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. Sassy humor for the heart, captivating contemporary romance for the soul.

On Critique Partners, Part 1

I’ve seen people say some pretty harsh things about crit partners. Yes, when you have crit partners that are a bad fit, they can damage your story and your writing. You don’t want those and if you feel stifled, move on.

However, if you think all crits are bad or unhelpful, then you don’t know the purpose of critiques or how to accept them. That sounds harsh. Sorry, not sorry.

The first rule is that you will have CPs you trust implicitly and you will have CPs that you take some of their advice and discard the rest. However, you never argue with a critique. If more than one person says there is an element to your story that isn’t working, you should look at it with a critical eye. Either way, you thank them for their feedback and then you move on.

The problem with arguing with a critique, that something is explained later or it’s really okay because their motivation is real and true, is that you can’t argue with a reader. Best-case scenario, they get to that section of your novel and they’re pulled out of the story. You do not want that. Worst-case? Your book becomes a wallbanger.

If there are questions the CP is asking or suggesting, then maybe you’re not giving enough information at the right time. That’s an easy fix. A few lines peppered in. It is not a reason to have a meltdown.

Bottom line, there are some bad crit groups out there. We’ve all been part of them. The vibe is off, people are mean with their feedback, or they start lecturing you about writing rules. Leave those groups because you can’t grow as a writer there.

There are also awesome groups that encourage you and help you become a better writer. Is it easy? Hell no. Does the feedback hurt sometimes? Yes. This is your beloved story and it’s no fun when someone says it isn’t working for them. But if it’s a solid group with good writers who build you up? Don’t run. Do some introspection and ask yourself why you’re so afraid to change your story. You know what they say—you have to murder your darlings. Sadly, they don’t lie.

Come read Landra Graf on April 29th for part two!

P.S. Be sure to check out our Heart-Shaped Glasses Facebook group because today I’m giving away a free book from my to-be-read pile. You have to comment to win, so come join us on Facebook!

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. Sassy humor for the heart, captivating contemporary romance for the soul.

The Writing Blahs

I had a rough January. My grandmother passed away after a long battle with dementia, my mother was in the hospital for the first 25 days (she’s doing much better now), and my daughter had her baby 8 weeks early due to pre-eclampsia (mama and baby are also doing very well). My brain, my energy, my heart–it was elsewhere.

And I had self-imposed deadlines to meet. Those may seem unimportant, but they’re just as important (to me) as “real” deadlines. I suspect many of you understand. Unfortunately, my writing output began to slow to a trickle. I was in that dreaded middle of a story, before you top the hill, when it seems like there are a million bad words behind you and a million new words to go. I had the writing blahs.

I asked the wonderful ladies here at HSG for advice and they, to a one, suggested reading a good book. I haven’t taken their advice yet, though I tried, because I just can’t seem to turn my brain off. When I do read, I have writer-brain. “Oh, nice hook,” or “I see what you did there.” I’m going to persevere, even as I try to reach my writing goals daily.

I did some research (because I certainly wasn’t writing) and came up with some great quotes and articles I thought I’d share with you.

From Lydia Sharp on Writer Unboxed:

There are times I must immerse myself in research, or pull out an old story and do line edits, in order to refresh. This is the result of a right brain/left brain imbalance. The scales are tipped, and equilibrium can only be achieved by adding to our noncreative side. Fact begets fiction.

From Carly Sandifer on One Wild Word:

If you’re tapping out your sentences on your computer, pick up a pen or pencil and write by hand in a notebook. For that matter, some people enjoy typing on an actual typewriter.

I’ve done this plenty of times in the past, but deemed it too slow for my higher output. I’d cut out the middle man (I thought), but maybe sometimes you need the middle man to negotiate a treaty between you and your brain.

This great post (which is more about writing blogs) from Henneke Duistermaat at Smart Blogger:

Feeling a little frustrated?

Well, let it out.

