Camp Time!

I’m going to camp!

Who thought that in my 50’s I’d be excited about going to camp? But, it’s not the kind camp you’re thinking of. There will be no tents for me, no campfires, no S’mores. I won’t be swatting at mosquitoes or telling tales late at night. At least not in reality.

No the kind of camp but I’m going to visit virtual camp. It is a camp for writers, and it’s called Camp NaNoWriMo (national novel writing month).

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What that means is that I have committed myself to writing at least a rough draft of a novel within one months’ time. Yeah, I know, sounds crazy doesn’t it?

So I’ve signed up for camp, been assigned my cabin, and have met my 12 cabin mates. It’s actually pretty exciting.

It’s also a big commitment, and one that I’m not taking lightly. There will no more TV for me for the month, or binge reading of an entire series. Well, at least not as much. I will be concentrating on getting in serious writing time, with little distractions and lots of productivity.

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It starts April 1. (Maybe it is a coincidence about that date- after all us writers just might be fools)
I have already stocked up on preserves to get me through the month. I stopped on my way home today and picked up a bag of candy kisses- got to have your chocolate! I’ve got tons of tea and coffee stashed and of course bottled water, we’re get serious here. My song play list is updated and waiting and I have informed my husband that I “have plans” for the evenings this month.

So please excuse me if I don’t blog as much during the month of April. I have some serious writing to do on this novel and I’m going to get it done.

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If all goes according to plan, there should be a new Citrus Beach Mystery to add to the series.

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So, Now I Understand!

Respect and understanding

I guess it was about five or six years ago I had the pleasure of having client who is also a pretty famous writer. Vero Beach seems to be a hotbed for authors and this one was no exception- started Miami and worked his way up and I not to name drop, but his initials are C.H.

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At the time I was not writing myself although I had aspirations to begin. I can remember being impressed and a little bit awestruck by this man. He had a set schedule that he stuck to, and had his family stick to as well. He had an office set off in the house and when he went into his office during normal hours that he had set aside he was not to be disturbed under any circumstances. He stuck to the schedule just like in any other work environments and he made family stick to it as well. At the time I didn’t quite understand the need for this type of environment, but now that I’m writing I truly do.

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Now that I’m writing myself I understand why there is a need for your own special space. It may not be in office, it could just be a quiet little corner of your porch or in your bedroom with the bedroom door closed. But you do need to have a location where you can write and not have any interruptions in your thought flow.

Without an exclusive environment to write in, it’s easy to get distracted. I found that out myself; it’s easy to get up to run to get a drink and next thing you know you’re throwing a load of laundry in the washer or playing with the cats.

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You pick up the phone and the next thing you know, you’re answering emails. The distractions are boundless enough without anybody in the house, and add in family and friends? They see you at your desk and unless that door is closed you are soon caught up in family demands. Or, maybe you write outside and soon it is the neighbors who want to chit chat because they see you out on the porch. Before you know what you’ve lost hours of writing time.

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And then there’s the internal interruptions; the need to check your emails, to go on your favorite blogs or forums to just check out what’s going on. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Instagram, Tumbler; are all great things, but you need to set aside a time to do them away from your writing time. These are important things, because for many of us that is the way that we provide a social platform to make our name recognizable. But you need to set aside separate times to write and separate times to promote. It’s up to you to decide what order and the length of time that you need for each of these items

So, as I’m working on my third book, I understand and admire this author that I spoke of earlier with even more respect. He was able to stick to his regimen and pour out books, very good books by the way, and he still was able to do everything else in his life that he wanted to.
I’m taking my lessons from him. I’m going to start setting my own writing time and stick to it even if it’s only an hour at night from 10 to 11 when I have time to myself and can’t be interrupted. I will follow his example and build from it.

What steps are you going to take to make your writing career more successful and more productive?

Life’s Seasons

I was reminded today and how much our life revolves around the changes of the seasons and nature. Often these seasonal changes are reflected in our writing.

For example, there is a favorite place of mine that the Azaleas bloom in a beautiful display called Bok Tower. This happens once a year and year we migrate to Bok Towers to spend the day wondering the beautiful gardens and listening to the bells of the tower. I have plans for this locations to be mentioned in my books.

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When I look back in my life, I realized during my childhood, I also had “migrations”. Every year, my parents would bundle us up in winter clothes, make sure we had thermoses of hot chocolate and we would drive an hour just to sit by a frozen lake and watch the migration of the Canadian Geese. There will be thousands of them in this one area. It was a sight to behold something that is stayed with me my whole life.

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There have been other seasonal changes that we have celebrated with activities during my youth; like going to see the cherry blossoms or spending an afternoon picking strawberries. A visit to the Groves to pick oranges or to the Orchard to pick apples was a family event.

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As I go through my adult life there are other migrations that happen during certain times of the year. The end of the summer was the time when I said goodbye to our son as he went off to college. Down here in Florida, the start of our fall/winter season is kicked off with the arrival of the White Pelicans. The start of the holiday season is kicked off with shopping and baking and preparations.

Each season has its own way we relate it to nature; be at by following the birds, following the plants, or following the weather.

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So, I ask you, what season are you enjoying right now? Are you including it in your writing?

Habits-Good or Bad?

Each and every one of us has habits, little mannerisms set us apart from everybody else.
Sometimes they are clear and obvious things that others recognize from a distance and can say; “Yep that’s her, I can tell just by the way she’s doing (fill in the blank).”

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Your habits can be as innocent as twirling your hair, tapping your fingers, pacing, humming, or tapping your feet. There so many, the list goes on. Sometimes habits irritate another person. My personal irritation is watching somebody bite their fingernails. Look, nothing grosses me out more, but I know that my finger tapping irritates my husband. So, it’s a give-and-take with us; he bites his nails and I tap my nails.

Mannerisms and habits can describe you in many ways. They can reveal that you’re nervous person or perhaps easily bored. Your “tells” may never be seen until you’re in a stressful situation and then act almost as a self-defense mechanism; we let our stress out with these little idiosyncrasies.
Take a look around you, do little bit of people watching and see what you find.

But, you know, it’s funny – people aren’t the only creatures that have mannerisms and habits. Have you ever stopped and noticed your animals actions?

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For instance I have three cats and each one of them has her own particular habit that they do. My little gray likes to find a furry blanket to curl up and then she start sucking on the fur. My long hair black-and-white one loves to sit in the middle of the doorway, not in & not out. No, she is right smack across the threshold, as if she can’t make a decision where she wants to go. And my oldest cat, who happens to be almost 18, refuses to drink water, unless it’s out of a running tap.

Even the animals out in the wild have their own particular habits. Some birds migrate to the same exact location every year without fail, without deviation. As a child, my parents would take us while the snow was still on the ground, to see the Canadian Geese that came by the hundreds to the lakes during their yearly migration. So you see, habits are not restricted to humans. Some are natural; cause from your heredity and others – who knows why we start with habits.

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As a writer I think it’s really important to bring your characters to life by giving them habits. They can be irritating, endearing, or unconscious but they need to be there. These mannerisms give your character more depth and help reader get to know them better. For instance Megan, in my Citrus Beach Mystery series is a pacer. When she gets nervous she paces and often irritates those around her by doing this. It’s these little things that let you begin to understand the character more.

So, as you sit there on a bench and people watch, try figure out what habits strangers show without realizing. Can some of those habits that you’re watching from other people be worked into your story?

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Give your character some life, give them some interest, and give them some habits.

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