Distractions

It’s March already and maybe time to see how the year is going. I set myself some pretty hard goals for 2017, and while I’m not doing too badly, I could definitely do with a few more words on the page. One of my problems is I’m very easily side-tracked at the moment. So I thought it might be useful to actually work out what I am spending my time on when I should be writing.

Here’s a list of the main contenders…

  • Meet my number one distraction this year. This is Rufino, who joined the family just after Christmas. He’s a seven-year-old Spanish/Arab gelding and he’s lovely. If I’m not actually riding him, grooming him, or training him in the round pen, then I’m watching Youtube video’s on how to ride him, groom him, and train him… Plus, I still have my mare, Gencianna, and I have to spend lots of time with her so she doesn’t feel left out.

 

  • Facebooking – this one has got to stop. But there are so many interesting posts about how to ride, groom and train your horse.
  • Reading – I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately and still have about 50 unread books on my kindle, so not going to stop anytime soon.
  • Binge watching 24 – Sigh – I love jack Bauer. But I’m on the final season so this one will end soon.
  • Killer Sudoku. I seem to have become a little obsessed with playing killer Sudoku online (http://www.killersudokuonline.com/). But apparently, it keeps your brain functioning, so I don’t beat myself up about it. My brain needs all the help it can get.
  • Milking an uncooperative goat. Honestly, this was not on my agenda. And it shouldn’t be happening. But my goat apparently has something called precocious udder, which means she is producing milk (unless she’s been out shagging and is actually pregnant—this better not be the case.) Normally, this goes away on its own, but honestly, her udders were positively gargantuan, they were almost dragging on the ground. I needed to do something.

 

So they’re the main things taking up my time at the moment. What about you? What’s your biggest time suck from the things you really should be doing?

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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How Do I Find Books to add to my TBR List?

Hi, all! Jennifer here!

Lately I’ve been seeing some great questions posed on social media. But one in particular really had me thinking about what I read, when, and how.

Are you on GOODREADS? Well, if you aren’t you’re missing out on a great way to organize books you see. Especially if you want to read it but need to put on the back-burner because of time–or the fact that you already have a stack of books to read!

But anyway, after some careful thinking and analyzing, I can now share with you my process.

How I Find Books to Add to My TBR List

  1. Goodreads  When I check into Goodreads, I see lists of books my friends have read and reviewed. If I see a 4 or 5 star review with major gushing in their review, I automatically add that book to my TBR list.
  2. Instagram and Facebook Ads  Well, believe it or not this is true. If I happen to see eye-catching ad, I will click on the link. If I read the blurb and the books sounds interesting, yes, I will either buy it or add to my TBR list.
  3. Recommendations from my Critique Group We obviously don’t just talk writing. We talk books as well. And we usually check in and share what we’re reading. If a CP looks a particular book, I will definitely add it my list.
  4. Amazon  Yes, I’m one of those people who comb the best-seller charts. If it has a good rating, a good price, and the blurb interests me, I will buy it or add to my TBR list to see what the hype is about.
  5. Award Winners  I’m one of those readers who actually DO pay attention to award-winning books or even RITA nominated books. Again, if the blurb interests me, I will add it.
  6. Bookbub  Well, sometimes there is a sale on a book I’ve had my eye on, but sometimes if the cover and blurb look good, I might just snatch a new book up and add to my TBR pile for the heck of it.

Anyway, that’s how I find books I want to read.

What’s your method? How do you find books to add to your TBR list?

Do you use your library? Bloggers? Twitter?

I’m interested to know!

Until next time,

Jennifer 🙂

About Jennifer Shirk

Jennifer Shirk is a sweet romance author for Montlake and Entangled Publishing who also happens to be a mom, pharmacist, Red Sox fan, P90x grad, and overall nice person. Check out her upcoming sweet romance: WRONG BROTHER, RIGHT MATCH releasing December 5, 2016.

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Finding Great Ideas ~ #LynnCrain #PCers

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Many times I have been asked where I get my ideas. That question can be asked at a book signing or a conference and can come from a reader or another writer. My ideas have been considered outside the box and many times an idea will sit in a file until I can either use it or keep it until the right time. Most of the time though, I am quite happy to tell people I have a great imagination but there are times when I will take something that is known and twist it to my own ends.

Still, those germs of imagination have to come from somewhere so here are my top five of where I get my many, many ideas.

1 ~ I am a voracious reader ~ Most authors would agree that they will get some ideas by reading stories by others. Frankly, you can’t be a great writer unless you’re a great reader. It just doesn’t happen. I’ve been reading novels since I was in second grade. Sure, they were little kids’ ones but they were much longer than the standard book.

The one thing I do as a writer is not read in the genre I’m writing. Meaning, when I’m writing sci-fi romance, I read regular romance. When I’m writing fantasy romance, again I will read some form of regular romance. No writer wants to find out they’ve ‘accidentally’ used something from their favorite writer and one needs to be very, very careful there.

