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!

Rain Dance

Writing comes easy some days while others are a challenge to get words out. Today is a combination of both. Last night another show (an old friend labelled this the Dreaded Dead Disease) and today 1500 words. I’m not sure there is a cause and effect yet I do know that somehow the music rejuvenates my soul.

And I want to go again…and again…and again!

The experience changes each time. At SPAC we sat in the balcony, paid attention to the elements of lights and sound, and of course, danced. In Hartford we grouped on the lawn with many friends. It didn’t matter that we were way back amongst the masses. We try to predict what the next song would be (my friend Pook is a master at this) and of course, danced and swirled. My highlight, besides being surrounded by friends, was dancing in the rain. Yes, it poured. Yes, we got wet. Yes, I ignored my rain gear in favor of the water flowing down my body while music lifted my spirit up.

If you haven’t tried dancing in the rain, I highly recommend it. This is a very freeing experience.

Back to the writing – the hard part today is staying on task. My characters are screaming in one direction while my other voices demand to be heard. Right now my setting is a church instead of a concert hall. My characters are mourning a loss versus celebrating life.

Maybe my timing is just off…I hear the band is playing again soon…

The Three R’s

 

I am fortunate that I am surrounded by amazing people. Last two days were spent taking a break from writing to rejuvenate my soul on Cape Cod (Thanks Em!). Although the ocean is within walking distance, I rarely take a break to lay on a beach and just listen to the waves. The “bay side” also gave us a bit of exercise hiking out on a mile plus sand bar in order to reach the surf during low tide. It is during breaks like this that I get the opportunity to rest, read, and revitalize, all very important elements to maintain one’s creativity.

I also had the pleasure to peruse Nikolia my love by my good friend Maryl Damian. I love reading works that incorporate some sort of literary element and in Maryl’s book she uses the poetry of Pushkin to illustrate a budding romance. The story is beautiful and engaging because of the realistic, timely elements. (For more information about Nikolia my love Click Here).

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Author Maryl Damian, Adventure Blogger Deborah, and yours truly after a recent event.

In addition, we recently found out that one of our students will be traveling back to her native country and blogging about her summer journey. I will include links back to her blog so all can share in her adventure.

Tomorrow I am back to the grind, working on my new book tentatively titled Uncle Neddy’s Funeral. This is the story about a corpse who is not quite ready to be buried. When readers meet his family and friends they will understand why. More updates to come along with a short.

I hope you all find your happy place and get the opportunity to relax, rejuvenate, and revive!