WHERE AND WHEN WRITERS LIKE TO WRITE

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Where Writer’s Write

So where do writer’s write? Some take their laptops to a crowded cafe, and are comfortable writing with onlookers peeping over their shoulders. Some want solitude, with everything organized around them, phone off and kids banned so there are no distractions while they pursue their story. Some have special places where they write, with their writing materials handy. So, I’m going to ask the authors who read this to put WHERE and WHEN they like to write in the comment section.

Rebecca York has a special sunroom lounge that she shares with her cats, and Jacquie Rogers has a special office that she inhabits until 4 AM, dictating her stories before pounding the keys.

Personally, my writing space depends upon the time of day, the weather, and just how I’m feeling. If I set myself a planned space and time, I don’t produce as much. When I write in the early mornings (I’m up sometimes when Jacquie’s up), which is the most often, I grab my laptop and throw a blanket over my shoulders and sit on the edge of the bed for an hour or three, until done. Then it’s time to get dressed and start the day.

If it is really sunny and nice outside, I’ll take my laptop out to a lawn swing and write there. If it is raining and stormy, the gas fireplace invites me to write next to it. I do have an office, where I make and edit videos for my Raising Giants home school program, and produce the Show & Tell Bible, but I find it hard to write my novels there.

I used to plan all my stories out, but find it is better to just write them, as I lose interest in a story if I know where it’s going. Once written, then I go back and make sure everything works. I’ve tried the dictation method like Jacquie uses, but actually speaking the words makes me lose my train of thought. I write faster and better directly on the computer.

So authors, where and when is your best writing time/space?

My latest novel is another thriller in the Brother’s of Spirit series. (First one was Height of Danger). New novel is Terminal Pursuit, not quite finished. I’m waiting for the book cover and must do a complete re-write before I put it up for pre-sale.

The Quietest Woman in the South is a post Civil War story about love, friendship, and responsibility. It has spots of humor amid the danger, and was a lot of fun to write. Evil men always have kin, and the hero and his friends have to fight the same family several times until they are free of their threat. Normally $2.99, it is on sale for $.99 this October, 2017.

Click to buy

Nancy Radke

Nancy Radke grew up on a wheat and cattle ranch in SE Washinton State. She attended a one-room country school through the eighth grade. She learned to ride bareback at age 3 (Really! It was a common practice.) and when she got off or fell off, she would pull her horse’s nose to the ground, get on behind its ears, and the horse would lift its head so she could scoot down onto its back. She spent most of her childhood exploring the Blue Mountain trails that bordered the ranchlands. She and a friend once took a trail that turned out to be a two day trip. They always rode with matches and pocket knives, so made camp and returned the next day. These long rides worried her parents, but provided plenty of time to make up stories. Her first novel was set in the Blues, and is entitled APPALOOSA BLUES. TURNAGAIN LOVE was the first one published. It rated a four star review from Affaire de Coeur. Scribes World said “Turnagain Love has some fascinating twists and turns, unexpected complications, and charming scenes.” It is light and humorous.
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How to Snag a Literary Agent!

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DSC_0002_5I’ve just returned from speaking at Thrillerfest, the huge annual writer’s conference sponsored by the International Thriller Writers and held in New York City. The ITW Conference has been, by far and away, my go-to place for sending my clients and students who are writing suspense, thrillers (obviously), mysteries, and emotionally electrified novels of all types. Why?

Because this is the only conference that, to my knowledge, has managed to corral 50 or more agents in a room, for around three hours, at what’s called PitchFest. Authors are given a chance to, in effect, speed-date agents. You get to sit down and talk for about 3 minutes to a real agent about your novel. If they find your pitch interesting, the agent will ask you to send either a partial or full manuscript to them. Then you move on to the next agent on your hit list. You can pitch to as many agents as you can fit into the session. This, as you can imagine, is a golden opportunity for authors who have books with intrigue, mystery, and thriller elements that are ready to be published. But I’ve also heard from authors writing in other genres, who have found, at PitchFest, an enthusiastic agent for their novels.

