If you want to be a writer

As suggested by Stephen King, I am reading a lot. I find since starting to write I read differently. I pay attention as to how the book starts, what point of view the story is told from, and how characters are introduced.

I read first for pleasure. I want to be entertained, to become wrapped up in the characters. I love a book I can’t put down. Reading helps me learn structure, about what works and what doesn’t. It helps me craft my stories. I am inspired by the quality of the writing and the volume of writing many of these authors have published. If they can write thirty, surely I can write one.

One of my latest reads
Some “authorities” say to read the genre you write. Others say to read everything. I have been reading cozies, mysteries, novels and books on writing. I know I need to branch out and read fantasy and biographies.

I’ve discovered some authors new to me. I like them so much that I am reading their other books. When I find characters endearing I need to know what happens in their next chapter.

Last week I finished Bought the Farm by Wendy Meadows, which I highly recommend. It's 1943, and while Mary's husband is away at war, she's managing his newspaper in the sleepy town of Pineville, Tennessee. I found myself cheering Mary's spunkiness and laughing at her best friend Betty's delicate constitution. For me, the characters were vivid and likable, while the bad guy was despicable. I just ordered the sequel. I can't wait to see what kind of trouble Mary walks into this time.

What types of books are you reading?

Change of Scenery

It's hard to beat my latest writing spot.
Aloha from Maui!

I know, that's cruel, especially when many of you are dealing with ice, snow, and brutal cold. Think of my vacation here as research for my cozy. Whales, the Pacific Ocean, and sandy beaches; they will all appear in my books. I am just viewing them from a different angle.

Enjoying the sand between my toes
Published authors will tell you writing is work. It requires discipline, dedication, and deadlines. I have to say it is more enjoyable on a lanai hearing the roar of the surf, watching whales breach in the distance, and sipping Mai Tais. Because our condo is ground floor I have the opportunity to do a lot of people watching as people walk down to the beach. I think about how they could fit into my writing. What is their story? What do they do for a living? Are they married to each other or having a tryst? This is the perfect place to let my imagination run away. I also take notes on the appearance of the people on their way to the beach. Some you just can’t make up.

There is a couple sitting on beach chairs that I can see from where I am sitting. I chose to use them as a writing prompt. Here is their story from my vantage point, a figment of my imagination of course.

The couple sitting on the beach had been married for 30 years. Not all of them were easy. They had weathered the loss of a child, a house fire, career changes, and one affair. Each crisis seemed to have brought them closer together, except for the affair. That is why they were in Maui sitting on the beach. It was a last ditch attempt to put the remnants of their marriage back together, to put the whole sordid mess behind them and move on. As they sat there the sky turned the color of papaya and the sun dipped low. The couple stood up, shook the sand off, and walked their separate ways.

Until next time, Aloha!

New Year New Goal

My writing space
If you are like me you see the New Year as a blank sheet of paper on which to write goals. The opportunity to make 2019 anything I want it to be; to finally complete all the goals from last year and the year before that. ( sigh) This is the year I am going to . . . and I really mean it this time. This year, like no other before, I am thinking about writing. Here lies my problem. I think about writing. I read about writing. I read what I want to write. But, I don’t write. It’s the 3rd already and I am just now writing. Not the cozy mystery that is stalled at 10,147 words. I am writing, you guessed it, about writing.

Months ago I signed up for NaNoWriMo, the annual November challenge where people worldwide commit to writing 50,000 words in 30 days. I wrote and recorded my word count, for one day. I had great hopes of getting my cozy down on paper, then starting the New Year rewriting it. Life happened and I abandoned the plan. My writing coach, my daughter, advised me to choose another month and commit to it. January seemed the logical choice. It’s that whole New Year idea, a clean slate, the renewed energy of knowing you have a whole year in front of you. And I will be in Hawaii for 10 days. Could there be a better time?

A mug saying "Please do not annoy the writer she may put you in a book and kill you" sitting on top of a note pad next to a pen.
Ready to start the 31-day challenge
Today is the day I finally start, not the 1st as it should have been, but close enough that I feel good about it. I started by signing up for Jeff Goins31-day challenge. I need to write 500 words a day. It is a respectable goal, not overwhelming. I linked my blog to the other 3600 whose writers have also signed up for the challenge. I did this because it felt like it gave me accountability. Do you find you need that too? When I clicked that submit button it was like standing up in front of a group of my peers. I committed to write 500 words a day for 31 days. I won’t let you down. If I stick with this and do the minimum I will have 15,500 words at the end of the month. When I add those to what I already have it will be 25,000 words, 1/3 of my book. For me the good news is once I sit down and start writing I really enjoy it and I can make serious progress. The challenge for me is seat time, to make writing a high priority every day. According to the experts, if I stick to the 31 day challenge I will have developed a habit. It is something I want to do and something I need to do if I am to become a Cozy Mystery writer.  2019. This is my year.

Do you have writing goals for the New Year? How are you going to hold yourself accountable? Please share.