Write Your Heart Out

I had the pleasure of reading a young writer’s manuscript recently, and though it wasn’t perfect, every line held a breath of excitement and anticipation. I could feel the enthusiasm for the story. She was writing her heart out.

Sometimes, we get in a rut–as writers–and we forget to write our hearts out. We’re too concerned about right and wrong, political correctness, diversity, or any of a number of thrill killers. We forget the most important element–the story. Without the story, none of those worries matter–even a little.

Don’t you think, sometimes…it would be nice if an editor had a problem with one of your characters. Wouldn’t it be nice if my publisher hated my hero because he was a complete a$$hole, I think to myself.

Because that would mean you had an editor! And a publisher!

We start stories in excitement for the characters, the turning points, the idea of this amazing [or funny or quirky or sad] story, and we have to hold on to that excitement or never get to the end. How do we do this?

  1. Ignore everyone: that simple. Get off social media, find the voice inside of you, and write.
  2. Make time everyday: an hour to sit and just write, to be in the story and get excited.
  3. Talk about your story: tell a friend, writer, spouse…someone! Talking about your project nurtures that excitement and gives you the courage to keep going!
  4. Acknowledge the joy in the process of writing: Whether you love the creativity of imagination or the science of putting words together, enjoy the process, sink into it with all of your author instincts…

and write the book. 

And don’t miss the release of book five, Counter Strike, coming in July!! Sign up for my newsletter to get all the updates!

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.

It’s beginning to look a lot like–

Poop. Christmas? Already?

Yes! Before Halloween, even. Dis-gusting, I know. But, it could be worse.

Shortly before Christmas last year, I was contracted by Entangled Press to write a book for them.  It wasn’t a book of my own creation, but one they’d outlined. It was up to me to flesh it out.

It was–rather, I should say is–a Christmas-themed book.

When I first started writing Santa Maybe, carols played, lights twinkled, and everyone was merry and bright. But, as usual, the holiday passed. The air grew warm. The Easter Bunny came and left. Flowers bloomed. And I was still writing that &#@!*$ Christmas book.

Baseball season began; my son played first base while I sat in the car with my laptop, melting and cursing Christmas. By this point, I was channeling my hero, Justin. Justin loathes Christmas, mostly because his dad was killed during the holiday. It’s not his happiest time of year. (Understandably.) That little character “thing” made the book that much harder to write. Depressed heroes are not fun–or funny. (Did I mention this was supposed to be a romantic comedy?)

Finally, I finished the first draft and in May I sent the book to my editor. (If I could have flung it at her, I would have. By this point, I did not love this book. I mean, seriously. Santa in the Springtime is just plain wrong.) Worse, she sent the wretched thing back. For revisions. In August! I had to wonder how they can stand Christmas in Australia; it was hard to write (or think) sentimentally about snow, sugar cookies and the scent of balsams when you’re gulping iced tea and slathering on sunscreen. (I considered sticking my head in the freezer a few times to get in the right mood…)

You know, I even had dreams that it was Christmas, and it was muggy and there were leaves on the trees (and shrimp on the barbi? Which was really weird because I live in Rhode Island, USA), and everyone looked at me like I’d gone insane. Because I kept asking, “Where’s Santa?” And–of course–because it was the Fourth of July. Insanity! Holiday chaos!

Finally, after a summer full of Christmas, the book was completed, the final version was approved, and a release date was scheduled: November 13th.  Hurray! And you know–I’m kind of looking forward to Christmas this year. At least it won’t be beach weather. 🙂

Here’s a little video that gives you an idea of poor Justin’s story. I can promise you that in the end, he loves Christmas at every time of the year.

About Marnie Blue

Cyn D. Blackburn is addicted to love. And caffeine. She lives with her husband (of 20+) years, three children, two dogs, two guinea pigs and one terribly outnumbered cat. She knows that nothing eases the difficulties of life--and falling into love--more than a little humor.

Happy Reading

I know there have been a couple summer reads posts on the blog already this month, and this is another one, but hear me out. A Facebook friend posted a “must read” list the other day, and every one of the books was intense–about mental illness, or cancer, or the Holocaust, betrayal, murder, suicide. I asked if anyone read happy books any more, and the answer was no. Really?

I will say that I don’t always read happy books, and I definitely don’t watch happy TV–I’m binge watching Bitten and Penny Dreadful at the moment–whoa. The books I write, although they have happy endings–a requirement in romance, of course–tend to be on the dark side. But every once in awhile, I need something light-hearted–the literary equivalent of an ice cream cone. And when I want to read happy, I’ll usually pick up a romance.

But the Facebook exchange got me thinking. I can’t remember the last time I read a happy book that wasn’t a romance, although cozy mysteries come very close–my faves are the Aunt Dimity books by Nancy Atherton, and the Royal Spyness series by Rhys Bowen. Browsing through Goodreads, it’s hard to find one–every description seems to contain the words “poignant,” “deeply affecting,” “deeply moving,” “haunting,” yadda yadda, which are usually code for “will make you bawl until snot comes out of your eyes.” I’m sure they’re great books, but they’re not for me.

So my challenge for you, friends, is to help me come up with a list of feel good books for the summer. Happy, but not happy-ever-after. I found a few that look promising, and they’re on my TBR list for an upcoming road trip to Massachusetts and Maine:

 

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society. The title alone is enough. I actually read and finished this book after I drafted this post. Read it. You must, must read it.

 

 

The Whistling Season. Aptly demonstrating the power of a good blurb.

