Thursday, November 20, 2014 | By: The Write Way Cafe

Inspiration and Sticking To It

The Write Way Café welcomes author Alice Abel Kemp, who shares inspirational quotes as well as her thoughts on sticking to it.

Today’s feature is a cover reveal: The Jury Scandal, available on Amazon

This story finaled in the Daphne du Maurier 2013 contest for excellence in mystery and suspense.

A divorced professor, Marilise, struggles with an unintended pregnancy from a foolish one-night stand. When her high school sweetheart, Tommy, shows up as a student in her class, she’s scared to get involved. He’s a short-tempered homicide detective working on a case where a sportscaster is accused of shooting his ex-wife. Tommy is attracted to the new Marilise.

Marilise attends the sportscaster’s trial to see Tommy testify. In the bathroom on a break, she overhears a thug threaten a woman juror to vote not guilty. She tells the judge and becomes a target and a risk to a local politician’s plans. Tommy and Marilise rekindle their relationship while he attempts to protect her. Can their new relationship survive the threats and will he accept her pregnancy?

​A ​little bit about me.
I’m a retired sociology professor, and I’ve lived in New Orleans since graduate school at the University of Georgia. My life partner, Wayne Moore, and I live with my adult sons, a daughter-in-law, and a menagerie of three dogs, five cats, and two birds. My hobbies include quilting, machine embroidery, and crochet. My first fiction publication is a novella, The Red Halter Top, a romance available on Amazon.

A favorite quote from Ernest Hemingway:  “Write drunk and edit sober.”  That sounds like fun, but for me, being drunk is one step from falling asleep.

​I​n a burst of enthusiasm I agreed to write this blog and offered this topic. But now as the deadline approaches, I find myself struggling to write it. Is that irony? Or maybe just foolishness.  Across the last couple of months I’ve collected several pieces related to this topic and now have a folder full of stuff.

A collection of steps to overcome procrastination. (You might need to be inspired).
​     ​Be kind to yourself, eat chocolate, exercise, set a timer, etc.

A list of common excuses to avoid writing (Isn’t that the same thing?).
​     ​I have to walk the dog, look at email, Facebook, cook dinner, clean house.

More stuff on the deadly ‘writer’s block.’

Don’t start a new project, have sex, read the local paper.

F​or me the worst part of any novel is the opening paragraph, the first page, or to quote Noah Lukeman, “The First Five Pages.”  All kinds of advice is available on how to make the beginning hot, and even longer lists of what not to do.

When I was a college professor, I found writing the abstract for research articles to be ​very ​difficult. In that context an abstract is like a book blurb. Tell the story in twenty-five words or less but leave out the ending. Academic abstracts are supposed to be a concise summary of the whole research article: what you did and why, how did you do it, and what did you find. Auugh!

But this blog posting is supposed to be about inspiration and sticking to it.

I propose that the issue of inspiration is not procrastinating or some type of writer’s block, but rather a weakness in characterization.

When you’re telling a story about characters you love, that you know and want to succeed, the writing flows. Tricks like taking a walk, watching a movie, or rewarding yourself with a piece of chocolate when you finish a paragraph are just that, tricks. They won’t make up for a boring, predictable hero or heroine.

Perhaps the job is to review whatever notes or questionnaires you used to flesh out your characters. A good friend and author, John Foxjohn, uses a seven-page questionnaire addressing every possible aspect of a person’s life—appearance, family background, wishes, disappointments, goals, accomplishments, and so on and so forth. It’s an exhaustive list that when complete gives you everything about a character. Most of it won't be explicit in the manuscript. See the full list on my blog.

​T​he last point is to consider your creativity. I found a blog post from October 13, by Mary Jaksch. and another about writers’ block:

Both of these recommend watching movies, and Jaksch says to re-read your favorite books.

All in all, you could procrastinate for days reading the helpful blog postings when you’re stuck. But I recommend reviewing the characters, who they are, why you or anyone would care about them. Above all, however, don’t quit. Keep your butt in the chair.


The Red Halter Top, Soul Mate Publishing on Amazon.

The Jury Scandal, Soul Mate Publishing on Amazon.

The Taste of Her, forthcoming from Soul Mate Publishing, 2014


Cathy Shouse said...

This is good advice, and I agree with you. Going and doing other things is not always the answer. Sticking it out is often the best way to push through the issue, whatever it is.

HiDee said...

I love inspirational quotes. Thanks for being with us today, Alice!

Victoria McHenry said...

Love this quote, Alice! Turn it into a presentation and give it to writers groups like SOLA!

Unknown said...

Thanks Vicky..

Susan J. Berger said...

Hi fellow University of Georgia graduate. Good advice. I just found another great source of inspiration, (besides NaNoWriMo pep talks. My local branch of the RWA has all of the conference talks on CD. I chose to borrow a seminar from Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Jayne Ann Krentz, two of my favorite authors. I drive a lot and this is a wonderful way to pass the time.

Kate C. said...

I agree: putting your butt in the chair and writing is the answer :-) I never get the first five pages right the first time... or even the fifth time. They change and improve throughout the writing process, for me. Still, I enter contests that focus on the first xx pages, because that forces me to work at those all-important opening pages. Enjoyed your post and love the sound of your newest book! --katie o'boyle

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed reading this entertaining and inspiring post. The Jury Scandal sounds delicious.

Alice Abel Kemp said...

Thanks for the comments y'all. Spent 4 years in Georgia but even more in Alabama. Appreciate your time.
Have a great week.