Reading as a Writer

We’re writers, but we’re also readers. Some of us were readers long before we had the idea to become writers (raising hand). Some of us read a lot, some a wee bit less (hand creeping up again).

I admit that I read less these days. Partly because life is so busy that by the time I sit to read, I struggle to stay awake for more than a few paragraphs. I used to make Fridays my reading days but that hasn’t been happening as much lately either. But I still read. Every. Day. And I almost always have multiple things going, because there are different types of reading:

  • Reading to learn
  • Reading to keep up
  • Reading for inspiration
  • Reading for the sake of reading

It’s the last two I want to talk about, though.

Most of the books I read these days are in my genre, not only because I’ve always preferred women’s fiction, but also because most of my author friends write women’s fiction.

When I’m working on a project, I seek out books that deal with similar issues to the one I’m working on and authors with similarities in our writing styles. I know there are authors who won’t read anything that resembles the project they’re working on for fear that the other author’s words/voice will seep into theirs. That’s never been a fear for me. I read them for ideas, for inspiration.

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A few years ago, I was reading a review, and while the book sounded interesting, it was this line from the reviewer that stopped me: “I am constantly on the prowl for something that will distract me from the ‘task’ of reading and remind me of the joy of reading.”

I just finished reading a novel that reminded me why I love reading. And why I love writing. Okay, so first, it made me question whether I should give up writing and become a unicorn farmer because the more I read, the more convinced I became that I would never, ever be able to write that well. Which, of course, led to massive panic about the proposal chapters I’d recently submitted to my agent, a slightly-very neurotic email, and a gummy-bear filled pity party.

Yes, dear friends, that’s one of the pitfalls of reading in your genre. There will always be authors who are better than you.

But once I stopped freaking out and relaxed into reading this beautifully written story, I loved every word. I couldn’t put it down and I didn’t want it to end. And as soon as I stopped comparing my inadequacies to her brilliance, I was able to pin-point the thing that had been bugging me about the project I’ve been working on.

When I read a book that takes my breath away, makes me pause to reread a particularly perfect phrase, I copy it into a notebook that’s titled “inspiration.” I refer to that notebook often when I’m writing, not for ideas but as a reminder of my goals.

I’m not an analyzer. I don’t like to dissect books to see what worked and what didn’t. I prefer the books to work their magic – or not, as the case may be. I used to think that made me less of a writer. But like with the writing process, what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for another. Breaking a novel apart doesn’t work for me. It’s like plotting … I’ve tried it, it stresses me out and strips the enjoyment out of the act.

Writing is my job. It’s not always fun and there are days when even scooping unicorn poop sounds like a better career choice.

My goal is to write the kind of story that reminds a reader of the joy of reading.

So yes, when I read, I take off my writer hat. I read for the love of the written word. And as I’m falling into a world created by someone else, I know that by giving myself permission to enjoy the ride, I’ll come out the other side a better writer.

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orly

Orly Konig is an escapee from the corporate world where she spent roughly sixteen years working in the space industry. Now she spends her days chatting up imaginary friends, drinking entirely too much coffee, and negotiating writing space around two over-fed cats.

She is the founding president of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, a member of the Tall Poppy Writers, and a quarterly contributor to the Writers In The Storm and Thinking Through Our Fingers blogs.

Her debut women’s fiction, The Distance Home, released from Forge May, 2017. Carousel Beach will release May 8, 2018.

Connect with Orly online at:
Website |Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Goodreads | Twitter

Turning a Non-writing Day into the Best Writing Day

I’ve always been a “sit-and-do-it” kinda gal. I don’t believe in a mystical muse. I don’t fuss over the state of my first draft because the first draft is where I feel out the story. Revisions are where the real magic happens.

But lately, I’ve been struggling with settling into writing. Between writing and marketing responsibilities and miscellaneous life things, I seem to be in forever catch-up mode. My house and brain are cluttered beyond recognition. Those brain squirrels we all like to joke about have turned into rabid chipmunks.