2 ~ Science Magazines ~ Being that sci-fi anything is one of my favorite genres to write, I constantly look over the many science magazines online. They can be a fount of information and I’m always game for twisting the currently known and making it my own. It’s where I found my first holographic display, where I noticed that the nanites were getting smaller and smaller. Anyone can use magazines to find out the current trend in the world then figure out to best use it in their story, no matter what the genre.

3 ~ Music ~ How many times have you listened to a song and wished there was a full story behind it? Add a music video along with that and sometimes it just clicks. Of course, you’d have to change it to make it your own but it does give you that germ of an idea for the ball to start rolling.

4 ~ TV Shows ~ This is the easiest one for me because there are times I’m a very visual person. You can watch a scene then think to yourself, ‘What if I took it one step further?’ And again, the ball starts rolling. Another thing I’ve done is watch a totally contemporary story and wonder what it would be like if it were set 200 years in the future or in the past. Some shows keep the ideas flowing for days.

5 ~ Be an observer of people ~ This is the best one. I used to go to airports early while waiting for my husband because I loved watching people. I would try to figure out their stories and then wonder if I could make it my own. Many times I’ve been caught in a restaurant booth where I overhear a conversation that grabs my interest. Of course, I know you don’t get the whole story that way but I realize I can make it my own. Think of the many times you’ve seen people and wondered just what was going on or what their story was.

One thing to remember is to be very careful that whatever method you use, it’s totally new because it’s from your mind and your perspective. It is never cool to take a story from somewhere else and claim it as your own.

For the ideas I don’t use, I keep an idea file that is sorted by genre then by type. If I’m ever at a loss for what to write about, I will pull out that file then scan the contents. Sometimes I will use one I’ve previously done or it will trigger a totally new idea and I’ll go off on a different tangent. The one thing I do know is that I have more ideas than I’ll ever write. At last count, my idea file had over 180 ideas in it. Now if I could just write a story a day…and that’s what makes writing so fun…it’s never boring!

See you all next month!

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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 contemporary, fantasy, futuristic and paranormal tales, tame to erotic, for various publishers. Her home is in the desert southwest and she’s just returned from her latest adventure of living in Vienna, Austria while her husband worked his dream job. You can find her hanging out online at www.lynncrain.blogspot.com, https://www.facebook.com/LynnCrainAuthor, and on Twitter, @oddlynn3. She loves hearing from her readers at lynncrain@cox.net.

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Fighting the Doubt Monster

As a writer, a full-time worker, wife, and mother of two, I find myself constantly analyzing my actions, reactions, and doubt-monsterefforts. For the story writing part of me, it gets worse as the book unfolds, then the edits, and before I know it the Doubt Monster takes hold and I’m paralyzed.

Doubt Monsters are red, with tentacle-like legs, razor-sharp teeth, and beady eyes. The visual manifestation looks like that anyway. The mental manifestation is fear and anxiety, followed by a lovely dose of procrastination on social media, maybe some candy crushing. They  won’t disappear with these tactics. The battle wages on regardless of the side tracks. I get scared about not living up to expectations, about how everyone will hate the words AND the best one of all – that I’m a fake. A no-good, useless waste of writing space, posing as a person with good ideas/plots/characters when really a four-year-old could come up with this stuff.

These are not issues only affecting me. I’m not unique. Most writers deal with the Doubt Monsters day in and day out. Nasty suckers, aren’t they?

If you’re suffering from one of these Doubt Monsters, thankfully there’s a few tips and tricks to defeat the beasts.

  1. Music  – I’ve got a few songs to help me through the tough times. Uplifting beats. You may remember employing similar efforts after a bad break up or when you’re stressed out.
  2. Sunshine and a walk – Break up the blurry eyes by getting away from the computer a bit. The problems aren’t going anywhere. The words will still be on the page. It’s time to let your brain process the information and then play catch up. I do some of my best work sometimes sitting in traffic.
  3. Talking things out with a friend – Most writers have a critique partner, along with a writing group. It’s part of the magic formula that helps get a lot of writers to the finish line and then into the ever-coveted, winner’s circle. Many times my CP is the one who listens to my ideas, the crazy ones, the problems, and the doubts. She’s the voice of reason to battle against the Doubt Monster.

Don’t believe me? Well, I come with articles to back me up. They are not fool-proof, and sure some of this is in my head, but

13 Mental Health Benefits of Exercise

The Benefits of Amazing Writing Critique Partners

There are more articles you can find talking about getting outside being good for the soul, critique partners enriching lives. I imagine you even have your own ways to fight the Doubt Monsters invading your mind and making a home in your amygdala.

How do you fight the monsters? 

If you’ve got a Doubt Monster creeping up on you, I have a song to help fight it.

Hugs, Love, and Battle On my friends.

 

About Landra Graf

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.

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Lead Me On

We talk often about what makes a good romance hero. And honestly, who doesn’t love it? I could go on for hours about what makes the perfect book boyfriend.