Before you start writing, curse like a sailor. Get angry. Be emotional.

Write something you’re passionate about. Have a good rant. Don’t worry about going too far.

There’s worse advice out there. After all, if you’re writing flat, your reader will be able to tell. Maybe move on to a particularly moving scene?

What’s you best writing advice for defeating the writing blahs and getting past a block?

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. Sassy humor for the heart, captivating contemporary romance for the soul.

Goals for 2017

In the past, my January posts have generally been about how to accomplish as much as possible in the new year. I hate resolutions. In this post, in which I detailed how important it is to set a measurable goal, I said:

[Resolutions] tend to mask a lot of self-hate pretending to be good for you.

I’ll never not feel that way, I think. However, as I said previously, I do believe in commitments and measurable goals.

I have lots of writing goals for this year. I’m writing a 40k novella in January, a full-length from March-July, and finishing a partially complete full-length from August to November. I’ve learned over the last two years of increased productivity that I need December off. Not just because life is so busy, but because I need a break. I’ll be doing lots of editing over the coming year, as well. All those first drafts have to be shaped into something useful.

Personally, I have two main goals. One, I’m giving up my beloved sweet tea. I’m going to miss it–a lot. But, I’m going to replace it with water to make a healthier choice.

Second, I’m going to Dirty Dance. Yes, you read that right. I bought this DVD from Amazon and plan to use it every day, slowly increasing my exercise time over the months ahead, to rebuild the muscles that have stagnated over the last few years of my illness (I have fibromyalgia).

I’m excited to start getting healthier and I believe if I apply the methods I’ve used to increase my writing productivity, I’ll have a lot of success.

Tell me all about your New Year commitments. You can even use that horrible “R” word (resolution).

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. Sassy humor for the heart, captivating contemporary romance for the soul.

Elves vs. Grinches

There are two types of people during Christmas, excluding those who don’t celebrate Christmas. Which is totally cool, they just aren’t part of this dataset.

christmas-two-types

  • The happy, warm-fuzzy Christmas people we’ll call Elves. Elves have their tree up before Thanksgiving, all their shopping is done, and their gifts are already wrapped with perfect, real ribbons and handmade bows.
  • The so-it-begins people we’ll call Grinches. Grinches put their tree up when (if) they think of it. They see the Christmas decor go up in the stores in September and think, “Seriously?” They practice the giving of gift cards because they can’t choose a gift.

elves-vs-grinchesI am a Grinch. I used to be an elf. I would decorate the tree (by myself, because my family likes it done but doesn’t like to do it) and look at each ornament before placing it on the tree. Every year, for 20 years, I’ve bought each of my kids an ornament a year, so that when they started out Christmas in their own homes, they’d have a box full of special ornaments. I loved wrapping presents so much my uncle would pay me to wrap his wife’s gifts. I’d have done it for free (I was a teen and needed the pocket change). I adored Christmas.

I’m not even sure what changed, or more specifically, why it changed. One year, my old artificial tree was in need of replacement. I didn’t feel like looking for the perfect tree, so I bought a four-foot collapsable circle tree. You couldn’t call it anything like a tree, except it was vaguely triangle shaped. It was made of circles of wire (covered in silver tinsel) that got bigger the lower the tree went. I bought a handful of cheap ornaments, all in teal (because teal screams Christmas, right?), and called it done. I think my parents and brother felt sad for me. And the kids. God bless the kids at Christmas.

This was when I became a Grinch, when I finally crossed over to the Dark Side. That year, Christmas was just too much. Too much work, too much effort, too much caring. I don’t remember it being a bad year–I don’t think I was depressed. I was just… done being an elf.

Now, I’m not a full-on Grinch. I like sitting in the dark with the tree lights on. I like seeing the presents, quickly covered in paper and that’s it, pile up under the tree. I love picking out those yearly ornaments. But, I hate the commercialism of Christmas.

