writing

Quick, What’s Another Word For Thesaurus?

on September 23, 2011

EDITING TO ADD: The entry (mentioned below) is UP. Check out Secrets & Second Chances.

I’ve been confronted with a depressing reality this week. Everything I’ve written in the last four years has been rough draft. Even the work I *thought* I’d revised is still rough. Bumpy, choppy, hairy, rocky, unshorn. (I’ll explain this overload further down.)

You see, this week I took a crazy pill (or it might have been that turkey burger) and decided to enter the Mills & Boon New Voices 2011 competition. I know what you’re thinking.

“What was she thinking?”

Trust me, I’ve asked myself this same question. Still waiting for the answer.

I didn’t want to use the current WIP because that would be too easy. (Okay, there are other reasons.) That left another story I started a couple of months ago and set aside. The inkling of an idea that has floated around in my mind for a few years.

Fortunately, I had the rough draft of chapter one done. Unfortunately, I had to revise it into something I wouldn’t be embarrassed to post. This meant finding all the right words. The powerful verbs. The fresh metaphors. The most descriptive descriptors.

I’ve spent three nights and most of a day revising less than 2200 words. Why did it take so long? Because I had to check the thesaurus four times per sentence to find the right words. (Slight exaggeration. Slight.)

I’m not looking for words I don’t know. I’ve been speaking English for nearly forty years. I’m educated. I’ve been a reader for more than thirty years. But for some reason, my brain gets halfway through a sentence and it’s IRK…. speed bump.

The word is right there. I know what it means, how it would sound. It’s perfect for what I want to say. And yet the word escapes me. It’s official. My brain is a colander. Tiny holes allow everything I need to slip through while disturbing memories and 80s song lyrics never go anywhere.

I’m now considering adapting my “vomit it out” first draft policy to include more editing along the way. Because at this rate, editing an entire MS could take me years.

Random Monday Survey (aka I’m Freaking Out and Need Your Support)

on September 19, 2011

I’m a plotter, for the most part, and have passed the half-way point in my WIP. I previously had one version of my black moment planned, then realized it needed upgraded as it was more a milky shade of gray. I want BLACK.

 

So I came up with a new plan. And it’s black. Like buried in the coal mine, lanterns are gone, canary is dead black. But now I’m wondering if it’s too black. Because I plot to my target destination, I need to lock this in now or the revision stage on this MS is going to be scary tough.

 

So here’s a hypothetical question.

 

If the heroine is engaged to the hero’s brother, but the hero and heroine end up in bed together, would you throw the book against the wall?

 

For obvious reason, I can’t give much in the way of details. My first reaction to this, having real life experience with infidelity, is to scream OH HELL YES! Not good considering I’m the person who came up with the idea and has to execute it.

 

I’m a firm believer in the idea anything can be done in a story, provided the writer does it well enough. Great philosophy when applied to others. Harder to stand behind knowing I’m the writer in question.

 

So I’m asking this of your reader mind, and not your writer mind. What would the circumstances have to be for you to go along with this in a book? Said encounter would not happen until nearly the end. No sex up to that point. Not a flippant affair or ongoing “I wish I could quit you” kind of thing.

 

If I’m writing a wall-banger, I’d like to know now so I can attempt to re-route this trip.

I Got This

on September 17, 2011

Taming_messy_teens I live with a pre-teen. Though I’m beginning to think there is no such thing as a PRE-teen. You just wake up one day with this pimply person in your house who is taller than you are and she’s stomping around ranting that she has nothing to wear or whining because she can’t find the socks that you know you’ll find within seconds of walking in the room.

So let’s say I live with a teen.

I would love to say my child is sharp, but I can’t. I hope she’ll outgrow her gooberness. She shows flashes of brilliance, so I’m encouraged, but for now let’s say she’s “challenged” when it comes to common sense.

But her favorite saying these days is, “I got this.” Needless to say, rarely does she “got this”, but she tries and I appreciate her emerging independence.

I am now applying this same saying to my writing. Not to say “I got this” as in “I know what I’m doing.” Let’s not get crazy. For me, writing is a collaboration between me and my characters and recently my characters stood up and said “We got this.”

