Friday, October 11, 2013



I've had a nice few months here on Blogger, but have decided it is time to move my blog over to my website: I'm using Wordpress and learning a lot every day. Whew!

See you at my new digs!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Writer Survival

I've been MIA from my blog lately and realized that this weekend wasn't going to be any easier, despite my earlier in the week wishful thinking. We've had rotating illnesses, allergies, computer troubles, etc. and the extra care-taking hasn't left me with much energy at the end of the day for blogging. I know, I know: common complaint. And, truly, I try to write posts that have inspired me in some way. I already worry I have the tendency to slip into working out my writerly angst via my blog. *blink, blink

So, this will be short, but hopefully angst-free. The things I turn to when I need help, or comfort, or am exhausted.

1. Favorite sweater--I have tweeted and written about the sweater. I'm not at the point where I am superstitious about it, but it is something I use to help me change gears. Kind of like how Mr. Rogers would exchange his jacket for his cardigan at the beginning of the show. It's like a cue to me that I'm in a different mode. I don't need it, but I like it because it helps me settle in and focus. Wow, how I've come to appreciate being able to take long and short range thinking when it comes to a project. Focus matters.

2. Favorite beverage--Mine is currently hot tea. That's likely because of my (annoying) allergies and having had it with cough drops. Yuck. Again, after coffee, which is essential for survival, tea lets me write, sip, write, sip and see forward progression. When the tea gets cold, I notice that I've lost myself in something that I'm doing. And, just my observation here since writers get a reputation for being drinkers. Personally, I have no idea how anyone could write something coherent once they are intoxicated. I don't mix the two, not even just a glass of wine. Not judging, just saying it doesn't work for me and I am still struck by folks who think it does. 

3. Favorite buddy to talk to about your passion--Mine is my husband. He's so supportive, somehow cares deeply about my writing, and ventures opinions that make me think. He gives me confidence and helps me find time to write. EVERYONE needs someone like this in their lives. They may not live with you. They may not even be someone you can see every day. But, I think having a support system for your writing is necessary. Even if they don't totally get it. They need to get what it means to you (mostly) and support that.

4. Favorite way to work off steam--Mine is walking, with the occasional jog, and dancing around my living room with my kids. Loooong before having kids, it was a kickboxing class. You have to move your body on a regular basis to be healthy. You don't need to be a gym rat, but you need to find something you enjoy doing and do it a few times a week.

I hope that you all stay healthy! What are your best tips for self-care?

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Celebrating and Catching My Breath

I shared this on twitter the other night but have been looking forward to writing a brief blog post about it too: I FINISHED MY DRAFT!



Clocking in at 84,109. Draft #1 is done. I promptly shed a few tears after typing The End. And texted my husband, who was downstairs, giving me some writerly space, but waiting for an update. Then I brought my laptop downstairs for him to read and I tweeted my victory. To my sweet tweeps who responded, thank you so much! I look forward to doing the same for you! Mwah!

Okay, so now what? I feel like I finished a long race (*cough, like 20 months long, if we're counting). I had two false starts....several thousand words in. Alas. But my pace definitely picked up over the summer. So now I'm gulping in air, bent over by the side of the road, knowing there's so much more to be done.

I have resisted reading over the whole draft in the past few months. In fact, since I put it on Scrivener, I have only looked forward, sometimes skipping around, and focused on wordcount. Which is great. But, now, I want to step back and assess what needs to be fixed and just exactly what I put on the page.

It is totally daunting. But, as a fan of lists, I think I will start compiling the FINITE number of things I need to do to edit and revise my draft before I show it to anyone else. The list, however, is big. It feels infinite. It's still mostly in my head because I'm afraid to see how long the thing will be. But, I'll crank it out, even if it is just to prove to myself that it won't be double-digits pages long. I hope.

The plan is to look at the big picture first, the macro-edits, I believe they are called, even though I am dying to read through it and fix my typos and repeated words, etc., etc. As a plotter-pantser hybrid, I had created parts of an outline, pieces of beat-structure, and then just needed to write the darn draft. So I forged ahead, keeping my major focus on conflict in every scene. In some ways, I'm not sure the piece works as a whole. That's what I want to assess by stepping back from it.

I am so grateful for Christina Dodd's writing advice where she talks about writing a book backwards, and then several others in different ways. It sounds simple, but to be given that kind of freedom, was really helpful. There were scenes I knew I wanted to include, plot points I had figured out, but several chunks were missing. I was really only able to write them...when I did. An excellent interview with Joss Whedon came out this summer and one of the takeaways I had was how Whedon talks about writing the scenes your heart is in first. As I mentioned in a previous post, I wrote the middle and then the very end, just days ago. My heart, and mind, knew what certain scenes would be like. Those came easily. And that's why, for the most part, I wrote them early on.

So, I'll be editing, churning through my research list (figure this out, how would this have been done, what did people wear when they did whatever, etc.) which seems endless, and then working my way in, scene by scene, then line by line. And as I do this, I am filing away ideas for WIP #2 that I've been dying to write for months now. First things first.

Oh, and updating the blog, moving it over to Wordpress, learning Wordpress, adding pictures, syncing it with my website, looking into finding a critique group and/or beta readers, deciding if I'm querying or going the self-pub route. Excuse me for a moment.

Aaaah! Haaaaaayyyylllp!

*smooths hair

Ahem. Whew. Please feel free to share your updates and advice in the comments or via twitter. One of my favorite professors used to say life is a series of lists, until we die. It reads so morbidly, but I took his advice to mean that there will always be lists and there's no point in freaking out about the endless number of things to do. That's just life.

Happy reading and writing. I'm waiting for The Cardigan to come out of the dryer. It's my lucky charm.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Writing and Writing and Writing

I'm keeping it brief today because I'm trying to finish the WIP. Progress is slow. I'm close to being done with the first draft. And, yes, internal conflict is still giving me fits. I'm determined to slog through though, finish, and then step back and see what needs fixing.

In the meantime, here's a brief scene from PeeWee's Big Adventure that comes to mind as I turn over plot points and stare at my computer screen, occasionally talking to myself. Skip to 2:25 for the "knitting" line, akin to my writing and writing. Sigh.

Looking forward to my tequila celebration dance when this draft is done. You will all be invited. :)

Happy Writing!

P.S. My admiration for writers continues to grow, not that I ever thought it was an easy thing to do. But, seriously.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Home Stretch, Ha!

Must...finish...this...draft. So I've been staring down the last few thousand words, struggling a bit with character motivations at the first part of the month. I believe I have that figured out, at least to the point where I can, eventually, type The End.

I thought I'd share some brief updates since people learn in different ways. As you may know, I participated in JuNoWriMo this summer and was able to make excellent progress on the WIP. This was such a lovely feeling of accomplishment. One of the things I noticed in looking back on my wordcounts for June was that I had several zeros (12!), which made me think I had stared down the daily wordcount goal and decided not to write at all. Silly writer.

