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Author Archives: Meredith Allen Conner

About Meredith Allen Conner

Mom and writer - which translates as a little crazy at times. Retired dogsled driver and Chihuahua manager. Fly-fisherwoman and avid reader.

Tis The Season

Yes, it is that time of year once again. That crazy and wonderful time of year. Christmas. Oh, the shopping and the cooking. The time spent with friends. The less anticipated time spent with a boss at the holiday work party. The wrapping. More shopping. The decorating. The baking. The joy. The guilt. The love. The meltdowns.

It’s enough to make anyone certifiable. Which doesn’t bode well for writers as we already have voices in our heads.

It’s also hard as h . . . the holidays to keep on track with writing. Life just upped pretty much everything in a 30 day whirlwind of chaos. Personally, I love the holidays. But I struggle to get everything done. Including writing.

So I’ve got a plan.

Writing through the chaos in 3 easy – or somewhat easy – steps:

1. Make a writing log: Grab a piece of lined paper (or use excel if you’re more tech savvy), create a couple of columns. In the first column write the date. I TRY to write 5 days a week and keep the weekends open for family, so my column has five dates listed and then two open spaces before the next week begins (in case I don’t get my writing done and need time on the weekends). The next column should be wider – this is where I keep track of how many words, pages, etc. . . that I wrote for the day. I keep the column wider so I can also add little bits of praise or encouragement. All I can say is it helps me. The log is a great visual. It really helps keep me on track.

2. Keep a sharp eye out for time gaps: as unbelievable as it may sound, there are and will be periods of time in the coming days where you have spaces of time. In between the shopping and the wrapping and the baking   there will be chunks of free time. Waiting for the brownies to bake. Waiting for a store to open. Waiting in line at the post office. Keep your pen and paper – or ipad or smartphone – with you and take advantage of those tiny gaps of time. They add up.

3. Give yourself a break: Unless you are under deadline, don’t beat yourself up if you don’t make your word count. These are the holidays after all. Peace, love and fa-la-la. Time to enjoy family and friends and celebrate. It’s a special time of year. Enjoy it.

Do you have any tricks up your sleeve for surviving the holidays?

 

 
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Posted by on November 28, 2012 in Idaho

 

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Trick or Treat!

All Hallow’s Eve

A spooky night

When creatures come

To give a fright

They like to

Slither and to sneak

and often ask

“Trick or Treat?”

The little ones

With eyes so wide

Creep cautiously

And even hide

The older ones

Are braver still

And venture forth

To the Haunted Mill

With giggles, screams

Some blood and gore

They seek each house

For treats galore

The evening ends

Tiny feet like lead

We’re home now

What?

It’s time for bed?!!

Not my best poem, but still fitting for my little kiddos. Tomorrow will be filled with treats and fun events at school. An afternoon of trick or treating at the local businesses and then an evening of more trick or treating. It’s a day and evening just ripe for a good imagination.

What do you do to celebrate? Does Halloween ever spark a story line or two?

 
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Posted by on October 31, 2012 in Idaho

 

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Do your characters have issues?

It’s human nature to have issues. It’s part of what makes us human.

Incidents happen in our childhood that we carry with us. It could be something as simple as your mother smoothing your eyebrows every morning to make certain you look “perfect”. Or it could be something more intense like your family surviving a house fire with nothing but the clothes on your backs.

As an adult, maybe each morning you stare into the mirror trying to find anything out of place. Maybe everything has to be “just so” in your house. Maybe you can’t stand flames as a result of the childhood trauma. Candles are absolutely forbidden.

Through the years other events/people/traumas happen that also help shape the people we are today. It’s what makes us each so unique and intriguing.

And it is so important in our writing when we are creating our characters. To add that third and fourth dimension to them.To make them as unique as we are and to allow our readers to relate to our characters.

Some of my favorite characters from movies and books have absolutely crazy issues. I love the sharks from “Finding Nemo” who are in a self help group to keep them from eating other fish. Sookie Stackhouse from the novels by Charlaine Harris can read minds which has always set her apart from both the human and the non-human characters. Indiana Jones had a whole host of issues from commitment to an intense dislike of snakes.

These are the things that draw us to these characters. The things that keep us buying the next book in the series and adding the movie to our home collection. The characters aren’t perfect. They are human and they are flawed and we love them and cheer them on.

Do you have any favorite characters? What issues do your characters have?

 

 
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Posted by on October 3, 2012 in Idaho

 

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How do you research?

Every book requires at least some research. Unless you are a CPA who likes to collect stamps and ride motorcycles and your book is about a biker CPA who just happens to collect stamps in her spare time, your book will require research.

Where to begin?

Well, it depends.

Is the information you are lacking more general – maybe it’s the location of your story? Are you writing a story that takes place in a small town, yet you have always lived in a large city? Depending upon your budget and resources, a long weekend trip to a small town nearby might just get you started. If cash is tight, head to the library and ask the librarian to help you pick out a few great novels that take place in small towns. Travel shows can shed a great deal of knowledge. As can travel magazines and travel books. Every town has a map of it somewhere.

