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Relaxing: Different Flavors

deckchairs-355596_640This month, my children, my parents, and I are going to the beach. There’s a bit of a disagreement between us all. My mom is a go-and-doer. We, my girls and I, are relaxers.

So, she not only wants to go-and-do, she wants us to go-and-do with her. The girls and I just want to do the beach (waves, shells, reading) and swim in the pool.

It got me thinking: we all have different ways to relax. Mine consists of soft background noise, pretty smells, and a book. This is my relaxation of choice at home or away. Others like to engage with their environment. They talk to people, take in new sights, and try new things.

Both ways are okay. My way may be boring to some, while someone else’s way is stressful to me.

How do you relax? Is it different when you’re away?

About Lori Sizemore

Lover of nail polish, pens, her Kindle, and fresh coffee. She likes romance filled with messy, real characters and lots of snarky banter. Reading was (and still is!) her BFF; when she discovered writing she fell in love. It's all about the story. Always.

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Writing Short and Loving It

Phone-Bookshelf-Resized

In this world of instant gratification, an author has to be flexible. Like all the writers have discussed this month, there is a moment you might have to realize you need to change things up. When looking for a series that I could get out there quickly, I decided to think about the women of today.

Many are commuters that are looking for a quick, fast read. Many would like something that they can read in one sitting and not worry about continuing the ebook later or maybe not at all if they didn’t like it so much. As a writer, this opens up some new opportunities that didn’t exist a few years ago.

One of those new opportunities is short stories. Now everyone knows what they are but few know how to write them. For some reason, I have a fairly good knack at writing them outside of the romance genre, so why wasn’t I trying them there?

Some people have the wrong idea about short stories, thinking that they can write them quickly and that they will be just as good as anything they’ve written. That isn’t necessarily so as a short story has to adhere to all the normal conventions of writing a longer work. It still has to have a great hook, a wonderful middle and a kick-ass ending.

Some of them have conflict, some have mystery and all of them have great characters. However, there are very few of them that belong in a series where each story is connected. Sure, authors will write a short story about a world they already own but very few will start a short story series meant for a specific market. That’s what I’m doing with a current work-in-progress that will be revealed here next month or two.

It is my hope that these stories will fulfill a niche that is normally seen as a venue only in a magazine. With Amazon’s short digital works, I say the time of the short story has arrived. And there will be many, many happy women readers devouring what we’re writing.

What do you think? Would you be willing to pick up a short read if it were part of a series? I’d be happy to hear from you. Until next time…

About Lynn Crain

Award winning author Lynn Crain has done it all in her life. From nursing to geology, her life experiences have added to her detail rich stories. She loves writing full time as she weaves fantasy, futuristic and paranormal tales, tame to erotic, for various publishers. Her home is in the desert southwest though her latest adventure has taken her to Vienna, Austria with her husband of many years as he works his dream job.

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Summertime

This weekend marks the start of summer. ‘Tis the season of weddings (I’m sitting in the airport, on my way to Oklahoma for my nephew’s wedding, as I type this), vacations, no arguments with the kid about homework, warm and lazy afternoons spent reading by the neighborhood pool, firefly chasing, evenings on the patio drinking sangria with friends, and, hopefully, lots of writing as well.

Summer is also the season of writing conferences. I went to one a few weeks ago, hosted by my local Northeast Ohio RWA chapter. It was fun, informative, a bit exhausting. I consider it preparation for my first trip to the RWA National conference in July, which will, I expect, be like the NEORWA conference on steroids. Lots of steroids. I honestly can’t wait.

Because I’m too tired to keep writing–I had one of those nights where you wake up every 20 minutes because you’re neurotic about oversleeping–I will ask you: What’s your favorite part of summer? What are you most looking forward to this year? And if you’ve been to RWA Nationals, feel free to share some tips!

About Marin McGinnis

Clevelanders are tough, a bit cynical, and just a little crazy, and Marin McGinnis is no exception. She writes Victorian era romance, set in whichever locale takes her fancy at any given moment. When she's not chasing after big dogs or watching tweenagers skate around Ohio hockey rinks, you can find her hanging out here with her HSG friends, at marinmcginnis.com, or on Twitter @MarinMcGinnis.