I’d started on a new project in October and was determined to use the NaNo momentum to finish the proposal and submit it to my agent. The story seed has been tumbling in my brain since last spring and I’ve mind-mapped the various threads and characters until I felt I had a solid hold on where this was going.

First week was amazing. I was rocking the words. The characters and story lines were coming together. I was in writer heaven.

Then those crazy chipmunks got out of their cage. The first day, I fought through it and managed to make a bit of progress despite the chatter. Day two, I ended up deleting more words than I wrote. Something was missing and the harder I pushed, the further away I got.

Day three, I gave up. Yup, gave up! I closed the word document and went off to play with the chipmunks and squirrels. And – you knew this was coming from the title of the post – it turned out to be the day I found the missing links in the story.

But here’s the thing … it could just have easily been a day spent moving clutter and accomplishing nothing. Why did it turn out to be the turning point in my writing slump?

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1) I wasn’t looking for answers.

A lot of times when we’re stuck on a plot point or have a character who isn’t coming together, we knot and re-knot the loose threads in a desperate attempt to keep the story together. If you’ve ever done a yarn project (knitting, crocheting, whatever), you know that there’s a point in the untangling of yarn when you find yourself with a mess that can’t be untangled.

I didn’t think about my story or the characters or how many words I still needed. That doesn’t mean the story wasn’t still bouncing around in my brain. It just means that I wasn’t actively trying to solve the problems.

2) I hung out on Facebook.

Seriously. I know, we all spend too much time there as it is, so what was I thinking?! I have a confession … I don’t spend much time on Facebook lately. Or any social media. I used to. Then earlier this year, I realized something: social media was becoming a chore; I was struggling to stay focused and positive and the more time I spent on social media, the harder it became.

Instead of my usual quick on and off, that day I lingered. I clicked links and watched videos.

3) I stopped worrying about what I wasn’t getting done.

Yes, I needed to put words on the page. Yes, I needed to finish writing the synopsis. Yes, I needed to come up with a pitch paragraph for yet another project. I didn’t do any of those things.

I crocheted a couple of little owls that will be giveaways for my May release. I watched the last episode of This is Us on my DVR.

As I was futzing about, a video I’d watched on Facebook earlier in the day was in my head. It wasn’t a topic I’d entertained as a thread for a story but suddenly it was the thread I’d been missing. For the rest of that day, the tangle of yarn I’d been avoiding slowly unraveled without me tugging or fussing over it.

The following day, the synopsis that didn’t want to be written practically wrote itself.

It doesn’t always happen like that. Some non-writing days become just non-writing days. Those are usually the ones when I’ve been stressing over a problem I can’t solve yet can’t release the stranglehold on the need to solve it.

Next time you’re stuck or stressed, walk away. You never, know … if you let the brain squirrels loose, you may discover that they’ll bring back all sorts of story nuts.

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orlyAfter years of pushing the creativity boundary in corporate communications, Orly Konig decided it was time for a new challenge and made the switch to fiction. Now she spends her days chatting up imaginary friends, drinking entirely too much coffee, and negotiating writing space around two over-fed cats. She’s a co-founder and past president of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, a member of the Tall Poppy Writers, and a quarterly contributor to the Writers in the Storm and Thinking Through Our Fingers blogs. Her debut women’s fiction, THE DISTANCE HOME, released from Forge May 2017. CAROUSEL BEACH, releases May 8.
You can find her online at www.orlykoniglopez.com or on GoodreadsTwitterFacebook, and Pinterest

 

Enforcing Your Writing Boundaries

Summer is over and that means it’s time to get back into the writing groove. But, as always happens after a break, I’m finding it hard to shoo away the distractions I allowed to clutter my time during those less structured months.

How then to break the bad habits and get back to productive habits? Enforce boundaries.

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Protect your writing time.

