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Finding the Time to Write

How do you find the time to write? That’s a good question! It’s not an easy process.  I admire those writers who write each and every day. I’m not as disciplined, but I would like to be. However, when I wrote several times during the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)) in November, I was able to find the discipline to do so. Despite a busy work schedule of teaching, family time, my birthday, and Thanksgiving, I scheduled time each day, usually after dinner, to write. That said, I produced three comlete books during three separate NaNoWriMo’s, two of which are published, A Kiss Out of Time and A Dance Out of Time. My third is in revision stage, and I hope to get it published next year.

 

When asked about finding time, I’ve responded that it’s not finding time, it’s making time. At least for me that’s been the case. I am an advocate of carrying a notepad wherever and whenever I go for those bursts of inspiration. I keep one in my car, several around the house including the bathroom (good inspiration there), and in my purse.

I wrote my first novel, Wildflowers, while commuting on a bus to New York City from New Jersey. It wasn’t easy, but I managed to write a very rough draft in a small spiral notebook and later to type it all up. I’ve also discovered the recording app on my smart phone which can enable me to dictate story ideas or an outline. So, if there’s a will, there’s a way.

Since I am more of a morning person, I feel that if I can get up a bit earlier, I can use the half hour or so to write. I’ve done it before, and I can do it again. Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way and The Right to Write, suggests writing morning pages. That’s also been helpful to me. If nothing else, it allows for a free flow of ideas on paper. Who knows? It might lead to a story later on. By the way, evening time is good also. Whatever works, as long as you make the time and write.

Happy writing!

Available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and from

Featherweight Press publishers.

 

A Journal

getPartWriting a journal is writing for oneself, unless of course, you decide to share or publish the journal or its parts. Over the years, I have written many journals. Some were during travels, some were more diary type entries, a few contained poems or anecdotes, and some were pure venting on paper. In her book The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron suggested “morning pages” which are three pages written soon after waking up. You write in a stream of consciousness way without stopping or worrying about grammar and spelling. I found that the discipline of writing “morning pages” is a good one. It helped me to vent on paper, put down ideas for stories or peoms, and get in touch with my muse. I sometimes set an alarm for a few minutes and wrote as much as I could in that time. Some days it proved frustrating, but on others it was hard to stop when the timer went off. Today when I work on a story, I sometimes set a goal of writing so many pages or for so much time, and it is the same thing. Either it’s frustrating not to get to that goal and do enough in the time, or I want to write more but had to stop. Yet, I remind myself that it is still writing, and as such, it can be revised and edited later.

I recently read some of my old journals, and it felt like a trip down memory lane. Some of the concerns or worries I voiced then are not that different from now, and some seem silly and supercilious, and that reminded me that all things pass whether good or bad. Reading about travels I took brought me there whether it was a cafe in Paris or venturing along the wilderness in Alaska. I have albums with photos, but reading the words enhanced those pictures. I am hoping to combine words and pictures in future blogs to share about some of my adventures.

Another suggestion given to me long ago is that of the dream journal. I keep a small journal by my bed, and when I wake up I try to write down what I dreamed about. I have one of those dream encyclopedias nearby as well. However, I believe that dreams are so personal and can best be interpreted by the dreamer. If you notice patterns for instance, there is a message in the dream, or there are symbols in what is dreamed. So, now when I record dreams, I also try to interpret them. Similar to the “morning pages”, the writing has to occurr right away upon waking. Otherwise, the dream fades from memory.

Writing a travel journal is fun. I don’t always do so, but when I do, I like to write down not only about the places and people I meet but also special events or reflections on the time. When I returned to Paris the summer of 2016, I looked back at a travel journal I wrote during my trip there in 2008. I noted some of the places that I went to and how I felt about them. I’m going to try to be more organized with the travel journal, and maybe add some sketches and thumbnail size pictures.

I also have a gratitude journal where I list all I feel grateful for. This helps me a lot and reminds me of all the good things going on. It’s especially important during stressful times and when it’s easy to overlook the good.

As for materials, I’ve used many kinds of notebooks for journals from the cardboard bound composition books found at a dollar store to fancier styles with leather trim. It depends on the use and my mood about the writing. Barnes and Nobles and other stores carry entire sections with blank journals in assorted styles, sizes, and for various uses.

Journal writing is not for everyone. However, as a writer, I find them invaluable. Journals help me to record ideas, express feelings, write impressions, vent on paper (or on computer), and helps with the discipline of writing.

On Writing: A YA series

What goes into writing a series of books? I often wondered how anyone could write more than one story featuring the same main characters until I tried to craft one.

During the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) of 2012, I  KissOutofTime_432wrote my first young adult ghost story, A Kiss Out of Time, which was published in 2013 by Featherweight Press. The story features Georgina Claythorne, a seventeen year old psychic and ghost hunter, who is unnaturally attracted to the ghost of a Confederate soldier who haunts her grandmother’s antique shop in Ocean Grove, New Jersey.

 

Having read A Kiss Out of Time, some of my readers, including a few middle school students I taught, wanted to know more about Georgina and her ghost hunting adventures.  After “living with Georgina and her boyfriend and fellow ghost hunter in my head” for almost three years, they felt like part of my family. So, I decided to use the 2013 NaNoWriMo to work on a sequel. In this adventure, Georgina confronts not one but two ghosts who haunt her family’s bed and breakfast inn in Ocean Grove. The book became known as A Dance Out of Time.

