Posts Tagged ‘writing life’

My unpatented approach to a wimpy attention span!

https://www.amazon.com/Dana-Mentink/e/B001JRXHXK?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_4&qid=1602597451&sr=8-4

What’s to be done with a flabby attention span?

I have a problem. I have trouble keeping my thought train on the track until it reaches the station, if you understand what I mean. You know what? It’s not getting better as I age, unfortunately. So how does a gal who is distracted by literally everything manage to write more than forty books? I have developed a system that works for me. When I outline it for you, you’ll probably think it’s completely ridiculous, but all I can say is it works for me. I call it…the mini goal method. Basically, I break my life into mini tasks instead of mighty ones. Allow me to illustrate. Below is a typical writing day for me.

Up and at ‘em! I am an early riser. Bible study, prayer time, walk the dog, feed the turtle. A quick check in with my Private FB group and I’m ready to brew some coffee and get started.

Write 1000 words in my armchair. No getting up. No checking the phone. Tushy in the chair and here we go!

My mind is wandering and I am antsy to move. Time for a snack. Put the laundry in. Take Junie the Wonder Dog for another walk. Drink some water. Plan out the next scene while you’re zooming around.

Write 1000 words in the garden. That text can wait. The phone will survive without attention. Stop looking at those birds. Okay, maybe a tiny peek at the wee little lizard because…I mean…he’s adorable!

Lunch! Woo hoo! Papa Bear is waiting. The porch will be perfect if it’s not too beastly hot. Listen to those hummingbirds.

Go for a walk without Junie. Ignore those sad terrier eyes. Walk fast. You’ll solve all your plot problems and get that poor woman out of the trunk you’ve placed her.

Write 1000 words now that you know how to get the heroine out of the trunk. Move the laundry to the dryer, post some afternoon social media content.

It’s 4:00 and time to “quit.” Look up and notice there are dishes to be done, laundry to be folded, and a dog to be snuggled. Return the box turtle to her night accommodations. Remember that you forgot to drink water all day. Start in on dinner preparations and think about how you’ll save the hero from that nasty bullet wound he incurred this afternoon.

The day’s almost done and I met my word count. Woo hoo! Mini tasks met and work count complete. Ready to get started tomorrow!

So you see? As my father always told me, “You can only eat an elephant one bite at a time!”…especially if you have a flabby attention span!

(You can find more of these pithy articles at Because Fiction Magazine.)https://www.becausefiction.com/dana-mentink/

Find out more about Dana at http://www.danamentink.com

Trouble at Mentink Manor…and a giveaway!

Pull up a chair and a fork. I’m having dessert and a chat with my cyber friends about treats and troubles. I’m also raffling a lovely prize. Details in the video. You don’t want to miss this one!

 

Author throwdown…weird animals,and embarassing junk food choices.

 

image

Hey, all. So thrilled to be discussing the nutty world of fiction writing with fellow Harvest House author Virginia Smith! Take a look at our rockstar YouTube video. Like or comment on the  video for a chance to win one of our books. Subscribe to my YouTube channel to enter the August prize pack giveaway. God bless!

 

On dogs, writing… and dessert!

 

Hey, all. Starting a new little feature here. Take a look and see what you think. Got a little August contest going for some nifty loot! :

Why not write on Sundays?

 

 

image

Hello, all. I’ve been chit chatting about the writing biz a lot lately and one of the questions that always comes up is, “How do you balance two jobs, family, church, etc?” Everyone has the old balancing problem to solve, don’t they? We only have so much time in the day, right? I made the choice early on in my writing career not to write on Sundays, but perhaps not for the reasons you might think. I don’t write on Sundays because….

1. Writing is a blessing that can easily become an obsession. I have a passion to write that can become a monster, if I let it. Since my writing is also a business, that makes the tendency to obsess even greater. Three books a year, short stories, online presence, writing one book while creating a proposal for the next, the endless promotional efforts, all those things are requirements which can fill up the available hours if I let them. Sunday is the day I let those demands fall away, and come up for a much needed breath.