When I first started writing, I was also working full time as a freelance writer and editor. My days were mapped out and I knew I had x amount of time to write. And I wrote during that time. There wasn’t the option for “I’ll do it later.” Later was spoken for.

Then I started writing full time. Luckily my son was in elementary school so I had all of those hours to write. Except that I had “all of those hours” to write which meant I also had “all of those hours” to do all the other things that needed to get done – cleaning the house, social media, volunteering, blogging, critiquing. Because, I had the time. Except, that each thing I said yes to, took away from my writing time.

Your writing time should be sacred. Whether you have an hour or four or an entire day, set your boundaries and stand firm. Life happens and there will be times you’ll have to tuck writing behind an emergency. But that should be the exception, not the rule.

Protect your writing space.

I admit, this is a tough one for me. I have an adorable office that is affectionately known as the lemon room thanks to the neon yellow walls. There’s a white board on the closet door for brainstorming, a kick-in-the-pants reminder about my mission above that door, there are bookshelves all around, and inspirational quotes tacked where I can see them. I also write on the front porch when the weather is too nice to stay indoors (or the dust bunnies are too big to ignore). But more often than not, I end up on the kitchen table (in my defense, it’s arm’s length from the espresso machine and there’s room for the kitties to snuggle next to me).

However, my office is still my favorite creative place. When I’m there, I don’t have to shush anyone, I don’t have to look at a pile of bills that needs to be paid, and I don’t have to see a pile of dishes out of the corner of my eye.

Whether you have a room of your own or a corner in the house or you write where you can find a clean spot to sit with your laptop, that space needs to be yours (if only for that period of time you’re using it). The only “people” you should scoot over to make space for are the characters in your head (and maybe a cat or dog).

Protect your thoughts.

Think back to when you first start dating someone. The relationship is new and exciting, maybe you mention to your friends that you’ve met someone really cool but when pressed for more, you clam up. Why? Because it’s fresh and it’s yours and because you don’t want the opinions of others influencing your decision on the relationship.

A new story isn’t much different from a new flame. There’s the initial courtship time when you noodle story ideas and character traits, plot twists and sidekicks. The characters become friends and what happens to them becomes personal.

A year or so ago, I started working on a new project that had me bubbling with excitement. I was completely smitten with my main characters and the story between them and so excited that I couldn’t wait to share the idea with a writing friend. Her lack of enthusiasm and criticism for my baby idea was a major bucket of ice water. That story has become my “the one I think about,” you know, the guy/gal you wonder what could have been if only you hadn’t blown them off.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying never share ideas. I have a writing friend who I always run to with new ideas. She may think that one of my ideas has a big nose or needs to learn table manners but she’d never say anything to derail the budding romance.

I read once that the first draft should be for you, the writer only. The revisions are for your agent/editor/readers. Fall in love with your characters and their story first. When you’re secure enough in the “relationship,” then go public.

Protect your energy.

Someone recently posted an image on Facebook that disturbed me for some reason. The message was actually quite nice – “Do your thing & cheer for others.” That’s a good thing, right?

So what about it bothered me? The realization that I was spending so much energy cheering and supporting everyone else, that I was too drained at the end to make that same effort for myself.

One of the things I admire most about the writing community is how generous people are. I love being part of this community and being able to support writer friends. I’d much rather cheer them on than tout my own horn.

But if I don’t squeak about myself, no one else will either. Which means that I have to know my limitations. I found, for example, that I had to limit my time on social media because it was draining my emotional energy. I also pulled away from a couple of groups because I was starting to feel spread thin and scattered.

By re-establishing boundaries for myself, I’ve been able to start pushing past some of the distraction squirrels. The end of that first draft is in my sights!

How do you hold fast to your boundaries?

