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End of Summer Funk ~ @oddlynn3 #LynnCrain #amplanning #PCers

By this time next month, fall will have begun and summer will be fading into memory. But in this moment, I can say I have what I call an end of summer funk.

It’s the time right as school starts, when one is planning out their next moves and how to accomplish them. It is also the time of new beginnings, maybe it’s the end of a special summer or even just starting a new school. Every fall, something begins and something ends.

This year, it has made me reflective and almost sad. My kids are all grown and out of the house, we’re in Austria as life moves on. I noticed it in the pictures of my grandkids at their first day of kindergarten. They were full of happiness for new adventures. Full of those things that had somehow slipped away from me over the hot summer.

With the heatwaves here in Europe, I felt a little more defeated and aimless in my efforts. Then I saw the boys and realized that maybe I wasn’t so aimless but more lost because of my lack of focus. Heat with humidity does that to me. And I just didn’t realize how much until this year. But somehow, somewhere, I know I was thinking along the right path because of a few steps I’d taken earlier in the month.

Before any of the above happened, I had a moment of clarity where I ordered planning materials designed to help me focus and maintain my momentum. I have a lot of writing to do this fall through next spring and unless I can keep on task, it won’t get done. Now this is hard because I can’t use anything from here because it’s all in German. I don’t know enough of the language to think in it and that’s what one needs when using a planner.

I was in luck as my husband’s work was having a working group where a lot of Americans come to Vienna for updates and training. These are people I knew well and who frequently deliver things I can only get from the US. So I went on a hunt for a planner that would do a writer justice. Now, this will help me plan my time, my projects and my priorities, which always seem to get skewed this time of year. When I do a plan then work the plan, I stay focused and on track.

While I’m a pantser at heart, doing this type of focusing will always help me write better. Once I’m on this track, I will start doing outlines that help me in general. I tend to deviate away from most outlines because my characters talk to me differently when I actually do the writing but at least I have an idea of where I’d like them to end.

Yeah, characters sometimes – wait, revise that – many times will not go where I think they should go. That is the number one reason I will remain a pantser because I can’t force them to do what I want any more than forcing my kids to do something either. Characters are living things and if I can just plan little things, names or likes or dislikes, I’m at least ahead of the game.

For me, it is the life planning of my day, what projects I want to do and how I plan to do them is what keeps my writing career on an even keel. And I was extremely blessed to have found something at Amazon from the group Tools4Wisdom called a Month-Life-Planning-Agenda because that’s what I needed. I was immediately impressed with the cover because it’s a trail through an autumn forest. I love walking through places like that.

Planner-Cover

Then I looked at the pages and saw a Goals page where I could put in my individual projects, namely books, into perspective. This would help me tremendously because I could plan for the whole year. And for me a year runs from September to August because I guess I’m still on the school year or government plan. It just seems to work better for me.

Goal-Page-#2

The next page I saw was the Essential Goals page. This page is gold because it lets me name a number one priority for the month then I can add some other smaller items to be finished. Every item is accompanied by a why and how accomplishing that goal will add value to my life. While I’d never thought of my writing in that manner, I could see where it would be beneficial to my overall plan.

Goal-Pages

Then comes the daily pages where you actually set out to do the work. The time increments are in 30 minutes and start at an early 5 am then don’t end until 9 pm. Just perfect for a writer since we do work at all times of the day. Now, you can also flip that so it starts at 5 pm and doesn’t end until 9 am. It all depends upon when you work best. I work best first thing in the morning then I get a second wind later in the afternoon. Normally, I need my coffee first before I do anything. Weekends you have hour increments and not as many.

Day-Pages

Each day has a place for Top Priorities, Secondary Priorities and other. You also have a section for Vision, Purpose and Action. All these are necessary if you want to remain focused and totally on task. This is something I definitely needed as I’m always at my best when I plan. So I ordered it.

Priority-Page

The bad thing was that I had to wait a couple of weeks before it would be hand delivered to me. I decided I’d use those weeks for reading, watching movies or shows, critiquing and trying to do some organization. This plan worked pretty well since it was still very hot. At least for a while, then the rains came. Sigh.

