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Stay In Touch -The Writing Connection By Becky Martinez

These days, when a good many of us are self-isolating, we might find that while we are pleased to get some free time to write and work on our stories and books, the process can become somewhat of a grind.  We aren’t necessarily choosing to close ourselves off and write, for once, we are almost forced to be alone. After a while, even that choice can become an issue for people as solitary as writers. But that doesn’t mean we have to totally stay away from our writing communities and friends. Because of the very nature of having to work and communicate from our computers, it is a perfect time to keep in touch with other writers through that computer.

How? There are a variety of options:

 1. Join or rejoin a critique group online.

For years I belonged to a critique group that met at a nearby book store for several hours once a week.  We  read each other’s work and critiqued it in person. These days we are still critiquing every Thursday, but now we do it on Thursday-Friday and we do it by email.  We send each other our manuscript pages and then, just as when we were meeting in person, we mark up the manuscript and send it back to the person, but we give our critique in written form. That can work for any critique partners and group.  If we feel the need to talk, as opposed to writing it out, there is always a phone call.

2. Use Zoom to chat or to work together with a group of authors.

Our local mystery writers group is going to try a multi-person zoom meeting this week, and we’ll see how it goes, but the idea is sound and can provide a way for writers to stay in touch. My sister does a group Zoom chat with her friends just so they can all stay in touch and get that feeling of togetherness that we can’t all do in person these days.

3. Do an online written chat with other writers or readers.

For several years, my fiction publisher, The Wild Rose Press has done a weekly chat with its authors. The chat is set for a certain time. We can join the chat or leave it at any time during the hour but it offers a first person chance to talk to each other and to editors. We get our questions addressed and answered by various editors as well as learn what the company is doing overall. It’s been very successful and helpful because it provides instant access and feedback and it gives authors the opportunity to see what issues other authors might be having as well as trading ideas for publicity.

4. Don’t forget blogs.

As a writer it is a good idea to use your blogs to communicate with readers. That online presence has been steady for me in the past and it continues to be a good way to not only introduce your current work to readers to also let them know how your writing process is going.  Reading and interacting with other writers or readers on blogs can also be a good way to learn other methods of writing or to show how you work on the process.

5. Read and research.

To me one of the great things about the current quiet time at home is being able to simply get online and look over material I’ve been meaning to get to for years as research. Now, with the days stuck inside, I finally have some of that time to research historical websites and library sites as well as look for pictures or non-fiction stories that are usual for my current book.  Even getting on Facebook can be useful because I reconnected with some old friends who had material I wanted to research. By reconnecting through social media, I am now able to go to them personally and ask for the pictures or other materials I wanted.

6. Go back through old manuscripts and pull them out and edit or work on them.

Remember all those old manuscripts you’ve set aside over the years and didn’t get back to? Now might be a good time to pull out some of them and see if they are workable. Maybe they didn’t resonate back then or you couldn’t quite think through a plot point. Now might be a good time to see if you can somehow make the story work. Maybe not, but they’re worth a look.

Yes, these are very different times for all of us, but for writers, being told to stay indoors doesn’t have to be a bad thing. We can use this time to put our words on the written page and we are forced to face that computer every day as a lifeline to the outside world. Let’s use it, let’s research, let’s socialize, but mainly, let’s write!

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Creating A Villain

The key to creating a best-selling fiction book is often providing a memorable, unique villain—someone or something to cause hardships and conflict for the hero and heroine – a force to keep the plot moving.

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Becky Martinez is a former broadcast journalist who writes romance and romantic suspense for The Wild Rose Press. She also writes non-fiction books on...