So I wanted to change it up for July and see what that would accomplish. My plan for July was to write every day. And I did that. No zeros. My total wordcount for July was around what I'd been able to write in June, but without the guilt. There were clear advantages to pushing towards a larger wordcount goal over a month's time, but staying in my story for so long, even if it was briefly some days in July, prevented guilt. And that's always a good thing.

Heading into August I knew would be rough, mostly for personal reasons, like back to school prep and increased childcare demands. That added up to less overall time and energy to write. So, August, despite my fab progress in the J-months of summer, has been a bit of a bust, other than on the weekends. And, to the surprise of no one, once I got off-track with my daily writing, my wordcounts went downhill. A writerly snail's pace. Sigh.

But, I look back because I want to learn and I hope I can set myself up to do better next time.

I am within spitting distance of finishing, with scenes in the absolute middle and then the very end to complete. And as my kids are all back to school by tomorrow, at least, I have realized that I have to put butt in chair and write every day until I finish. I am that close and this is quite doable. (And fun and exciting!)

I wish I had a little gem to end on but really one thing I've learned about my summer writing is that I can try different things, make adjustments, and (al-freaking-most) get there. There's always more to learn. Sometimes it takes multiple attempts to get it. This is where I am, this summer, with this WIP.

What have you learned about yourself this summer?

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Helicopter Writer: Falling in Love With Conflict

I've often thought it would be interesting to interview characters from my favorite romance novels at different points in their stories. (And I've used this as a technique for my writing when I get stuck.) One of the things that stands out to me is, how at varying stages, if the character asked me what I thought about their relationship, I would probably tell them to get the hell out of there. That's certainly not true about every romance novel, but there is something about putting two people who are so different into a story and having them fall in love. Their ability to overcome obstacles is part of what makes the story so thrilling and their inevitable (but nail biting!) HEA so rewarding. And while external conflict needs to be worked out, it is the internal conflict, to me, that should be equally, if not more compelling.

But having a lot of conflict between characters is one of the differences between relationships in Romancelandia vs Real Life. In real life, relationships shouldn't be that difficult, particularly at the beginning of a relationship. That's the easy part, when everyone puts in a lot of effort, both in terms of manners and appearance, among other aspects of just getting to know someone. Early stages of dating (courtship) should be fun and exciting, not angsty. But who wants to read about that?

And that's the issue I've been chewing over the past two weeks since I write fiction and not a relationship how-to: conflict that is both exciting and realistic (mostly). I don't want to write about Real Life, or write some sort of "this is how healthy relationships should look" book. Although, to be fair, I believe that the genre can be particularly empowering in terms of showing healthy, communicative, respectful, sexually gratifying, etc. relationships.

What I began worrying about in my own writing was that I wasn't going to allow my characters to be that bad to each other. As I mull over certain scenes between my hero and heroine, I'd find myself pulling back on what I'd let them do or say to each other. In essence, behaving like a helicopter-mom. (A term I detest, btw.) Though one could discuss the parallels between parenting and writing, I know that my job as a writer is to drop-kick my characters into conflict. Boom. Fly out of the nest. And when it comes to internal conflict as it relates to the romantic relationship, that is HARD for me as I write, for a few reasons.

It is funny that characters in Romancelandia fight falling in love more than anyone would in Real Life. They go to great lengths of avoidance and denial to prevent something that lots of people would run towards. That is one quality that has tripped me up as I explore (and create) the internal conflict between my characters.

What I also started to realize, strangely, is that I am afraid of what I'll put out there, between them. I've given myself and my characters a set of parameters that might just be too narrow. Maybe it's a struggle for likability and that has me worrying that my heroine is too nice. It may also be because I want to create some ideal, so my hero is too perfect. Ack! Who wants to read a story about that couple? I'll be okay if they get there in the end, but not through the whole story.

Another aspect I've been staring down in my WIP, is the idea that I want to put something out there--conflict, resolution, character growth--that doesn't make me say "Oh, dear, no. Absolutely, not." More than just "that's terrible," I am worrying, a bit, that some underlying message in my own writing will make me recoil. I am scratching my head trying to remember if I've ever had that reaction to someone else's work. I don't really think so. So, again, I'm finding that my Inner Editor can be pre-emptively judgy and fear has had me stuck at a certain wordcount.

Perhaps it is inexperience or inadequately developed characters that has me stuck? So much to learn. Again, I've come back to the idea of making authorial decisions, putting them out there, stepping back, and making revisions. Sigh. Kind of obvious, but clearly I believe in an examined life.

Those are the ideas that I wrestle with as I close in on the final few (some at the middle and some at the end) chapters to write.

Here's to first drafts, exciting scenes, and loads of conflict. And, yes, I am comforting myself with the plan that whatever trouble my characters get into, they'll be able to get themselves out of.

What are your thoughts about dating in Real Life vs Romancelandia?

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Wishes & Thanks

This will likely be a shorter post than normal but I wanted to say thank you to the twitter friends and acquaintances I've made since starting this blog and my writerly twitter-handle. Your encouragement means so much! I only hope that I can return the favor.

What a lonely journey writing can be. But it doesn't have to be. :) There are times in my life I've felt doubt and uncertainty and this is another one of them. Strangely though, and I don't know what it is about the goal of writing a book, there is also something that hits me as being pretentious. Ugh. I don't think it is possible to feel both insecure and pretentious at the same time, but, in my weaker moments, there it is. Ah, well. Have a goal and don't be ashamed of it, I suppose.

I've made good progress on the WIP (just a sneeze away from 60k--woo!) and I hope that you all have too. Last month I Wri-Mo-ed (highly recommend!) and this month, I'm making sure I write every day. So far, my July streak is unbroken and it absolutely feels like I make progress every day.

Sometimes I feel a bit silly blogging about writing when I am such a newbie on certain levels. This week though, I realized that the journey to completion of the first book is a one-time experience. It is something special to go from I-always-wanted-to-do-that to I-freaking-did-it. And, just for perspective, for each post I write, I read dozens more, grateful to other bloggers and writers for putting their thoughts and encouragement and advice out there. My goal is to do the same.

Today is my birthday and, as usual, makes me contemplative of the past year. I am so grateful for where I am in my life and for the love of my family. (Smooches!) What a wonderful opportunity writing has provided in enabling me to pursue something I've loved for so long, but never taken that seriously for myself. When I see young writers pursuing such careers I am amazed. Still, life hits you when it hits you and now is a good time for me. So, I keep writing, loving it, and shaking my head at myself at times that I've decided to hang out a shingle and write a book. In my day job I meet too many people who have no idea what they want. I'm grateful I don't struggle with that issue.

