When You’ve Lost the Thread

It’s been a while since I’ve written about writing, mostly because I’ve found a system for fast-draft writing that has worked with my ADHD. I used my system for seven novels and I’ve been comfortable with the results. I have never been a detailed outliner. I work from a scene list and character goal-motivation and conflict sheets and let my story evolve organically within that framework. I typically draft a 60-65K novel in four to six weeks and then spend three to four weeks revising and editing my draft before submitting it.
Trusting in my system, I used it with my current project, a novella-length paranormal romance with dual points of view. With this project, because I needed to attend to two character’s points of view, along with paranormal conventions, I’ve been feeling my way along the story, and it was going well, slowly, but well.
And then I needed to take some time after my brother-in-law’s death. I set my story aside for three weeks, and when I started working on my novella again, I was lost. I couldn’t remember what I had written, or where I was going in the story.
Because my way of working falls somewhere between a painter and a plotter I used a technique that is a routine part of my revision process, I printed out what I had written and reverse outlined the story as a way of figuring out what I needed to do to complete my draft.
After reviewing my outline I know I need to write six more scenes to finish my first draft and have about 13K words to complete those scenes and stay within my word count limit.
What is a reverse outline? It involves reading what you’ve written and then creating an outline from that document. It can be detailed or brief as it fits your style. For me, it’s a one-sentence description of what happens in each scene.
I don’t stop to edit my work. I merely outline my story as it stands. After I have completed the outline I read over it to assess if my scenes flow as they should, that my story beats are where they should be, and in this case that I’ve given equal time to each character’s point of view. I use highlighters to tag types of scenes and transitions.
It is the simplest way I’ve found to check structure and beats, and if you have lost your way, it is a road map back to your central story and ensures that critical elements of your novel are not missing. If you struggle with plotting and structure, try adding a reverse outline to your routine revision process.
This time a reverse outline was a way of finding my way back to writing after a family tragedy, and another step toward preventing my grief from keeping my words bottled up.
Will a reverse outline work for everyone? Nope. If you are detailed outliner and are able to stick to your outline religiously, it might be redundant, as a plotser (panter+plotter) it is essential for me. Try it the next time you’re stuck and take advantage of a simple way to assess your story structure.

Brenda Murphy writes short fiction and novels. She loves tattoos and sideshows and yes, those are her monkeys.  When she is not loitering at her local tea shop and writing, she wrangles two kids, one dog, and an unrepentant parrot.  She reviews books, blogs about life as a writer with ADHD and publishes photographs on her blog Writing While Distracted. You can find her on Facebook by clicking here.  Sign Up for her email list here  www.brendalmurphy.com

Books available at

Amazon 

NineStar Press

Knotted Legacy

Both Ends of the Whip

ONE  

Sum of the Whole 

Dominique and Other Stories 

 

Off the Rails

Last week my brother in law lost his twenty-five-year struggle with depression. He was an amazing brother-in-law and a wonderful uncle to my kids. He was caring and kind and hella funny. He and I shared a love of film and cinematography, British comedies, and nature. He was brilliant, silly, absolutely fabulous, as queer as I am, and I miss him so damn much.
As a family, we are heartbroken and devastated by his loss. I was close to finishing a manuscript; I had plans to start a new series and write several short stories for anthology calls. Even in my profound grief, all I want to do is curl up with my laptop and write, to immerse myself in my imaginary world where no one dies and pets live forever, my version of self-care. And yet, I’m finding it very hard to concentrate. My focus right now is my wife and kids as we work through this loss as a family.
My wish is that if any of you reading this ever find yourself in that dark place that you hold on and reach out. I know how hard that is, my brother in law was less than fifty feet from us, and it must have seemed like miles to him.

National Crisis Line: 1-800-272-TALK
Local Crisis Line: 330-264-9029
Crisis Text Line: Send a text message to 741-741

Trans Lifeline

https://www.translifeline.org

The Hotline: 877-565-8860

Trans Lifeline is a national trans-led 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to improving the quality of trans lives by responding to the critical needs of our community with direct service, material support, advocacy, and education. Our vision is to fight the epidemic of trans suicide and improve overall life-outcomes of trans people by facilitating justice-oriented, collective community aid.

