With three kids, time can sometimes be a luxury that's in short supply. The bulk of my writing happens during the school year. I’m at my computer from 7:30 am to 3:30 pm Monday through Friday. I try to keep my evenings opened- and by “opened”, I mean available to cart a child to sports practice or actually purchase groceries so I can avoid the “I’m starving” chants.
At any given moment, if you were to peruse my desk, you would find many a caffeinated beverage. I try to keep one on standby as no one has yet to insert my coffee IV. Could I say a huge thank you to whomever the genius was that came up with Kickstart? So tasty! I’m also a huge supporter of the Coca Cola Company; going so far as to stash a can or three in the drawers of my desk, in case of an emergency caffeine shortage.
But I digress.
I have tried in the past to begin at the beginning…that is to say, open up a Word document and start my story. What has that experience taught me? Well, that little flashing black bar is intimidating, for starters. Like I need it blinking repeatedly, taunting me…saying “Come on Lisa…you know you want me to make words for you…”
I write in segments. Inspiration will find me, (via music most often.) With my ear buds in to drown out the world, a scene will form in my mind. Instead of fighting it by saying “That shouldn’t happen here!” I write it out how I see it. I do this for the entire story... forming myself a nice little collection of puzzle pieces. I’ve learned that at some point down the road, they will form some sort of cohesive story, and when I reach that point, I begin to put the story in order, adding in the missing plot between one section of the novel and another.
One of the most interesting (translated: strange) things I do while writing? I act out the scenes. Yes- I have been spotted dancing by myself in my living room. I’ve been pointed at in the kitchen because I have pencils in each hand as I battle a villain apparently no one else can see. I talk aloud the entire time, using either my digital voice recorder or cell phone to recite all my movements. Why must I do this, you ask me? I want to feel breathless like my character after a fight. I want to know how quickly their heart beats as they strike down the creature that threatens them. I can sometimes close my eyes as I dance (with no one) and get a better sense of what Maggie or Luc or Michel is feeling as they sway with the music.
Okay…yes…I may be bordering on insane at this point, but if I can experience the emotions of my characters, I can better write them to share with the readers, and that's the ultimate goal of any author. We want- we crave- for those holding our books in their hands to feel the love. We want readers to cry when our characters do, to grow enraged alongside them. You can rest assured that if Maggie is nervous and biting her lip, I was doing exactly the same while writing that part of the tale.
Not on purpose, (ok…sometimes on purpose,) I end my books with cliffhangers. As I write, there comes a point when you just know it has to end. You sense it when you’re watching a film in the theater- the music is growing ominous…the lead actor is peeking around the corner even as you sit there, screaming for them to run away before they get murdered. It’s like when I write, (with less hatchet or chainsaw.) It’s just a sensation I get that this is the point to stop.
After finishing the series back in May with Phoenix Resolution, I found myself sort of wandering around, dazed and lost. It was the right way to end the series- I fully believe that…at night…before I fall asleep… But it’s also sad. Maggie, Luc, and the rest of the characters are like my own children now (without the demands of “Feed me Mom or I may die!” or the inevitable “I have no clean clothes because Mom avoided doing laundry for days!”)
Maybe they aren’t really gone after all? Maybe they’ve just headed to college or work? Perhaps…just maybe… one day they will return…