Think it’s hard to write every day during NaNo? Most professional writers keep this kind of pace all year round. Holidays, birthdays, vacations—you name it, we’re writing. The trick is making writing into a daily habit. Same time. Same place. Same hot beverage of choice. Every. Single. Day. Again. And. Again.NaNo can seem like an impossible task, but the reality is, if you want to get published and succeed in the business, writing like this must become routine. And if it's not writing, it's editing, or revising, or plotting, or filling out forms for your publisher. It is like a full time job that you have to squeeze into the non-existent cracks of spare time between all your other responsibilities that you actually get paid for.
Monday, November 11, 2013
Monday, October 28, 2013
Daily Five Minute Plotting
As you sit down to begin your daily writing session, take a minimum of five minutes to jot down the basics of whatever needs to come next. Maybe it's a new scene, or some dialogue, or some character development, whatever. Just brain storm and let your creative juices flow.
Use at least five minutes, but you can keep going longer if you're on a roll. This exercise gives you enough direction to make decent progress until your next writing session. It doesn't matter if you end up using what you brainstormed or if your story veers in another direction. Either way, it will help you get going and make better use of your time in the long run.
I'm a pantser. I mean yes, I have a very basic outline (in my head) with the beginning and end and a few pivotal scenes. I know my characters and their ultimate goals and their character arc, but that's about it.
Taking the time at the beginning of each writing session to analyze where I am in the story and what needs to come next really helps me get going.
Good luck NaNoers!
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
NaNoWriMo may not be for everyone, but personally, I love it. All my published novels are the result of NaNoWriMo disasters.
It's one long month of painful, obsessive, and horrific writing. But in the end, I've got more than just the backbone of a story, I've got a whole manuscript. Then I spend the next year revising and sending it through my crit croup.
Writing a manuscript so quickly allows me to keep the characters consistent and the story more cohesive. It's like total story immersion.
It's an exercise in creativity. You sit. You write. You don't go back and delete. You wear a silver cross and garlic strands to keep that editing demon at bay. Revision comes later--after you've vomited your story onto the page in such a jumbled mess that it looks like this:
Monday, September 9, 2013
1. Obsessive Compulsive Editing Disorder (OCED). I edit everything from the back of cereal boxes to notes from my kids to whatever novel I'm reading. I wish I could turn it off, but there doesn't seem to be a switch. It's almost impossible for me to read a book without a pencil in hand to add a comma here or delete a word there. I hate it. I just want to enjoy the story.
2. Unintentional Analytical Plot Predicting Syndrome. (Also known as Beat Beating.) I can't watch a movie or TV show without analyzing the plot and trying to predict the ending. My husband asks me why I even bother watching any more because I always know what's going to happen.
3. Author Attention Distraction Disorder (AADD, also frequently referred to as "crazy"). I'm constantly distracted. Not by shiny toys and squirrels, but by everything inside my head. "Mom, this is really important. I have to have one hundred..." One hundred. Yes! That's it! What if my main character lives a hundred miles away? That would put enough strain on the relationship to make the scene work better and lead right into the climax. But then the villain... "Mom? Did you hear me?" "What? Is someone talking to me?"
4. Blood Shot Twitchy Eye Syndrome. Some call it insomnia, when you wake up in the middle of the night because you just had this great idea and you can't go back to sleep because scenes and dialogue keep playing out over and over in your mind. Please just make it stop!
5. Acute Hyper-Friendlessness Complex (AKA: Loner's Disease). I've always been an introvert, but since I started writing, it's blossomed into an epidemic. A single person epidemic. How can I have time for friends when I have scenes to write, edits to make, and research to do. I've already got hoards of voices in my mind, why do I need more? Come on people! What's more important here? Real life or the fictional world I've created in my head?
What diseases do you suffer for the sake of your art?
Tuesday, July 23, 2013
Researchers have developed special software that does personality-profiling and then categorizes the user into one of five "dimensions of personality" as recognized by modern psychology.
