Moving Past Writing Blocks

     How do I do that?  I use my GPS.   Or rather, I drive.  I know lots of people who take breaks and walk.  Others do something completely different and come back to the writing.  Still others use a prompt to start the flow. 

CAR1      Me – I drive.  The process of driving forces me to concentrate on the road – so my mind becomes free of whatever roadblock… Continue reading

Getting the language right

In journalism, reporters often “clean up” quotes so the person being quoted doesn’t look ignorant, and so the newspaper won’t be accused of making fun of someone’s speech.

But, in fiction, you want the opposite. You want the reader, after all, to have feelings (either positive or negative) about a character. And language is one way to do that.

Perhaps the most well-known example of that is Mark Twain’s “Huckleberry Finn,” in which Twain deliberately uses colloquial and what was sometimes considered coarse language to portray his characters. In later years, his books have been rewritten to exclude… Continue reading

Where, How, When?

Someone came to my house the other day about 10 a.m. She wanted to pick up an item and she wanted to see ME. Not my husband, not our housekeeper. ME. She left disappointed.

I write at night, often going to bed between 1 and 4, and have even been known to see first light before my head hits the pillow. Other writers understand this.  Late night, when everybody else is sound asleep and the phone isn’t ringing, is a wonderful time to create. Those in my household understand, too.  I’m not sure if my husband truly appreciates this… Continue reading

Say what?

I had the hardest time the first time I joined a critique group back in 2004. I am not originally from the U.S. and I used words I was familiar with – like lounge (living room), queue (line), phone (call) – and my critique group didn’t like any of them. They said it took them out of the story. As soon as I explained the words they were okay with them. But this is the kind of thing that pulls a reader out of a story. As as a writer, you don’t want the reader to be pulled out of… Continue reading

The senses …

The senses are a wonderful thing that help us interact with the world around us — it is easy to relay some of them in writing … what we see and hear.  However some are just a bit more challenging yet when we capture that image the writing is that much more vibrant.

I love Joss Whedon’s “Firefly” TV series.  There is one episode when Kayley eats a fresh strawberry and the look on her face when she eats that strawberry is almost indecent.  Here is a woman who has lived on a space ship and eaten protein rations… Continue reading

Using Memories in Stories

The question of whether I use memories in my stories is an interesting one.  I definitely use them although its usually just an aspect of any particular memory.  It might be the core memory or how it felt to be in that situation or the situation itself.   Recalling those moments helps me to intensify the experience in the story and allows me to more easily add how it felt, the ambiance, the smells or any other details that stand out in that particular memory.

What’s even more interesting is when I write a story that I think is not… Continue reading

On stroopwafels and food in fiction

Delicious stroopwafels

Recently, a co-worker returned from Amsterdam with a treat for us: Stroopwafels. Now, if you’ve never heard of these, as I hadn’t, they are oversized buttery cookies with a caramel filling.  As I savored my one allotted and absolutely delicious stroopwafel, I thought, “Now, this is something from a Louise Penny novel.” Reality is good, but fiction – that’s where I can indulge in food without the calories.

As much as I read Penny for her wonderful characters and great plotting, I also… Continue reading

A Writers Dilemma

As writers we often hear the phrase ‘bum glue’ – the practice of ‘butt in chair’ until our books are finished.  If you are like most writers I know, this means sitting down at the desk and typing or writing long-hand.  However, there has been a lot of hype lately that too much and prolonged sitting is bad for one’s health.  So what is a writer to do?

In 2000 I had a lumbar fusion, six months after my first back surgery.  I spent six weeks lying down.  I read a lot.  I wrote a little.  I slept more… Continue reading

What is on Kestrel’s Bedside Table

I have a veritable ton of books on my bedside table:  some raunchy romance, some gentler romance, some biography, some histories, some humorous, some nutrition / health, some kind of environmental, and some kind of children/youth literature.  However these titles do not include the list on my Kindle and on my iPhone (Kindle App) – that is like having a library in your pocket!  But then, should I also include the audio books in the car?

Since it would take too long to go into everything I will select the four strangest books to talk about today for those… Continue reading

So many books – so little time

I tend to ignore what exactly is in my stack of books to read.  It is constantly changing – additions and books/magazines I’ve finished.  But its an ever growing pile so I never know what exactly I will find at any given moment.  I love books – I love the feel of them and turning the pages.  Not that I don’t love my Kindle too – but I grew up reading books in the library and I don’t think I will ever tire of holding them in my hands.

The current stack has a wide variety – I have… Continue reading