2. Writing does not belong in the center of my wheel.  I never really stop writing. Even when I am not sitting at a keyboard I can’t really shut my mind off. I’m inventing scenes, rolling through dialogue, wondering what would happen if so and so said this instead of that, constantly asking “what would happen if…?” It’s good and bad, believe me. I have an attention deficit, so I can appear to be completely engaged in a conversation when my mind is sometwhere else entirely. I will not go into how many problems that has caused! My decision not to write on Sundays is my effort to refocus on the important things, God, my family, church, pen pal letters, all the rich blessings God has showered down on me. God blessed me with the ability/opportunity to write, but He belongs in the center of the wheel.

Do you do something special on Sunday that refreshes your spirit? I would love to hear about it! 

image

All that stands between Stephanie Pink and her dream is 100 pounds of trouble!

Fetching Sweetness, available now!

 

Dreaming up a new fiction series…gulp!

Dangerous Tidings is a Holt Medallion Winner

Yep, all good things must come to an end, you see, and I’ve just stuck a pin in the last of the Pacific Coast Investigations series. Four books filled with intrique, mystery and love and now…poof! All done! Time to hash out a proposal for a new series. Oh the agony and the ecstasy! Here are two big questions every fiction writer needs to wrestle with when creating a series idea.

1. How are you going to link the books? It is going to be tied together through the setting? (Think of rustic Buckaroo Town where murder and mayhem is the norm.) Or could it be a series tied together by theme? I had a blast writing a natural disaster series like that. Might I suggest that it could be linked by profession? (Navy Seal Protectors, that kind of thing.) Or perhaps we might employ the popular method of linking through family connections (The Macho brothers of Polkadot Ranch.) Hmmm. Now we’ve got some decisions to make.

2.  On to the second question. How overlapping are these books going to be? By that I mean to say how will I wrap up the mystery/suspense/romance in each individual book  and still sprinkle in enough unanswered questions to keep readers looking for the next book? Or perhaps the secondary characters in book one will be so compelling readers will immediately run to the bookstore to get their hands on the next installment? Sigh. One can only hope.

Those are just two of the big questions that an author needs to wrestle with. So what about you, dear reader? What compells you to pick up the next book in a series? I would love to hear your thoughts! 

Three writing lessons from snow country.

image image

 

I live in Northern, California and this means that I am not rugged. I will admit this freely. It the temps drop below fifty I am not certain of my survival, and I am only vaguely familiar with the concept of snow. Hence, when I traveled to Lake Tahoe this weekend, I learned a thing or two! These lessons are so true of the writing life, so I thought I’d share.

Lesson #1: You’re gonna need chains. Yep, to write a book and make the summit you’re going to need some help. Yes, I know your car is nifty and has all the bells and whistles, just like your computer, but at the end of the day you’re going to need down and dirty helping tools like old obscure books (A Writer’s Guide to Poisons, anyone?). You’re going to find yourself hoarding good old fashioned notepads, and perhaps, dare I suggest it, a phone for calling various experts that do not respond to emails or texts. I know, archaic as old steel chains, but there it is.

Lesson #2:  You’re gonna need other people.  Writing is a solitary endeavor for sure. It’s a ‘buns in the chair’ get-it-done kind of slog up the mountain, but when you think you’re reached the summit, that’s where the strangers come in. You need to hand yourself over to that chain guy or that snow plow operator and trust your precious property into their hands. That is to say, you gotta let people help you. Often times, this means people you don’t know…hiring that proofreader, allowing that online critique group to read your work, or in the traditional publishing world, that editor who is going to potentially tear up your writing. It’s important. You have no objectivity about your writing, I’m sorry say. You need the chain guy and the snow plow operator to make your work the best it can be.

Lesson #3. God’s going to take you on an adventure. You will be changed by the journey. You will learn things about yourself that you didn’t know. God will show you sights more incredible that you could ever have imagined. Savor that as you head up the mountain.