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orlyOrly Konig is an escapee from the corporate world. Now she spends her days chatting up imaginary friends, drinking entirely too much coffee, and negotiating writing space around two over-fed cats. She is the founding president of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, and a quarterly contributor to Thinking Through Our Fingers and Writers In The Storm blog, and an active member of the Tall Poppy Writers. She is represented by Marlene Stringer of Stringer Literary. Her debut women’s fiction, The Distance Home, released from Forge in May 2017. You can find her online at http://www.orlykonig.com or on GoodreadsTwitterFacebook, Instagram, and Pinterest

 

Surviving Your Book Launch

Last week, my debut went out into the world. It was exciting, amazing, surreal. And, I’ll be completely honest with you guys, I’m glad it’s over.

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Crazy, right? I worked for that moment for years and years, I should be savoring every moment of it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fabulous feeling. But here’s the thing, debut day felt more about me than the book. Now that the excitement is over, the focus is back on the book.

My original post had a handful of tips on getting through a book launch. I was reading over it before sending it to Tasha and realized those are pretty much the same tips everyone gave me. And while helpful, they were useless when the day actually came.

So here are my tips for you …

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1) Stock up on Kleenex. I knew I’d be emotional but I wasn’t expecting to be that emotional. Seeing pictures and comments from people who’d bought my book did me in. And it was the people I least expected that brought the most tears.

2) Step away from social media during the day. Friends told me to book a pedicure, massage, lunch with a loved one, something, anything. I didn’t. I had work to do – guest posts to comment on, more posts and Q&As to work on, revisions to finish on the next book. And, of course, respond to the congratulations posts on the various social media platforms.

At one point shortly after lunch (and mid-way into box 2 of Kleenex), I shut my computer down. I watched an episode of NCIS and I worked on a crochet horse. Then I went to pick up my son from school and for the next few hours, I focused on him. By the time I got back to email and social media notifications, I was (mostly) re-stocked on emotional fortitude.

3) Do something for someone else. I’ve never been very comfortable being in the spotlight, so while this was an amazing day, it was also pushing me way beyond my comfort zone. The night before, a friend had sent me an email asking for advice “when I came up for air.” Responding to her was the air I needed to feel more grounded in the whirlwind of emotion. And as an extra boost, I went back to working on the mother’s day gift for my mom.  🙂

4) Shelve your expectations. Someone told me once that if you don’t expect, you’re not disappointed. That’s too cynical for me. So yeah, I had a few expectations. Some were met, most were not to be perfectly honest. They weren’t lofty expectations, either – I wasn’t looking at the best seller list. And maybe that’s what made them harder to swallow.

So I suppose this bit of advice falls under the “do what I say, not what I do” category. I’m not sure I’ll be any better about this when book 2 launches. Except maybe by then, I’ll know how to outsmart those expectations that refuse to be denied.

5) Buy yourself a gift. At the end of the day, I splurged on myself. I bought a $5 decal for my computer. Now when I grab my laptop and see the decal of the horse head, it makes me crazy happy and reminds me that my hard work paid off, I have a book out in the world. And it also reminds me that there’s a lot more hard work ahead.
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orlyOrly Konig is an escapee from the corporate world where she spent roughly sixteen (cough) years working in the space industry. Now she spends her days chatting up imaginary friends, drinking entirely too much coffee, and negotiating writing space around two over-fed cats. She is the founding president of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association , and an active member of Writers In The Storm blog and Tall Poppy Writers. She is represented by Marlene Stringer of Stringer Literary. Her debut women’s fiction, The Distance Home, released from Forge in May 2017. You can find her online at www.orlykoniglopez.com or on GoodreadsTwitterFacebook, and Pinterest

Mind Mapping: A Pantser’s Path to Planning the Perfect Story

I don’t plot. I don’t outline. I don’t even do character sketches. And the irony with that … I’m a planner with everything else in my life. I’ve never met a project, a trip, a day that I didn’t plan to the last detail. Seriously.

I have objectives for each month, then weekly tasks and every morning, I make my to-do-for-the-day list. Each new project starts life as a shiny Gantt chart. My brain is always two steps ahead, calculating how to go from here to there, anticipating roadblocks and thinking through potential detours.