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Guest post – AE Jones: When the Beginning Isn’t the Beginning

Our guest today is award-winning paranormal romance author, AE Jones. AE Jones

When the Beginning Isn’t the Beginning

Writers have a number of commandments. Fundamental truths that apply to any type of writing genre or medium. The commandment I’m going to talk about today is this: a good beginning is imperative to the success of your story.

Does that seem a bit too obvious? Maybe so, but that doesn’t make it any less true. If the story does not capture a reader within the first couple of pages (some say the first couple of paragraphs) they will put the book back on the shelf in the library or bookstore. Now that digital sample chapters are one-click away for readers, this truth is even more the case. The beginning needs to draw the reader in.

But hand-in-hand with the whole ‘good beginning’ mantra is another truth: beginnings are very hard to write. Well that doesn’t seem fair now, does it? So how about if we delve into some of the reasons why beginnings are hard to write. Because when we understand the why, we can then learn how to fix it.

  • Backstory. Both a writer’s friend and enemy, backstory is necessary to establish the reason why the characters act the way they do. However, that doesn’t mean that the first chapter should be chock full of what they have done in the past. With backstory we often fall into the trap of telling rather than showing. And telling equates to passive writing, which is not what we want at the beginning of our stories. Often for many writers (myself included) that first draft of chapter one is really a character analysis. If that is the case, then move that chapter into a folder marked ‘characters’ and start again. This time don’t give the reader paragraphs of hearsay or what has happened in their childhood, instead tease the reader with hints of the character’s life through dialogue and action.
  • Starting at the wrong place. This one happens a lot. Some of this goes hand in hand with backstory since as authors we have a misplaced belief that everything needs to be explained up front when it can actually be layered into the story later. Often it’s a matter of finding when the writing starts to ‘click.’ No one is going to immediately write snappy, full-developed scenes when they first sit down and start a new story. But maybe after a few pages or chapters, the story finally comes alive and starts to flow. Don’t be surprised if that’s where your story truly begins.
  • Trying too hard. There is a lot of pressure to write the perfect first line, first paragraph, and first chapter. When sitting down in front of our computer and watching that blinking cursor flash on that empty page, we panic. To help with that panic tell yourself that the first words you write, heck the first couple pages you write are a warm up. They will be re-worked or discarded before you finally have the ‘right’ beginning for your story. If you keep that in mind, typing those first words isn’t as daunting a task.

What I find often happens is that as the story progresses and the characters come alive on the pages, the beginning no longer fits with the rest of tale. Don’t be afraid to go back and rework those first scenes so that they are now in line with where your story has evolved. Any way to make those pages memorable means that you have a better chance of a reader NOT putting your book down until they read ‘the end’. And that’s every writer’s wish. Another commandment, if you will.

AE Jones’ newest release is a box set of two novellas from her Mind Sweeper series:

novellas 3d boxset copyThe Fledgling – A Novella

Vampire Jean Luc Delacroix has been alive for nearly four hundred years. Alive, but not really living. This changes when he meets newly turned vampire, Talia. Feisty and beautiful, Talia is the first female Jean Luc has been attracted to in centuries. But when he finds out she is also a bounty hunter who is interfering with his investigation of a supernatural serial killer, he pushes her away for her and his own good.

Bitten and thrust into the supernatural world against her will, Talia wants nothing more than to do her job. She doesn’t have time to deal with an overbearing, ridiculously sexy vampire. But Jean Luc and Talia butt heads on their single-minded crusade to stop a murderer. And unless they can set aside their troubled pasts and learn to trust each other, they may never have an opportunity to explore their true feelings. Especially when they face off with the killer.

The Pursuit – A Novella

Thirty years after their initial meeting, Jean Luc Delacroix and Talia Walker once again cross paths. After seeing Talia again, Jean Luc’s feelings reignite. This time he will do whatever it takes to make her a permanent part of his life. Talia learned everything she knows about love—and about being a vampire—from Jean Luc. And when she comes face to face with Jean Luc again, she wonders if her continued independence is as important as being with the vampire she still loves.

Before either can acknowledge their feelings, they are embroiled in a deadly case of a vampire draining humans. In the midst of an investigation that threatens the very foundation of the vampire nation, can Jean Luc and Talia finally find the courage to follow their hearts? Or will the killer destroy them first?

