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Category: Creativity

The Brain is a Funny Thing

brainThe brain is a funny thing – and I’d dare say that writers’ brains are stranger than most.  Usually I’m very good at keeping my projects separated.  Currently, I’m finishing up one and planning on quickly moving on to the next.  Right now, I’m finishing up edits.  My brain is supposed to be in a very analytical place.  Are all the loose threads tied up?  Can I add some foreshadowing here or there?  It’s like finishing up a puzzle, and my brain has been performing well.

Except when it starts to have a mind of its own.

I know what my next book’s about, and I have a very high level story arc in mind.  I’ve tried for several weeks to start breaking down the plot into more definable pieces, but it wouldn’t break.  I’ve written up some character bios.  They’re fine, but I didn’t really feel like I knew the hero or heroine.

Until the past few days.

Suddenly my analytical brain is jumping into the creative phase, which is good.  I stopped pushing and it finally started going there on its own.  It’s been polite and hasn’t interfered with the clean up work for the current work-in-progress.  What’s rude is that it’s doing this at 4:00 in the morning!

Agg!  The past three days in a row, I’ve woken up with scenes in my head.  Don’t ask me why or how.  I don’t know.  But the characters have suddenly found their voices.  The story is starting to flesh out.  It’s awesome.  It’s organic.

And it’s 4:00 AM!

I need to jump into this new project soon so the story will feel free to come to me at more convenient times of the day.  I promise you, book, you will be my main focus very, very soon.

But right now, please.  I need some sleep.

The Power of Sleep

I’ve been having trouble figuring out how to end a chapter in a book I’m currently writing.  I’d been mulling this over in my mind for days.  I’ve got the entire chapter plotted, but I didn’t know how to close it in a way that would drive the next scene.  I couldn’t get to sleep last night because I was fighting with it so hard.  Then this morning, I woke up and BOOM!  There it was, a line spoken by another character.  It wasn’t the person I was trying to make speak, and now I know why she wouldn’t talk.  It’s because this line is perfect coming from the other character.  It matches the motivation and sets up an interesting turn of events.

Yay!  I love how sleep works.  And that makes me want to get back to the Dream Wreakers and all the interesting research that comes along with it.  Soon, I promise… very soon.  It’s next on my writing calendar.


Writers often get asked what triggers their story ideas.  It can be a lot of different things:  the news, movies, television shows, overheard discussions, etc.  It’s really anything that strikes a chord.  It has resonance inside, whether it’s a scene that’s pictured in the writer’s head or even just a mood they feel.  That’s what happened to me this past weekend.  I was driving home from the Save the Cat workshop and trying to work through some issues I’ve been having with Roxie’s story.  That’s when a song came on the radio.

It was Emeli Sande’s My Kind of Love.  Oh My God.  I’d never heard it before, but the mood it gave off was perfect for what I’m trying to do with Roxie’s book.  Plot is important and characters are key, but if I can hit the chord that song was giving off, that story would fly.  Suddenly my worries faded.  I just need to keep that mood in mind as I’m writing.  And probably play the song a million times.  If I come even close, I’ll be happy.  Because that song is so passionate.

I’ve been inspired by songs before, but I’m curious if readers can see/feel that inspiration in my stories.  So I’ll share a bit.  Let me know what you think.  Do you see any links between these?

Hit the Ground Running by Jonny Lang …. inspired my novella Wanted in Red’s Sage’s Secrets Volume 9

Savin’ Me by Nickelback … inspired Solace in Scandal



Down time

I spent most of the month of May working hard towards a deadline.  When I’m in that frame of mind, everything else gets pushed into the background.  The house goes uncleaned, chores go undone, and I disappear from the radar of all my friends and family.  It’s self-imposed isolation, and I suppose it’s good for the story.  When that deadline passes and the story is put to rest, though, it’s time to re-enter the real world.  It feels a bit strange to be excited about paying bills and weeding the flower garden, but that’s where I am right now.  I have so many things I want to do that don’t involve sitting in front of a keyboard.  This down time is important for recharging batteries and getting the creativity brewing again.

However this, too, shall pass.  Soon, the urge to write will return and I’ll be moving back into the planning stages for my next project.  I will tell you that I already know what my next project will be, but I wouldn’t actually consider it new.  It’s more of an old project that I’ll be picking up again.

Yes, for all of you who’ve asked, I’m going back to the Dream Wreakers.

Writing erotica

One of the things I’m working on right now is a new erotica novel. You might not think that there’s much difference writing erotica versus erotic romance, but there is. Just like I’m sure there’s a huge difference between writing comedies, thrillers and mysteries. With erotica, the tension starts at a high level and the writer needs to keep it there and work upwards. With romance, you’re allowed more highs and lows and certainly more build-up time. With erotica, you need to get to the good stuff and get there fast.

Unlike some critics think, though, you can’t skip the character development or the plotting, because without those key components even sex gets boring. So it’s a delicate balance, keeping that sexual tension high and adding the meat of the story. On the other hand, there aren’t as many “rules” with erotica. Romance publishers will argue there aren’t rules, but everyone knows there are. With erotica, you’re allowed to push the limits and be more creative not only in the sex scenes, but also in the story lines and even the characters. It’s fun to go to those places, to be daring and challenge your writing capabilities.

