2013 – The Year of my Me Time

I’m a writer. We all know that. I’ve been writing and blogging since 2008. A few years ago I came across Kait Nolan’sRound of Words in 80 Days and discovered a vast network of fellow writers who are darned adept at cheering each other on while we all try to meet our writing goals.

Well in 2013, even though I managed to write and publish two books that brought my YA Contemporary series, Wings from Ashes to its conclusion, I slacked off.

That’s right.

I don’t honestly think that I hit an actual road block or a writers’ block, it was more like a sudden need for down time.

For the past three years, I was writing every night, almost nonstop. Either I was blogging or working on that next book.

Looking back at this past year, after publishing Along Came Neil, I lost the need to write with fervor. I no longer feel as though I need to hurry and get it done. It will get done when it is ready. Who knows, maybe my word count will be longer on this work than the past works.

Is this a sign of maturing as a writer?

I thought that the #wip I was working on for my Na No Wri Mo was going right into that slush pile of unfinished works. It didn’t after all. Instead, I have slowed my writing pace down to a hundred words or two here and there. Add a sentence there, maybe change a paragraph there.

The story is not growing at the pace I was writing at in the past. But it is growing.

I have almost hit the half-way point. Then today I thought about some additional plot points and how to work them into the story line to make it more appealing.

This new, careful way of writing brings me hope for the future of the remaining works in my slush pile. Maybe they can be saved after all. I have two other stories that remain half written and may have to be tackled next. I hate leaving anything unfinished.

Besides writing this year will continue with my Me Time. This is the time I will set aside to do other things I like doing, as in my crocheting, computer gaming, quilting, reading, and gardening.

In 2014, I will follow each completed project, whether it is a written project or a crafting project of some kind with a follow up photo to share with all of you, even if it is a book I just finished reading.

This is the sweater I made for my grandbaby two years ago. My daughter is keeping it even though she has outgrown the sweater. She says it is now an heirloom.

Sweet!

I made Jas a new sweater for Christmas this year. I will post the picture of it as soon as I get one of her wearing it, in a couple of days.

Next up is an afghan that my son has already laid claim to. I never expected that. When I’m done with that, I may need to make a quilt. I haven’t quilted since writing and publishing Friends of Choice. It is long overdue.

It feels right to find my Me Time again.

Do you set time aside for your Me Time?

What do you do with your Me Time?

Stop by and Share – I’d love to hear about your other projects.

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Sunday Scoopful and #ROW80

Can you believe it is already the third Sunday of the Month? Where did the days go? Next week is Thanksgiving.

Being the third weekend of the month means that yesterday was the third Saturday of the month, and it was the day my other writing group meets. The Monadnock Writers’ Group meets every third Saturday of the month from September to June at the Peterborough, New Hampshire town Library, downstairs. For all but two months, we are entertained by a speaker, a guest who shares tidbits about what it means to be a writer. We have had screenplay writers, poets, artists, photographers, and others who have something to share with the art form of writing.

This weekend we were visited by Judson D. Hale, Sr., The current editor-in-chief of The Old Farmer’s Almanac and Yankee magazine and is Chairman of the Board at Yankee Publishing. He shared tidbits of what an editor faces when it comes to submissions. He gave many example of queries he has received over the years and why he told the person no and why he said yes to a story. He said it was all in the blurb or tag line of the story on whether or not he found the story to his appeal. If the story line sounded boring he would say no, and if they gave him a blurb with juice to it, he would say yes. It wasn’t the subject matter that made the difference it was all in the way it was presented.

Judson had some genuinely excellent points, and he shared his witty humor with us along with some of his favorite quotes.

So who is doing NaNo-ing?

*raises hand…

ROW80 Check In:

I’m still NaNo-ing. Yep, that’s right. I haven’t given up hope just yet, even if I missed writing a few days this week.

Remember, my best is writing a first draft in 90 days. So, if I can beat that best, then I win my own personal goal, even if I don’t finish the work in progress in due time to make the NaNo goal.

Today I am happy to report my 5k for today. I might finish the first draft by the end of January.

