1. You have submitted one part of a series – your choice is reasonable clear – write the next book in the series. This can depend on when the manuscript has to be finished obviously but readers want the next one pretty quickly.
2. You are committed to writing a story for an anthology. Ensure you make the deadline.
3. A new idea has ‘popped’ into your head – it is always tempting to write the newest and brightest. However, can it wait? Maybe ask is it reflecting a current topic? Would it be best to get it published sooner rather than later?
4. You have several unfinished manuscripts pending. (This is my current quandary.) How do you choose?
The above options do give us guidance but if you are not committed to a deadline then what options are open to you?
a) Write the titles out and pick one out of a hat.
b) Ask your readers on social media to choose by voting.
c) Gauge the current ‘popular’ genre and write accordingly.
I have opted for b) and received a flurry of votes on Facebook and twitter, which was a pleasant surprise indeed.
The choices were – A western romance or a suspense novel. The suspense won! So I will delve into The Giving Thief for this year and into next.
We are all feeling the repercussions of isolation, social distancing and lack of ‘normal’. It has affected everyone in a multitude of ways. For writers, who are normally ‘isolated’ in their writing life, there has been a change in atmosphere, inspiration, alone time and creativity. (Or lack thereof).
Whatever your normal routine, be it the impact of family at home, remote working arrangements or lack of access to resources, we can adjust.
Here are a few tips to try (or not):
One of the best options I have found is a virtual writing time. A group of us ‘meet’ on Sunday’s for a couple of hours. And although for the most part, it is a silent meeting, knowing we are connected helps with motivation and makes us accountable. We share what we will be writing at the beginning of the meeting and then summarize what we achieved at the end.
Outside time – this is vitally important to refresh the mind and body. It can be a walk, a bicycle ride and a hike. Whatever, works best for you within the confines of the social distancing parameters.
Writing space changes. It sounds odd but even a reorganization, a new arrangement of objects, a vase of flowers – can make all the difference. Maybe write in a different area of the house.
Reserve writing time. Make a commitment to write for a certain amount of time each day. As we all have favourite times of day to be creative – this can be before everyone gets up, when they are all asleep or maybe a time when you can be alone in the house. Don’t add to your stress by putting a word count on this time. It can be to write, of course, but also to plot, edit, note down new story ideas or even read some research.
Enter a contest. This idea will either spur you on or not. To create something new can be a good way to engage your Muse. Even if you decide not to submit your work, it is a great way to spark your creativity.
Writing prompts are also a great way to refresh the writing brain. There are a lot of sites and books available on the internet. Try a few, whether they are images, word collections or story starters. You never know where they might take you. Again my local writing group has prompts every Saturday, if you want to try. Link: https://www.wfscsherwoodpark.com/our-blog
What have you found to help your writing during COVID19?
Much like the story beginning, I was intrigued with one dirt road leading off a highway I travelled often and wondered what was over the hill. I still don’t know what is really there.
How did you come up with the title?
I think the title, DIRT ROAD, was self explanatory
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I hope people will see through more than the romance part, that, when needed, people rise to the occasion, such as the son that did not seem to have any gumption finally took over or the mother when away from the family was totally different.
How much of the book is realistic?
I think like all novels, bits and pieces are realistic. The dirt road in question is in Southern Alberta but the farm over the hill is in Central Alberta and the coffee shop is in Northern Montana but in the story they are all within miles of each other.
Are your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
No, the actual story is a figment of my imagination, but I feel the characteristics of the individuals are composites of various people I know.
Where can readers find you on social media and do you have a blog?
I am on Facebook only.
Do you have plans or ideas for your next book? Is it a sequel or a stand alone?
My next novel or any forthcoming work are all stand alone works. I have two completed novels and working on another. Time will tell if I publish them.
Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why?
I like Gary. He is patterned after my grandson with a little embellishment.
Do you favor one type of genre or do you dabble in more than one?
