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Tag Archives: Writing Time

Getting your novel ending right

The second beyond book.

Five rewrites later for the publisher I finally got it right. Sure lots of changes and improvements throughout Beyond Faith. But the one giving me the devil of a time was the ending. No matter how many rewrites of that, the editor at the publisher came back with what basically amounted to that it wasn’t quite right. And he did make suggestions which I did not ignore.

In retrospect I was probably being too flippant in part and it wasn’t getting serious enough, wasn’t making sense. In the end, my change must have been inspired by something he emailed. Or maybe that he said he could rewrite the last page. And the time ticking. So, I said I wanted one more crack at it and he agreed.

So, I suppose I got really into what the ending was all about and just wrote. When finished (including some rewording here and there before it went back to the publisher) I discovered something I wasn’t even thinking about in the main part of my brain. But my subconscious must have been tuned in, because there it was.

The ending actually tied back to the beginning.

And it made sense. It also provides, shall we say (no spoilers wanted), an opening for the next Beyond book. In fact, there are a few things happening in the latter part of Beyond Faith that could be carried forward into the next Beyond book, story lines that could be developed further and used in the complex mix of plots and characters I use in my stories.

So, why hadn’t I thought of that tie-in to Chapter One  before?

Many reasons. Perhaps the rush to finish the rewrite to meet a deadline (as it turned out, several deadlines). Perhaps because I had client work to do as well (no offence to the clients. I try to balance client work with the novel-writing and all the PR work for it involved.) If it were just Beyond Faith and client work to balance, I could manage.

I think I have to put a big share of the blame on much of the other stuff in my life, such as income tax filing and the CRA messing up despite me filing on time, health issues (that one will eat up your life no matter what. Guaranteed.), house and property problems, etc. Perhaps one of the biggies is others expecting me to do this and that for them and well, just bugging me to do so. Now, I’m reining back, even being slow to return emails if it is something that can be dealt with later. Some things I’m dumping and some things I’m saying “no.” to. My new motto is to prioritize and to focus on what is important to me.

That includes my family, too and some property and financial stuff, and especially the garden. My garden is therapeutic.  So is my writing

What can we learn from my experiences above to get the right ending for your story?

Don’t rush it.

Better time management – ignore the unnecessary and/or not important at the time. If those demanding your time to do something for them balk, too bad.

So, prioritize.

Think of your story’s beginning. This works for novels, novellas and short stories. A long time ago I learned from a writing instructor that the ending has to tie in with the beginning somehow – perhaps a resolution. In today’s mystery series novels, which mimic TV series, there is often a cliff-hanger at the end. Don’t be afraid to use it. Linwood Barclay and Julia Spencer Fleming use that tactic very well. In fact, I’m currently reading the third (and I think final) in Linwood Barclay’s Promise Falls series. This third one The Twenty-three starts just days after the second one. I suggest you read some of their books as well.

And don’t be afraid to rewrite. That may include several endings to see what works best. This might be the time to get somebody (besides a biased family member) to read the beginning and ending and give you some feedback. I know it could have spoiler potential, but you do want to get it right, don’ you?

The cover of my previous Beyond book Beyond Blood is up at the top with links to amazon. And yes it’s ending ties in with something in Chapter one, and also has a hook into Beyond Faith.

The publisher now has his book designer designing a cover for Beyond Faith. When that’s done and I get a copy, I’ll be putting it at the top of these blog posts.

Meantime, starting next week, I’ll be writing some special blog posts, a sort of mini-Beyond series for the summer.

Keep writing and rewriting.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

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Make Writing regularly a 2017 goal

The latest Beyond book in the series

The latest Beyond book in the series

If you’ve been struggling to write that novel, short story, novella, etc. because you don’t seem to have time because other stuff to do is taking over your, life, whatever the reason, 2017 is coming in. Time for a fresh start.

Forget about “New Year’s Resolutions” which go down the drain after the first few weeks. Instead think goal, yes that’s singular. And make that goal to write on a regular basis in 2017.

For parts of 2016 I have struggled to find time to get at rewriting my third Beyond novel. The editor at my publisher’s (bless his soul) has given me a couple of extensions. But he is not the problem and I have to find a solution – make that several solutions to deal with the multitude of impediments that come at me “from outside.”