It makes sense since this is their story. I’m a person who believes in signs, and when the Universe throws the same hint over and over, I’m smart enough to get on board and follow along. Several times in the last month I’ve seen the same message online. Either in blogs, Tweets, or writing articles.

Trust your characters.

Roadsigns So I did. And would you believe, they know what they’re doing? They do, indeed, got this. I’m as surprised as anyone, but I should have known it was true. The signs are always right. My interpretation has been off a time or two, but the signs are always right.

The Universe got this. And thankfully, so do my characters.

Need To Pick Up The Pace

on September 9, 2011

Writing journey I’ve been on this writing journey for just over four years. It took me two years to realize the first attempted WIP was never going to work, but I learned something from those pages and went into a new WIP with much enthusiasm. After five months of plodding along, I gave myself a deadline, dug deep, set a daily goal, and made it happen. Three years in, I had a completed rough draft.

Today that book is nowhere near done. *sigh* Revisions are HARD.

Because my writing has been so sporadic, thrown in with a full-time job, single-motherhood, and at one time a part-time college schedule (not to mention planning a conference and coaching a softball team) I’ve never been able to gauge my productivity.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not under the false hope I’m a fast writer yearning to break free of the trials and tribulations of everyday life. I’m a little saner than that. But I wasn’t sure what I could do with steady, uninterrupted work. And by uninterrupted I mean no classes, coaching, and kiddo for the summer. The day job has to stay.

Slika-Panic As with most writers, there’s a constant panicked voice in the back of my mind worrying the WIP will be lost. Something will happen. The file will become corrupt overnight. Or what if my laptop spontaneously combusts?!

To appease this voice, I back up to an external source, but I also email the file from my personal email to my work email every night. This way I not only have a backup copy readily available, I can write at work if the option arises. (It never does but a girl can dream.)

Using the files I’ve been emailing, I tracked my word count by date and determined I write an average of 10-12K words a month. What a letdown.

I’m proud of the 36K-some odd words I’ve managed to write since May, but in the grand scheme of things, and considering the months of revisions ahead, this number just isn’t going to cut it. I fully intend to have deadlines someday. Contractual obligations. And since I’m sure the day job will still exist even when the deadlines come into play, I have got to pick up the pace.

Bouncy Ball Losing sleep is not an option so this clearly comes down to better time management. And discipline. Less email and Twitter. Less channel surfing on weekends. More Butt on Ball, Fingers On Keyboard. (I bought an exercise ball to use as a chair at my desk. I need to whittle down the abs as I bulk up the WIP.)

I know many published writers turn out two (usually more) books a year while running a household, herding children, and bringing home a day job paycheck. HOW do they make this happen? Is there a fairy dust I don’t know about? Is cloning involved? And how long is the norm for writing/revising a book start to finish?

Using My Powers For Good

on June 24, 2011

Habits I have countless habits. Some bad, some good. I don’t bite my nails, but I bite my lip. I vacuum regularly, but I never make my bed. The list goes on and on. However, there’s one habit I have that could go either way.

 

I rationalize.

 

This habit has been with me since birth, I’m sure, but it became, shall we say, pronounced when I became a mom. When you spend all your time telling a smaller human being how to be a human being, you feel this oppressive need to be a good example.

 

But then you’re left alone and realize there is no one around to tell you what to do. No one for whom you have to be that good example. In fact, you can be a bad example because only the cats are watching and they’re not likely to put off something like washing the pots and pans one more night just to lounge on the couch with a bag of Famous Amos cookies. Or the equivalent of that in the cat world.

 

Not that I’ve done that. Ahem.

 

TheSkinnyDip4 Tonight, I rationalized big time. There’s a chain of frozen yogurt shops around my area, all carrying different flavors every day. On Facebook I can find out what flavors are where. The flavor I wanted, yellow cake batter, was only at the store that is about five miles (or more) from my house.

 

I really wanted that yogurt. But if I went home and ate a sensible dinner, I’d never go back out to get it. I could swing by on the way home, but that would require taking the more annoying, higher-traffic route and I didn’t want to do that. Then I remembered something. That shop is right by the library. The library where I need to return this audio book I checked out last week.

 

Rationalization achieved.