 

 

 

My Lady Jane. I’m not entirely sure how happy this will be–Lady Jane Grey didn’t exactly have a happy ending–but I am intrigued nonetheless.

 

 

 

 

What books do you recommend, or have on your TBR list?

About Marin McGinnis

Marin McGinnis has been a voracious reader ever since she could make sense of words on the page, but she came fairly late to writing. She dabbled with a mystery in her 20s, but didn’t start writing in earnest until after she discovered historical romance a decade or so later. While her very first manuscript will forever languish under the bed, the next one, Stirring Up the Viscount, won two contests in 2013 and was published by The Wild Rose Press in January 2015. Her next three books, Secret Promise, Tempting Mr. Jordan, and Treasure Her Heart, were also published by The Wild Rose Press. Check out her Bookshelf for more info. Marin lives in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio with her family. She is represented by Margaret Bail of Fuse Literary.

I’m in Georgia NOW…

I’ve been offline for about two weeks and–if all things have gone as I expected them to–my family is in Georgia for the next two years. [This is what happens when you write a blog post 15 days early!] And let me tell you, it is HOT in Georgia. The heat is on… [seriously, folks–Arsenio Hall?]

We’ve got boxes to unpack and a house to get settled… but, in general things are good [they better be!!]. Instead of writing in the past couple weeks, I’ve been attending Libby Murphy’s workshop–Fanning the Flames. Not only to do love the content, the set up is amazing. Not forum, not yahoo group, it’s an efficient webinar-type classroom. The content is working for me because I have a book due to my editor in a month, and this workshop is about plotting. It’s the first time I’ve had a chance to “talk” things out before I started writing. Plotting is my thing, but from now on, I’m going to be talking and brainstorming before I start.

If you’re looking for a good place to spend the summer, try Libby’s workshop. I’m really enjoying it, and she is keeping it open through the summer… Plus, it’s all indoors–AC and fans! Whoot.

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.

Looking backward, looking forward.

My nine-year-old son loves baseball.

He plays on a AAA team, which means nothing to me, but means something to my husband.

When he was nine–and for most of his youth into college and a little beyond–my husband, Billy, played baseball. He was a State Champion pitcher who got drafted into the majors at nineteen. But back then, there was no such thing as a pitch count for young players, and by the time he was twenty, his body was worn out. Even today, at the age of 47, he has problems with his rotary cuff. He did the thing he loved until it broke him.

Now Brady is playing. He’s not a pitcher–he’s a catcher. This is possibly by design (my husband’s) or maybe because Brady loves the position. It’s the most important position on the field, come to find out. He has to be aware of the positions of all the opposing players on the bags (that’s baseball jargon for “bases”–I didn’t know that either, once). If someone tries to steal a base, he has to see them and make snap decisions on where to throw the ball–and be on target. He can’t overthrow his intended baseman, because then the runner can move on to steal another base.

He also has to be aware when he can’t stop a pitch; when he goes running to get it, he also has to have eyes on the field to be sure to stop runners.

And then, there are other times when he just needs to be in the game and with the program. My favorite is when one of his team’s young pitchers are wobbly and walking batters; Brady looks so serious as he lifts his mask onto the top of his head and marches out the the mound to talk to them. He doesn’t take long, and he never fools around. Usually, he’ll pat the other player on the shoulder as he talks to them, and he looks right at them with such a grown-up expression on his face. Usually, this exchange works to calm the pitcher down and get them to throw strikes. Later, when I ask him what he said, he tells me things like, “I told him to take a deep breath and just play catch with me. Don’t worry about the batter.” Or, “I told him to follow through, just like we practiced.” Wise counsel from someone who needs reminding to brush his teeth and to use deodorant.

His coach has told us that he’s the best player in the league, and in fact, some of the “major” league coaches are scouting him. (Not the major majors, you understand. But the coaches of the older kids. My husband and Brady know what this means–I’m just in the stands, cheering when everyone else does.) Baseball has become something that means so much to both of them. Billy has volunteered to coach the young pitching “staff” and with amazing patience, teaches them the physical mechanics of pitching and how to strategize their pitches. Brady has  gained confidence and leadership skills he’s not even aware of, and has developed a focus that has helped him in school and other places because of baseball. And it’s something both of them, father and son, can share and discuss and analyze–man to man. More than a game, it’s a common link for the two of them.

As I sit on the bleachers, I’m  watching: Billy, looking backward through this current experience and reliving the golden, glory days of his youth, and Brady, looking forward and planning for his future in the game. Me? I’m just here in the present, looking forward and backward, and enjoying the view. I never understood what was so good about sports, but I think I’m finally starting to understand.

 

About Marnie Blue

Cyn D. Blackburn is addicted to love. And caffeine. She lives with her husband (of 20+) years, three children, two dogs, two guinea pigs and one terribly outnumbered cat. She knows that nothing eases the difficulties of life--and falling into love--more than a little humor.

Summertime!

Whether the calendar agrees or not, June is my official summer kick-off. Kids get out of school the first week of the month here in Las Vegas and we are ready to take a vacation! Sadly my littles and I haven’t been on a vacation in two years, but that is about to change. We are heading to California for a little beach, fun, family, and R & R! And of course as I started writing, music started popping into my head, so let me share with you, my Summertime Kick Off Playlist!

A few to take us back….

Just got to love a little DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. Oh! And how can you think of taking a vacation without this little gem in your head?

And no playlist is complete without a little Jake Owen…

If I’m totally honest, this last video is my favorite. I love me some Jake! Well I love me a lot of country singers, but that is a topic for another post. So tell me, what are some songs that just pop into your head when summer hits, or vacation is coming up?

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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