Just to clarify, “from outside” doesn’t mean things like sleeping in, too much socializing to name a few. Mine also include: gardening (in spring to fall, not now in horrible winter), doing client work (editing and teaching writing workshops and courses), and promoting my first two Beyond mystery books.Those things in the previous sentence I don’t begrudge doing and they are under my control and it is my business to get them in order so I do have time to write.

I’m talking about what just seems to come out of the blue at you. Some of mine are unforeseen health issues, house and property issues and weather (which often affects the house and property). It is true we just had Christmas and Boxing Day and I spent Christmas with my son and his girlfriend and Boxing Day just relaxing reading and phoning friends. What I did on those two days was my choice.

Most of the first half of my day today was not. I do a daily “to-do” list for what I call “Biz” and another for what I call “Other.” Unfortunately, like this morning, the “other” took over.

First there was the snow that came overnight. I had watched the Weather Network last evening and my “Other” schedule had up to one hour for shovelling the white shit that fell down. And I did it in that time.

Then things went wrong. The main time-stealer was the heating cable. I went to plug it in to melt the snow off the roof and discovered the cord just before going into the plug was suddenly frayed.And it got that way because it is a tight squeeze and turn to get it into the outside electric outlet. I taped it with electrical tape, then called my neighbour, a retired electrician, over to check to see I had done it right. He wouldn’t touch it, and instead gave me a long rant about he wouldn’t even check it because of liability, etc. The cord got frayed in the first place because my regular handyman (electrical stuff is one of his specialties) didn’t do anything about the short cord – didn’t even put it on a heavy-duty extension cord which my neighbour at least suggested. To make a long story short, I took my shortest heavy duty outdoor extension cord and found the plug from the heating cable wouldn’t go all the way in. I called the handyman and blasted him – he should have done it right first and I’ll pay for any new parts, but not labour. He is coming by later today or tomorrow morning to check it out.I made sure he knew I had expensive dental surgery coming up in January.

So, the bottom line is I have to come up with some way of dealing with all these outside problems that come at me unexpectedly. A year ago, I started dealing with all the health issues, one month at a time for each – even if I had to repeat this a few months down the road. I’m not sure about house and property things – certainly if not emergency issues they can be paced out per month based on time and money available (double hah-hah here).

Because I am fed-up with all this stuff getting in the way of my writing. (There’s a story there). I think the important thing is to figure out what is important. Staying healthy, of course, but when it gets beyond eating healthy, taking supplements, regular exercise (walking and gardening for me), getting enough sleep, and relaxing, then it is too much.

I may have found a way beyond the one medical issue per month – my writing is important for me to stay healthy. It is creative; it makes me feel good and relaxed. And it gets me out of the crap taking over my life. So it needs my time.

Perhaps, putting writing in one of your daily living categories, will get you writing regularly. Remember “regularly” will differ with each of us. If you have a full time job and/or raising a family/looking after an elderly parent, you will have a different regular schedule than I do. The trick is to look at what is taking over too much of your time, see where you can cut back and/or get help, and work in some time – whether it is two hours in the evening and/or Saturday and Sunday mornings – that is up to you. You also need to consider if some of the things you do are really necessary. For example, do you have to spend so many hours tweeting? Or even doing email. Shopping online or in bricks and mortars? If something is taking a lot of your time, that’s a clue to look at it closely.

And  tell family members and friends (remember, socializing takes up time, too) what you are doing and why – nicely. You have the best reason to do so now – a new year and a new goal. And think of the result – that novel finally underway, those short stories written, etc.

Good luck and may you write, write, write in 2017.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Click on either Beyond Blood at the top or Beyond the Tripping Point below to link to more information about the books. Hopefully later next year the third Beyond book will join them.

 

Cover of Sharon A. Crawford's mystery short story collection. Click on it for publisher's website

 

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Clearing the decks to write your fiction

Clearing the decks to write your fiction

This may be a case of do as I say, not what I do. But the past month and a half I have been inundated with unnecessary crap getting in the way of my fiction writing. A lot of it comes from what I refer to as “outside” – things like house repairs, computer problems, friends and others interrupting during my work time.. Then there are health issues and some things that I have something to do with happening.

