Friday, July 26, 2013

A Patchwork Quilt of Thoughts by Lorena McCourtney

Lorena McCourtney

Author Lorena McCourtney is here with us today, sharing wisdom she’s gained while on her own writing journey.
~ Dawn

A Patchwork Quilt of Thoughts
by Lorena McCourtney

I’m no good at crafts, but I do have a patchwork quilt of thoughts about writing and publishing that I’ve learned over the years. You may find some of the scraps and pieces in it useful.

1. Don’t wait for the muse of inspiration to hit you to write. The muse tends to be about as cooperative as a wet cat. Write anyway.

2. Don’t let the need for perfection – the perfect word, the perfect sentence – block your writing. Try for the best you can do on any given day, but if perfection is out of reach, settle for something less. On days when everything you write reads like junk, settle for junk on that day. Keep writing. On a better day, you can edit, and you can’t edit a blank page.

3. If you don’t already have a system or technique for your writing, try out what others say to do. Some people outline briefly, some extensively. Some “seat of the pants” people don’t outline at all. They see where a story takes them. Some people write straight through, no editing. Others edit as they go. Just don’t believe that someone else’s system is the only acceptable one. Try it – if it works for you, great! Use it. If it doesn’t work, try something else.

4. Don’t think that grammar, punctuation and spelling are unimportant, that a copyeditor or proofreader will fix everything. You don’t need to fuss about these details on a red hot writing day, but you do need to fuss about them before sending them off to an editor or agent. If either sees numerous grammar, punctuation and spelling mistakes, your work probably won’t ever get to that copyeditor or proofreader to fix the mistakes.

5. Research. At least two ways to do it. Immerse yourself in the subject. Read everything you can about it. This is valuable if you’re writing about a particular historical era. You can get new ideas for your story from it. But you can also research on an as-you-need-to-know basis. Your heroine needs a gun. Look up enough to give her an appropriate weapon. You don’t need to immerse yourself in guns to do it. Leave a blank hole in your story, come back later and fill it with the proper information.

6.  Play nice. Things go wrong. Editors and copyeditors do strange things to your story. The publicity department seems to ignore your book. If you have a legitimate gripe, you might mention it, but don’t be so rude and cutting that you burn bridges. People in the publishing world move around and you’re apt to run into this same person at another publisher. Along with this, learn to live with those nasty reviews everyone gets sooner or later. Starting a flame war with the reviewer will only make people more curious about what the review said and more people will see it. Ignore it and move on.

I’ve also heard about a few writers who have encouraged friends to write nasty reviews about a competitor’s book. No, no, no – never!

I repeat: Play nice!


Author Lorena McCourtney shares a patchwork quilt of thoughts about writing. Click to tweet.

Author Lorena McCourtney shares 6 tips on writing and publishing. Click to tweet.

Never write nasty reviews about a competitor’s book. Play nice! Click to tweet.

When Cate Kinkaid receives a frantic call about a triple homicide, she drives to the scene against her better judgment--aren't triple homicides more up the police department's alley?--only to find that the victims are not quite who she expects. Now she has a new rule to add to those she's learned in her short stint as an assistant private investigator: always find out if the victims actually have human DNA. Because these three do not.

But who would shoot this nice lady's dolls? What possible reason could the shooter have? And then there's the startling discovery of another victim, who definitely does have human DNA . . .

About Lorena McCourtney . . .

I came to writing faith-based mystery/romances in a roundabout way. I started writing in the fifth grade, always stories about horses. This love of horses carried me through a degree in agriculture from Washington State University, and a job with a big midwestern meat-packing business. (Where I quickly learned writing about raising hogs and making sausage was not my life calling.) Marriage and motherhood intervened, and by the time I got back to writing, I knew fiction was what I wanted to do. I wrote many short stories for children and teenagers, eventually turned to book-length romances, and now to the faith-based mystery/romances that I feel are my real home. My husband and I live in southern Oregon, where our only livestock now is one eccentric cat.

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