Welcome to my friend Leslie Tentler! Leslie and I met years ago at the Georgia Chapter of RWA, when we were both unpublished! Now she is the author of the critically acclaimed Chasing Evil trilogy from MIRA Books. Her third novel in the series – Edge of Midnight – was released February 1 and to celebrate, she’s giving away a free copy! Her blog post today is on one of my favorite topics: how to make your writing dream a reality!! And if you leave a comment below you’ll be entered for a chance to win a copy of Leslie’s latest book!
“The best way to make your dreams come true is to wake up.” – Paul Valéry
I like this quote from French poet and philosopher Paul Valéry, as it pretty much sums up how I lived my life prior to writing Midnight Caller, my first book in the Chasing Evil trilogy. You see, for years I daydreamed about having the time to write, I read books on writing and attended writing workshops, but I didn’t spend a lot of time actually practicing the craft of fiction writing. It wasn’t because I didn’t want to, but because like most of us, I was pretty overwhelmed with the day-to-day aspects of life. I had a busy, full-time job, family and home responsibilities, and I just wasn’t ready to give up my limited spare time to becoming a writer.
And so I continued daydreaming. It was fun, actually, spending that time with my head in the clouds, just thinking about that day when I would have nothing to do but write. I had characters, dialog and plot lines running rampant in my head…just nothing captured on paper.
I “woke up” somewhere around the time I turned forty. That’s when I realized I’d spent a lot of time thinking and talking about writing, but not putting much elbow grease behind it. Barring winning the lottery (and fat chance of that), I knew that if I wanted to BE a writer, I had to start making sacrifices to find the time to write.
And so I did. I wrote on weekends, vacations and holidays, as well as during the occasional weeknight when my brain wasn’t too fried from work to function. I gave up a lot of R&R and turned my free days into workdays and finally began to produce.
Was it easy? No. But for the first time I really felt like a writer, not just someone who wanted to “be” one someday.
As I moved the needle closer to “completed manuscript,” I began to learn some things about myself, including the best ways to keep my eye on the prize and push through even when time was tight and the words weren’t exactly flowing:
1. Fall back in love with your story each time you sit down to write. I keep myself inspired by going back to a favorite chapter or scene I’ve written earlier in the book – one that I really love or that I feel really defines who a character is. For me, rereading those passages gets me back in the mood to work on a brand new chapter or scene and to keep moving my characters’ story forward. Even when I’m frustrated because a chapter I’m working on isn’t coming together, I’ll look back at that older one and think, “I wrote that. I CAN do this.”
2. Set small goals. Of course, your long-term goal is to finish that book! But what if instead of working toward such a big, intimidating objective, you set a shorter-term goal like completing a chapter or scene? Know that each of those smaller accomplishments gets you closer to your finish line. There’s an old saying: “Yard by yard, life is hard. Inch by inch, life’s a cinch.” Work incrementally so balancing writing within a busy life doesn’t overwhelm you.
3. Always be brainstorming that next scene. Spend your non-writing time working out that “next scene” in your head. What happens next in your story? What is the point of action where it begins? Whose POV? You’ll be surprised how many of these things you can figure out while driving your car, showering or walking the dog. Maybe even while you’re sitting in yet another staff meeting. It’s so much easier to be productive when you know exactly where to start, instead of sitting down to stare at a blank screen. I often send myself emails from my iPhone, call my voicemail or jot down notes on pieces of paper while I’m doing non-writing activities, just so I won’t forget that “big thought.”
4. Don’t give up when the writing gets tough. We all have our off days when the words don’t come easily or we identify a plot hole so big it makes us sick to our stomachs. We all have those “crying at the computer, I can’t do this anymore” moments. But don’t give up on a story so easily. Jumping from one story idea to the next only ensures you’ll never get anything done. Force yourself to see a story through to the end, instead of abandoning it as soon as the going gets tough. You’ll work through those rough spots, or compensate for them perhaps in the very next chapter.
It’s time to stop daydreaming and start writing!
EDGE OF MIDNIGHT BLURB
The writer becomes the story when crime reporter Mia Hale is discovered on a Jacksonville beach – bloodied and disoriented, but alive. She remembers nothing, but her wounds bear the signature of a sadistic serial killer. After years lying dormant, The Collector has resumed his grim hobby: abducting women and taking gruesome souvenirs before dumping their bodies. But none of his victims has ever escaped – and he wants Mia back, more than he ever wanted any of the others.
FBI agent Eric Macfarlane has pursued The Collector for a long time. The case runs deep in his veins, bordering on obsession…and Mia holds the key. She’ll risk everything to recover her memory and bring the madman to justice, and Eric swears to protect this fierce, fragile survivor. But The Collector will not be denied. In his mind, he knows just how their story ends.
What RT Book Reviews Says About EDGE OF MIDNIGHT
4 ½ STARS: “A compelling plot, thick suspense, a cunning villain, a shattered cop and a victim who wants answers at any cost place Tentler in the same category as bestselling authors Lisa Jackson and Beverly Barton.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Leslie Tentler worked in PR for nearly two decades before pursuing her love of writing fiction. She is the author of the Chasing Evil trilogy of romantic thrillers from MIRA Books, including Midnight Caller, Midnight Fear and Edge of Midnight. She resides in Atlanta. http://www.LeslieTentler.com