You’d think my compulsion to plan would lead to careful plotting of stories. Nope.

A story idea will come at me—sometimes it’s a title, sometimes an event, sometimes an object—then bounce around, collecting more details like a dust bunny grabbing at every strand of hair in the living room until it’s fully formed and ready to move out on its own.

The control-freak side of me wants to be okay with the squiggly-squirrel side. Sometimes they play nice, most times they bicker like spoiled kids. But I found a compromise … one that the controlling side sees as an organizational tool, and one that the squiggly side sees as play time.

Say hello to my friend, Mind Mapping.

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Mind mapping is a thinking tool that goes with the flow of the thought process rather than forcing those thoughts into a linear order. It’s creative and visual and perfect for brains that have a tendency toward the squirrel story threads. I heard it once described as “the little Swiss-army knife for the brain.” That was all I needed!

There are plenty of mind mapping software options to choose from (some paid, some free, depending on the features you want) or you can freehand with different color markers and a large sheet of paper (or white board). Whatever works best for you.

I prefer software that’s easy to drag and drop and move and tweak. Although I used crayons and poster board for a picture book once and had so much fun!

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Here are a couple of pointers that have worked for this non-linear thinker:

Brain dump.

The idea behind a mind mapping session is not to detail the story plan but to empty your brain of details for the story. Order doesn’t matter. Whatever comes to mind, whenever it comes to mind, put it down. Link it to other ideas or details as the connections become clear.

At this stage, the items you jot down don’t need to have clear lines to others but they do need to inspire parts of the story. As you start digging a bit deeper into each one, you’ll discover how each relates to the other pieces. And you’ll add additional twigs to each new branch of your map.

Don’t tie yourself to one way of doing your map. Maybe you start with individual words or couple of words. For example, maybe there’s an anecdote between two characters that jumped to mind or a description of an object or place. Put those down as they came to you, don’t try to force them into the one or three word bubbles to match the others. Everything is fair game!

The more the merrier.

When you create an outline for your story, you have one outline. Mind mapping doesn’t have to be just one map per story. You’re not trying to organize your thoughts, you’re releasing them. If one bubble sparks an a-ha moment, give it it’s own map. See where it takes you.

For the novel I’m currently working on (scheduled for release summer 2018), I have several maps. One for the main character, including details about her (physical appearance, job, hobbies, etc) and the people surrounding her; and one for the secrets each character has and how the connect to the other people in the book.

Think of mind mapping as the hot air balloon vision for your story. It takes you out of the forest of details and puts you up high above the treetops, to see the whole of the wooded space and all the cute little story squirrels scampering around in there.

Interestingly enough, I’m a linear writer. I have to start at the beginning and work through to the end of the story. I never fully know the end until I get there. With mind mapping, I get the big picture idea for my story, I have random details and an understanding for how each fits with the others—I have the map to guide me through the forest. I may still veer off a path in pursuit of another squirrel, but I know that to get to the end of my trek, I’ll have to get back on the main path.

If you’re not a plotter, not a linear thinker, give mind mapping a shot. It’s an organic, visual thought process that appeals to right brainers. Most mind mapping software have the ability to turn the visual brainstorming into a linear outline. That’s a bonus if you need to turn in an outline (or expand it into a synopsis) to your agent or editor.

I’d love to hear from pantsers and plotters how you approach the brainstorming process. Are you a linear thinker or a visual thinker? What tools or processes help you capture your ideas?
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orlyOrly Konig is an escapee from the corporate world where she spent roughly sixteen (cough) years working in the space industry. Now she spends her days chatting up imaginary friends, drinking entirely too much coffee, and negotiating writing space around two over-fed cats. She is the founding president of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association , and an active member of Writers In The Storm blog and Tall Poppy Writers. She is represented by Marlene Stringer of Stringer Literary. Her debut women’s fiction, The Distance Home, will be released from Forge in May 2017. You can find her online at www.orlykoniglopez.com or on GoodreadsTwitterFacebook, and Pinterest

Writing with All Your Senses

A picture is worth a thousand words.

