Kristy McCaffrey writes contemporary and award-winning historical western romances. She likes the peculiar, the fascinating, and the scientific; animals and the outdoors; her husband and children; history, symbols, and mythology. Grab a cup of tea and hang out by the fireside. Let's travel together.
Many an author has posted such a list, and there's much good
info out there if seeking guidance in the writing arena. I've been at this
inscribing thing now for over ten years (more like thirty if you consider my
childhood scribbles—yes, they do count), so it goes without saying that I've
learned a few things along the way.
Here they are.
—Watch 'Romancing the Stone', a wonderful movie about
romance author Joan Wilder. It's incredibly accurate, right down to the sticky
notes all over her kitchen reminding her she needs to do this and that. When
writing, we writers forget everything.
—I've given up trying to write before I've checked email,
blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I write in the afternoons and
evenings, which pretty much ruins dinner every night.
—Get an iPod to block out the kids and husband. I make
playlists for each story, offering me one more avenue to procrastinate on my
—Buy bookshelves to hold research books, but know that it
won't matter. You'll still run out of room, so make peace with tomes strewn all
over the floor.
—When I'm stuck on a scene, I've found the most effective
method is to stop writing and wait for inspiration. Three days later when
nothing hits, I return to the computer pissed off and write a scene in
frustrated anger. But, hey, I've finally moved forward.
Image by Kristy McCaffrey
—I rewrite any sentence that contains 'lie' or 'lay' because
I'm unable to remember the rule and too lazy to look it up.
—I always keep a thesaurus and dictionary handy. My trade is
words, and my work is to make 'em count. (By the way, this doesn't count for
'lie' or 'lay'—a loathsome trickery in the English language.)
—Don't name an animal after a color. If you decide to change
the name later, a 'search and replace' in Word will make you realize how many
times you used the word 'white' within your manuscript (because it will replace
all the wrong 'whites'). Now, it becomes apparent that the thesaurus has been
—I refuse to feel guilt when I use an adverb.
—I have a tendency to put spectacles on my heroines in every
first draft, which I must later delete. It's the oldest trick in the book to
make my ladies appear 'smart'. Did I mention that I wear glasses?
—I've learned to trust my muse. She's a sneaky little devil,
never making things clear until the end of a project. By then I've eaten too
much ice cream and moped around believing I'll NEVER make this story work.
Image by Kristy McCaffrey
—I'm a writer, not a brain surgeon or a rocket scientist,
and therefore there's no sense dwelling on bad prose (mine or anyone else's).
Move on. I can always do better next time. (This is my pep talk after bouts of
insecurity and lots of ice cream.)
—I obsess constantly about where to put commas, which has
led to more than one restless night. I will edit year-old blog posts if I
realize I missed a critical comma. And no, I'm not obsessive-compulsive,
hyper-focused, or anal. (I will probably re-edit this post next year...)
—I keep writing until the heart of a story can be excavated.
It always exists, and it's my job to clear the dirt and debris so that it can
shine. I'm simply a translator of myth and symbolism into something others can
enjoy. It's my gift, and my curse. I imagine brain surgeons feel the same way.
So, to recap. Writing is exhilarating, but also crappy. (I
can't find 'crappy' in my thesaurus, so have no other word to use. Sorry.) Come
join the fun!
Within 200 milliseconds
of seeing an image, the brain can decide whether it’s a face or something else.
We are made up of 100 trillion cells, 22 internal organs, 600 muscles, and 206 bones.
You can survive without sleep for eleven days only.
Skipping breakfast may do more than
affect your waist. In a series of classic studies on what it takes to age in a
robust and healthy way, public health titan Lester Breslow (who died in 2012 at
age 97) showed over and over again that just a few habits were critical. They
included not smoking, exercising, watching your weight, no excessive drinking,
not snacking, eating breakfast, and getting 7-8 hours of sleep.
Sleep doesn't just clear your head. Scientists now say it literally flushes out waste and toxins that build up in your brain during the day. During sleep, cerebral spinal fluid is pumped around the brain, and flushes out waste products like a biological dishwasher.
In females, about 1/2 a million eggs are produced on average, out of which only 400 have the potential to develop into a baby. Men produce approximately 10 million sperm every day, enough to re-populate the earth within 6 months.
Sugar may give you wrinkles via a process called glycation, in which excess blood sugar binds to collagen in the skin, making it less elastic. Cutting back on sugar may help your skin retain its flexibility.
We all have traces of Neanderthal
in us. It’s been more than 5 million years since we separated from chimps, but
only 400,000 years since human and Neanderthal lineages split. Asian and
Caucasian ancestors interbred with Neanderthals as recently as 37,000 years
ago, when they crossed paths in Europe.