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Writer Momma

The #1 Tool For an Authentic Setting

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The #1 Tool For an Authentic Setting

I've written two books and am in the very early stages on my third book. One thing these books have in common is that they contain places I have never been or haven't visited during the time of year I'm writing about.  

This creates a special set of issues for writers when writing fiction. Chances are that your book will be read by someone who lives in the town or country you've tried to describe. You must add enough detail, from street names to description of the architecture to the feel of the town for the effect to be authentic.  

I am a big proponent of writing about what you don't know. After all we have fantasy writers and historical fiction writers who (usually) haven't been to the time or place they are writing about. 

The single best tool that any writer can use to give detail and authentication to their setting is Google Earth. What's great about Google Earth is that you can type in a specific address and get a 360 degree view of the surrounding area.  

For The Clouds Aren't White I picked out a house on the Isle of Skye so that I could describe the same view out the kitchen window. I've used it for Lives Paris Took to orient myself around Paris and figure out the distance from the Sorbonne to the main character's apartment.  

I suggest downloading Google Earth and trying it out. Look up your house or hometown, figure out what is different. Then look somewhere you've never been and always wanted to visit. After you've puttered around for a while, write a description of it.  

Hope this helps!

Cheers, 

Rachael

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Writer Momma: Are You Really an Author?

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Writer Momma: Are You Really an Author?

Let's talk about jobs. We all have them. Some are corporate, startups, retail, or based at home. That would be me, with the latter. Early on, my husband and I decided that the best thing for our daughter was for one parent to be with her every day. Thankfully we had been living off one income for the better part of a year when we found out we were pregnant. What worked for us is not an option for many families, but I have been a stay-at-home mom for almost five years and I'm quite happy.

But then something changed a few weeks ago. I became a published author. So at work functions I attend with my husband, what do I say that I do for a living? There are very few people who believe being a stay-at-home mom is a 'job.' In the traditional sense it isn't. Its, most often, something that mothers do because they choose to. But don't get me wrong, the housework, the cooking, the rearing of children, the lack of sick days (unless its the weekend and your partner is willing to shoulder the load), its a lot of work and it takes a lot of energy.

So am I really an author if 90% of my day is spent taking care of my daughter, the house, and the plethora of other tasks necessary to keep a house running? I confess, I am lucky if I get two solid hours to work. But I won't always be the mom of a young girl. Soon enough she will go to kindergarten and then, before I can orient myself, she will be leaving for college and I will have to watch her go. 

So at the end of the day, yes I am an author. And so are you. I yearn to show my daughter what it means to accomplish something so wonderful, even while raising a child. I want to show her that it is a privilege to stay at home with your children but that you don't have to sacrifice your dreams to make it happen. I want my daughter to learn to be strong and to dream and to know how to achieve those dreams.

I quite enjoy being an author. 

Hugs to all the moms,

Rachael

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How I Make Writing Work as a Mother

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How I Make Writing Work as a Mother

Writing is hard work. You wouldn't think it but those pesky little letters can be tricky to form into the right order. Then enter children or even one singular child and it becomes that much more difficult.

Lets start with some introductory remarks. At this point in life (because life is crazy and I need to add a disclaimer), I have one child, an almost five year old daughter with a borderline unhealthy obsession with owls. She's a fantastic kid who is (almost) always helpful and does a decent job of cleaning up her toys when I tell her to.

But let's face it, she's still a young child who enjoys having mommy/daughter time and has needs (thrice daily feedings, naps, play, doctors appointments). Its incredibly difficult to work through all the interruptions and still come out with a few sentences that actually make sense.

I've learned a few tricks along the way, even though its still difficult to juggle a family and writing the next great American novel (I'm not saying that's what I'm producing). 

First off, get up early. Even just thirty minutes of uninterrupted writing at the beginning of the day can produce fantastic results. Early morning writing, takes getting used to but because you haven't used up any of your stores of discipline you are much more apt to actually write. So often my only writing time is at the start of the day, before husband and daughter are up with demands.

Remember the saying "nap when the baby naps." Its fantastic advice. Just substitute writing for the nap. Children are napping, take thirty minutes and write. I'll even sneak in some writing when my daughter watches her allotted 1 hour of tv a day. Much of the drafting for The Clouds Aren't White was done on this model. 

Lastly, make writing apart of your schedule. We all schedule cleaning and laundry and doctors appointments and grocery store trips. Schedule writing into your day. Don't say "if I have the time." Find the time. Writing doesn't have to be done every day. But it should be done, at the very least 3 times a week. Even if that's only ten minutes a day. This keeps your novel fresh in your mind.

There's no magic formula for finding writing time. What I've learned over the last three years, is to tailor writing to fit your lifestyle. If you have an hour during sports practice, bring notes or your laptop. Get creative. It is possible to write with children.

Cheers,

Rachael

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Writer Momma: Give into the Guilt

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Writer Momma: Give into the Guilt

Its a lovely afternoon in Colorado. 

And by lovely I mean it snowed this morning and then the sun came out and it was all gone by noon. Except our driveway which is entirely in the shade. But digressing from my icy driveway.

This week I am introducing a few new weekly features here on the blog. Among those is ‘Writer’s Wednesday’ and ’Tea Talk’ Thursday. Joining these weekly features is ‘Writer Momma’ which will feature on Tuesday (sorry I couldn’t come up with a fancier name…I’m open to suggestions).

Women, and mothers, make up a large portion of my readership and I would like to take Tuesdays to talk about the life of a mom who writes.

Since I decided to make writing a career I’ve faced many challenges. I’ve come to realize that its not only time that keeps many mothers from finishing, or indeed starting novels, but energy as well. Writing with a child, or children, means writing early in the morning, naptime, and late at night. Then, adding in housework, jobs, social commitments, its quite a feat that we get published at all.

Some of us have strong support networks and some of us don’t, but all of us feel the guilt over taking time for ourselves, for being away from our children, for being distracted, the list could go on. The Clouds Aren't White was a lesson in distracting myself from the guilt.

This week, give into the guilt. Feel it. Understand it. Then, after five minutes, let it go. If you have to do it everyday, or every writing session, then go ahead. The goal here is to understand the underlying cause of your guilt (or attempt to) and then get on with your day. 

This doesn’t just apply to mothers who are attempting to write a novel, its true for all mothers, for all women, because for some reason we like to destroy ourselves with guilt.

Perhaps some day we will be able to acknowledge that we feel guilty and then after a small moment, let it go.

From one guilty mom to another.

Rachael

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