3 Guilt Trips Writers Need To Ignore

Photo by mindfreak

Photo by mindfreak

So you’re a writer. You keep your own hours, but they are set in your mind as the time when you set aside to work. Sometimes they must flow with your creativity and sometimes deadlines require us to buckle down and get words on the page.

Still. You are a writer.

Do you ever feel misunderstood about your career? Do you find yourself feeling guilty for writing?

I have so been there. With four kids, volunteering, church, and other commitments it often gets overwhelming. But to top it off I occasionally let guilt get a hold of me and interfere with my writing.

3 Guilt Trips Writers Need To Ignore:

1. The Volunteer In The Day Trap. Yes, as writers our hours are flexible. But that doesn’t mean that we are required to fill every day time volunteer opportunity just because no one else is available.

Are you really available during that time, or should you be writing? There is absolutely nothing wrong with dedicating your time to serving others, in fact, it is important. But make sure that the reason you are volunteering isn’t out of guilt, but rather a devotion to the group you are serving.

This rule will be a gift to you. You find more joy in serving and it will help others to take your job seriously because you do.

2. I Shouldn’t Spend Time Away From My Kids Trap. Family is number 2 on my list, right after God. They get my love and attention.

Photo by Tuingui

Photo by Tuingui

Is it neglectful to take time to pursue your dream? If you take time for your family and you are there when they need you to show love and support, it is only healthy to have some of your own interests.

A family is not a vacuum where all personal identity is sucked out of you. When this happens you begin to feel invisible, unimportant, and as if you have lost who you are.

Do you want your kids to be dreamers? How will they dream if you haven’t shown them how to pursue your dream?

What a powerful thing to let your kids see you dream. Make them part of your journey. Show them how you break your dreams down into little steps and achieve each a bit at a time. Show them how you budget to support your dream. Make them part of your success and it won’t take away from your family, merely enhance it.

3. The “Oh, Isn’t That Nice” Trap. Every writer has a few people in their life who just don’t understand that writing is a profession. They don’t treat conferences like a professional learning experience, but rather a fun get away with the guys or gals.

Often if you tell them you are working on a book you will get the, “Oh, isn’t that nice,” type of comment. You begin to feel guilty about going to a conference, taking time to write, or even talking about your story.

Never belittle your own career with this guilt trap. Writing is a profession, it requires training, you must put in office hours, and it takes incredible skill.

Don’t feel guilty for talking about your job, everyone else does. It is a part of you. Don’t be afraid to share it. (Although, you may not want to tell “normal” people that you hear your character’s voices, LOL.)

What guilt traps do you have to ignore? Or How do you avoid guilt traps?

Super Sleuth of the Month

Photo by grim12

Photo by grim12

Hi Super Sleuths! Things are changing up a bit on this blog over the next few months. I will be inviting a few other Romantic Suspense and Romance writers to join me. We will still have our Super Sleuth Challenges and other features you have come to enjoy, plus some new and fun features.

It does mean that our sleuthing answers will be posted the following Wednesday for each challenge. Today that is what I have done. The Super Sleuth Challenge Answer is Below our big SUPER SLEUTH OF THE MONTH ANNOUNCEMENT!!!

AND THE Super Sleuth of the Month IS:  JANET B!!!!

Congratulations!! You are the winner of Brandilyn Collins’ book Dark Justice and a $10 Amazon gift card!

***

For those of you who are still waiting for the answer to the Super Sleuth Challenge from last week. The answer is…. ALL OF THESE ARE TRUE:

1. A man with clown pants was staking out a business. He goes up to the main door and looks inside. Then he walks a few feet away on the sidewalk, just out of view of the security camera. The next time the camera sees him he has pulled a ski mask down over his face. Hmmm…I wonder who he is?

2. A burglar was caught trying to loot a house where the police were already inside conducting an interview of a victim of a completely different crime.

3. A man attempted to rob a bank with a toilet plunger.

4. Three criminals held up a university student, taking her money and her car keys… to a stick shift car they couldn’t even drive.

5. A burglar is scared off by the singing Billy Bass.

6. Two men jump out of the bushes at a McDonald’s, fire a shot, and steal a number 7 from the customer exiting the restaurant.

I am amazed at the crazy things people do.

I’d love to hear from you.

Which kind of Super Sleuth Challenges do you like most (criminally challenged, solving mysteries, crime solvers, forensic sleuthing)?

Wednesday Super Sleuth Challenge – Criminally Challenged

Photo by nokomai

Photo by nokomai

This is by far one of my favorite types of Super Sleuth Challenges. Tales of the criminally challenged. By that I mean those who really shouldn’t quit their day jobs.