Those categories are: extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness to experience. Research has already proven that extroverts prefer Coca-Cola over Pepsi, and Agreeable people prefer Pepsi.
By analyzing specific words in our Tweets, they can determine our personality type. This profiling software can draw a reasonably accurate personality profile from just 50 tweets, and very accurate from 200.
What is all this personality information good for? Advertising of course.
Advertisers currently try to understand their customers through basic demographics and existing buying habits. But with this new software, the researchers believe, they would have a better approach to advertising by discovering our deep psychological profiles.
Tuesday, July 16, 2013
I'm sorry to say, Romeo and Juliet is one of my least favorites. Partly because it's been done so many times, but mostly because Romeo and Juliet always seem a little insane. Maybe that's Shakespeare's point: Combine teenage mentality and true love and well, it's not going to run smooth.
Which is why I find this so hilarious.
What are your thoughts on Romeo and Juliet?
Which Shakespeare is you favorite?
Monday, July 8, 2013
I recently read a book that asks the question Why do we read?
The author--through the voice of one of the characters--suggests that in literature, everything has a meaning. But it is the experiences in our own lives that shape what the meaning is and how it affects us.
Reading causes us to ask deep questions. Like what is the meaning of my life? Why am I where I am in life? Where will this path lead me? What is good and what is evil? What is love? What is my role in my life's story?
He suggests that as we read, we relate to the characters in such a way that we find the part of our lives or personality that parallels them, and we become them.
He says, "If we take these stories too literally, if we expect our personal lives to always end with a handsome prince, most of us will close our books with shattered dreams. Yet, on the other hand...if we don't take the meaning of those stories literally, if we treat these tales as simply entertainment, we miss the deepest, most life-shanging aspects of the stories. We miss the entire reason they exist." (The Rent Collector by Camron Wright)
I've always believed that reading is more than just entertainment. That by picking up a good book, I'm learning something about life, and more importantly, learning something about myself.
So that's the question. Why do we read?
Sunday, June 9, 2013
I'm on vacation this week in Hawaii. It's my first time here--and we stay till the end of the week. We've rented a beach house in Laie.
I'm open for suggestions on the things we should do, places we have to see, or restaurants we can't miss.
Here are a few pics of our first two days:
Monday, June 3, 2013
When Lyn sets off on her supposedly uncomplicated and unromantic cruise, she never dreams it will include pirates. All the 25-year-old, Colorado high school teacher wants to do is forget that her dead fiancé was a cheating scumbag. Lyn plans a vacation diversion; fate provides Braedon, an intriguing surgeon. She finds herself drawn to him: his gentle humor, his love of music, and even his willingness to let her take him down during morning karate practices. Against the backdrop of the ship’s make-believe world and temporary friendships, her emotions come alive.
However, fear is an emotion, too. Unaware of the sensitive waters he's navigating, Braedon moves to take their relationship beyond friendship--on the very anniversary Lyn is on the cruise to forget. Lyn's painful memories are too powerful, and she runs from Braedon and what he has to offer.
Their confusing relationship is bad enough, but when the pair finds themselves on one of the cruise's snorkeling excursions in American Samoa things get worse. Paradise turns to piracy when their party is kidnapped and Lyn's fear of a fairytale turns grim. Now she must fight alongside the man she rejected, first for their freedom and then against storms, sharks, and shipwreck.
And here's the cool book trailer:
After doing city council minutes for twenty years, I decided to write something a little longer and with a lot more emotion--and kissing.
Monday, May 20, 2013
I feel like books series are reaching epidemic proportions. It's hard to find a book that's NOT part of a series.
Monday, May 13, 2013
I just finished up three days at the Storymakers 2013 conference! It was a great event with some wonderful agents and editors, and lots of amazing authors and aspiring authors. I attended some very helpful classes--some of them taught by agents and editors.