 

I had a reason to be over there. In fact, I would be killing two birds with one drive by returning the audio book AND getting the yogurt. So I did it. But then, while enjoying my yogurt on the drive home, I started to think. (Always dangerous.)

 

What if I were to use this power for good?

 

Typing What I really want right now is to be published. To do that, I have to write a really good book. Or two. Or ten. The only way to do that is to write every night, as much as possible. Really put my nose to the proverbial grindstone. I think it’s time to start rationalizing the missed television shows, the laundry still sitting in the dryer (might have already done that), and the cats sitting impatiently behind me waiting to eat.

 

All those things can wait, because I’m writing.

You Can Call Me A PRO

on June 15, 2011

First off, check in over at The Revenge where JK Coi is talking about her new Steampunk short from Ellora’s Cave, IRON SEDUCTION. This is not your typical Steampunk, what with the Great Wall of China and the stone zombie warriors. Click here to hop over.

Tuesday, I received a very exciting email. I am officially a PRO member of Romance Writers of America. For those who don’t know, this means I have finished a manuscript and attempted to sell it. In essence, I’ve managed to get rejected. Which sounds like a bad thing, but in this case is good.

I’ve been a member of RWA since 2007 and attended three Nationals conferences in the last three years. For nearly every exhausting minute of those conferences, I was certain I would be revealed as a fraud at any moment. I’d never finished a manuscripts, had no sad rejection stories to share. Until last year I wasn’t even pitching.

Ironically, now that I have a completed and revised MS as well as my shiny new PRO status, I’m not attending the RWA National conference coming up in two weeks. (It’s killing me!) BUT, I will be attending the Georgia Romance Writers Moonlight &Magnolias conference in the fall at which I intend to have another completed MS ready to pitch and a brand new pin to add to my flare.

Guess that means I better get back to work.

My Solo Summer Begins

on June 9, 2011

I am a single mother and have been for nearly ten years. An unfortunate aspect of this reality is the dreaded summer separation. This will be my sixth year of sending my daughter more than 2000 miles away for two and a half months.

Other than the major savings in childcare, this situation comes with a pretty nice perk – total and complete freedom for ten full weeks.

[I’ll pause here while the moms who do not have this luxury take this in. You good? Okay.]

I can go where I want when I want. If someone says, “Want to catch a movie Friday night?” I can say yes without the hassle of finding a babysitter. (Not that this ever happens, but if it did, I’d be ready.)

There’s less laundry, less yelling, and more hot water.

At the same time, there is the negative. I lose my daughter for ten weeks. My daughter is my best friend. We do everything together. Which means when she’s gone, I have no one to hang out with. And now that everyone knows I have no friends, we’ll move this along.

There are stages to this ordeal and I’m currently in what I call my trying-not-to-think-about-it stage. We’re at T-10 days and counting so this stage should continue through the weekend. However, next week, I slide into the grumpy phase. This is when not thinking about it is no longer possible but thinking about it makes me mad. I growl. A lot.

Then a two day drive and my solo summer begins.

The best way I’ve found to get through is to have a plan. So far, in all five previous years, my plan has been derailed immediately and by the time Kiddo gets back, I’ve accomplished nothing. So my new plan is not to have a plan. Instead, I’ve set one goal.

Finish the current rough draft no later than August 15th

I realize this might not seem like much, but that’s at least 70K words in under two and a half months. So maybe I should add one more goal – come out of this summer with a complete MS AND my sanity.

Defeating The Doubts

on June 3, 2011

All writers are familiar with the urge to downplay our writing, our talent, our chances of reaching publication. If you’re a writer who has never entertained doubts, my perch hat is off to you. But I like to think most are in the same boat I am, wading in a sea of angst and fear.

Misery loves company and all that cliché malarkey.

But I’m trying to change this habit. I doubt I can stomp it out entirely, but I’d like to at least pummel it into submission.

I’m starting with this post.

I know how to write. I know how to create a story, build characters, write with humor, and put a smile on someone’s face. I’ve taken workshops and e-courses, studied craft books, and experimented with my own writing enough to see improvement and gain confidence. I don’t know it all, but I know more than I give myself credit for.

