’re about an hour and a half away.
Snake River Fandom Con is wrapped up for this year. I am signed up to attend next year. It will be earlier in September. I’ll be sending a list of my 2019 shows in a later newsletter, as well as updating on my websites when I have a moment. Right now, the con in Pocatello was my last show of the year, though I do hope to find another one or two before this year closes out. Heck, I still have one who box of books that I haven’t even opened up yet, so I want to do that before year end.
After the show, I had dinner with my boys, one of which lives in Pocatello right now while he’s going to school. That’s another thing that makes SRFC so nice because I get to spend some extra time with my baby.
Then, Adrian and I drove home. He’s got work tomorrow. I’ve got to go get the dogs and get things settled, so I’m betting that Monday, when this posts, is going to be another busy day.
I wrote about how ties and carpets have inspired ideas before, but here’s another thing that spurred an idea. You may actually recognize him from the cover of Mystery of the Stardust Monk.
This little monk statue was in the courtyard at the Anchor in Lincoln City, Oregon. Look at him closely and you’ll notice that he’s been cleaved in two it looks like. I always wondered how the split came about and what was holding him together. I think that’s why he sat in the back of my imagination.
Writers are often asked where they get their ideas.
While I can’t speak for other writers, I know that generally something (anything) sparks a character to start speaking to me. The ones that stick are typically very loud and won’t leave me alone. They tell me their story.
But that’s how the stories get started. Sometimes the more important plot elements of the story come from different places. I never know where I will get inspired.
Here are some examples and a little bit about what they roused:
A couple of days after cutting the hay into neat rows comes the process of raking the hay. This basically means that you turn the hay over so that it can dry on the underside.
For this process, you start by going around the whole field to get those outer edge rows. Then you start on the nearest section and, dividing the number of rows the swather cut into two, begin in the middle row and work your way out. Once you’ve done one section, you move over to the next. The process continues all the way across the field, then move onto another field. To top it all off, you have to start early in the morning, usually before sunrise just as the light is starting to come into the sky, and you can only work until 10:30 or 11:00 a.m. before you start losing too many leaves. You need the morning dew on the hay to keep it flexible while you rake because the more leaves on the alfalfa the better the quality. Once it gets too hot and the morning dew has burned off, you’re done for the day. If you’re lucky, you won’t have afternoon rain. Rain is horrible for the downed hay because it causes the hay to mold. Too much rain, and you have to rake it again. Rake it again and you lose more leaves. Not good.
I can’t believe I missed Saturday morning cartoons for this!
I do wish I’d taken this job a bit more seriously, hustled a bit more than I did. Not only was my time short for raking, but I also ditched the job for about an hour each morning to go participate on the swimming team. I do have fond memories of early breakfast with my dad at Sturgeons and driving the tractor through town.
On to why it compares to writing…
As I mentioned in my Twitter reply, I said that raking was like the actual process of writing and turning the ideas over. Once I have my Hero’s Journey outline I mentioned in my last post, I begin to write. I’m taking the ideas I had and I’m turning them over. This is why I don’t build anything too structured. I need some room to work and to turn. I never know what’s lying beneath the initial idea. I let my characters run and hope they surprise me. I let myself get off course. As long as it feels right, I keep going. If it doesn’t I go back to when it did last feel right and start again.
When you’re raking, you start to see the moisture beneath the hay from the dew and the cut alfalfa as gravity pulls it down. It’s always so green. It looks just slightly different than the cut alfalfa that’s been growing in the sun for two days. I remember thinking back then about how a little bit of protection can help renew life.
Let’s just hope we don’t have an afternoon rain. It’s dreadful to watch the sky turn gray and the thunder roll in. In writers, it’s called depression. We all know the stories of talented writers who kill themselves all because they can’t cope in the world. Let me say that if you are depressed and you know it, get help. You can’t solve a problem with the same mind that created it. And your brain is awash in chemicals that you can’t fight. Not if you are depressed. Now everyone has mood swings, everyone gets down every now and then. The weather, an inciting incident, a snappy word, stubbing your toe, etc., each can put you in a bad mood where you then start to feel down. Don’t let the rain day stay because it will mold your ideas if you do. You won’t write; you’ll just think about it. You’ll start a cycle you can’t break out of. I have learned that one thing that picks me up is to go for a walk. Not just any walk, but one where I let hold my head high and I walk just a little bit faster than normal. It’s usually not long then before my characters start talking to me — they like it when I’m feeling confident, especially Loki.
This series will continue on Monday, so get back to writing. The time while you’re waiting for the hay to dry (again) after it rains is a waste; in short, don’t let the rain come. Your time is already too short and you don’t have long to work. Keep the sun shining and making hay.