Looking to the Future

I have a time travel. It’s a YA–so far. It’s set between now and World War Two. I only mention this because I titled my blog post, “Looking to the Future.” Which I’m doing, in a way. Back in January I registered for Thriller Fest XIII, the big convention every year in New York City. Did you know International Thriller Writers is free to join? I joined back in 2015 after meeting another member and being convinced it was worth it! It has been worth it. Even more worth it, though, was the friendship I made which lead me there. And that makes me think of all the connections I’ve made in this industry.

Here at Through Heart-Shaped Glasses. In my critique group, Passionate Critters. Through Romance Writer chapters, writing groups online, and social media Promotions. It’s a huge big world. And I find myself loving the connections. Friends all over the world…

Writing is a solitary struggle about 80 percent of the time. The other 20, it’s the connections. There is nothing like the camaraderie of the writing industry. From writing to publishing to marketing–there is a place for you! Someone will side with you and then commiserate with you when your career turns south for a time and then cheer you on as you kick-ass back on track.

There’s this hope that someday, I’ll get to meet all my writing friends and associates face-to-face. For now, COME ON, JULY! HURRY UP AND GET HERE!! You’re just weeks away, and I have plans…

Tell me, what are you looking forward to this summer? Do you have any conferences or workshops on your schedule? What kind of connection will you make with ‘the industry’? Will you pitch to an agent? Garner interest from an editor? Buy a drink for that coveted marketing professional?

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.

Reinventing One’s Self – #LynnCrain #AmWriting #NewRelease #MysticRealms

Yes, I’m back again and this time, I hope to continue to add a blog post a month. I’ve told anyone who would listen about how horrible last year was for me and my writing career. Since January, when my husband of thirty plus years was declared cancer free, I’ve been struggling to get back into the groove of things.

Writing is my life and I thought I had found some creative ways to keep the inspiration going but now, I’m not so sure. Since I’d always done writing in my days at home, my whole routine was thrown out the window when my husband would be home every other week for at least three, sometimes more, days out of the work week.

The work week was always my reprieve to do what I needed to do be it research, writing or promoting as I was wont to do daily. When he was home, he would kill my writing day, and sometimes the inspiration too, for long stretches of time. Now, I could always handle the weekend as I figured I could use a break as well. During that time, I would severely cut back what I did but would always get back into my writing routine once the weekend was over. Since he was home more during his treatments, my writing time was in shambles.

During his chemotherapy, I decided to keep the writing alive by taking classes that required me to write a lot. And I mean a lot. In both the history classes I’ve taken, I had to do a weekly paper, a mid-term, a presentation and the final. In the folklore and fairy tale class I’m taking currently, there is a weekly reading response where I talk about archetypes or the hero/heroine’s journey, a written in class response, a mid-term, a presentation, and a final that consists of me retelling a fairy tale. All I can say at this point is thank goodness I have to re-imagine a classic because as the saying goes…I’ve got nothing.

While I’m not one to despair, I’ve decided to pursue an MFA and the research on that alone is enlightening. But I have to say that running across two books by author Jeff Goins is a life saver. In his book, You Are A Writer (so start ACTING like one), he talks about how to fall into love again with writing. While there are many profound things within this book, the one that struck me most was in the very first chapter: ‘It ‘s a choice, writing is. One that belongs to you and me. We get to choose it (or not) every single day. So whether the world hears your message – whether you leave the impact you were born to make – is entirely up to you.’

Now the perfectionist in me wouldn’t quite agree with all that is said there BUT the realist knows it’s true. Sure, I didn’t cause my husband’s cancer nor did I necessarily like that he had to be home every other week, making my concentration lag. While I don’t have an office with a door yet, I do have rooms where I could have shut myself away and wrote, regardless of him being in the house. He might have found it rather mean, but it probably would have been more productive than burying my head in books just to make it through a hard time.

Good writing is born from trials and opposition many times and I missed my chance to use those to my advantages. The perfectionist in me wants to beat myself up for lost chances and things I can’t change now but the pessimist knows I’ll have other chances to make my mark with my writing. Frankly, I know that if I tag myself with anything but writer, I’ll procrastinate forever.

As I’m regaining the life of my writer self, I go back to an old adage I learned long ago: fake it until you make it. Jeff Goins has just made it a little easier for me by giving me a whole lot of inspiration in the book I mentioned above and the one next in line…Real Artists Don’t Starve…both books can be found on Amazon at very reasonable prices. And no, he doesn’t even know I’m plugging his books but I am also going to plug one of mine.

Earlier this month, I had a release within the anthology called Mystic Realms, and my story was called Avenging Aingeal. Now this story wasn’t written last year but several years ago and it was finally edited at the end of last year. Here’s the blurb for the anthology and my story as well as buy links. Also, I do believe that there’s still a $50 gift certificate up for grabs and all you need to do is to comment for you chance at one of these two blog posts:

https://darkestcravings.blogspot.com/2018/04/win-50-gift-card-with-mysticrealms-and_0.html

and

https://11threalm.blogspot.com/2018/04/win-50-gift-card-with-mysticrealms-and_80.html

What goes bump in the night? What causes you a fright? While the answers for each may vary, I promise that these stories will not leave you wary.

