Monday, February 18, 2019

Small Actions Have Great Meaning

No, this is not my home office. Close, but not. The point here is that the desk is clear and ready to be worked at. I have been working a lot lately - too much, but the rent and the bills need to be paid. I have it down now so I can take one whole day a week off - and that I spend cleaning house. I can do errands, grocery shopping etc. on any day, and still put in a full day at work. 

How can I do this? I work from an office in my home. Working all but one day of the week, I tend to leave out on my desk my phone (a land line that is only used for my phone readings), a deck of Tarot cards (the Morgan-Greer is my reading deck), and a stack of templates to write basic caller information on. And more than occasionally my sixteen pound Orange Tabby, Pumpkin. (No, I did not name him, my mother did!)

I do the usual Internet work - checking e-mails, and my social media sites, writing this blog, and a flash fiction blog. My co-author and I are in the editing stages of a book on spirituality, and I have my own mystery book in process. What I finally recognized is that I needed a clear desk when not doing phone line work. So now I clear my desk each night so that I can do other work in peace. 

A small action, with great meaning!

(c) February 2019 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Too Many Storylines - Too Little Time

Writer's are surrounded by stories - everyone, everything has a story to tell. The first thing that we need to do is jot down ideas as they come. Ideas are very flighty, you know - they come and leave of their own accord. If I am home, I jot these flighty little ideas down in an e-file. If I am out and about, I create a memo on my cell phone. The really cool thing about cell phones is that I can take a picture to go with it. Not that I will use the picture to do more than jog my memory - the rights of the person/people being photographed and all that.

What do we do with ideas that don't ever develop into anything? I hold on to them - they may at some point in time find their story! The ideas that are willing to be developed - some may go into short stories, some may go into books, some may develop into a series. 

Everywhere we go there are stories. People dancing down the aisles in a grocery store (I did see this happen, and it was store employees doing the dancing!),  the individual ahead of us waiting to mail a package, the exotic looking lady getting her nails done ... they all have their stories. And guess what - sometimes their stories will merge!

We are gifted with ideas for stories every day - we simply need to decide which ones we are going to run with, and which ones we will sit on for a while. Nothing is at it seems - you and I can see the same thing, and write two very different stories. This is the magic of life!

Happy writing!

(c) February 2019 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written approval from the author. 

Monday, February 4, 2019

Is There A Formula For Writing Cozy Mysteries?

Is there a formula for writing cozy mysteries? Many of you are out there going "Are you joking! We are pantsers!" Okay, calm down. I am a pantser too - meaning that my material writes itself and that the storyline develops as it is written. I have a rough outline, a rough idea of where I want things to go as the author,  but my characters have this weird tendency to want to define their own lives and write their own stories.

So what is this formula stuff? We can define this as a story having a beginning, a middle, and an end. In the end, especially in a cozy mystery, good prevails over evil. As writers, we to tie our stories up nicely, and not leave any loose ends. 

With mysteries, we are also looking at there being a crime, someone who commits the crime, and someone who solves the crime. With cozy mysteries, the crime is solved without blood, gore, and curse words. It often involves friends and/or family, and the setting is often within a community. 

A good cozy mystery has a hook of some kind, something that draws the reader in. It could be a profession, a craft, food (I love mysteries that include recipes, and anything involving chocolate or coffee), or a locale (I stories that take place in both large cities and small towns).

The protagonist needs to be developed in a manner that allows them to have certain skills, or to have access to people that do. (Having said that, I am sick to death of female protagonists who husband/boyfriend/significant other is somehow involved in law enforcement.) 

The murder/crime needs to be both interesting and plausible. And there need to be a few red herrings along the way.

What it comes down to is that the formula for writing a cozy mystery is to write a tight story that is interesting, involves a few brain cells, and leaves its readers with a feeling of time well spent.

(c) February 2019 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission of the author.   

Monday, January 28, 2019

A Blogger's Nightmare - "What Do I Write About?"

Many writers maintain a blog on at least a monthly basis as a way of keeping their name out there and staying in contact with their reader audience. What is happening to me (especially since I made the commitment to blog on a weekly basis) is that I at times find myself at a loss for ideas for content. The idea for today's blog came from my writer friend Jean Maurie Puhlman. Her suggestion was to present a list of sentences with blanks at the end. I immediately felt that these could act as writing prompts, and I thought that was a great idea! So, thanks to Jean Maurie, here we go!

  • John, did you see where I put _____?
  • Why on earth did you _____?
  • You think it was a coincidence that _____!
  • They only thought the show was going to go on. The black hole that it was going to create would _____.
  • Who knew that the mystery dinner was going to end up _____.
  • We had no idea who he was, or that _____ was about to be set loose!
  • The gun just sat there, on the table, waiting to _____.
  • When the smoke cleared, there was going to be _____.
  •  Little old ladies are not always _____.
  • History may repeat itself, but only _____.
  • As the car crested the hill, Jillian panicked as she realized that the brakes were _____.
  • She had made it all happen, but the credit went to _____.
  • Things that happen in the fashion business are not always _____.