The Trevor Project

www.thetrevorproject.org/

Trevor Lifeline at 866-488-7386

The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning (LGBTQ) young people under 25.

On-Line Resources for Mental Health Support & Suicide Prevention

Review: Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors

Sonali Dev’s retelling of Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice is a gorgeous reframing of Austin’s original that addresses classism, racism, and sexism in an intriguing and eminently readable book. The story honors the original and re-envisions it to embrace issues of family loyalty, love, and betrayal. Raised in an environment where family comes first, and outsiders are not to be trusted, neurosurgeon Trisha Raje is brilliant, focused and all but ignored by her family as they close ranks to support her politician brother.
DJ Caine is a chef, a rising talent struggling to build his catering business and pay for the surgery necessary to save his sister’s life. Sonali Dev does not flinch from the realities facing immigrants and people of color as they navigate the challenges that face them daily, and racial, cultural and class aggressions large and small in her novel. From their first meeting class issues, DJ’s stubbornness and Trisha’s arrogance and her cluelessness facing individuals outside of the rarified circles she has been raised in seem insurmountable.
Sonali Dev is a masterful storyteller and develops the romance between the two in a believable way as DJ and Trisha navigate classism, colorism, racism, sexism, and pressure from Trisha’s family. Dev’s novel is superbly paced, and an elegant romance. Trisha and DJ’s story is complex and believable as they overcome their differences and learn to see each other as individuals rather than stereotypes, finally recognizing that their love of family is the bridge between their lived experiences and what allows to embrace the love they each are not sure they deserve.
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, reveling in Dev’s trademark luscious world building and evocative language. Pride and Prejudice and Other Flavors is an amazing reenvisioning of classic work. Bravo Sonali Dev, once again you have left me breathless and eager for your next novel.

Scheduled for release May 7, 2019, available for preorder at Amazon,   Kobo    And other Ebook retailers.

 

Rainbow Snippet March 16-17

Hello Snippeteers,
It has been cold and snowy and cloudy and I’m ready for Spring in the worst way. This week’s snip is from Complex Dimensions, the fourth book in the Rowan House Series contracted to NineStar Press and set to release September 2019.

From Complex Dimensions:

“This is amazing.” Veronica ran her fingers along the cherry wood shelf. Floor to ceiling shelves, full of books complete with a rolling ladder covered three walls of the large room. Opposite the shelves, three wide windows looked out towards the far mountains. A large overstuffed sofa that begged lying about with a book, a butler’s table and two wingback chairs with matching ottomans completed the library of Veronica’s dreams. Millie stood with her hands clasped behind her back. She glanced at Veronica before she looked down at the carpet. “It’s my second favorite room in the house.”
Veronica studied the way a blush stole over Millie’s face. Not asking which one is her favorite. What room is it? What could make her blush from her collarbones to her hairline?

 

Rainbow Snippets( https://www.facebook.com/groups/RainbowSnippets/)is a group for LGBTQ+ authors, readers, and bloggers to gather once a week to share six sentences from a work of fiction–a WIP or a finished work or even a 6-sentence book recommendation (no spoilers please!). In this group, you’ll find anything from romance and historical fiction to mystery and YA. The common thread is that every story’s main character identifies as LGBTQ+. The snippets could range from zero flames to full-on sexytimes, anything goes content-wise. The only rule is snippets will be 6 sentences long–one for each color in the Pride flag.

Brenda Murphy writes short fiction and novels. She loves tattoos and sideshows and yes, those are her monkeys.  When she is not loitering at her local tea shop and writing, she wrangles two kids, one dog, and an unrepentant parrot.  She reviews books, blogs about life as a writer with ADHD and publishes photographs on her blog Writing While Distracted. You can find her on Facebook by clicking here.  Sign Up for her email list here  www.brendalmurphy.com

Books available at

Amazon 

NineStar Press

Knotted Legacy

Both Ends of the Whip

ONE  

Sum of the Whole 

Dominique and Other Stories 

 

Rainbow Snippet March 9-10

Hello Snippeteers, I’m celebrating this weekend as my fifth novel in the Rowan House Series, Double Six has been signed to NineStar Press. Elaine’s story was hella fun to write and I’m stoked to feature a snip this week from the manuscript.

