As I struggle today with getting my butt in gear to hit my own writing goal, I thought, why not share some of the things that have helped me write 24 books over the past 7 years? No one ever said writing is easy. Okay, this guy I call Three Chins said it once, but he’s full of beans. So, Three Chins, this one is not for you.
10. READ – Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know reading isn’t writing, but it is essential. I’ve said it time and time again. You cannot be a writer if you’re not an avid reader. The act of reading both educates and inspires. You might come across a book and declare with your fist raised above your head, “I can write better than that!” Renew your love of the written word every day and your need to create will follow.
9. TURN OFF YOUR WIFI – If you write on a laptop or computer, disable your wifi the moment you sit down to write. Doing that will prevent you from falling down time suck rabbit holes like checking Facebook or reading the latest rant against Trump. All of that mindless chatter is a distraction, and you need to avoid distractions. I do recommend that you go old school and have print copies of a dictionary and thesaurus on hand. The online versions are great, but then again, you need wifi to access them.
8. LOOK AWAY FROM THE TV! – There is no bigger time suck than television. Whether it’s network programming, Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime, you need to limit the hours spent melting your brain. This is a tough one, especially now with so many quality shows turning up almost daily. Sorry, you’re not going to be able to watch all of them. Pick and choose, and make sure your TV time doesn’t gobble up your writing time. Baseball season is especially hard for me. If I had my way, I’d watch every Mets game. But my desire to be a writer far outweighs my need to let the Mets both elevate and crush my dreams.
7. MAKE YOURSELF ACCOUNTABLE – How do you do this? Tell everyone that you’re going to be a writer come hell or high water. Have a good friend who will put the screws to you if they see you veering away from your declared ambition. Now that you’ve declared your goal to everyone around you, the pressure is on. As Woody Harrelson says in Zombieland, “It’s time to nut up or shut up.”
6. SET WORD COUNT GOALS – Writers judge their progress by word count, not number of pages. So why not set a daily word count in your mind? A typical novel is 90,000 words. If you made it a point to write 1,000 words a day, your first draft will be done in three months.If 1,000 words seems too lofty, cut it in half. The key is to have a fixed word target. I know that life sometimes gets in the way and most people can’t write every day. So take your daily number and multiply it by seven for your weekly number. That way, if you miss a day or two, you know exactly how many extra words you need to pump out on the days you do write to hit your weekly quota.
5. LEAVE YOUR PHONE IN ANOTHER ROOM – I never, ever have my phone nearby when I sit down to write. It’s too easy to pick it up and get lost in messages and calls and apps. We’ve become little Pavlov’s dogs, instantly responding to every ding and chime our phones produce to let us know there’s something waiting to tear our attention away from our writing. Put that sucker in silent mode and leave it in a closet in the room down the hall. It’ll be there when you’re done. Plus, it’s good for the body, mind and soul to unplug for a while each day.
4. FIND YOUR BEST TIME TO WRITE – No two biorhythms are the same. My creative peak most likely won’t be close to yours. Experiment by writing at different times in the day to find your sweet spot. I remember hearing John Grisham talk about how he wrote at five in the morning before he had to go to court. I used to think I could never function that early. At the time, I was a seven PM writer. Well, cut to a decade later, and I’m now a six am writer. Your creative peaks change as you age, so if suddenly your noon schedule isn’t working, switch it up.
3. SET A DEADLINE – This ties in nicely with point 6 and 7. If you’re a first time writer, you’re not going to have an editor’s deadline hanging over your head. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have one. Set a deadline in stone. Write the date on a sticky note and paste it where you write. Tell everyone the date. Fixate on that date. If it gives you night sweats, good. Nothing inspires a writer more than a deadline. Tailor your word count goals so you can meet your deadline head-on.
2. HAVE MORE THAN ONE PROJECT TO WORK ON – Tackling a spy novel set in Bulgaria? Try your hand at romance novella or a series of articles on bee keeping. Create projects that match your experience or interests, or take on something new and challenging. You should always work on multiple projects. Why? Some days, that spy novel is going to hit a wall. You need your subconscious to work things out so you can go through or around that wall. To do that, you need to focus on something else, something completely different. That’s when you set to working on your side project. I guarantee, when you sit down the next day, you’ll be ready to jump back into your spy novel. Heck, that’s why I wrote this blog post! **Here’s a pro tip – If your first book lands a publishing deal, the next thing an editor will ask is, “So, what else do you have?” Don’t stand there with your mouth open. Tell your editor all about the other novel you’ve been working on (or if you’ve been really productive, send them the finished manuscript). Having more than one book in hand puts you head and shoulders above the competition.
