January 28, 2022 - End of Month Wrap-up

Friday, January 28, 2022

It’s hard to believe January is at its end already. I’d hoped to accomplish more writing this month than I did, but I’m optimistic for what lies ahead.

This week, I updated my map of the town of Shipwreck Point. I’d let that slide since deciding to recreate the complete map in PhotoshopElements rather than continuing in Gimp. Although I still have some unnamed streets, the current version is more complete than any prior versions I made, and so it should be a good reference going forward.

My muse has managed to flesh out the cast of The Case of the Pirate’s Puzzle, meaning I’ve got many more suspects than I had a week ago, which should make the mystery more interesting. If I have new suspects, it means they each have a motive as well, something that’s not always easy to come up with. Because then I have to backtrack and look at my victim and ask what about him would make this person want to kill him? This is how characters get back stories.

Suppose suspect A’s reason for wanting to kill the victim is that he seduced A’s wife. Hello? A has a wife? Okay, why would she cheat on him? Is it her or is it something about him? And why would the victim decide to have an affair with the wife? What does that say about his character? His marital situation? It’s amazing what things characters will tell you if you start asking them questions.

Anyway, I’ve got a whole bunch of new information that’s stewing around in my brain, which means there are plenty of scenes to write in this novel. I wonder what happens next?


January 20, 2022 - I'm Back!

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Well, that was unexpected!

Following my last post almost two weeks ago, I developed severe fatigue. And then my nose started running. I hardly ever get sick, and so it took me a few days to admit that, yes, I’d come down with something. Of course, in the time of COVID, it’s the first thing you think of and visions of trips to the emergency room start flashing through your head. Or my head, in this case.

Fortunately, I’d ordered a test kit prior to Christmas, just in case I needed to know whether I was sick or not before I joined in the festivities. But I’d not used it, since I felt fine through the holidays. I decided it was time to try it out. It came back negative, and so, for the first time in years, I had a cold. I’d forgotten how rotten one can make you feel.

It’s been very hard to accomplish anything during this time which, right on schedule, lasted almost two weeks. (Long ago I heard that a cold lasts ten days to two weeks no matter what you do, meaning nothing’s going to magically cure you of one except time.) While I started feeling better on Monday, today is the first day I’ve felt completely normal.

Needless to say, my writing has suffered. I struggled to get a few hundred words written each day, which means The Case of the Pirate’s Puzzle is significantly behind schedule. But I wrote over 1,000 words today and I’m still awake rather than needing to lie down and take a nap, so I’m confident I’ll be making better progress from now on.


January 7, 2022 Writing Diary

Friday, January 07, 2022

Writing has been difficult this week. Although I did what I thought was adequate reading before starting this book, I find myself stopping after every other sentence to research something. Some of this is the result of taking a writing course on Depth.

Depth in writing is making the reader experience what the characters would. It includes not only all five senses, but also their opinions about the setting or an object or another character. It’s also the emotions a fragrance might arouse due to a memory it evokes.

Depth is important because, as Dean Wesley Smith says in the course, it engages the reader. It grabs them and doesn’t let go. They keep reading because of depth.

And so I’m all too aware of when I’m writing “fake details,” as Smith refers to them. A room that is devoid of furniture or wall covering or carpet or tile. A conversation that takes place there is words in a white box. I’m slowing down to think about what my character would see, hear, smell, taste, and feel as they have this conversation in this particular place.

This is very different from my NaNo novel, and one of the reasons I retook the course. In the novel I wrote last November, many scenes are purely conversation, like a play script. I know that during the revision, I’ll have to add in all that depth to make the novel enjoyable. And, after going through that one too many times, I decided to do it at the front rather than the back. I don’t like it when revision takes twice as long as writing the first draft.

I’ve had my decision reinforced by reading a novel I picked up from the library this week, titled Once Upon a Wardrobe, by Patti Callahan. As I’m reading it, I’m noticing all the depth in this book, all the things Dean points out in the Writing with Depth class. And I’m having a hard time putting it down to do something else. It’s kind of ironic. I was wondering how I was going to read this book (and another one that came in at the same time) in the three short weeks before it has to be returned. I’m in the middle of at least two other books that I’d like to finish. But now that I’ve started Once Upon a Wardrobe, the question is will I finish it over the weekend? Because it’s just that good.

And so I have to believe that taking the time to write my book with depth to begin with is the right way to go. At least for now. I’m hoping that like most of my books, once I’m further into it, I won’t need to stop so often to look things up because I’ll be totally immersed in the story, the characters, and their world. I just have to keep plugging away to get to that point.


January 3, 2022

Monday, January 03, 2022

 Today was my first official working day during 2022. I did some writing last week, but my heart wasn’t really in it. Today felt like the start of the new year.

Not only did I write almost 1800 words on The Case of the Pirate’s Puzzle, I also composed a newsletter and a social media post and scheduled them to go out tomorrow. That was one of the new items on my marketing list, to become more consistent with social media. I’m starting off with Facebook because I’m on that every day, but I’d like to add Goodreads to that, and then, possibly, Instagram or TikTok.

I’m not really fond of the idea of using an entity that is largely controlled by the Chinese, so I’m not sure I’ll take the plunge into TikTok. But so many authors are having success with it, it seems like I should try it.

I’m also not eager to use Instagram. I’ve only recently gained some competence with graphics and I still don’t consider myself at all talented in that area. My mind works in words and sometimes sounds and smells, but pictures? Not so much.

At least I have some time before I’ll have to decide on those last two. I’m trying to be sensible about doing new things in the new year. I’m going to add sites slowly rather than plunging in all at once. If I manage with my first objectives, I’ll evaluate what else I’ll try in April.

Meanwhile, I’m going to try to keep up this writing diary at least three times a week.

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Elise's bookshelf: currently-reading

A Clash of Kings
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