From Double Six,

Elaine flicked the brush over Luna’s shoulder. Puffs of hair and dirt she had loosened with the curry comb floated through the air. “They’re going to be so disappointed. Fuck.” She moved along Luna’s body brushing her back and rump. “What the hell, Luna? One conversation and I blow this whole thing up.” Luna shuffled in the cross-ties, and Elaine dropped the brush in the grooming box. She picked up the soft finishing brush and moved to Luna’s head. “What am I going to do?”

“The first thing you might want to do is to stop asking your horse for advice and talk to a person,” Veronica yelled from the barn office.

“Oh, if only there was someone around to shower me with their wisdom.”

On cue, Veronica strode into view.

Elaine rolled her eyes. “Where were you? And how long have you been eavesdropping?”

“Having coffee with Millie. And long enough to know you fucked up with Petra.”

Elaine rolled her eyes. “I did not ‘fuck up’ she’s too sensitive. I mean really, what kind of Domme is she if she gets her feelings bent so easily?”

“A Domme trying to find a place where she’ll be accepted as a person, and not as an exotic caricature, or Asian stereotype. She’s looking for someplace or someone real.” Veronica crossed her arms across her chest. “And if you don’t stop glaring at me you’re going to sprain something. Not my fault if truth hurts.”

“I liked it better when you were afraid of me.”

Veronica guffawed. “You must be high. I’ve never been afraid of you.”

Rainbow Snippets( https://www.facebook.com/groups/RainbowSnippets/)is a group for LGBTQ+ authors, readers, and bloggers to gather once a week to share six sentences from a work of fiction–a WIP or a finished work or even a 6-sentence book recommendation (no spoilers please!). In this group, you’ll find anything from romance and historical fiction to mystery and YA. The common thread is that every story’s main character identifies as LGBTQ+. The snippets could range from zero flames to full-on sexy times, anything goes content-wise. The only rule is snippets will be 6 sentences long–one for each color in the Pride flag.

Brenda Murphy writes short fiction and novels. She loves tattoos and sideshows and yes, those are her monkeys.  When she is not loitering at her local tea shop and writing, she wrangles two kids, one dog, and an unrepentant parrot.  She reviews books, blogs about life as a writer with ADHD and publishes photographs on her blog Writing While Distracted. You can find her on Facebook by clicking here.  Sign Up for her email list here  www.brendalmurphy.com

Books available at

Amazon 

NineStar Press

Knotted Legacy

Both Ends of the Whip

ONE  

Sum of the Whole 

Dominique and Other Stories 

 

Rainbow Snippet March 2-3

Hello and welcome to another Rainbow Snippet. This week’s snip is from my WIP Shifting Flames. I had a rough start with this WIP but I’ve made more progress this week.  Wishing you all a good week ahead.

From Shifting Flames:

Eve took her computer glasses off and rubbed her eyes. “Sit down before you wear a hole in the floor. You’re like a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.”

Celeste frowned “What?”

Eve quirked her mouth. “It’s something my grandma used to say.”

Celeste smiled and laughed. Eve stared at her over the top of her computer. Her laugh. So rich. So sweet. Makes me want to kiss her. Again. Would it be so wrong? She said no. Honor that. Honor her.

Celeste stopped walking and rested her hand on her hip. “I haven’t heard that expression in years. My mother’s family was from Greenville Mississippi.  Did you grow up in the south? I don’t hear an accent.”

Eve pushed her hair back with both hands. “I grew up in Atlanta. I worked long and hard to eradicate my accent.”

Celeste tilted her head. “I get that” She glanced at Eve’s computer screen. “Are you hungry?”

Don’t say it. Stay classy. Still can’t believe that kiss. What the hell was I thinking? “Yes. Should we stop for the day?”