Have a great rest of the weekend, everyone! Happy writing & reading! Wishing you all success and resolve as you go after what you want. Dream big. Life's short.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Reality TV: Same Old Table Flipping

I think I’m breaking up with reality tv.

It’s been a slow process for me because I love television. It wasn’t until I had kids that I really limited how much I would watch. We’ve tried to stick to less than two hours a day and, by default, that means I watch less too. Which is good because I have a high threshold for crappy tv, and have, at various times in my life, been known to watch stupid shit just because it was on.

My day job is stressful, as most are. It can even be numbing, at times. Part of why I’ve turned to writing this past year is that it provides me with a creative outlet. I’ve written on and off throughout my life and it has always been enjoyable. So, obviously my free time lately has been spent more on my writing.

But I still need a break. We all need something mindless at times, in this serious and tragic world. One of my guilty pleasures has been reality tv. But that time is precious and I want it to be well-spent, more bang for the buck.

Over the past few weeks, I haven’t been as excited about the reality shows I tend to watch, which at this point are half of the Real Housewives franchise. I like the friendships, the resolutions, the drama, and the alliances. Part of what I’ve loved about RHs is the way the shows have female-centered casts and show the dynamics between them. As a feminist, I get a bit twitchy about watching shows that focus on women being mean/rude/petty with each other. Although I would argue that feminism would certainly posit that women don’t have to try to be “nice” all the time. RH shows can also be pretty plastic. To be fair though, many shows are plastic, materialistic, etc., etc.

Something I’ve come to realize though, is the sheer exhaustion that comes from watching season after season of the same arguments. Yes, I apparently expect character growth out of real people, not just characters. While I appreciate women being able to show their anger, instead of just stuffing it, it still has to go somewhere (and be respectful, not threatening or abusive, etc.). And TO THE SURPRISE OF NO ONE, these shows, and their cast members aren’t going anywhere: same arguments, week after week. Lines drawn that then get crossed, only to be complained about during the painfully awful reunion shows. My tolerance level is about three to five seasons and then I move on. Hey, it’s just tv. There are a lot of great shows on that I watch (obsessively) or learn about and then figure out how to do a full-on glom of back episodes. (Game of Thrones, Girls, Homeland, and Sherlock, I’m talking about you.)

So, that’s how I’m feeling about this silly aspect of my world this week. Just to be clear: this post is about my own decision about what to watch on television. You are free to watch whatever you like, without any judgment from me. Truly. It’s a cruel world and if some show brings you a moment of joy or escape, then awesome. Find your happy.

Any guilty pleasure television shows or series you’ve left behind?

Sunday, July 7, 2013

WTF Genre Am I Writing in Anyway?

So I've been belly-deep in the WIP. Sometimes the words come slowly, and sometimes they are in a big rush. I've spent the past week making sure I writw every day. And that has been going well.


If you follow me on twitter, you may have noticed some more random tweets than usual today. Goodness, do I wish I could say, witty or pithy tweets, but hey. At least I know myself. They were random. And that's because odd things were clogging up my writing. You know, little deets, like my exact setting, and time, and genre. And names. I heart naming things.

Okay, back to genre issues. I've made certain decisions about setting/time/genre and tried to push through others. I have the story in my head. I can see scenes and my characters and it plays out. And that is where my focus has been these last few weeks. Putting it into words, cranking out the novel, and not getting stuck in too many rabbit holes of research. Although they are fun.

An example of something I haven't made a final decision on is the EXACT time my novel takes place. I have an era that I think will make a good fit for the themes I want to include. I even have a century in mind, but nothing exact.

I have also, at this point, made up countries that could have existed during that time. And this is another strange place to be in. One one level, my goal is to write historical romantic fiction. And I am striving for details and as few anachronisms as I can have (just a sec: HAHA! Damn, is that hard.), because the "when" matters to me. Even though I'm not specific with it yet.

So, back to the made up countries. I'm writing about kings and queens, heads of state. I don't want to take literary license with those who existed. Other writers have done and I'm sure will do a fabulous job of that, but that doesn't interest me for this story. So, I have, in essence, place-holders of inspiration for my made up countries. I may change things. It may be glaringly obvious to others what I was using as historical anchors. And that's fine. These aren't secrets. They are, rather, ideas in flux.

The focus I am attempting to maintain in terms of story is about the main characters, Callum and Zara, falling in love. They and their relationship make up plot points, and has me pulling out my hair at times wondering about their likability, intelligence, or, in contrast, any possible doormat qualities. I like feisty heroines and Zara will get there, but for a while, she's more of a wait-and-see, feisty-heroine-in-the-making.

If you've read my side-bar, you know that I mention fairy tales. I love fairy tales. When I set out to write this story I wanted it to be a fairy tale. That conjures specific images, themes, and types of characters and I like that. What fairy tales also generally entail is the use of magic. So, I've added that in as well. At this point, it's subtle. But it's there and is one of those things I scratch my head about wondering how it adds to the story or what it shows about the characters who use it and how to make the best use of it. I'm not going to keep it if ultimately it feels tacked on. But right now, it's there and I have major plans for it. So. Yeah.

When I step back, I've started to wonder if I've entered a different genre altogether. Am I writing fantasy? Just how liberal can one be when it comes to "historical?" Why am I stuck on labels anyway? Gah.

In the mean time, I'll be writing, occasionally tweeting, and working out these questions, hoping to gain some perspective.

So my question to you is, have any of you ever wondered, genre-wise, what you were writing? As readers, have you gotten into a story that bent genres or blended them for you? Did you like it? All I know is I'm having fun and am looking forward to the process every day.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Win Some, Write Some

Today is the last day of my newbie experience with JuNoWriMo. I thought I'd share some highlights and keep the whining to a minimum. The one sentence take-away: Try JuNoWriMo, you'll like it.


1. Thanks to the daily writing, I was (finally!) able to smash through a word count hurdle I'd had for a while. Getting past 20,000 total words in the WIP had been elusive. It felt really freeing to hit that milestone and keep going.

2. Although this sounds obvious as I type it, working on my draft EVERY DAY (at least for a while) really helped me keep my characters consistent and the ideas flowing.

3. Daily writing also allowed me to write in smaller chunks of time. Yes, I am usually obsessing about my story, and have been for the past year, but it was difficult to pick up where I'd left off if I hadn't been able to work on it for a few days or weeks. I'd set up my "writing lair" and spend (way too much) time getting back into the story in a detailed way. But, once I was really into it scene by scene, oftentimes from just hours before thanks to writing every darn day, I didn't feel like I needed a "lair" and could just start typing with a few free minutes. The timer feature on my phone, along with wordsprints really helped with this too.

4. I "met" and interacted with other JuNoWriMo participants, either on the website or via twitter. Except when it becomes a time-suck, twitter is always a good thing. :) I also liked the group experience of knowing there were other writers trying to meet the same goals, struggling too, and generally keeping their sense of humor. See? Twitter is amazing.

