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A coming of Age Story from The Camerons of Tide's Way, available for free on Amazon or Barnes & Noble

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Blogging By the Sea
Saturday, June 23 2018

This month our Round Robin Blog questions is: Why do you write or feel compelled to write even through the difficult parts?

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Before I begin to write any book, I do a lot of character development and research. Ideas come to me from all over the place and I try to capture the essence of those ideas and save them to a file on my computer so the thoughts don’t get lost. Then when the previous book is released and I’m on to the next adventure, I look at that idea file and whichever one grabs me as the most urgent, the one I want to follow, that’s where I start. But often, actually, for me there is always some research to do first. If it’s a historical, then I need to research the history, the speech patterns, the clothing and social mores. But even if it’s contemporary, I have to decide where it’s set – a real place, or one I’m going to make up? Where is it and what is that place like? City or small town? Seaside or mountains? Once I know that there is more research. Visiting the location if not a real town helps. Taking lots of photos, or cruising the internet, getting a “feel” for this setting.

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Next step is developing my characters. Along with my original idea I usually have some thoughts about my protagonists, some of them sharp and clear, others not so clear. And secondary characters are very vague. I spend a lot of time on this process because my stories are more character driven than plot driven and I need to know them all very well to know what choices they will make when I start throwing problems at them. If they have families, I need to flesh those out as well. All your characters need lives and careers and unless they all have the same career as you or someone close to you, more research happens to flesh this part of their lives out. I need to know, for instance, if they have a job that might put them “on call” from time to time. This detail might actually become a plot point – you never know. Are they parents? What are those relationships like? So I develop a detailed backstory for all my main characters and a somewhat less detailed one for secondary characters.

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When I wrote a hero who was a Marine, I didn’t attend boot camp, but I did have two Marines who were gracious in sharing all sorts of interesting information with me and answering endless questions. My brother, who served in Vietnam, generously recalled some of his experiences in that war, how they influenced his life and what it’s been like since for me when I was creating the back story for my hero in The Candidate. In my current project which is a mystery, my protagonist is a female deputy sheriff detective. I’ve done a lot of things in my life, but law enforcement has not been among them. It was quite an adventure going for a ride along with a real deputy sheriff. I learned a lot and even picked up some ideas for conflict in my story. My next adventure in research is to attend the 12-week Citizen’s Law Enforcement Academy. No, it won’t qualify me for a job, buy it will give me a very good idea of the life my heroine lives every day.

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Then the writing begins. Usually taking off with a lot of enthusiasm and energy. After all, I’ve spent so much time with these people I’ve created, I’m eager to find out how they are going to make out. How their lives are going to change. And all the adventures along the way.

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But then you come to the difficult parts. Perhaps you’ve hit a sagging middle and don’t’ know quite how to fix it. Or you’ve written your characters into a corner you haven’t figured out how to get them out of. Now the story feels more like a 10-mile forced march with an 80 pound rucksac full of gear than the eagerly anticipated adventure it was on page one. So, Why do I write or feel compelled to write even through the difficult parts?

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The answer is simple. I put these characters I’ve grown to care very much about into this situation and it’s up to me to get them out. I want that satisfying ending just as much as I hope my readers do. Besides, I’ve done a ton of work getting to this point and there’s something in me that refuses to abandon the project just because it got hard.  

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Why do all these other great authors keep on when the keeping on gets tough?

Hop on over to their sites and find out…

Dr. Bob Rich 
Marie Laval 
Connie Vines 
Beverley Bateman 
Marci Baun  
A.J. Maguire  
Helena Fairfax 
Anne Stenhouse  
Diane Bator 
Fiona McGier 
Margaret Fieland 
Rhobin L Courtright 

Posted by: Skye Taylor AT 12:01 am   |  Permalink   |  7 Comments  |  Email
Saturday, June 09 2018

My dad was a mechanical engineer so perhaps that’s where he came by his ability to make things happen on his own when everyone else would have enlisted the help of half a dozen friends and a cooler full of beer. Over his lifetime he’d accumulated a metal and woodworking shop in his basement that could have rivaled any professional business and he’d managed to get all these pieces of heavy equipment into that basement with the use of pulleys, dollies, wedges and any other tool designed to gain mechanical advantage over heavy, unweildy machines. So maybe that’s where I got the idea that I could do anything if only I put my mind to it.

