Conference Time

Writing by its very nature is a solitary activity. So it’s really nice to be able to get out and spend time with other writers face to face. Although for some, the larger gatherings can be overwhelming.Red Hearts Blank Small It’s been a long time since I’ve been to a writer’s conference. I’ve been before, as a participant, a speaker, and a volunteer. So the drill is familiar. Comfy shoes, business casual, and a little extra room for books.

As you are reading this, I’m in San Diego, at the RWA conference. I know people have mixed feelings about this organization, and I respect that. I have mixed feelings as well. But I’m looking forward to seeing some old friends, making some new friends, and talking with other like-minded folks about the state of the publishing industry.

It looks like there will be some interesting workshops, and some fun. My goal is to come away from this experience having found those nuggets of information about writing that ring true for me. We’ll see. I’ll let you know how it goes next month!

Do you enjoy conferences, or do you prefer a small group setting?

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.

Moving Forward

Life certainly has its ups and downs. The last year and a half has been a down time for me, and I had no choice but to step away from the writing world. A change in jobs, a move to another state, the unexpected death of one my beautiful bonus children, the sale of our dream home, and the passing of our beloved feline all kind of served to knock my man and I off of our proverbial pins.

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The one constant throughout this time has been our love for each other. Thankfully that never changed. It gave us both strength to weather every storm life threw at us. It’s no secret that time and distance from painful things will clarify your perspective and help in the healing process. And that’s where I’m at.

While I was taking care of things that I needed to do for my family and myself, I considered whether or not I should continue writing. There were moments when I didn’t think I could ever write again. But I simply can’t imagine my life without writing. So I’m moving forward. I don’t have any projects complete yet, but I am writing and very happy to be doing so. It feels really good. And right.

My heartfelt thanks go out to the lovely ladies here at Through Heart-Shaped Glasses for being patient with me and not kicking me to the curb. They are awesome that way.

For now I just wanted to pop in and say hello, and see you next month!

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.

Writing to Word Count – Yes, You Can

The question I hear most often from new authors: “How long should my book be?”

My answer: “Long enough to tell the story.”

That may not seem like a great answer, but it’s my personal belief that it’s the most honest one. As writers we tell the stories of our hearts, the tales that live inside our minds, birthed by our soul and shaped by our life experience. We each have a story to tell, and each one is as unique as leaves on a tree. Nope, I can’t bring myself to use snowflakes. I just can’t.

Writing doesn’t come easy as most of us know. It forces us to grow in ways we never imagined. And one of the ways we grow as writers is to learn to shape our work into a particular format. Book bundles are big right now. A group of authors write short stories as a sampling of their work to invite readers to try them.

I love these. I’ve found many a new favorite author this way. In these collections the story usually has a recommended word count, say five or ten thousand words. As an author how do you make your work fit this word count?

The answer is simple. Editing. As writers one of the biggest and best things we can do for our work is also one of the most difficult. We must look at our work objectively. If you’ve written a story for inclusion into a bundle with an 8k word count and your story comes in at 12k, you need to cut some words.

“But my story will suffer!”

No, it won’t. Step back, think on it overnight or a week later if you’ve got the time. Look at the details. Character, setting, and dialogue. Does each item move the story along? Are they necessary or are they just taking up space? If they are space invaders, cut them.

The same goes for writing short. I struggle with this. If there’s an 8k word count, my story will be 6k more often than not. So I need to look at where I can add details and fill out areas that are sparse.

Read over your story to make sure the conflict is strong enough and the plot flows coherently from beginning to end. Then read it to make sure everything your characters are doing makes sense for the story line. Are their motivations believable? Review it for details, and lastly read through for those pesky adverbs, filler word, echoes and general grammar.

Part of being a professional is meeting a goal. Not making excuses for why you didn’t meet it.  As writers, we are not weak. We are strong. We tackle the hard stuff.

It takes work, but don’t shy away from the challenge, rise to it. With polish, your words will shine.

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.

Highly Unlikely

February is the Red Hearts Blank Smallmonth for romance. At least from the view of retailers, and all those guys who are not so with it the rest of the year. Whether you’ve found the man of your dreams in real life or not, for us romance fans, there’s a hero just waiting for us in the next story we choose to read. Although he may be digital or between the pages of an actual book, one thing is fairly certain. To the heroine, he’ll be irresistible. And sometimes her polar opposite.