“Yes. It’s late. I need to start supper.”

“You don’t have to cook for me.” Eve flushed. Smooth. She said she was hungry. Stop talking.

Celeste’s gaze settled on Eve. “I like to cook. It’s a pleasure for me.” She looked down and away. “I haven’t had anyone to… She trailed off. “It’s not a hardship.” She bought her gaze back to Eve’s face. “Don’t feel like you have to stop working. You don’t have to keep me company.”

Eve studied her face, the sadness that filled Celeste’s eyes. “I don’t cook for myself either when I’m alone. Let me back this up and I’m at your service.”

Celeste’s lips pulled into a half smile. “Be careful what you say, I might take you up on it.”

Rainbow Snippets (https://www.facebook.com/groups/RainbowSnippets/ is a group for LGBTQ+ authors, readers, and bloggers to gather once a week to share six sentences from a work of fiction–a WIP or a finished work or even a 6-sentence book recommendation (no spoilers please!). In this group, you’ll find anything from romance and historical fiction to mystery and YA. The common thread is that every story’s main character identifies as LGBTQ+. The snippets could range from zero flames to full-on sexy times, anything goes content-wise. The only rule is snippets will be 6 sentences long–one for each color in the Pride flag.

Brenda Murphy writes short fiction and novels. She loves tattoos and sideshows and yes, those are her monkeys.  When she is not loitering at her local tea shop and writing, she wrangles two kids, one dog, and an unrepentant parrot.  She reviews books, blogs about life as a writer with ADHD and publishes photographs on her blog Writing While Distracted. You can find her on Facebook by clicking here.  Sign Up for her email list here  www.brendalmurphy.com

Books available at

Amazon 

NineStar Press

Knotted Legacy

Both Ends of the Whip

ONE  

Sum of the Whole 

Dominique and Other Stories 

 

Doing the Work

If you follow me on social networks you know I’m wrestling with writing in a new genre. And like a lot of writers whenever I’m struggling with a work in progress, new storylines scamper through my thoughts. As a writer with ADHD, this is not a new thing; I’m used to adorable new story ideas flaunting themselves to entice me to leave the hard work and write something new.

My standard way of dealing with herds of wild plot bunnies is to keep a notebook nearby, scribble down my thoughts and get back to work on my primary manuscript. I have managed to finish six novels using this technique, but for the last three weeks I have not only had to cope with new ideas rampaging through my thoughts and distracting me from my work, but vicious self-doubt demons moved in and had a rave.

After becoming annoyed with the demons and myself for listening, I used these strategies to kick my self-doubt to the curb.  As with any list of tips, your mileage may vary but give them a try; you have nothing to lose but fear.

1. Remind yourself of your why: Why do you want to write? And why this story specifically?
2. Give yourself permission to imagine what the worst is what will happen if you write a crappy first draft. Write down all your worries and fears, get it all out. Then tear that paper up and get back to work. You can fix a first draft; you can’t fix a blank page.
3. Set small word count goals that you know you can meet. Even if it is one hundred words a day, it will all add up to a finished draft. If you don’t use word counts, set a timer for ten minutes and write as many words as you can, giving yourself permission to stop at the end of the period or keep going if you’re in a grove.
4. Eat. Drink water. Exercise. Take care of your body.
5. Embrace the fear and do it anyway, let the demons rage. Writers write. Don’t give up, and it only feeds the demons

Brenda Murphy writes short fiction and novels. She loves tattoos and sideshows and yes, those are her monkeys.  When she is not loitering at her local tea shop and writing, she wrangles two kids, one dog, and an unrepentant parrot.  She reviews books, blogs about life as a writer with ADHD and publishes photographs on her blog Writing While Distracted. You can find her on Facebook by clicking here.  Sign Up for her email list here  www.brendalmurphy.com

Books available at

Amazon 

NineStar Press

Knotted Legacy

Both Ends of the Whip

ONE  

Sum of the Whole 

Dominique and Other Stories 

 