I like to say I write about life, but romance seems to sneak in as well.
Do you plan your stories, or are you a seat of the pants style writer?
Strictly seat of the pants. I love my writing club the nights they give three or four prompts and give us an hour to come up with a short story about one of them.
What is your best marketing tip?
Find someone you can trust to lead you along the way.
Do you find social media a great tool or a hindrance?
Social Media is a great help. I post my short stories on there and judge form the feedback.
What do you enjoy most about writing?
It takes me into a different world, not necessarily better but different.
What age did you start writing stories/poems?
I think before I was a teenager I would ride my bicycle up on a hill overlooking the entry to my city and study the vehicles and write stories about what I thought they were doing in the city or where they were going when leaving.
Has your genre changed or stayed the same?
I think it has remained the same.
What genre are you currently reading?
That is one of my hindrances as a writer, I read very little.
Do you read for pleasure or research or both?
When I do read it is for pleasure.
Who is your best supporter/mentor/encourager?
I would have to say the members of my writing club give me the boost I need.
Where is your favorite writing space?
Tim Hortons. As I dabble on the laptop I watch the people around me and incorporate characteristics I see.
Do you belong to a writing group? If so which one?
I belong to River Bottom Writing Club in Lethbridge
If you could meet one favorite author, who would it be and why?
Sorry, no favorite.
If you could live anywhere in the world – where would it be?
Right where I live. My grandchildren are only a few miles away but also the people of Lethbridge are so diverse it gives me lots of content for my stories.
Do you see writing as a career?
Well, at 70 years old I think my career stage is over. However, I did work for several years as a newspaper journalist but found that type of writing not to my liking.
Do you nibble as you write? If so what’s your favorite snack food?
Tim Horton coffee and a Boston Cream donut. At home it is Coke and Werthers Candies.
What reward do you give yourself for making a deadline?
I hate deadlines. I just like to see a finished copy, if there is any such thing as a finished copy.
Bryan L. Beerling lives in Lethbridge, AB with his wife. He is a member of the local writer’s group, River Bottom Writers. Dirt Road is his first full-length novel.
When we first came to Canada it was a trial run over Christmas – not the time you would think is best to get an idea of the country. However, we were thinking of moving to Alberta, where the winter’s are harsh and temperatures drop to ridiculous lows -40 at times. Yes you read that right!
So why come in winter? Because we thought if we came in the most harrowing season and liked it then the rest of the year would be a breeze. Little did we know. The decision was made and we immigrated – there were many obstacles to overcome, too many to go through here that’s for sure – but we arrived in September 2007.
My first morning the sun was shining, the leaves were golden and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. If you have ever been to England we always have clouds. Then the next day it was the same, and the next. It was unusual to me but also pleasing. By the beginning of October we saw our first snow and it was a novelty. Big piles of snow (at that time) were rare in England so we took advantage of all the winter themed activities available. It was fun but as the years passed and the snow came early and stayed, the novelty soon wore off. Vacationing in a winter wonderland is very different to living in one – that was our lesson learned.
There are so few green trees during the greyness of winter and that is what I miss the most. The green lushness year round of England. Albertan seasons are not like ‘home’ – spring is almost an overnight experience – a faint green flush one morning and then the grey sticks of winter suddenly become vibrant emerald and lime green. Summer creeps in and heats up the land in some cases +40 (yes it is a land of extremes). Then fall (autumn to my English friends) comes turning gold and red but only staying for a brief while before the leaves drop.
The snow arrives normally before Halloween and leaves sometime in April or even May – it is a winter gripped land for a long time and we have to live with it. There are many devices that make the winter’s easier – winter tires (tyres), auto-start for the vehicles, so you can warm it up before getting in, in-door shopping malls, winter sports and events, fire pits and Jacuzzi’s.
It has been an adjustment for us all and over time we have found ways of coping but we all wish for one more day without snow! We know it is coming and cherish the time without.