Tag Archives: writing

Behind The Name

Many writers use an alias or nom de plume, or in my case also a nom de pinceau. This initially was unintentional. I’ve never liked my real first name and had suggested I publish under different one when I secured a literary agent at the beginning of my writing career. She disagreed, saying there were very few authors with my first name and persuaded me to keep it. I was fine with that.

Some years later I took up painting but begin by not signing my work simply because I didn’t know what to sign as: My full name? My initials? Something else? People began taking an interest in my art leading to a work colleague particularly keen to buy my first bluebell painting. Anxious to see what else I had created, he searched for me on the internet. That was how I discovered there was an American artist with exactly the same name as me and, more to the point, painted in a similar style. One picture he found was indeed so much like one of my own, one could argue I had copied it. Mine was a waterside view in Hampshire, England, entitled “Solent Garden”, hers of a scene either out of her head or somewhere in America. There was only one thing for it. I had to paint using a different name. But what?

“Solent Garden” by Kit Domino

I wanted something simple, easy to sign in acrylic and something memorable, something short. I spent hours wondering, then remembered one of the main characters in my first (unpublished and hiding in the bottom draw of my desk) novel. His name was “Kit”, an abbreviation for Christopher, but also for Christine and Katherine. Perfect! (BTW my first name isn’t either of those two, in case you’re wondering.) Now I needed a surname. Looking back I could have used my own, and it would have worked but the title of that story called out to me. It was “Domino”. Voila! There was my new name.

Back to my agent. Despite numerable efforts, she was unable to find a publisher for my book notwithstanding being short-listed and runner up in a major national writing competition, so we parted ways. Undeterred, I published that novel under my new name. It seemed the obvious thing to do; that way I could keep my private and writing/artistic life separate especially where social media is concerned. It stops hackers too, and halts would-be scammers in their tracks. You’d be surprised the number of times I’ve had fake emails from Inland Revenue saying I owe thousands in unpaid taxes or am due for a large rebate, or claiming to be from my bank concerning fraudulent activity on my account — you know the type of thing. The moment I see something like that addressed as my pen-name I know it’s a scam.

Having another name also means I can, as I intend to do at some stage, write about my past, which is a novel in itself and one my agent had wanted to me write as part of offering a 3-book deal to publishers. I wouldn’t be able to do that under my real name as I need to protect people the story affected, including my family.

Having a pseudonym has many advantages so if you are considering using one, go for it. You can always change it!

Kit Domino’s website and blogs

What’s in the box?

Since my motivation has been a trifle lacking lately, I’ve decided to level up on ways to get more productive.

Writing wise, that means online sprints with my writing pals. These get me moving, but I have to admit that the sprints are sometimes all I manage and writing takes a backseat for the rest of the week. *Sigh* Not even a juicy new idea for a series has kept the old motivation levels high. While I also get inspired during online chats with my girls, especially when they all seem to be storming along with their goals, that inspiration can sometimes wane all too soon. *Double sigh*

Since I always feel better when I’m writing consistently, and apparently I’m not the only one who notices that (cue husband), I’ve been thinking/researching other ways to motivate myself.

One thing I found was Nonsense Timer Writing. Ten minutes where you just type gobbledegook. No proper words, no real sentences, no punctuation. Nothing, in fact, that makes any kind of sense. The theory is that as you type rubbish, you’ll find yourself wanting to write properly. Little ideas will pop, characters will speak, and before long you’ll want that ten minutes to be up so you can get back to the story you’re currently writing. Well, anything is worth a try.

Another technique is one hubby has come up with. Poor AJ hates it when I don’t write on a daily basis. Can’t think why? Maybe it’s because I find him things to do around the house when I’m not at the keyboard. Anyway, he came up with a reward system where he places something in a box, seals it up, and I can only open it when I’ve done my daily word count.

He’s only been doing this since the weekend but so far I’ve found a small bar of chocolate, two biscuits, and last night I opened it to find my kindle! It seems he’s going to be merciless. I dread to think what other of my ‘necessities’ he’ll hide in that box and won’t allow me access to unless I hit my word count!

Ah well, it’s working for now and I’ve typed more words in the last few days than I have in quite a while. Whatever works, right?

So, tell me. How do you find the motivation to do the things? Have you found any bizarre or interesting ways, or are you just naturally disciplined? I’d love to know.

Website

Busy Doing… Lots

Whooo…sh! Where has the past month gone? After last month taking time to smell the roses, this month I can’t keep up with everything. Having switched on my “do something” button, I’ve found my lost mojo and am now in a spin with so much going on and am well and truly back on the novel writing track. But that’s not all! I’ve been inspired enough to delve into the paintbox once more, with a new piece in progress which is coming along well and am pleased with it so far. But not ready yet for the great reveal.  Hopefully, that will be soon. If I’m still happy with it…

I have also been getting to grips with a new writing tool on the computer whilst I write. You would think that was enough to contend with, but oh no. All my working career I found the more pressure I was under, the more I could achieve. The busier I am, the more gets done. And to prove the point, last week saw me revamping my website/blog, streaming off the gardening section into a new separate site (Kit’s Garden). Now all I have to do is keep up with it all as well as find time to sit back, enjoy the garden, and remember where and what day it is!

