By Ramona Flightner/ @ramonaflightner

 

My blog has been too quiet lately and I’m making it a goal to blog more frequently. With that in mind, I thought I’d write about some of the most common questions I am asked when someone learns I am an author.

Where do you get your ideas?

I love listening to people tell stories and about their view of the world. With that in mind, I am always storing away ideas or nuggets for future use. Many times, someone will tell me a story, and I think to myself, “Wow, that would make a great novel.” I then spend a few minutes envisioning how I’d weave the tale before reminding myself I won’t have time for years!

I also scour research books for interesting events that occurred during the time my novels occur and that will often lead to a scene or a chapter. Sometimes all it takes is a line in a book and I will extrapolate from there.

I also read a wonderful article by one of my favorite authors, Diana Gabaldon, recommending that as an author, I should envision the worst thing that could happen to my character (other than death, although that’s always an option for some of them), and then do it. I remembered that advice as I was writing Reclaimed Love, and I’ve been tormenting my characters a bit more each book since then.

 

What is your writing schedule like?

I write when I can. I write when I’m at a coffee shop waiting for a friend. I jot down notes on my phone when ideas come. I get up at 5 am to write a few hours before work or when I get home from work. The bulk of my writing occurs on the weekends, which has turned me into a bit of a hermit. I don’t write every day, but I am thinking about writing every day.

 

Do you plot or use an outline?

I used to take great pride in saying I didn’t plot or outline, and I don’t. However, I now wish I had a more systematic approach to my writing. The problem is that every time I make an outline and try to write to it or use it as a guide, my muse takes a nap. She believes that if it’s already plotted, it’s not all that interesting and thus she’d rather be in Fiji. Thus, I now make a detailed list of characters who’ll be in the book, ideas of things that might happen, what I need to research, etc, and then write whatever comes to me. It means a lot of wasted words, and I have to do a lot of editing to make sure there is good continuity, but it’s the only way I am able to write.

 

How do you come up with your character’s names?

Sometimes I’ll hear a really beautiful name and then envision a character. For most of my characters, I’ve used a “Victorian Era Names” webpage to help me determine names that would have been popular when my characters were born. The name most are curious about is Sophronia, although I think there’s another great name in store for you in Undaunted Love.

 

Do you really like to conduct research?

I love research. I will often preface a comment to my friends, “You know I’m a nerd…” and they know I’ll talk about something I learned in my research. I can’t wait to go to museums, read the stack of non-fiction research books by my bed for the next novel, or  watch PBS specials. I have to restrict the number of research books I’ll buy because I’ve run out of bookshelf space numerous times!

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Bonus: How long until the next book is out?

My goal for Undaunted Love, Banished Saga Book Three is May! I’m busy working with my cover designer, writing back cover copy and doing all the pre-publication things while it is with my proofreader. I can’t wait to share it with you.

 

Do you have any questions you’d like answered? Let me know and I’ll answer them in a future blog post!

Join my mailing list at http://www.ramonaflightner.com/newsletter/ for updates, sneak peeks and special offers.

Unbeknownst to me, my subconscious has been searching for a theme song. While I was writing, rewriting, and editing book two, I had a theme song. Although I did not have one when I began writing book two, I discovered one partway through. It inspired me when I did not feel like writing, encapsulated my main character’s journey, and became almost a mantra to spur me on as I wrote and edited.

Now that I am about done with book two (for now!), I am moving on to book three. I have written a lot of pages and there are moments when I have to set it all aside because I’m not certain where I’m going.

While giving book three time to percolate, I have worked on promotional aspects for Banished Love and decided to do a major edit for book two. However, through it all, I have had this nagging sensation something was missing. A theme song isn’t something I can write to. It’s more a song that keeps me excited and full of hope as I continue my writing journey, dedicating hours of time to my computer and imagination rather than to friends, cleaning my house or other worthy endeavors. I listen to it in the car, as I walk to work, as I do dishes, and somehow it motivates me to continue. However, a major stumbling block in finding a theme song for book three has been an inability to discover new music that has captured my imagination.

Friday night, I remembered to tape a show on PBS called Nashville 2.0 highlighting the “Americana” music movement. During this past weekend, when I watched the show in pieces during breaks in editing, I realized that almost all of the new music I like now falls into the “Americana” category. If you haven’t seen the show, I’d highly recommend it. While I watched the show, I paused it and visited iTunes to hear more of the music of the artists they were highlighting. I found a lot of new music from bands I wouldn’t otherwise have heard about. Most importantly, I found my theme song for book three.

I did not realize it would be my theme song the first time I heard it. However, the second time I listened to it, I knew it was the song. It was one of those, “ah, there it is,” moments, when I realized I had found something I had not even realized I was searching for. A truly wondrous thing. Do you listen to music when you write? Do you have a song that motivates you to continue writing?


Do you want a sneak peek at BANISHED LOVE?

Be sure to sign up for my email list. After you’ve stuffed yourself silly on Thanksgiving, and shopped ’til you’ve dropped on Black Friday, recover on Saturday by curling up with Chapter One – delivered to your inbox for all mailing list subscribers.

My cat on my desk chair

My cat on my desk chair

I read a quote recently that resonated with me. It said that if you wanted to be a successful writer, you needed to act like a house cat. I laughed while I read it, and then I realized how true the quote was.

My cat has bursts of intense energy when I think she is possessed by an alien. She runs around the house, chasing her tail or imaginary objects on the ground. Sometimes it’s because I’ve forgotten to feed her, but generally it’s due to the fact she has pent up energy. Once this energy has been expended, she collapses. She drapes herself onto her ottoman, which isn’t really hers, but she has become quite proprietary about. She watches me as I move about the house with one eye open and then lowers her head, as though to say “not worth the energy.”

