Every year when the Christmas cards start coming in I get two or three of the traditional photocopied family Christmas letters. I know that people make a lot of negative comments about these letters, but frankly I like enjoy them. Many times I haven’t really corresponded too much during the year with the people who send me these letters and I love seeing the pictures of their kids and reading their stories. I also like reading between the lines in passages like Jimmy finally paid off the lawyer and has returned to school or Bob went on vacation to the Bahamas and I went somewhere else. Uh huh.
I begin to wonder if writers were to send each other yearly Christmas letters what kinds of things would they write?
Would they write about the months of writer’s block? Would they write about their adventures in the publishing world or the characters they created? Would they include pictures of the settings they had rolling around in their brains? Would they enclosed the top ten crime stories that they cut out of the newspaper and tell of their plans for them in their next story?
Take a moment and write a Christmas letter about your year in writing. Just like a traditional letter, write about your family-which would be your characters. If you write a series, what happened to your protagonist this year? Just where is the villain or villains that you protagonist had done away with? You may even include a picture of bad as they do their time behind bars. Did you lose any characters this year? Write a little memorial. Are there any new additions? Share your joy. Write about the places you visited. Did you spend your year researching places all over the world or like me did spend all your time in a tiny town that has an incredibly high murder rate. Write about the mood of your work. Were your stories suspenseful? Were they romantic? Happy and upbeat or dark? Are vampires around every corner or happy-go-lucky English-teachers-turned-amatuer-sleuths? (Help, I think my dash key is stuck :—–) Write about your favorite scene. Describe what happened and why you loved writing it. My favorite scene this year had to be my wedding reception in Buzzkill. I had so much fun with the characters and the weather. Our stories really are our children. We create them, we straighten them out and then we start all over again. Finally end your letter with your wishes and goals for the next year. Do you plan to finish a novel in the next year? Write it down. Once you’ve finished your letter, file it away on your computer and open it next December. You’ll have fun reading it and then…write another one.
Big surprise. I decided to do NaNoWriMo again this year. When I was asked about it in October, I flatly told anyone who would listen to me–NO. I rushed through 50,000 words for the last two Novembers and this year I was going to concentrate on finishing up my fifth book in the Pecan Bayou series. Halloween night I’m sitting at my laptop in a funny hat between running to the door when my husband says, “Are you getting ready to NaNoWriMo?” (Yes, that word is actually a verb in my household.)
I think he looks forward to me being so busy in November. This may directly relate to the currently active college football season, but I can’t be sure. So, he talked me into it. I have a novel that has been bouncing around the back of my head for the last year. I was planning to work on it after the book I’m currently plodding through, but I just couldn’t resist the chance to try.
Ever since home economics class years ago, I have enjoyed sewing. I’ve sewn apparel, things for my home, quilts and all kinds of things for my disabled son like chair covers. I make plenty of mistakes and throw away failed projects all the time. In some ways sewing is a lot like writing. You have to practice at it and even though you think it’s going to be wonderful it can turn out to be junk. So what do you do? Rip it out and try it again or in writers’ terms, rip it up and try it again.
One of my favorite programs on television is Project Runway. For a writer this show is like going to an all-you-can-eat smorgasbord of interesting characters. Then, I was so happy to hear about a new sewing program from the UK titled The Great British Sewing Bee. Instead of a group of fashion school graduates, it was people from all walks of life who just liked to sew. Instead of having to design an outfit they were given a commercially made pattern. I grew to love these people as much or more as the crazy designers from the New York based show. Between the sets of characters in the two different programs I could see a book was itching to write.
So here I am doing double writing duty and having a great time with it. My NaNoWriMo book will not be a murder mystery. Surprise again! Maybe I shouldn’t say that until I actually finish it. I may have to kill somebody off. I can see it now The Taffeta Murders…
If you want to follow my word count or if I collapse in the middle of the month, I will be posting this little box in the right hand column.
Last night I watched the movie The Conjuring with my family. If you are looking for a grown-up, creepy Halloween dvd to watch, this is a good one. I have to admit that I shut my eyes so many times I actually started getting sleepy at one point. Some of the story elements in “The Conjuring” would work in writing a good horror or mystery story. Without giving away too much of the plot, here are some things that would give your readers the creeps.