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I had plenty of encouragement growing up, as you can imagine. I was also a first born and a bit stubborn so I was pretty sure I could pull it off, whatever the task was that I had in mind, even when the odds and opinion were against me. And for most of my life I fared pretty well. In spite of being married twice, I more or less raised four kids on my own and they all turned out to be well-adjusted, smart, loving and responsible adults. When my husband was wasting away from cancer, I painted our entire three story house by myself when I discovered my son was getting off the bus down the street so his friends wouldn’t see the ugly, peeling house he called home. I ran conferences and state gymnastic meets. I chaired committees and managed a church thrift shop. I figured out how to organize the office of an adoption and fostering agency that dealt with the regulations and laws in six states, and kept up with meeting all those requirements for the social workers. I’ve jumped out of perfectly good airplanes and earned my basic skydiver’s license. And I joined the Peace Corps at 56, stepping way out of my comfort zone to live and work in a very different culture on the other side of the world. My can-do attitude served me well.

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Until the advent of technology!

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Becoming computer literate before Windows was a challenge but I rose to it. I managed to create my own website, through a lot of trial and error.  I’ve more or less mastered the use of my smart phone which I freely admit is smarter than I am, and now I have a car with so much technology going on it will probably take me the entire three years of the lease to learn how to use it all.

Then I decided to self publish my next book. How hard can it be? Everyone else is doing it, and they all said it was a piece of cake. I knew enough to hire a professional editor and I found an equally talented lady do design my cover, but the rest was going to be up to me and CreateSpace. A friend, who assured me I could do this – after all, I’d jumped out of airplanes, surely I could master this, as well, or so she claimed - directed me to a slender little book titled, How to Format Your Novel for CreateSpace, by Roxanne Smolen. The book is tiny. 38 pages tiny. I skimmed through it and tackled the job.

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It’s amazing how many  things in the menu of my WORD program did not look like the screen shots in this book. It’s equally amazing how many terms I had absolutely NO clue about the meaning or where to find them. And humbling to discover I was not going to pull this off with my usual plucky attitude. I followed every direction down to the letter, but somehow the headers and footers were switching places on me when I was doing something else. I’d fix those and the page numbers would disappear or appear in the wrong place. Change something half way through the book in a totally different section and guess what? Something changed in the front matter. After deciding my readers were never going to notice the few odd headers, I gave up and uploaded it to CreateSpace. 24 hours later I got the notice advising me there was a problem with pagination that I needed to fix. I spent and entire weekend fixing those numbers and finally, FINALLY, on Monday night I had a file with all the page numbers right and all the headers correct. I thankfully uploaded the new file, was presented with a review option and discovered to my dismay that somehow between my computer and CreateSpace’s program a dozen blank pages had appeared. They were NOT in the document I’d uploaded and even turning on the feature that lets me see all my non-visual key strokes didn’t help. I was close to throwing the whole thing into the sea in frustration. Nothing in my life had prepared me for the fact that I can’t do everything just because I believe I can and want it bad enough.

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Thankfully there are people out there who are steeped in this stuff and my friend who originally assured me I could do this myself dug out the business card of another lady she’d met somewhere who does formatting. I have NO idea what that lady did, but in a matter of minutes she had returned my manuscript to me, “fixed.” It looked the same to me, but I uploaded it anyway and the following day I was told it was approved. YAY! So, I am happy, but humbled. Maybe the next book will go smoother. Or then again, maybe not. At least I know who to ask when I finally admit I can’t do it all.

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Look for KEEPING HIS PROMISE – Available now on all e-book platforms and in print.

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Posted by: Skye AT 01:01 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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    Skye Taylor
    St Augustine, Florida
    skye@skye-writer.com

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