Last Thursday Shane, the editor at my publisher’s (Blue Denim Press) came over for us to practice our authors’ skit for the Urban Folk Art Festival (Our skit went very well there and when Shane emails me some of the photos someone else took of us, I’ can post them). We also had a heart-to-heart talk about my third Beyond fiction book, which seems to be in a perpetual state of rewrite (see above paragraph for why). He is definitely interested in publishing it and is thinking of next fall (2017). We also discussed the book’s content and even a next book in the series. He also gave me a deadline.

This talk, particularly hope for publication and when, as well as a submission deadline has kick-started me into action. And so I am making changes in my life and some things will be no-nos during writing time, some things will go in the Pending file for at least a month, some things I just won’t do (yesterday I said “no” to something and it felt good); other things are getting the boot.

Am still fine-tuning the whole business as I go, but so far I am trying to do these:

  1. Specific time-frame to work on my fiction with flexibility for writing meetings and book promo events that come up. Like Shane is doing with his fiction writing, I am assigning two days a week for just that – rewriting my novel. And for flexibility, yesterday afternoon is flipped to this afternoon because of a writing group meeting yesterday. I did get some writing done on the novel yesterday morning.NOTE: I do write other things and have editing clients and teach writing. That is for other days and workshops sometimes evenings, but again for days, I try to be flexible. It is all writing and writing-related business
  2. Book PR is limited to one thing a weekday. Public readings and the like are on top of this.
  3. I set a timer for half an hour mornings to do business email .Personal email is for outside my business hours (except for my son) which are roughly 9.30 a.m. to 5.30 p.m.
  4. Make more of an effort to get started at 9.30 a.m.Sometimes difficult with chronic health issues and house repairs.
  5. Get more sleep at night. Can’ control the insomnia but have to make an effort to get to bed earlier.
  6. I’m letting my friends know what has been on my voice mail for ages but some don’t seem to get it, i.e., personal calls evenings and weekends only.
  7. This one I’ve been doing for some time and it’s outside of business hours too – don’t pick up the phone for possible telemarketers and if I get someone trying to sell me something I just yell out “Not interested” or if they ask for “Mr. or Mrs. Crawford” I reply – no one here by that name (true. I’m divorced) and you have the wrong number.” If I’m really angry I then yell “And get me off your bloody list.: Then I hang up.
  8. Try to keep the house maintenance/repairs out of my business hours and that one is hard when someone has to come to clear out your damn eavestroughs at least three times because of all the leaves falling and clogging it up.
  9. Keep getting back to utilities and the like for their screw-ups, problems, etc. to after my business hours if possible.
  10. The garden fall clean-up winter prep kept outside of business hours, although it is okay to do a bit at lunchtime, especially with Eastern Standard time returning this weekend.
  11. And this one – some of you might think I’m being mean here. But I’m putting on hold so-called friends who are unreliable and don’t show up (and don’t let me know that they can’t make it for dinners and the like we plan to meet up for – we all have things that crop up, but let me know before the meet-up that you can’t make it.

Hopefully ,I will now have my time to finish rewriting my novel. Up to now this week, I have been making some progress.  I know it is because I’m starting to get some control of my life – at least some of it. Now, if the computer problems and issues would stop, that would give me more time too.

How do you make time for your writing? Everyone’s circumstances are different. I am lucky in that I work mostly from my home office.

Cheers.

Sharon

I am taking part in the Toronto Heliconian Club Literature Section Salon (dinner and readings) next Tuesday afternoon. I am a member and will be reading an excerpt form a short story in Beyond the Tripping Point. More details in my Gigs and Blog Tours Page here.

Again, click on the Beyond Blood icon at the top to get to one place where print and e-copies are available.

And this, updating events on my website and the Gigs and Blogs Page (and the other social media links) constitute my book PR for today.

 

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Recharging you novel’s rewrite

Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

This week I finally got back to rewriting the next novel in my Beyond mystery series. The plan had been to spend a good part of June, July and August doing this. But for a change I had a lot of client work. That I’m not complaining about. Neither am I complaining about spending time gardening. As well as writing, gardening is a passion of mine.

However, I am complaining about all the health issues I’ve had to deal with lately, some caused by others’ negligence. (See my post this week on my personal blog Only Child Writes.).

Still doing one client’s work – but no complaints. Client confidentially doesn’t allow me to discuss the client’s work, but sufficient to say it is interesting and challenging and when it arrives I switch over from the novel rewrite to the client work.