5. The JuNoWriMo wordsprints and challenges were helpful. I may not have used all of them, but I started keeping a list and refer to them whenever I get stuck. So, so helpful.

6. Unless today I manage to churn out a freakish amount of words, I am heading into the last hours of JuNoWriMo having written just over 26,000 words in the month of June. My total word count for the WIP is over 41,000! Fan-freaking-tastic. *happy dancing


1. So, technically, I am not a JuNoWriMo winner. I didn't get to 50,000 words. Reaching that goal would have brought me into near completion of my novel. While that would have been great, I'm not entirely bummed. (See above.) I do admire others' commitment and wish them lots of luck catching up on sleep, laundry, etc. I didn't even get that far and I still spent the past few days off work catching up with work. Boo.

2. Too many zero days. Ack! After the first week, I kept a written tally of my daily wordcount. It's possible Scrivener has a way to access this after the fact, but I didn't have time to look for that feature. I just wrote it down before logging off for the night. Anyway, out of the thirty days in June I had 12 zero word count days. I am fighting back the shame. Bad writer. But, the bright side is that I did what I could do and it wasn't that bad. Now, in terms of those zero days, I think if I'd been able to squeak out some words each day, I would be that much closer. I'm sure you can all figure this out, but it was something to experience that after three days of writing 1667 words/day, you hit 5000 words. Just three days. That feels fabulous. Yay, math!

3. I haz excuses. I won't bore you with them. I'm using them to see if I'll do NaNoWriMo. *wiping tears out of my eyes. So crazy. I doubt at this point that I will because November is a very busy month for me (as it is for lots of people), but I am actively trying to take lessons learned from WriMo-ing and apply them to my writing. Although, now that I think about how awful the weather is in November, why wouldn't I be happier writing? Hm.

Just thought of another for my first list. I know that there are lots of ways of learning: observation, practice, experience, etc. I'm not always a fan of experience (yes, I'm working on this trait of cautiousness), but there are things I learned about myself and my writing from DOING JuNoWriMo. These things were in theory until I could actually try and then have the "Oh yeah that does happen" moment. For instance: a first draft is a first draft--just write it, tell your inner editor to zip it, write scenes out of order and then move them around as you need to, daily writing is a great strategy but you can pick up if you are exhausted and need a couple of days to just rest. See. Learning.

I wish you all the best in your writing and in achieving your goals, whatever they are. :)

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Happy Father's Day

Sunday's a day I plan to spend with family, although mine is generously giving me time to write too. BBQ goes with Wri-Mo-ing, right?

Thanks to my wonderful husband. Such a great, supportive spouse and a real Super Dad. <3 U!

Happy Writing & Reading!

P.S. Advice from a toddler. Mine just said, "Let's do this!" So cute.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Thoughts on Wri-Mo-ing: Leashing My Inner Editor

As I mentioned in my previous post, I tried to NaNo last year and lasted just a few days. The writing I did was great (in terms of word count) and I enjoyed the structure but it was difficult to sustain. So after a few days, I stopped but vowed to try again.

So, this time around as an official participant of JuNoWriMo, I really wanted to keep up with the word count goals. For the most part, it's gone well. I took a zero day as I was feeling sick, but tried to get right back on it the next day. That was another lower day, although much of it was spent plotting. But I'm back on track and as of this morning have added over 12,000 total words to my WIP. Overall, that's a lot of forward motion.

Here are some strategies and tips that have worked for me:

*Do not edit: I have tried to keep my editing brief and just look over the last few paragraphs I worked on the day before, or, in the case of starting a new chapter or scene, reread the last scene with those characters. Great in theory, but in practice it is a time-suck. Several times now, I've noticed that I will rewrite something that does not seem to improve it dramatically, and will have spent WAY TOO MUCH time doing so. I've even found that I will add a couple of sentences, thinking "Oh, yes. This will sound so much better!" only to notice nearly the same phrases a paragraph away. So, basically, I'm reworking it to sound...the same. Nerp. Waste of time. It also lowers my word count. And for this month, my goals are more words and to move the story along. Get going, don't dawdle and dither.

*No, really. Don't even sneak-edit: I also got tripped up thinking I would just read over a scene to "refresh myself" about where I'd left off. This happened after spending a day writing scenes for my B-plot. No. Don't do it. Fix it later. What I found that works better is to scan my outline, or, in this case, my Scrivener notecards view. That way, I can see the overview of where I was, but not get sucked into the actual text. Even if I change a few words, we're talking two or three because it's just on a notecard. It's brief and it is all I really need to do to get back into it.

*Scan books or blogposts on craft sparingly: I realized that I wanted to refresh myself on some plot points. I picked up Save the Cat, went over chapter 4 again (Let's Beat it Out), and did some more plotting in the past couple of days. Lurve, lurve this book. The tone was perfect. Casual, direct, and focused. It was not the time to continue with The Writer's Journey. (FYI: I linked to the 3rd edition, although the one I have is the 2nd.) Also a fabulous resource, but it can intimidate the shit out of me. Fragile writer nerves, after all. I'll return to that after the draft is done.

Most blogposts I've read in the past few days have been helpful. They have normalized the process: from "Ohmigod, I think I used the word 'change' six times in a row! now!", to "Today, I just kept myself from typing random words. Barely." And as a special bonus, I've made some new acquaintances. Woo!

There are a lot of helpful suggestions out there. My challenge is to be open to learning but to pace myself. Too many tips at once, and I get stuck. *cough. Don't we all? I have had to remind myself that there's plenty of time to learn and that those posts aren't going away. (What don't I "favorite" on my TL? That's where I hoard those suggestions, so thanks.)

*Your writing lair can be anywhere: I prefer to write in a certain room, wearing a certain cardigan, eating twizzlers, and after 7am (strictly latte o'clock), I drink lemonade. Now, if all that helped me crank out the words by the thousands, I would organize my life around doing that for my writing time. But I've seen that my word count isn't any different (Gasp! Or is perhaps worse?), when I sink into the mindset of Must Create Perfect Writing Space. No. Just. Stop. So, I've been moving around to different spots. I actually got a fair amount of writing done while my toddler was playing London Bridges with my legs. Go figure.

*Word sprints: Let's just say I highly encourage you to do these. Not only do they teach you to practice writing in small chunks, the WriMo Admin Queens also include helpful suggestions: write about a furry animal, your MC meets someone new, discover a magical tome, cross a bridge. My at-home reaction (and occasional accompanying tweet) tends to be, "What? B'okay! Hey, that was super freaking helpful." Yeah. Like eerily so. Accept the help. Work with the prompts. They know what they are talking about. ;)

And, above all: Write (nearly) every damn day! Best advice ever. The amazing King Pen-Monkey himself, Chuck Wendig has a 5 day/week slow-and-steady method that seems pretty doable too.

