Hemingway wrote standing in front of his typewriter. Twain and many others are famous for writing in bed. What’s with weird writing rituals? Is it like a baseball player never changing his winning socks? Or do we just feel more creative when we’re also a little eccentric?
For me, the rituals put my mind in the right space to write. And if I skip one—especially number 4—The word count suffers. So I’ve learned to respect the process, which for me is:
Those are the rituals I follow on a good writing day. Add caffeine, and I’m good for at least eight hours. :)
To know me for more than 5 minutes is to realize I hate mornings. There are many things I do not like, driving through Kansas in August for instance, but mornings and I have a hate-hate relationship. To borrow a line from the Grinch, hate-hate-hate-hate-hate-LOOOOAAAATTTTHHHHHH.
Last night I stayed up until 4:15 am. (Yes, I know, that's morning, but it feels different when you're staying up rather than waking up.) I was reprogramming the website (take a look around and tell me what you think) and I knew if I went to bed I would lose track of my thought process. It might be weeks before I got back to it. So, I stayed up until 4:15 and then crashed. That's actually a benefit. I'm an insomniac, so sleep often eludes me. If I stay up until all hours, then I crash for several straight hours. Which is where I was this morning at 9 when the neurotic dog started barking to wake me up.
If you have dogs, you know they have different barks that mean different things. He has the "there's a stranger at the door" bark, which is scary (like Cujo), and why anyone would stick around through that is beyond me. He also has the "hey, there's a friend outside" bark, which is insistent and excited. And then there's the "I need breakfast" bark. It's more polite than the others. One loud yip to say, "hey, remember me?" and then he gives me a few minutes. Yips again.
Mason the cat (also a night owl) opens one eye and gives me a look as if to say, "this is why we never should have gotten the dogs." He's been trying to convince me of that for years.
But I'm up now, so I pull on the fuzzy robe the kids got me for Christmas and head downstairs. His claws click-click-click on the kitchen tile as I scoop some kibble for Sky (aka the neurotic dog) and Nala (our rescue). While they eat, I pick out a mug (we have a collection) and brew my one cup a day.
God Bless the Keurig.
Seriously. We bought the Keurig as the family Christmas gift two years ago and it was worth every penny. In our house, we wake up at different hours so making a full pot of coffee is wasteful. Plus, I really only need one cup to survive the morning. Today, though, working off 4.5 hours sleep... I think I'll go make another cuppa and catch up on the news.
How about you? Coffee drinker? Tea? Night owl or early bird?
Dating when you have children is like having an overprotective older brother. A friend of mine had her son (aged 9) stare down a man at the pool for daring to look at his mom. I could see the writing on the wall with my son. He had a significant laundry list of “musts” for a potential step-dad.
The top three items on my son’s list were that the man play basketball, be independently wealthy, and have children, hopefully a boy my son’s age. My daughter’s list included the idea that a potential mate not have children.
As a consequence, when my kids were younger, I never let them know I was dating. They’d get a bonus trip to Parents Night Out, and think it was all for their enjoyment, so I could “sneak out” on a date.
The older they get, however, the harder it is to “sneak out.” Surprisingly, many men embrace the midday while-the-kids-are-in-school date because it’s low pressure. Equally surprising are how many times my children bought the lie that I was meeting friends for coffee. How much coffee do they think I drink?
But no matter how many times you meet for coffee or a late lunch, sooner or later you find yourself with the dreaded Saturday night date. Once you have kids, Saturday night requires some logistical maneuvers.
At 13 and 15, the kids are too old for Parents Night Out. They have to be fed, and possibly bribed to behave (pizza acts as both food and bribe). Plus there’s the fact that I haven’t told them I’m dating again.
My daughter figured things out pretty quickly, and her only concern was that I still have time for her. That’s an easy thing to promise. My son, however, was a different challenge. He’s protective in the extreme and has been known to get abrasive and verbally abusive to boys who get too close to my daughter (a habit I may or may not encourage). What would he think about me dating?
“So,” I say across the kitchen as I put away the dishes. “I have a date tonight.”
The third degree begins: what does he do, how many kids does he have, does he have pets, how did we meet. This inquisition continues long after the dishes are put away and the dishwasher reloaded. I answer them all and lean against the counter facing my son.
“That’s fine,” he finally says, “as long as he treats you right.”
Aw, how can I not love this kid? But before I get too happy, my son wags his finger at me. “But I get to meet him after three dates.”
I smile and think to myself, not going to happen. My friend Dan’s rule is that he has to be in a monogamous relationship for six months before he introduces a love interest to his daughter. I’m not sure I’d go with six months, but three dates is too soon. I’m sure there’s a happy middle ground.
I like the idea that we’re fated to be with certain people in our lives, so here’s a list of my top 5 romance movies where the characters try to fight fate (and fail).
You can fight the good fight with many things in life, but fate isn’t one of them. Blake and Vicki in Unforgettable might just be fated, but they’re both trying hard to fight the chemistry, history, and the way their lives continue to intersect.
There’s only so long that denial works, and Vicki isn’t exactly one for denying herself the pleasure of Blake’s company, but even if they accept their fate, they still have a mob boss, a hit man, and the Department of Justice to handle.
What's your favorite Rom Com? Let me know in the comments
Do you like fast-paced books with twists and turns? Me too, that’s why I write romantic suspense. The faster my heart pounds as I’m writing, the easier it is to sleep at night. When I take a break from writing, I like to watch movies with unexpected endings.
As a kid, I watched AMC with old movies like Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window, a movie that started me on this twisted path. I know Hitchcock’s Psycho is considered #1, but Rear Window captivated me. I liked the unlikely voyeur.
