Monday, March 28, 2016

I'm a Morning Writer, sort of... by Tracey Lyons

I'm a morning writer, sort of. I must confess when I see the morning sunlight streaming in through my bedroom window my first thought isn't "Hey, let's rise and shine!" Oh, no. I pull the blankets over my head and roll over.
Maybe I should call myself a before noon writer. I do have some must-haves to keep me motivated during my writing time. I have a home office. This is my third relocation, but by far my favorite spot. Situated right outside my bedroom door, I only have to tumble out of bed and I'm at my desk in seconds.
Then I have my wall of book covers. These remind me of my successes.
There are two of my favorite photos that inspire me. The one from my first Romantic Times book signing in 2000. Here I'm with the fabulously talented Thea Devine. A new fan. And long time author friend and signing buddy Sharon Schulze.
And the photo that always makes me smile. The one from the Chatham Book Store signing where my book is featured right next to  Bill Clinton's.
Lastly, I have a beautiful lead crystal, cut-glass paper weight that my Aunt Jean gave to me before she died, right before the release of my third novel. This reminds me that life is short and of how lucky I am to have been blessed with the talent to create.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Provide Me With Ink and Paper and I Will Write

The title quote is stolen from Edmund Campion, but it is so true for me. When I sit down to write, I must have two things: a pen and a notebook. Each and every story that I have ever written was born through ink and paper, and needless to say, I have a very large stack of notebooks.

"Don't Be 'a Writer.' Be Writing" - William Faulkner

 Although I do have a home office, I don’t have a specific spot where I write. Whether it’s at my desk, on the sofa with a TV show in the background, or in bed when everyone else is asleep, I write wherever and whenever I can; which is the reason for notebooks.
A spiral notebook is portable and one has accompanied me everywhere from long vacations to day trips to the beach. I’ve brought them on cruises, airplanes, even to Disney World, because I never know when my characters will talk to me.

Start From the Very Beginning: Chapter One

Aside from pen and book, I do have a few other “must haves” to bring my stories to life. Every story that I’ve ever written has started with “Chapter One” on the first page. There have been times that I’ve changed it to “Prologue” during the course of development, and I’ve even backtracked and written a new “Chapter One” deciding that the story actually began earlier; but they all start out the same way.

"The Difference Between Something Good and Something Great is Attention to Detail" - Charles R. Swindoll

I write out a complete biography for all main characters that includes a physical description, birthday, education, job history, you name it. I’ve also drawn up family trees, when necessary (I never would have been able to keep up with the Sullivan clan in “Every Grain of Sand” without a family tree!). This habit dates way back to my teen years when I was reading a novel (can’t remember the name of it), but the author described a character’s “dreamy chocolate brown eyes”, when in the beginning of the book he had “bright blue eyes” that reminded her of the morning sky. Yeah, cheesy, I know. But that always stuck with me and I couldn’t believe the author didn’t remember the color of her main character’s eyes (or that editors didn’t catch that – and it was in the days before - long before - self-publishing!)

“Being a Reporter is As Much a Diagnosis as a Job Description” - Anna Quindlan

Another key ingredient for every story is research. If my characters are walking down the street in Paris, I want to know what they see, what they feel, what the weather is for that time of year. Whenever possible, I travel to the setting to really become one with the atmosphere; but sometimes that isn’t in the cards and I rely on the Internet. I’ve used it to research medical conditions (including the questionable medical procedures in The Strong Armed series). Perhaps it’s my background as a professional reporter, but I like to have the facts and not rely on poetic license. But, sometimes poetic license is needed to take the story in a whole new direction. And with my newest series, The Chosen, to be released this spring, I’ve had to let it go and accept that when writing in a supernatural genre, anything goes.

“To Get The True Value of Joy You Must Have Someone to Divide It With” - Mark Twain

The most recent addition to my list of “must haves” is a Swarovski crystal pen that my husband gave me as a gift two Christmases ago. It means a lot because, to me, it shows he values my work as a writer. Writers spend do much time writing, at the expense of a lot, and when those around you view it as more than a hobby, it’s important.

Of course, I’m not completely old school. The longhand version of my stories are my first drafts and a lot gets eliminated from paper to laptop. But I hold onto the ink-covered pages and always will, because they represent my original inspiration.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Writing in a nutshell

     Every author is different. Some have the opportunity to write everyday. Others-like me- write as often as we can, be it every other day or once or twice a week. That pesky day job complete with double shifts tends to sap my energy. But that doesn't mean my mind stops listening to the story rolling through my head. Keeping small notepads with me, stuffed in my pocketbook, laptop satchel, on the bedside table and even in the door of my car, has saved me from forgetting a pivotal scene I wanted to place in a book. Might not be the book I'm working on, it sometimes is an inspiration for another novel.
     To keep my writing on track, I've started using a story board. For years, I've kept competer files on each book that contain vital information such as correct spelling of character names, eye color, hair etc. and I open them as I work on the story. But now, I also have a ritual where I jot stuff on a story board. Please excuse the mess, I'm a bit disorganized at the moment and my desk looks disheveled but this is where I like to work.