What I have liked the most about Wri-Mo-ing is that I have been able to stay in my story. I don't have to remind myself of some quirk or motivation because I am actively writing them, not just daydreaming.  

Last thought: It's like your mom told you: quit watching tv and stay off the internet. Except twitter in small bursts. Gotta keep some lil vice.

What are your do's and don'ts for amping up your word count? Do you have any rituals that help? Have you noticed any that hurt?

Best of luck, wherever you are with your writing! Hold firm on that leash!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

I Signed Up to Do JuNoWriMo

It is day four of JuNoWriMo, a month-long writing extravaganza. The goal is to write at least 1,667 words per day, every day of a novel, for the month of June. Last November, I tried to do a little NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and did not get very far as November is a crazy month for me.

Summertime is a little more relaxed and this seemed like a good fit. So far I've met my writing goals and enjoyed the push past my inner editor. Not only am I hoping to get closer to finishing my current WIP, I am also hoping to use the experience as a training ground for writing more, longer, faster. Yes, it's hectic, but the practice of making time and squeezing little bits of time for writing is what will help me and this is an immersion into that process. It takes a few weeks to develop a new habit, and I think JuNoWriMo is just enough time to get used to cranking out the words.

I plan to continue writing blog posts, but they may be shorter. (Ha!) I also want to thank Ms. Banana for being my first commenter. Yay!

Any advice from veteran NaNo or JuNoWriMo-ers? Any other newbies like me? If you are signed up, and are a romance writer, please consider joining the Romance group at JuNoWriMo.

Happy Writing! Apologies in advance for my late-night, slap-happy tweets. ;)

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Summer Vacation for Writing

Today was the last day of school for my kids and I realized that even as an adult (who is not a teacher), I could still feel that excitement for the end of the year and the start of summer too. My excitement is for different reasons though.

Summer is a more productive time for me in terms of my writing. With my husband (who is a teacher) home more, I have more child care. More child care allows for more writing and that is awesome.

Awesome. Awesome. Awesome!! *happy dance*

Ahem. I've been waiting all day to do that.

Not only do I hope to make significant progress on the WIP, I want to use this summer to plan my writing time better for the next school year.

I am at a different place than I thought I'd be a year ago, which is both good and bad. Let's start with the bad--the frustrating, the guilt-inducing--because I want to end this on a positive note.

The bad: tomorrow is the deadline I'd set several weeks ago for the rough draft of my WIP. And, I'm not even close.

There. That felt good to rip off that bandaid. Okay.

Other bad stuff? Well, I'd hoped I would have photos to go along with blog-posts by now. And I don't. I'm figuring out the whole Creative Commons thing because I believe in giving credit and I'd rather not get sued. If you haven't read this post by Roni Loren, now's a good time. BTW: she has LOTS of fab advice for writers on her website too. :)

And, I missed a blog post. (But am doing it now.)

Huh. Not so terrible, particularly as my writing goal was set by me and, at this point, for me. I have a renewed appreciation for the difficulty of cranking out a story, a long story, AT ALL, much less when you have a day job. For any beloved author whom I've whined (to myself) wasn't churning out books more often, I totally apologize. Do what you do so freaking well and I'll be there to auto-buy happily.

Good stuff? I'm blogging! WTF?! I am loving writing and tweeting, and I even have a domain name. (Creating a website is on my to-do list, but not necessary at this point.) I bought a writing program, am working through more books on writing, etc, etc. Plenty of good stuff.

Some days I'm more confused and guilt-ridden about how to balance my life with writing than I'd like. And the insecurity about it is totally annoying. I'll spare you. But, I know I can learn from what worked and what didn't in this past year. It's humbling to realize how far I need to go, to see how deliberately I need to stay focused on making time to write in order to make the progress I want to see. But I will.

What are your writing plans for the summer? Any tips for clearing time to write?

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Family Time

Just a brief post tonight. I'm going to stay off the internet--even twitter (sob!)--tomorrow to spend more time with my family. So, Happy Mother's Day tomorrow! Hopefully the sun will be shining and the weather will be warm enough to be outside most of the day. I plan to get back to my WIP tomorrow night, once the kids are in bed. Time goes so fast and they are only little for so long.

Hugs to all!

ICYMI: Lots of buzz about the decline of historical romance, including ideas related to marketing. Dear Author had two separate posts, links are here and here. Talk amongst yourselves. I'm still pondering my favorite subgenre's changes as well, but appreciated the fabulous lists of non-Regency historicals. (Judith Ivory, I heart you!) Regencies, IMO, deserve love too. Certainly include other related posts in the comments if you wish. :)

Sunday, May 5, 2013

A Little Note of Hygiene

I admit that I can be a bit fastidious about certain things, particularly teeth brushing. I won't interact in the morning without brushing my teeth first. I'm trying to be polite. Inflicting morning breath on anyone is something I find to be rude. I realize not everyone thinks this way, certainly not fictional characters. But I think they should. Colgate or Crest all around! Who's with me?

Part of the problem with this teeth-brushing thing is that it takes me out of a story, whether I'm reading or watching something. For instance, I was watching Castle, one of my favorite tv shows, and the latest episode has Castle bringing coffee to Beckett in bed. It was so sweet. He'd made hearts out of the foam. Adorbs. Beckett wakes up, looking disheveled and yet glamorous, and takes a sip of coffee. When I watched it my teeth clenched and I started tapping my foot. It was sweet, but I kept thinking, "Go brush!" The scene continued with them talking, at close range, and then she even sat on his lap, facing him. The shipper in my was dying at the sweet scene of them together, but I had to work to follow what they were saying due to the supposed blasts of close-range morning breath. Argh and ew.

This is clearly my issue, but it got me thinking about similar concerns of what to show versus what not to show. As a viewer/reader, I don't want to see characters brush their teeth or read in-depth descriptions either. Although, their not having nasty morning breath helps to keep me in an early-morning scene. Because if I were in that situation--unless the house was burning down around me--that's what I'd be thinking of.

In romance, I have come across many early morning scenes. Sometimes the author has them brush (or whatever means one can clean their mouths), sometimes it is not mentioned (and I mentally add that in myself). There's a scene that stands out though--a kissing scene even--where the heroine had morning breath and horribly chapped lips. Robin Schone's Awaken, My Love, which also has a trail-blazing opening scene, has a strangely sexy kissing scene that mentions the heroine's unfresh breath. As I recall, the heroine is uncomfortable with it, but the hero, clearly, is not. The scene serves to show how into her he is. Something she was totally missing in her previous life. Of course I squirmed when I read it, but I turned the pages too and kept going because it worked.