A hazard of writing suspense is the need to pick a movie apart and figure out the end before I get there. It drives my kids crazy. When a movie surprises me, it’s a keeper. I tend to go for the less obvious choices, because no fan of suspense likes predictability.
1) Seven (1995) with Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman. My mother was a fan of the psychological thriller and often recommended serial killer movies. She liked the twisted as well. :) “The price of sin is death.” With a serial killer using the seven deadly sins as his excuse to kill, Pitt and Freeman are out to find the killer before he finishes all seven. It’s the classic detective story. With a lovely twist.
2) A Perfect Murder (1998) with Michael Douglas and Gweneth Paltrow. It’s a remake of the classic Dial M for Murder, which was one of those movies I watched on AMC, but that didn’t keep me from enjoying every moment of this exciting thriller. “That’s not happiness to see me, is it?”
3) Shutter Island (2010) with Leonardo DiCaprio. It was one of the last movies my mom recommended to me. Honestly, I had to watch the movie twice. The first time to experience (talk about a rush) and the second time to really understand. “Do you understand? They can’t let you leave.”
4) Dead Again (1991) with Emma Thompson, Kenneth Branagh, and a surprise visit from Robin Williams who acts as the odd expert in reincarnation. “You burn somebody in one life, they get a chance to burn you back in this one. It’s the karmic credit plan.” It’s a romantic suspense twisted in time.
5) The Secret Window (2004) with Johnny Depp. It doesn’t hurt that it’s Johnny Depp, but it’s the twist that blew me away. Let’s just say I didn’t ruin it for the kids because I had no idea. “The only thing that matters is the ending.”
I’m a simple girl. I like romance... with a twist. And the occasional dead body.
Title: Survive By The Team Series: Team Fear #3
By: Cindy Skaggs
Publication Date: June 23, 2017
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Cover Designer: Mayhem Cover Creations
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Her socks snagged on the raw floorboards as she followed. âAre you sure you donât feel fear?â
âThen why are you backing away from me?â
Hell if he knew. Heâd been dying to touch her. Taste her. Dead center of the attic, he stopped and she walked straight into him. Her body was flush against his. Her curves turned his mind to mush. Doing the right thing no longer mattered.
He cupped her neck. So fragile.
He rubbed a knuckle along her jawline. So soft.
âThis is a mistake,â he warned. The flutter of her pulse beat against his hands.
âIf weâre going to make a mistake,â she said, lifting onto her tiptoes, âbetter make it a good one.â
âHell yeah.â That was a philosophy he could get behind. It was too late to keep things platonic, but she needed to understand what she was getting into. Bracing a hand on either side of her face, he forced her to look at him. âI set the pace. I lead.â
She swallowed. âIs there any other way?â
âNot with me.âwww.CSkaggs.com to sign up for her newsletter.
Time for the next Team Fear book. This time, Sgt. Stills is in the hot seat and he is ah-mazing!
Remembering those who died in service to their country
My time in the military feels like another life. It was pre-kids, so in many ways, it was a lifetime ago. Those who know me know that I am a strong advocate for military veterans and their families. Many of my students are prior military, and sharing their stories has helped me to reclaim mine.
When I told my mother I had enlisted in the Air Force, she cried. When I told her I was an aircrew member on the E-3 AWACS, she just knew I was going to die. I assured her that the E-3 was perfectly safe. It had never had a fatal crash.
I was both right and wrong. I survived my time in the military without injury, the E-3 was safe, yet they did have a fatal crash. One I cannot forget.
My last assignment in the Air Force was to the 962nd AWACS Squadron in Elmendorf (Anchorage), Alaska. A small squadron, everyone knew everyone, so when the news came on the radio that there had been a crash of an E-3 out of Elmendorf, I was stunned. Because I knew people on that plane. Because I had flown on that plane, from that base and squadron. Because it could have been me.
I was in Grapevine, Texas when I heard the news. Driving in my car across an overpass. The moment is a crystal clear snapshot. I was in shock.
Every once in awhile, an E-3 will do touch-and-goes near the local AFB and I will see the flash of the heavy black-and-white dome. That image transports me back to every good and bad thing that happened during my time in the military. It takes me back to that moment on the overpass when I heard the news.
Memorial Day is about remembering those who died in service to their country. Today I remember the crew of Yukla 27.
On Sundays I run a novel writing group at the local library. They're a diverse group of male and female writers of all ages, although there is a heavy slant toward the fantasy realm. And we're lucky enough that everyone clicks. Our novel writing goals unite us.
Yesterday we talked about character development and then we continued to create a class character named Harriet Crawford, whose name we chose from a website called Random Name Generator. Over the course of the last couple weeks, I've grown rather fond of Harriet. We created her as a group, so she has some surprising traits, like playing piano as a child and now she only plays piano when she's had too much gin. That's the kind of detail the class has given to developing her, and then we move on to group-brainstorm the protagonists for other members of the group.
It's been an engaging and stimulating process, and we all take home the knowledge and the energy.
The day before a book release
The day before a book release can be stressful. So many what-ifs and I'm a worrier, so lots of stress. It helps to keep busy. Saturday night, I stayed up half the night making a book trailer. Why? Because the use of my creativity in another arena helped divert my worry into something beneficial. Plus, I'm an insomniac. :)
And Sunday, I got to hang out with my book tribe. Each week, they thank me for my time, but they don't realize I get as much out of it as they do. Hanging out with other writers feeds my creativity and I go home revved up to write. To me, that's a win.
Some people like book release celebrations, and they have their place, but for me, I"m happy hanging out with my book tribe.
What do you enjoy when you're celebrating a milestone?
Funny story. During the Mercury Retrograde Incident in September 2016, Cindy's original blog disappeared. Five years, gone in a random act of chaos. Now she gets to repopulate her blog world one post at a time. Join her if you dare. :)