SONY DSCFor the sake of this discussion, what about the female lead? What is that something special about her that makes you want to buy into the story and keep reading? Strong motivation is absolutely vital, but I’m thinking more about personality. How does this person approach a challenge? What does their self-talk sound like? How do they treat others and what tack do they take when they interact with people?

Should they be sweet, smart, or sexy? From the hero’s POV, there’s no doubt they are all that and a bag of chips. But like it or not, as readers (and yes authors, but that’s a whole other kettle…) we feed into that equation. What draws a reader to fall in love with a character? Who do we enjoy or identify with? This is such a subjective thing, let’s do this – I’ll tell you my favorites if you tell me yours…

For the most part, I prefer what I call kick-ass with a heart of gold. Yes, they are considered “Strong”, but they are so much more IMO. Occasionally I love a funny, sweet, kind of ditzy character, yet I find myself consistently drawn to these serious types with a hint of darkness more often than not.

  1. Eve Dallas from the In Death series.
  2. Anita Blake from the Vampire Hunter series (mostly the earlier ones).
  3. Claire Fraser from Outlander.
  4. Alexa (Lex) Parrino from the Beyond series.
  5. Beth from the Black Dagger Brotherhood.

At the moment I’m having fun with May Wexler from Wrong Number, Right Guy. She’s just funny, all the way around.

So now it’s your turn. Who are some of your favorite female lead characters, and why?

About Sutton Fox

Sutton Fox has been published by Lyrical Press, Gypsy Shadow Publishing and wrote a bi-monthly column for an auto racing magazine for several years. She traded life in Bluegrass Country for life in the Windy City in a home she shares with The Man, a lonely cat, and her beloved dog, Lucy. When she’s not working the edj, you can find her writing or spending time with her extended family.

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When Characters Are Snarky…

I had to set up another home office in my Nevada house. While we still haven’t decided just what to do with it, we know that we’ll be here off and on for the renovations at the minimum, add to that author things, family things and we have a very full agenda in Nevada.

Now this isn’t a surprise but what was is the fact I actually had to create my own space here. See, I have a lovely office that my husband built for me early in my career. It has a fabulous desk with a huge picture window that allows me to look out at the world. It was one of the things I really, really missed five years ago when I moved to Vienna.

Today it’s being occupied by my son and his significant other as they build their fledgling Amazon business. They are doing quite well but there isn’t a corner in the room anymore which is mine. Their stuff is spread out over two rooms of the house and right now, my old desk is their command center.

Again, I tried to use the dining room table and again, I couldn’t. It’s big enough but the chairs are old and this time, there was another problem. When I did start to write, I found my characters were not only belligerent but downright snarky at times.

Harry-#2---ResizedSnarky used to be a term I only applied to Pup Harry. I mean, can’t you see the snark in his eyes? His ne’er’do-well smirk. He even has a blog named Call Me Snarky Boy from when we first got him. And now, my characters are behaving in the same way?!?

At first, I couldn’t believe it but the more I thought about it, the more I wondered if it wasn’t because of me not having a desk. The only really thing I’ve ever required when writing has been a desk in a quiet spot as I found out I was more productive that way. When I have no distractions, I can pound out the stories. Yet, here my characters were telling me they weren’t talking.

With two novellas due in the next month or so, an edit and another proposal to get to my agent’s desk, I understood I needed to do something and fast. Thank goodness for Amazon as I went shopping. After going through page after page of desks and not finding something I really wanted, I decided to look at the local consignment and antique stores.

I thought I wanted what is called a secretary desk with a pull down surface. Finding one immediate that I loved for the intricate detail, I excitedly talked to my husband who is currently in Vienna. He wanted the youngest to look at it to make sure we could do the repairs. Once the youngest saw it, he nixed it immediately because he thought if I put any weight on it at all, the whole thing would end up in my lap.

Not good. So we looked at two tables. One I really loved the wood but it had some damage too and while it didn’t matter to its purpose, it was more than I wanted to pay. Walking through the big pieces one last time, I spied a thin cherry table with two drawers. Calling my son over, I had him test it and we both liked it. I offered the owner a price I thought fair and was happy he took it.New-Desk-Picture-Resized

My son picked it up later that day and it took me about an hour to set up as it won’t hold much. Just a computer, some papers and it will be a charging station for all our phones and tablets. The drawers will hold pens, paper and the ever necessary post-its. I was ready to go but still I held back. Would my characters continue to be snarky? Or would they finally open up?

And I’m happy to report, they are singing like the birds! Thank goodness.

What about you? Do you ever have moments as a writer when the characters won’t talk to you? And readers, do you ever see characters that you wished were better written and more talkative?

I’d love to hear your thoughts…see you all 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 contemporary, fantasy, futuristic and paranormal tales, tame to erotic, for various publishers. Her home is in the desert southwest and she’s just returned from her latest adventure of living in Vienna, Austria while her husband worked his dream job. You can find her hanging out online at www.lynncrain.blogspot.com, https://www.facebook.com/LynnCrainAuthor, and on Twitter, @oddlynn3. She loves hearing from her readers at lynncrain@cox.net.

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