Ah, September, month of mellow fruitfulness and birthdays. Lots of birthdays including our daughter’s 50th. As a special card, I made one using several photos of her over the years. She adored it, as did the two grandchildren, whose birthdays are also this month, along with a dear friend’s, my twin sisters’, my sister-in-law’s. Am sure I’ve forgotten someone. Need to check. Back in a moment … Yep! My other sis-in-law’s. Boy, am I glad this month I also finally got round to setting up an online calendar and networking it across the three computers I use or I would have forgotten her. That would not have gone down well.

On top of all this, these last few weeks I’ve been figuring out and setting up a new laptop my nearest and dearest treated me to. Poor man, he was getting so annoyed at my constant grouching how slow my old lappy was. Well over 7 years old with an ailing battery, it had been a good workhorse. Lately fit only for doing online jigsaws, not that I’ve had time to do any this month.

There have been some pauses in the pace though. We’ve had lovely weather here in the UK the past few days. Enough for Dave and I to spend mornings in the garden. Taking time to read the newspapers or a book as we enjoy a coffee in the warmth of the sun. Relax a little. Do a little weeding, a bit of idea throwing for next year’s displays. Much needed respite from sitting at the desk too much.

I shan’t be at the desk for a few days next week either, as I am finally trundling off to Reading to spend time with my mother and sisters. Hurrah! It will be the first time since February I have been further than our local supermarket and I am looking forward to the drive cross country. But not as much as seeing my siblings and mother again. It’s been too long.

The four of us intend celebrating being together for the first time since last Christmas; to belatedly celebrate my mother’s 94th birthday back in March; raise a glass to mine back in April; and as I mentioned above, to celebrate my sisters’ birthdays next Monday. On Friday I am making them a birthday cake but, shhh… don’t tell them, it’s a surprise, and knowing my baking skills, it might not turn out so well. I might have to resort to buying one!

Must dash. There’s things still to do, such a shopping. The larder and fridge are bare and the freezers both half-empty as we’ve been without a car for nearly two weeks as repairs were needed. Thankfully it is now back sitting on our drive. So places to go and family to see before lockdown swings in any tighter.

Enjoy your month, whatever it brings.

Kit Domino’s Website and Blog

Going at your own speed…

So, I had a pretty lazy weekend and spent most of it catching up on reading and watching TV.  That’s not the norm for me, but I felt my energy levels needed a recharge.

Something I did notice while watching lifestyle shows, was that they all seem to be time-sensitive. I saw programmes on how to renovate a house in a weekend, plant a garden from scratch in a day, and cook up a feast for twelve in under two hours (okay, I might be exaggerating, but you get the gist). Participants are put under enormous pressure to stick to the time limit.

It seems that everywhere we look there’s a pressure to do things fast. Even the writers among us aren’t immune. There’s write a book in a weekend, plan a seven-part series in one evening, or release a book every month (or a week in some cases) if you want to be really successful.  Okay, most of us see this for what it is and do our own thing (thank goodness), but the inherrent pressure (which is often subconscious) can sometimes be debilitating.

We all bloom at different speedsThis pressure to do everything fast can lead to a kind of comparison-itis. That feeling that if we’re not doing things as fast as our peers we’re slacking off. If we can’t renovate our garden in record time, or write 12,000 words a day, we’re somehow less-than those who are doing these things.

I’m a plodder, always have been. It takes me a while to plan, to think around things – whether it’s what colours to use in that new garden bed I’m planning, or the names of the characters in the new book I’m outlining. For me, that thinking process and having the time to sift around ideas and possibilities is a huge part of the fun. As a writer I like to spend days getting to know the characters, researching the setting, and any one of the other myriad things that go into developing a story. My characters become real to me, and I think a big part of that is spending so much time with them. I’m not sure I’d get the same satisfaction if I was banging out books at record speed.

I realise not everyone is like me and some people can write really fast and publish very regularly. I’m certainly not saying that quality is affected by speed either, and I could name several writers I love who write super fast and their books are great. Part of me envies them, but at the same time I’m not about to beat myself up for doing it differently.

What about you? Do you like doing projects fast? Or do you prefer taking your time?

July!

Jillian here. I’ve been indulging myself in reading some books this summer as well as watching a lot of older movies on TCM. I confess, I’ve let my writing fall a bit to the wayside. I did start a new story last week and am about 3500 words in- which is slow for me- but I’m okay with that since I am at least writing something after being in a slump.