Of course there's the whole world of paranormal romance filled with blood-kisses, weres (with doggy breath?), demons, etc. Somehow that doesn't bother me. Maybe I assume that immortals have immortally fresh breath? Go figure.

But it doesn't make sense to include every bodily thing a character does. I'm leaving it at that.

So for you, readers and writers, are there certain behaviors (or lack of behaviors) that take you out of a story? How do you find a balance of showing enough of what is happening while keeping characters' actions plot-centered?

I welcome your comments to what has been a more earthy post than I normally write.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

I'll Be Staying Home...This Year

As you may already know, the RT Booklovers Convention 2013 is this week in Kansas City. It is, apparently, a ginormous reader/author/industry-folk convention and everyone and their dog is going to be there. The list of authors attending is ridiculously awesome. Some personal favs include "old school" romance authors who are still going strong like Jude Deveraux, Bertrice Small, Karen Robards, Heather Graham, and Julie Garwood. (!!!) Authors whose books are on my keeper shelves like Cherry Adair, Thea Divine, Lora Leigh, and Beth Kery, to new (to me) authors like Roxanne St. Claire, Victoria Dahl, Kristen Callihan, and Sylvia Day. Go ahead and go back to the authors list and fan-girl (or boy) out again. Right? *sigh*

So, from a reader's standpoint, the convention sounds like a cool way to meet lots of amazing authors and other readers.

While I've read romance for a long, long time now, I have more recently hung out a shingle as a romance writer. Gulp. *waves* There is plenty to learn and a convention like RT 2013 sounds like a great opportunity to attend workshops and network as well.

But, I'm not going. I decided a few months ago that for several reasons, despite the convention being a drivable distance away, not to go. Argh. Hopefully, it will work out another year. Just not this one.

This list of FAQs about #RT13 is impressive, but I'd like to hear from you. What advice would you give to an aspiring author attending the RT convention? How helpful or effective have you found such conventions to be?

Happy Travels! I'll be following the hashtag on twitter and prepping for another convention or conference some day soon.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Just a Few Words

After a week where the news was terrifying and horrible, day after day, here's hoping that next week is uneventful and dull, peppered with good news and sunshine. To all the brave first responders, police officers, and medical personnel: thank you for what you do. We are so grateful.

The week ended on several stories of strength and resilience of the human spirit, kindness in the face of fear, togetherness in spite of our differences, and resolve despite stunning defeat. It was, at times, exhausting to take in. I can only imagine how people are feeling who are so much closer to these tragedies and frustrating events. I was wiped out just following along.

See you next Sunday.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Hurdles and Hoops

Before I had kids, I liked to imagine I could plan out my life 18 months in advance. It gave me a sense of momentum and helped me juggle several tasks at once. It also helped me see that there were finite amounts of time. Projects would really only take so long to complete. Grad school had only so many courses and exams and meetings.

Kids change things. Life happens, unpredictable and scary at times. Wonderful and funny and freeing. And I've learned to let go of some of that long-range planning.

With my writing I have tried to find a balance of focus and creativity, setting goals, and being open to learning. For the past few weeks, I'd set a goal of when I would Finish the Darn Novel. The plan was to write and not really edit but Get There. It didn't have to be pretty, I just needed to get to The End. Deadlines work for me. They add a touch of fear and a sense of structure, even if the only person who cares about it is me. (Well, and hubs. Supportive guy.)

So here I was, swimming along, mostly fine with the process, scared and excited. But the month of April caught me completely off guard. May is usually the overly-scheduled month, but somehow this year April is filled with activities. Last week, I sat down to write and my word-count actually went down one night. I closed my computer and tried to shake it off. I took a week off blogging, just to get some extra rest. Not only is my writing time more condensed this month, in the process of trying to lessen the load on my schedule, I managed to make more work for myself in the short-term.

April has gotten me off-track and, sometimes, even feeling insecure about my writing. Why am I doing this? My life is already too busy. Who am I to think I should just put it out there that I'm writing a novel? How pretentious. Even my twitter-feed made me anxious. So many tips and suggestions, I felt like what I had, even if it was just for me, was silly. I was venturing into a world I was fooling myself I could really do. Ick, right?

But then I realized (again) that I'm not really writing for anything other than that it makes me happy. It makes me so happy. Even if my goal for finishing the dreaded rough draft gets pushed back a few weeks, I am not giving it up. I choose to carry on. It may be messy. It may be naive. It certainly is amateur. But I just can't stress about all of that because it gets in my way and keeps me from just doing it. Yes, of course, there are a million things to learn and never enough time. But I am still going to do it.

I usually refer to obstacles in my long-term planning as hoops to jump through. I also believe that there is more than one way to get to a goal. Very few things in life--if any--have one perfect path to get there. So me getting all insecure and feeling overwhelmed was just another hoop. Same with April being ridiculously busy. Unlike future obstacles in this process, I did not see those coming.

But this weekend I also thought about how one spring I went out for the track team. Somehow I ran hurdles. Maybe it was the long legs because I am not known for speed. The first memory that pops into my head when I think of it is how one day I tripped and fell on a hurdle. I rolled a few times on the track and felt embarrassed. I probably had skinned knees too. I don't remember anyone laughing at me, though they certainly could have, especially because a falling hurdle is loud. You look at a hurdle differently once you know how it feels to fall from it.

This time though, when I thought of running hurdles, I thought about how the rest of the time, it was really fun doing hurdles. It was all run and run and plant that foot and leap and tuck the other leg up and to the side and make it over the bar and keep freaking doing it until the end. Fun.

While I did not leave the track world with any honors, I absolutely came away from it with a couple of lessons. I am reminded this spring that while hurdles can be complicated and trip you up, they can also teach you about getting back out there.

What kind of hurdles to your writing do you face? How do you keep your momentum? What do you do when you fall?

Happy writing, all!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Sunday Snippet: A Conversation with Zara

I feel a little guilty about what I'm doing to my heroine. It's a common enough trope, although that wasn't why I chose to use it. In Romancelandia, you have to bring people together and keep them that way for a while. Then apart, then together again. It's a process. Meet-cutes tend to happen under extraordinary circumstances. Having the hero, Callum, kidnap her--*cough, cough*-- accomplishes that, along with a bit of danger. See? Not nice. Hence, the guilt. But I'm doing it anyway. 

I know my heroine will be okay and you, as the reader, likely know that too. What I've been struggling with is how or whether or when my heroine will know that. I figured that out. That is for another post though.

Here is a conversation with Zara, my heroine. She's a tad reluctant to see herself in the role of protagonist. That's why I'm dragging her into it. She'll be fine though. 


Thank you for wanting to write a story for me but, truthfully, I'm not sure I'm heroine material. Other than the princess aspect, I'm not pining away in a tower. I have much to prepare for as the heir to the throne and I have no time for silliness and adventure and love. What good would that do me? I have duties to fulfill and a demanding queen to try to please. I have responsibilities.