Or are you wanting to use a more significant detail in your writing, but it is outside of your knowledge? Say your heroine is a sharp shooting ex-marine, if you have never discharged a weapon before, I’d highly recommend several visits to a gun range. When it comes to certain details that are inherent to your story, a good writer needs to be able to present the information in a manner that is utterly believable to their audience. Hands on experience can add that authenticity. Take a photography class to get into the head of your photojournalist. If your hero adopts a dog and you are a cat person, borrow a friend’s pooch for a couple days.

It’s the details that count. They can make or break a story. And when it comes to your baby, you want it to shine.

How do you research?

 
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Posted by on September 5, 2012 in research, writing, writing craft

 

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Location, location, location!!

Where do your stories take place? A city, a town, a bar? Is it based on a real place? Or is it a place that you have created in your imagination? Or maybe it is a combination of the two?

I have to have a base for my story. A place that I am familiar with. Whether it is a town or a restaurant or an island. I have to start my story somewhere/some place that I know intimately. It is sort of like building a house. Once I have the foundation set in concrete, I can begin to build my dream.

I don’t have to worry about what color the concrete is or how it feels or what it smells like. I already know. I can put these things down on paper without a struggle. Then, once I begin to frame my house, I might decide to change a room or a layout or even add in a few more rooms. This is my story after all and it is fiction. That’s always the fun part.

But, if I am going to use a business or a location that I have created more than once, I will sketch it out for reference. I don’t want to have my characters walk in a door on the North end of the building when I’ve mentioned the window in that exact same spot eight chapters ago. I don’t get fancy with my drawings. I am more of a stick figure gal. But I can sketch out the basics.

I visualize the story that I am reading. A good author can transport a reader into the story. Into the place where the action is happening. There is nothing worse for me than to be ripped from that story by a misplaced exit or a bar that was next to the grocery then across from it. Yes, a good editor should catch these things, but these are our stories and we should know them inside and out.

How do you keep your stories straight?

 

 

 
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Posted by on August 22, 2012 in writing craft

 

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The Little Things of Love

My husband and I went out of town last weekend. Just the two of us. Our two daughters went and stayed at Grandma’s – or rather she stayed with them to take care of our furry family members as well.

Nothing fancy. We drove an hour and a half to the nearest city, Idaho Falls, ID. Population hovering around 60,000.

Summer is always a busy time. It’s so easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of activities. In our small area of the world it often feels as if we are on turbo speed. It’s a legitimate feeling. Winter runs about 8 plus months here. We are on a time clock to cram everything in.

It’s easy to get so caught up in life that the little things – the important ones – can get lost.

I found them again this weekend.

I hadn’t realized I’d lost them until I pushed aside the bike camp, the golf camp, the dance camp, the play dates and BBQs. The float trips and lunch appointments, the rushing here and there, the quick peck on the cheek “how was your day?” and the scribbling of notes to remind myself of things we need to discuss when we have the time.

Don’t get me wrong. I love summer and all the activities. The weather. The float trips. The time spent with friends and family.

But it is oh so very wonderful to take a moment and concentrate on those little things.

The touch of my husband’s hand in mine. His eyes are still as blue as when we met. A few more wrinkles and a lot more grey. We laugh at the same things. I love the way he expresses himself – that man can make me snort with laughter. He thinks it’s adorable when I have the occasional blonde moment. He loves to talk about our daughters and how wonderful they are. He knows when something is going to make me cry before I even realize it. He views every road trip as an opportunity to display his driving skills. He’s a guy’s guy and if he were a dog I know he’d pee all over me. He loves to kiss me good morning.

Falling in love is not a one time event. It is an ever-evolving occurence. Something you have to work at. And something you have to remind yourself of from time to time.

I still remember the very first time I looked into his eyes. His blue, blue eyes. I see so much more than the color now. I see the man inside. The one I continue to fall in love with.

Have you taken any time for yourself lately? Any time to appreciate the little things?

 
9 Comments

Posted by on August 8, 2012 in Idaho

 

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Character

I’m a bit of a control freak. Not over the top, but I have my issues. I think that is part of what draws me toward writing. I get to control everything – (insert evil cackle).

My absolute favorite part is creating my characters. There are many things that I am not able to control with my characters – they tell me what they are like. But I do get to do my own fine tuning. The odd hobby. A twitch perhaps. Certain catchwords.

It’s exciting and challenging. A one thousand piece puzzle beckoning me to put it together. If one piece doesn’t fit, I have to search for one that does. One that makes sense and adds to the puzzle as a whole.

My stories are driven by my characters and their problems. The flaws they are trying to erase, the issues they are trying to work through. How they handle the different scenarios I throw at them.

The characters are the reason I go back and read a book over and over again. I know I am not alone in this – think of all the series out on the market. The sequels that authors have written due to the number of letters their fans have written begging for more. People name their children after their favorite characters. I’m sure Jacob, Bella and Edward will be popular for several more years.

For me it’s all in the character. The ones I create, the ones I read about and the ones in my life. What about you? What’s your favorite part of writing?

 
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Posted by on July 24, 2012 in Idaho

 

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