I read a book this week which was a totally fictionalized account of the Dr. Crippen murder. This was a case in 1910 in London where the culprit and his companion took off on an ocean liner and were caught by a Scotland Yard detective by the first use of the Marconi telegraph machine when the captain thought he recognized Crippen.  The detective boarded a ship at Liverpool and chased the first liner across the ocean to get his man. The retelling was interesting in that the author (John Boyne) explored a different theory of the case. I liked the tale even though it wasn’t very likely to be the truth.

I also recently read The Silent Governess; Runaway; Orphan, Monster, Spy; and This House is Haunted. They were all very different, but I liked them all. Historical, contemporary thriller, 1940’s Germany and a spooky Gothic. I like lots of different genres – both to write and to read. No wonder I can’t seem to build a brand- I’m all over the place.  LOL

Some of the movies I watched this past week are North by Northwest; Jane Eyre; The Woman in Green; LauraThe Tattooed Stranger; and Treasure Island.

Oh well, I like who I am and so that’s that. I can’t change my eclectic nature now, can I?

Have a great July!!  How about an office cat pic to give you a smile?  This is Camo. Short for Camouflage- she blends in with the grass when it dies in the fall and winter. 🙂 She’s a great helper with the closed files destined for storage. IMG_4944 (2)

Old Dog, New Tricks

Synaptogenesis…ever heard of it? I hadn’t either until recently. While listening to a podcast on my MP3 player while out walking Vivvy, I discovered that synaptogenesis is the formation of new synapses in the brain. These are connecting points that link brain cells, approximately 100 billion of them, and it’s how our brain cells communicate with each other.

Deteriorating synapses are linked to a number of neurodegenerative diseases, but research shows that there are ways to regenerate and increase our synapses. According to the podcast, one of the ways is to change up the way we carry out routine tasks. Fascinated, I tried it out on the walk by stepping over stiles with my right foot instead of the left which I normally do, walking a different direction around a group of trees, and going anti-clockwise around the lake instead of clockwise. To be honest, I hadn’t realised what a creature of habit I’d become 🙂

Well, it got me thinking about other areas of my life, especially writing. I’ve always been a writer who needs a solid block of time during which I know I won’t be disturbed in order to write anything like meaningful prose (!). But in the spirit of trying something new, I decided to give writing sprints and timed writing a go. Many writers have success with this kind of writing, but I never thought it would work for me.

Since I wanted to do it properly, I downloaded the Pomodoro app to my phone I set it for twenty-five minutes of writing, followed by a five-minute break time during which you get up and move away from the screen and do something unrelated to writing.

Well, it’s been a revelation! Not only does it seem to work for me, but my word count has soared. Okay, I know this is great for a first draft, and there’ll be some things to fix in the second draft, but hey, words on the screen are always welcome, thank you very much! As they say, you can’t fix a blank page.

So, I’m going to continue with this new way of writing and along the way fire up some new connections in my brain 🙂 It’s a win/win!

When Did It Stop Being Fun?

For a while now, I’ve been experiencing an annoying dose of writer’s block. It’s not simply a case of sitting and staring at a blank screen waiting for the words to come, this is a flat out case of not even wanting to go near the computer or notebook. There’s just nothing there story-wise. Zilch. Nada. Nothing. Wikipedia describes writer’s block as a condition “in which an author loses the ability to produce new work or experiences a creative slowdown.” Yep, that’s me. “The condition ranges in difficulty from coming up with original ideas to being unable to produce a work for years“. Yikes. That last part inspired me to take action. So…

I’ve decided to jump off the deep end and have signed up for National Novel Writing Month, affectionately known as NaNoWriMo. This, according, to the official website, is “a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing” and means that on 1st November until the 30 November, participants are tasked with writing a 50,000-word novel. The essence of NaNoWriMo is Don’t think. Just Write. Well, signing up seemed like a good idea at the time, but now panic has well and truly settled in. But needs must and all that.

I’m not entirely sure what started this downhill slide into writer’s block, but for some reason, the joy of creating stories has left me, albeit temporarily I hope. It makes me long for the old days when, charged with an idea, I couldn’t wait to get to the computer and start writing. They were heady days. So involved was I in the story that I’d go crazy if I was interrupted. I remember once when AJ called me away for lunch and I told him I couldn’t be long as I couldn’t wait to get back to the story to find out what happened next. It seems a long time since I felt that way. So what happened?

