Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Keeping Up with the Times

In what era do your stories take place?  When I started writing my 'Forever Love' series almost eleven years ago, I decided to take a trip back in time to the late 1980s.  For me, it was a time of my life that held some of my happiest and most precious memories--college, making some great friends, meeting my husband, and getting married. Awesome music, awesome movies, awesome fashions (hey, I rocked those designer jeans, folks!)--I couldn't imagine a better time for my characters to live in. Most of the details poured into my manuscript were easily pulled from the corners of my mind.  Not much research was necessary to keep things factual.  Everything was perfect until....

I began working on Book 3.

Suddenly, I was faced with a dilemma.  First, I had to decide--based on the cliffhanger ending of 'Waiting for Tomorrow'--whether or not my hero would survive his tragic situation.  Second, regardless of which way I went, he would need to undergo at least a minimal amount of medical treatment.  This time around, my memories of working as a medical receptionist weren't going to suffice.  I had to figure out if what I was writing was true to the times.  Would it be correct for him to have an MRI scan or be given Vicodin for his pain?  (no, to both of those, by the way)  Who would be responsible for notifying his family of his accident (or death)?  And, most importantly, what sorts of injuries might he sustain, and how would they be treated?  Whew!  I was overwhelmed.  I turned to the internet, but wasn't able to find everything I needed to know.  I became frustrated.  What could I do?

Fortunately, there's a happy ending to my story.  God, in His infinite wisdom, led me to a friend who just happens to be an ER nurse at a local hospital.  She had read my books and knew my hero's spot.  After firing a barrage of questions her way, she was able to provide me with the answers  I needed to factually and accurately move my story forward.  All was right with the world once more!

The moral of the story:  If you're writing about any era other than the present one, be sure to do your homework.  Scan the internet, go to the library, talk to people who lived during that time.  We all know a book full of grammatical errors is horrific enough, but a book full of inaccurate information is just as bad.  You want your readers to see you as someone who goes all the way in making their work the best it can be.  There's never an excuse for sloppy writing. 

How do you research your book's era?  Tell me in the comments!

Until next time...happy writing!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

New Year, New Opportunities

Last year was rough.  Just downright rough.  You name it, and it probably happened around here.  It seems the only thing missing was a natural disaster, and if Lake Erie were capable of producing hurricanes or tsunamis, I'm not so sure we would have been spared.

But....  That's past history!  It's a brand new year, and with that comes brand new opportunities.  Three-hundred-and-sixty-five new days to wake up, get dressed, and conquer the world.  Right?

Well, okay.  Maybe we won't feel like conquering the world every day.  Realistically speaking, there will be days we feel more like flinging the alarm clock across the room, burrowing under the covers, and going back to sleep for the next 24 hours.  It's inevitable.  No one promised life would be perfect, but fortunately, those days are the exception rather than the rule for most of us.  However, when they hit, they can be a real downer.  It's those times you just have to put on your big girl (or big boy) pants and suck it up.  Move forward.  Keep going with the knowledge that the situation is only temporary.  Work it out the best you can, and be proud of your efforts.

The same holds true for our writing.  In the past year, despite the personal challenges I faced, there were days I sat down and cranked out great work.  I would reread my previous days' musings and feel a sense of accomplishment.  Other times, I would hate it all--'highlight' and 'delete' became my best friends.  There were even times I would go days--even weeks--without writing a single word.  It didn't matter if I had 500,000 thoughts all swirling around in my head dying to be a part of my manuscript.  If I wasn't feeling it, they stayed where they were, never to see the light of day. 

But, I kept going.

I didn't let those 'off' days get to me, and you shouldn't, either.  I've heard it's best to try to write something every day in order to keep the creative juices flowing, and I agree with that.  However, if there are days when the muse decides to go on vacation, don't sweat it.  I always say you can't force creativity.  It's either there, or it's not.  If it is, then by all means, grab it by the horns and don't let go.  Write until your fingers ache!  If it's not, step away from the computer and allow yourself to relax and regroup.  Take a long walk, a candlelight bath, catch a movie with a friend.  Have dinner with your significant other, play a game with your kids.  Do something that will take your focus off the writing for a little while.  Chances are, when you return to it, the words will come more easily.

Just keep in mind that today is only one day, and you still have 364 more opportunities to shine.  And you undoubtedly will!

Until next time, Happy Writing!