The Art Of Breaking Rules

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I spent a sunny, eighty degree Saturday getting my prose on at the Wesleyan Writers Conference, pictured here with the incredibly talented Steve Almond.

We have so many rules that we function by.
Life has rules.
Prose has rules.
Heck, everyone I know have rules.
Rules have overtaken our lives. But we need rules, no? Maybe? Yes?
Where was I going with this?  Oh yes, I remember now … In college I was taught a specific way to construct a story. Certain elements needed to be present while others induce boredom. I am a rule breaker at heart so when a presenter shows how to break all I have lived by, all I can say is that I am in!
Being given the option is freeing!
Side note:  Maximum Trouble will take a little longer…

The Jig Is Up

Please note: I was able to keep this quiet until I posted a photo of me leaning on crutches to a social media site.  My latest revelation is one can be observant without being aware…

So here is my original “Back To The Blog” post:

So sorry for disappearing on you all. See I have been away… At rehab.

IMG_20180520_194914Not that rehab… not Hunter Thompson rehab for wayward authors… not Hemmingway’s serenity village…

I am going to rehab for a torn ACL (destroyed if you believe my surgeon). I did it skiing a few months ago and recently had the surgery to fix it. Prior to that I have no excuse.

Being unable to do simple things, like driving and walking, gives one a new perspective. On a high point I have been writing a lot! A new release for the end of the year is a real possibility. I am bringing back Zach Brady and Maxi Malone in a new adventure.

I am also working on a sappy romance… really sappy… super organic maple syrup sappy… It has been fun to get to meet a new group of characters who hang out in one of my favorite places.

More to come as they develop.

So, if I may make a few observations…

Too many people use the handicap stall when they don’t need it.

The folks running College Street in New Haven are incredibly accommodating of people on crutches.

Chair dancing is still fun.

Physical therapy hurts.

College campuses are not designed for people on crutches yet with a bit of gumption and upper body strength, one can get around.

Not driving is a real drag.

My husband is the best and I am surrounded by awesome people.

Ah… exercise time.

Feel the pain…

 

I Love VT

Hello and greetings from the wild winter wonderland known as the great state of Vermont. I am up here as a guest of When Words Count Writer’s Retreat and I am so delighted to share the new book, Uncle Neddy’s Funeral, will be ready for summer reading!

I finally wrote an ending you all will love. I am over the moon excited.

Currently the wind is gusting out my window. Two feet on snow has fallen so far with more to come tonight. I did get outside earlier, before the wind stirred up, to enjoy the quiet crunching of new snow under my feet.

It is gorgeous here. I am in the middle of nowhere Green Mountains with Killington Peak off in distance. Usually my trips to Vermont destinations involve ski lifts and slope-side pools.

This is different.

The retreat sits on a quiet country road. Gourmet meals and snacks are served throughout the day, usually signaled by the chime of a bell. Writers huddle on couches sitting in front of a roaring fire. Others sit at the dining room table or in the formal living room upfront. Rooms are named after famous authors.

(I am in the Bradbury room. The first night I removed a photograph of Ray from the opposite wall because it was “creeping me out” yet my accommodations are comfortable and homey).

This was a first but not a last. In the past I have limited myself to one-day workshops to hone my skills. This time I had three. For my artist friends, the opportunities are out there to practice your craft – take advantage.

I am going back outside to “play” in the fresh snow. Thank you When Words Count and the beautiful Vermont countryside. I am inspired…

Oh – and stay tuned. I will be releasing the first chapter or two and maybe a cover preview, to you my faithful readers. I hope you enjoy!

The Missing Zen

The last few months have been tough. Blog posts have been sporadic as I allowed others to dictate my time. I should clarify that; dictate my spare, creative time.

Last winter I completed Passenger – The Only Game In Town, in a cute café along the Connecticut shore. I fell in love with the vibe of the place along with its friendly, eclectic staff. Today after months away (I don’t enjoy summer crowds), I finally returned to disappointment. You can’t go back…

It’s not that I am opposed to change, things happen, what I am opposed to is an energy shift. Please humor me to explain. During the summer my writing partner and I started doing laptop meetings all over the state. After a few weeks, we discovered The Harmony Café, and like the name suggests, creative juices flowed freely.

It wasn’t just the place; the staff made our time there a pleasure by just giving off good energy as they did their job. Now fast forward almost a half year. I come back to my super-secret writing spot and the new staff is snotty. I don’t mean “No problem” verses “You are welcome” snotty. I mean “I hate my job and I am going to be a jerk to everyone I meet today” snotty.

I am a tea snob. I like iced green tea unsweetened. If the tea is premade then it stays strong. If they brew it there and pour it over ice, the drink gets watery.

Yes – I am being picky however isn’t this basic chemistry?

So, when I ordered an iced green, which was premade during my last visit, and the counter girl pointed to a bunch of tea bags and said pick one, I explained why that wouldn’t be good. She gave me the blank bitch stare. (Ladies, you all know what this is because we have all done this at various times to people who probably didn’t deserve it). Yep – that’s when I just ordered soup, which is sitting next to me steaming, yet I can’t eat it because I know bitch face either spit or put snot in it or something equally gross.

img_20161024_113349I probably should be working on my book as you can see my imagination is soaring. But no…writer’s obsession questioning is there really snot in my soup? And what if there is? What can I do about it? I could take it go. Maybe have the soup analyzed for boogers.

Or maybe not. Maybe I should just write. Eat the soup, toss the soup; it doesn’t matter either way.

Maybe I just wrote my first blog post in a month at my last time at Café Sol. There are other places to go with a positive vibe that assists with creative endeavors. Maybe I should head there now…

(Any suggestions would be appreciated.)

