All in the Details

Yesterday I wanted nothing to do with my novel, because it was gloriously sunny outside and the ice cream truck kept on tinkling past my house.  Ice cream is not usually seductive, but on a day when the writing is tough, the siren call of that truck creeping by is entrancing.  So I found myself outside on my front stoop, waiting for it to stop.  While I was waiting, I pulled out my phone, idly checking all of my apps when I happened upon an interesting image.  Apparently, it is an outline for J.K. Rowling’s “Order of the Phoenix.”  You can check it (and several other) cool out outlines here.

By: Jakovche

By: Jakovche

Is it real? I’d like to believe it is.  I wanted to share it with you, because it reminded me that all of the worthwhile stuff takes a lot of focus and determination.  It’s in the little moments of thought, considering the details that makes the best things really good.

So what did I do?  I went back to my desk and wrote.

What do you think about J.K. Rowling’s outline? Would you ever try outlining a book like this?


Writerly Wisdom Inspired by Fleetwood Mac Songs

Graffiti from Sumner Beach, New Zealand

Nostalgia is in the air this morning, trickling into my ears as I listen to old Fleetwood Mac songs.  There’s nothing better than dancing around your office with the window open, that fresh, dewy rain smell wafting in through the open window.  Yes, Mr. Grumpy from across the street is staring at me again as he shouts into his phone… the postman is likely afraid to go anywhere near the house too and that pigeon which I once named Lester is ogling me in that cross-eyed way that only winged rats can manage….  But hey, sometimes you’ve just got to let loose.

In case you don’t want to jump around in your boxers while being ogled by pigeons and mailmen, here is something that might inspire you to feel awesome today:

  1. Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow—be in the moment when you write, but don’t be afraid to keep moving forward too.
  2. Dreams  are what inspire, so listen to them. And then keep on writing, because the Skies the Limit.
  3. If you find yourself trapped under a Landslide, trust that you can pull yourself out of any literary pickle with a little faith and a lot of hard work.
  4. Draft giving you trouble?  Don’t be afraid to Go Your Own Way (at least for a little while until you gain more perspective).
  5. If Monday Morning is really getting to you, give yourself some peace and take a break.
  6. Feeling a little Over [Your] Head?  Don’t worry about what you can’t control.  You’ll get there, because deep down you know you are GOOD.  So believe it.
  7. Love your story and you will find that there will be more Love In Store for you too.
  8. Every time you decide you’re Never Going Back Again, decide instead that you won’t give up and get back to it.
  9. The World [is always] Turning, so make sure you step out of the writing bubble and find ways to interact with books and other writers.  Perspective is everything.
  10.   If the phrase I’m So Afraid won’t get out of your head, let it be there, because when you are out of your comfort zone that’s where the magic happens.

Distraction, Or the Fort of Doom

I could tell you about the time that I snuck into the real Fangorn Forest, or that time that I accidentally sat on a Maori sacred statue…the time I got lost in Paris…but here’s the thing.  I’m kind of stuck.

Truth time: I’m sitting in the middle of a book fort as I write this.  The walls are so tall that every time I move, it leans ominously inwards.  I admit, it’s quite a strange predicament to be in on a Friday morning that was meant to be a productive writing session!  It started out as a small tower—a place to put books as I organized the bookshelf—a good, productive journey on the road to cleanliness and order.  The more the tower grew, the more curious I became about how tall it could get.  I expanded it to make a wall…a few turrets…you know the story.  By the time I was putting the roof on the last tower it was too late—I was swept up into a wind tunnel of distraction.

The Fort of Doom

Distraction: it’s a serious problem even if you don’t wind up mired in book fort madness. A symphony of chirps and cell-phone buzzes drags me back into the real world far too often and the siren call of the full inbox never seems to get any less enticing.

So how do you avoid distraction?

I read once that there are two types of procrastination—the good kind that lets your story percolate until it is ready…and the bad kind that I suspect might involve building book forts, watching reruns of Friends, painting the dog’s toenails…just to avoid the fear that comes with not writing perfectly.

Just in case you are in the same place I am, here are some ways to extricate yourself from the fort of doom:

1. Selective focus-give all your attention to what you are working on right now…then move on to the next task.

2. Build in breaks so you don’t snap.

3. Nix the phone, shut the door, put the headphones on

4. Ignore the perilous email ding—remember that like all sirens, it wants to lure you out into the waters of distraction and pull you under.

5. Relax.  The ideas are in there somewhere.  Trust that they will come with or without a snazzy book fort.

A funny thing happened when I began typing furiously, determined to warn others about the fort of doom–it started to wobble wildly, tilting this way and that. I was too distracted to care, though–the good kind of distraction! Before I knew it…

on the floor...

The fort of doom was just another pile of books on the floor. Take what you will from my temporary insanity, but I’ve decided that sometimes you just have to put distraction in its place and see where your imagination can take you.

How do you thwart distraction?

The Land of Opportunity: Ebooks

By Maximilian Schönherr (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

It’s been long known that exciting things are happening in the e-publishing industry.  Self-publishing and the boom of ebooks over the last few years has changed the way that we (or at least I) think of writing (and reading) books.  So when I heard that HarperCollins’ William Morrow Division had announced that they were going to launch their own “digital-first imprint” for mysteries, thrillers, romance, sic-fi/fantasy and YA novels, my interest was piqued.

While the promise of monthly royalties to authors who sign with Impulse is tempting, it is the fact that digital-first lines are one more opportunity for new authors to be discovered by publishers.  According to Morrow, “the HarperCollins sales group is always seeking out opportunities in print.” Considering that this will provide more opportunity for publishers to take a chance on previously unsigned authors, it feels like a step in the right direction.

Do you see ebooks as the new frontier of publishing?  Or do you prefer print books and the traditional publishing route?