It’s a definite change of gears, but one I’ve driven in quite a bit. It’s just been a while. I haven’t written a full-length erotic novel in years, but it’s time to go back to my old stomping grounds. The opportunity has presented itself, and I’m remembering how much fun it can be to write in this genre. Hopefully, you’ll be able to read the results soon. Then you can tell me if I dared and challenged you enough.

Writing Season

Wow, it’s been over a month since I posted.  Sorry about that, but it’s getting into that busy time of the year.  Life gets crazy over the holidays.  Everyone is dashing to and fro.  For me, though, it’s also the time of the year when I’m most productive with my writing.  When the weather gets cold and nasty, it’s easier to stay inside and huddle in front of a computer.

As a result, I’m juggling several projects.  The finishing touches have been placed on Blade of Moonlight, which is currently set for a May release with Samhain.  I can’t wait to show you the cover that’s in development.  Can. Not. Wait.  It’s a super dark and super sexy story, which is only appropriate for superheroes, and the cover is super hot.  Naturally.

I’m working on some proposals and finishing up a New Year’s story, which I plan to self-publish in the next few weeks.  That one’s a short story I wrote just as a holiday treat for readers, because I know this is also the time of year people like to curl up on their sofas with hot cocoa and a book.  “Tis the season!

Plodding vs. Plotting

I’m making good headway on my latest work-in-progress.  I finished Chapter 12 yesterday, so my New Year’s resolution may hold.  (Fingers crossed.)  The problem was that after I typed the words “Chapter 13,” I came to a screeching halt.  I needed to plot.

Some writers can sit down at their computer and just go, not caring that they don’t know where they’re heading.  In some ways, I admire that.  It’s daring, it’s free, and it’s open to possibilities.  It’s also not me.  Some writing instructors or other helpful souls will tell you that when you hit a writer’s block, you should just sit down and write whatever comes to mind.  They believe that will help break through the resistance.  I’ve tried that, and it’s a complete waste of my time.  I can’t seem to be creative and orderly at the same time.  The solution for me is usually to sit down and map out where the story needs to go.  That’s the creative part.  Once I have that, it’s a matter of execution.

In my current story, it wasn’t that I was at a complete loss for direction, it was that I had several specific points I needed to hit and a certain number of pages to get there.  So I spent yesterday mapping how to get from Point A to Point B to Point C to, eventually, The End.  Everything needs to come together by that final page.  The TV show, Seinfeld, had some great examples of plotting.  George, Jerry, Elaine, and Kramer would all be obsessing about their individual problems until the end of the show where everything would come together for a hilarious conclusion.  Remember Kramer’s meat slicer being used to cut food thin enough to slide under the door to feed Elaine’s cat?  Or Kramer hitting the golf ball into the ocean and “marine biologist” George having to save the whale?  Genious!

Sometimes you just need to find your own way of doing things.  Don’t block out what others are advising, but pick out the information that works best for you.  Maybe you can go to the grocery store, walk through the aisles, and buy everything you need.  Me?  I need a shopping list.  Maybe you can accomplish everything you wanted to do in a day without reminders.  Me?  I need my “to do” list.

So how about you?  Are you a free spirit or a list maker like me?  Do you plan ahead or go free wheeling?

Writers’ Retreat

I just returned from a writers’ retreat.  It was fun, relaxing, productive, and energizing all at the same time.  There’s something so nice about gathering with a bunch of like-minded people.  They understand how something small can seem so major.  For writers, that can be something as mundane as finding the right word.  For instance, I had to walk up to somebody and ask, “What’s that button you push on your car to make it hold at one speed?”  I couldn’t think of “cruise control” for the life of me.  But writers get this.  She answered, and I simply turned around and walked out of the room.  LOL   Really, it’s comforting to be around other people who “get” you.  The world wouldn’t go around without different types of people but, just for a week, it’s great to hang out in an environment where you are “normal.”

The creative energy at the retreat helped, as did the scenery.  We were right on the beach, with waves crashing and dolphins swimming nearby.  If something like that doesn’t inspire you, nothing will.  Here’s a shot of sunrise over Virginia Beach.

So what do you do to recharge and reboot?  Who “gets” you?


I loved last night’s episode of So You Think You Can Dance (SYTYCD). Instead of starting the competition, they just had everybody dance in their styles. Viewers got to meet the new dancers and welcome back past favorites. I have to admit I’m not a reality show fan, but there are a few I watch religiously. SYTYCD is one. Project Runway is another. Other than that, I tend to avoid reality TV like the plague. I don’t like the scheming, backstabbing, and phoniness. So why do I like these two? I think it comes down to one thing – creativity.

I like watching the seed of an idea grow into something beautiful. With SYTYCD, I have my favorite dancers, but I think I’m more intrigued with the choreography. How does one take a piece of music, create a story from it, and find a physical way to translate it? Or does it work differently? Is the story the starting point? Do the choreographers pick the music from there? I bet the answer is both… or either… whatever strikes that spark.

On Project Runway, I’ll watch in awe as outfits emerge from challenges. I’m fascinated how designers can start at the same place and end up with wildly different outcomes. The same thing can happen with a story idea. Two authors can have the same idea, but end up with radically different books. I don’t know how it all works but, to me, it’s fun. I couldn’t sew a handkerchief, but I like putting the puzzle pieces of a story together. I can actually feel a different part of my brain being energized.

So how about you? Are there certain shows you like, because they’re creative or different? How are you creative?