However, the price of the conference, expense of staying in a New York City hotel, and airfare can be substantial. Does this mean that you can’t connect with a good agent to represent you and your books if you are unable to afford traveling to a big conference? Not at all.

DSC_0003There are many ways to search out and find a legitimate, experienced literary agent. Different authors have used a variety of techniques with equal success. But I’ll share with you my favorite method:

  • Finish your book and do all you can to polish your product until it shines. An agent can’t sell a manuscript to a publisher that isn’t complete of is full of grammatical errors. Many authors invest in a professional edit or critical read to help them make their book the best it can be.
  • Go online and look up the Association of Authors’ Representatives site (aaronline.org). Click on “Find an Agent”. You’ll be able to search for legitimate agents interested in your type of book.
  • After you’ve made a list of agents whose interests match yours—50-60 isn’t too many!—check out their websites. By gathering more information about each agent, you’ll fine tune your list.
  • Go online to Publishers Marketplace (publishersmarketplace.com). Register for Publishers Lunch Deluxe. It will cost you $25./month, but all you need to do is join for one month, do your research, then opt out. For that month, you will receive daily reports on the industry and the ability to “track deals, sales, agents, editors” and more.
  • Using your hit list of agents, choose one and search on his/her sales for the past 6 months. Even better, search on their sales just for your category of book. When I went looking for an agent who was representing and actively selling lots of historical fiction, I was able to track down a number of really strong agents in that field. Then I chose from among them the ones with whom I’d most like to work.
  • Check out the details of their sales (and others, if you like…this is fascinating stuff!) The Daily Deals will tell you the title of the book sold, its author, the publisher and acquiring editor who bought it, the name of the agent who sold it…and a brief description of the book’s concept. Wow! How valuable is that!

If you’ve done your homework, you’ll have found many good matches. Circle back to their websites and note their preferences for submissions. Follow their instructions implicitly. It’s a test, of sorts. If an agent wants only a query letter for initial contact, don’t send your manuscript…yet. Each agent has their own process for screening prospective clients.

I hope this gives you some insight into how to snag the best agent for the book you’ve written. Good luck! And let me know how it goes.  Cheers! Kathryn

Alicia Street

Alicia Street is a USA TODAY bestselling author and Daphne Award-winner often writing in collaboration with her husband, Roy, as well as on solo projects. She spent many years as a dancer, choreographer and teacher. A compulsive reader of every genre, she also loves watching old black-and-white movies and inventing new recipes for soups.
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The Not-So-Bad Day

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“What an awful day this has been! I can’t believe so much went wrong.”

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Do you often complain bitterly at the end of an irritating, unsatisfactory day or week? If it’s not the kind of day when everything goes smoothly, then—at least in my own mind—it can’t be a good day. I sometimes forget that what may seem challenging or difficult to me might be absolute heaven for someone else. After all, I get to spend my days making up stories!

But, because I write novels for a living, I’m sitting and typing for hours, and my back often stiffens up and hurts. I’ll think: If it weren’t for this stupid back pain I’d have made better progress on this story. I’d write faster, better. Heck, I’d be positively brilliant! Somedays, even if I’m pain free, my mind feels wooden, creativity blocked. I feel anxious, dissatisfied, maybe even depressed. I automatically label all of these less-than-perfect days—“bad.”

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For many of us, it’s the little dissatisfactions in life that drag us down. When achieving a goal doesn’t come effortlessly, without interruptions or setbacks, we become unhappy. Maybe that’s human nature. Maybe that’s why we, or at least I, need an occasional reminder of what a really, really dreadful day can be. The sort of day that spins totally out of control, shatters a person emotionally, crushes the spirit, sometimes can even be called tragic.

Everyone has experienced truly devastating moments in their life. These stand out from the everyday flow of living. Most of us can count them without running out of fingers. Could it be that we actually need negative or challenging experiences to remind us of how many really good hours make up our lives?

