I usually have a theme of sorts for the new year. The one that’s emerged was working with the Clifton Strengths, rather than focusing on writing craft.

I’ve felt a little overwhelmed and maybe a bit burned out on the writing craft side–to where it has diminishing returns.

And the Clifton Strengths seems to scratch an itch I didn’t know I had. I spent the last two weeks over the holiday walking (where possible, given Arctic temperatures) or driving and thinking about the story. Sometimes it was while I played Solitaire.

It’s not thinking about the entire story (I guarantee someone will say, “Ah ha! You’re outlining!” Nope. I don’t know what happens later in the book or at the end). I just ran through different options for the next scene until I felt settled enough on what I wanted to do to write it.

Once I finished the scene, I cycled through it, quite a few times. Because there was more thinking involved, mostly through adding depth details.

But when I started the next scene, I ended up back for another round of thinking about the first one because the character needed more of a reaction in the first scene, and then this was the closure of that reaction. That’s something I don’t think I would have picked up as easily without thinking about it.

And that second scene turned out a lot longer because of my thinking about it, which was a surprise.

I also made a discovery about the time for writing. Because of my day job, I’ve done writing in the time available–6:00-8:00 p.m. It’s never felt like it was a really good time for me–just what was available.

With taking the time to think first, it’s evolving that days where I have all day to wander in and out. Of course, critical voice is “You’re not writing every day” and “you’re not get X words a day.”

But the opening foundation is much more solid starting out.

Free Fantasy and Science Fiction Book Fest

We’re now officially in the bleakness of winter in Washington, DC. Usually, it’s so cold that I want to hibernate with a book. Of course, the temperature is in the low sixties after being minus-five last week. But still, any excuse to get more books…

I want more books!

This giveaway has an astounding 193 books! Mostly urban fantasy, a little science fiction. There’s a book I’m eying called Flesh Eating Cheerleaders. The title just says that I have to investigate. Please check out the above link and see if you find some books you’d like to read.