When the agents/editors open the floor to questions, inevitably the writers start asking things like:
"What are the upcoming trends in the market?"
"What should I put in my query letter to make it stand out?"
"What genres are you looking for?"
"When is the best time of year to query?"
The agents and editors do their best to answer these questions, but they struggle. Sometimes the writers get bugged. "Why can't they just tell us what they're looking for." Even though these are all different questions, they all boil down to the same thing:
"What is that one magical thing I need to do to get published?"
The bottom line is that there is no one secret, magical, just-out-of-reach trick. They can guide you and offer suggestions on what NOT to do, but none of this is a shoo in.
The only trick that really works is to write a great story. I think is was Victoria Curran who said, after everyone kept asking for the magical secret, "Write what's in your heart, and write to the heart."
A good query is important. Not writing to the trends is important. Choosing the right agent for your genre is important. But the only sure thing that can sell your story is your story.
Write what's in your heart.
Create something that speaks to the heart of the reader.
Write it well.
When the time is right, your story will find a home. No magical tricks involved.
Monday, April 29, 2013
The song: "Wrapped Around Your Finger" by The Police.
I hadn't realized that memory was so closely associated with that song--and the whole Synchronicity album. I listened to it a ton during that semester abroad because it had just been released in London. Those were the days before iTunes and even CDs. I had to flip the cassette over halfway to hear the other side.
Now I've dated myself.
Monday, April 22, 2013
As Plain as the Nose on Your Face
Tuesday, April 2, 2013
The book trailer:
I can't take all the credit--or even a pinch of it. The real genius behind the trailer is Paul, the super talented guy who created the beautiful and stunning shots and visual effects, and did all the editing, and storyboarding, and yeah, pretty much everything that makes it awesome.
Roll the Credits:
Oliver Howells - producer (a much bigger job than I ever imagined. Thanks Oliver!)
Mason Mac - Christian
Amberlee Wilson - Scarlett
Mariah Tess - Jenny
Beau Maxon - Connor
Rocky Bowlby - Gary
And special thanks to about a hundred other super talented and generous people who helped behind the scenes, mixed the sound, composed the original score, provided food for everyone, did the make-up, moved truckloads of equipment over and over again, let us use their facilities to shoot guns in, managed the wardrobe, loaned us their car to nearly wreck on a lonely stretch of highway, fanned fog forever, stood outside in the freezing cold for hours positioning mirrors to direct the light, responded to every crazy request I made on set, made fake blood, pushed the dolly, built a medical examiner's gurney, and so much more. You all rock!
If you like it, PLEASE spread the word! Share it on Facebook, Tweet it, whatever! Let's get it out there!
Monday, March 25, 2013
So, for fun, and while we're waiting for the unveiling of the Book Trailer of Awesomeness (coming April 2!), I'll share the songs behind A Blind Eye.
They're all on this youtube playlist, and if you click on the little "playlist" icon at the bottom of the video frame, you can pick and choose which ones to listen to.
Monday, March 18, 2013
I'm planning on sharing things that I learned on my journey to getting published that I wish I would have known sooner, including some time saving tricks and general habits to make writing easier and better.
I would love any ideas from my blog readers on their best piece of writing advice. It can be about any part of the writing process.
So, if someone asked you for your one most important bit of writing advice, what would it be?
Or, if you're a reader not a writer, what is something you wish writers would do--or not do?
Any advice is welcome.
Monday, March 11, 2013
Here are my thoughts on that subject:
EVERY writer struggles with those same problems.
SUCCESSFUL writers spend less time complaining about it, and instead, learn how to FIX IT.
The reality is that if you are serious about getting published and being successful as an author, you have to figure out what areas you struggle with, and fix them.
When an agent or editor calls, interested in your manuscript, you can bet they will be asking some probing questions. "How long did it take you to write this story?" "What else are you working on?" "Do you have other manuscripts completed?" They don't want authors that can't get the writing done.