Buy links:
Amazon
iTunes
Kobo

You can find out more about AE Jones here:
Website: aejonesauthor.com
Twitter: @aejonesauthor
Facebook: www.facebook.com/aejones.author1

About Marin McGinnis

Clevelanders are tough, a bit cynical, and just a little crazy, and Marin McGinnis is no exception. She writes Victorian era romance, set in whichever locale takes her fancy at any given moment. When she's not chasing after big dogs or watching tweenagers skate around Ohio hockey rinks, you can find her hanging out here with her HSG friends, at marinmcginnis.com, or on Twitter @MarinMcGinnis.

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Writing Accountability

Writing Accountability HeadIn January I wrote about a method I planned to try to increase my writing output. The basic idea (which comes from Jerry Seinfield) is to work every day on your writing. Every day you work, even a little, you put an X on a calender, until you have a chain of Xs. Here’s the link to my original post. –Link

I have since evolved the method for myself. I want to share that with you as well as my results.

First, I discovered I didn’t like Xs. They had too much of a negative connotation for me and didn’t give me that “I did it!” thrill I wanted. I changed to a star for a day I work on writing. If I miss a day, then I put an X. If I have to miss a day, for example, I’ve had some doctor’s appointments out of state, then I just put a scribble. Neither positive or negative.

Second, I decided after a month or so to write what I did that day. My calendar is small (I just bought a monthly calendar from the Dollar Store), so it’s often in shorthand. “Read thru JS,” or “plotting FT,” because all my stories have code names. I’m sure everyone does that–it saves time.

Third, by the time I got to March, I decided to schedule two critiques per week for my critique group and to plan on the calendar to write blog posts ahead of time. (It’s May 26 as I write this.)

This method has made me wildly, exponentially more productive than I have ever been as a writer.

I HATE breaking my chain. I hate seeing those Xs. I kind of even hate the squiggly–if I can squeeze in work those days, I do. I’m all about the stars, baby. If you want to see evidence, here’s a copy of April from my calendar.

I have three Xs. That’s 1/10 of the month. I had seven squiggly days (it was a busy month), but I still managed to write on two of those. That means, according to my calendar I wrote 23 days from a month in which I spent five days out of state.

I wrote a little more than 3/4ths of the time. In May, I missed three out of 31 days. I know some people, even on this blog, can say they do that well. I can promise you that before I started my calendar, I’d have been lucky to write more than half the time.

This year

I finished a 41k word novella and and rewrote a 95k word novel. I’ve completely plotted another novella. I have never accomplished so much in my writing career and never expected to. I just assumed I was slow. Turns out, I just wasn’t accountable.

What do you do to stay on track and be accountable for your writing?

About Lori Sizemore

Lover of nail polish, pens, her Kindle, and fresh coffee. She likes romance filled with messy, real characters and lots of snarky banter. Reading was (and still is!) her BFF; when she discovered writing she fell in love. It's all about the story. Always.

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Tell Me About You

Today, instead of telling you something new about me, I want to learn more about YOU. Below are some simple questions to help us get to know each other better. I’ll post my answers in the comments too. I can’t wait to read yours.

1. Are you a dog or cat person?

2. What’s your favorite book?

3. Are you an only, oldest, middle, or youngest child?

4. What’s your favorite movie?

5. Do you prefer a paperback or ebook?

6. What was the last text message you sent?

7. Would you rather be too hot or too cold?

8. What’s the first concert you ever attended?

9. Where do you spend most of your time online?

10. What’s your favorite snack?

Please answer in the comments.

The Art of Falling Julie Jarnagin CoverAlso, I wanted to let you know that my novella, The Art of Falling, is currently FREE!

Amazon
Barnes&Noble.com 
Kobo
iBooks

About Julie Jarnagin

Julie Jarnagin is a multi-published author of inspirational romance. She grew up in a small Oklahoma town where her family farmed and ranched. These days she lives in a not-so-big city with her amazing husband and two young sons who tolerate all her nerdy quirks. Julie earned a B.A. in Journalism / Professional Writing from the University of Oklahoma and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. www.JulieJarnagin.com

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    Bethanne Strasser LETTERS FROM HOME from Entangled Publishing is available now! *** Out now from Ellora's Cave, HOW TO CAUSE A SCANDAL by Tina Vaughn *** Nina Croft's LOSING CONTROL is out! *** Debora Dennis's holiday novella, CUPCAKES & CUPID is available. *** Congratulations to Julie Jarnagin now represented by Nicole Resciniti of the Seymour Agency!