In some ways, we writers have the easiest jobs on the planet. We generally don't work outdoors in the elements. We get to be creative for large chunks of the day. And the wardrobe...hello, working in your pajamas all day, goodbye fitted khakis. And farewell annoying coworker who always, always eats fish for lunch. At his desk. Right next to yours.
Still, even writing for a living has its downsides. Besides not knowing where your next paycheck is coming from, you also have to learn to take really good care of your body. Because a broken, burnt out body/psyche aren't going to help your career.
I was recently asked to write a guest post over at Writing and Wellness on this very topic: how to take care of your health while writing full-time. I shared some of the tips and tricks that I use and hope you'll get some benefits from them.
Somewhere out there must be a writer who loves editing.
That person is not me.
Out of the entire book writing/outreach/administrative/publishing parts of writing, editing has to be my least favorite. I've tried everything I can think of to make the process smoother--even writing from an outline (I hate outlines and much prefer to follow the story as it unfolds), but nothing seems to make it easier.
As you can see from the photo above, I've now resorted to sparkly gel pens and highlighters along with tea and pumpkin-scented candles to keep me going. Whatever works, right? ;)
As I work on the edit of the next novel I'm struck by something: there is a "next novel." I am so blessed. Despite the angst I feel about editing, despite the fact that I'm not some huge, best-selling novelist, I get to write books. What fun! And some people buy them. Amazing!
Counting My Blessings
It's easy to get caught up in the why-can't-I-be-as-popular-as-that-author type thoughts, especially when you work alone day after day. I'm making it more of a point though, to count my blessings when it comes to work (and life in general).
What a thrill to be able to write for a living!
I've dreamed of this for years and years: when I worked as a receptionist; when I toiled as a vet tech; when I helped women in the clothes store pick out that "just right" dress; when I was employed for several years in human services where I worked as everything from a DUI program assistant to a case manager.
When you have a creative dream, do all you can to make it reality. Even if you work on it in tiny chunks (like say, writing a book in 15-minutes a day), keep going. Even when people make snide remarks about "getting a real job," keep going. Even when you're stuck in the 9-5 treadmill life, do whatever you can to move just a little closer toward your dream.
And hey, if you find yourself in need of a pep talk, drop me a line: jpcwrites (at) gmail (dot) com. I love talking with other creatives and may have a tip or two that will help you.
Have you ever wondered what goes into writing a Gothic suspense novel or short story? What are the "must haves" to include? What sets Gothic suspense novels, stories or movies apart from other suspense or horror?
In my guest post over at The Misstery, I wrote all about this topic and answered these and several other questions. Pop over to my post on "Writing Gothic Suspense Novels," for a quick read.
I'm a bit late for Women's History Month, but have been thinking about sharing some of my favorite women suspense authors with you here on the blog for some time. Today, we're going to go back in history and learn more about three authors who changed the literary world. They are: Mary Roberts Rinehart, Agatha Christie and Patricia Clapp. Like any good journalist, I'm going to cover the Five Ws: Who, What Where, When and Why...the last "w" being why you might want to pick up one of their books.
Who: Mary Roberts Rhinehart had an interesting start in the literary world: she became a writer because of financial need. This in itself might not be so surprising, except that she was married to a doctor. Apparently, the couple was in financial distress and Mary Roberts Rhinehart began to write and sell her fictional articles in magazines.
What: The author of 60 mystery books, nine plays, and many short stories published in magazines like the Saturday Evening Post.
Where: Mary Roberts Rhinehart was originally from Pittsburgh, PA, but later lived among homes located in Bar Harbor, ME, and Park Avenue in NYC.
When: She was first published in 1908 and continued to write prolifically until her death in 1858.
Why: Mary Roberts Rhinehart wrote books that evoked suspense and oozed atmosphere all without going into the gory details of a story. Her book, The Yellow Room, was a fascinating read and would be a great introduction to her work.
Oh, Mrs. Christie: what can I say that hasn't been said a million times before? Let's cover the five W's and see if we learn anything new, shall we?
Who: Born Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller, Christie published her first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, in 1920.
What: A prolific writer, Agatha Christie penned more than 70 mystery novels during her lifetime. She also wrote romance novels under a pen name (Mary Westmacott), many short stories and plays, too. Several of her books have gone on to become movies, and of course, her most famous characters, Hercules Poirot and Miss Marple had their own TV series.
Where: Christie was born in in Torquay, Devon, (England) and later lived in her beautiful "dream home," Greenway. (You can tour Greenway if you'd like!)
When: Agatha Christie was born in 1890 and was named dame in 1971. She passed away in 1976.
Why: So many reasons to enjoy Agatha Christie's books: one of my top ones? Because I have yet to figure out "who did it," and the motive both, a sure sign of a great mystery writer.
Who: Patrica Clapp was something of a mystery herself. She was born in 1912 and her first work was the novel, Constance: A Story of Early Plymouth.
What: Unlike the other two authors above, Ms. Clapp was not a prolific writer. She is credited with 10 published works, most of these children's books. I was introduced to her by a wonderful friend with similar reading tastes. Ms. Clapp's book, Jane-Emily, was probably my favorite read of 2017. According to her biography via Harper Collins, the author actually identified as more of a "theater person," than a writer, and worked in community theater for 40 years.
Where: Patricia Clapp was born in Boston, MA, and lived in Upper Montclair, New Jersey.
When: The author was born in 1912 and passed away in 2003.
Why: Jane-Emily is a Gothic-suspense that will draw you in from the very first page. I believe in today's classification system, it would be considered Juvenile Fiction, but I enjoyed it greatly. It's spooky and haunting with beautiful prose and, oddly, a bit of humor that somehow works perfectly.
Who did I miss? This is just a short overview of three of my favorite vintage female suspense authors, but who would you add to the list? Share you thoughts in the comments.
You know how you might envy someone who keeps an immaculate house, drives a big, shiny SUV, or has perfectly-behaved children? Well, I envy authors who outline.
Outlining? Not for me. No, I'm a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants type, a rebel. A true jump-in-with-both-feet type of girl. Which is fine and great in its way. Writing fiction is pretty much the only time that I "break the rules," and do things in an un-planned for fashion. It's fun to throw caution to the wind and write freely without thought of what might show up next on the page...until you're not sure what should show up next on the page. Or until the dreaded editing process begins.
Have I mentioned previously that I don't like the editing process much? It's true. Give me the freedom of the empty page and the energy that comes pouring out while I'm working on that messy and imperfect first draft. But then the editing starts and GAH! I want to run from my desk and hide, preferably with a tub of dairy-free ice cream in a room streaming Netflix.
I've just discovered a new way of outlining through, that doesn't hurt quite so much. I still do this after the first draft is written (I know, I'm weird but you've gotta go with what works) and use index cards to track the major points in the novel. Other writers are all high-tech with Scrivener, but I'm more of a Luddite. And that's OK.
I'm really enjoying this new system. Above, you'll see many of the cards spread out for "Pretty Poison," my seventh book (coming 2019). The blank cards at the end of the rows gave away the plot, so I had to flip them over.
Currently, I'm working from another set of index cards. These are helping me to better flesh out the main points in my sixth book, the Creepy Doll Book (*not it's real title). In honor of this book which will be coming out later this year, I thought it would be fun to go on a little Creepy Doll Field Trip. Here are some frightening dolls that I found while browsing the internet. Vote for your favorite in the comments!
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