Harder Than It Looks

Welp, I’m not quite half-way through the thirty days of Catherine Price’s How to Break Up with Your Phone. If you missed the first post in this series, you can read it here.
I’ve been journaling my progress, and it was so hard the first week, I almost quit. I have not struggled so much since I had an ulcer and had to give up caffeine, chocolate, and alcohol AT THE SAME TIME. This past week I was all the things many addicts are when they quit: angry, frustrated, short-tempered, restless, and convinced that what I was doing was stupid and wouldn’t make a difference in my life.
Whenever I considered giving up, I took a break, and reread my reasons for doing the program, and that would give me the determination to continue, like most people I can do most anything if I have an important Why.
What I have discovered about myself so far:
1. I crave connections and adrenaline. I resigned from my job in healthcare in August. I have not replaced the kind of relationships I had with co-workers and patients, nor is there anything in my home that will ever replace the rush of working in the hospital. I need to work on this and make new connections. 
2. I increased my consumption of sugar and caffeine to replace the hits of dopamine that I got from social media with sugar and caffeine (note to self, work on this issue next.)
3. My addiction was worse than I thought.
4. The day I deleted social media apps off my phone was the most challenging part of the program, but the most freeing. To be clear, in Price’s program you are allowed to check and interact with social media, but you have to sign in using your browser. The browser experience is so clunky it gave me time to think before I logged in acting as a speed bump to mindless social media time. 
5. The things that have improved: my sleep, my focus, and my relationships. I’m more present and less distracted. My kids know that when I’m with them, I’m really with them, not just killing time until I check my phone.
6. Undertaking this program and changing my relationship with my phone is a change is one that I needed to make.

As hard as this has been so far, I’m happy that I chose this as my project for February. This week was better than last week. I’m not as restless and am doing things I used to do before I became so hooked on my phone.  I’m looking forward to finishing the program. I’ll post my final thoughts and some tips for completing the challenge in March. If you are wondering if you spend too much time on your phone you probably do, don’t be afraid to make a change. So far it has been worth every second of discomfort.

Brenda Murphy writes short fiction and novels. She loves tattoos and sideshows and yes, those are her monkeys.  When she is not loitering at her local tea shop and writing, she wrangles two kids, one dog, and an unrepentant parrot.  She reviews books, blogs about life as a writer with ADHD and publishes photographs on her blog Writing While Distracted. You can find her on Facebook by clicking here.  Sign Up for her email list here  www.brendalmurphy.com

Books available at

Amazon 

NineStar Press

Knotted Legacy

Both Ends of the Whip

ONE  

Sum of the Whole 

Dominique and Other Stories 

Rainbow Snip February 2-3

 

Hello Snippeteers,

It has been a freaky week here with crazy cold weather. I’ve never appreciated my fireplace more. This week’s snip is from Complex Dimensions, the fourth book in the Rowan House Series contracted to NineStar Press scheduled for release 2019.

From Complex Dimensions

The small hairs on Veronica’s arms stood up, and she sensed someone staring at her. She looked up, and into the darkest brown eyes, she had ever seen. The woman’s hair was slicked back, tight against her head, the smile on her face predatory. She rested her hand on her narrow waist, her large breasts marginally contained by the dark green corset she wore. “I’m Ashley.” The latecomer sat down next to Millie and pushed Myfanwy’s place setting to the side.

Oblivious to Millie’s sharp look, she kept her gaze fixed on Veronica’s face as she extended her hand. Her blood red nail polish matched the lipstick she was wearing. She licked her lower lip before she spoke. “Welcome. Has anyone given you a tour of the house?”

Veronica reached across the table and shook her hand briefly. “No. I…”

Millie’s spoke over Veronica, her voice hard-edged and direct. “She’s just arrived. And if she’s interested in a tour, I’ll assign someone.”

Roxie cleared her throat loudly. “Stay in your lane Ashley. As for tours,” Roxie’s eyes held a challenge, her tone icy, “you’ll have to get in line.”