Yes, I have fun. Times I spend with my sister are fun. She can be rather silly. You should write a story about her. Me first? Well, that’s…that’s awfully kind of you. And it’s a romance? I’m betrothed already and it is no love-match. He has been quite gentlemanly if a bit mysterious. He is handsome but not my type. Not that I have a type.

You want to know how I’d feel if someone from my past kidnapped me? What kind of a question is that? Is this a person who would want to hurt me? No? But he’s pretty desperate? What good could come from kidnapping me, other than a ransom?

Why I…I have no idea how I’d feel. I supposed I would be anxious to get back home once I got over being scared. We princesses do train for that though. Calm under pressure and all that.

There is one person from my past whom I wouldn’t mind stealing me away. A boy I almost fancied. But he died. Callum was…unique. Free. It was an eventful summer when I met him. He was so charming and dashing and handsome. Exactly what you would picture a young prince to be. Some can be rather petulant you know. But he was exuberance and light. I can’t even imagine him stealing me away. That would be…exciting.

Maybe that would be a good story.


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Sunday Snippet: A Conversation with Callum

It seems that in Romancelandia the number of people who are too busy, too tired, too scared, or too damaged to want to fall in love abounds. That is why they need a story, I suppose. In real life, love can happen unexpectedly too. I happen to believe that people tend to go after it even in the midst of a chaotic time in their lives. And finding someone who loves you can soothe and buffer one through a crisis.

But characters in Romancelandia seem to fight that concept for one reason or another. This week, I had a conversation with my hero, Callum. I tried to understand his point of view. He took some convincing. Here is what he had to say:

Ainsley, I want you to know how grateful I am that you are helping us in our mission to destroy the Usurper and regain the throne for my family. We have fought many years now and need the assistance as our resources are dwindling. Our hearts are loyal to Essex and our desire to win is unmatched. 

What? I thought you were helping us. You want to help me? [frowns] Will this assist me in defeating Gracchus? You’re not going to tell me? [crosses arms across chest] But you are reasonably certain this will aide in our mission? Well, then, tell me what we need to do. 

Back to me? Listen, lass, you are sweet to help me, but I am focused on one goal. Aye, I know they’ve a new tactic they want to convince me to use. I’ll hear them out but it sounds like a lot of asking for trouble. 

Wait. You think all of this can happen together? If I stop this one princess from getting married? [narrows his eyes] Doesn’t she want to marry this prince? Not really? I don’t know what they told you about me, but I don’t interfere in those matters and I am not in the habit of kidnapping women or innocents. Not at all. 

Which princess is it? Zara? Of L’Ortagia? Still unwed? Sure, I remember her. A comely lass. A bit shy. Long dark hair. Quirky. 

Does she remember me? Nevermind. I have a rebellion to plan, so…[raises an eyebrow] Really? [scowls and waves his hand] This is not what we do. Nevermind that back there. [sticks his head out of the back of the tent and yells for someone to keep it down] I think we may have to sort this out. Let me see if I understand this: if I prevent her from marrying, I will both thwart my enemy and get to spend time with the princess? Time I do not have, but I see your point. What use would I have for a princess now? I’m a soldier in the middle of a rebellion. 

What did you say? She’s my true love? [looks down, a small grin passes across his face] I haven’t had a thought about that in a long time. Ha! True love. There isn’t much left of me that could love someone. Oh, you’re so sure? [another crash outside; winces] Fine. I’m your man. Or her man. Or—point me to the fight and I’ll get it done. And, no, I don’t fight with women. I was raised as a gentleman. [coughs and spits into a corner] Gotten a bit rough around the edges lately. Let's, as you say, do this.


Sunday, March 17, 2013

How Long Can Authors Keep the Magic Alive? A Reader’s Perspective

I’m a reader, first and foremost. Sometimes I have to be pulled away from a book. Aside from a couple phases of my life when there was very little time to (pleasure) read—namely, school and babies—I don't see myself giving up my hobby. I love getting lost in a book.

I started reading before the internet was around to offer reader reviews, recommendations, and author emails detailing up and coming projects. Aside from a close friend in junior high who shared my love of the romance genre, there weren’t a lot of ways I knew of to find new authors. (Newsletters and review publications were around, but I didn’t read them. Live and learn.) So the way I found new authors was hit and miss, scanning library and bookstore shelves. And, of course, when I did find one I liked, I’d pour through her backlist, giddy about there being more to love.  

Because when I find an author whose work I love, I go all fan-girl. I LOVE those books. And I stay a faithful, devoted, grateful reader for a long time. I buy on release day and stay up all night reading, then usually rereading all over again. Er, until one day I don’t.

We all have our favorite authors. Hubs prefers the term “auto-buys.” But even though some of my old-school auto-buys are still publishing, I’m not reading them as much as I used to. And newer authors on my fav-list sometimes only stay there for a few years.

So, as a newer writer it makes me wonder what changed? How does a published author lose a reader? (Especially a reader who LUH-HUH-HUHVED her books?) Is there a way to get readers back who no longer love—or even want to read—what you write?

While I realize examples help to demonstrate points, I’m making the decision not to name names. That’s not what this post is about. We’re talking ideas, not particular writers.

Here are some possible causes for why I fall out of love with certain authors’ books:

1. I’m a picky reader. Oh, absolutely. I stopped making myself read a book I wasn’t loving long ago. Life’s too short. I read for pleasure, not work.

2. I want to LOVE it. As much as I can be a low-risk kind of person in real life, I adore the roller coaster of a good story. Move me. Make me cry. Make me shake my fist in frustration. Be so funny I’ll read a section to my husband—who will also laugh because it’s that good. Sometimes I wish I could just enjoy any book from the romance section, but I can’t. When I find an author I like I read what she writes for at least ten to twelve years. (See? Picky, but loyal.)

3. I wasn’t that into them. Since I am aware of my pickiness, I do try to lower those expectations and give a new-to-me author's book a good try. And sometimes it works. I’ve read amazing books this way. Books I wouldn’t have stuck with if I had let myself set them down the first time the author did something that bugged me. (Noting this here: sweatpants bug me and in a post-Fabio world, longhaired heroes sometimes bug me. But those are topics for another day.) I’ve noticed that with authors I am slow to warm up to, I don’t tend to stick with them for long. To be specific, for one such author, I read at least twelve of her books. At least. Some of which I still go back and reread happily. But some of the things these authors do in their writing, they continue to do and I've moved on. The books aren't badly written. Just no longer my cuppa.