Getting back to the big novel rewrite is also a challenge. Having ideas percolating inside my head while I was doing other things and also some suggestions from the editor at Blue Denim Press (my publisher) have been big helps. So has one of my writer friends and colleagues – Rosemary McCracken – just publishing the third in her Pat Tierney mystery series.And having a wacky main character like PI Dana Bowman is good. At least I think so, although she does get inside my head a lot and likes to have her way in her stories. All inspiration to do more than put the seat of my pants to the chair.

How did I actually get back into the rewriting?

First, I reread the novel and comments I had made for changes and also noted what I had changed. Then I got in and made some changes in the beginning and continued on until I got stuck. But I had ideas for other parts, including the ending which needed a big change, so those are the places I focused on next. I feel better that I made changes in the ending even though I know that some of it will be changed as more changes in parts coming before will be made. That’s okay. Often just doing something that is a change is a good start.

Writing the ending before some of the rest, you may ask? I am following the advice given by another author Ken McGoogan who said when he gets tired of writing in chapter order, he will go the end. Mind you he writes narrative non-fiction. But I think it can be done with fiction as long as you realize it is not written in granite. Well, some writers think their prose, and even their punctuation, should be left exactly as they write it.

That is arrogance and maybe a little worry that the editor will mess up your prose so it isn’t really yours when it’s done. And yes, being an editor myself, and a former journalist who worked with several editors, it does happen. However, there is one thing we writers need to remember.

Writers work in isolation. Writers see their creations with tunnel vision. Another pair of eyes will find flaws and better ways to express something than the author.

So keep up the rewriting. Although you can get carried away with that. Another author colleague is still making changes in his novels after they are published. And yes he does have a trade publisher, so not being self-published he can’t exactly make changes in the print book for sale. But he can do so for his author readings.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

If you click on the Beyond Blood book icon a the top it will take you to my amazon author profile and books.

 

 

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Write something else besides your main project

Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

Sometimes a writing diversion is good when you get bogged down in a long and intense writing project. Or in my case, not only are you rewriting a novel (yes, again) but it’s income tax time.

Even the novel rewriting has been put on hold, except for ideas flooding my mind when math calculations and other income tax nonsense aren’t. Unfortunately I can’t afford to pay someone to do my taxes and because I have a writing and editing business there is a bit more than the regular tax returns to do. So, although I am a senior I can’t use the free tax clinics for seniors at library branches because these clinics don’t include small businesses. These tax professionals should wake up. It’s 2016 and many seniors are also entrepreneurs. At least I have some bookkeeping background. But I’m slow at it as I am more creative than math-oriented.

Okay, off my soap box.

When I’m fed-up with tax stuff, I switch over to another area I write in – memoir/personal essay. This latter is one I’ve decided to get serious about (yet again) and try to get some memoir essays published and get paid for them.

So far this year I’ve written/rewritten two and sent them off for possible publication. Now I’m working on a third and am finding it very satisfying. That may be because it marries two of my big loves and interests – writing and gardening. Without giving away details about the memoir, I have learned a few lessons about writing it. These can be applied to most any types of writing, including fiction.

I read out the memoir at my writing critique group the end of March. Because I’m aiming for a specific Canadian magazine to start, one of the other East End Writers’ Group members suggested I change my US research to Canadian. She suggested I go to the Toronto Botanical Garden library for information.

Which I did last week. And despite my harrowing bus trip to and from on Toronto’s public transit (read about that on my very personal blog here), the actual visit to the library was very productive and helpful. The librarian helped me choose books to check out, brought me old and older copies of a Canadian horticultural organization specific to my topic to look through and check out, and while I was there he did some research online including contacting colleagues at the Botanical Gardens in Hamilton, Ontario and one in New York. The result was two documents which he emailed me. One in particular was very helpful with Canadian history.

Back home, I read through it all and returned to my memoir for more rewriting. I’m still rewriting, but unfortunately today and tomorrow I have to return to the dreaded income tax returns.

So, if you are going bonkers with your main writing project, be it fiction or non-fiction, take another writing break. Write something else completely different. A poem, a journal piece, an essay.

You never know where it will lead. And when you return to your main writing project you will do so with more vigor.

And probably more ideas. Just let them flow in your head. Even when doing something else – other writing or the dreaded income taxes.