A_Dance_in_Time_Final_Front_Cover_Revised_Eyes_11_4_2014

I wasn’t sure if I’d grow tired of writing about the same character and setting, but I didn’t. Instead I discovered several things in the process. First, I found it resourceful to have previous notes from my first book including a binder with maps, research, outlines, magazine photos, and character sketches nearby as I drafted. Second, I found it helpful to use flashback and connect the previous book to the current story. I also got to know my characters even better.   A Dance Out of Time and was published by Featherweight Press in 2015.

Sadly, an accidental fall in 2015 waylaid plans for writing for almost a year after I broke both wrists, required surgery and a year of physical therapy. I am slowly returning to the writing.

Series writing is not for everyone, but I did enjoy my venture into it and will try it again. I might bring out a third story for Georgina and Jake as they are now young adults.  In the meantime, I have two other books in the works, another young adult featuring a junior witch and a women’s fiction story about an Irish immigrant, plus a short story coming out in an anthology of historical romances set for publication in the spring of 2017.

 

Both A Kiss Out of Time and A Dance Out of Time are available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Feather Weight Press Pubishing.

 

 

 

 

Troll Dolls

trollTroll dolls were a big toy fad from 1963 – 1965.  The dolls also called Leprechauns, Dam dolls, Gonks, Wishniks, Treasure Trolls, and Norfins. The story behind the troll doll is that a poor Danish fisherman named Thomas Dan who in 1959 made a troll doll based on his imagination as a Christmas gift for his daughter. Soon troll dolls became popular in Europe. The original troll dolls had sheep’s wool hair and glass eyes, but cheaper imitations came out when the dolls gained popularity.

 

I bought my first troll doll at Cathy’s Gift Shop in Greenwich Village. It was the size of my fist, and I bought smaller, thumb size ones there too. Most troll dolls came naked with wild colored hair and beady eyes. You could dress them up and create a family of troll troll-2dolls. It was said that rubbing the hair of a troll doll brought good luck.

The tiny troll is over fifty years old. She kept her shape!

Someday I hope to go to Scandinavia and bring back an authentic troll doll.

 

 

Food for Thought

I often use food in my stories which reflect my favorite foods including pizza, tacos, ice cream, pie, and other tantalizing foods. I came to that realization recently when editing my second young adult novel, A Dance Out of Time. The A_Dance_in_Time_Final_Front_Cover_Revised_Eyes_11_4_2014nineteen year old Jake Hanlon is a bit of a foodie, except he doesn’t gain the weight that many of us worry about when we indulge a bit. So, he can chow down on burgers, fries, and ice cream and still look gorgeous since he’s young and works out. Georgina Claythorne, the lead character, an eighteen year old psychic/ghost hunter and Jake’s girlfriend, enjoys similar fare but is more cautious about the calories, not an atypical response for many females. She indulges, however, in one of my favorites: rum raisin ice cream with caramel sauce as served up at her favorite (and mine) Ocean Grove restaurant and ice cream parlor, Nagle’s. Despite a busy summer of ghost hunting, helping out at her family’s bed and breakfast, and doing art, Georgina enjoys decorating and making home-baked desserts like peanut butter pie.
AngelsAmongUs_LRGIn Angels Among Us, Kay Lassiter, a psychic artist in Nutley, New Jersey, is in jeopardy and guided by her guardian angel who tries to help protect her from a madman. When Kay meets with her brother, a detective, and Lydia, her best friend, she serves up homemade Irish stew and a blueberry pie with ice cream. Rather heavy fare but comfort food.

In Sacred Fires, Casey McConoughy, an investigative journalist, Loving coupleenjoys a romantic dinner with Miguel Stephen, a rogue customs agent,  in Mexico while working on a case together.  Meals are often traditional Mexican and include one of my favorites: shrimp with garlic sauce.

 

  WildflowersWildflowers, a western historical romance set on the Oregon Trail, features food that pioneers could put together while traveling across the plains and mountains including berry pie, biscuits, beans, beef jerky, or rabbit stew since they lacked the modern conveniences of refrigeration, stoves, and microwave ovens. They had to be frugal about it. However, what they had provided enough to hold body and soul together. Meals were communal times too.

In general, I find that food works its way into my stories for a variety of reasons. It shows characters’ preferences and cultural backgrounds, living conditions, gives time to socialize, work on conflicts, and even fall in love. It’s a little bit like real life.

Welcome to My Blog

Catherine Greenfeder author picture

Hello World!

Thank you for stopping by. My blog posts will be where I share my thoughts, ideas, experiences, and news. Over the past few years I have been fortunate to get my writing professionally published. I plan to share what I have learned about writing, what inspires me, and what I enjoy doing when I’m not busy writing. So, please stop by, and if you can, leave a comment. Thank you!

             Catherine Greenfeder

Walking the Tightrope of a Dual Career

It’s amazing to me how often I feel like I’m on a tightrope with two careers: as  a part-time novelist and a full-time teacher, but I manage somehow. It means making time for the writing while doing my best as an educator.

It means quick meals, take-out food, and a supportive family and friends.

It means keeping notepads around to jot down creative ideas.

I wrote my first novel on a bus years ago when I commuted to a job in Manhattan. I wrote a second novel while my son napped as a baby. I’ve written other books on weekends and vacations when I could.

Not easy but doable. Stay balanced, focused, and don’t fall off the tightrope.