This month’s post for my publisher has to do with the necessary evil: making ends meet with a day job. But, it doesn’t have to be a total waste of time away from the writing we all love. Let me explain: (following originally published in a post here.)
All I really want to do is write all day. Even the editing part. Hell, even the writing the book synopsis part. But I can’t. I have a day job.
Lots, ok most, writers have day jobs. We toil away in our cubicles, behind our cash registers, or in our classrooms while story plot lines untangle themselves in our minds only to be knotted beyond recognition by the time we can sit in front of our keyboards again. I’m as guilty as the next writer of grumbling about it and pining my life away for the elusive “I write for a living” holy grail.
Since there doesn’t seem to be a winning lottery ticket or massive inheritance in my near future, I have to go to work, but I don’t have to have such a narrow view of it. You see, as a writer, work can be a microcosm of characters.
My parents and I were very active in our community theaters when I was growing up. Mom and I were the only ones on stage and would go to the malls, coffee shops, and other public places to “people watch” when we were figuring out what our characters needed to talk like or move like. We mentally collected walks, postures, accents, speech patterns, and facial expressions to distribute to the various characters we played over the years. As a writer, I find myself doing the same thing. So, why leave that skill at the malls and coffee shops? Why not take that skill to work to give my written characters the same life?
I have a unique advantage. Maybe only people who work at the malls, movie theaters, and other adult-run kid hangouts have a better advantage. You see, I teach middle school. What does that mean for my character research? I have a wide range of ages in the adults in the building and the kids in the halls and classrooms to study. The variety of language, speech patterns, social interactions, body language, and clothes to describe is vast. Stereotypes are knee deep and unique personalities surround me every day. I may be doing the teaching, but I’m also studying. Just not the stuff in the books.
Think of all the weirdo coworkers you have. Or not weirdos. Maybe just the normal people that have a way of moving, talking, dressing, laughing, that you’d know anywhere. Give those things to your characters to give them authentic life. To remind a reader of someone they met once at the DMV. A kid they were behind in the movie theater concession stand line over-trying to impress the girl from algebra class who happened to be in line ahead of him. Make them real and relatable by giving them features from real people.
The best part of doing character studies at work is that things are constantly changing with people even in mundane jobs. There’s always something new you can use. People change their habits with stress, joy, frustration, illness, or a great date the night before.
Work may take you away from putting words on a page, but it won’t keep you from giving your characters their special quirks, if you’re paying attention.
I’ve been plugging away at research for the sequel of one of my newly signed series, but took a short break to blog a bit. It’s that time again. Time for my monthly post on my publisher’s, Pandamoon Publishing, blog! This month, I dispel come common misconceptions about writers. Do we really live glamorous lives? What do we really think of writing and our readers? Check it out here!
I’d love to add some more. What do you think writers are really like? What myths should I tackle?
I’m excited to announce that I’ve signed contracts for two more novel series coming soon from Pandamoon Publishing! Things just got busy in the writing world over here, but I wouldn’t have it any other way! One series is a globe-trotting adventure with a dash of history and mystery, while the other is a rollicking New Orleans historical with some sass and romance that tugs at your heartstrings.
For more information on both series, check out the press release below:
As a teacher, the first nine weeks of school can feel painfully long, especially as the preteens get antsy. This year, the weather took a turn for the cooler a tad late but just in time for Fall Break and both couldn’t be more welcome.
Making the most of the time off began with getting the house cleaned so I could actually relax instead of thinking of everything I still had to do. Because cleaning and laundry are the banes of my existence, my deal with myself was writing had to wait til the house was clean. So, break out the Clorox, I have a book to finish! Now that the kitchen is clean, all I need now is some pumpkin bread in the oven. (Don’t tell me to go get some pumpkin spice coffee. That’s just nasty.)
The next adventure began when I had an unexpected free afternoon. So, mini me and I decided to take a stroll through our beautiful old town. While my heart may always be in New Orleans, I gotta say Franklin isn’t a bad place to be in the fall. Beautiful old homes, lovely cemeteries, sweet people, delicious treats, and plenty of pumpkins. We call these outings “picture walks” because we can’t help photographing the pretty little town. Come take a picture walk with us!
Carnton Plantation and cemetery
Rest Haven and the old City Cemetery
Historic Downtown homes
Farmers market pumpkins and a sweet treat stop
Hope you enjoyed that little stroll through historic Franklin! Now, go make some fall memories of your own and share them with me!
It’s that time again! Time for my monthly post on my awesome publisher’s blog! This month, with all the news about Hurricane Frances and worrying about those in her path, it got me thinking about my own storm stories. As a kid in Louisiana, I remember the eerie green sky, the stillness of the eye of the storms, and the time my dad and brother went up on the roof in the eye of one to replace shingles that were blown off before the next wall hit.
But the one that still gives me chills was the night we rode out Hurricane Andrew. Read all about it now on the Pandamoon Publishing blog here.
Have you ever read something that took you back to a place that was comfortable, but showed it to you in a different light? Reading The Haunted Heirloom, a cozy mystery by Laura Cayouette, did that for me in a fabulously fun way!
Charlotte Reade is an actress who has given up the glitz and stress of Los Angeles for the casual comfort of New Orleans, a place her family called home for generations, even though it took her some time to find her way there. With a big movie about to launch and a hurricane threatening the city, Charlotte finds herself, and the guy of her dreams, in the middle of a mystery that hits close to home. Very close. In fact, it’s hanging in her bedroom. The chandelier has something to tell her as it moves on its own when her family history is discussed. Will she figure out what it is, or will it continue to be fodder for tour guides leading haunted tours of the city? Or is there a deeper connection to another Garden District family, whose surviving member finds himself in the middle of a haunting of his own?
Laura Cayouette weaves her deep love of the city of New Orleans through her writing on every page. As someone who has spent time in the same places, I can picture everything from the colorful people of the French Quarter, to the sidewalks turned into ramps by live oak roots. For me, it was a chance to settle into the city I adore while getting a glimpse into the behind the scenes world of a Hollywood actress. So much of Laura Cayouette runs through the book in the form of her main character, Charlotte Reade, from her acting career to the pink corseted flamboyance of The Pussyfooters, a local dance group who uses the fun of their performances and parade appearances to raise money for local causes.
The Charlotte Reade mysteries are Laura Cayouette’s love letters to the city that has become home in the way only New Orleans can. The Haunted Heirloom is book 4 in the series, but each book can stand alone. However, I suggest you get them all. They are quick, fun reads! Settle in, pour yourself a drink in your go-cup, and enjoy!
It’s the beginning of the school year, and this one got away from me. Totally forgot to post the link here. Talk about the need to Roll With It.
It was a faulty sensor that caused the fire department to show up during our professional development before the first day of school, but it now appears to have been a sign of other fires needing to be put out- the metaphorical kind.
Teachers, here’s to you! Check out the monthly blog post, Roll With It.