Guest Post: Mind Games and Writing by Debra H. Goldstein

Mind Games and Writing
by Debra H. Goldstein

Have you ever felt like you’re losing your mind? Perhaps, you go to introduce two people, but go blank on the name of someone you’ve known forever. Maybe you mentally make a list of grocery items, but when you get home, you discover you forgot to buy the milk that prompted the grocery trip in the first place. Of course, there is the classic forgetting of where one puts one’s keys or glasses. (Pro tip for the latter: check the top of your head before asking for help finding them.) 

Happily, most of the time, this doesn’t mean you have the beginnings of dementia. Often the problem is being over-stressed or the mind simply not thinking this is a super-important item to recall at that particular moment. Authors constantly confront this problem when a book they write becomes a series. When an author mixes up character names or relationships, attributes a character with a different eye color or hair shade, or modifies the setting in a way that is impossible based upon earlier discussions, it isn’t something to laugh off.

Rather, it is something that sharp readers will catch and call out the author. Even worse, it may cause the reader to lose faith in the author’s abilities and stop reading the series. Different writers try to ameliorate the problem by keeping profiles on Scrivener; creating a bible that outlines every aspect of character and setting or using sticky notes that highlight error prone areas to avoid changing things from one version of a story to another. Others simply hold everything in their minds and, if in doubt, look back to an earlier version of the work.

I am a pantser. I let the muse flow. Consequently, there isn’t an updated bible of character and setting notes (although I constantly promise to keep one and have started several). My seat of the pants system worked fine for the first few books, but by Four Cuts Too Many, the fourth book in Kensington’s Sarah Blair series, I often was looking back to the first three books to confirm (refresh my recollection) I didn’t deviate on anything important. The same proved true for my newly released Five Belles Too Many. This time, though, I had to be more careful as I was using characters readers already knew well which would make any error that much more noticeable. That’s why I worked hard on anything within my control, but there are things like the covers, which I love, that I have no control of in terms of consistency. 

I’m fairly sure I synchronized most things for Five Belles Too Many, but I think what’s funny is how different RahRah, Sarah’s Siamese cat, is portrayed by different cover artists. RahRah ranges from a cat who can jump off the page to the more stylized, almost cartoonish one found on the covers of Three Treats Too Many and Five Belles Too Many. The irony, even though there is a pendulum shift between the art, people praise the cover art and unlike a minor difference found in any of the book’s text pages, never mention the contrasting aspects of the art. That’s good because it isn’t something about which I can worry. I’m having enough trouble keeping my data and deadlines straight.

What methods do you use to preserve accuracy in your stories or life?

About The Book

Five Belles Too Many (A Sarah Blair Mystery)

When Sarah Blair’s mother participates in a reality show competition for brides in Wheaton, Alabama, things get a little too real as a murderer crashes the wedding party . . .

Sometimes Sarah’s mother, Maybelle, can be higher maintenance than her Siamese cat RahRah. Maybelle and her friend, Mr. George Rogers, have been chosen to be one of five couples competing for a small-town “perfect” wedding and dream honeymoon on a Southern Belles reality show—and guess who has to be chaperone. Even more vexing, the producers have decided to put up the crew and participants at the restaurant/bed and breakfast owned by Sarah’s nemesis Jane Clark.

But when someone turns up dead with Jane kneeling by the body with blood on her hands, she goes from being Sarah’s chief rival to the police’s chief suspect. Neither Sarah nor her twin, Chef Emily Johnson, can stand Jane—still, they don’t think she’s a murderer. The producers vow the show must go on, but to protect their mother and the other contestants, Sarah vows to find the true killer before someone else gets eliminated . . .

Includes quick and easy recipes!

Purchase Links – Amazon Kindle – Amazon Paperback – Nook – B&N

About the Author

Four Cuts Too ManyThree Treats Too Many, Two Bites Too Many, and One Taste Too Many). Her novels and short stories received an IPPY award and have been named Agatha, Anthony, Derringer, and Silver Falchion finalists. Debra served on the national boards of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America and was president of the Guppy and SEMWA chapters. Find out more about Debra at https://www.DebraHGoldstein.com .

Author Links

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1 Comment

  1. Thanks so much for having me today! It’s fun to talk about the mind games in writing … and of course Five Belles Too Many. I hope many of your readers enter to win the prizes. (and of course look for the book’s release on June 28!)

    Liked by 1 person

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