I'm delighted to welcome my pub-buddy Annette Mardis here today. Her contemporary romance, The Shore Thing, came out this Monday. Since she's been writing for quite a bit longer than I have, I invited her over to impart some writing tips.
Writing Anywhere by Annette Mardis
Thanks, Tara, for hosting me on your blog. I’d like to share a valuable lesson I learned more than thirty years ago at a convention for high school journalists. It was simple advice, but it has stayed with me all this time.
Peggy Peterman, a longtime features writer for the then-St. Petersburg Times, gave a talk on the realities of making a living as a newspaper writer. It doesn’t matter how you feel on a given day, she told her rapt audience, because deadlines don’t care if you’re sick, tired, unmotivated, restless, bored, whatever. Put it aside and get your work done because the newspaper and its readers are counting on you.
I went on to work in the newspaper business for more than three decades, and my resolve to adhere to Ms. Peterman’s advice was sorely tested on many occasions. But the discipline I developed over those years has stood me in good stead as I strive to build a second career as a novelist.
Newspaper offices are about as calm and quiet as train stations, and if you can concentrate in a newsroom, you can concentrate anywhere. I write my books at home, where I’m often interrupted by my barking dogs, Shelby and Cocoa, and a screeching pet parrot named Ozzie.
I’ve read a lot about writers finding their muse and creating the proper environment to spur their creativity. If psyching yourself up and locking yourself away in a quiet room is what you need to get the job done, then by all means, do it.
But I have an easier solution, stolen from an effective advertising campaign for Nike: Just do it.
The only surefire way to break through writer’s block is to sit down and write. Having trouble with a sentence, a paragraph, a chapter? Type something on your computer screen, even if you’re not happy with it. Just getting your fingers moving on the keys often will help break the logjam in your brain. You can always return to it later and rewrite.
Sometimes, just the act of getting away from the computer for a bit — to visit the bathroom, get a drink, fix a snack, read a few pages of another book, take a walk, anything — can help unlock your thoughts, too.
Another very effective remedy, at least for me, is to sleep on it. Sometimes this makes for a frustrating, insomnia-filled night, but very often I’m able to envision a scene or an entire plot line as I’m lying in bed. Fantasizing about your characters helps bring them to life and often leads me in directions I’d never thought of going otherwise.
Never forget that writing is hard work, but it doesn’t have to be painful. Let someone else play the part of the tortured scribe. Enjoying your vocation is a lot more fulfilling.
On Monday, Sept. 1, Liquid Silver Books released my new contemporary romance novel, The Shore Thing. It’s the first book in a series set in the fictional west-central Florida beach town of Gulf Shore, where you’ll feel sugary white sand between your toes, the warm sun on your shoulders, and a sea breeze ruffling your hair.
You’ll meet swoon-worthy alpha males who aren’t embarrassed to cuddle a rescued baby dolphin in their muscular arms, and accomplished women looking for an equal partner who thinks that smart is sexy.
You’ll get up close and personal with sea life, join the “snipe and gripe” club for girls’ nights out, and fall in love with a talking parrot who acts like a little boy in a bird suit.
You’ll go behind-the-scenes at the local aquarium and out to the beach to rescue marine animals in distress. And once you visit Gulf Shore, you just may find yourself wishing you could stay.
The Shore Thing
(Gulf Shore Book 1)
Danielle “Dani” Davidson vows to just say no to workplace romances after her first post-college job is soured by a messy breakup with a manipulative coworker at a fish hatchery. That’s just one reason she doesn’t trust any man with her heart, let alone one who swims with sharks for a living. So why can’t she get cameraman Evan Sanders out of her mind?
Evan is twice shy, too, after an alluring but self-absorbed colleague at Gulf Shore Aquarium takes a bite out of his heart. Thought he’s dead set against dating anyone else he works with, he’s intrigued by Dani’s shyness and tempted by her intelligence and low-key sexiness.
Dani leads tours and educates guests, and Evan is the chief photographer/videographer at the aquarium and marine animal hospital in Gulf Shore. Their attraction smolders until an unfortunate encounter with a stingray sends Dani to the emergency room, and Evan steps up to help her through her recovery.
The two also bond over the rescue of an orphaned baby dolphin. But will Evan’s vindictive ex-lover, his career ambitions, and Dani’s inhibitions tear the young lovers apart?
About Annette Mardis
Annette Mardis is a veteran of some 30 years of newspaper work in the Tampa area, most of it with The Tampa Tribune, and is now a freelance editor and author. Her first full-length novel, The Shore Thing, was recently released by Liquid Silver Books. It’s the first book in the new Gulf Shore contemporary romance series. In July 2013, she published the e-novella “Getting Her Money’s Worth,” inspired by and dedicated to a close friend who died in June 2012 after an unsuccessful bone marrow transplant. Annette also posts book reviews, publishing news and other reader-friendly content through a public forum at www.facebook.com/PostHereReaders.
In her spare time, she greets and educates the public as a volunteer at Clearwater Marine Aquarium, home to the world’s most famous dolphin, Winter, star of the “Dolphin Tale” movies. Annette also enjoys reading, reading and reading some more; riding on the back of her husband’s Harley-Davidson; playing with her pets; and cheering for her favorite NASCAR drivers and Tampa Bay area sports teams.