March 30, 2022 - Writer's Block

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

There was a time when I believed in this. Back when I first seriously started on my path to be a writer, I remember endless conversations in writer and critique groups about writer’s block. There was one person in a group I attended who moaned about being blocked for a year. They hadn’t written anything for twelve months. There were many sympathetic comments, the most intelligent of which was something like “Tsk. Tsk.” While all this was going on, I was wondering why in the world did they continue to come to a writers group if they weren’t writing?

Back before I knew better, I might have called what’s been going on with me this week writer’s block. I was struggling to come up with something—anything—to get me started on The Case of the Pirate’s Puzzle again. Mid-morning, when I could no longer find any notes on concepts and plot points I wanted to include in this book, I knew I was procrastinating. I didn’t need to do more research or planning or reviewing. I needed to start writing. Because, as John Rogers (who is the creator of Leverage and The Librarians, among other things) said:


You can’t think yourself out of a writing block; you have to write yourself out of a thinking block.


I knew I was at that point this morning. I knew that the only way I’d get going on the story again was to start writing, even if what I wrote wasn’t very good. Even if I had no idea where the new scene was going. All I had to do, as Dean Wesley Smith says, was write the next sentence. Because anyone can write one sentence, even if they’re “blocked.” And when you’ve finished that one, Write the next sentence. Lather, rinse, repeat. By the time you’ve written four or five sentences, your brain is on autopilot, and you usually don’t have time to think about writer’s block.

Even so, it probably took me another thirty minutes before I created a new document and started typing. And, by the time I quit writing for the day, I had 1833 words of the 1500 I’d set as a goal. Not bad for being “blocked.”

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March 28, 2022 - And Another Month is Winding Up

Monday, March 28, 2022

Or is that down? Both seem correct to me, but then I’m braindead right about now. After thinking I might start getting new words on The Case of the Pirate’s Puzzle today, I was drawn into the ongoing issue with the newsletter signup on the Tucson Sisters in Crime website. With our webmistress about to tear out her hair, we decided it would be easier to switch the mailing list from MailChimp to MailerLite. Guess who gets to do that?

Yeah, me. I agreed to be the newsletter editor/maintenance person a few years ago when the current volunteer left the chapter. When no one else was willing to raise their hand, I raised mine, knowing that it was probably a lifetime commitment. It wouldn’t be so bad, except I’ve already spent the time to set up templates and such on MailChimp which will all have to be duplicated on MailerLite now. Plus, I haven’t heard back from the web person yet that the changes work.

On a happier note, the paperback version of Homicide on the Range is now available in the Amazon store! Yes, it did require some more fiddling, but I really like how the final version looks now.

I did manage to refresh my memory on some of what I’ve written so far on The Case of the Pirate’s Puzzle in between website emails. And I adjusted all the dates in that project in Things for Mac, which I use to track everything in my life, including the publication tasks and schedule for my books. So perhaps I’ll actually do some writing tomorrow. Yay!

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March 20, 2022 - Not Exactly a Day of Rest

Sunday, March 20, 2022

I’ve had my schedule for the next couple of weeks planned out in my head all month. There was just one problem. It depended on the paperback of Homicide on the Range being finished before Monday, and I just ran out of energy by Friday afternoon.

A lot of that was used up by formatting the paperback version. I wanted to add a cowboy hat to the chapter headers and use an image of cowboy boots as a scene separator. It’s been a long time since I’ve done that, so I had to look in the manual (gasp!) and fiddle with it until the images were the right size and in the right place.

And then there was the cover. I can sort of shortcut that by using the ebook cover as a starting point, but there’s no spine or back cover for an ebook. And the print version is larger than the ebook version and has different requirements. So I only got halfway done before calling it quits.

Which meant that half-finished cover kept nagging me all afternoon. Eventually, I had to get on my computer and finish it. And upload it to Amazon. And order a proof.

Hopefully, I’ll get the proof copy of the book this week, and it will be fine. If not, more fiddling with it later on. But it can’t take much more time to get it right, so I’ll be able to move on to the next Shipwreck Point Mystery.



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March 17, 2022 Homicide on the Range is Ready for Release!

Thursday, March 17, 2022
It’s been a very busy week. 
For the first time in two years, the Tucson Festival of Books was a live event. Needless to say, I had a spot to sell my books in the Tucson Sisters in Crime Booth. Authors weren’t sure as to what kind of attendance to expect, since many are still fearful of COVID. Even if people showed up, who knew how many books they’d buy? 
The answer was a good number of people showed up and almost everyone was ready to buy books. The weather was perfect for strolling around the University of Arizona Mall. I wasn’t the only author who sold out of the copies of some titles they’d brought. It was amazing! 
Then, instead of recuperating on Monday, I had to get back to revising my next release. And wouldn’t you know it, as soon as I finished correcting the errors found by my last beta reader, a tail-end Charlie reader emailed her feedback. She, of course, had found things the others hadn’t, so I couldn’t put it aside. 
And between yesterday and today, I’ve been proofreading the book on my iPad, found more errors, corrected them, and then worked on the final formatting of the book so I could upload it to Amazon. I beat the deadline by one day (unless they reject my latest version, which was a prettying up of the plain vanilla version), and will move on to creating the paperback tomorrow. 
But right now, I think I’ll read a book or watch TV or take a nap. I could use the rest.
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March 3, 2022 - The Case of the Pirate's Puzzle

Thursday, March 03, 2022

Today was the second day I added new words to the sixth book in my Shipwreck Point series. I have to admit, there were only a few words yesterday, as I had to reread what I’d written so far to know what I needed to write next. Most of yesterday’s words were fixing up what I’d already done, changing wording, adding a few details that I thought the reader would need to understand what was going on, that kind of thing.

But today’s words were genuinely new parts of the story. I’m mostly writing this “into the dark” or “pantsing.” I have my primary suspect, a character readers of this series have met before, my victim, and, I think, the actual killer. I’m not exactly sure about that yet. I have several other suspects, all who have a valid reason to kill the victim. Of course. It wouldn’t be a very good mystery if the suspects didn’t all have motives.

What I need is what exactly the puzzle is. I’d started working on that before the break, and came up with a few ideas to base a puzzle around, but have no details on that. I suppose I should give that my attention tomorrow, but that means I won’t be adding to my word count for the book. However, since “puzzle” is in the title, I think I have to introduce what it is sooner rather than later, so I’ll pull out the looseleaf notebook I have with all kinds of articles on how to construct a puzzle (left over from the days when I thought I’d be writing interactive fiction) and the book I bought years ago on secret codes.

Meanwhile, I’ve been having fun writing this story.

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