Recently, I’ve made a point of looking back on some of the worst days in my life. The daily irritants in life pale when compared to the life-crushing events that threaten to destroy life as we know it. So I make myself remember that moment when I awoke after major back surgery, couldn’t move…and feared, as I lay in that hospital bed, that I might be paralyzed. I wasn’t, but a long year of recovery followed before I could walk normally. I also recall the heartbreaking day when I learned that the young man I’d raised from a sweet baby was broken, and saving him was beyond me. And I replayed in my mind the phone call that told me of my father’s death, and felt again the overwhelming sadness and belief that I’d let him down. I had been in denial, had failed to accept that the cancer would be fatal. I should have gone home to be with him in his last days.

It’s not just my own history that helps me to recognize how truly fortunate I am…even on not-so-good days. All I need to do is turn on the radio or TV, and I become a witness to true adversity—homelessness, violence, war, killing droughts, and incurable diseases. Destruction of life that I’ve never been forced to experience.

And so, the next time I sit down to write a scene that’s challenging, aching back and all—I will smile. Because I recognize that today is one of those good days. Even if no publisher wants to buy my book. Even if my computer explodes or a hail storm ravages my garden or I come down with the cold that’s already warning me with that ominous tickle at the back of my throat. Even if I pick up the phone half a dozen times to annoying robo-calls—this day is going to be just fine.

Roger Kathryn from Roy

Above, one of the very good times. Summer on the Bay!

Alicia Street

Alicia Street is a USA TODAY bestselling author and Daphne Award-winner often writing in collaboration with her husband, Roy, as well as on solo projects. She spent many years as a dancer, choreographer and teacher. A compulsive reader of every genre, she also loves watching old black-and-white movies and inventing new recipes for soups.
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The Secret/Glamorous Life of a Romance Writer by the Secret Stephanie Queen

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As I sit at my desk…no, I mean, as I lounge on my pink velvet divan, I’m waiting for my agent to call. Any minute the phone shall ring like St. Patricks Cathedral bells chiming and he’ll have the news. The movie studio will want me to play the leading role as the heroine in the new movie version of my latest best selling novel…

SQ and Kitty, the real Queen

SQ and Kitty, the real Queen

This is about when my cat, Kitty, (yes, that’s her name—when you sit around all day making up names for characters, maybe you want to take a wiff on the cat-naming) jumps up on the desk, licks my face and snaps me out of my day-dream.

(L) Stephanie Queen with Kitty (The crown actually belongs to Kitty. I swiped it for the photo.)

But really, the secret to leading the glamorous life is to never, ever actually admit real reality to intrude on your illusion for more than ten minutes at a time—say for instance, the amount of time you might need to run in the grocery store and buy some Pepto Bismol. Once you emerge from the store, with your head held high, your glamorous regal air in tact—and your purchase safely tucked in your Gucci/DB/Coach or other suitable bag (or facsimile thereof—I know of a good flea market) matching designer sunglasses in place, you stroll–and wave as needed–to your waiting car. (so what if there’s no driver waiting in said waiting car—in your minds eye, you get in the back seat, glance out the window for a quick final pose for the paparazzi and then tell the driver “home, James”)

Once home, you resume your position on the Pink Velvet Divan of your imagination and PinkDivanwith your laptop in hand—or on lap—you select a delectable chocolate bon-bon from the box, adjust your diamond encrusted reading glasses–you wear them strictly for fashion and to look like a writer because you don’t really need reading glasses–and take up the story where you left off. Now where was I…Morocco? Paris? Maybe standing in front of Tiffany’s on Fifth Ave waiting… and most importantly dressed to kill and … who was I waiting for?

What is your pink velvet divan idea of the glamorous writing life?

Stephanie Queen is the proud & glamorous owner of Kitty the cat and author of the Beachcomber Investigations romantic detective series. She can be found at StephanieQueen.com or, on Saturday mornings, out searching yard sales for an actual pink velvet divan.
Stephanie Queen

About USA Today Bestselling Author Stephanie Queen
A romantic at heart and a writer by nature, Stephanie Queen has the enthusiastic soul of a cheerleader. So of course she loves creating stories where the good guys always win. Although she’s lost count of all the jobs she had before she settled on being a Novelist, her favorite was selling cookies as a Keebler Elf. She is a graduate of UConn (go Huskies!) and Harvard U and lives in New Hampshire with her family, her cat, Kitty, and her (real or imagined?) chauffeur, Myren.

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