We’re all familiar with that idiom. As writers, our goal is to use way fewer than a thousand words to paint that perfect picture. We want those pictures to come alive for our readers.

But here’s the thing, if you only paint a pretty picture, you risk leaving your readers on the outside looking in when what you really want is to lure them in.

How do you lure them in? By using all 5 senses.

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Sight

I know, you’ve been holding tight to the “show, don’t tell” rule. And we’ve already established that writing is about drawing a visual picture. So yes, you’re still writing visual descriptions. But, make sure every word counts. Include only what strengthens the image and look for new ways to describe things.

  • Instead of white sand, sand like iridescent crushed pearls.
  • Curly hair can become corkscrew curls that a character has the sudden urge to tug and watch them bounce back.

Now put yourself in the scene. What can you show your reader that’s beyond the obvious?

  • The slight discoloration on the couch that reminds your character about where her brother spilled a soda the last time she saw him, right before he was killed in the car accident.
  • The seam in the wallpaper that’s a fraction off and is totally screwing with your character’s need for perfection.
  • The way a crease is pulled out of shirt when the character tightens his shoulder blades before turning and walking away. 

Sound

Think about the last movie or TV program you watched. It had a soundtrack, right? Characters were talking to each other, music during key scenes, the revving of a car engine, the ringing of a phone in the background. Obvious sounds.

When writing, you’re transforming those sounds into words. Your reader needs to hear what your characters are experiencing.

  • The raspy pain of a character’s cough.
  • The rev of a motor in the far distance.
  • The jangle of keys deep in someone’s pocket.

Then there’s the unexpected. Those are the details that will make your reader catch her/his breath and will linger in their minds long after they’re done reading.

  • The squeak-squelch of sneakers on a linoleum floor in the echoing quiet of a hospital wing.
  • The sound of a house settling when the air-conditioner turns off.
  • A character trapped in the slowest line at the grocery store and agitated at being late might notice the otherwise invisible sound of air bubbles snapping as the guy in line behind her chews his gum.

Taste

In real-life, you’re constantly tasting something so why aren’t your characters?

  • The cold, sweetness from the orange soda when the guy kisses your main character.
  • The melting heaven of a chocolate lava cake.
  • The sharp tang as the character licks an escaping drop of espresso from the side of the mug.

Don’t stop with the obvious.

  • A character who arrives at the beach will lick her lips and taste the salt from the ocean breeze.
  • A character who’s been running on a hot day might taste the grit of dirt.
  • Or maybe a character has just gone through a terrible breakup and is looking for a safe haven at her parent’s house. During the drive there she might taste the rice pudding her mom always made for her when she needed cheering up.

Touch

Okay fess up, do you touch a flower petal to see what it feels like? Or run your fingers along a brick wall? What about stroking the leather of a couch? If a friend has a new sweater, do you reach out to see if it’s soft?

Your characters will be doing the same. And the reader wants to feel through your characters.

  • The prickle as an ant crawls up your character’s arm.
  • The stab of pain when your character miss-judges the distance and stubs her toe into the side of the desk.
  • The comforting warmth of a blanket.

There are times, though, when it’s not as much what the character is touching but the act of the touch itself.

  • The way a character touches the tip of her finger to the heart-shaped pendant her husband gave her before he died.
  • A character tracing the name of a loved one on a headstone.
  • A character putting his hand on another’s upper arm in a “keep it under control” gesture.

Smell

Smell is an incredibly powerful sense. It’s probably the most nostalgic of the senses, which makes it the ideal tool for flashbacks.

  • Who hasn’t taken a deep inhale of freshly mowed grass and immediately been transported to a lazy summer day?
  • Or caught the whiff of a perfume and you’re suddenly remembering a best friend or family member who you haven’t seen in years?
  • What about the smell of a favorite food to transport you back to holidays when the family still got together?