From vampires and demons to shifters and creatures that you’d never suspect, this set will leave you breathless in the best possible ways.

So, don’t be afraid. Come, step inside our realm. Allow the mysticism of romance in many shapes and forms fall over you like a veil of sweet, soothing, spine tingling comfort.

We promise…you won’t be sorry.

Aingeal Cochran is on a mission to save humanity from itself when suddenly she’s staring head-on at her forgotten past. Lukas Everhard must bring her up to speed regarding the real enemy before allowing himself to love her completely. In learning about her past and mission, Aingeal realizes the best is yet to be and she will do anything to protect those she loves. For Lukas, Aingeal is the mission.

Amazon   

See you next month!

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.

New Beginnings #amwriting

There is nothing quite like starting a brand new story. I love all the aspects of writing – plotting, wording, editing, publishing. I complain about some of it. There are parts I like more than others. One of my favorites is plotting.

I talk about plotting on my own blog on a semi-regular basis. From cool tools to use, to the things I do for my stories. I’m not here to chat plotting today, but actually writing a new story.

I recently wrapped my second book in the Bona Fide series (the first book is coming out on March 6th), but I once again digress.

New stories (my top five things about them):

  • Fresh characters – these are new people, with new flaws, wounds, misconceptions, traits, and histories. I love digging into their backgrounds and discovering the things that make them tick.
  • Discovering the world – there’s something special about a new book’s world. Whether revisiting a previous setting from a series story or visiting a new one – if it’s a different pair of eyes certain things will stick out more than others.
  • The endorphin rush – the slow burn, the first kiss, the falling in love, the simmering attraction. It hits all my high notes.
  • The pet name – every book I write the hero has a pet name for his heroine. Most of the time I don’t know what this is in advance. It’s a discovery as I write.
  • The chapter hooks – it’s a special art to write a good chapter hook. I have no problem hunting for them and my brain is pretty fast at picking up on how a chapter or scene should end. Let’s hope it translates to the reader in the long term.

For my writers – what are your favorite parts of starting a new story?

For the readers – what do you like about reading a new story? Is it tropes? Is it the possibilities? A favorite setting?

 

Bona Fide Beauty ~ Coming 3.6.18 ~ Book 1 in the Bona Fide Series

Blurb: 

She’s going to lose her house.
Kathleen Baum has four months to complete the city’s required code changes to her grandma’s home. Otherwise, she loses it. Strapped for cash, Kat’s only way to get the funds is to bargain with her devil cousin. She agrees to an unwanted makeover, but she’s not good at taking direction, pretend or not.

He’s going to lose his business.
Devid Esposito has worked all his life to build a successful image consulting company, but if he doesn’t start bringing in new clients the business will be bankrupt in three months. The board is ready to oust him when his partner, Kat’s cousin, enters with the opportunity to get his mojo back; all he needs to do is help Kat, with a makeover. Unfortunately, Dev doesn’t take on female clients anymore since the last one broke his heart and used his tips against him.

When they find out they have a common enemy, his heart-breaking client is her code-breaking-whistleblower, and the easiest way to bring the foe down is to accept the other’s help. Losing their hearts to each other was the one thing they didn’t plan for.

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.

4 Books to Help Improve Your Writing Craft #writing #writetip

Hi, all! Jennifer here.

I talked a little about one-word goals last month. But this month I wanted to talk about some individual goals I have for the year.

Here within my critique group every year, we all post writing and personal things we’d like to accomplish.

One of mine was to improve my writing craft.

Even though I am a published author, I still feel as if I have only scratched the surface of what I know and where I want to be as a writer. So in conjunction with me attending conferences and taking online courses, I also made it a goal to read at least FOUR craft books this year as well. In fact, I’ve already picked them out and read one of them.

Here are the four I’ve chosen to Help Improve My Writing Craft this year:

Layer Your Novel: The Innovative Method for Plotting Your Scenes by C.S. Lakin

I liked this book. It gave loads of examples from various books on how authors build upon their plots.

Writing Deep Scenes: Plotting Your Story Through Action, Emotion, and Theme by Martha Alderson (Goodreads Author), Jordan E. Rosenfeld (Goodreads Author)

I just started this book. But I chose it because I heard good things about it and was interested in going “deeper” with my writing.

Story Genius: How to Use Brain Science to Go Beyond Outlining and Write a Riveting Novel (Before You Waste Three Years Writing 327 Pages That Go Nowhere)by Lisa Cron

Picked this beauty up because of a critique partner who was reading it. I’m about halfway through and so far I’ve been nodding and agreeing with everything that was said.

Characters and Viewpoint (Elements of Fiction Writing)  by Orson Scott Card

I picked this one up because I was looking for something beyond plot. I wanted to work on my characters. I hear this author is a master on this subject so I’m looking forward to reading it.

 

Hopefully I’ll be able to read more than just 4, but I haven’t found any other craft books that interest me.

Maybe you have some suggestions of your own! If so, please let me know!

