How do you do that thing you do so well?

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It’s a common question asked by those who want to write a novel. I hear this all the time on Quora. Where do you begin? How? Where do you get your ideas? Do you plot? Do you ‘wing-it?’ How do you do that thing you do–so well?

Let’s talk about my latest release, SILK ROAD Code Raven 6. It’s a great example of my personal writing process and may help you to get started on yours!

It starts with a word. I asked a friend, fellow author, to give me a country. In this case, it was Kyrgyzstan–a country that had no meaning to me. If you’re familiar with the Code Raven Series, you would know that not only do I love my characters and develop them further with each story, but I also love to take them to different countries around the globe to get into–and out of–trouble!

In my research about Kyrgyzstan, I came across the history of how this country was once a part of the Soviet Union. I already had a rough idea of the Russia/Asia part of the world but didn’t know much about the terrain. If you are anything like me, once you go on the world-wide-web, one search turns into another, and another, and before you know it, you’re off on a tangent for no particular reason. In my case, my interest was piqued by the crime lords who moved in to fill the void of a legitimate government. Corruption of all types runs rampant in this predominately Muslim country.

At this point, I became intrigued by the historical implications of this centuries-old area and the original Silk Road–the trading route moving through Asia from the East to the West.

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Without giving away the plot, let’s just say that I became intrigued by the human condition and in particular how turmoil and greed affect women and children around the globe.

HERE’S MY PROCESS:

  1. Out comes the excel spreadsheet. 
  2. Usually, I reprint the Characters names across the top of the sheet so I don’t mix up attributes, history, or activities, timelines, etc. This is important when writing a series. You would work the same way as you introduce new characters in your novel even if it’s a stand-alone book. I also used this process on my memoir LOVE The Beat Goes On
  3. Chapters numbers down the left side column.
  4. Next column a key phrase to summarize what will happen in that chapter.
  5. The next column will give more detail, possibly a paragraph of key events.
  6. In the planning stages, I might color code the chapters. If it’s fiction and action, I might color code an action event RED, something that moves the plot along in YELLOW, and a relatively soft aspect, emotional, resting chapter might be soft green. This way you can make sure you don’t lose your reader by dropping the pace. Inevitably all my reviewers say this series is ‘fast-paced.’ You want that when writing a mystery. Otherwise, your fans will get bored and put your book down! We want them to read it in “one sitting!”
  7. The chapters continue down the page until the end.

Why a spreadsheet?

I use this concept if I’m writing Action/Adventure/Mystery or Contemporary Romance or Non-fiction like my memoir. Why?

  1. It’s easy to cut-and-paste therefore changing the sequence of events, or slotting in a new chapter!
  2. You can see the entire story in one place. 
  3. The spreadsheet allows you to edit the events along the way inserting, expanding where you find your plot to be weak.

My process is always fluid. I never set a rigid plot.

Sometimes I start with one idea and watch the following events move down the page. The thoughts, ideas I have may never make it to the final story. But here’s the key: one idea leads to another, and another, and another. And my story starts to take shape from that original one word. Example:

Silk Road. Trade. Smuggling. The new Rail service from the coast of China all the way to London, England! Think about the potential here. Imagine all the events that could happen along the way! And that’s how the story moved along. And then I found activities in the Maldives that I decided to connect. And one of my main characters, Zach was summoned to Washington DC by the frightening pleas from a SEAL friend he served with in his Afghanistan/Bin Laden days.

Here’s a couple of teasers so you get a feel for the final story:

A former Navy SEAL gets a terrifying message from his estranged daughter. “I’m desperate! I need your help, Dad. Bring your friends!”

“They stole my baby Daddy! They’ve got my boy!” Will a team of ex-SEALs break US law to exact revenge?

A teenager is abducted in Kyrgyzstan. Has she become one of many kidnapped brides? Or is something far more frightening going on? The corrupt authorities ignore the parents’ pleas for help.

A new Silk Road train stretches from the eastern shores of Yiwu China to London, England. Its precious cargo is not what’s written on the manifest.

