Squirrel!

One of the hardest things about writing is making myself write the right things. I am easily distracted anyway; most of the time I am like the squirrel-crazed dogs in the movie Up.  But when it comes to finishing my next book, it’s a completely different kind of distraction.

I love chatting with other writers in the KDP forums.  I enjoy working with my friends at Fanfiction.net, and on a writers’ page on Facebook.  Writers are so much fun to play with!  Of course, we are also sensitive and creative people, so there is always drama.  Always.  Whether arguing about the idiot writer who called a reviewer at home and then had the audacity to accuse the reviewer of stalking, or lambasting the moron who uses a writer’s forum to whine about how hard her personal life is, there is always something going on to keep the blood pumping and the fingers flying across the keyboard.

There is my blog, which has been far more fun than I ever expected it to be.  I really never thought anyone would care about my random musings on life, the universe and Toblerone.   But every “like” is like a pat on the head, and getting my blog Freshly Pressed again has made me realize just exactly how much of an attention-whore I really am.  In some ways, I have come to enjoy blogging even more than I enjoy creating my fictional characters and stories!

But the strangest distraction is the unexplainable surge of story ideas exploding in my brain right now.  It’s as if the more I write, the more I have to write about, and I struggle every day to narrow my focus down to the one project I really have to finish.

His Heart Aflame 1 print

His Heart Aflame is the sequel to Her House Divided, and it is kicking my butt.  So many people asked about the character of Sean Jackson that I just knew he had to get his own story.  He was my favorite character anyway, and often threatened to take over Her House Divided.  I really didn’t have a choice.  In His Heart Aflame, he’s naked by Chapter Two, and rolling around on the beach with Maggie by Chapter Nine, although he does put clothes on between the two chapters.  I adore these characters, and I just can’t type fast enough to tell their story.

But somewhere in the back of my mind . . .

I still want to write a Young Adult series someday, something along the lines of The Three Investigators or Trixie Belden.  Teenagers solving mysteries and facing dangerous adventures, solving puzzles and capturing bad guys.  Something for young readers that doesn’t involve dystopian societies or vampire lovers with glittery butts.

Suddenly, I have this great idea for a mystery involving a lost family treasure and an antique pump organ like the one I inherited from my grandfather.   I look at the empty, overgrown house next door to my new home, and I just know I have to write about kids figuring out why it’s been empty all these years.  I watch a group of local kids depart for the annual bicycle trip to Mackinac Island, and almost lose my mind thinking about all of the wonderful adventures I could write about kids on a similar trip!

I think about the time-travel story I’ve wanted to write for years, or the missing-child story that popped into my brain, fully-formed, the first time I heard Peter Case wail Walk in The Woods.

There’s another project I’ve been dying to work on.  I want to write about my car accident, but with an upbeat twist to it.  I don’t want to focus on the accident itself, but on the humor that got me through the months and years that followed.  Instead of yammering on about pain and nightmares, I want to talk about taking victory laps around the living room on my walker to celebrate every time I managed to pee alone.  I want it to be inspirational, but most of all, I want it to make people smile.

A few weeks ago, I weeded through a year and a half’s worth of blogs and picked out all of the posts that I thought were the funniest.  All of the ones that made me smile when I wrote them and then again when I read them.  I put them all together into a collection and called it Have a Goode One, and put it on Amazon, where I sold exactly two copies.

One to my sister.

The other to my friend Christina.

Thanks, girls.

Last week, I formatted it for CreateSpace and sent it out into the world as a paperback.

And  . . . now, I have to tell the rest of my ideas to shut up and wait their turn.  I left Sean and Maggie naked on the beach, but he doesn’t know her secret yet.  There’s an arsonist in Beach Haven, and poor Sean still has to make the biggest decision of his life.  I just can’t leave them hanging like that.

Somewhere amidst all of that chaos, I have a job to go to, kids to take care of, a house to maintain, Toblerone to eat. Some days, I really thank God for my esspresso machine and steady supply of high-powered caffeine.

Most days, I just thank Him for this incredible chance to live the life I’ve always dreamed of.  Oh, not the part where I’m fat and divorced, with neck pain and aching feet, and bills I can’t pay.  The other part.

The part where people ask, “what do you do?” and I say, “I’m a writer.” That part.

Now, excuse me; I’ve got to get back to Sean and Maggie.

Advertisements

Pretty Pretty Shiny Shiny

Question:  How many people with ADHD does it take to change a light bulb?

 Answer:  Let’s go for a bike ride!

No matter how much I want to write my novel, I struggle every day with focus.  I am so easily distracted that it is a major effort for me to keep my mind on the chapter I am writing.  I start thinking about the next chapter, or about the short story I want to write, or about the fabulous book I just read, or about the pretty cardinal on the tree outside my window, or . . .

In the wise words of my nephew, it shouldn’t be called ADHD.  It should be ADOS:  Attention Deficit Ooh Shiny!

Now that I have all of this free time, I’ve been doing some research into things like writing software and writing networks or websites.    I’ve joined Romance Writers of America, which has provided me with some fabulous online classes and discussion groups to improve my skills.    I have my blog here on WordPress and I just started a Twitter account, although I freely admit to being utterly clueless about things like Tweets and hashtags.

#OverMyHead

All of this technology begs the question:  Is it really helping me write my novel, or is it just a whole new bunch of shiny objects?

A few weeks ago, I splurged on a program called WriteWay.  It’s sort of a template for organizing one’s thoughts while writing.  A writer can set up note cards for characters and chapters or even scene-by-scene diagrams.  There are places to plug in research and new ideas and comments.  It is incredible.

In theory, anyway.

In reality, I’m starting to realize that it’s just another distraction so far.   I have spent so much time setting it up and learning my way around that I haven’t really accomplished anything.    Well, that’s not entirely true.  It has really helped me in two ways.

It has helped me really define my characters in much more depth.  I always thought it was silly to come up with all kinds of background information for my characters if that information wasn’t going to be part of the actual story.   Really, is it important to know the Hero’s birth order or favorite song?  Does it matter that he’s allergic to peanut butter or that his father abandoned the family when he was only two years old?

I’m exaggerating, of course, but I have learned that it really does help me to know my characters better.  If I can’t see them as fully-developed three-dimensional people, how can I make anyone else see them that way?

Now my character Evan has a reason to fight for his grandmother’s house, as well as a very good reason to avoid falling in love with Tara.  And poor Tara has become far less pathetic.  Her quirkiness now has a cause beyond Let’s-Make-Her-Interesting-For-No-Apparent-Reason-Syndrome.  And there is a villain now, although for the life of me I can’t come up with a name for her.  She’s a Barbara, no doubt about it, but I have a Barbara in my life who is nothing like this character and who would probably be supremely offended.

The other lesson I have learned from WriteWay is that I am nowhere near as prepared to write this book as I thought I was.  I know the beginning and I know how it’s going to end, but everything in the middle is just a big ol’ melodramatic muddle.  With a couple of very awkward sex scenes in which I tried really hard to find synonyms for “erection”.

In the long run, I think this is going to be a big help, as soon as I stop being overwhelmed and start buckling down.   I’m the kind of person who needs direction, and I am hoping that this will give me that direction.  Otherwise, I’m afraid I’m just going to continue meandering helplessly from scene to scene without ever writing the actual story.

I’d like to hear from other writers about WriteWay or other writing software programs.  What do you think:  distractions or direction?  Worth the money, or a useless extravagance?

And what the heck am I supposed to do now that I’m on Twitter?