I did have to go and revamp my plot outline before I could go any further. It is so helpful to have that plot point by plot point all figured out. The characters may not always behave the way you might want them too, but if the goal is there already for them to get to the rest of the character building falls into place.

It does not matter if your character is not as strong as you wanted them to be. They can still be kick ass and sweet and simple too. The most crucial thing is to make your characters likeable. Then you can pick the characters off one at a time if they don’t want to behave.

I must say, I can’t kill off characters as easily as Suzanne Collins did in Hunger Games. As I read her book I was miffed at how easily she was able to kill them, one after the other. In the end, I found myself saying – out loud – huh? Now why did she kill him off, I kind of liked him? He must have been a terribly crummy boy for her to do that to him.

Now I am learning the art of killing off characters (lol). At the 20% point of the work in progress, I have successfully managed to kill off one character. I wonder how many more characters that I can kill off by the end of the story.

Happy NaNo-ing and may your WIP treat you well for your next ROW80 check in.

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Monadnock Writers’ Group Meeting Minute and #ROW80 Check-in

It is the third Saturday of the month and time once again to let you all know how my monthly Monadnock Writers’ Group happened to be. Our speaker for today was Hilary Weisman Graham. I met her a few months ago when she spoke at our NHRWA meeting in Bow, NH. That time she had told us all about the marketing things one should not do. This time she spoke about her other form of writing that she feels she loves even more than writing fiction. She is a screenwriter at heart.

Hilary wrote a YA Contemporary a year ago called Reunited. I still have yet to read it. Winter is coming. There should be plenty of time to read then.

Her explanation of what she had to go through to pitch a screenplay for TV Shows, explained how difficult that kind of writing tends to be. It is a never ending battle to come up with the right story line, the right characters, and what they are looking for in a screenplay during that actual moment. Many screenplays are tossed in the file after file to become lost in time.

She was asked about the difference between managers and agents. Hilary said that the managers are more personal, and she can cry on her manager’s shoulder about things easier than crying on an agents shoulder. The relationship tends to be closer.

All in all, I found her screenplay presentation much more enjoyable and funny. Thanks Hilary. Hope to see you again soon and good luck on your screenplays.

Other News:

Along Came Neil is up on Smashwords – finally.

I don’t believe I will bother taking part ever again in the Kindle Select program, especially now that Smashwords has come out with the prerelease feature. I really do like Smashwords so much more than any other venue. The meat grinder was my nemesis in the past, but I do believe I may have conquered that. Now I just need to wait for them to approve the file for their catalogue. In the meantime I have a little treat for my readers. I have a coupon code to share with all of you and if you want you are free to share this code with your friends and your friends’ friends, and their connections too. So please pass it around. I am hoping to get some ratings and reviews if possible in exchange for this code.

For your Free eBook in your choice of format. Promotional price: $0.00
Coupon Code: MH37M – Not Case Sensitive
Expires: November 19, 2013 https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/368935

ROW80 Check-In:

I missed my check in for Wednesday. So much for my goal of not missing a post, but I won’t give up on that goal just yet. I plan on trying again and again until I finally meet that goal without having to force myself to make the posts.

What I do have to report: I started working on the next Orgarlan Book. The first 1k words are done. I will give it a shot again tomorrow and see what kind of word count I can get before noon time. I know that 3k would be too much to ask for, but then again, that can be about the same length of a chapter, so one never knows.

How’s your writing going this week? I would love to hear from you. Do you attend writing groups? Who have your speakers been?

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Falling Plot and finding Plans for NaNo – ROW80 Check – In

It is fall – no doubt about that. Here I am, on a Wednesday with my Round of Words Check – In. Sadly I do not have anything to report except for my up and coming NHRWA meeting that is coming up this Saturday in Bow, NH. I’m certainly looking forward to it.

My lack of writing does not have anything to do with writers block. I’m sure it has a lot to do with shifting gears by going from Teen Contemporary to Fantasy. The switching from one set of characters back to the other set does slow the muse down. I guess that is why some writers recommend staying with only one genre. Other writers recommend not writing series or trilogies.