Finally, the day arrived where I was getting my planner. My anticipation level was high and I wanted to get my hands on it to get planning. The first thing when I got it was I marveled at its size as it was twice as big as I thought it would be. This is good since I wanted lots of room to put items down. I felt energized and somehow accomplished. I was holding in my hands the instrument needed to take my writing career to an even higher, more focused level. I loved the feeling just holding it gave me.

I thanked my friend for delivering it and put it in my backpack. Pulling it out once I was in my office, I realized I needed to clear a larger space for it. When my planner is open next to me is when I get the most from it so that I can frequently refer to it when I see myself deviating from it. Yes, there will be some days that it’s going to be too structured for me as I’m more of a free-bird type person. But for the long haul, this was definitely the way to go for me as it has already pulled me out of my funk, forcing me to embrace a wonderful well-planned future.

What about you? Do you need to plan major things out or can you accomplish your goals with little forethought? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. I’ll keep everyone updated at my weekly blog column just how using the planner is going, My So Called Writing Life, and hopefully, some of you will join me there.

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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#amediting

Well, here’s something…

Editing PARALYZES me.

Oh, the first round is okay. Sometimes those “accept changes” are such a welcome, thoughtless task!

But then come the second and third round. And for me, about 5/8 of the way through round two, I start getting twitchy. I wonder if everything I’m doing so far is going to be scrapped in a further, more intense revision.  And my vision narrows so that as I work from page to page, it gets harder and harder to keep in the forefront…exactly what I was doing in the first place.

Was it the hero’s motivation I was clarifying or the heroine’s conflict I was trying to emphasize? Or, wait…it was just the filtering of backstory!! But every change instigates another perusal, another look at EVERYTHING.

This is where the work is in writing.

This is why we can never be ashamed to say, “I write romance novels.” Because it’s a joy, but also a huge pain in the ass! The satisfaction is here, in the nitty gritty. <3  Whether we enjoy the work or not, it’s work and it’s sometimes hard.

Enjoy the new week!

With Love,

Beth

About Beth Rhodes

Beth jumps into life with both feet...or head first. Impulsive and spontaneous to a T, she joined Passionate Critters and never looked back. She loves writing and reading, which made this wonderful group of woman a perfect match for her.

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The Future is Coming…

66d23b69-49f1-4691-87a6-2eb5839f5eeaUsually, I write romance. All sorts of romance: contemporary, sci-fi, paranormal—sometimes a mix of all of them. But over the last year, I’ve become involved in a fabulous venture—The Future Chronicles. A series of sci-fi anthologies based on different themes, including robots, telepathy, dragons…

One of my stories is related to series I’ve already written. A Diversion in Time, included in the Dragon Chronicles, takes place in my Dark Desires world. One is the start of a series, The Tribe, which I’m working on right now. And one, I really hope to follow up and start a new series later this year.

There is something quite liberating in writing short stories (these are between 4 and 10 thousand words). I always have a problem when I finish one project, in that I have to decide what to work on next. And whatever story I choose means I don’t get to work on any others for at least a month (I like to immerse myself in my story world, so I try to stick to one at a time.) But short stories can be written in a day, and they let you explore ideas you might not be totally sure of, go off at tangents, discover new worlds.

Anyway, I’ve loved being involved with the Future Chronicles and this week is Future Chronicles week. To celebrate we’re giving away a kindle loaded with all the stories in the series.

Just enter by the Rafflecopter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And in September we are releasing a taster book with a variety of stories from all the anthologies. At only 99 cents it gives you the chance to sample what the anthologies are all about.


FUTURE CHRONICLES
Special Edition

A compendium of select previously published Chronicles titles as well as 5 new stories to whet your appetite.