1. DRIVE – Ernest Hemingway famously advised would be writers to Never think about the story when you’re not working. Remember what I said about your subconscious working things out for you? That soft and silent part of your brain is where everything comes from. You need to let it do its thing. The best way to do that is to drive. Get behind the wheel and let your conscious mind worry about getting from here to there. Most of my big aha moments have hit me in the car. I used to keep a voice recorder in the car so I could dictate the gold nuggets my subconscious allowed to float to the top. Now I use the app in my phone. If you don’t drive, walk. There’s something about being in motion that encourages ideas to generate. Just remember, while driving or walking, don’t think about your work in progress. Concentrate on not hitting that hybrid car in front of you or the scenery in the park you’re ambling about. Believe me, the rest will come to you.
Spinner of terrifying tales of ghosts and restless spirits, Catherine Cavendish has a new book of creeping dread for fans old and new. Today, I let her haunt my blog with a little something she calls, THE PEDLAR AND THE DEVIL….
I have set a large part of Waking the Ancients in Vienna, Austria where many ghosts and restless spirits walk among the verdant parks and lavish palaces. But Austrian ghosts do not confine themselves to their nation’s imperial capital. They can be found in towns, cities, villages and the depths of the countryside all over this beautiful land.
In the beautiful mountainous region of Tyrol, many legends and myths abound. One curious one involves a spectral game of bowls.
A pedlar became lost on the side of the mountain as darkness fell. Disorientated, he kept going until he came to the ancient ruined castle of Starkenberg. There, exhausted, he decided to take shelter for the night and laid down to sleep in the remains of a great hall. He slept for some hours, waking to hear the clock of a nearby village strike midnight. To his astonishment, as the last chime echoed across the rocks, twelve ghostly figures, clad in full armour, manifested in the room and proceeded to play a game of bowls – only they used skulls instead of balls.
As luck would have it, the pedlar was quite a bowls player himself. In fact he was the champion of his village. Also, being made of sterner stuff, he offered to play each of the spirits in turn. He was quite surprised when his challenge was accepted. One by one he defeated them all and quite expected to be met with anger as a result. Quite the reverse. To his astonishment, the spectral army congratulated him and gave whoops of joy. They told him that now he had beaten them, they could be released from purgatory. As soon as they said this, they vanished, leaving the pedlar alone. He looked all around, trying to discover where they had gone but to no avail. Then, ten more ghostly knights appeared, each through a different door which they locked carefully behind them. They brought the keys to the pedlar and gave them to him saying he must now determine which was the right key for each door.
All the keys and all the doors were identical – or appeared to be. The pedlar accepted the challenge and it took him quite a while but he successfully accomplished the task and the ten ghostly figures thanked him profusely, assuring him that his actions had also released them from purgatory, before they too vanished.
Things were all going a bit too well up to now and the pedlar was feeling delighted with himself. His confidence knew no bounds.
But then the devil himself appeared, in a foul temper. He castigated the pedlar for robbing him of twenty two souls and declared that his soul must be forfeit instead. The brave (or exceptionally foolhardy) pedlar argued and declared he would play the devil one game of bowls to decide whether his soul should be forever damned and belong to Lucifer, or whether he should be allowed to go free.
Once again, the pedlar triumphed and beat his evil counterpart soundly. As soon as the first cock crowed in the morning, the devil launched himself into the air with scorching sulfur breath that burned the grass where he had been. He took off, his massive wings beating the air, leaving the pedlar triumphant.
Needless to say, the pedlar told anyone who was prepared to listen about his extraordinary night on the mountain. No one believed him of course, until they too trekked up to the castle…and saw the burned and withered grass, exactly as the pedlar had described it.
Waking the Ancients
Legacy In Death
University student Lizzie Charters accompanies her mentor, Dr. Emeryk Quintillus, on the archeological dig to uncover Cleopatra’s tomb. Her presence is required for a ceremony conducted by the renowned professor to resurrect Cleopatra’s spirit—inside Lizzie’s body. Quintillus’s success is short-lived, as the Queen of the Nile dies soon after inhabiting her host, leaving Lizzie’s soul adrift . . .
Paula Bancroft’s husband just leased Villa Dürnstein, an estate once owned by Dr. Quintillus. Within the mansion are several paintings and numerous volumes dedicated to Cleopatra. But the archeologist’s interest in the Egyptian empress deviated from scholarly into supernatural, infusing the very foundations of his home with his dark fanaticism. And as inexplicable manifestations rattle Paula’s senses, threatening her very sanity, she uncovers the link between the villa, Quintillus, and a woman named Lizzie Charters.
