Are Magazines Dead ? by Christine Duncan

After 131 years, Ladies Home Journal has published its last issue with its July/August 214 offering. It will be available with special issues but it will no longer be available month to month.
I think most people who own a smart phone or a computer, could see this coming. I’m not saying LHJ wasn’t a good magazine. But really what can magazines offer that you can’t get online for free. Want do it yourself ideas? Pinterest is fun. Want recipes? What kind? I need to know that before I recommend from literally thousands of sites. Fashion Advice? Celebrity Gossip? Medical Advice? It’s all online with a caveat that you should be careful where you get your info.
I have subscriptions and gave subscriptions for magazines for Christmas last year. But really, I don’t see them as being available for my grandson when he grows up. Am I wrong?
Tell me folks, is there something you can get from print media that is still not available online?
Today, I went to the Farmers Market, and spoke to someone about issues going on in our city, and she recommended Nextdoor to communicate with my neighbors. I felt just a little sense of loss, that I couldn’t literally go, well, …next door, to talk to the people on my street. But even there I felt a sense of inevitability. We’re all Borg, folks. Resistance is futile.

The Notebooks

I’m trying to organise.

The book I’m writing is the second in a series of five (first is with publishers, waiting to be picked up). Well, it’s five now. Could be more? Maybe more? It’s a vague possibility.

However, my mind won’t stop working on the next three whilst working on this. So I have a little notebook for each of the other books in the series, and when I have an idea, or a reference or a scene, I put it in the notebook. The notebooks are in the kitchen, where I’m likely to walk past them several times a day.

Sound organised so far? Good.

Now, I also have another series planned after this one. So that’s another notebook for thoughts I have about that. My mind just won’t confine itself to one set of characters at a time, let alone one book.

Okay, so four notebooks, that’s doable.

But…I want to write some short stories based around the characters in first series. Another notebook.

And sometimes I want to burst out of crime writing altogether, and write a ghost story, like I used to. Another few notebooks.

I now have a pile of notebooks a foot high. But hey, at least I’m organised!

Except for the scraps of paper with timelines and floor plans on. And the manuscript of the current book. And all the notes on my phone and iPad and back of bus tickets….

What I need isn’t just notebooks. I need a secretary with an excellent filing system.

Wait, I think I just had another idea – I’m going to need another notebook.

Writing Regularly by Christine Duncan

I have been unemployed for a while so I expected that my writing would be doing well. My expectations have not been met.
I’ve done all of the things that usually work for me. I’ve scheduled writing. That works well for writing this blog and for doing the occasional non-manuscript type work. It isn’t working for my mystery writing right now.
I’ve also tried my don’t-go-to-bed-without-writing-a-page trick. I’ve fallen asleep holding a pen.
I’ve made some excuses for myself. My daughter was getting married and my middle son had given me a beautiful grandchild who I babysit as often as possible and yes, I have been looking for work, and picking up the occasional temp job. But I need to get back to writing with more regularity.
So then I had a thought. My writing buddy moved to Florida a while back and our old critique group disintegrated as another woman moved to California and a third died.
I write better when I’m in critique. I just won’t show up to critique without something new for them to look at.
But I don’t want to go through the hassle of finding a new group.
So I’m wondering how crazy is it to Skype a critique? I think I may be about to approach my buddy in Florida and see what she thinks.

Becoming Them

Finding it difficult to get into the head of a character? Here’s an exercise I learnt whilst acting – it transfers nicely to writing too.

So, sit down and think about your character. Think about what they look like, how they sit, how they breathe, how they dress. Coat or no coat? Smile or frown?

Then, once you are inside this character, go outside and walk down the street as this character. Think about where they’d go, what they’d do. Coffee or tea or drink? Will they buy lunch? What will they buy for lunch? Will they say hello to strangers or scowl? How do they walk? Do they limp or stride out? What annoys them? What do they like? Will they hand around the bookshop or the clothes shops?

It pays off. After a while you realise that perhaps their way of hunching over gives them backache, or their habit of talking to strangers at bus stops leads to all kinds of stories. You understand this character far more completely than you were just thinking about them. And once you have these little details sorted out, it’s much easier to get the big, important details done.

Are Writers Arrogant? by Christine Duncan

I’ve spent a bit of time on this blog coming up with characteristics of writers. I’ve thought of a few more.
Writers tend to post those lists on Facebook on the most misused words. You know the lists: You’re vs Your, Two, Too, To, Mute vs Moot. We might not make up the lists, but boy, do we post them.
We’re also the people biting our tongues (or not and then sounding like a know-it-all) when someone says something grammatically incorrect. Not many people take well to correction, so I tend to try to not say anything, unless, of course, the person is a repeat offender. Sigh, so maybe I am a know-it-all.
When other people go to a movie, they tend to talk about the special effects, or perhaps quote a line from the movie. Writers come out of the movie talking about the writing. As in,”I’d like to rewrite that ending. I think he could have tied it up better.” or “I didn’t buy Sandra Bullock’s character in Gravity. Anyone who made it to NASA would be gutsy in the first place.”
Hmm, it sounds like all of these qualities might come across as a bit arrogant. Writers aren’t like that though, are we?

The Joy

There are certain scenes in stories that I always look forward to writing. They’re the ‘delicious’ scenes. They tend to be ones, for me, that are very character based, ones that reveal aspects of the character, and are very dialogue based.

Those scenes may be different for you. Maybe you like writing the action scenes, or funny ones, or very technical ones. Either way, it’s the scenes you love to write, the ones you think up even before the rest of the story.

I like to wait to write them until I know I have enough time, and won’t be interrupted. I daydream about them for days beforehand, playing the scene over and over again in my mind, with all possible permutations until I know pretty much how it’s going to go (I never know exactly how it’s going to be until I actually write it). I anticipate it like some people anticipate a fine meal. And once it’s done, I feel a wonderful sense of satisfaction.

That is the joy of writing, that makes all the struggles worthwhile.

Could You Write In Another Genre? by Christine Duncan

  I have heard other writers discuss why they write the genres they write. Some of them have switched from one genre to another. Sometimes, it was because the writer was prolific and needed another outlet (boy, do I wish!) other times, writers told me they did it because they felt the new genre would sell better than the one they were in.  

If I could write in another genre besides mystery, I would write Science Fiction.  But although I love the genre, I can’t write it.  

   As an example, I just saw an episode of Wormhole where Morgan Freeman discussed various theories about life.  Is the universe alive?  Are we really alive?  Is reality just something we make up in our head?  It was mind boggling.  Do I dream up my husband?  Really?  I don’t think my brain is quite that complex.  And really if the scientist who dreamed that one up really believes it,  how does he get up in the morning?  He’s alone.  He’s obviously nuts, because the world is a mixed up mess, and there is no one to blame for it but him because he made it all up, even the part where he was on TV and talking about his theory to millions.  If I were him and that was what I believed I think I’d find a hole and crawl in it.  But wait, I’d be making that up too.

    I was pretty intriqued by the universe being a living organism until the scientist compared it to a city.  Although Denver is fairly lively, we don’t really operate as one as a living organism does. One glance at the traffic on the highway in the morning will tell you that. The universe is alive like that? I don’t even want to go there.  

   But somewhere along the way, someone will take one of these theories and write a great book about it.  I will read it, but I will stick to writing  mysteries.