Did you ever learn a lesson during your travels? Would love to hear about it! 

image

http://www.amazon.com/Seaside-Secrets-Pacific-Coast-Private-ebook/dp/B015W8IXOE/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1461595987&sr=8-3&keywords=Seaside+Secrets

 

What’s your dog’s personality…..a quiz for dog lovers!

 

image

 

I’m still getting to know our rescued pup, Junie. This means I am still staring at her frequently asking, “Why did THAT seem like a good idea?” Glad to know from this quiz that Junie is “the life of the party.”

What’s your dog’s personality? Does the quiz do your dog justice?

http://barkpost.com/dog-personality-type-quiz/

image

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

image

http://www.amazon.com/Sit-Stay-Love-Unleashed/dp/0736966072/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1461189471&sr=8-2&keywords=Sit%2C+stay%2C+love

 

Do you have a special spot? Why I must start building a shed immediately.

image

 

I just perused an amazing series of photos showing some workspaces of famous writers. From Dylan Thomas to Roald Dahl, Virginia Woolf to Phillip Pullman, they have one thing in common, they create their magic in run down little sheds. No fancy computer desks or large screen televisions to be seen. We’re talking boathouses, bike sheds and everything in between.

It sounds rustic, doesn’t it? But to a gal who generally writes in the living room or at a desk squashed in the corner between a treadmill and a rocking chair, it’s an attractive notion. I have the urge to start construction on my own personal writing shed. I head for the hammer until I consider an important fact. I am also a mother, wife and the caretaker of an elderly dog and box turtle who will not appreciate my disappearance into my shed cave. Hmmm. I suppose my rustic writing  oasis will have to wait.

So what about you? Do you have a little spot that you call your own where you tend to your hobbies or work? Do share. And here’s a link to photos of some famous writer’s sheds. Would any of them appeal to you? Giving away a book, an amazon gift card and a fall surprise this month.

http://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/gallery/2014/oct/17/five-best-writers-sheds-in-pictures

 

 

Top three writing obstacles.

 

Daydreaming

 

Ah the perks of the writing biz are great, to be sure, but let’s not sugarcoat it. There are some serious obstacles to making a go of it in this strange business. Here are a few I’ve faced personally.

1. You need an agent to get published… and an agent is looking for published writers.

Uh oh. Most publishing houses will not accept unagented submissions and most agents prefer a client with some publishing credits under their belt. That’s an obstacle, now isn’t it? How does one get around that? I published a three book series with Barbour before I was acquired by my agent. There are still a few houses (like Barbour and Harlequin) who will take unagented work, so you can try to build your career that way which will make you more attractive to an agent. You can also build your writing credits by contributing to magazines, ezines, blogs, etc. and even self publishing if you’re enormously committed to marketing that ebook. Every publishing credit can only make you more attractive to an agent.

2. Hours in….money out. It’s a time consuming business to write a book. The fastest I’ve ever managed is three months. As my agent says, “A good book is better than a fast book.” That said, the time investment is huge on a book that may never see the shelf. So what’s the remedy for that? There isn’t one, really, except to stagger your work and make sure there are several income producing projects afoot at one time. Also, books can be self pubbed, of course, but the quality needs to be just as amazing as it would be in a traditionally published novel.

3.  The “write what sells” vs. “what I want to write” dilemma. I know folks who absolutely love what they write and it sells like hotcakes. Me? Not so much. I tend to write “quirky” I’m afraid, and that doesn’t always translate into mainstream sales. Obviously, my publisher and I both want my books to fly off the shelves, but I can’t justify writing about topics just because they are popular. So what’s the answer? Somehow, I need to find that balance. I need to hear from my publisher what they feel is going to appeal to their readers (and they have a keen sense of this) and I must write my own story that balances both what the readers want with what I am comfortable writing. Best case is we hit upon a winner that makes us all happy.

What obstacles do you have in your work or daily life? How do you overcome them? Giving away a Starbuck’s gift card, a signed book and a fall treat this month.