The Path You Get #amwriting #NaNoWriMo @pawf1067

The Path You Get

Not that long ago, I got a book deal, my first. I couldn’t tell you the excitement I felt. I had reached my dream of being a published (fiction) writer. Finally, after multiple hours of writing notes and chapters in spiral notebooks, then typing it all in, I’d sold my first book. Someone appreciated the story that I’d spent countless hours constructing and reconstructing in my head. I knew I’d arrived…until I saw my book cover.

It was terrible. Truly terrible.

An attractive looking woman in a dark orange sweater and blue jeans stood winking at the camera. Behind her, a guy nuzzled her neck as he cupped her boobs. This would be the first thing people would see when they saw my title.

My work. My creation.

I sat there, staring at the screen shaking my head and talking to no one. With utmost certainty, this was not my story..at all. Not one stinkin’ thing about that cover reflected anything to do with what I’d spent hours creating. Along with the worst cover in the world, my name had been placed across the front of this woman’s crotch in dark red letters. You couldn’t even see my name!

After the shock wore thin, I had a complete meltdown, the likes of which my poor husband had never seen. Truly, I’m surprised he didn’t run to the airport and catch a one-way ticket to New Zealand. I talked to a writer friend who said I would have little pull being a brand new writer, but to talk to my editor about my very valid concerns. So I did.

Her response was, “Tough. This is the cover you’re getting or you can take your book elsewhere.” She followed that up with, “Oh, and we’re just going to print your book as is. No edits.”

No. No. No. No. NO!

Now, this is the part I want you to listen to very closely. When someone is so unbending, when someone isn’t listening to anything you are telling them about your book, when someone tells you they aren’t even going to edit your story because “it’s good enough”, run. I don’t care if it’s your first book deal or tenth. Run.

I did.

As a writer, you work is your face. Your image. Your craft. Don’t spend hours, weeks perfecting a chocolate cake and allow someone to pour gravy all over it and tell you it’s fine. Don’t let your worry of never getting another book deal ever cloud your good business judgment. Yes, I know you want to make that sale, we all do. If you’re writing in NaNoWriMo, of course you want to see results from all the hard work you’ve put in, but don’t allow your desperation of wanting to be a published author get in the way of a saying no to crappy book covers and awful editors. Every published author I’ve ever talked has at least one horror story like mine. Whether it was a dreadful book cover or bad editing or simply a bad business deal, stand back and think.

With a lot of tears, I canceled that contract and pulled my book. Not long after that, authors talked about bounced royalty checks and within the year, the publisher went into bankruptcy. Even after hearing of the publisher failing, I worried I’d never get my book sold, but I kept writing and writing and writing and finally in 2012, I sold my first full length book to Soulmate Publishing.

Since then, I’ve published four indie books set in Texas and contracted another two with Soulmate. To add to that, my book Burning with Desire from Tule Publishing, came out in April 2017 and just this week, I signed a three book deal with Tule to develop a medical romance series. When I received that first book deal, this isn’t where I thought I’d be. It’s not the path I assumed I’d walk, but it turned out better than I imagined.

Keep moving forward friends. Keep writing.

Patricia W. Fischer is an award-winning romance writer who loves telling a good story. After spending a decade in the ICU and ER’s, she turned to writing full time. She’s the host of Readers Entertainment Radio and has a monthly book picks TV segment on San Antonio Living.

You can find her at www.patriciawfischer.com, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Be sure to check out her books!

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

It’s NaNo Time!

Hi guys! Okay, I admit, it’s been an embarrassingly long time since I’ve posted here. I would love to tell you I’ve been doing something amazing, like a book tour, but that would be a big, fat lie. I am simply lazy about blogging.

In any case, my favorite season is here, which always brings me new energy–weird, I know, given that winter is coming. Autumn brings beautiful colors, cooler weather, sweaters and boots, my birthday (hurray for cake!), squirrels eating pumpkins I never get around to carving, Thanksgiving (a food-centered holiday which is, of course, my favorite), and National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  If you don’t know about NaNo, it’s an event in which  thousands of writers all over the world commit to writing 50,000 words during the month of November. NaNo’s website provides advice, pep talks, and word counters, and local NaNo groups provide write-ins where you can meet actual people outside of your house and write with them.

I love NaNo, because it gives me the impetus to get a lot of words on the page, words I then massage for the rest of the year to turn into a book. Eventually.

Last night, I was on a panel of writers who have “won” NaNo (reached the 50K word goal) at the Cuyahoga County Public Library (such wonderful support for writers there!), sharing experiences with other writers who want to do the same. I came up with a list of tips I thought I would share with you.

1. Plan, just a little.

Some of us are planners, some of us are pantsers, and others are somewhere in between. No matter which one you are, do at least some planning. Have some details ironed out before November 1, such as:
• What is your setting? Contemporary, historical, futuristic, fantasy? City or small town?
• Who are your main characters? What are their overarching goals? What motivates them?
• If you’re writing historical fiction, have you researched the time period? If you’re building a new world, have you ironed out the basics, such as names, languages, places, technology, etc.?
• Map out the main events in your novel, the main turning points, so when (not if) you get stuck in the middle, it’s easier to get yourself back on track.

2. Discover how fast you write.

I learned this tip in an online class I’m taking this month called “How to Write Fast,” taught by Peter Andrews. (Super helpful, and I’d recommend it if you see it anywhere–check out his blog too.) Do this before you start: set a timer and write for 15 minutes. Write anything—a description of your dog, a dissertation on the weather, a synopsis of your story, whatever—just write for 15 minutes. Do not edit as you go. When the timer goes off, count the words you wrote. Multiply by four. That’s the number of words you can write per hour. That gives you an idea of approximately how much time you need to devote per day to write 1,667 words.