There is no limit to the number of times I can be surprised by individuals who do the craziest things and all in the name of crime.

We have heard the tales of the Subway toilet tank theif and the crook who had to call for an ambulance after falling off of a roof and breaking bones. This time is no different. A dose of funny with our Wednesday challenge.

For today’s super sleuth challenge see if you can guess which criminally challenged stories actually happened, then leave your comment below for your chance to become the super sleuth of the month.

Which of the following are actually true:

1. A man with clown pants was staking out a business. He goes up to the main door and looks inside. Then he walks a few feet away on the sidewalk, just out of view of the security camera. The next time the camera sees him he has pulled a ski mask down over his face. Hmmm…I wonder who he is?

2. A burglar was caught trying to loot a house where the police were already inside conducting an interview of a victim of a completely different crime.

3. A man attempted to rob a bank with a toilet plunger.

4. Three criminals held up a university student, taking her money and her car keys… to a stick shift car they couldn’t even drive.

5. A burglar is scared off by the singing Billy Bass.

6. Two men jump out of the bushes at a McDonald’s, fire a shot, and steal a number 7 from the customer exiting the restaurant.

7. Numbers 1, 4, and 6.

8. All of the Above

Which of these criminally challenged stories are true?

 

How To Add A Twist To Your Story – Tips From “Frozen”

Photo by Ayla87

Photo by Ayla87

Have you ever despised the linear, flat story line you have going in your novel? If each scene outcome is predictable and you worry your reader will lose interest, then it is time for a change.

Maybe it’s time for an unexpected twist. Easier said than done, right? Still, it doesn’t have to be as complicated as we make it.

Using a technique that I call fringe plotting, or Susan May Warren’s similar technique of peripheral plotting, you can easily bring in believable twists to mix things up.

What exactly is fringe plotting?

It is finding the details or story components on the edge of your current story line and drawing them into the plot in an unexpected way.

Take a look at this clip from Frozen:

What is the fringe plot detail in this clip? The camera man. He is the unexpected element that plays into the clip. It makes the other characters act completely different.

Who is on the fringe of the scene or story line you are working on? How will they make the characters act differently?

Now, notice the carrot. The carrot is an object on the fringe of the plot when Olaf is sitting on the moose’s back and he doesn’t want to move. It is unexpected that Olaf takes off his nose as incentive, but the nose was there all along waiting to be noticed.

What objects or incentives could there be in your character’s scene that are on the fringe going unnoticed?

In the clip from Frozen it seems so simple, but when we look at our stories it appears complicated sometimes. Break it down in the following way.

Describe these things as they relate to your scenes, characters, or story line:

*Job

*Friends, Family, Co-workers, Side Characters

*Events- Town Seasons, Holidays, Charities, Calendar

*Values – Things valued in the scene, lives, or backdrop of the story.

Once you identify these things, think of how they intersect with your character’s life and then you may find some of those carrot style twists you are looking for in your novel.

What is your favorite Disney Movie for surprises?

Super Sleuth Challenge Answer – Forensics Brings A Family Closure

Photo by maxpate

Photo by maxpate

Happy Friday Super Sleuths!

Today we honor the memory of two amazing people who lost their lives. Timothy Hack and Kelly Drew. Forensics drew new attention to their case in 2009. Here is a reminder of the case details:

On a Saturday night in August of 1980 a 19-year-old Timothy Hack and his girlfriend Kelly Drew stopped at a wedding reception in Xionia, Wisconsin. The couple was planning to go to a carnival later in the evening.

Witnesses saw the young couple leave, but no one mentioned seeing them outside the reception hall. They never arrived at the carnival. They never made it home.

The next day the Police found the Timothy’s wallet locked in his car in the parking lot outside of the reception hall. They were found in a farmer’s field a few miles from the place where they were last seen.

Who do you think was responsible for the crime?

B. A known serial killer believed to be in the area at the time. (This is not the correct answer because at the time Ed Edwards was not a known serial killer. But in a tie breaker of the contest, this answer will tip in favor to a winner because it is mostly accurate.)

D. A local handyman who did work at the reception hall. Ed Edwards was questioned at the time and he had a bloody nose. When they questioned him about it, he said he hurt it deer hunting.

In 2009 when they questioned Edwards again after DNA evidence of the case was reviewed, he admited to having seen the couple that night. He also said he had never been deer hunting.

It may have been 30 years since the crime, but they finally caught the man who killed the couple. He had since been labeled The Sweetheart Killer.

For more on the case click here.

What solved cold case has surprised you?

