Friday, September 4, 2009

Summer Time And The Living is—Easy?

~Sia McKye~

Unless you’re a writer and live at my house.

Easy is not exactly how I would describe it. I’m overrun with people, noise, the constant barking of dogs, and clutter. My yard looks like a used truck lot. Hey, I got all colors, makes, and models. Of course, I also have hot sixpacks walking around—not hard at all on the eyes.

We had a tornado come through in April and did thousands of dollars of damage to my property, so now we’re doing repairs. New house roof, siding, fencing, tree removal, new barn, haying and bush hogging. So we have all sorts of equipment going at any given time. Logging trucks moving in and out the pasture. Bucket trucks, tractors, and three huge trailers to haul the tear off from the roof.

Living at my house is anything but quiet or easy. August has always been my best writing month. I look back with fondness to last August when I wrote 3000 words in a day and still got my household chores done. Pfft. Not this August. Even earphones and music don’t help. There’s no place to hide to escape the pounding hammers, buzzing saws, or blaring of rock music—even with the windows closed it thumped it’s way into my house.

Add to the chaos outside, I’ve had my sister and her guy living at my house too. So my three-bedroom house is full, meals become a major undertaking. Do you realize how many dishes six people use in the course of a day? What dishwasher? My sis and I shared the dishwashing tasks as well as meal preparation. Not to mention what your refrigerator looks like with a cazillion bottles of Gatorade stocked in it. Trust me, it's suddenly not as big as you thought it was. You know? I once thought I had too many towels. I don’t think that any more and I swear I heard my washer groan.

There was always a question I needed to answer, or something I had to see, a decision I had to make on some aspect of the work being done. This was a big project and at any given time there were at least three crews working, one on the house, one cleaning the debris bush hogging, and cutting down trees, one on the two barns needing repairs and new roofs. I walked miles—just to walk to the barn and back is a half a mile and I did that several times a day, climbed ladders to look at the damaged decking, or something around the chimney, to see the how the felt was laying or look at how the shingles went down, a problem with the drip lip…endless. Then there is the paper work. While I have a good insurance policy, I still had to fight tooth and nail at times, to get funds released. So I was either on the phone with the bank, the lumberyard, or the insurance company. I have about 200 pictures of documentation and most of those pictures were taken by moi.

You’d think once everyone went home and the house became quiet after dinner writing would be easy. Sorry, the brain was mush and I was tired and ready for bed by 8 or 9 pm. I don’t know how many times I was falling asleep over my keyboard as I prepared my blog. And it suffered as well. Normally I’m booked about four to six weeks in advance. I’m looking at September and realizing I still have open slots. Most people have TBR stacks and I do too, but now I also have a pile of ARCs sent to me by various publishers to be read and reviews written. Normally, everything is organized and each day I have X amount of time to work and X amount of time for my own writing. I still did what I had to do, but any extras—forgetaboutit.

My poor muse said later gator, and headed off to parts unknown for a vacation and is apparently having a grand time. All I can say is, thank god I didn’t have a deadline.

This week has been a bit quieter but next week, I have another crew coming in to finish up my outer office walls and then I get to go on a working vacation to a writer’s conference in Columbus, OH. I also have an interview, and a speaking engagement with a writing group. I figure by the time I get back, my muse will be too and we can pound out the rest of this book and work on a proposal. I hope.

So, how was your summer? Get much writing done? If you’re on a deadline, how do you handle distractions? Especially like these?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Playing –And Writing—Well With Others

I want to welcome Tawny Weber, one of my favorite Blaze authors, to Over Coffee. She writes some wonderful stories and may I add, they're hot enough to sizzle bacon. Her characters are fun, quirky, and realistic.

Today her topic about writing with others and in particular with the new four part Mini-Series launched by Blaze, Dressed To Thrill.

Writing is, by nature, a solitary pursuit. We spin tales and weave make believe in our minds, then carefully craft them into stories with pen or keyboard. For some, that’s done in a quiet space, others in a cacophonous crowd. But it’s generally done alone.

At least it is in my little world. I’m a major lone-writer. I’ve tried doing the writing-group thing, where a bunch of people sit with laptops and tip-tap on keyboards together. But a part of my writing process is the up and down, the talking to myself, the humming along with music that tends to be a distraction (ie: irritating pain) to others. So that doesn’t work well for me *g*. I do brainstorm with my critique partner, the amazing Beth Andrews, and revise with my editor. But the story writing itself is an isolated process. At least, it was until my latest book. FEELS LIKE THE FIRST TIME is part of the Dressed to Thrill mini-series, which ties together a giddy-falling-in-love costume shop clerk and her costume mix-ups through four different stories. Mine kicks it off this month, with Samantha Hunter’s story out in October, Karen Foley’s out in November and Lisa Renee Jones winding it up on December. Together, the four of us brainstormed the costume shop plot, then shared and bounced back and forth on the actual prologues and epilogues that showed that story in each of our books.