1. Cute kids who innocently make friends with evil entities
2. Husbands who leave to go work ridiculously long hours
3. Paranormal experts who get scared
4. Lots of unexpected events like grisly looking folks popping out in “don’t-go-in-there” basement
5. The haunted house setting with a past nobody tells about until people are being jerked around the room by unseen forces
6. Creepy music box, doll, or piano that plays by itself
Put all this together and you have yourself a horror story. Now before you go all Stephen King on me, just remember that many of these elements were also in The Ghost and Mr. Chicken. See how well it works?
Do you have a favorite haunted house movie or book? Leave a comment.
Thanks Misterio Press for a fun time at your Facebook Halloween party!
A Dash of Murder is my Halloween cozy mystery, so I’ve included a set of discussion questions whether you are in a book club or just want to answer them on your own. If you do use them in your book club please let me know so I can acknowledge you on my Facebook page and Twitter (@ttrent_cozymys) account. I also have a short ten question quiz at Goodreads with additional questions.
I know I haven’t posted in awhile, but most of my readers know that’s a good sign–I’m busily finishing up my manuscript for my fifth mystery in the Pecan Bayou series. I think I finally have a title, but I’m not ready to reveal that yet.
It’s Down Syndrome Awareness month so I’m sending my love to all my friends with Down Syndrome and their families .
What kind of music do you listen to while you write or engage in any kind of brain-draining activity? Some people listen to rock, some to classical music, and some prefer no sound at all. I find music is extremely helpful in my creative process. My only requirement is that the music not have words. I find the words in the song get tangled up with the words in my brain making their way to the page. I was recently reading the blog The Self Taught Cook where she listed some of her favorite cooking music and I was inspired to list some of my favorite writing music. (I have an entirely different set of songs for cooking-Harry Connick, Micheal Buble, Jane Monheit, Diana Krall)
My favorite musicians for writing are George Winston and Kevin Kern. These are mostly piano-driven new age pieces and they are beautiful to listen and to use as a creative tool. Here is a little George Winston
and here is some Kevin Kern.
Sometimes the music helps to clear my brain from all of the day-to-day thoughts and worries that can constantly intrude on my working process. Other times the music orchestrates a scene I’m writing, somewhat like watching a movie with a soundtrack behind the actors words and actions.
My favorite writing song of all time? ”Farewell to Mystic Harbor” performed by David Huntsinger. Whole chapters have come out of that one!
So what kind of music do you like to use when in the the process of writing?
One more thing:
We have a winner for my Great Escapes Book Tour Prize! Linda from Missouri received an Amazon gift card and a jar of Texas wildflower honey. Thank you everybody for entering.
I’m on the last stop of my book tour for Buzzkill and it’s a good one. Dru’s Book Musings asked me to write a day in the life of Betsy Livingston. Here’s just a little of her day:
I sipped at my coffee as I thought about my day. It was going to be another busy one. I was headed over to the diner to give a talk on my latest column, “Casseroles for Any Occasion”. I’m going to be handing out my recipe for Tator Tot Casserole. Ruby Green is always working on these lady’s club days so I promised I would drop off a copy of the recipe by her shop, The Best Little Hairhouse in Texas. I admit I’m pretty busy today, but a little secret that nobody else in this little town of Pecan Bayou Texas knows is that tomorrow I don’t have anything planned. ….
Will Betsy keep her free day tomorrow? Find out more by reading the full post at Dru’s Book Musings.
Now that my book tour is ending I would like to thank Lori at Great Escape Book Tours. This was a wonderful tour with some fantastic cozy blog stops. I feel blessed to have found you.
I will posting the winner of our giveaway soon so if you haven’t entered for an Amazon gift card and a jar of Texas honey–Do it today!!! Enter at Dru’s Book Musings.
Yesterday I visited My Recent Favorite Books and talked about what it’s like to be a writer and the mother to a Down Syndrome/PDD child. Melissa also has a great page of autism links for parents and caregivers. I have to tell you the comments posted after my guest post were really wonderful. Please check them out. Thank you Melissa! Here is some of my article:
When I first started wanting to be a writer I pursued publishing down traditional paths. One agent stated that if I wasn’t willing to make at least 50 appearances a year there was no way they could promote my book. As a parent I was not willing to make that kind of sacrifice so I tabled my writing. I eventually decided to take the plunge and independently publish and with that create my own appearances in the virtual world.