My Stages of Writing Preparation

As I’m in the process of writing Pickled Petunia, book 3 of my Motts Cold Case Mystery Series. I thought I’d share the stages of writing prep that I go through with most of my novels.

  1. Make a to-do list. Seems redundant, but I work best with lists. It’s a bit of a life-hack for me, as someone who is autistic and deals with executive dysfunction.
  2. Add a new section to my book series Pinterest Board.
  3. Create both a TV/Movie and music playlist. For my cosy mysteries, I watch a lot of shows like Rosemary & Thyme and Ms Fisher.
  4. Come up with a title.
  5. Read any prior books in the series.
  6. Outline + fill out my book bible.
  7. Do any research.
  8. Names for all the new characters being introduced.
  9. Update the corkboard over my desk with book inspiration. For Motts, it’s an image of Elliot Page and photo of a village in Cornwall similar to the one in the book.
  10. Pick the notebook I’m going to write in. I tend to write in a notebook then type up what I’ve written the following do. It’s almost like sneaking in an extra edit.

Those aren’t necessarily in order. Some of them happen concurrently, particularly when I’m on #6.

2020 in Review

In 2019, I decided my word for 2020 would be balance.

And about March 2020 went….

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I thought it might be fun to do a review of what I’d hoped to accomplish this year.

What did I hope to write/accomplish in 2020?

  • Motts book 2 and 3
  • Podcast book 1 and 2
  • Patreon

Where am I at in December 2020?

  • Said goodbye to Patreon
  • Finished three novels instead of four
  • Started a cozy mystery group

Over all? Given we dove headfirst into a global pandemic this year?

Not bad. Better than I imagined.

How about 2021? What do I hope to achieve next year?

  • Motts book 3 and 4
  • Podcast book 3 and maybe 4
  • Start book one of a super secret project

How about you? How did you manage in 2020? And what are you hoping to do next year?

Age of Exhaustion

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I don’t remember what my word for 2020 was. Progress? It might’ve been ‘progress’. In all honesty, whatever it was, it’s become exhaustion.

Everything lately feels exhausting.

The number of conversations I’ve had with friends about waking up tired. It’s a common thread everyone seems to be experiencing. I keep reminding myself how we’re experiencing a globally traumatic and stressful event.

It would be more shocking if we weren’t having some level of exhaustion.

Stress wears you out.

Through the pandemic, I’ve dealt with:

– Missing days. Seriously. Has anyone else just lost track of what day it and then felt like you’ve completely Missed one of them?

– Weird dreams. I am the queen of the odd dream but since the pandemic, they’ve been extra strange.

– Increased anxiety and exhaustion.

– A perpetual emotional rollercoaster.

How I’m trying to deal with it?

Being kinder to myself. Indulging in video games and reading. Accepting that some days are just not going to be productive ones.

No matter what all those ‘goal gurus’ claim. In the face of fear and anxiety, sometimes you don’t need to push through. Some days, you have to find a way to relax.

Self-care isn’t always movement.

Some days, self-care is sitting still.

What about you? How are you coping with lockdown?

 

Staying Focused in Crisis

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How do you write in the middle of a global pandemic?

It’s definitely a conversation going around the writing community. Here are a few things I’ve been considering/doing/whatever.

  1. I accept that some days I just don’t have the mental, physical, and/or emotional energy to put pen to paper.  I try to be kind to myself in those moments and not stress. Words will happen eventually.
  2. Write something that brings me joy. Now, at least for me, isn’t the time to write something that feels like pulling teeth.
  3. Turn off social media and the news. Nothing kills my writing vibe than a constant influx of bad and overwhelming information.
  4. Take breaks. Seriously. Take a walk, read a book, watch my favourite TV show. Anything but trying to be creative.
  5. Find a new routine. I’m autistic. Routines are in my DNA. So, I’ve definitely had to add a new normal into the structure of my day.

What are you doing to keep focused?

Balance

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If 2018 had a word for me, it would be unbalanced. At least, that’s how the last six months of the year have gone. You know when you set goals/deadlines for yourself, and things start to pile up? And then it’s like a snowball rolling downhill, and you’re the target?

That was me.

So, for obvious reasons, my goal for 2019 is ‘balance’.

Balance in writing. Balance in my personal life. All about balance.