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Years ago, I read a really great article by author Holly Lisle called Are We Having Fun Yet? She talks specifically about writing, but her words can be applied to almost everything we  once loved to do but ultimately lost its magic for us. Holly talks about doing what we love simply because we love it. When we first find something that fires us up we throw ourselves into it. Of course, since we’re beginners we don’t always know what we’re doing, we don’t know the rules, but isn’t that part of the magic? We’re doing it simply for its own sake and for the pleasure it brings us. Then we start to discover the ‘rules’ or someone implies we’re not doing it right, and in trying to do it right the magic slowly begins to die

So, during November I’ll be throwing out the rules and attempting to find that magic again. What I write will be just for me, for the sheer pleasure of creating. There’ll be no thought of reader preference, editor requirements, publisher expectations, and not even concern for that insidious little voice that lies deep within and loves to tell me that I’m doing it all wrong. And, if my cunning plan works, I might just might, find that magic again.

What about you? Is there anything you’ve once loved/enjoyed, but somehow it’s lost its magic for you? Is there anything you might be able to do to get it back? I’d love to hear about it. Oh, and please take a couple of minutes to read Holly’s article. I’m sure you’ll be inspired.

Gallery

What makes a good read?

  I’ve been thinking lately about what makes a good read for me. These thoughts then led me down one of my musing paths on how most of you are writers as well as readers whilst I am an avid … Continue reading

Rockin’ and Rollin’

I know we don’t usually chat about our writing over here but that’s what I’ve been spending time on lately. And I mean like a maniac.  I started writing a Regency story that’s probably really late Georgian not too long ago and it’s one of those stories that is practically writing itself. The ideas are coming faster than I can type so I’ve been crazy getting it down.  I love it when this kind of thing happens but it’s also tough because I become so focused on the story that I get obsessive. Lol. But at least it keeps me off the streets, right?

I stumbled upon a little known fact (unknown to me, that is- lol) about the Grimaldi family when researching a plot point for my story and while it wasn’t what I was looking for initially, it’s going to make my story even better than the idea I had and I love the serendipity of that.  Did you know that one of the wives of a Grimaldi prince (House of Monaco) was one of the last people executed in the Reign of Terror? And yes, I am working that into my story. Peripherally.

Hoping August treats you all well.  It’s 104 Fahrenheit here in the shade so I’m working on keeping cool!

Porch-Sittin’ Weather by Valerie J. Patterson

The county courthouse I work in is practically older than dirt.  It has a large front porch–for lack of a better term.  It has massive, aged columns and a huge bell tower upon which stands a statue of the man the county is named after–Revolutionary War Major General Nathanael Greene.  The original courtroom is big with high archways and walls lined with portraits of the judges who’ve administered justice through the courthouse’s existence.  It’s a pretty impressive courthouse.  But it’s the front porch I want to talk about.

Greene County Courthouse

The courthouse is at the heart of town.  Anyone going anywhere has to pass the front of the courthouse in order to get where they’re going.  There are park benches on the front porch inviting folks to sit a while.  This is where I’ve come to spend my lunch breaks the past two months or so.

It’s not always easy to get out of the office and go to a restaurant for lunch, but it does occur.  Usually, when that happens, my hubby picks me up and whisks me away for an hour of quiet conversation and a sandwich or a salad.  I love those hours.  I covet those hours because it’s a small bit of time we get together in an otherwise busy day.

If I can’t get away, I head for the front porch.  I take a bottle of water, some protein biscuits, a pen and a tablet.  I head for the park bench farthest from the main doors and–after stealing a glance at the clock on the bank across the street–I settle in and start working on my manuscript.  I usually get half a bottle of water and two biscuits down before my mind pulls away from my work and my eyes begin to take in the sights and sounds.

One afternoon I watched a man stopped at a traffic light watch a woman cross the street.  So intent was he on watching her that he turned down a one-way street and the man in the car he cut off yelled loud enough that he stopped and backed out of the one-way street and scurried on his way.

I watched a bride and groom come rushing out the front doors after one of the judges married them and instantly pose for photos,  I’ve seen families pose for photos with the child they just adopted.  And I’ve seen divorcing couples argue all the way down the front steps, stopping on the sidewalk to continue the heated exchange.  Mostly, I watch folks hurry from one end of town to the next and back again.  After all, that hour tends to fly when you fill it with errands.

It seems that no matter the heat of the day, there’s always a lovely breeze coming across the front porch.  I enjoy that breeze.  It relaxes me and refreshes me and energizes me to finish my day.  My Dad was an accomplished porch-sitter.  In the evenings after dinner and whatever chores he had to complete, he’d grab a tall glass of my Mom’s homemade iced tea and head for the front porch.  He’d chat with whomever passed in front of the house, but mostly he sat quietly just soaking up the evening.

There are days when I’m sitting on the park bench and I think of him.  I just know he’d enjoy sitting on that front porch with me.  I hope it remains porch-sittin’ weather for a long while!

Until next time, I hope there’s a porch in your life where you can sit and recharge.  May it always be perfect porch-sittin’ weather for you, too!