Wednesday Super Sleuth Challenge – A Case Of Forensic Pay Back

Photo by jherzog

Photo by jherzog

Welcome Super Sleuths! It has been a while since we’ve had a super sleuth challenge, but I’m excited to share this week’s challenge with you. This month’s super sleuth gift will be a $10 Amazon Gift Card and a new book from Brandilyn CollinsDark Justice.

Amazon Description:

“If I’d had any idea what those words would mean to me, to my mother and daughter, I’d have fled California without looking back.

While driving a rural road, Hannah Shire and her aging mother, who suffers from dementia, stop to help a man at the scene of a car accident. The man whispers mysterious words in Hannah’s ear. Soon people want to kill Hannah and her mother for what they “know.” Even law enforcement may be involved.

The two women must flee for their lives. But how does Hannah hide her confused mother? Carol just wants to listen to her pop music, wear her favorite purple hat, and go home. And if they turn to Hannah’s twentyseven- year-old daughter, Emily, for help, will she fall into danger as well?

Pressed on all sides, Hannah must keep all three generations of women in her family alive. Only then does she learn the threat is not just to her loved ones, but the entire country . . . “

*****

Photo by plrang

Photo by plrang

First, let me say that my heart goes out to every family member who has ever lost a loved one to violent crime. For those of you who have been victims, the new methods of forensics have given hope that you and your loved ones may some day find justice.

Today I celebrate the law enforcement community’s new methods in solving a decades old murder case so one family could finally find closure.

I love that forensics has come back to catch criminals who for years went without justice. Today’s Super Sleuth Challenge case is one such instance of forensics catching a decades old cold case killer. Let’s see if you can guess who committed the crime.

On a Saturday night in August of 1980 a 19-year-old man and his girlfriend stopped at a wedding reception in a small town in the Midwest. The couple was planning to go to a carnival later in the evening, so they didn’t stay long.

Witnesses saw the young couple leave, but no one mentioned seeing them outside the reception hall. They never arrived at the carnival. They never made it home.

The next day the Police found the young man’s wallet locked in his car in the parking lot outside of the reception hall. They were found in a farmer’s field a few miles from the place where they were last seen.

Who do you think was responsible for the crime?

A. A jealous ex-boyfriend.

B. A known serial killer believed to be in the area at the time.

C. The best man from the wedding.

D. A local handyman who did work at the reception hall.

Who do you believe was responsible for the crime?

How To Overcome Plot Paralysis – Tips From “Piggy Tales”

Photo by katyxcx

Photo by katyxcx

That moment you’ve been dreaded has finally happened. You’ve written scene after scene and there it is right in front of you.

PLOT PARALYSIS!!

Panic sets in and you reach for a chocolate. And another. Until there is an empty bag of M&Ms on your desk, a drained can of Mt. Dew, a paper brick wall that you have tried to knock some sense into yourself with, and a pile of wadded up tissue.

Take a deep breath. We have all been there a time or two. There is hope for plot paralysis when your story is stuck like a pig in muck. Let’s take a look at one stuck pig and see if we can learn a bit about plot paralysis from him.

How To Overcome Plot Paralysis:

*Take a break. Such a small and simple thing and yet the pig losing the game steps away from the game board. The same is true of our stories. When we get too close to them, we just can’t see a solution to the plot dilemma we are facing. Step away and take a break. Return to the story when the panic has abated.

*Look at the problem from different angles. If you have created a situation in which your character is backed into a corner and no decision she makes is believable, then it is time to look at the problem from different angles.

Ask your other character’s advice. What would the hero tell the heroine to do? What would the heroine’s mother tell her to do? What would she have done at the beginning of the story? How has she changed? What will she do now?

Sometimes looking at the plot situation from other characters’ perspectives frees up our mind enough to get out of gridlock.

*Search for things in the periphery that would work to put the plot back on track. If you have run out of obstacles for your character, search through the characters and events that are on the edge of the hero or heroine’s lives  that could cause a new, yet believable obstacle. Susan May Warren often teaches this strategy and I’ve found it to be extremely helpful in my writing.

*Twist the board to create the plot you want. This will create a bit of work to go back and align earlier plot to match the changes you need to make, but if the plot you had rolling wasn’t working it is better to fix it now than later.

It may require the addition of a new character, an additional challenge, or another possible villain. This option is rarely needed, but don’t be afraid of it. It is better to roll up your sleeves and make changes instead of looking at a blank page indefinitely.

What do you do to get out of plot paralysis? 

Other Places To Find Me This Week:

Southern Writers Magazine: Brainstorming Secrets To Build Story Conflict