(How many times can I use the word balance in one post?)

My plan is to tackle this issue in a few ways.

I don’t know about other authors, but I struggle with all recommendations for ‘how an author should author.’ All those ‘experts’ who have the latest greatest advice. I think you have to be careful not to fall down every single rabbit hole with them.

And it is SO hard not to.

There’s always the latest greats ‘everyone is signing up for it’ new social media app or site. Mewe anyone?

Here’s the truth we never want to accept. You can’t be on EVERY single site. You can’t follow every piece of advice. You can’t be all things to all people (I think Lincoln said that.)

You just can’t.

There’s only so much of my brain power I can give.

I’m autistic, balance is crucial for me. If I push myself too far, I shut down. It’s horrible for my health to continue pushing and pushing.

That was 2018 for me.

Unhealthy.

So, 2019?

All about that bass…I mean balance.

What’s your word for 2019?

 

Nope, No, Never.

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Everyone has advice on how to manage your social media. Everyone. People sell books, hundreds (just do a check on Amazon.) And like tips on writing, tips on book selling/promoting can often be contradictory. And, I’m grumpy enough to usually avoid jumping on the bandwagon.

One: I hear quite frequently is that you should always link all your social media accounts, mainly FB, Twitter, and Instagram, for crossposting.

Here’s why I disregard that:

  1. Linking accounts creates a nightmare if you are ever hacked.
  2. 50% of the time the hyperlinks created via crossposting wind up not functioning correctly.
  3. Each social media platform has a distinct vibe. Things I post on FB don’t necessarily reach a Twitter audience.

Having said all of that, I will occasionally copy/paste posts between FB and Twitter, but very rarely.

Two:  People often recommend an app that auto-shares a post to all your FB groups.

I’m not a fan, personally. I prefer having control over what posts where.  You also run the risk of promoting in a non-promo group or promoting the wrong book. For example, promoting a non-paranormal novel in a paranormal group.

Three (or maybe Two B): Another App is an Auto-Retweeting on Twitter one.

Here’s why I think that can have disastrous consequences. You’re surrendering control of what winds up posted on your account. What happens if you wind up retweeting a post about someone’s personal grief over the death of a loved one?  Or, retweeting one you actually disagree with?

Also, I’m a control freak.

I want to know what I’m sharing.

Four: Don’t be too personal. (Or transversally, always be yourself.) I’ve heard marketing/promoting experts offer both schools of thought.

I firmly believe, for better or worse, you should always be yourself.

Readers will be drawn to who you are. And if they aren’t, they probably won’t enjoy your book. Books are an extension of ourselves in many ways.

Last but not least, Five: Creating Teasers.

Granted, creating teaser images doesn’t quite fall into the same category as all the others. It’s an important one. If you’re going to use images to promote your book, be sure you have the right/permission to do so.

Seriously.

It can save you a world of hurt if you get sued.

Also, it’s disrespectful to the photographer if you’re using their work without permission.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Prayer for the Lost.

Or, as I like to call it, National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo) fever strikes again.

I’ve taken part in NaNoWriMo for several years. The insane task of writing a 50k novel in 30 days calls to me like a siren. I’ve won it all but one of the times I’ve taken part. You definitely run the risk of completely losing your mind when you try it.

I’ll also admit that not every author works well under the pressure of it.  I certainly couldn’t do it every month–once a year is more than enough. All my other novels have taken anywhere from two to six months to write.

So, in honour of the impending doom, here’s a prayer for the battered muses of all who suffer through November madness.

Dear Goddess of NaNoWriMo,

May you keep our pens moving, our coffee cups full, and our ideas flowing.

Keep our foreheads safe from hard surfaces.

Allow our commas to wind up in the correct places.

May they’re, their, and there cease to torment us.

May our loved ones not give up on us.

Help our word counts to grow.

And when the clock strikes midnight on November 30th–let our novels have hit at least 50,000 words.

Ever yours,

Your thankful and fearful novelist. 

Are you taking part in NaNo this year? Have you plotted out your ideas or are you pantsing it? I’m going for a mix of pantsing and plotting. I wish you all luck.

 

*I may have played a little too much Assassin’s Creed: Origins this weekend and gotten a bit caught up in the prayers to Egyptian Gods and Goddesses. lol