     I do have one ritual that helps me stay focused. I like to block out all noise, especially since I have four dogs, who tend to bark at everything from the wind to a leaf. Some authors enjoy music while writing. I started incorporating song lyrics in my novels when I tried that as a focusing tool. Since I like country, my Scottish Lairds were speaking with a Southern drawl and that wasn't appropriate. LOL.  This is my older dog, Jaeger modeling the headphones. They don't fit right on him but at least he held still.
Here is a picture of why I need noise reducing headphones to get anything accomplished. 
Notice, not one of them looked when I called their names and Simon turned completely away so you can only imagine how noisy they can be when I'm ignoring them and trying to work.

Thanks for letting me share with you.

Here is my latest release coming out March 30th. It's up for pre-order until then.
My title in this wonderful anthology about Voluptuous Female Characters is Cash's Cherry.

   Cash’s Cherry~Tara Nina
When Cherry Adams disappears while taking an EMT call, it’s up to Cash Dupree and his search-and-rescue dog, Max, to find her, bring her home safe and show her how much she means to him. She makes him hot, hard and wanting more. He made a mistake before, running scared from the overwhelming feelings he felt for her. He’s not going to make the same mistake twice.
First, however, he has to find her.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Getting in My Writing Groove

Writing Habits At Home

The photo above just about sums up my major writing rituals when I write at home. Before I begin writing each day, I brew a cup of coffee in my "Writer at Work" cup. It's my little way of telling my brain it's time to go to work. 

Next, I sit down with notebook and pen--and it's always a notebook of the size shown above, and even more importantly, it's ALWAYS a purple pen. I spend some time writing a quick outline of what I want to happen on the page that day. 

Then I get down to writing. 

Writing Habits Away 

Sometimes I'm at my most productive when I'm away from home. I like to find a quiet spot in a coffee shop, bookstore or library to get my writing done. 

But my writing rituals are pretty much the same no matter where I write: drink coffee and outline in a small notebook with my purple pen. The only thing that might change is the view. 

And maybe the logo on my coffee cup. 

The Ritual of Procrastination 

Oh, and I'm leaving out one of the other rituals that's become vitally important to my writing…procrastination. I'm a master of procrastination. Only I prefer to call it percolating (maybe all that coffee is getting to me). I used to get annoyed with myself for procrastinating. I could really beat myself up over it. 

It took me awhile to realize percolating on ideas was part of my process. That process might look like a lot of different things: doing a load of laundry, showering in the middle of the day, taking the dogs out for an extra long walk, or getting lost in a book I'm reading. 

Sometimes I play around with book teasers or create silly things with my book covers…

(Check out my covers on those Times Square billboards!) 

But no matter what it looks like, it really is part of my work day. Now I can appreciate that occupying myself with something other than writing very often frees up my mind to take my stories in totally new directions. I still have to pay attention so the procrast…um, I mean, the percolating…doesn't take more time than the writing. But I have to say, I've had many of my best ideas when I give myself permission to indulge in this habit. 

How about you? Do you have any rituals that help you get your creative juices flowing? Are you a procrastinator or someone who can get right down to your to-do list? 

Happy Reading! 
Amy Lamont 

P.S. I almsot forgot! Just sharing this with you guys right now, but Getting Lucky with the Rock Star (Holiday Encounters Book 3) will be on sale from March 22-27 on Amazon. If you haven't had a chance to read it yet, this is the perfect time to grab it for only 99¢! 

Monday, March 7, 2016

March at WVRA = Writing rituals, superstitions, and habits! #Romance

Writers are as individual as the fingerprints they possess.

Each one will have their own style of writing, their own voice when they tell a story.

What you may not know is that each one has their own writing habits, too.

Maybe it's a special drink or food. Maybe it's a unique pen or a favorite soundtrack.

This month we explore the rituals and customs of the Warwick Valley Romance Authors.


Personally, I'm pretty simple.

I need my coffee.

I can write on a computer, in a notebook, on a piece of scrap paper. Not a problem.

I can write at home or in a waiting room or a coffee shop.

But, I almost always have coffee close at hand.

Usually regular coffee. Oh, I might enjoy a Venti Caffe' Mocha Breve w/ 2 sweeteners and extra whip cream if its available, but 8 out of 10 times I'm on my couch.

Let's just say it's a really good thing there isn't a Starbucks closer to my house.

What do you think? Have any good or bad habits that you can't do something without?

Heather M. Gardner
The Waiting is the Hardest Part 
Heather Writes Romance