Opposites attract is one of my favorite tropes. For me when the sparks fly and the personal growth happens to a couple who are so different, and yet they manage to find a way to reach a middle ground really works for me. There are so many that have become my favorites over the years. Too many to list here. But my favorite of all time, and one I never get tired of reading is Nora’s Eve Dallas and Roarke.

The straight-laced, uptight cop, who mistrusts people so much she’s almost backward with it, and the charming devil-may-care, Irish con-man, who made the bulk of his fortune illegally. A perfect match!

Ms. Roberts has done a masterful job of weaving personal and relationship growth into every book, keeping their love fresh and entertaining to the reader. Although some of the story lines are serious, there’s plenty of humor to go around. As a reader, it’s pure entertainment.

Do you have a favorite unlikely couple that you enjoy reading about?

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.

The Same Old Trap

Are you writing? Working on your current WIP, or trying to decide which of your many stories should be completed this year? Or maybe writing every day is on your 2015 resolutions list. If so, yay for you!

This year I haven’t made a single writing resolution. I had to spend some serious time away from the computer through the fall and end of the year, and it really gave me time to think. Did I want to continue to do this writing thing? The answer was and still is, an unequivocal ‘YES!’

That being the case, with a limited amount of time on the computer, I had to change the way I approached writing and everything associated with it. I used to do a ton of writing related things, lots of social media, and feel really good about them, yet never get actual words on the page. Over and over again I fell into the trap. The deceptive line of thinking that doing anything associated with writing means you’re moving forward. Any successful writer will tell you the words come first. Everything else related to writing is secondary.

So I made a couple small changes in that I don’t do anything until I’ve spent thirty minutes writing. No email, no social media, zip, zero, nada. Also, no social media until evening, and then only if I’m up to it. It proved to be way tougher than I thought. Letting go of social media made me feel disconnected. Some days it still does. Then there’s the changing of a morning routine that’s been years in the making.

But after thirty days, it seems to be working. I’ve got some chapters of a new WIP. And that’s more than I had before. I’m moving up to forty-five minutes next week. Eventually I’d like it to be an hour. We’ll see how it goes. The sense of accomplishment is turning out to be worth the struggle. I’m going to have a new story!

With working, families, small children, we’re all short on time for different reasons; do you have any tricks that help you get words on the page?

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.

City Girl Meets Country Christmas

Are you ready for the holidays? If you’re answer is a resounding, “Not even close!” Welcome to the club. This year I find myself well and truly behind. Let me explain. If you’re a long time reader of this blog you know we do our Christmas celebration any day but Christmas. For the sake of meshing schedules, it’s later this year than it’s ever been.

So, I’m planning no decorations, no shopping, no guests, and no big meals. Whew! We’re the only home with no outdoor lights in our neighborhood. (Yes, the Grinch is my favorite holiday character in case you were wondering.) Just a quiet holiday with my guy. And then last night…

My son calls and is bringing his girl whom we’ve never met home because he wants to be ‘home’ before Christmas. And some friends are coming in from out of town. These are two fabulous surprises, but they aren’t bad. No way. I couldn’t be happier. However, you know what I have to pull off in seven days, before they get here.

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Most of the time, I love living in the country. I wouldn’t trade it. Except at times like this. To find some things I’d like to get, have, or do, requires at least a fifty mile round trip to town, so I’m making adjustments to avoid spending the time on travel. Because even after a couple years, I still have the urge to just run over to the mall (which we don’t have one of) or where ever and just pick something up.

And this morning the dog got sprayed by a skunk. Which is now hanging around our house, maybe in hopes of more entertainment from the dog? When it came toddling out of the woods at me, I confess to standing there like an idiot. It just kept coming. I’m thinking it’s going to be scared any minute. Well, no. I ran away from it, the dog ran at it, and then it was on. It’s been downhill from there.

I admit to being curious about how others handle unexpected surprises during the holidays. Stress is stress, whether it’s good or bad. Yes, I’m thrilled but I can see the exhaustion bearing down like a freight train. The only weapon I have is my sense of humor, which I use liberally this time of year.

Do you have a trick you use to reduce stress during the holidays?

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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