At least in Canada we have to May 2 to get them in (as long as post marked that day if sent regular mail), because this year April 30 falls on a Saturday.

Cheers..

Sharon

And again to find out more about my Beyond mystery books, click the Beyond Blood book cover at the top of this blog.

 

 

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What to do between books

Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

What does an author do in between books?

This week I finally emailed the manuscript for my latest Beyond mystery to my publisher. Met the deadline with a few days to spare.

Here’s what I’m doing now and plan to do. It might trigger some ideas for you.

What I don’t do is keep thinking about the outcome of the submission and let it get me in stall mode. Instead, I move on to other writing projects, editing clients’ work, writing workshops and promo of the two Beyond books published.

Other writing projects include developing a possible next Beyond novel – in my head, at this point. I also write personal essays and memoir so I have already returned to a personal essay cum memoir for more rewriting and searching for possible markets. There are other personal essays to be written or rewritten so I keep those in mind as I search for possible markets. Sometimes the markets trigger the essay.

I still edit manuscripts, so have  clients-in-waiting, so to speak, and have emailed one of them, will email another one, and the third one is on holiday right now but when he is back in April, I will email him.

I want to continue teaching writing workshops at branches of Toronto Public Libraries. That means contacting the librarians at some of the 100 branches (yes, Toronto has that many branches. We Torontonians like reading, like borrowing library books – print or e-copy – and attending events, such as writing workshops. These are free to library patrons but I get paid for teaching them). I also plan to develop more workshops I can teach.

Promoting Beyond Blood and Beyond the Tripping Point. I’ve already sneaked in or had already arranged for presentations in the upcoming months, which will start March 24. Have one for the end of May and one in the works for the end of June. Once this nasty winter weather is finished (hopefully before March 24), I want to schedule at least two promo presentations a month – some on my own, and some with Crime Writers of Canada and The Toronto Heliconian Club. I am a member of both and do have something scheduled with each. More on that in future posts.

And I’m doing something that borders on promo and workshops. The end of April, I’m part of a panel on editing and writing for self-publication at an Editors Canada meeting. Again, more on this one in a later post. Although, meantime, you can check the Gigs and Blogs Tours page here with this blog or on my website – go to Beyond Blood and Workshops pages.

You can develop your own writing, etc. plan to keep you from thinking about what the publisher will say about your manuscript. It also works when you have submitted shorter pieces or poems to magazines – print or online.

Come to think of it, why not write some poetry. That will get your creative juices flowing.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

If you click on the book cover at the top it will take you to my publisher’s page about my books and my background.

 

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Using deadlines to write

Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

Writing deadlines are something journalists, editors, and authors with publishers have to deal with all the time. So does any writer who is writing a piece to enter in a writers’ contest.

But what if you are writing that novel, that short story and at this point have no publishing deadlines? You might think “hey, I have the freedom to take my time writing this story.”

You know how that can go if you are not disciplined. You might write when the  muse hits. You might write if you don’t have something else to do in a certain time. The underlying theme here is “I have all the time in the world to finish this novel, this short story.”

All the time in the world might expand to never finishing.

Why not set a deadline or if a novel, several deadlines, such as “I will finish so many pages, so many chapters by such and such a date.” If  you have an editorial deadline from a magazine editor or book publisher, or a contest, entry, wouldn’t you be working to the deadline? Wouldn’t that include setting up a writing time-line? Allow some flexibility for glitches such as what I’ve been encountering with my latest Beyond mystery book. Research replies. I finally had to go elsewhere for one (books and another police source) and in the case of the government agency with no email reply, I phoned.

Writing they say is1 per cent inspiration and 99 per cent perspiration. I have sometimes seen that equation as 10 per cent and 90 per cent. Either way you can get the picture.

Why not use deadlines for the perspiration part? I find doing that has an added benefit than just getting the writing done.

Often when you sit down at your computer in a specified time and write, the inspiration and creativity just kick in and off you go, oblivious to whatever else is going on around you. I’ve been unaware of night creeping in until I realize that it is only the computer screen and the desk lamp lighting everything up. (That’s excluding the creativity going on as I write.)

Speaking of deadlines. Please excuse me while I get back to rewriting my latest Beyond book. My publisher is waiting.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

If you click on the book cover at the top it will take you to my publisher’s page about my books and my background.

 

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