It’s also a fabulous way to suck your reader into a scene.

  • Does the homeless guy smell like car exhaust from sitting on the median of the busy intersection all day? Does his body odor make your character’s nose curl?
  • What about the house your character just walked into? Is that lavender air freshener she smells? Did her long dead grandmother have lavender air freshener in her house?
  • Does the lip gloss a character uses obsessively smell like root beer? Maybe your main character hates root beer and can’t focus on what the other person is saying because she can only think about getting to the bathroom on time.

Take a few minutes as you’re sitting in your house or walking down the street or having dinner at a restaurant and really pay attention to what’s around you (without getting arrested, please).

Imagine writing using different senses. Instead of telling your reader that the character is uncomfortable sitting in the living room under the scrutiny of his date’s father, how could you write that using touch or smell?

Now go back to your manuscript and think about inviting your readers in, letting them enjoy the smells, sounds, tastes that your character experiences.

Do you use all the senses in your writing or do you have a go-to sense that you default to?

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orlyOrly Konig is an escapee from the corporate world where she spent roughly sixteen (cough) years working in the space industry. Now she spends her days chatting up imaginary friends, drinking entirely too much coffee, and negotiating writing space around two over-fed cats. She is the founding president of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association , and an active member of Writers In The Storm blog and Tall Poppy Writers. She is represented by Marlene Stringer of Stringer Literary. Her debut women’s fiction, The Distance Home, will be released from Forge in May 2017. You can find her online at www.orlykoniglopez.com or on GoodreadsTwitterFacebook, and Pinterest

Why I Write

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.”

That quote by Flannery O’Connor has always been one of my favorites. I have a printout of it in my office. And underneath, I’ve added my own version:

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I feel.”

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It’s far easier for me to write what I think and feel than to say those things out loud. Maybe it’s the introvert in me who doesn’t like confrontations. Maybe it’s the writer in me who wants to edit everything to perfection. However, I’m not an equal opportunity writer. I don’t journal. I’ve tried. I can’t. My fingers freeze when I have to write about myself.

Fiction, on the other hand, is safe. Fiction is where I can release my thoughts, feelings, emotions without fear. My fictional characters can sort through emotional upheaval. They can confront the people who hurt them and they can change their lives in 300 pages. Those characters can do all the things I can’t always do. Through them, I can release the pressure building inside me. They don’t speak for me and they don’t deal with the issues I may be struggling with. But through their emotional journeys, I can release my own fears and heartaches and dreams. My stories are the family and friends I can’t always open up to. Through them, I can spread my wings. The stories don’t reflect who I am or what I do. But through them I can explore new ways of becoming whole again.

The Distance Home, releasing May 2, 2017 from Forge, delves into the heartbreak of failed relationships – both with family and friends. My history and experiences are very different from the main character’s. I wrote about her struggles and heartbreak. There were no parallels between what she was going through and where my life was at the time. But through her emotional journey to rediscover who she was, I found pieces of myself that I’d locked away over the years. I don’t start a story or scene with the idea of working out a problem I’m dealing with. I don’t think about what I would do in a situation my character is dealing with. She is not me. But through her strength, I find my answers. Through her feelings, I find my thoughts.

My fingers are my therapists. My characters are my confidants. I am a writer because I think through my fingers.

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orlyOrly Konig is an escapee from the corporate world where she spent roughly sixteen (cough) years working in the space industry. Now she spends her days chatting up imaginary friends, drinking entirely too much coffee, and negotiating writing space around two over-fed cats. She is the founding president of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association , and an active member of Writers In The Storm blog and Tall Poppy Writers. She is represented by Marlene Stringer of Stringer Literary. Her debut women’s fiction, The Distance Home, will be released from Forge in May 2017. You can find her online at www.orlykoniglopez.com or on GoodreadsTwitterFacebook, and Pinterest