Saturday, September 22, 2012

Tough Love Day

Writers, like everyone else, get distracted with events in their personal lives. Just like you, dear readers, we get headaches, suffer from broken hearts, are overwhelmed by family responsibilities, lose people we love and are diagnosed with heart ailments and cancers.

Working while dealing with physical and emotional distractions can often be difficult to do, no matter what profession we work in.

For a fiction writer or anyone else who works alone with his thoughts, setting aside these painful distractions can be a challenge because he has nothing concrete or tangible to help take his mind off his troubles while he's working the way an auto mechanic, a maid, a teacher or a factory worker does. If he takes the day off to give in to or to nurse his sufferings it matters to no one but himself, at least for that day. While patrons of a hotel would definitely miss the performance of the important duties of a maid, if a novel writer didn't work for a day, so what? Right? No one is hurt by his absence from his duties.

This is why it is easy for writers to slip into the bad habit of not writing because "she didn't feel like it" or "he wasn't inspired" or "she just found out she has a serious disease and she needs to feel sorry for herself."

Professional writers write--they write every day, no matter what is going on in their lives.

Police officers work no matter what is going on with their personal lives, so do nurses, janitors, CEOs, dog walkers and everyone else who is physically capable of doing so.

If today is a day a writer would go to work if he were a waiter, an electrician, a priest, a garbage collector or a candy maker, then it's a day he needs to work as a writer.

Setting up a work schedule and sticking to it no matter what is key to a writer reaching her goals.

Throughout my writing years, I've had my share of distractions just like most other people. I've taken care of sick loved ones, supported people dealing with abuse, gone through surgeries and dealt with serious illness, done volunteer work, lost family members and tended to the duties of being a wife and mother. When it comes to keeping up with a writing schedule I have found that adhering to the schedule no matter what is going on not only helps to accomplish goals, it helps with maintaining a sense of normalcy in life when everything around me is dragging me down.

I believe this perseverance can be uplifting if we let it. It can be inspirational and rewarding during our more difficult times. Writers, give yourselves some tough love and make yourself work, no matter how tempting it is to set work aside because things are not going well for the time being. Work and find inspiration and satisfaction in what you do. It'll turn tough love into warm feelings of accomplishment.

Good luck, and God bless everyone who is having a difficult time this week whether you're a writer or not. (God bless those who are having a good week too!)


Fran Shaff, Award-Winning Author
Fran's Web Page

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Tender Mysteries Series

For more than a year now I've been working on my "Tender Mysteries Series."

The novels in this series set in 1890s Nebraska are filled with mystery and romance. In some ways, they also cross the line into what is categorically known as women's fiction.

Each book in the series focuses on one of ten young women who'd been traveling via wagon train in 1888 from the Illinois/Indiana area to the West when a flood destroyed most of their property and many of their loved ones. All of them were children in 1888 ranging from eight to fifteen years of age. By 1895, when the series begins, most of them have grown into womanhood.

The first book in this series, "Resurrected," will be available in the next couple of months as a free download. The second and third books in the series, "Restitution" and "Retribution" will be available as downloads at the same time the first one is. More novels in the series will be released in 2013 and 2014.

The paperback editions will be issued in "2-packs." The first paperback, due for release this autumn, will contain both "Resurrected" and "Restitution," the first two novels in the series. The second paperback, due to be released in 2013, will contain "Retribution" and "Recruited," the third and fourth books in the series.

As most of you know, this isn't my first attempt at writing a series. My "Heart Junction Series" has been quite popular with readers.

However, the scale of the "Tender Mysteries Series" is much grander than my first American historical series which consisted of three books.

The work entailed in writing a series as intense and large-scale as the "Tender Mysteries Series" is mind boggling, but, as I'm seeing the first three books coming into their final stages, I believe this labor-intensive project is well worth the effort.

I'm eagerly looking forward to sharing this series with readers whom I hope find themselves highly entertained by these compelling stories.

I hope your week is a great one. Mine's been pretty good so far. :-)


Fran Shaff, Award-Winning Author
Fran's Web Page

Monday, September 3, 2012

Do Overs

Writing a first draft to a new novel is exciting. Juices are flowing, ideas are being realized, people are coming to life just as the writer has imagined them.

First drafts can be thrilling to write; they can be gut wrenching too. It all depends on how well pre-writing work was completed, how energized the writer is, how focused the writer is and on a few other things like having completed adequate research and whether or not the writer still has a good attitude toward the project.

The hardest work in completing a novel comes in succeeding drafts. Second, third, fourth...twelfth drafts are needed to fix plot and character flaws, dress up scenes, perfect conflicts, turning points, dialog, etc.

New writers should know, no matter how much in love they are with their first novel, it's a good idea to set it aside for a few weeks after they've completed it. Once it's mellowed on the computer or in a drawer or closet for a month or two, the writer should take a fresh look at it, as though they're seeing it for the first time. They should be super critical of it, noting what's great about it and what's not so great. Then begin rewrites.

It's always a good idea to let a project set at least a couple of weeks after each rewriting session and come back to it with fresh perspective for the next set of rewrites.

Each time a writer takes up a project to work on rewrites she has the ability to exercise a "Do Over," eventually making the novel the best it can be.

Wouldn't it be nice if we could do "rewrites" or "do overs" in our real lives from time to time?


Fran Shaff, Award-Winning Author
Fran's Web Page