Until then,

HAPPY WRITING

Jennifer

 

About Jennifer Shirk

Jennifer Shirk is a USA Today bestselling 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 latest sweet romance: CATCH HIM IF YOU CAN

Self Care During Nano

We all do it.

Roll out of bed, park ourselves in front of the computer, hair not brushed and still adorning our favorite pair of pjs or sweatpants, coffee in hand as we pound out the words to our next novel. Maybe we brushed our teeth, maybe we didn’t (this is a judgement free zone). We cringe when we pass by a mirror, wondering if we were body snatched.

I’ve done it. Plenty of times. #noguilt #bedheaddontcare #pajamadayeveryday. Eventually though, I have to do something that allows me a mental break. I need a moment to reset or I fizzle out (and I was specifically ordered by some of my Nano-ing partners in crime that there will be no fizzling unless it involves a beverage).

Seriously though, if ever there is a time that we, as authors, should pay attention to ourselves, it is during the lovely month of November. We push ourselves to the bring, pulling our hair out, putting in the time and the words to hit that magical 50k+ in a single months time. Every man, woman, and child participating will need to take a step back, regroup, breath, and let themselves focus on something else for even a mere fifteen minutes.

My own personal take on self care probably varies from the many pieces of advice floating around. I tend to look at things I don’t typically allow myself the time for during even a low key writing month or work day. Here are my ideas for self care…

  • Read a book. I’m often so busy writing or dealing with family shenanigans that I don’t do this enough. It’s nice to read a book. It takes your mind on a journey not of your creating. You don’t have to think, you just go along for the ride.
  • Bubble baths. #luxury! I love a good bubble bath. As a parent, you are often lucky to find a single solitary moment in which you can have a peaceful moment in the bathroom, which is why this is a self care luxury in my book.
  • Go get a massage, manicure, or pedicure. Letting someone else do the pampering for you….you will feel like a king or queen for a day.
  • Take a hike. No not in the mean get the hell out of here sort of way. Literally go for a hike. So many great spots out there where one can convene with nature. I’ve found some great ideas from hanging out with ol’ Mother Nature.
  • Go have a girls or guys night out. Sometimes, just hanging with the friends is just what the doctor ordered.
  • Follow the family dog or cat’s lead and curl up for a little afternoon snooze. I don’t do this often, and I will admit to sometimes taking it so far that I wake up feeling a bit groggier than when I put my head to my pillow, but man when I manage a simple power nap, I come back refreshed!

I have many more things that go on my list, but these seem to be the ones that always seem to get my mind working again…and sadly they are also the ones I usually avoid like the plague. However, this month I am planning a #nanoselfcaresunday journey. Every Sunday, on my Instagram, I will post a selfie of how I am indulging in a little self-care.

How do you take care of yourselves during this month of endless writing, yelling at the blank screen, and overall writing chaos? Join with me on my Instagram journey…who knows, maybe we can make it habit and it will just become part of what we do from here on out. I’m game.

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.

When Your Writing Misses the Mark

This post is for the writers. The aspiring authors, the seasoned veterans.

Sometimes, you write a story and it just flows. It comes together like it has a life of its own, fully-formed and perfect. This isn’t about those times.

Because even when you have those stories, you’ll also have stories that are just… off. They’re missing something, the something that makes them a story worthy of telling.

Maybe it’s your structure or conflict. For me, it was an under-developed character.

I couldn’t figure out: how did this happen to me? Me, who spends a month or two pre-writing. Polishing characters’ histories, their GMC, plotting out a story based on those things before ever putting fingers to keyboard and executing. I spend as much time pre-writing as I do writing the first draft.

But, there was no denying that’s exactly where my story was at. The bad news came from my editor. (Mistake number one–I was in a hurry and didn’t have it beta read by my trusted critique partners before submission.) My heroine’s backstory and motivation were… weak.

I couldn’t believe it. In the weeks following my grandmother’s death, I’d written Exactly Like You, edited it, submitted it, and it was published in June. It was one of the aforementioned stories–it just flowed together perfectly, seamlessly.

How could I have done that so well and missed the mark so completely in the other story? For one, I didn’t dig for backstory and motivation. I latched onto the first idea that came to me. The first idea is never the best idea–don’t let anyone tell you any different. (This would be mistake number two, in case you’re counting.)

I revised and then sent it out for beta with two very smart CPs (all my critique partners are smart, but I digress). They came back with the same verdict–I’d missed that mark again. She was still underdeveloped. Her motivation wasn’t quite believable. That’s what happens when you try to make your character fit your story rather than the other way around. (That, friends, is mistake number three.)

I’m very happy to say that I conferred with one of my CPs, sending her five pages of notes to address the specific issues she called out, then had another CP take a look at my opening and made adjustments again. This had become the story that would not live.

But I wasn’t giving up. All is well now (I hope–it’s been resubbed to my editor, so we’ll see). I can tell you that I don’t think there’s much more of me left for that story. If it’s not enough? This may become one of those stories bound for the far reaches of my hard drive.

I wish I had a happy ending, but don’t all the true life-lesson stories end ambiguously? Take what you can from this, writers. Dig into that back story, then dig some more. Don’t skimp on character, ever.

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.

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