Take a step back and look at your writing life through an objective lens. What is it that's holding you back? And how can you fix it?
No time to write? Find some. Get up earlier. Set aside a little chunk of time everyday, and, as Martine Leavitt would say, chip away, chip away, chip away. Make that time count.
Bogged down trying to get your story just right? Find a good critique group--and LISTEN to what they say. Move on. Maybe that story just doesn't work and it's time for something new. Set rules about how much time you can spend editing each day--maybe only allow yourself to re-read the one page previous to where you left off. Five minutes tops.
Plot going nowhere? Try pantsing. Try outlining.
Embarrassed by a hideous first draft? Welcome to the world of writing. That's why I prefer the term rough draft.
Discouraged by negative feedback or a lot of critique from your writers group? Step away. Let their comments percolate. They're not trying to be hurtful, they're trying to help your story. EVERY writer--no matter how good--can still improve. If you need warm fuzzies, ask your spouse to read it and have them tell you only the things they liked.
My point is, to be successful in this business, you have to be able to get the manuscripts written. Written, polished, and ready to go.
Figure out what's holding you back, and FIX IT.
DON'T compare yourself to other authors, you aren't them. Experiment, learn, and find out what works for you.
Monday, March 4, 2013
There is so much to say about it, I don't know where to begin.
I'll start by saying this whole filming thing came about when this awesome and amazing cinematographer married into the family--Paul. If you want to see some of his work, go to his website and check it out. I especially recommend the History Channel one--with the old guys and guns.
When he said he would help me do a trailer, I had no idea that we would be shooting a real piece of film. This was big time stuff, in my opinion. Real actors, real movie-making equipment, even a stunt driver and weapons specialist!
Since we didn't have a real Hollywood budget, we used a lot of friends and family. My son was on dolly, I helped with the directing, my sister in law did craft services, and my nieces did the fake blood, set dressing, take-marker clacking, and my sons and nephews and husband moved tons of equipment, lighting, props, dolly tracks, fog machines and light reflectors. Whew! It was a crazy weekend!
I don't have all the stills and behind the scenes photos yet from the official photographer, but here are a few I snapped with my phone.
Mason Mac as Christian. Yes, they are making snow while filming.
Christian getting into his character before shooting.
Christian taped to the chair.
Christian and Scarlett (Amberlee Wilson) at the diner.
Christian and Jenny (Mariah Tess).
Christian and Scarlett.
My son working dolly and the genius Paul filming.
What's left of the crew after wrap on Saturday night.
As soon as I get more stills, I'll put them up. And then hopefully we can expect to see the trailer in a few weeks.
All the details are HERE.
Tickets are $12 ahead of time, $18 at the door, or FREE--if you enter to win them right now on my blog.
Enter to win 2 Free Tickets to the Really Big Cooking Show:
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Monday, February 11, 2013
Now, head on over to InkSplasher to read the first official book blog review of A Blind Eye.
For any of you locals, I'll be having a book signing and launch party at Seagull Book in American Fork Saturday, February 16, from 1-3 PM.
I have some awesome door prizes I'll be giving away--including a few T-shirts all the way from LONDON!
Coming up on the blog tour:
February 18: LDSWBR
February 20: I'm a Reader, Not a Writer
February 20: Peggy Eddleman: Will Write for Cookies
And check out this bit of awesomeness:
Monday, February 4, 2013
This week, you can't believe the amazing books I have to give away!
In keeping with my theme of books and authors that have influenced me, I'm giving away two books by Shannon Hale. Her novel Book of a Thousand Days has been a huge inspiration to me, especially as a writer. I love everything about this book, the unique setting, the strong voice of the narrator--Dashti, her strength and courage, and Shannon Hale's remarkable ability to take a mucker girl's words and transform them into poetry.
