Guest Blog Post – Christine McDonnell: Keeping Motivated

Christine McDonnell

So, a year ago this week, I had the pleasure of meeting Christine McDonnell, a writer from Virginia, at my first Smoky Writers retreat. Christine is a word-production machine – I really don’t know how she does it. I was happy with 18,000 words at the 2016 retreat and 22,000 this year. Christine breezily knocked off 36,000 last year and another 31,000 this year. In six days.

She also just happens to be a lovely person who helps make Smoky Writers special. And she has generously contributed a post for this blog! Her contact information is below – give her post a read and check out her pages and her work.

Christine, the floor is yours ….

Ever had a time when you wanted to finish something – wanted it with ever fiber of your being – but needed a kick in the pants to get it done? What happens if no one else could give you that kick in the pants?

This is my endless struggle. Balancing a professional day job with a relationship AND a secondary writing career on top of that – It can be rather exhausting.

EX.HAUST.ING. Continue reading

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Walking Through the Mountains With Tee Morris – Part 3

This is Tee’s Facebook Live video from day four of Smoky Writers 2017 (my third morning walk.) We talk fire damage, writing, rain, Hunt for the Wilderpeople and Cards Against Humanity.

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Walking Through the Mountains With Tee Morris – Part 2

Day two of the Facebook Live videos that Tee Morris shot while we went for our morning walk up and down the mountain during last week’s Smoky Writers retreat. This one was from Wednesday, March 1.

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Walking Through the Mountains With Tee Morris – Part 1

I spent last week at the Smoky Writers retreat near Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. I’ll post a recap shortly, but for now I’m going with videos. Tee Morris and I established a habit of starting each day with a walk around the area where our cabin was. The walks ranged from two to three miles each up some decent slopes (they’re called mountains for a reason.) Toward the end of each walk, Tee did a broadcast on Facebook Live. This is the first one. Warning: I look like someone who just got out of bed. Because I was.

Part two tomorrow.

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Words To Remember During a Terrible Week

RFK quote

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Smokey Writers 2016 – Day 7

house5I’m sitting in the terminal at the Knoxville, TN airport, waiting for a flight that doesn’t leave for another four hours. When someone offers you a free ride to the airport, you take it, regardless of how early it is. It’s Easter Sunday, and Smokey Writers 2016 is officially over. We had a group breakfast at a Gatlinburg pancake house. Many hugs were exchanged and goodbyes said. Hard to believe it will be a year before I see most of them again.

Yesterday was much like the other working days of the retreat. A day of writing, followed by readings at 6:00 pm, followed by food, drink and fun. I spent a good deal of time wrestling with plot problems, but by the time I finished for the day, I had produced 3,005 words. For the week, I produced 17,688 new words plus the changes I made to the ghost story book. That’s an average of just under 3,000 words a day, a level of productivity I’ve never achieved before. I’m very satisfied with that. Next year, I won’t be. If I’m not getting better, I’m getting worse. Continue reading

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Smokey Writers 2016 – Day 6

novelWe’re in the home stretch here at Smokey Writers. I had a terrible time getting going yesterday. I made the mistake of checking my work email for a few minutes, which set me back. I didn’t do any actual day job work; a colleague from a committee I’m part of needed a link to a court decision (he called and asked for it on Tuesday), so I re-sent him that email. However, the temptation to skim my messages proved irresistible. I did it just long enough to remind myself why I’m on vacation.

If I was home, I would have attended church services on either Holy Thursday or Good Friday or both. Since I’m ensconced in the mountains, I tried to compensate by listening to St. John’s Passion by Bach as I worked yesterday. Not quite the same, but it did remind me that Smokey Writers isn’t the only thing happening this week that’s important to me. (Of course, everyone in the house is aware of the horrible events in Brussels this week.) Continue reading

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Smokey Writers 2016 – Day 5

house4After the free day Wednesday, it was back to regular business on Thursday of the retreat. I had a bit of a slow start (as in staring at the laptop screen and trying to figure out how I was going to start the sequence of events.) However, I got on a pretty decent roll before lunch. I did in fact kill off a character, though not the one I’d originally planned on offing. The end result was 2,716 new words for the book.

Hastening my character’s demise required me to do some research that may attract the attention of the NSA. For future reference, I was last sighted near Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Continue reading

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Smokey Writers 2016 – Day 4

thumb_Photo-1The fourth day of the retreat was a bit different from the others. As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, it was a “free” day. There were no evening readings scheduled, so people could hang out at the house and write or go into Gatlinburg, or basically do whatever they wanted. There was no expectation that we would produce new content, though there certainly was nothing stopping anyone who wanted to work.

After I published yesterday’s post, my relative lack of sleep for the past several days caught up with me, and I snuck in a much-needed nap. After that, I got to work, and while I have yet to repeat Monday’s 5,000 words plus output, I was happy with the chapter I wrote. I finished with 1,986 words for the day, all of them for the new book. I didn’t work on the ghost story at all. It was warm enough outside that I worked for a long time on the balcony outside the dining room, at least as long as my laptop battery held out. It may theoretically be possible to grow tired of that view, but I don’t think it’s likely. Continue reading

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Smokey Writers 2016 – Day 3

house3Three days of Smokey Writers are now in the books. I did not achieve Monday’s word count heights yesterday, but it was still a satisfyingly productive day. I wrote 2,629 words on my new book. Essentially, one new chapter with two scenes.

After that, I dove into detailed edits of my ghost hunter novel. I recently hired the always-awesome K.T. Bryski to do a substantive edit of the book, and she did not disappoint. I was looking for constructive advice on how to improve it, and I got it. Therefore, a good chunk of yesterday afternoon was spent mulling over her critiques and rewriting certain parts. There is much left to do – one character may end up on the cutting room floor, I need to do some tweaks to setting, and the whole tone of the book needs revision. This is the perfect place to get started. The 6:00 readings last night were great. I was in a group with Tee Morris, Rosemary Tizledoun, Piper Drake and Amy Sisson. We heard some dark material and some that made us all laugh out loud. Continue reading

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