PRE-ORDER NOW

About Nina Croft

Nina Croft grew up in the north of England. After training as an accountant, she spent four years working as a volunteer in Zambia which left her with a love of the sun and a dislike of 9-5 work. She then spent a number of years mixing travel (whenever possible) with work (whenever necessary) but has now settled down to a life of writing and picking almonds on a remote farm in the mountains of southern Spain. Nina writes all types of romance often mixed with elements of the paranormal and science fiction.

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Raven Pirate Assassin Spy – Hero Download

RavenPirateAssassinSpy

Today, Landra Graf is taking over to talk about her upcoming release. I’ve read this story, I’m happy to say, and it. is. phenomenal.

Thank you to Lori and the Heart Shaped Glasses gang for letting me hijack a spot along my blog tour. The release Raven Pirate Assassin Spy is only 14 days away. You can tell I’m excited huh? If you missed any other spots on the tour, swing by my website for a complete listing. I’m sharing different stuff at each spot. Behind the scenes details, info on the book genre, details about my characters—everything, really. Oh, and did I mention exclusive excerpts that no one has seen.

Today, I’m going to give everyone the low down on my hero, Ian Malcolm.

Five Fun Facts about Ian Malcolm:

  • His personality is inspired by Captain Malcolm Reynolds, Chris Pine a la Captain Kirk, and a good dose of Star Lord. Yes, start drooling Chris Pratt fans.
  • He’s one of the marked, a term given to those from the United States who’ve lost their rights due to participating in activities deemed un-American; trading on the black market, being in the skin trade, or anything considered in support of Europe’s hedonistic ways. Being marked usually involves arrest and imprisonment as well.
  • While working as a bounty hunter for The Cursed gang, Ian is actually a merchant and the son of a wealthy land-owner in New Orleans.
  • Likes strong women, but it’s hard for him to believe in them since his experience with women hasn’t paired well with the words long-term relationship.
  • He believes in solving problems without the loss of life. In fact, he and Sorella clash often about this notion.

To give you an idea, here’s a short excerpt:

She’d taken off her jacket and stood, white blouse visible, bosom obscured by the vest, at the far side of her cabin. He was starting to pay attention to body parts he shouldn’t. “What the hell did you throw at me?”

Confusion bloomed on her face, and her brows furrowed. “What?”

“The knife. What is that thing?”

“A balisong. Why?” She stood on the other side of the room still, near the porthole.

He stepped up to her desk, looking at the map pile. “I like to know what people are trying to kill me with.”

He failed to hear her move, didn’t even know she’d taken a position behind him, until he felt a sharp edge slip through his shirt seams and poke his belly.

“If I wanted to kill you, you’d be dead.”

“Why don’t you?” The words came out in a whisper. Somehow her close proximity called for such a thing.

She removed the knife and slinked away to stand on the opposite side of the desk. “Because you said you can tell me where we go next. Who would know where they are?”

Book Blurb:

Once Upon A Time… 
Sorella Corvino lost her brother to The Cursed years ago. Sorella is so determined to find him, she’ll make any deal, rescue the outcasts and those like him, and risk flying into any port to rescue him. When her latest pirate efforts partner her with a bounty hunter who’s too charming, sexy, and handsome for his own good, she knows she’s in trouble.

Ian Marshall no longer believes in fairy tales…
Disowned and a marked criminal in the United States, this merchant turned bounty hunter, is one bounty away from freedom; and freedom’s price is handing over one person to the most cutthroat gang in the world, The Cursed. Yet, he can’t get to them without Sorella’s help. Too bad she’s gorgeous, aggravating, and a little trigger happy.

As the attraction mounts, the danger grows and the pair find themselves invading a skin trader den, the ballrooms of dictator-ruled Germany, and fighting battles in the sky in the hopes of getting everything they want. Only thing they didn’t plan on… falling in love.

About Author:

Landra Graf consumes at least one book a day, and has always been a sucker for stories where true love conquers all. She believes in the power of the written word, and the joy such words can bring. In between spending time with her family and having book adventures, she writes romance with the goal of giving everyone, fictional or not, their own happily ever after.