Whenever I feel that my writing needs a step up, I pull out this book to remind myself what great writing really is. It's absolutely beautiful!
So this weeks amazing prize package is:
A beautiful Hardcover copy of Book of a Thousand Days signed by Shannon Hale.
A Hardcover copy of Midnight in Austenland, also signed by Shannon Hale.
AND a copy of my new novel, A Blind Eye, signed by me.
Plus, I'll throw in a bonus bookmark and bumper sticker:
Monday, January 28, 2013
This week I'm giving away two books by the author Mary Stewart. She is often called the founder of the romantic suspense genre. I've read at least a dozen of her books. My favorite is Nine Coaches Waiting, followed by her Merlin Trilogy (which isn't romantic suspense, but they are amazing).
Since my novel, A Blind Eye, is romantic suspense, I'm sticking to that category and giving away a copy of Nine Coaches Waiting and The Ivy Tree.
These are classics. Her interesting characters, intriguing plots, and exotic settings are her trademarks. Mary Stewart's books have been a big influence on my writing.
Also, for the lucky winner, I'll throw in a bit of swag to promote my own book. A Blind Eye bookmark and an Oregon bumper sticker. Exciting, I know, but try to keep calm.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Next week the prizes get even better! TWO Shannon Hale books, signed, and a copy of my book, A BLIND EYE! plus more swag. You know you want them all!
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
I've decided to give away copies of my favorite books by the authors who have really influenced me as a writer.
Keturah follows a legendary hart deep into the forest, where she becomes hopelessly lost. Her strength diminishes until, finally, she realizes that death is near--and learns then that death is a young lord, melancholy and stern. Renowned for her storytelling, Keturah is able to charm Lord Death with a story and gain a reprieve--but he grants her only a day, and within that day she must find true love.
This week's prize is a brand new copy of Martine Leavitt's Keturah and Lord Death.
I LOVE this book. The story is sweet and sad and wonderful, the writing is divine. I can honestly say this book changed my life.
I had the great privilege of taking a week-long writing workshop from Martine Leavitt. She is brilliant, and I learned more than I ever thought possible about the craft of writing and storytelling. She is an amazing person.
If you haven't read any of Martine Leavitt's works, you should. Her latest book, "My Book of Life by Angel," is a breathtaking novel in verse about a young girl trapped in the world of prostitution.
You have several chances to win this delightful book. Just follow the instructions in the Rafflecopter below--and thanks for helping me spread the word about my own book!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
I'll be giving away TWO awesome books next week by another author who influenced me!
Monday, January 14, 2013
I've been reading several stories lately with struggling characters. And by struggling, I mean characters that are inconsistent and hard to believe.
If you are struggling to make your characters come across as real, believable, and engaging to readers, here is a little piece of advice that might help.
Establish what each character's motives are. What is the one thing that that character wants, and why? Once you figure that out, everything a character does should be to achieve that goal. Even if the choices they make aren't always the smartest, in the character's mind they should be to achieve that one, all important goal. This will keep your character consistent and believable.
Your main character's objective should be obvious to the reader in the first chapter.
Example: The Hunger Games
What one goal of Katniss's drives the story forward and is at the root of nearly everything she does? Her desire to protect her sister, Prim. She volunteers to go to the games in place of Prim, and she wants to win not just to survive, but so she can be there for Prim.
Example: The Forest of Hands and Teeth
What is it that Mary longs for? To see the ocean, and thus have a connection with her mother. This is what drives Mary out when the walls are breached and keeps her going. In my opinion, this comes across as a selfish motive, but at least it is consistent. And let's face it, teens often have selfish motives.
Example: The Lord of the Rings
What objective does Frodo have in his heart that keeps him going on his impossible quest? The Shire. He wants to get back home to the Shire, and he wants the Shire to be safe and uncorrupted by Sauron.
You have to find your character's Shire.
Come back next Monday for the first of many contests leading up to the release of A Blind Eye in February!