Why I Won’t Marie Kondo My Books


Photo by Cynthia Price

I am a semi-practitioner of Feng Shui, Marie Kondo, minimalism, and anything to do with making my environment Zen.

Books, though, will always hold a special place and are not likely to be removed.

As an author who aspires to be published, I am inspired by the authors I meet. I enjoy hearing what drew them to writing, where they find their characters, when they write, and where they write.

I enjoy attending author lectures and book signings. I’ve become quite savvy at navigating the queue for the book signing so that I’m not waiting hours.

Almost every author I have met has not only signed my book but has offered writing tips, suggestions to find an agent, and groups to join.

I learned about Sisters in Crime through Janet Evanovich. It was many years later before I connected with the group but I always knew I would because she had recommended them.

Whenever I see Adriana Trigiani she reminds me that the best writing advice is simple, “Write!”

At a Malice Domestic conference, I bumped into Michael Connelly and, to make a long story short, he paused to chat with me for about five minutes. This was when he only had a few books to his name and their was no Prime show called, “Bosch.” He didn’t hesitate to encourage, offer advice, and share a story or two.

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Lisa Scottoline signs my book and offers advice. 

The other week I heard Lisa Scottoline speak as part of All Henrico Reads. I joined a small queue to have my book signed during a pre-event. The next thing I knew she was offering advice as we posed for pictures. Her inscription in my book inspires, too. She wrote, “You go girl!”

As I sit and write, I look across my desk to a bookcase filled with books signed by the authors. No matter how much I downsize, I won’t downsize my inspiration!

Writing Process Blog Tour

I’m posting an extra blog this week. It’s not because I’m ambitious. It’s because I forgot to utter the word, “NO!”

I’ve been working on saying “no” more often so I would have more time. More time for what? Anything or nothing. But sometimes, I forget and I over commit.

I say yes to a writing process blog tour.

A writer I know reached out to me as asked if I would be part of this writing process blog tour. Shawna Christos is a writer with several books in various stages of dress and is currently working on a mainstream commercial fiction book. A long-time volunteer and supporter of James River Writers, you will find her at a lot of the JRW and local book events. She’s also great at encouraging writers – like me – who need reminders to keep working on their book.

And she gets some of us into trouble by getting us to say yes.

20140413_152050I had to answer four questions. I think I was also supposed to identify other writers and have them do the same, but I don’t think that part is going to happen. Not because I don’t want to hear from others, but because I’m going to run out of time. At the least, I will answer the questions, which were picked by someone unknown to me.

What am I working on?

I started a mystery several years ago, and at some point, I will pick it up and finish it. Right now I like to say it’s marinating.

In the meantime, I post regularly to this blog and do lots of writing in my professional job. I’m thinking about collecting posts from the blog and publishing a book for those early in their career. I’ve had several students and young adults tell me how hopeful the posts are and another friend has encouraged me to do this. Now, I just need to commit to doing so.

I also am involved in my local library so I get to meet lots of great writers and am part of a book club so I’m reading great writing. All of this, I hope, will enable me to be a better writer, and, at some point, a published author of a mystery.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?  

My mystery does have a unique protagonist. I can say this because I met with an agent several years ago at a James River Writers conference, and she told me this. She was quite encouraging. I think that scared me!

I once worked in law enforcement and some of what I learned will make it into the book. That, I think, will help make the story more real. I guess time will tell.

Why do I write what I do?

I love mysteries. From the earliest age I was reading Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. Then there was Agatha Christie. I consume mysteries. If I get a new book by Janet Evanovich, I’m finished in a day or two. A new Michael Connelly novel puts my life on hold until I finish it. When my book is finished, I hope it has the same effect. Reading is a great way to disappear into another world for a short time.

I started my blog as a means to communicate with members of NFPW when I was president, 2009-2011. I continued the blog because I had gained a following and heard from many that the posts were helpful. I also found the discipline of researching, writing and posting twice weekly beneficial to me as I continue to grow as a writer and leader.

How does my writing process work?

Since I haven’t worked on the book in some time, I clearly need to develop a process. I do clip news stories that could become fodder for story lines, and I keep a journal of sorts that outlines chapters and keeps the details of each character.

A friend pointed out to me that because I now have leave between Christmas and New Year that would be an ideal time to make significant progress on the book. She’s right. So ask me again in January 2015 how the book is coming. A former colleague gave me a card that asked me how I was coming along with the novel. I keep it on display as a reminder.

I’m much better with the blog. I create a schedule each year for the days I will post and then I identify relevant topics, such as conferences and national days (Sunshine Week, for example). I am always reading and researching and as a former reporter, I know how to find and develop stories. I always say that if I have attended a workshop and can’t get a blog from it, then it was a bad workshop.

Of course, like any good writer there are those days where I just can’t get it together and I’m scrambling to get the post written by my self-imposed deadline, or, in this case, by a deadline that I should have said no to.

Having said that, I had fun answering the questions. I’m sorry I didn’t work to get other writers to participate, but I know there are several of you out there who read this blog. If you’re game, please participate by answering the above questions and posting on April 21. If you send me a short bio and a link to your blog, I’ll post on Friday with links to those who will participate in the tour.

Authors’ Words Provide Inspiration

Most people have an office in their home. I have a library. It’s a matter of word choice, but for me, it also sends a message. One day I will publish a mystery and my book will grace the library shelves.

In the meantime, I write in my library surrounded by signed copies from some of my favorite authors, whom I have been fortunate to meet.

Books on a shelf

Books signed by favorite authors provide inspiration. (Photo by Cynthia Price)

There is Janet Evanovich, who at her book signing, spent a few moments giving me advice and suggested writing critique groups for me to seek out.

There is Adriana Trigiani, whose advice is simple and direct, “Just write!”

There is Emyl Jenkins, who provided me with fairy dust, to keep my writing inspiration alive.

Another favorite is Michael Connelly, whom I met at a mystery writers’ conference. I passed him in the foyer and said hello as if I knew him. Of course, I didn’t, I just felt like I did because I was familiar with his photograph on the back of his book jacket. It didn’t matter. He found a sitting area and spent a few minutes with me, also giving me solid advice.

David Baldacci is another favorite. He always makes time for his fans, signing books and answering questions. Like the other authors mentioned, it doesn’t matter how many times he makes the best-seller list, he still is approachable and pleased to talk about his craft.

So while I continue to write and re-write, I surround myself with the words – both on paper and in person – of other authors.  And I leave space on the shelf for what I hope will be the first of many books I publish.

What helps you write and where do you write?