Ideas While Driving

Since I moved I have done a lot more car trips. I don’t mind as I like car trips. I like driving and I don’t mind being a passenger. The only problem with car trips is that if I try to read or write I can motion sick. So, those hours are useless for getting anything done. Instead I watch the scenery and let my mind wander off to wherever it wants to go. I do pay attention if I am driving, but even then my mind tends to be working on something. This time sitting and enjoying the view has led to many story ideas.

Depending on the trip and the day I will write down these ideas during the short breaks that happen like lunch. Other times I wait until the evening when I have reached my destination and I have a few minutes before going to bed. I like to keep as many of the ideas I get while on car trips as I can because those are some of my better ideas.

It was during my family trips that I got the idea for my western, Chenarcor, as the scenery reminded me of the old west. The trip was usually a yearly event and thus I had plenty of time to think and imagine as we drove.

As much as it would be nice to have those for reading or writing, I enjoy those times for the ideas that come to me.

Random Bits

Lately I seem to be writing more random bits than anything else. A scene will come to me and I will write it down, but it has nothing to do with anything else I am working on. These pieces are also short. They are usually not whole stories, but there is nothing else to go with them. They feel like they are pieces from a longer story, but where the rest of the story is I don’t know.

One I am calling a short story, but it too feels like it is a longer piece. I wasn’t sure where it was going when I started. I thought it might be a short story and thus I started. It turned out to be two scenes. The beginning scene and the end scene, but whatever was supposed to be in the middle isn’t there. The main character was drunk and has no memory of that period and the other characters aren’t willing to talk to me. Leaving little choice, but declare it a short story and finished. At least for now.

Maybe someday I will put all the short bits into a book together. I don’t know if I will put them together as they are or try to find a story to connect them. For now they are just random bits of story sitting around waiting.

 

Your Local library

Your local library is a great resource for writers. Libraries have lots in offer. Starting with access to lots of books and if you want to be a writer you have to be a reader. They also have books on writing to help hone your craft. Libraries also will bring in speakers to give talks to people who are interested. There could be someone who knows about the publishing industry or it could be an author. Most authors are willing to talk about their writing even if the event is supposed to be a signing.

Libraries are a great place to sit and write. They are a quiet place with the main distraction being the shelves of books surrounding the tables. And if you want to read an author’s books before you purchase the book, ask the library to get it for you. This improves their collection because if you enjoy the book someone else visiting the library likely will as well.

Many libraries are willing to provide space for writers’ groups to meet. This is part of supporting the community. And libraries are big supports of communities because that is what they are there for and the communities are also where they get their support. So, show your local library some affection.

 

Not as Much as You Think I Do

People ask how much time I spend writing in a day. They believe that I must be writing for hours every day to have put out so many books. After all it takes work to put out nine books and thus it must be a daily struggle. I admit that it is a daily struggle, but not because of how much work I get done. The struggle is sitting down and writing. There are plenty of days when I get no writing done at all and most days when I write less than a hundred words.

Six of the books I have put out have been written during NaNoWriMo and thus only took thirty days each to write. The editing took much longer, but it always does. I wrote my western in fits and starts over many years before getting serious. It took a year to get the book written once I focused on it. My pirate book was written slowly over several years as I worked on it when I was really interested in the work. Committed to Her Enemy was another one which I concentrated on and finished.

There is only one novel length story that I wrote on daily and finished quickly. For that story I am sure inspiration chased me through the pages. However, overall I do not write for hours a day to get my books out there. If I did, I would have a lot more stories written.

 

Can’t Think

There are times when I can’t think of what to write. I can stare at the piece of paper, or computer document, for hours without any idea on how to start or continue to story. The page taunts me as I stare at it and nothing comes through my fingers. It is frustrating and every time I hope I never suffer from it again. However, there are things that can be done when this feeling shows up.

The first thing I do is think about whether this is the story my brain truly wants to write on. Sometimes there is another story coming to mind and it is easier to write on that story before going back to what I was trying to work on. This works like grease to get the gears moving.

The second thing that works is to walk away from the story. Go for a walk, do some housework, or run some errands. Get away from the story for a while, but do something that gets you moving.

The worst thing to do is usually to sit there and stare at the page. Because frustration is does not help with writing. It just leaves the story stuck.

 

The Kings of Proster

My fantasy series is called The Kings of Proster and I keep being asked about how many books it will be along with when I will have them out. Unfortunately I did not get the ones due out last fall out yet. I am having some slight issues, but I should sort through those in the next while. Then I will put out Lovers & Losses and Fighting for the King.