This year, I’m making my family’s gifts. Food for my brother, a lapghan for my dad, a scarf for my mom, and cat-butt coasters for my aunt (she requested them–she’s weird). It’s my way of bringing back what Christmas is supposed to be about.

What’s your favorite part of Christmas (you elves, you) or (if you’re a Grinch, like me) your least favorite part?

lori_sig_1016

P.S. Don’t forget my novel, Infamous, is releasing in one week. Buy links and a blurb to follow:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo
All Romance | BookStrand | Goodreads

Justine Montgomery, daughter of a divorced beauty queen and TV magnate, is a tabloid disaster after her infamous sex tape. She’s so desperate to help save her family’s home she turns to her deal-making dad. Can she prove to him she’s cut out for a career in television or will she lose it all?

Sawyer has his own past and a successful career is his only goal. Seeing Justine fail would mean the promotion of a lifetime, but things get complicated when he develops feelings for her. Suddenly, the lines between work, life, sex, and love are blurry.

They will have to overcome the bitterness of a rejected ex, the controlling actions of her father, and the half-truths they’re telling one another to forge a lasting partnership both on the job and off the clock.

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. Sassy humor for the heart, captivating contemporary romance for the soul.

All The Don’ts I Learned Publishing My First Novel

I am never at a loss for words and yet I hardly know where to start this post. Information first, I think.

My novel, Infamous, is being released on December 14, 2016, by The Wild Rose Press. So… ya know, yay!

via GIPHY

That has literally been me since I signed the contract in April. And then it was me when I finished edits. And then it was me when I got a release date.

Like this whole process is so incredible-crazy-awesome, and yet so challenging. Editing is challenging. It’s one thing to kill your darlings. It’s quite another to have someone else say, “You know this scene, that you wrote with love and time and sweat and tears? It’s got to go.” Not that the editor was wrong, but someone else was murdering my darlings. Or, at least, asking me to obliterate them.

And then, that part’s all done, and you think, “Whew. Hard part is over.” But it’s not. Because then you realize, you know absolutely nothing about marketing. Why would you? You’ve spent 24-7 for years learning craft. Because, take it from me, kids, you’ve got to know craft before you worry about who will publish your awesomely fantastic story.

But, fine. Marketing. I can learn that.

via GIPHY

Marketing is hard. Mostly because many people who are giving advice don’t really understand it themselves. It’s more a laundry list of don’ts.

  • Don’t schedule your tweets throughout the day.
  • Don’t not schedule your tweets/posts, or you risk flooding someone’s timeline and being obnoxious.
  • Don’t try to sell your book.
  • Don’t not craft the perfect tweet/post to sell your book. How? We don’t know.
  • Don’t use too many hashtags.
  • Don’t forget to use hashtags.

I could go on, but I won’t because we’re not getting anywhere.

  • Don’t waste valuable blog space complaining about marketing.

Oops. Sorry about that.

But, really, it’s all good. I’m very excited to finally join the ranks of published authors. In the six months between signing that dotted line and today, I’ve finished book two. Of course, there will be edits, but… *sigh*. I’m learning so much, in between the edits and the dont’s, I’ve picked up a thing or two that I’m putting into practice.

I’m signing off, but I’d love to know about your first publishing experiences! Please share, because there’s always more for all of us to learn.

lori_sig_1016

Never-seen-anywhere-else excerpt:

infamous-_-available-december-14Justine put her fists on the bed and dipped her head until they were cheek to cheek. Turning to face him, she let her lips skim across the stubble on his cheek. A short sound escaped him at the touch. So like a growl, it inflamed her. She’d wanted to experience all of him, to touch and taste, a savage need to possess him took over. To take his mouth, to take him inside of her, until she drove all thought from him, the way he’d done to her. His scent flooded her senses, leaving her breathless, as she sought his kiss.