I had no idea it could be so much fun to write with others like that. The give and take, the shifting of ideas, the group mind kind of thing. It was a fun change from my hermity writing ways. It also, I think, pushed me outside my comfort zone, which is always a great learning tool. And even better, instead of angsting alone as my book is released, I have three other people to angst with me. Of course, I get to share their angst for the next few months, too, so that’s a fun thing LOL.

But best of all was writing the connected stories. I’m a huge fan of getting to know characters in one book and following them through multiple others. It’s like revisiting and hanging out with friends I haven’t seen for awhile.

How about you?

If you’re a writer, do you write alone or do you have a group you work with? As a reader, are you a fan of connected stories? When you find one you like, do you go in search of the other authors stories to see how they all play together?


Tawny Weber is usually found dreaming up stories in her California home, surrounded by dogs, cats and kids. When she’s not writing hot, spicy stories for Harlequin Blaze, she’s shopping for the perfect pair of boots or drooling over Johnny Depp pictures (when her husband isn’t looking, of course).

Come by and visit her on the web at

Be sure to pick up the next in the Dressed To Thrill series:

Caught in the Act
Available in October 2009

Monday, August 31, 2009

Research - The Monster That Ate My Writing Time.

I'd like to give a warm welcome to my friend and Romance author, Sherilyn Winrose. Her topic for discussion is one that all writers can identify with: Research. I can get lost in research. I go to a site to check out a particular fact and end up spending hours following up on all sorts of added things. I do the same thing when I'm in the library and especially if it's historical research. You usually can find me sitting behind a wall of books reading or scribbling madly in my notebook

I'm glad I'm not the only writer who can get lost in research. Sherilyn discusses the distractions and the compulsion to add extra tidbits to the WIP while doing research.

I'm editing my historical romance, Escape to Love, at the moment. I never liked the ending. Time to clean it up and get it right.

What has surprised me during this edit is even after extensive, exhaustive research when I was writing it. I find myself researching more.

Mid-Nineteenth century U.S. history is a passion of mine. It's no surprise, when I surface from the multitude websites hours are sucked up. Not only is writing time gone, but then I find all sorts of little plot points begging to be written even though they aren't needed and would serve no purpose to anything except my ego.

Getting distracted at this particular stage is a nice, if not a weakly concealed break and completely unnecessary. How much is too much? Oh, when I find myself adding paragraphs just to pass on this or that tidbit to the reader. I know the derned tidbit is going to hit the cutting room floor even as I write it.

Yet, somehow I find it difficult to write to the point when I have all sorts of interesting historical tidbits floating in my mind scape.

It's not like I can sit down with non-writer friends and expound on all of this cool information I've learned. They tend to give me that, 'here we go again' expression. My family members suddenly remember chores which must be done right now, or find a slow spot to slip out. Sigh...

So what am I to do with all this information? Too much for the book, too little for a degree, and boring nonsense to my friends and family.

Why a sequel of course!

I no longer wonder why authors take one idea or group there of and create entire libraries out of them. Fabricating fiction to hit as real takes work and dedication. The likes of which I never fully appreciated until recently.

Given the number of works I have in progress it is very likely more research will be needed when I get back to writing, Return to Love.

Good thing I enjoy researching this time period.

How do you handle your research? Any hints you'd like to share on managing research time?

Sherilyn is a native North Dakotan, currently residing in Eastern Washington. She draws inspiration from the Western locations she has lived and visited. Romance with an edge is what she enjoys reading. So it's no surprise it's what she writes. Safe Harbor is her debut novel. When she’s not writing, Sherilyn enjoys spending time with her husband and their two grown children.

Visit Sherilyn at:

Blurb for Safe Harbor:

Are we ever truly clear of our past? Is there such a thing as Safe Harbor? Jenna Davidson escaped the drug-ridden streets, emerging as the person she always wanted to be.Her debut country CD, ‘After the Dark’, is due to be released the end of October. A stage persona is a price she’s willing to pay for the career she so desperately wants. The sky is wide open. Jenna couldn’t ask for more, until the life she'd worked so hard to leave behind comes to call.

Lt. Bryan Jamison’s determination to see his partner’s murder solved has brought him to this unassuming suburban home. The violet-eyed girl has eluded him for five long years. Bryan has no intention of letting anything or anyone get in the way. Kingpin Simon Dilante is going to prison.

Available on