School Supply Sales: The Most Wonderful Time of the Year (for Writers) 

writer supplies

Recently, I had to pick up a few things at Wal-mart. None of those things consisted of writing tools in any way.

Nonetheless, the siren’s call of the school supply aisle led me down the rabbit hole.

I bought the most beautiful novel notebook for the next full-length novel I plan to write. It’s already in plans, and a place to put notes is win-win. Plus, it’s just so freaking pretty.

Next, as most of you know from previous posts, I use a calendar to keep track of what needs done, what I’ve accomplished, and if I write every day. I’d been planning to invest in something a little more elaborate, with more room for notes next year because I’ve been doing this for two years.

Instead of waiting for the end of the year, I found a beautiful, durable “school planner” to pick up from July 2016 through June 2017. It’s got plenty of room for notes (I generally write what I’ve accomplished and on what project, sometimes working on multiple projects in one day). Even better, the cover is so durable, I don’t have to worry about rips and tears when I lay it aside for the day (or pull it in and out as I progress).

I put a limit on myself there of $15  and bought my daughter who actually attends school some token supplies so I wouldn’t feel so guilty. Still, for me, this is the best time of the year, combining my love of writing supplies with sales.

What’s your best writerly find and did you pay well for the item or catch it on sale?

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. Come for the snark. Stay for the story.

Self-Styled Writers Retreats, Part Two

writer retreat 2This is the second part of last month’s post, in which I describe the outcome of our writing get-together. I’m writing this blog post in June because I wanted our “results” to be fresh in my mind.

Please note that while I’m dividing up what we completed, a great deal of it was things we accomplished together.

I:

  • Did a complete read-through of a 96k manuscript without some of the other POV scenes in it for consistency and pacing.
  • Finished plotting a full-length novel from the mid-point to the end.
  • Came up with my catchy new tagline.
  • Edited my manuscripts blurb and tagline.
  • Got through one half of my first-round of big edits on my manuscript.

Our friend:

  • Added over 20k words to a story she was taking from novella-length to full-length.
  • Plotted a series of fantasy novels.
  • Worked on her secret project. I’m not sure of all the details, but I know she was happy with the amount she accomplished.

Landra:

  • Finished the final seven chapters on a full-length contemporary romance she’s been writing.
  • Outlined and plotted not one, but two stories.
  • Edited the entire second 50k novella in her Alternate History series.

Together, we all accomplished far more than we would have alone. Not only were we there to brainstorm with one another, but when you’re the only one in the room not working, you pick up your notebook or your laptop, and you start again.

We went out for dinner, there was an afternoon in the hot tup (with a writing notebook, to be fair), there was happy hour at the hotel (or in our room) every evening–but we still managed to accomplish an amazing amount of work in four days.

I will (and hope to) do it again in a heartbeat.

Have you had a similar experience? What’s your best tip for working in tandem?

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. Come for the snark. Stay for the story.

Self-Styled Writer Retreats

SELF-STYLEDTwo friends and I are meeting this week for a mini-writers retreat. It’s not at a B&B, scheduled by some entity with time built in for socializing, writing, and critiquing–all on someone else’s schedule. And it’s not a conference.

We have an agenda. I’m personally planning to finish plotting a full-length novel and discuss synopses for my now complete novellas set in 1958 Las Vegas (I mentioned those a couple of months ago).

We’re literally meeting at a hotel nearby to create writing synergy. Synergy is one of those business buzz-words overused so much it’s lost its meaning, but it does have a definition.

Synergy, according to dictionary.com, means:

the interaction of elements that when combined produce a total effect that is greater than the sum of the individual elements, contributions, etc.

What happens, when writers get together to brainstorm and share ideas and energy, is nothing short of amazing. Work gets finished in half the time and it’s of better quality than what one writer could produce alone.

I’m struggling to describe the phenomenon, so instead I promise to tell you next month what the three of us accomplished in our four days together.

See you next month!

If you’ve experienced something similar, please post about it in the comments. And, if not, consider getting together with few writing friends, even for one dedicated day, to see what you can accomplish.

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. Come for the snark. Stay for the story.

How I Relieve Stress

hand-labor-1151300x225We writer’s tend to be an anxious lot. Will I be rejected? Will that email come? What should I say when I query this publisher? Do I even have any talent? The unrelenting worries are constant.

I think there’s a lot of writing that involves putting ourselves out of our comfort zone. Anytime you do that, anxiety is a natural byproduct.

What I’d love to know is how everyone manages their stress levels. I write–I’m kidding. When I get into the zone, I can forget about those worries as the story sucks me in, but when I stop for the day, they’re all still in my head.

Personally, I crochet. The repetition and production of an item is very calming for me. And I love that I can create beautiful things out of a single (very long) thread of yarn. I recently made two baby blankets, a teddy bear (this is called amigurumi), and I’m working on a shawl for my daughter’s formal in a couple of weeks.

I’m truly curious… what do you do to relieve stress?

siglori1

If anyone is interested in crochet, Youtube is a fantastic tool for learning! My new favorite stitch is called c2c (corner to corner) and works up in a gorgeous way. I’m including the video that I used to learn c2c.

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. Come for the snark. Stay for the story.

Traveling Through Time ( The 1950s)

Marilyn_Monroe_photo_pose_Seven_Year_ItchIn the last several months, I’ve been writing a trilogy of novellas set in 1950s Vegas. I’ve listened to music to inspire me, researched fashion, and played with gender roles for that time period. Of course, I didn’t go for the stereotype, but heroes can be a lot more alpha when “men were men” (whatever that means).

Today, I thought I’d share some of my favorite things I’ve discovered.

The book When the Mob Ran Vegas: Stories of Money, Mayhem and Murder (by Steven Fischer). The mob is involved in my stories and this was a fun and revealing read.

My Pandora station: Vegas Fifties. There’s the expected Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra. But I also discovered new artists like Keely Smith (an inspiration for one of my characters).

So many websites! Time.com has tons, like this article: Vintage Vegas: Scenes From a Desert Boomtown.

I used this site, Beneath It All: ’50s and ’60s Underwear, to research what characters might encounter during sexy times, and this one, 1950s fashion & style, just to explore the fun and glamorous attire of the time period.

This last site saved my butt when it came to how my characters should talk: Slang of the 1950s.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little tour through some of the information I gathered to help me write these stories that I love. I promise to keep you updated when they become closer to an edited and readable state.

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. Come for the snark. Stay for the story.

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. Come for the snark. Stay for the story.

  • OUR LATEST BUZZ!

    The first two books in the Cupid's Cafe series release in June by Lori Sizemore and Landra Graf *** 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.