Writing on, and about, an island

Posts Tagged ‘Writing a crime novel’

Brain soup: writing + ADD + adulthood

In Writing on February 14, 2015 at 7:32 am

I don’t believe in god, but when she was wiring up my brain she obviously took some creative licence.

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I’ve just been diagnosed with ADD, about 30 years after it would have been helpful (but better late than never, I guess). I also have an anxiety disorder – fairly severe at times – plus OCD and a few other things thrown in (synaesthesia and sensory processing disorder).

On paper I sound like a bit of a basket case – but funnily enough I am, in others’ eyes at least, pretty successful, in-control and happy (I’m clearly not a bad actor either!). I’m also lucky to be gifted with a natural talent for writing, drawing and a knack for quickly mastering most things I try… when I can be bothered, which is almost never. I have noticed that, when I put in 10% effort, I get a 90% return – it’s probably why, despite my particular challenges, I’ve sailed through a lot of things with minimum commitment – but the occasions when I put in that 10% are very, very few and far between. And it’s getting harder, and more stressful, to pull off. As most ADD-ers would relate to, I feel like I’m in a permanently suspended state of ‘potential’, without ever achieving anything of any real substance.

The ADD diagnosis came at about the same time I received a literary grant to complete my first novel, and the time I found out I was pregnant. I have some large, immovable deadlines looming. As I run my own business as a writer and editor, and have a young family, I have layer upon layer of deadlines and responsibilities to manage.

To be honest, I’m not entirely sure how to do this year. I am anxious, angry, and immensely fucking frustrated. Finding out there’s a reason why my inner world is so splintered is a relief, and I wouldn’t necessarily want to be different, but I’m completely struck by the enormity of what’s in front of me. I can’t focus for more than a minute or so at a time (oh, how I thought that was normal…), yet I am going to be attempting a 60,000 page novel?

Right now, I’m thinking that I might aim for 333 words a day (that’s the OCD in me). I have also started reading other ‘ADD’ writers’ experiences, and they are inspiring. I will let you know how I go.

Going Offline to Get the Book Done…

In Books, Crime & Mystery Writer, Island Life, Tasmania, Travel, Writing on April 25, 2012 at 5:00 pm

I’ve been a little quiet on the blogging front as I’m getting my book, Undercurrent, ready for publication next month.

I’ve had a great response from my Carmen Cromer author site (Cromer means ‘lake of crows’. Creepy…), and on the Undercurrent prologue I uploaded (in part to mark the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, as a conspiracy theory surrounding it is a major plotline in my crime novel).

Now, I’m off tomorrow morning – on my own – to my family’s 1950s surf shack on the East Coast of Tasmania, for a full five days. Enforced solitude. No internet. No phone calls. No-one to hear me scream if…

The location of the shack, on the edge of the cliff above the beach, is perfect, secluded; you can hear the waves at night…

… and it’s going to scare the s**t out of me to be there on my own.

I’m totally afraid of the dark. I’m one of these people who (at 35 years old) still checks under beds, sleeps with a knife under my pillow and has to close all the cupboards. I’m very suggestible. Perhaps that’s what’s makes me an effective crime writer?

Anyway, I wil be channelling my pure terror into getting Undercurrent polished for publication.

Wish me well (and at least one decent night’s sleep).

What Title Should I Choose for My Crime Novel?

In Books, Crime & Mystery Writer, Tasmania, Writing on April 4, 2012 at 12:50 pm

I’m about 10 days away from launching my dedicated author site (CarmenCromer.com). Exciting but scary.

Although I’ll be launching with a free chapter (with the full book to follow later), I’ll still need to upload a ‘coming soon’ banner and the book cover.

Little problem…

I’m still undecided on the title of the book.

I started with Tinderbox, as that’s where it’s mainly set. And ‘tinderbox’ is a noun that pretty well describes the plot…

However, there are oodles of books out there already titled Tinderbox.

I have two other options I’m considering.

COLD ISLAND

UNDERCURRENT

Do either grab you?

There will probably be three cover images to choose from (choose your favourite when you buy). Like this…

All three of my covers will have this sort of feel…

(Stinson Beach, CA Sunset 6:34pm © Eric Cahan)

As background, here’s my (short) synopsis…

It’s 15 April 2012. And the Tasmanian coastal town of Tinderbox is still sleeping when an expert diver plunges into the dark waters off its shore. Within minutes, she is dead; carbon dioxide the silent killer.

The creepy, lonely death of the diver sparks a disturbing journey for Berlin-born academic, Cattis Cull—one that takes her deep into a conspiracy theory surrounding the greatest maritime mystery the world has known: the century-old Titanic tragedy.

Cattis’ unravelling of the crime takes place against a backdrop of political corruption, the contested Tasmanian wilderness, and an undercurrent of menace that began with slaughtered aborigines and cannibalistic convicts… and continues to this day.

Will curiosity kill Cattis? 

Having read the synopsis, do either of those potential titles make sense?

Writing a Novel While Working Full-Time

In Books, Career, Crime & Mystery Writer, Freelance, Writing on February 23, 2012 at 12:07 pm

I wrote my crime novel during the Tasmanian winter of 2011. I wrote it while working full-time in advertising and running a successful freelance business, and managing a high-energy home life…

I have always gotten more done when I am at my busiest. To write a novel in 3 months, I wrote 1000+ words a day.

What I know now, about writing a novel while working full-time, is that you must let go of two preconceived (and false) writing concepts…

1. There is a perfect place for writing

Nope: there is no such thing.

If you wait for the perfect place to write, it won’t ever happen. I’ve fallen into this trap before. When I was younger and single and uncommitted, I wanted the cliched writer’s desk, study and all the trappings that go with it. Now that my life is – and looks like it will always be – perpetually chaotic and crazy, I know better.

Now, all I absolutely require is an uncluttered work area.

Generally, I work on my laptop in our study – or while sitting on my bed. Or on the couch. Or the kitchen table. For easy transportation, I also pasted my entire novel (in A4 sheets) into a scrapbook, which I’d take out into the park at lunchtime to work on. I’d also work on it while on the bus to and from work.

Occasionally, when I have been granted precious solo time, I have worked at my shack on Bruny Island. I don’t necessarily get lots more done there, but I’m grateful for the inspirational environment and the chance to totally immerse myself in my book.

2. There is a perfect time for writing

Nope: there is no such thing.

Writing is like anything else in life – you either choose to make it a priority, or you don’t. Simple.

When you work full-time and have a family, life is a non-stop juggling act. It’s easy to put yourself and your writing dreams last. I know this only too well.

But, if you passively wait for the perfect time to ‘be a writer’, something else is guaranteed to sabotage your intent.

So, then – and now – I have had to make choices:

Do I relax during my weekday lunch hours… or do I work on my book?

Do I lie in on weekends… or do I work on my book?

Do I watch something on TV… or do I work on my book?

Do I read a magazine on the bus to work… or do I work on my book?

You get the picture.

There is no magic formula

Writing a novel while managing the demands of a career and a family comes down to discipline, drive and lots of little decisions (that really add up).

Even when I didn’t feel like writing, I would still do it.

Even now, I have to work hard to continue to make writing a priority. It is somewhat exhausting. But I have committed to giving my writing the respect it deserves. And I keep my eye on the prize.

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