Wednesday, September 19, 2018

A day in a writer's life

It's that time in a writer's life– at least in my writerly life– when I am trying to inhabit two worlds. I have been researching THE ANCIENT DEAD, the fourth book in the Amanda Doucette series, for a few months now, and am at the stage where I have written the first three tentative scenes as well as created a vague outline of a few more to follow. And this morning, I am embarking on a two-week location scouting trip to the badlands and prairies of Alberta, where the book is set.

I've often said there is no substitute for standing in the spot where the characters stand, breathing in the scents, listening to the sounds, and seeing how the sun plays across the land. As well, by talking to locals and visiting museums and towns, you uncover all sorts of tantalizing ideas and details that can take the plot in unpredictable directions. It's one reason why I need to go now, while the story is still in its infancy and essentially unformed. (The other reason is called winter). I am really looking forward to figuring out what this book is going to be about at its core! I have the setting, some conflicts, and a buried body waiting to be discovered, but not the mystery behind it all.

But for the past month I have also been trying to line up fall promotional plans for PRISONERS OF HOPE, the third Amanda Doucette novel, due out in three weeks. I've been on the phone to potential launch and book signing venues and emailing back and forth to my publicist about posters, etc. And today the whole enterprise felt much more real when the UPS driver delivered my box of author copies to the door. Yay! The book is in one piece and they spelled my name right!

Switching gears between creative writing and promotional planning is a challenge. Therefore, as much as possible, I try to split up my day. The mornings, when the brain is hopefully fresher, I devote a few hours to writing. I write longhand, and make a right mess while doing it, but it's the most powerful way I know to call up my muse. Curling up in a chair with a cup of coffee at my side, pen in hand and pad of paper in my lap, seems to connect me to my familiar writer self who's been doing this for over sixty years, long before word processors and computers came on the scene.

I usually try to complete at least one scene every morning, so that I can fully engage in the scene and imagine it from beginning to end. Often by the end of that scene I have a good idea of what scene will come next. But I put the writing on the shelf and leave that for the next day.

Instead I celebrate that accomplishment by taking a break. I eat lunch, walk the dogs, swim, or whatever, before settling down in the afternoon to deal with social media, emails, phone calls, and PR writing. This can often take several hours. Then it's unwind and glass of wine time! Of course, there are often other obligations, family and friends, or commitments, but on a day without outside commitments, that's what I aim for. While I am on my research trip, this schedule will blown apart and I'll be lucky to get any scene writing done. But my mind will be churning and storing things up. All to the good.

Now for a little bit of BSP at the end of this blog - part of my PR activities. Here are the dates of the two launch parties I have set up for PRISONERS OF HOPE:

Ottawa launch: The Clocktower Brew Pub in Westbooro, October 16 at 7 - 9 pm, shared with Vicki Delany, who's launching THE CAT OF THE BASKERVILLES

Toronto launch: Sleuth of Baker Street, November 3 at 2:30-4 pm

Those of you within driving distance of either place, come on down to the celebration, and bring a friend! It's free and fun.

3 comments:

John Doe said...

Good read. Thanks for sharing..

Anonymous said...

This part of your good post speaks to me clearly: ..."by talking to locals and visiting museums and towns, you uncover all sorts of tantalizing ideas and details that can take the plot in unpredictable directions. It's one reason why I need to go now, while the story is still in its infancy and essentially unformed."

How wise you are to let your mind and soul fill up with all sorts of goodies that you can select from as your story takes definite form.

Donis Casey said...

congratulations on the upcoming new book, Barbara!