 

Rainbow Snippets( https://www.facebook.com/groups/RainbowSnippets/)is a group for LGBTQ+ authors, readers, and bloggers to gather once a week to share six sentences from a work of fiction–a WIP or a finished work or even a 6-sentence book recommendation (no spoilers please!).

In this group, you’ll find anything from romance and historical fiction to mystery and YA. The common thread is that every story’s main character identifies as LGBTQ+. The snippets could range from zero flames to full-on sexytimes, anything goes content-wise. The only rule is snippets will be 6 sentences long–one for each color in the Pride flag.

 

Brenda Murphy writes short fiction and novels. She loves tattoos and sideshows and yes, those are her monkeys.  When she is not loitering at her local tea shop and writing, she wrangles two kids, one dog, and an unrepentant parrot.  She reviews books, blogs about life as a writer with ADHD and publishes photographs on her blog Writing While Distracted. You can find her on Facebook by clicking here.  Sign Up for her email list here  www.brendalmurphy.com

Books available at

Amazon 

NineStar Press

Knotted Legacy

Both Ends of the Whip

ONE  

Sum of the Whole 

Dominique and Other Stories 

 

And So It Begins

February starts tomorrow. Where I live, it is the longest, shortest, coldest, cloudiest month of the year. It is my least favorite month. This year instead of wallowing in my usual February funk I’ve decided to actively change my attitude toward February. I doubt it will ever replace August as my favorite month, but maybe by the end of the next 28 days, we will be cordial. One of my new year goals was to expand my writing repertoire so this month I’m writing a novella. It is a new length of fiction for me, and my first paranormal story. The story has been banging around in my head since last spring, so it feels incredible to let my characters loose on the page.
The other change I am planning this month is breaking up with my phone. Why? Because my screen time tracking app numbers appalled me. I spend enough time on my phone some weeks for it to qualify as a part-time job. As a writer, I love connecting with readers, as a reader I love connecting with other readers and geeking out over books. But I also want to make sure that I’m not drowning my sorrows in my phone, chasing little hits of endorphins, the way some folks pursue alcohol or drugs. ADHD folks have higher rates of addiction to alcohol and substances than the general population and are at a higher risk for screen/technology addiction.  As part of my self-care this month I’m going to change the way I interact my phone and adopt more healthy habits.

I found a fantastic book to help me with my phone addiction. How to Break Up with Your Phone by Catherine Price is the how-to book I’ve needed to make the break with my device. Price approaches the process of phone addiction with charm, wit, and facts to back up and support her suggestions for mindful use of our phones. She is not a zealot or Luddite. Price has a realistic outlook when it comes to the convenience of smartphones and does not recommend or suggest that you switch to a flip phone and head off into the wilderness unless that is what you want to do.

The beauty of her approach is her myriad of sound suggestions of how to practice mindfulness while using our technology. Catherine Price offers actionable recommendations and a plan to follow to make sure that way you interact with your phone fits your life and is designed by you, not app designers using the best brain hacking technology money can buy to have you staring at your screen instead of your family.

I encourage you to evaluate the time you spend with your phone, to decide if your interactions are positive and support your goals. I have a long list of items to accomplish this year, and I know I have to make some changes in how I use my time if I am going to achieve them. My first step is to make sure time spent on my phone is time I’ve chosen to allocate instead of merely being sucked into the vortex of apps designed to keep me tied to my screen, oblivious to the world and distracted from my goals. For the next month I’m going to follow the steps outlined in How to Break Up With Your Phone and work on my phone habit. Wish me luck and if you decide to join me, drop a comment here. I’ll post a follow up in March.

Brenda Murphy writes short fiction and novels. She loves tattoos and sideshows and yes, those are her monkeys.  When she is not loitering at her local tea shop and writing, she wrangles two kids, one dog, and an unrepentant parrot.  She reviews books, blogs about life as a writer with ADHD and publishes photographs on her blog Writing While Distracted. You can find her on Facebook by clicking here.  Sign Up for her email list here  www.brendalmurphy.com

Books available at

Amazon 

NineStar Press

Knotted Legacy

Both Ends of the Whip

ONE  

Sum of the Whole 

Dominique and Other Stories