I think I can… I think I can…

25 01 2010

I’m at a point in my life where I have so much going on in my non-writing life, I have to keep putting writing on the back burner. It’s not because I want to. It’s not (only) a procrastination device. I really can’t make writing my one priority, no matter how much I want to. That will change in a few years, but until then, I feel like I’m locked in a cycle of writing—not writing—writing—not writing. And the not writing periods tend to grow.

I’ve declared that 2010 will be different, that this year I’ll make time for writing no matter what.  While it can’t be priority number one, it can be a priority. I’m working to ensure I don’t let writing fall by the wayside. I’ve taken on more responsibilities with my writing groups, promised to maintain a critique partnership, set goals… And even though it’s only a month into the new year, so far so good.

I don’t want my writing to feel like a job, but if I want it to eventually be a career, I have to work at it. So even when I’m exhausted, even when I just want to veg out in front of the tv, even when I just want to get more than four or five hours of sleep in a night, I have to do something writing related. It might just be a little thing—a quick read through for a critique, writing 100 words, reading over something I’ve already written, doing a little work on RWA chapter stuff, etc. etc.—but it will be something.

Little steps to big results. I think I can, I think I can…

The “Write” Place

2 12 2009

Otherwise known as "Starvation Plantation"

Three years ago, my husband and I were lamenting over how much money we were wasting spending on our family vacations and weekend getaways. We decided to purchase a riverfront lot and build a cabin near our favorite fishing spot and start paying for a retreat that would be ours to keep. Just this week we spent our first holiday in our newly built cabin.

Scott and I argue over what to call it: a vacation home, a fishing cabin, a writer’s retreat. Whatever you call it, it’s an excellent place to clear your mind. No cell phone signal in these woods. No DSL Internet access. The only sounds around the home are the occasional fishing boats humming past and the wildlife after dark. If you don’t think wildlife can be distracting, let me tell ya, you just need to step onto our deck after sunset. Coyote fights, shrieking owls, running deer, whistling foxes, and screeching herons–the woods come alive!

I’m expecting to get lots of writing done here and reading too. I pull up a chair on the deck, my laptop balanced on my lap, and a cup of coffee at my side, and let ‘er rip as the sun rises over the river. My morning view is what you see in the picture to the left. It’s not hard to think romance when you’ve got a 360 degree view. Now if I could keep my hubs from watching satelite TV football games inside the cabin…but that’s another post!!

That’s my favorite new writing place. I don’t get to visit it as often as I’d like, but when I do, it should be magic. Estelle wrote in an earlier post about her retreat. I’d love to hear what retreats you’ve been to or about ones you’d like to visit. Where is your “write” place?

What Inspires You?

3 08 2009
Sometimes the best view is from high above

Sometimes the best view is from high above

As I wind down the current novel I’m working on—Moonlight Madness, a time travel set in 17th century England—I’m hunting for my next project and looking for inspiration. Which brings me to the question for our blog theme this month: what inspires you?

I made a list of the most common places writers find inspiration (in no particular order):

  1. writing groups: RWA, local chapters, critique groups
  2. reading
  3. browsing bookstore/library shelves
  4. travel, road trips
  5. new experiences (jobs, careers)
  6. observation/people-watching
  7. the news
  8. music
  9. poetry/quotes
  10. celebrities
  11. movies/tv
  12. antique stores/flea markets
  13. museums
  14. parks/gardens/nature
  15. family/spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend

In writing a 90,000-100,000, I’ve found all of the above can be useful sources of inspiration!

My favorite kick-in-the-writer’s butt—Travel

This week I’m relaxing on one of my favorite beaches. My family has vacationed in South Carolina almost every year since the early 80’s and it never fails to plant the seeds of a new story in my mind.

The history of Low Country attracts me to this area in the strongest way. First, it’s in my blood. My father’s Welsh/Scot/Irish family settled in South Carolina in the early 1700’s. Second, this is the same area where pirates once roamed, where the Civil War was fought, and it’s the setting for a plethora of great literature including the eerie true story, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and Poe’s The Gold Bug.

After I meditate beneath one of the ancient Spanish Moss-covered oaks or on the balcony overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, I’ll be blessed with another story to take back home with me. Travel definitely inspires my writing—the settings in particular. I can almost hear the characters’ voices in my head as I listen to the waves on the shore.

Finding island history inside a lighthouse

Finding island history inside a lighthouse

Is there anyplace that makes you want to write? Do you feature places you’ve visited in your stories? If so, where?

This month I’m giving away a $10 Barnes and Noble gift card along with some books from my shelf “to inspire you.” Comment on one post this August and you’ll be entered to win in a drawing to be held at the end of the month. Good luck and be inspired!

Who Doesn’t Love a Cowboy Hero?

1 06 2009

Cowboy Up

Here at The Write Direction, we’re celebrating June as Summer Fun Month.  I kicked off my summer with a trip to the rodeo.  And it was fun–beautiful horses, cute kids on ponies, Dandies riding in figure eights, ridiculous clown jokes, and of course, lots of eye candy in cowboy hats.

There’s just something about a cowboy that’s sexy. The ruggedness, the Wranglers, the boots, the swagger–and they do swagger, even when they’re limping out of the arena after being thrown head first off a bucking bronc. And I’m not the only one thinking come-hither thoughts about cowboys.

Cowboy heroes are a staple in romance novels (especially categories), so lots of readers out there melt at the idea of a hard working, hand-calloused, Stetson-wearing alpha male.  I’ve been advised by several writerly sources, both published with Harlequin and pursuing publication with Harlequin, that cowboy heroes are the way to go if you want a request (and hopefully a contract). I think they’re probably right.

Don’t get me wrong–throwing in a cowboy won’t make up for poor writing or weak plot lines or substandard characterization or any other writer’s pitfall. But if a writer already has an affinity for cowboys, then working a story around a tried and true character type with high marketability can’t be a bad idea.

I was in Walmart over the weekend, perusing the Harlequin section. I counted how many of the covers featured cowboys. Five. And they crossed three different lines–Blaze, Desire, and Silhouette Special Edition. Also keep in mind that it’s the very end of the month, so I was primarily looking at the May leftovers before the June books fill the shelves.  And…I’ll go ahead and admit it.  This wasn’t the first time I’ve counted cowboy covers.  Frankly, five is a low number. I’ve seen a lot more than that in the past.

I have two works in progress that feature cowboy heroes–a romantic suspense and a small town contemporary. My trip to the rodeo provided some great inspiration. I’ve got to write down my sensory details before I forget the experience.

What about you?  Does your heart melt over a cowboy?  Do you have a favorite romance novel featuring a cowboy hero?  Do you have a link to worksafe cowboy eye candy?  Throw your western themed thoughts at me via a comment and you’ll be entered to win our June contest prize!

Speaking of contest prizes…

Our June Summer Fun contest prize is a beach bag filled with all kinds of summer goodies!  As we add new posts throughout the month, we’ll be adding prizes to the bag.  Then, at the end of the month, one lucky commenter will win it all.  Stop back throughout the month and comment on additional June blog posts to increase your chances to win.  We’ll randomly draw for a winner at the end of the month.

This week, I’m contributing a fun summer read…and wouldn’t you know it?  It has a cowboy cover! The first item in the tote bag is The Texas Twins by Tina Leonard. I haven’t read it yet…it’s a June release, but Harlequin American is one of my favorite lines.  And it’s awfully hard to resist a cover with TWO cowboys.

The Texas Twins by Tina Leonard