I have planned out twelve books. Six are currently out, two coming, three I have to finish writing, and one I will write when I’ve got the rest of them finished. My brain has been hinting there might be a prequel book and maybe some stories from the neighbouring kingdoms, but neither of those projects are going to happen before The Kings of Proster are all written and available for sale.

In the meantime, you can enjoy For Wealth and Glory, Closing the Portal, Mistakes Made, Wasted Love, The Mystery of the Magic, and The King’s Ransom. They are available in hard copies and just recently I have converted them all into e-book format. And hopefully I will have the next two out soon.

 

Kill Them Off

At the end of the book, kill off your main character. This prevents your character from coming back and demanding more stories from you. Nothing is more annoying than a character who does not realize you have other tales to tell with different people. If you do not do something about such character, they will sit beside you and drone on for hours about other adventures they have for you to write down.

The solution to this is to kill them off. When their story is finished, find some really interesting way for them to kick the bucket. Make it worthy for your readers to give them proper closure, as you do not leave the reader hanging. Maybe the villain was not quite and dead as everyone thought and grabbed the character before they both tumbled down into the lava. Or maybe they had a terminal disease which overcomes them in the last few pages. Or maybe they sacrifice themselves for someone they love. But when you are done with a character, kill them off so they do not bother you again.

 

Writing Contests

I have discussed National Novel Writing Month before, but it does not count among the contests I want to bring to your attention. Contests can be a great way for writers to get noticed in a field that can be very hard to break into. Here are five contests that I have either entered or have wanted to enter. All of these are Canada based contests with some accepting international entries.

The first one is the Three Day Novel Contest, which happens on the Labour Day weekend. The goal of this contest is to write a novel and do the first edit all in the three days in that weekend. It costs $50 to enter and the prize is a publishing contract for that book. And is open to anyone.

The second is the CBC Short Fiction Contest, which is open September 1 to October 31. It is part of Canada Writes that include a creative non-fiction contest and a poetry contest. The goal is a 1,200 to 1,500 word short story. The cost is $25. The prize is $6,000, publication in Air Canada’s enRoute magazine, and 10 day writing residency at the Banff Centre. Open to Canadian citizens.

Next is PRISM international Fiction Contest, which has a deadline of January 15. The maximum work count of 6,000 for the short story. There is also a creative non-fiction contest and a poetry contest. The cost is $35, plus $5 for any additional piece submitted. The prize is $1,500 for grand prize, $600 runner-up, and $400 for the second runner-up. This is open to anyone.

The fourth is the Great BC Novel Contest, which is for novels or novellas with a deadline of September 1st. The cost is $40. The prize is a publishing contract for that book. This is open to residents of British Columbia.

The final contest is the John Harris Fiction Awards, which has a deadline in March. This is for short stories of 10,000 words or less. Though creative non-fiction is accepted as well as fiction. There is no cost to enter. The prize is $1,000. It is open to the residents of northern British Columbia.

These are a very small amount of contests available to enter for writers. There is also the contest put on by Lit-N-Laughter.

Bookstores

Books & Company is a bookstore located in downtown Prince George, BC. It has an excellent selection of books for all subjects and if you can’t find in the store, they will try to order it for you. Café Voltaire shares the bottom floor with the bookstore, so when you have picked out your book, you can sit there with a coffee and a treat while you read. Friday nights you can go to café Voltaire for a free show, usually featuring local talent. Upstairs is Artspace, which is used for all sorts of shows and such. Many shows in Artspace require purchasing tickets, but they aren’t expensive. Also upstairs are several shops and other offices. Along the walls of Artspace, there are pictures or paintings.
The owner supports the arts in Prince George and is welcoming to artists, writers, and musicians. The staff are more than willing to help anyone who comes in. All this make a pleasant experience, which is the great thing about books stores. I hope you have such a store near you and if you are in PG, you stop in for a visit.

Resolutions

It is the time of year when people make resolutions. Resolutions like posting more than three blog posts in a year. I always make some kind of writing resolutions or goals with the hope that I will finish more projects over the year. But every year I start many more projects than I finish and I feel like I fall short of my goals.

This year, I am not making resolutions as such. Yes, I am setting myself goals, but I am not doing year long goals. I am setting goals for each month. I am also not setting about how many projects to get done over the year. Instead I am trying for a daily word count.

With these goals, I hope to get more done. I also hope to put up more blog posts. We’ll see how it all works out over the course of this month.