He pulled back to look at her, his eyes as unreadable as ever. He lifted his hand to her cheek and stroked her bottom lip with his thumb. “What is it?” she asked, her breath still coming in uneven bursts.

“I don’t want to give you the wrong idea.” His hand dropped and he eased himself from the mattress.

“About?”

He crossed behind her, to the door, and she twisted on the bed to look at him. Her robe gaped open with the movement, and she yanked it together with a hand, exposed now.

But he wouldn’t meet her gaze, wouldn’t look at her at all, so it didn’t much matter. He looked at the TV, the window, the floor. Everywhere but at her. “About us.” Finally, he let his gaze rest on her.

Justine flinched slightly, and she hoped he hadn’t noticed. She forced herself to maintain eye contact. “You should go now.”

Sawyer spoke her name, his voice soft and full of pity. For her.

“Don’t. Don’t say it like that. Pathetic Justine, so unwise when she chooses a lover.” Justine climbed off the bed and walked the ten steps across the room to stand in front of him. “You know, I never thought I’d meet anyone more emotionally broken than me.”

“I’m trying to do the right thing here, which is a pretty novel experience for me, so…give me a break.”

Justine whirled away, grabbed his jacket off the chair where he’d dropped it earlier, and threw it at his head. “Get. Out.”

Sawyer caught the jacket before it slapped him upside the head, which disappointed her. He opened the door and then wrenched back around to look at her. “This is twice I haven’t taken advantage of you when you threw yourself at me. Next time, I’m using you for sex. You couldn’t possibly be more pissed by that.”

“There won’t be a next time!”

The door slammed behind him, and she jumped, staring at it for the longest time. She couldn’t get back in that bed, not now. She’d been so foolish, attributing feelings to him he didn’t have, to rationalize her own desires were getting the best of her.

Pre-order now!

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. Sassy humor for the heart, captivating contemporary romance for the soul.

It Takes a Village: The Benefits of Writing Groups

it-takes-a-villageHere at Heart-Shaped Glasses, we’re not just authors who blog together, we’re family.

We started as a private online critique group which has evolved into so much more. Yes, there’s critiquing, which is invaluable. Especially when it’s from people who focus just as much with what’s right as what’s not working. I trust these ladies with my precious stories, I trust their experience, which probably (added together) is a lifetime of writing.

I love that we all bring something different to the table. We each have strengths and weaknesses, not only in our writing but in our critique styles. I’m constantly learning. 

The next best thing about being part of a great writer’s group? The cheerleading. We’re all at different places in our careers, going down different paths of publishing, writing different genres. But the support we give each other transcends all those things. 

I get hurrahs when I succeed at something, even if it’s meeting my wordcount, and sympathy when things are going rough.

Which brings me to my next point on why writer’s groups (the right ones) are awesome: trust. It takes trust to upload a first draft for critique. It requires trust to say, “Hey, I’m having a rough time in my life right now, and this is why.” And I’ve never, ever seen anything shared in that private group shared anywhere else. It’s like a vault. A vault of caring, kindness, and support.

We’re not accepting new members right now, but don’t worry. Your perfect writing group is out there somewhere. Here are some articles on finding and getting the most from writing groups. Read all about them, then find your perfect writing home.

Tell us about your experience in writer’s groups. Has it been more positive, like mine, or do you have horror stories?

siglori1

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. Sassy humor for the heart, captivating contemporary romance for the soul.

  • OUR LATEST BUZZ!

    Lori Sizemore's Infamous released on December 14. *** Julie Jarnagin's Cowgirl in the Kitchen is available now. *** Bethanne Strasser LETTERS FROM HOME from Entangled Publishing is available now! *** Nina Croft's latest books, Her Fantasy Husband, a hot contemporary romance from Entangled's Brazen line, and The Order Boxed Set, a compilation of the three full length novels, plus a new novella, exclusive to the boxed set, both released in April 2016 *** Debora Dennis's holiday novella, CUPCAKES & CUPID is available.