When two young children are abducted in the middle of the night from Raven’s sanctuary in the Maldives, Luci, Luke, and the Raven Group will stop at nothing to get them back.

Are all these horrific events linked?

If I’ve peaked your interest and you want a great read, written in the style of Lee Childs, David Baldacci, or Clive Cussler, get your copy on Amazon: Silk Road

 

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Your date is going so well that you agree to go back to his/her place.

What’s one thing he/she could do to completely ruin the mood?

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*You know I love to share my Quora answers!

If I’d agreed to go to your place, you’ve more than likely already done enough right things to get me there. What could you do further that would be stupid? Let me make a list.

  1. you could ramble on endlessly about your ex—I’d be bored
  2. you could ask me too many personal questions about past lovers—that seems to be in annoying abundance lately
  3. you could ask me about STD’s insinuating that I sleep around
  4. you could open up a bottle of wine and insist on drinking the whole thing
  5. you could become a rather sloppy drunk and I would walk out immediately
  6. you could take too long to make a pass at me, and I would be totally bored
  7. you could fall asleep in the middle of a passionate moment and I would leave
  8. you could be a ‘biff-bam-thank-you-mam’ kind of guy in which case I would be a ‘no-second-chance’ kind of girl

I hope you enjoy this  ‘tongue-in-cheek’ silly, yet serious response from me today!

 

more by Lynda Filler

LOVE The Beat Goes On

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You’ve got to be kidding me!

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Lynda Filler
Lynda Filler, Writer, Novelist, Top QUORA Writer 2018 at Lynda Filler Author (2009-present)

Interesting assumption. I think you might have missed the point of the investigation. As of his entry into the Manhattan Court House yesterday, he had something like 50 accusers. Personally, I watch, read and try to forget what’s going on. If you read my profile, I’m from the generation before all this happened. And believe me, it happened in my generation all the time. No one talked about it.

Most of the women who have spoken up were actually in a forced situation. Yes, some went ahead with it and I will explain that in a moment. But many ran away. Many left in a hurry. Many were backed into a corner by an extremely large man. How do you think you react to 250 lbs of aggression against 116 lbs? Power against a nobody, someone who’s career stands at the mercy of the MOST powerful man in Hollywood. Do you give in? Or try to run? When the thought runs through your mind that his enablers know exactly what is going on, so if you scream NO ONE IS GOING TO HELP YOU. And if you fight back, you’re banned forever from following your dreams. Just think about what kind of “consent” that entails.

The first time for me I was on a double date. We got separated as couples and my date and I were at a park ‘talking’. It was midnight. He tried to rape me. Thank God he believed my story (I said I had my period) and the promise to meet up the following week. I was 18 and he was a police officer of 24. It was in Ottawa Canada many many years ago. If something had happened, who would I complain to?

The second time, I was a very sad and frightened about-to-be-divorced 22-year-old woman at her lawyers. My ex had tried to smother me in a fit of anger. We were married for 6 months. But I saw a pattern and I ran out and never returned. That was traumatic enough. But when I went to sign my divorce documents, my divorce lawyer had his brother with him (another lawyer). It turned out that “I” was part of the payment for their divorce services.

I can go on if you’d like. My generation did nothing, said nothing because nothing would have been the result of a complaint. Imagine me accusing a police officer or two lawyers, or a photographer when I started modeling, or a business owner when I worked as a buyer for his 10 stores…

Do you want to know where I was for the year before I married? I became a missionary nun! I was Catholic and very religious. But the contemplative life was not for me for several reasons. There was no #MeToo movement in my day. The last thing any of us would have done was file a complaint.

So don’t tell me about consent, or partial consent or culpability. Tell me about compassion, and understanding and love. Tell me you can understand and for one single moment imagine that you have a daughter forced into a sexual act. There is no love, no desire, no agreement. There is absolutely fucking nothing except ‘get it over with and let me go’.

And that’s all I can say about the whole thing because I refuse to live with the anger and pain it caused in my life.

Although I do believe it led to a series of painful and worthless years of emptiness and a lifetime of looking for real love.