I have read religiously since age eight. Romance since age thirteen. That’s thirty years of absorbing worlds, characters, stories and author voices. I may not have an English degree or an MFA, but I will no longer feel inferior because these certificates do not adorn my walls.

Time and time again I’ve heard writing is a solitary endeavor. And in some ways, it is. But today, with Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and various other social media platforms, writing has become a communal endeavor. I’m making a concerted effort to find a place in this community, but admit to feeling as if I’m back in high school all over again.

I left high school more than two decades ago, yet I become that pimply, overweight girl who felt ignored. Dismissed, Inferior. It’s so easy to tweet or post a blog to little or no response and convince myself I’m not cool enough or interesting enough to be taken seriously. Don’t even get me started on the rejection emails in my inbox.

No more.

I will keep writing, revising, and submitting. I’m good enough to publish and the only way to get there is to keep trying. But I’m old enough to know, if I don’t believe I’m worthy, neither will an agent or editor.

From now on, I believe.

And They Keep On Coming…

on August 9, 2010

I must first apologize for my serious neglect of this blog. It’s been more than a month since I posted, but do not be fooled that nothing is going on. In fact, I’d be very happy to settle into nothing going on.

Let’s start from the top.

As most of you know, I attended the RWA National Conference in Florida at the end of last month. My first trip to Disney World was a little hotter than I’d have liked, but I rode the Pirates of the Caribbean ride (quite lame actually) and a few other things. My real quest was just to be there. To see Cinderella’s Castle and that giant ball in Epcot and the famous rides in the Hollywood park. I did all of those things and a bit more, so I declare that part of the trip a success.

As for the other part of the trip, the whole reason this lovely excursion is tax deductible, that was a success as well. I pitched both my erotic romance short story and my full-length Contemporary Single Title, receivingd full requests on both. Though both need a bit of work before they can go whirling through cyberspace, I’m proud of them and feeling good about their chances. And there’s always the extensive query-palooza coming up this fall, so no tears if these come back as rejections.

About the house. THAT has been the real roller coaster ride, which everyone said it would be. One week we’re trucking along with everything running smooth, the next week everything grinds to a halt and the road turns bumpy to the point of hitting giant speed bumps and if not stop signs, then the Yield ones.

Now that I’ve killed that metaphor, suffice it to say, we’re back to moving right along. A bit of last minute renegotiating had to happen and we’re waiting for one final signature, but that should arrive any minute and then we’re back in business. Closing should be next Monday, though I’m ready for just about anything between now and then.

Kiddo’s forced exile will wrap up in less than three weeks, or maybe soon. She’s debating coming home early and I’m crossing my fingers she does. I’m more than ready for her to be home. In addition to missing her like crazy and needing her food police expertise to get me back on track, I need help packing this crap up!

School supplies are purchased, large bags of clothes are ready for charity, and the mad rush of scheduling movers and address/utility forwarding should commence next week. I’ll try to do better and post in the middle of the chaos, and promise if all goes well, I’ll have “after” pictures of the new place by this time next month.

Any tips on moving, sending a kiddo off to middle school, or adding more hours to the day? All input welcome and encouraged!

PS: As if you couldn’t tell, changed the look of the blog again. I think this is my favorite so far. What do you think?

Really Quick Update

on May 27, 2010

First off, I’ve prettied up the place! What do y’all think? I found these backgrounds through another person’s blog and loved them. Took trying out about four of them before I settled on this one. If you click the little button at the top left, you can check out all the other cool options.

Second off, I’VE PASSED THE 70K MARK!!! Look!!!! >>>>>>>>>>>

I am so excited. Even got a few hundred past it before I noticed. I’ve never written this much and I know I’m going to be overwhelmed when it comes time to make this thing presentable, but I’m riding the high right now. If I didn’t believe in momentum before, I sure as hell do now. LOL!

So, that’s it. I could tell you about kiddo’s volleyball season or all the extra duties I’m about to inherit at work, but I’ll save that for another time. Both involve anywhere from a modicum of bitching to a lot, and I want to keep this one positive.

How is everyone else doing? We still have a couple weeks of school but I know tons of kidlets are already out across the country. Anyone wanting to send them back already? Got some really cool summer camps planned? Broken out the old bathing suit yet? (So not looking forward to this.)