Saturday, January 24, 2015

My Favorite Time and Place to Read? How About Writing Time? #Round Robin

Life keeps getting busier, and finding time to complete daily tasks is difficult, but I always, always find time to read.

This month’s question:
What is your favorite time and place to read? How about writing time? Do you have to make time?
Do you have a ritual or is your plan helter-skelter? What's your method?

As a child it was hiding beneath my covers with a flashlight long past my prescribed bedtime.  Today, it more of a snatch of time here and there.  While preparing dinner (e-reader/ iPad /paperback on the counter), 10:30 p.m. wrapped in a woven throw on the couch listening to Slacker Radio on my iPad (when I should be sleeping), or with a grand-baby snuggled in my lap.  Reading is a pleasure, an escape, a way to share stories with others.

I make time to read, I make time to go to the gym, and I make time for family and friends.  These day-to-day activities weave, in my opinion, the fabric of a well-balanced and enjoyable life.   
Writing Time—the second part of today’s blog topic.

My method of writing?

I make it a practice to study the master of successful fiction.  Hemingway never wrote a treatise of the art of writing fiction.  He did, however, leave behind letters, articles and books with opinions and advice on writing.  Some of the best of those were assembled in 1984 by Larry W. Phillips into a book Ernest Hemingway on Writing.   While I do not rigidly follow these steps, I always keep them in the back of my mind.

1: To get started, write one true sentence.  One simple declarative sentence. 
·       Charlene hadn’t told Rachel that she’d fixed her up with a cowboy, much less Lynx Maddox, the “Wild Cat” of the rodeo circuit.
(Lynx, Rodeo Romance)

·       “You and Elvis have done a great job on this house,” Meredith said as her older sister led the way downstairs toward the kitchen where the tour began. “Sorry I couldn’t get over, until now, but I’ve been sort of. . .well, busy.”
(Here Today, Zombie Tomorrow) Sassy & Fun Fantasy Series.

·       Audralynn Maddox heard her own soft cry, but the pain exploding inside her head made everything else surreal, distanced by the realization that someone had made a mistake.
(Brede, Rodeo Romance Book 2)

My exception:  my YA historical novel is told in the first person.  Since the novel focuses on the emotional and life altering events of a young girl, I used historical facts and events to form the plot of my award-winning novel,  Simple declarative sentences are applied to the Prologue and Introduction.  However, emotional impact was needed to make the story ‘real’.

·       Prologue: The Governor of New Mexico decreed that all Indian children over six be educated in the ways of the white man. 

Indian commissioner Thomas Morgan said: It was cheaper to educate the Indians than to kill them.

1880, Apacheria, Season of Ripened Berries
Isolated bands of colored clay on white limestone remained where the sagebrush was stripped from Mother Earth by sudden storms and surface waters. Desolate. Bleak. A land made of barren rocks and twisted paths that reached out into the silence.

A world of hunger and hardship.  This is my world. I am Tanayia.  I was born thirteen winters ago. My people and I call ourselves “Nde” this means “The People”.  The white men call us Apache.
(Whisper upon the Water, Native American Series). 

2: Always stop for the day while you still know what will happen next.  I find this to be a key for me.  When I do not follow this step I find myself flirting with writer’s block the next day.

3: Never think about the story when you’re not working.  I carry this to an extreme, I do not talk about my work-in-progress.  The only exception being when I have research questions or trying to plot a continuing series.

4: When it’s time to work again, always start by reading what you’ve written so far.  The only problem, I am sooo tempted to make revisions.  For most part I beat back the urge (with a stick, if necessary ;-).  Otherwise, I’d never progress beyond chapter one.

5: Don’t describe an emotion–make it.  Watch and listen closely to external events, but to also notice any emotion stirred in you, or others, by the events and then trace back and identify precisely what it was that caused the emotion. If you can identify the concrete action or sensation that caused the emotion and present it accurately and fully rounded in your story, your readers should feel the same emotion.   When I am uncertain as to whether I’ve conveyed too little, or too much (insert: whiny), I ask my BF and fellow BWL writer, Geeta Kakade.  Geeta is the master of writing emotion (just ask Debbie Macomber).  

6: Use a pencil.  A mechanical pencil, please (multiple selection of refill sizes and colors available online).  I do not like to conduct an unproductive search for a pencil sharpener—or heaven forbid, be reduced to whittling a semi-acceptable point with my dull paring knife.

7: Be Brief. To quote Hemingway:  It wasn’t by accident that the Gettysburg address was so short. The laws of prose writing are as immutable as those of flight, of mathematics, of physics.  Therefore, I revise ruthlessly, use strong verbs, and avoid adverbs, and always, always step away from the keyboard when it is time to type: The End.

Thank you for visiting my blog today.  For upcoming releases, contests, and links to interviews, recipes and more! Visit my website:

Please take a moment to visit, and comment, upon view other writers participating in this month’s Round Robin Blog.

Happy Reading,


Rhobin said...

Good advice for writing and like your world-view, too. Enjoyed your post.

Beverley Bateman said...

Reading under the covers with a flashlight - brought back memories. I did that, too.
Your steps of writing has me thinking. Good post.

Connie Vines said...

Thank you Rhobin. I am glad you enjoyed my post.

Connie Vines said...

Beverly, do you still recall the scent of the library book and the crakle of the book binding?

Geeta Kakade said...

Well said, Connie! I knew you when you kept revising those first three chapters and wouldn't move on and am glad I was part of your 'beating the urge with a stick' brigade back then.
Your pointers are a good refresher course on how to keep writing, no matter what.

Fiona McGier said...

I'm probably one of the few English majors who does not like Hemmingway's style of writing. Shocking, I know, but true.

I agree with most of your points except number 3 in writing...I ALWAYS think about my stories when I'm not actively writing. That way when I finally get a chance to sit and type, the story will flow out of me, since I already know how the next scenes are going to happen.

Viva la difference, eh?