I can’t help it. My stories come in spurts. It is just the way I write and the stories come about.

But today on our Facebook group for ROW80 one of our comrades posted a link to a post for NaNo Planning 2013. I checked it out. I must say I will need to use this when I begin work on my next story. It just might be the plan I need to get my butt in gear and get the story written.

Just think – NaNo is right around the corner. I’ve been using this challenge for the past three years to get my stories into motion.

Hm… Maybe that is what my muse is waiting for.

But I do remember one of my goals for this round is Deliberate Writing. So I had better go and get to work by planning and plotting.

I hope your writing week is going strong.

Check out how other ROWers are doing and what kind of goals they are working towards this round by visiting the Linky List.

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Are Blogs Really Worth It?

Here’s a great example of how an Author Blog helps gain fans.

I like to scope out blogs of others from time to time. Today I stumbled across Tawna Fenske. I had never heard of her until today. She too is a RWA (Romance Writer of America) member.

It only took a few minutes of my time to read her last two posts and wow… She is a riot. This prompted me to not only follow her posts via email but to also check out her books and add them (all of them) to my to-read pile.

If she writes her blogs the way she does I can only imagine how her books are.

This is what the experts are talking about when they say how important a blog is to a Writers Career. I may never have come across her works before today but just that brief little bit in her blog made me want to read everything she writes, even if it was the first book she ever wrote.

This brings me to the next thing – Growing as a writer

How funny is it to see your own writing skills change over time? It is even funnier to see all the mistakes you made in the beginning of your career. And when you can go back to the beginning and look at it all those mistakes and laugh then you truly know that you have grown as a writer.

Kudos to Tawna, she has acquired me, her newest fan, just from keeping a blog.

ROW 80 Check In:

Two weeks into the year and after finishing up my last book, Road Salt, I have started on the next story. At first I was going to go back to my fantasy series but after my last RWA meeting I’ve been hooked. Now I have to go on with the Wings from Ashes series.

I am happy to report that I have started this next book. I am 3k words into the story and I think I have dug up a pretty good plot for it.

Plots are what I like in my stories, that and lots of conflict. Everyone has at least one nemesis in their life and Karla has one too. That is Maggie.

Maggie will do anything she can to get back at Karla and she does not need much of an excuse. How this effects Karla’s next relationship is to be seen in Along Came Neil.

My goal is to make this story my first official Teen Contemporary Romance.

Would you like to see what other ROW’ers are working on? Come and check out our Linky List

Speaker at the Bow Meeting #ROW80 #RWA

Yesterday I became officially hooked into the Romance Writers World. That’s right, now I am a member of the NH Chapter too. This is a good thing. They are such a great bunch of gals and fun to be around and full of great information. They meet at the Baker Free Library in Bow, NH on the second Saturday of the month.

We had a speaker visit us at the meeting yesterday. This is one of the great benefits of attending a local writing group meeting. Next weekend I will be attending the meeting at the Monadnock Writers’ Group at the Peterborough Library on Saturday. They too will have a speaker.

Our guest was Kristan Higgins and wow what a speaker!

 

She is the author of 9 bestselling – 9 mind you – romances. She is also funny, witty, and full of great information. I see she has a blog too. http://kristanhiggins.com/blog/

So yesterday she left us with some tidbits on writing. These bits would probably work for almost any type of fictional writing and not just Romances.

The title of her presentation was Chapter One – I am born

Kristan explained to us how the first chapter is the most important chapter in any story. It is the chapter that gets the reader to keep coming back for more. It is your hook. So here is a condensed version of some of her tidbits.