 

LOVE The Beat Goes On  If you are curious about my life and why my one word is  #LOVE

Knockin’

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Knockin’

if love came a knockin’

I would demand protective custody

and command an investigation

I would call in the Sheriff

and ask for an enquiry

get answers to a thousand questions

I would roll up the red carpet

turn over the welcome mat

and after careful consideration

I might join you at Starbucks

and share a story or two

and look deep into your eyes

and dissect every answer

and listen to each inflection

and upon careful consideration

I would barricade my heart

and slow down my drumming soul beats

and bring out my cunning intellect

and stand strong upon my feet

because I couldn’t take another hit

so I would call upon my Bodyguard

beg him to rescue my raging hormones

protect me from my sensual leanings

incarcerate my wandering eyes

incapacitate my roving fingers

and seal my lustful lips

take my body into custody

tie me up with silken ropes

and hide me until next Valentine’s Day

because with love

I never

give up

hope

Knockin’ more of I  (Spy)  Love on Amazon 

The Little Pieces

 

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© Lynda Filler Photography

 

 

I love you

with all those little pieces

the ones left lying on the floor like garbage

discarded chunks

of bleeding broken heart

 

I tried to fix them

used Crazy Glue

thought crazy would work

 

because I must have been crazy

to have fallen for your smooth moves

and slick lines

and empty words

and unfilled promises

 

it doesn’t matter

whether you played

with me

or against me

or hurt me

 

because like the saying goes

it’s funny how someone can break your heart

and you still love him

with all the broke and busted pieces

left lying on the floor

 

 

© The Love Fix

 

Authors and Readers, What do you think?

 

As a professional novelist, are there “rough patches” in your books that you accept aren’t as good or interesting as others or do you keep working until you polish every bit of prose to the same degree?

In the writing of a manuscript, the answer to this would be yes, the latter. I insist that the experience my reader has is 100% the best entertainment I can provide. I write, for the most part, in the mystery, romantic suspense genre. I can’t leave any holes. I also write with several characters so there may be more than one plot line. I like short chapters. I keep my readers moving at a fast pace. Well, you can tell that just from the way I answer your question.

First I plot on Excel. If a plot line is not up to par, it gets deleted. I’m brutal with myself. I’d rather write a novella that’s good than a novel that has chapters or ‘rough patches’ that will take away from your enjoyment as my reader. I can tell you that a reviewer will catch your rough patches and call you on them.

I received a MS back from my editor this evening. I told her to be totally honest: If you don’t like it or have areas that need work or total re-writing, tell me. I want to know how my readers will experience this book. So her job is to challenge me if my work is crap.

I haven’t opened it yet to see what changes she made. But in this particular case, by the time I sent the MS to my editor, it was edited 4 times by me. The topic is male prostitution in Puerto Vallarta Mexico so there is sex in this book—more than I would normally write. I was feeling insecure, not wanting the work to be smutty or erotic. I prefer that it be classified as Contemporary having adult content.

This is what she said:

Anyways, I LOVED this story. It was engrossing, fun, emotional, sexy, and even a little unnerving at times. It was perfect!

It’s interesting that she said ‘unnerving’ because that’s EXACTLY the experience I had when some of the stories flowed through me onto the page. Each adjective she used to describe the book is the tone I wanted to achieve. Now when I open it tomorrow, there may yet be things I will change. That’s the way I work.

But professional writing is a learning process too. So don’t be too hard on yourself. If you know there are rough patches, my advice would be to shelve the manuscript for a few months. Then go back to it and delete the parts that suck. It feels good to delete whole pages. I did it with this book and I liked the feeling. I said to myself: I can do much better than this, gone!

If you’re taking the time to read my work it better be the best that I can possibly deliver.

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On another note, I want to thank Book Talk Radio Club for nominating TARGET in the SUN for Best Contemporary Novel of 2017! Thanks for the honor!! If you haven’t read it yet, here’s what reviewers are saying:

“Gripping and suspenseful, clever and sharp, Target in the Sun is a romantic thriller that kept me on the edge of my seat. I enjoyed the format, telling parts of the story through letters. I also enjoyed how smoothly it read, the type of book that sucks you in. Highly recommended.”

