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I have joined a group of Second Wind Publishing authors as we collaborate on an online mystery novel. I am Chapter 5 in the lineup, and that’s what it is: a lineup of characters who each have motive and means to kill.

http://rubiconranch.wordpress.com

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Our wonderful publisher, Second Wind Publishing, is hosting a three-day book signing in Winston-Salem, NC. Here’s the scoop on where I’ll be, unless I get lost LOL:

Friday, February 13, 2009
9-11 AM and 2-5 PM
Casanova’s
6275 Shallowford Rd
Lewisville, NC

Saturday, February 14, 2009
1 PM – 4 PM
Krankie’s
125 S. Stratford Rd
Winston-Salem, NC

Sunday, February 15, 2009
1 PM – 4 PM
Angelina’s Teas
125 S. Stratford Rd
Winston-Salem, NC

The only bad thing about each of these venues is the amount of chocolate available that I won’t be able to resist. I need to find someone else to blame for my weakness. Mike. I’ll blame Mike. It’s your fault, hoss, when I gain ten pounds in three days.

Here I go again. The weekend is half over and I have yet to reach my targeted writing goal.

Television is the culprit. It sits there, all innocent and benign, but once I turn it on, it hooks me and reels me in like a captive fish.

There are too many shows I like to watch. Of all things that really feed my addiction, ION has started showing repeats of Boston Legal. It doesn’t matter if I’ve seen the same episode a dozen times within the last month – I’m going to watch it again.

Boston Legal and My Big Fat Greek Wedding. When either are on, I am worthless. One Saturday a while back, some station was showing MBFGW all day. All Day, mind you – I didn’t do much that day.

And, of course, the steady favorites like Law & Order are always on one station or another. I have seen every episode of every L & W (orginal and spin-offs), but I can trick myself into thinking that I need to watch at least the first ten minutes – just to make sure it’s not an episode I may have missed. After ten minutes, well, I just have to watch it again because, well, darnit, it was such a good episode.

It works every time.

I tried locking myself in a separate room to write, away from the television. I thought if I could get away from the enticer, than I could get some serious writing done. My reasoning was no television equals more productivity.

All I ended up doing was watching episodes of Life from NBC’s 24/7 Video on my laptop.

So, now I’m trying to find a compromise between my television addiction and my need to write. When I’m writing, I’m experimenting with the television sound off and the caption on, and the music going and headphones on.

Oh, dear. The entire eight hours of The Stand is about to come on, back to back. I’ve only seen it four or five times.

Maybe I missed something.

(Cross-published at secondwindpub.wordpress.com)

Writing has to start somewhere.

In college I was taught to kick-start the process by free writing. The inspiration was supposed to come from the flowing gibberish I wrote and would congeal into a coherent paper eventually, or so my literature professor told me.

I was an abject failure at free writing.

I am hit by inspiration. I can’t squeeze it out of the pen if it’s not there to begin with. I don’t write nonsense hoping that it will spark a fever of writing.

My own personal muse comes from the good old what-if question. What if the world was square instead of round? What if the war to end all wars started on American soil? What if survival depended on the untouchables? What if the key to world peace was locked in an imprisoned mind? What if squirrels were actually smarter than dolphins?

The list is endless.

For me, possession is nine/tenths of the writing process. Not the kind of takeover by the ghosts of Forester or Fitzgerald, but the takeover of my own imagination. The characters in my stories come to life and I see what they see, hear what they hear, and feel what they feel.

In my mind, my characters live their experiences and adventures. As a participant in every little thing they do, I become deeply involved. Their pain is my pain.

The whole writing process is exhausting. When I get on a serious roll, I suffer the consequences, usually in the form of a writing hangover that lasts for a few miserable days.

But it’s worth it. Someone once told me that writing is birth and death with the broadest spectrum of human emotions in between. For me, this is true. I run the written gamut of feelings from fear and absurdity to anger and hilarity, sometimes within the same paragraph.

Life is such a candy shop. Inspiration is all around, waiting to be picked up. The wonderful thing about inspiration is that it is different for each of us: I see an apple where you see the beginnings of life and love; you see torn, dirty jeans where I see a struggle for world domination.

I have to be careful and keep my imagination on a short leash, else the candy bar I’m eating becomes the catalyst for the collapse of modern society or the calendar I’m looking at morphs into a countdown to apocalypse.

It starts with a single grain of sand. That’s how my inspiration takes birth. A single act, a single look, a single mistake – all have the ability to snowball into a story.