And a ritual of dark magic that will consume her soul . . .
You can find Waking the Ancients here:
About the Author:
Following a varied career in sales, advertising and career guidance, Catherine Cavendish is now the full-time author of a number of paranormal, ghostly and Gothic horror novels, novellas and short stories. Cat’s novels include the Nemesis of the Gods trilogy – Wrath of the Ancients, Waking the Ancients and Damned by the Ancients, plus The Devil’s Serenade, The Pendle Curse and Saving Grace Devine. She lives with her long-suffering husband, and a black cat who has never forgotten that her species used to be worshipped in ancient Egypt. She sees no reason why that practice should not continue. Cat and her family divide their time between Liverpool and a 260-year-old haunted apartment in North Wales.
You can connect with Cat here:
If you’re a book reviewer and have an account with Net Galley, you can now download and read my June novella, JURASSIC FLORIDA. Now’s the time to jump on board the giant lizard train and dive into this year’s madness. It’s the first in a trio of novellas called ONE SIZE EATS ALL. Anyone interested in the direct link on Net Galley to the book, please respond here or email me at email@example.com. Happy monster hunting!
About the book:
FLORIDA. IT’S WHERE YOU GO TO DIE.
Welcome to Polo Springs, a sleepy little town on Florida’s Gulf Coast. It’s a great place to live—if you don’t mind the hurricanes. Or the flooding. Or the unusual wildlife . . .
IGUANAS. THEY’RE EVERYWHERE.
Maybe it’s the weather. But the whole town is overrun with the little green bastards this year. They’re causing a lot of damage. They’re eating everything in sight. And they’re just the babies . . .
HUMANS. THEY’RE WHAT’S FOR DINNER.
The mayor wants to address the iguana problem. But when Hurricane Ramona slams the coast, the town has a bigger problem on their hands. Bigger iguanas. Bigger than a double-wide. Unleashed by the storm, this razor-toothed horde of prehistoric predators rises up from the depths—and descends on the town like retirees at an early bird special. Except humans are on the menu. And it’s all you can eat .
Fans of all things ghostly will love this limited run podcast by Panoply. HAUNTED is, believe it or not, an unbiased look into several cases of hauntings, with interviews by those who have had their world views of life and death shaken to its core. Host Danny Robins presents the facts and the interpretations of the experiencers and lets you decide if they actually saw a ghost or not.
These are short, easily digestible episode that are best listened to when you’re alone in a darkened room. Rumor has it that season 2 is just around the bend! Here’s the official synopsis for the show:
Do ghosts exist? If not, why do we see them? In each episode of the Haunted podcast Danny Robins looks at a real life ghost story in forensic detail trying to work out what really happened, with the help of experts, sceptics and the people who witnessed something they just can’t explain.
Danny visits a famous racetrack where drivers return from the dead; sees a suburban house haunted by a racist ex-tenant; talks to a widower who shares his bed with a phantom; and meets the parents who became convinced a ghost wanted to kill their baby daughter.
I absolutely loved HAUNTED and can’t wait for more. No matter whether you’re a believer or a skeptic, there’s something for everyone here. Listen at your own risk.
Just a little excited over here in the Shea shack. Flame Tree Press is now accepting pre-orders for the trade paperback and hardcover editions of my debut novel with them, CREATURE. And, we finally have a release date – September 6, 2018. As we get closer to the big day, I’m sure you’ll be able to pre-order the ebook as well.
Just in case you’re wondering just what the heck this book is about…
The monsters live inside of Kate Woodson. Chronic pain and a host of autoimmune diseases have robbed her of a normal, happy life. Her husband Andrew’s surprise of their dream Maine lake cottage for the summer is the gift of a lifetime. It’s beautiful, remote, idyllic, a place to heal.
But they are not alone.
Something is in the woods, screeching in the darkness, banging on the house, leaving animals for dead. Just like her body, Kate’s cottage becomes her prison. She and Andrew must fight to survive the creature that lurks in the dead of night.
Flame Tree is planning to burst onto the horror scene in a HUGE way. From everything I’d been told, we’re talking epic. Get ready from brand new tales from the likes of Ramsey Campbell, Jonathan Janz, John Everson, Tim Waggoner and so many more. If you’re a reviewer and you want to reserve your ARC, by all means reach out to them. If you’re a reader and want to make sure you get your hands on this sick puppy the day it comes out, pre-order today!