What’s the fun of being a writer? Everything!
And part of that includes the fact that writing is always there. It becomes part of you. At least it has with me. Everything I do, everywhere I go, my writerness is part of it. And yes, that’s an unusual word although when I Googled it, other people have apparently used it, too.
I was on a cruise to Alaska last week with family and friends. It was lots of fun. We sailed near land going north, then south through the Inside Passage, visited several cities, took a few tours, and enjoyed the onboard food and entertainment. That entertainment sometimes included dogs, and you can imagine how much I liked that.
I particularly enjoyed the wildlife we saw, including young and adult bald eagles, other birds including those that flew over and sometimes dived into water like marbled murrelets, a few bears on the shoreline in the distance, some spouting whales, including humpbacks, and small breaching dolphins.
We got to wade in the water in the middle of a river—because, as you might surmise, that river wasn’t full of water.
We visited Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, and took a tour that included visiting a formerly private castle.
And, oh yes, I did some writing and editing . . . and came up with an idea for another mystery series.
Will I ever write it? Who knows? But plotting and researching it will definitely be enjoyable. Plotting is who I am, and my subconscious is always at work.
And yes, that’s part of the fun of being a writer.
We are fresh off Valentines Day, so I thought I’d share a little love story.
In November ,2021 we traveled to Albania – a country we fell in love with ten years ago and where our youngest son now lives – and to celebrate our 45th wedding anniversary. Our son arranged the party and the details were kept secret. On the day of the party we were picked up by a driver who didn’t speak English, could barely understand my few words of Albanian, and seemed confused as to his destination. Finally, the car turned up a dark and winding road and delivered us to our party destination—an ancient castle.
People we didn’t know greeted us like old friends; those who didn’t speak English blessed us in their language. We danced for five hours to Turkish and Albanian music with a little Roy Orbison and The Doors thrown in for good measure.
That night was joyous, exciting, and exactly the kind of adventure my husband and I love. But it wasn’t until I was back home and writing again, that I understood what made the trip so magical. It was like a good book long in the making. My husband and I had 45 years of a backstory, so our sons had a lot of information to draw on. They intimately understood our individual characters and loved us quirks and all. They also had an appreciation for drama, and pitch perfect pacing. Together they crafted the perfect narrative with a very happy ending.
I’m going to remember that night forever. I will also remember the lessons I learned because of it. If I love my characters, so will my readers; if I’m excited by the adventure, the reader will be too. I’m not sure if my books are as perfect as our anniversary adventure, but the fun is in trying to make them so.
Stay tuned for the sequel, watch out for the next book. Meanwhile, happy belated Valentines Day. Here’s to the next chapters of all of our love (and life)stories.
The Post Outline
by E.J. Williams
(Janet Elizabeth Lynn and Will Zeilinger)
Writing together as E. J. Williams, husband and wife, Will Zeilinger and Janet Elizabeth Lynn author the INTERNATIONAL CRIME FILES, a hardboiled/thriller detective series that takes the reader to 1960s southern California, then on to international locales.
Even after you’ve written the best book in the world, the pesky task of editing rears its ugly head! To those of you who love editing…our hats are off to you. We have come up with several suggestions that may help ease the editing process, whether you are editing your book for your editor, publisher, agent, or yourself.
The post outline is the first thing we do once we feel the book is complete. By going back through the manuscript (ignoring the pre outline if you do one) helps to see where some of the holes or gaps in the sub and main plot line are. After a week break, we sit down and take portions to re-outline, i.e. one of us works the even chapters the other the odd chapters. Issues with the manuscript seem to jump out at you with this. We then meet and figure out how to work out each problem. With both of us working on it, it goes real fast.
Though this mind-numbing task is necessary, it can bring about a great deal of pride when the process is complete. As a couple who write together, we have found these tips work well whether you are working alone or with someone.
And yes…we are still married!
Website: Janet Elizabeth Lynn
Website: Will Zeilinger
Starting a Novel with a Partner: The Plotting
by E.J. Williams
(Janet Elizabeth Lynn & Will Zeilinger)
My husband, Will Zeilinger, and I co-write thrillers, the INTERNATIONAL MYSTERY SERIES, as E. J. Williams. Our tales transport the reader from 1962 Southern California to various international locales. In the first new book of the series, STONE PUB, we find ourselves in County Cork, Ireland.
As we began this series, we experienced the same thing as with the previous, Skylar Drake Mystery Series. That is, we had all sorts of ideas stuck in our heads. Each of us had different scenarios we’d developed. We found it challenging to develop and agree on a central plotline for each story that would take the series across many books.
Meeting regularly with specific agendas and follow-up reports for reminders helped us narrow down the many ideas into the main idea, one that could be sustained through many future books. Daily, weekly, and monthly update meetings keep things flowing. Much like each chapter of a book drives the plot forward, the meetings should have a purpose. They should help drive the writing forward. Once we agreed on the plotline for the whole series, we could focus on the individual novels with similar foundations.
Regular meetings are the most efficient way of making a co-writing situation successful. Remember . . . the crucial thing is to write a good story. So, stay tuned . . . there is more to come.
STONE PUB is the first in the series, and yes…we are still married!
Website: Janet Elizabeth Lynn
Website: Will Zeilinger
Read Skylar Drake Mysteries while waiting for STONE PUB.
We’re still in the midst of the pandemic that has affected us for more than six months now. People get sick, and fortunately many heal . . . though not everyone does. And it’s affected us in ways beyond illness–economically, for example.
Even when things seem to improve some, they don’t always stay that way. Sometimes they get worse again. We still don’t know when things will settle down and start resembling normal once more.
And as a writer, I’m wondering when to use all of this.
Right now I’m still working on my third book in the long-running Colton series for Harlequin Romantic Suspense, featuring characters in one of the many branches of the Colton family spread all over the country. I’ve known what has to happen in this one, and that’s what I’ve done.
But I’m also plotting some other ideas. Stories that will take place at least a little in the future.
Should I mention the pandemic? The social unrest? What it’s all done to our economy?
Or should I assume that readers will prefer that I don’t go there, that I ignore all that nasty stuff and just create my own issues in my stories, the way I used to?
I’m pondering all of that even as I plot. But like everything else these days, who knows what the future will bring–and if things will ever return to what had been deemed normal before?
Of course, as a writer, I want to satisfy my readers. It’s okay to scare them in romantic suspense and mysteries, but we need satisfying endings in which all gets resolved in a reasonable, acceptable, perhaps optimistic way. Never mind what happens in real life. I write fiction!
Well, I’ll figure it out and decide which direction to go in each story I write.
And hope that reality gets better even as my stories continue.
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