Happy Tuesday, my bookish peeps. Do you have any idiosyncrasies related to reading? I know some people that will only read print books and others that will only read a story that has a happy ending. I’m willing to give pretty much any genre a try, but I have a strong preference for digital reading, namely ebooks. Yes, I know these might simply be called preferences, but we readers also have our rituals, such as no reading while the television is on, only reading in the morning/night, preferring a certain cup or beverage while we read, etc. Well, authors have their idiosyncrasies and rituals when writing as well. I know some authors that will only write in longhand with a certain type of pens. Other authors only feel comfortable writing using a typewriter, manual preferred, and others that only feel comfortable writing in the morning or late evening. Today’s guest, Helen Power, is the author of The Ghosts of Thorwald Place and she will be discussing with us the importance of ritual with regards to writing. Please help me welcome Ms. Power to the blog. Thank you, Ms. Power, for taking the time to visit with us today, the blog is all yours.
The Importance of Ritual
Whenever I get the interview question, “Do you have any rituals?”, my brain immediately conjures up images of pentagrams and flickering black candles. Then I realize that the interviewer is asking about writing rituals, not satanic rituals, and I sheepishly provide a dry answer.
Sometimes I think that a satanic ritual would actually be a lot easier. There’s a specific formula to follow in order to summon a demon, but one in order to summon your creativity? There’s a lot more to it than dressing in black from head to toe, gathering your closest friends in a cemetery at midnight, and slaughtering a goat.
Creating a writing ritual is both easier and more complex. No, you don’t need to know how to read Latin, but you do need to know yourself: what inspires you, what makes you more productive, and what distracts you.
For those of us who have a full-time job that’s not at all related to writing, it can be difficult to switch gears to embrace your creative side. Sure, I’m a librarian—but I’m an academic librarian, which means that I rarely see a fiction title during work hours, and most of my day involves research consultations, teaching, managing the engineering collection, and scholarly writing. I’ve discovered that developing little tricks and routines are infinitely helpful in wrapping my head around the seemingly insurmountable task of finding the time to write a novel.
There are many different ways of getting into the right mindset for writing. For some people, it’s as simple as brewing a cup of tea and sitting at their laptop. For me, I like to storyboard. I know what you’re thinking: Most writers storyboard. But for me, I’m both a planner and a pantser, which means I rarely stick to what I’ve planned. While I usually write mysteries and I know how my stories will end, it’s the journey that constantly changes for me. Storyboarding has become a bit of a compulsion. Every time I go to write, I plan out what the next third of the book will look like. That planning process makes what could be an overwhelming task feel a lot more doable. It even gets me eager to start putting pen to paper. Usually, my first couple of scenes stick to this new plan, but then I start to deviate. New ideas and opportunities present themselves to me within those pages. For instance, I might realize that one of my characters’ personalities suggests that what I had planned further down the line doesn’t quite mesh with what they would really do, since by writing that character, I’m getting a better grasp of their internal conflict. The next time I sit down to write, I take a look at the new scenes, the notes for changes that I’ve jotted down, and create a new storyboard and a new plan of action accordingly.
But what about defeating writer’s block? Usually the storyboarding approach helps me, but I have other tricks up my sleeve. I often use the Pomodoro technique, which is a productivity hack that can be used for anything, not just writing. I set a timer for twenty-five minutes of uninterrupted writing. Even when you’re incredibly busy or extremely distracted, fitting in twenty-five minutes should not be too daunting of a task. I’ll do what I can during that time, and once the alarm goes off, if I’m still not inspired, I’ll try another tactic or give up for the day and tackle the household chores that have somehow piled up during that twenty-five minutes.
I also use music to help me get into the right mindset. I’ve curated playlists for different characters, stories, and moods. I, personally, like to go for walks when I have a bit of writer’s block, and I listen to these playlists and keep a notebook handy. I think my neighbours all either know I’m a writer or they think that I’m spying on them. Either way, it makes for some awkward eye contact after they catch me outside their house at dusk, notebook in hand, scribbling vigorously.
And then, of course, there are times when inspiration strikes. Usually, it happens to me right in those moments when I’m falling asleep or when I’m relaxing in the shower. My eyes fly open and words start flowing. Sometimes, when there’s a thunderstorm outside, I feel compelled to drop everything I’m doing because the atmosphere is perfect for weaving a spooky yarn. I find it’s important not to ignore when the mood strikes, but it’s not always a convenient time to write. Nevertheless, keeping a notebook with you at all times so you can jot down those brilliant lines or ingenious plot twists is critical. You can’t guarantee that you’ll remember them later, when it’s actually an appropriate time to write.
There are a lot of different approaches to creating a writing ritual. Some people will disconnect from the internet or hide their cell phones, because the siren call of Writing Twitter is too enticing to ignore. Others will have a designated “writing spot,” a special armchair or a desk where they do nothing but write, which tricks the brain into being more productive when they’re in that location. Ultimately, what works for one person won’t work for another. It comes down to experimenting with different types of rituals to see what works best for you, whether it’s curated playlists, meditation, or dancing naked under the moonlight.
The Ghosts of Thorwald Place
by Helen Power
October 1-31, 2021 Virtual Book Tour
Trust No One. Especially your neighbors.
Rachel Drake is on the run from the man who killed her husband. She never leaves her safe haven in an anonymous doorman building, until one night a phone call sends her running. On her way to the garage, she is murdered in the elevator. But her story doesn’t end there.
She finds herself in the afterlife, tethered to her death spot, her reach tied to the adjacent apartments. As she rides the elevator up and down, the lives of the residents intertwine. Every one of them has a dark secret. An aging trophy wife whose husband strays. A surgeon guarding a locked room. A TV medium who may be a fraud. An ordinary man with a mysterious hobby.
Compelled to spend eternity observing her neighbors, she realizes that any one of them could be her killer.
And then, her best friend shows up to investigate her murder.
Praise for The Ghosts of Thorwald Place:
“[An] enticing debut . . . Distinctive characters complement the original plot. Power is off to a promising start.” —Publishers Weekly
“A creative, compulsively readable mystery—haunted by strange entities and told from the unique perspective of a ghost. I couldn’t put it down.” —Jo Kaplan, author of It Will Just Be Us
Published by: CamCat Books
Publication Date: October 5th 2021
Number of Pages: 368
ISBN: 0744301432 (ISBN13: 9780744301434)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Goodreads | CamCat Books
Helen Power is obsessed with ghosts. She spends her free time watching paranormal investigation TV shows, hanging out in cemeteries, and telling anyone who’ll listen about her paranormal experiences. She is a librarian living in Saskatoon, Canada, and has several short story publications, including ones in Suspense Magazine and Dark Helix Press’s Canada 150 anthology, “Futuristic Canada.” The Ghosts of Thorwald Place is her first novel.
Catch Up With Our Author:
BookBub – @helen_power
Instagram – @powerlibrarian
Twitter – @helenpowerbooks
Facebook – @helenpowerauthor
Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!
This is a Rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Helen Power and CamCat Books. There will be Five (6) winners for this tour. Each of the winners will each receive 1 print ARC edition of The Ghosts of Thorwald Place by Helen Power (US, Canada, and UK shipping addresses Only). The giveaway begins on October 1 and ends on November 2, 2021. Void where prohibited.