Marisol lounging on “her” ottoman

When I sit to write or edit, she jumps on my lap and cries until I let her curl up between my legs. Every time I stretch or reposition myself, she looks up at me as though glaring a reminder that her comfort comes first. All of these lessons are important for me as a writer. The most obvious lesson from the quote was to stay home, sit, and write. However, my cat has taught me other important lessons.

Here are some of the lessons she has taught me:

1) Have fun during the day. Run around and be crazy, at least for a short time. It’s ok to act like you’ve lost your mind, you know you haven’t and what does it matter what anyone else thinks?

2) Become possessive of things that matter to you. She loves her ottoman, even though there are times I have to clean her cat hair off of it when I have guests over because I have to use it as a seat. She swats at me because I am taking away all of her “nesting.” This has taught me to be possessive of my writing time, something that is precious to me. Sometimes I have to give away chunks of time I had planned for writing, and I feel like my cat. I feel like swatting at whoever or whatever is taking it away from me. I don’t, as I like to believe I’m more evolved.

Marisol sitting on my editing, helping in her way as she nests on my pile of papers

Be comfortable in whatever it is you’ve chosen to do. This is a multifaceted statement. The first facet is my physical comfort. When I write, I tend to write for hours, so being comfortable is essential. Somehow, I’ve found a way to be comfortable with a cat on my lap, so that’s another bonus. Secondly, I think this lesson goes beyond writing. Be comfortable with who you are, know yourself well, and don’t try to be what you’re not. You’ll never be comfortable if you put on a mask every day.

Work and play hard, but then collapse. Feel no guilt in resting and relaxing. Guard your down time and don’t let others make you feel guilty because you’re on the couch watching your favorite reruns. (“Downton” again?) You know you’ve worked hard and earned it.

These are some of the lessons I have learned from, or I am reminded frequently of, by my cat. Have you learned any lessons from your pets?


Do you want a sneak peek at BANISHED LOVE? Be sure to sign up for my email list (on my web page at http://www.ramonaflightner.com). After you’ve stuffed yourself silly on Thanksgiving, and shopped ’til you’ve dropped on Black Friday, recover on Saturday by curling up with Chapter One – delivered to your inbox for all mailing list subscribers.

PicMonkey salmon- tenacity quoteAs many of you know, I have been very busy lately as I continue to prepare for BANISHED LOVE’s publication in January.

As I continue on my indie publication journey, I learn there is always more to discover. Generally on a daily basis. I remember this summer discussing the marketing I would need to do for my book and the knot of anxiety that settled in my stomach.

In the beginning, I resented time away from writing and editing to learn about marketing. Now, I have begun to embrace marketing. I try to post helpful articles for writers on twitter four times a day, and by doing so, I meet new and interesting people.

I also continue to learn more about the changing world of publishing as I read all of the articles I promote. I have begun to think of promotional ideas for my book leading up to its release and I find brainstorming invigorating. Some may not be feasible, but I am enjoying the process. I have realized that if I embrace what I need to do and use my energy in a positive manner rather than resist it, I will be more successful and more content.

I will still be exhausted at the end of the day, but I will be happy with what I have accomplished. My “to-do” list may be daunting, but I remind myself that I have always finished what I started. Tenacity is a positive trait when it comes to writing and publishing.

Have you had an attitude shift when it comes to an aspect of writing or marketing? How has it helped you?

By Ramona Flightner/ @ramonaflightner

My muse has been silent. While I try not to fret at her absence, I have focused my energies on learning about book marketing and web design. As I learn more about each, I am coming to like them more and more.

My muse’s vacation has allowed me to read. When she is busy nattering in my ear, waking me in the middle of the night, I do not read as much as I would like because instead of hearing her voice, I hear the voices of other writers. Thus, when I am in full writing mode, my “to be read” pile grows.

Now that she is sunning herself by a quiet mountain stream, I have devoured books. So far, I’ve read three books in three days. I know that will slow down a bit, but I am really enjoying seeing how others build worlds with words. I have read a non-fiction, a memoir, and a historical. And I have enjoyed them all. Of course, I have also read the requisite book on marketing, but that doesn’t count toward my learning more about the craft of writing.

As I read, I try to ignore the voice in my head that says, “I really like how the author did that.” Or, “that didn’t work so well there.” Or “maybe I should try something like this.” I want to read for the pleasure of reading. However, at times I find it hard to turn off my writer’s brain. I delight in a perfectly worded sentence or metaphor, setting aside the book to say the line over and over, allowing the words to flow off my tongue as I smile. I envision the nearly unimaginable hours the authors toiled over their tomes, the edits, the checking of historical facts, the nervous anticipation as they told the first person, “I wrote a book.”

Now, as a writer having written two books and working on number three, I understand what it takes to not only write, but to become an author. I know the sacrifices, especially the isolation: the parties missed, the inability to join in office talk about the latest TV shows because my head was filled with my characters rather than someone else’s, the hours alone as I typed word after word. The absolute love of my story that has allowed me to read it more times than I can count and edit it nearly as many. And yet, every sacrifice was worth it.

Soon, I will send my novel out into the world, to be read, judged, and, hopefully, shared. I hope a line in my book will cause a reader to pause as she repeats it over and over with a smile as the words roll off her tongue. For now, I will delight in the novels I am reading, appreciative of all the work entailed in creating new worlds with words.

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