  1. “Wicked Awesome First Line”
  2. Tone – Funny, Tragic, Terrifying, Elegant – “Don’t mislead your reader by writing a funny opener and having a tragic ending.”
  3. Theme – “What is your Book about?” – Show what your Character does not know.
  4. Personality – Demonstrate through action – “Beware of the cliché in character development – Create a Character the reader can relate to. “Romances are about the Character.”
  5. Character’s beliefs is somewhere stated
  6. Everyday life & World – where the story takes place and how things work in the character’s world. If the character has emotional scars, give glimpses and let the readers use their own imagination.
  7. Keep the first chapter Lean and only include the key players of the story.
  8. Seeds of the past – Flash backs, but don’t tell the reader EVErything.
  9. Immediate Goal
  10. Character Flaw – “why she doesn’t have what she wants just yet.”
  11. Character in Action – “Don’t have the character just sit there doing nothing. Create some disturbance or conflict, hooking into the emotions of the character so the reader can relate to them.
  12. The Hook – Last line of the chapter and its job.
  13. Call to the Adventure – Why life can’t continue to be the same after what has taken place in the first chapter.
  14. “The last chapter of the story should echo the first chapter.”

Then she gave us a list of NO – No’s

  1. Flash back – sometimes okay if used properly
  2. Dreams
  3. Secondary Plot lines
  4. The next four heroes & heroines in your series – keep them out of the picture as best as you can and don’t let them steal the show.
  5. Overt revelations
  6. Grocery list of descriptions
  7. Prologues can sometimes be allowed if they are very important to the story. But don’t give away the trump card.

 

At our meeting we have a Pro Liaison and she is great at giving us writing challenges to take us through the month. They are more like exercises to help us get out of the way of our muses. This month’s challenge is to write crap for 5 minutes every day to kill your inner critic.

Okay – I found an outlet for my crap writing. I have this manuscript I started in 2010 for NaNo and never finished it because I thought the story line was crap – Maybe something can happen with it and I can shape it after I finish writing the crap in the first draft. Yesterday I did 500 words in the five or so minutes I worked on it. Who know what could happen with this story.

 

ROW80:

This week was a blah week. I was sick and didn’t feel like doing much of anything but sleeping. I even missed a day of work from my everyday job. It isn’t like me to call in sick.

I’m feeling better, and yesterday I was able to pick up some motivation from the girls at the Bow meeting. So yeaH! I added another 1k words to Road Salt. The first draft isn’t anywhere near the word count I am seeking but at least the story line is over 2/3rds done. I can see the end of the story off in the distance.

After what I did with the revision on Witch Book I am sure I will be able to make my word count when I go back and add some fluff to the story. I tend to do the opposite of most writers. I write tight and have to force myself to add the stuff our imaginations are made of.

Have a great week and may the ROW be with you… If you have time come check out some other ROWers and cheer them on Linky List.

 

 

Joni B. Cole visits The Monadnock Writers’ Group

Here we are in the month of September and fall is quickly closing in on us. Why is it that summer always seems to go by so quickly and winter, even though it averages the same length of time, drags on and on and on?

With it being September it also means it is time for my local writing group to begin its monthly meetings.

I belong to the Monadnock Writers’ Group. We meet the third Saturday of every month in the lower portion of the Peterborough Library.

Our group meets from September to June, and then we take a break for the summer months. All but two of these meetings are visited by a guest speaker and are open to the public.

September’s guest speaker was Joni B. Cole.

She is the author of Another Bad-Dog Book: Tales of Life, Love and Neurotic Human Behavior, which is not a book about dogs. This book is a book of personal essays about people. She spoke of how she has found her book of essays located in the dog book/pet section of book stores instead of amongst the other essay books. This was not of her doing and was surprised to find this accidental marketing happening to her book.

Joni is a writing instructor and speaker at conferences. She is also the author of Toxic Feedback: Helping Writers Survive and Thrive, and is known as the creator of the “This Day” series, which includes Water Cooler Diaries: Women across America Share Their Day at Work.

Joni published many magazine articles and essays in several literary journals and frequently contributes to The Writer magazine. In 2011 she was a Pushcart Prize nominee and has been a guest on CNN and many radio and news shows.

You can learn more about our speaker by visiting her website: www.jonibcole.com

She was able to give us a few writing tidbits. One of which was about writers’ block. She said, “One should not always follow a linear path when working on a manuscript. It is much easier to write the scene that is on one’s brain. This makes the writing process much easier and enjoyable.”