Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Straight Chatting from the Library: Catherine E. McLean

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. One randomly chosen winner via rafflecopter will win a $50 Amazon/BN.com gift card. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.


Do you listen to music when you're writing?

Absolutely not. I need quiet in order to think things through when plotting a story as well as when drafting or self-editing. Is having such quiet productive? For me it is. I can turn out anywhere from 3,000 to 10,000 or more words a day at my computer. And that's all new story copy. I have recorded such figures and know that it takes me anywhere from 14 to 28 days to write the first draft of a 100,000 word novel. I can write two such novels a year.

Then again, not having music surround me as I work might stem from having no talent for music. I discovered in grade school that I cannot read music, don't have an ear that discerns the musical scales, and, sadly, can't sing worth beans. Oddly enough when I tell people I cannot sing, they ask me to and immediately tell me to stop. They then admit I was right. Alas, I'm the kazoo in the room.

Even the noise of the television being on can grate on me when I'm writing, so I quit writing and let my husband enjoy his TV programs. Which works out because I write best from early morning to suppertime.

At a conference a few years ago, I was interviewed and hit with the question, what kind of music do you prefer? I was dumbfounded. I'd never considered such a question. So I had no answer. It took days to figure out that of all the music I do listen to—none are vocals. I like the old masters like Beehoven and Motzart, etc. I even like acoustic, but what I often listen to is flutes, pan flutes, guitars, and instruments of South America (Inca). Only, I don't play such music in my house. I play it in my car.

When out on the road for a long Interstate trip, especially when going out with our RV camper, the music is the white noise that shuts out the anxiety of being trapped by tractor-trailer rigs in front, behind, and passing me while I'm at the wheel. Interestingly enough and despite repeating the songs ad infinitum over the miles, I do not remember the tunes or recall them. Lastly, whereas most people march to the beat of a drum, well, I tend to march to the wail of a bagpipe, which is sort of a flute on steroids.

How about you? What beat do you march to?


A first draft holds the possibility of what will be a great story. Revision turns that rough diamond into a spectacular gem worth a reader's money and time.

Writers are individuals but to be a producing writer means creating a system to revise and polish a work so the reader thoroughly enjoys the story. REVISION IS A PROCESS is a guidebook for writers and authors that shows how a simple 12-step process can be tailored to eliminate the most common and chronic maladies of writing genre fiction. This valuable guidebook contains secrets, tips, practical advice, how-to's, and why-to's for taking the frustration out of self-editing.


From Section 1, An Overview of Revision is a Process

. . . revision is a process . A logical, straightforward process where you don't try to find and fix everything at once. Instead, you break the monumental task into component parts and focus on only an item or two at a time.

Okay, so the reality is that creative people, especially writers, hate logic and straightforwardness. And it's a fact that logic and creativity have always been at war with each other. After all, creativity gives a writer a high like no other. It's the fun part of writing and storytelling.

On the other hand, revising, rewriting, and self-editing are linear, logical, objective—and not fun.

But necessary.

Ever so necessary if one intends to be commercially successful in the writing business.

Here's something I've learned about writing and self-editing—a writer should find a middle ground. That means having the logical part of one's mind work with the subconscious imagination (the creative self).

It's about adopting a different view of self-editing—calling it a process—and diligently organizing that process into small steps that can easily be done. This gives a writer confidence that they have polished their story and increased its marketability.

I strongly believe, and have seen, that revision-as-a-process enables a writer to use both their left (logical) and right (creative) brain to become even more creative.

That's because the writer not only tailors a one-of-a-kind process but they also develop their own revision master cheat sheets. As a result, the creative subconscious (the imagination) becomes aware of the pitfalls and glitches that must be checked for, and subsequently, little by little, the creative self dishes up better first drafts with far fewer errors.


Catherine E. McLean's lighthearted, short stories have appeared in hard cover and online anthologies and magazines. Her books include JEWELS OF THE SKY, KARMA & MAYHEM, HEARTS AKILTER, and ADRADA TO ZOOL (a short story anthology). She lives on a farm nestled in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains of Western Pennsylvania. In the quiet of the countryside, she writes lighthearted tales of phantasy realms and stardust worlds (fantasy, futuristic, and paranormal) with romance and advenure. She is also a writing instructor and workshop speaker. Her nonfiction book for writers is REVISION IS A PROCESS - HOW TO TAKE THE FRUSTRATION OUT OF SELF-EDITING.

● Hub Website: http://www.CatherineEmclean.com
● Website for writers: http://www.WritersCheatSheets.com
● Writers Cheat Sheets Blog: https://writerscheatsheets.blogspot.com
● Linked-In: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/catherine-e-mclean/7/70b/372
● Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/catherine.e.mclean.5
● Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/CatherineMcLea7
● Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/catherinemclean
● Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Catherine-E.-McLean/e/B00A3BVG6I/

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  1. Thank you so much for having me visit today. I'm always happy to discuss the writing life as well as techniques and devices of good storytelling.

  2. I agree with you about needing quiet to write. Any words, whether from the radio, a conversation, or music distract me. Even if the music is instrumental, I can't think if I know the words to the song. Gregorian chants make my best background. The simple melodies and rhythms are soothing. And I don't remember enough high school Latin to understand the words.

    1. Thanks, Janet, for stopping by. My high school didn't offer Latin, but I have a CD with Gregorian chants. I will occasionally listen too them because there is something comforting and uplifting about the voices. Have a great day!

  3. Replies
    1. Thanks for stopping by Victoria. Do you like music playing when you write?

    2. Definitely! Something about it helps me focus

  4. I love to listen to nature sounds or the original soundtracks from the Harry Potter movies (My favorite composer is John Williams).

  5. Thank you for stopping by. I get plenty of nature's sounds all day long, because I live on a farm. Having woods beside the house, the mornings get pretty loud because the chickadees scold me to fill the feeder, then come the tufted titmice, and an assortment of other feathered friends. I also like the sigh of the wind through the fir trees. Sometimes Nature provides the best of symphonies. :)

  6. The day has come to a close, and I again thank my host for having me as a guest today. I thank each of you who have stopped by and wish you all the best with your writing. Have a good Holiday Season! Good night.

  7. I really enjoyed reading the guest post, thank you!

  8. congrats on the tour and thanks for the chance to win :)