the good, the bad, and the ugly about the writing life

I’m baaaack!

Back to Blogging

I’m back. Well, okay, I never really left. I just got tired of blogging and told myself I had nothing else to say. I was wrong, as I have many, many things left to say about fiction and novel writing.

So, to repeat myself, I’m back at blogging. For the moment, I can promise at least one entry a week.

I’m back in part because I got laid off from my awesome job. I really liked that job and the co-workers and even the boss.

However, as I go searching for my next paying gig, I thought that I would do two things I’d been thinking about but hadn’t actually done:

  1. Re-start my blog
  1. Show chapters of my novel to the online world

I’m also querying literary agents right and left, trying to get my cozy mystery novel, Death and the Motherlode, published in the traditional manner with agent, editor, and publishing house.

Probably, I will write about that process, as well, as I am up to 14 agent rejections and counting.

Two Chapters a Week at Wattpad

As noted above, I am posting chapters of my completed (and professionally edited) novel, Death and the Motherlode on Wattpad. I just added Chapter 4.

I note the professional editing because I want you to know that the manuscript is readable. My fabulous editor, Chris Roerden, helped me to notice all the words I repeat over and over again in my writing and provided valuable advice about plot and characters as well.

So far, I’ve been posting new chapters on Mondays and Wednesdays. There’s sixty-odd chapters, so you can enjoy me putting my money where my mouth is in fiction writing.

I like to talk about writing fiction and write about writing fiction, and sometimes I can actually get my butt in the chair to WRITE some fiction.

Meanwhile, I am plotting out the next book (P3 in my personal shorthand). Motherlode required so much re-thinking, re-plotting, and rewriting that I decided to PLAN the next novel instead of PANTSING it as usual. (Thanks to KM Weiland for teaching me those useful terms!)

Through a Different Lens

Since my original purpose in this blog was to write about the good, the bad, and the ugly of the writing life, I need to include something actually USEFUL today. And I have just the thing.

As a writer, I tend to think about words and how they can go together. Sometimes, I think about characters and even plot. However, I am not in the habit of thinking about pictures or colors or lines.

My sister, on the other hand, is an artist, so her work is all about color and line. It turns out that she thinks about characters in very different ways than I do. While I think about character in terms of personal history and parents and memorable childhood experiences, she has a more VISUAL approach.

We started this discussion because she read chapters one and two of my book on Wattpad and asked if I liked the cover. I hadn’t thought much about the cover. It was a hoop I needed to jump through to get the first chapter up for people to see. I chose a cover and thought nothing more about it.

Enter the VISUAL artist. She offered to create a new cover for me, but she needed more information about my book and my main character, Paulette Goddard. She asked me what my book was about in general terms, and then she got quite specific. Specific in the best possible way.

She wanted to know what was in Paulette’s medicine cabinet and on her bedside table. She asked what perfume Paulette would wear and what shade of lipstick.

In short, she asked questions that I had never thought of, although I’ve known Paulette since the mid-1980’s. Brilliant questions that I include here for you.

I’m adding them to my own personal character worksheet which I share with my writing students. You should use them, too.

Questions to Ask Your Character

  • If you were to stage a scene of his/her bookshelf, what would be in it?
  • What type of clothes does he/she wear?
  • Does she wear nail polish? Chewed nails or manicured?
  • What kind of rings? Other jewelry?
  • Does he/she have Ink (tattoos)?
  • What kind of bag would she carry? What kind of briefcase for him?
  • What are his/her favorite colors?
  • Is she lace or plaid?
  • What color lipstick does she wear? How does she wear it?
  • What perfume does she wear? What aftershave for him?
  • Where does he/she go for vacation?
  • What is his/her dream vacation?
  • Does she have any hobbies?

What’s in his/her:

  1. Medicine cabinet
  2. Refrigerator
  3. Purse/wallet
  4. Closet
  5. Car
  6. Keychain

I love all these great questions, and I hope you do, too.

By the way, my sister, Shauna, does her cool art stuff at:

https://instagram.com/shaunastclair?igshid=ivcsqjlablu8

And here’s a picture of us in our younger days. (I’m the one in the bride get-up.)

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