You can find Landra at: Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, WebsiteSilken Sheets & Seduction, or Newsletter

tourbutton_raven

Enter the Giveaway

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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The Meandering Writer

Scotland-Swing-Resized

I’m late and apologize for it. Then again, I’m always late and I recently read an article as to why. It seems that while I know time is important, it isn’t the only thing important in life. Apparently, people who are late make more time for those important things. Hmmm, I thought, maybe I do, maybe I don’t.

But while on a walk today with my husband, who kept asking me if something was wrong because I wasn’t walking normal speed according to him, I had a revelation. It’s something I’ve always known but am just now putting into perspective. I’m a meanderer. I take my time, I smell the roses. I want to see everything, do everything and want to enjoy it. So I don’t rush a thing, I meander through something to absorb it all.

Now, you may think this is odd for a writer to wander through life, meandering through, taking one’s time. But meandering is an age old tradition. The Grand Canyon was made by a meandering river who cut down through the top soil into the hard rock. It took millions of years to do so but just look at what a little meandering can do.

Much of my writing is that way. The pieces that I feel are my best are also the ones that I’d write a little on every day, set aside then come back later to them. I’d make sure the setting was perfect, that the characters acted true to themselves and a host of other things because I was striving for perfection.

Notice I said striving. Nothing is perfect and we as writers need to realize this. We need to make things the best we can make them then hand them over to others to help us find flaws we’d overlooked. Once they go through our critique groups the story will go to our agent if we have one. Then it’s back on our desk for another once-over before it goes to an editor.

If we’re not all worn out by the process, we’ll start it over again. If we’re lucky, sometime we can do this at a fast pace, sometimes a little slower but always meandering through the parts that need to be meandered through. Taking time to get something done isn’t a flaw but a trait that should tell the world we want to put our best foot forward. We want to give you the best story possible for us to give.

And if I have to meander to be a better write, I’ll take meandering any day.

So…are you a meander? Or are you someone who likes to go through life a little faster?

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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Novel Settings

Today I thought I’d run with the ball that Nina threw out in her last post and talk about setting. Setting can be many things to a story–a backdrop, something that defines a character, or it can become a character itself. Think, for example, of Harry Potter–Hogwarts is absolutely essential to the story. Setting can also be dangerous–raise your hand if you’ve ever read a book in which the writer spends pages and pages describing the setting. I usually skip those scenes, as they bore me to tears. I tend to think of settings as a backdrop. They are integral to my stories in that I find it hard to imagine the characters anywhere else, but they don’t usually become characters themselves.

Durham Cathedral fall 1985

Durham Cathedral

How writers decide where to set a book is a curious thing as well. I almost always think of a setting first–inspired by something I’ve done, seen, or read–and then the story follows. Equally curious is the fact that some places–beautiful, wondrous places–spark no inspiration at all. I spent some time in Nebraska last year, and in Paris this year, and neither of them, interesting and unique (and different) as they are, gave me any ideas for a story. Not yet, anyway.

My first book, Stirring Up the Viscount, is set in Durham, England. I lived there for a year in college a very long time ago and vividly remember it, and when I sat down to write that book, Durham is where I pictured it.

Tynemouth Priory. Attribution: Chris McKenna (Thryduulf)

 

 

My second book, Secret Promise, is set in Northumberland, in a town I’ve never visited, but when I found a picture of Tynemouth online, I knew the book had to be set there.

Mansion of Sylvester T. Everett on Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH, 1885. Attribution: Cornell University Library.

 

 

I am working on two books at the moment. One is the third book in the series which started with Stirring Up the Viscount. It’s set in northern Maine–a rather drastic change from Durham, and a place I’ve never been. A fourth book, completely unrelated to anything, takes place in my hometown of Cleveland, Ohio, in the 1880s, inspired by a talk I heard last year about Cleveland’s Gilded Age. I’ve got ideas in the hopper for books set in Pompeii and London.

If you’re a writer, how do you decide on your settings? If you’re a reader, what is your favorite setting for novels? Where would you love to see a story set? You never know–it might give me an idea. :)

 

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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