(c) January 2019 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission of the author.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Editing For Flow

I was recently asked to edit the WIP for a lady who is an amazing writer. She explained what she wanted, but I asked questions, just to be sure. She had reached a point in her project where she wasn't quite sure of the flow. She didn't need spelling or grammar editing, all I had to do was look at the flow. Even though I knew approximately where in her work she was concerned, I started reading from the beginning. In that way, I could see how the entire project flowed, and not just focus on one part of it.

This is a non-fiction book, so flow is important. What exactly is flow? From my perspective, it is the movement of ideas in a manner that a reader will be able to understand and follow. No one goes down the proverbial rabbit hole when reading. I have read my share of non-fiction books that jumped around and did not hold together. IMHO, they were a waste of time. I am not talking stand-alone chapters here, I am talking about paragraphs within an individual chapter that are questionably related to each other. 

When doing this type of editing, I suggest reading the material out loud. Don't try and rush the reading, because if you do you will unconsciously fill in the "black holes" in your mind, but they will still exist on paper. Printing out the material for editing is another way to do this, but reading something out loud, in a slow manner, will give you an overall view of what is going on.

Take notes while you are reading, or you may forget what you found questionable. I am reading my friend's work in a digital file and making notes in a separate digital file as I go along.

Changes that need to be made could be very minor, or they could be major structural changes. This is one reason that I chose to read my friend's work from the beginning, to see how the whole thing was structured. Well, there is another reason, but I cannot give it here, because it has to do with the nature of the presentation.

I am looking at things such as (1) Are the ideas easily understood?, (2) Does the sequence in which they are presented make sense?, and (3) Does the work build on itself?

I am in the process of co-writing a non-fiction book, and I am sure that my writing partner and I will be editing for flow, probably even before we edit for grammar and punctuation. 

(c) January 2019 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission of the author. 

Monday, January 14, 2019

Master Class - Online Classes

What exactly is a Master Class? It is a class, in any subject, that is taught by an expert in that subject. As writers, why do we want to take a master class? For that matter, why do we want to take classes at all? Let's discuss the last question first. As writers, we take classes to learn new skills, to bring structure into our writing (hey - I am a "pantser", so a little structure doesn't hurt!), to help to motivate us and keep us focused, and perhaps to learn from a master craftsman - a writer that we admire, and that we want to learn from/be like. 

There it is - the master craftsman teaching the master class! In my wanderings I found a class offered by Margaret Atwood on creative writing, being offered through the Master Class site. This is a site where over 45 instructors offer classes on subjects ranging from writing, to cooking, game design and theory, playing the guitar, photography, wine appreciation, and more. Other writing classes include those given by Malcolm Gladwell, Dan Brown, James Patterson, Shonda Rhimes, Aaron Sorkin, R.L. Stine, Judy Blume, and David Mamet. 

Looking at Margaret Atwood's class, this is the structure: there are 23 video lesson's (the content of each lesson is listed on the site), a downloadable class workbook, and a critique on student work.  Also included are some of Atwood's original research and notes.

Classes on this site can be taken singly, or there is an option for an all access pass for a yearly fee. Looking at what is being offered, I am inclined to purchase the all access pass.  

I can't think of a better place to grow some feet for a beginning writer, or to fine tune one's work for a more accomplished writer.

(c) January 2019 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission from the author. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Writing Goals For The New Year

I find it much more productive to set writing goals at the beginning of the year (that are reviewed quarterly), rather than setting resolutions that fade away fast. I am in a very good place with that this year, as I am using an At-A-Glance daily planner, and each day has places to write down the first and last things done each day, the top three things to do each day, what needs to be done "right now", and what the "win" of the day was. This soothes my Cappie soul! 

When  I sit down to write our my yearly writing goals, the first thing I do is to try and make them realistic! I am still working full time, so I have to fit my writing around that. Any deadlines that I set out have to be functional. I break my goals down into smaller, achievable bites. I mean, what are the chances that I can sit down and develop character profiles for my entire book in one day? Or that I can edit my entire book in three days?

Develop some way of keeping track of where you are on your book. For me, the easiest way is by word count. I really don't care how many hours a day I write - just so that I am writing every day. I also don't care what time of day I write - I have the benefit of being able to write whenever I want to, day or night. My most productive time is usually in the oh dark thirty hours!

I push myself to define goals for each step of a writing project. The project itself must become just as important as the characters themselves. 

Stay positive, and strive to keep a work/life balance. Use insirational quotes to your advantage.

Some people may want to share their goals with a writing partner, with each partner holding the other partner accountable for achieving their goals (or understanding why they are not achieving their goals). This is not something that I would ever do, but many people find that it works for them.

Make sure that your goals are specific (or you will be wandering around in a writer's abyss forever!), that you have some way of quantifying/measuring them, and that you have a way of acting on them.

Happy writing for 2019!

(c) January 2019 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission. 

Small Actions Have Great Meaning

No, this is not my home office. Close, but not. The point here is that the desk is clear and ready to be worked at. I have been working...