“WOW, what a journey! I couldn’t wait to continue with the second, ‘Vanished in the Sun’. I read both in 2 days, and I’m totally exhausted now with all the action in the fight against the drug cartels, love, Mexican cultural knowledge and the beautifully descriptive word paintings of Western Mexico, especially the amazing sunsets! The super-secret off-the-grid organization keeping watch over these characters is “Genius! Very intriguing! Can’t wait for #3!

What things in life you should never take for granted?

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  1. Never take for granted your best friend and lover—even when he pisses you off!! Because he could end up living in a hospital on life support, like mine.
  2. Your beauty—learn very early that beauty comes from inside. If you think it’s external you will never be happy.
  3. LOVE—take it often, give it all the time, and never ever forget that you are enough. If you don’t learn to love yourself, you might as well quit right now.
  4. Family and friendships. They may not be here for your entire life, but while they are, tell them you love them. Never miss an opportunity to say, “I love you!”
  5. Your life. As we have all seen by recent events in the US and around the world, natural disasters and man-made horrific events can take our lives away in an instant. Truly live each moment as if it’s your last and never stop making a positive difference in the lives around you.

Childhood Sexual Abuse?

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I have weird thoughts about my childhood.

I can only remember two events before the age of 11.

The first, I got caught playing doctor with a boy on the picnic table in the back yard of our house when I was 5 or 6. The second event, I was dancing ballet all by myself in my room listening to a song called Unchained Melody.

Oh, my love, my darling
I’ve hungered for your touch
A long, lonely time
Time goes by so slowly
And time can do so much
Are you still mine?
I need your love
I need your love
God speed your love to me

I remember playing that song over and over again. I think I was 8. How could I have understood a longing for love at that age?

I can’t stand the smell of beer. I don’t know why. I’ve never even had a sip. Sometimes I think I’m in denial over events in my childhood.

I had an Uncle who loved to have me sit on his lap (my sister told me this—I don’t remember). He was in the Navy. I do remember a corkboard of ribbons— hatbands, with the names of the ships he worked on, hanging like streamers on my bedroom wall. He gave them to me. I felt special.

The family used to whisper things about him. When I was an adult, his wife died and he re-married—his childhood sweetheart. She had two daughters. The marriage only lasted two years. My sister thinks he sexually molested her teenage daughters.

Sometimes I wonder if I was sexually abused in my early years and I’ve blocked the memories.

I’ve lived a long relatively happy life and if I was sexually molested, I don’t need to know.

 

 

More about my life

 

 

 

 

 

 

JET-DISPLACED Jet #4 New Release!!

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Lynda Filler sets the international stage for book 4 JET-Displaced in her latest action thriller ‘JET’ KW series based on NY Times/USA Best Selling author Russell Blake

After the violent elimination of a sinister group intent on a cyber theft of 50 billion dollars in JET-ULTIMATUM, the ex-Mossad assassin JET and her four-year-old daughter Hannah hide out in an idyllic Raven Group safe house in a remote beach town on the Bay of Banderas in Mexico.

Until she receives a message: Get out now!

Once again, Luke Raven comes to the rescue, and enlists the help of the beautiful and cunning Eurasian Israeli operative JET on a mission to meet with her old friends, the new President of France and his wife Simone. Europe is in the throes of a major humanitarian crisis that undermines the safety and stability of the Western world. The Raven Group and a consortium of wealthy philanthropies have an audacious plan to help. But while they are distracted by the refugee catastrophe, a brilliant Syrian biologist disappears from a private lab at a famous foundation in Seattle, Washington. A plot is revealed to engineer the ultimate bio-weapon; and the race is on to find the virulent prototype before it reaches a megalomaniac in the Middle East.

Jet’s simple mission turns critical when intercepted messages from the Serbian/Hungarian border hold the final clue to this terrifying turn of events. From Mexico, to the United States, to France, Serbia, Hungary and Syria, JET rules!