4. The writing is amazing but the (sub)genre is outside what I like to read. I’ve found some of my favorite new authors when someone I already like recommends their work. This just happened again last year and I spent most of the summer agonizing how I had missed this writer (for years!) and yet loving that there was a long backlist to work my way through (woo!). For another such writer whom I found from an auto-buy’s rec, her writing style is evocative, layered, and just plain gorgeous. Seriously. Every random paragraph is luscious. But, this writer writes in a sub-genre that I don’t particularly enjoy. Still, because the work is so good, I’ve followed her into it. Some of her books I can handle, and some I just can’t do. But it’s really the sub-genre. For each book she publishes, I decide whether I want to brave it.

5. The writer doesn’t write in my favorite sub-genre anymore. I get it. At least, I think I get it and I don’t blame them. This is a creative profession and writers need to push themselves, expand, and try new things. Sometimes readers go along with them and sometimes they don’t. Same goes for me. It can be the author’s same voice, but if I don’t like that genre, I may not stick around that long to read more in it. No harm, no foul.

Corollary: I’ve learned to like new sub-genres this way. My favorite subgenre of romance is historical. Love, love, love it. So when some of my favorite authors started delving into paranormal in the late 1990s/early 2000s, I dragged my feet. Briefly. Sometimes a favorite author branching out can teach their readers to love something they never thought they would. Just try it, you’ll like it as you can imagine was a tough sell for me as a kid. But I do it and have been pleasantly surprised. And, yes, now count among my favorite subgenres paranormal romance. Adore it. This is the same way I fell in love with romantic suspense. Dipped in my toe, swirled it around happily, and then jumped in. Well, toe-dipping along with a long fling with Sidney Sheldon’s books back in the day. Ahem.

6. I’m over the series. This has got to be a tough one for writers, if certain readers want more from a series and others are tired of it. Or the writer is tired of it. Yeesh! What a dilemma. Sometimes what has been the final straw is the build-up of a book featuring a favorite secondary character that falls flat. From my own reading, if I didn’t love the whole series anyway, I was getting ready to move on and for auto-buys, it takes me a long time to fall out of love with a series I adore.  

As a reader, I walk the balance between wanting something great to read and branching out, sometimes feeling a bit disappointed when I can’t love everything I read. As a writer, at least from my perspective, my list shows me how freaking subjective it all is anyway. So, yes, being aware of trends seems important and may work in terms of pulling faithful readers along to new ones. Some readers may stick with you for decades and some for just a few books. While I may not read all of my old-favs’ new work, I still love their books. Hard. And probably always will.

So what’s a writer to do? Write great books. Readers will want to read them. Some will follow you along every journey, and some won’t.  They may not love everything you write forever and ever. But that’s how it goes. Keep writing because you might pick up some new readers who will delight in finding you.

What do you think? In terms of their writing, what are things an author can do to keep readers? As a reader, what makes you move on?

Comments are welcome, but please play nice. Just stick to themes or issues, and no identifying specific authors. Thank you.

Sunday, March 10, 2013


I talk about self-care in my day job. A lot. And I try really hard to practice it myself. But the past two weeks have been particularly challenging and I'm still trying to figure out what I want to do about it.

Let me backtrack a bit. When I feel stressed, I tend to carry it in my shoulders. They get tense, tighten up, and creep up towards my chin. Usually the muscle tension lasts for a few days, sometimes a few weeks. It depends on the stressor(s). Other people get break-outs, have upset stomachs, or headaches, etc. under stress. But for me, I know I'm stressed when my shoulders are a mess. Even hubs confirmed, they were "the worst" they've ever been the past two weeks. Strangely, they were only bad during the week. On the weekends, time I usually set aside for writing, my tension was gone.

Aha! Day job = stress, writing = less stress. Woot!

No, I'm not quitting my day job and writing full-time, among many reasons because paying the mortgage = way less stress. It does make me smile to think that putting extra time into something I love has helped me relax.

Instead, I've been reconsidering the things I give my time to. The world of work can be empowering and it can also be very demanding. There is always more to be done, with never-ending to-do lists, paperwork, and unexpected issues that suddenly become urgent or annoying. For instance, this week, my work email wouldn't open via my laptop. Argh. As Rosanne Roseannadanna liked to say, "It's always something!" (Here you go.)

I haven't totally decided how I will reallocate my time, but it feels good to put it out there that CLEARLY something needs to change. There's only so much time, and so many things are clamoring for it. Choose wisely and reassess as needed.

P.S. And remember, writing = happy.

How do you know when you've taken on too much? What do you do to protect time for your writing?

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Pantser, Plotter, or Hybrid

I like to know the big picture.

I can handle details, complexities, and even ambiguity. But I need to know where I'm going. I need the frame first. This was especially true in school. If a professor started a lecture by stating the main goal for that day, I was in. When they would use examples first, then ask the class to draw conclusions, I got antsy. Just tell me where this is going. This lead me to think I'd be a total plotter.

At the same time, I'm a bit of a spontaneous person. Not wild or impulsive, by any means. But, in my natural element, at a gut-level, I don't like being tied to a rigid structure. I like to be able to adapt, especially if I get new information. Sometimes that manifests as a late-night trip to Target. Sometimes it means I'll let the kids have a sleep-over when they ask at 7pm. See? Pantser qualities.

So when I started writing I (thought I) knew the general frame of a romance: meet, smoulder, conflict, sexy times, more conflict, crisis (The Big Misunderstanding, Being Kept Apart by a Big Bad, for example), crisis resolved, and HEA. In putting my ideas together, I roughed out an outline and then started typing. Along the way, I'd been reading several books and blogs on fiction writing, and romance in particular (topics I'll cover another day, with links). Back and forth, I've been planning and writing, discovering ideas that work, and some that don't.

I find I'm between both worlds. I plot and outline and even created what Blake Synder in Save the Cat referred to as "The Board" yesterday. (Woo!!!) Sometimes when I just put butt to chair and write and write and write, new ideas evolve, problematic elements find solutions. I tend to believe you need to do what works, and right now, this hybridization is working for me.

Which style works for you? Does it depend on the book or project? Is your writing style in sync with how you approach other areas of your life?

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Getting Started


I'm getting this blog up and going today. My goal is to post once a week as I work on my writing. I am working on a novel, the first of a three-part series. I hope to share observations, frustrations, and triumphs along the way.

I have been inspired and encouraged by many author/writer blogs. The bloggers themselves may not have even known I was there, clicking around and reading old posts, but I am grateful for their generosity.

I am also immensely grateful and humbled by my family's support of my writing. Yes, I still have my day job, but the fact that my husband supports me following a dream of writing makes me feel very, very lucky. Thank you, sweetie, for believing in me.

I've loved romance novels since I can remember. LOVED them. So, when I think of telling stories, my mind goes to the romance genre. Real life is tricky and complicated, peppered with moments of finding-your-happy. Reading and writing bring me a wonderful mix of joy and consternation. So, as one of my favorite teachers used to say, "Off you go!" Gulp. Here goes.