How To Write Over 2,000 Words A Day

Okay – some of my writer friends are looking at this title and laughing thinking how much of a slacker number this is because they hit 2,000 words with their eyes closed.

Well I don’t.

A very wise investment professional once used the quote, “Some days peanuts, some days shells.” As a writer, I experience both. Some days the words flow and I feel like I can write an entire novel in one sitting, while others are just a struggle to get a paragraph down.

My last few days I managed to get in the groove and produce over 2,000 words a day. I’m not saying everything I wrote is good, or usable, and doesn’t need editing. The words are on the paper.

This is a first draft people. It takes time to mature.

So how does one write 2,000 words a day. The easy answer is you sit at your computer, make sure the computer is turned on, and you write.

Boom. Done. Not quite.

In my experience, I have spent many days staring at my screen, typing nothing because I can’t think of what to write. Apparently this happens to a lot of inspiring writers because I have heard this many a times from many people. Lately, I have used Walter Mosley’s advice from his ThrillerFest workshop as motivation, “Write every day.”

And I have. My most productive days seem to come after I have spent time listening to live music the night prior. Although I can’t figure out why since I am usually exhausted too. For the last four days I was fortunate to attend one of those huge music festivals. Normally the computer would stay home locked in the safe, except Walter said you have to write every day and while a pen and paper would suffice, I would only have to type it all in later. To be honest, I don’t think I would have written so much “manually” anyway.

Here is the breakdown: I wrote the morning before we left, around 1,000 words. Went and saw two bands that evening, got up the next day and wrote about 2,000 words. Went and saw five band, crashed hard (slept soundly), got up, saw four bands, skipped the headliner because we’re not a fan, came back to the room and wrote 2,200 words. The final day I got up, wrote only 1,000 words because Warren Haynes was doing a solo set at noon and well, one does not miss Warren Haynes solo.

I had the motivation; time was my enemy.

I’m writing this on Monday so no counts in yet I know they’ll be high. My characters are screaming to be heard as I finish this post. Since this was the Summer Of Live Music for me, I looked back at my word count for mornings after concerts. Not only were my counts up, in my opinion, the quality appeared better.

It seems to me that live music is my muse.

So the answer to How To Write 2,000 Words A Day is feed your soul, find your muse, and then sit and write.

Good luck and happy writing!

Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction.

Part of me wants to write about the fabulous local/regional music scene we have here in Connecticut, yet I am going to save that one for another day and write a bit about process today.

I’m back at the coffee shop, the one with the fabulous egg sandwiches, and there are two forty-something women sitting across from me going through their children’s attributes and concerns.

“Something is up at that school. I heard from Jane’s mother that she scored in the top 15 on that placement test and her daughter got into Algebra while my sweet Angel scored top ten and is being ostracized by her friends because they are in the higher math and she isn’t.”

“You should do something,” her friend encourages.

“I’m considering meeting with the principal to rectify this situation,” adding that, “I have already emailed twice with no response”

These two are potential characters, stereotypes, yet characters just the same.

Of course as a writer, I would need to take their complications and escalate to make it interesting.

A great example of doing this is my book Maximum Mayhem. Maximum Mayhem started because my friend was late to meet me for a quick drink at a local dive in my town. As I waited at the bar, I listened to the conversation happening next to me. Two woman talked about another, go figure. The conversation revolved around a third friend whose husband happened to be having an affair.

This is where it gets good – they didn’t know if they should tell their friend. (Isn’t that the MaximumMayhemdefinition of a friend; to be honest?) Being part of this small town, between me and my drinking partner, we knew all the involved parties. Okay – affairs happen. So I brought in a hot F.B.I. agent and turned the scandalous affair into a scam to embezzle funds from the much successful wife.

The plot line worked. Apparently the affair works too because the couple is still married and the affair is still, according to town gossip, active.

Sometimes it doesn’t, at least by my curiosities.

In the case of the forty-somethings, they mentioned the town and the school. The story takes place in every town and because of this, I find it boring. I do however, have an all new respect for the fella in charge of the school. Whatever they pay him is not enough to put up with these two!

So for my writer friends out there, if you are stuck try this; take your laptop on a date. Go to a place with people. Sit and listen. Then type and see what you come up with – hopefully a good start!

 

Honing Ones Craft While Totally Geeking Out

Every human needs to recharge. Sometimes we use a different phrase for this process. I need to align my chi, restore my batteries, or simply take a nap. This is all the same process. For the last month I have been fortunate to be at live music events more nights than not. This helps recharge my soul. And this week I nurtured in a different way: ThrillerFest!

ThrillerFest is a five-day writer’s paradise where I had the pleasure of attending workshops with the great Walter Mosley, Bob Mayer, and David Morell. Yes – the women were present too! Heather Graham and L.S. Hawker were roaming the halls.
Here in the city (New York for those who are not East Coast -centric) I had the privilege of learning from the best thriller novelists in the business. They were generous with their advice and accessible to answer questions. (Confession time – I geeked out a little bit. (See Walter Mosley selfie)

My geeking didn’t stop there. I spent a day at The Federal Bureau Of Investigation, the F.B.I. for short. The agency provided an overview for writers in order to obtain an accurate depiction of their agents. Here we had the opportunity to ask questions about procedure as long as it didn’t interfere with any current cases. For me, it was good to discover some of my characters were accurate and my Maximum Mayhem sequel will follow procedure.

Writers are a strange bunch. Most of our creating is done solo, perhaps in coffee shops or bars. ThrillerFest featured many established writers yet they welcomed novices with open arms and encourage all to pursue their dreams. Seminars were relate-able to those who wrote their first sentence or are in the process of finishing their fifth novel.

We congregated. We told stories. We celebrated. The atmosphere rocked! All in the name of stories!