For example, I wrote 425 words in 15 minutes, which is 1,700 per hour. At that rate, I only need to write one hour each day to reach my NaNo word count. When you look at it that way it seems far more manageable and easier to schedule. Admittedly, it can be harder to write that fast when you’re trying to figure out where your story is going next, which is why #1 above is helpful.

3. Turn off your inner editor.

Seriously. Turn that sucker off. If you try to polish every scene during NaNo you will NEVER FINISH in time, or possibly at all. There will be plenty of time to polish later.

4. Write with other people.

I find writing with other people—whether in person or virtually—to be the single most helpful thing I can do for my productivity.
• Go to a NaNo write-in.
• Sprint with NaNo on Twitter (@NaNoWordSprints).
• Get together with friends to write in person and/or start a chat group on Facebook Messenger for sprints.
Savvy Authors has a sprint room; membership is free.
• My local RWA chapter, NEORWA, has an online workshop during NaNo for sharing ideas, sprinting, etc.  It’s free and open to anyone; you just need to register, which you can do here.

5. Winning isn’t everything.

Sometimes even if you plan, schedule, turn off your editor, and write with other people, the words just won’t come. I have done NaNo six times. I only won twice, and neither of those books has been published. I didn’t win with the three books I have published.  Do try to win, because it’s awesome and fun and feels fabulous, but don’t beat yourself up if you don’t. Like many other things, NaNo is simply a tool to help you get words on paper. It doesn’t work for everyone.

My tips will almost certainly conflict with that of other folks, but no one technique works for everyone. Please feel free to share your own tips in the comments, and happy autumn!

 

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.

When You’ve Never Been…

People say write what you know about. I’m not a total believer in that, but I have to admit it does make things easier. I’m English from Kendal, a small town in the north of England (though I now live on a mountain in Spain) and most of my books are set in England, mainly in London, where I lived and worked for a number of years.

However, I love to try different things, and so the book I’m writing now is set in a small town in America. I could have set my small town anywhere, but I settled on Virginia’s eastern shore, close to the island of Chincoteague, because when I was a child, I read a book called Misty of Chincoteague and fell in love with the area and the ponies.

Four wild ponies of Assateague Island, Maryland, USA crossing the water of the bay. These animals are also known as Assateague Horse or Chincoteague Ponies. They are a breed of feral ponies that live in the wild on an island off the coast of Maryland and Virginia. It is unknown how the animals originally populated the island, although there are a few legends.

So now I need to get a feel for my small town, what’s it like, who lives there, what do people do in the evenings, at the weekends, does everyone go to church, do they welcome newcomers with open arms or does it depend on who you are…?

Maybe I need to visit. I would in fact love to visit, but it’s not going to happen any time soon. So I’m attempting, from the comfort of my own home, to steep myself in all things small town and east Virginia in particular. Here’s my list of things to do in the name of research:

  • Read books set in small towns
  • Watch movies set in small towns
  • Google my chosen area (http://www.chincoteague.com/)
  • Google small town America – some fascinating articles come up.
  • Ask questions

What do you think is the best way (short of getting on an airplane) to get a real feel for a place you are writing about?

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.

Real Life and Priorities

Are you a writer? A new writer? An aspiring bestselling author? Or a reader, curious about the writer’s life?

Have you ever said to yourself, Ugh, I hate when real life gets in the way or I had to deal with real life today…?

See, I used to say that stuff, too. There was always this idea that the writing wasn’t real. It was something that came second to everything else, no matter what that was. The writing was the first to go when life went through an upheaval.

But sometime in the last year or two… [and I think it started during my contracted writing hiatus!], I stopped thinking about everything else as real life.

Writing is Real Life. And you know what? Sometimes I let stuff get in the way of Real Life…

After reading a few articles in the past week, including this one, HERE, part of me was like. Yeah. That’s right. Writing is the important part! If we’re not writing, there’s nothing to sell. Which led me to think about how much I write and when I write and how I’ve made it a priority. This article, HERE, was a good reminder of how social can often take over my life. Even when social media feels like Real Life, it’s not. Not the promotions, not the family photos, not the political debates,…that ain’t real, people! Get off it and write.

Tuesday was supposed to be my big start into editing Book 4. But I spent the day helping the husband get ready to take a trip [not really helping, but just doing all that weird busy stuff that doesn’t seem to matter when the day is said and done!]. Wednesday, I had a board meeting for an organization I belong to. Tomorrow, I made plans to have a get together with friends. You know what? [I love all of those things. But I haven’t written anything this week!]

It’s time to get back to Real Life. The job. The goal. The dream. It’s okay to do those things…as long as I’m also taking care of my career. And that is true for the writers…and doctors, and cosmetologists, and …everyone.

What about you? What keeps you from getting the work done? From writing that next chapter? From submitting to the next agent or editor?

Post a comment for a chance to win a copy of Cindy Skagg’s new release [out today!!], Survive by the Team! Book Three of the Team Fear Series. <3

Happy Writing!

Beth

Mandi Gault never met a man brave enough to openly date a mortician, so when a good-looking man with twelve-pack abs invites her to coffee, she’s not asking any questions. Too bad he’s trying to kill her.

Danny Gault died in a conspiracy threatening Team Fear—his defunct military team—so when Gault’s sister winds up in the hospital, former teammate Stills is forced to leave the safety of the team’s compound. He recognizes her attacker as a member of a rogue military unit with orders to eliminate Team Fear. Now they’re on the run while they unravel why Team Echo wants her dead.

As the danger escalates, they share a wild night of down and dirty fun that would put a blush on a corpse, but Stills made it clear it was one and done. Now he must decide if he’s brave enough to forget about vengeance… and live.

Military trained, medically enhanced, designed to kill. The surviving members of Team Fear are out of the military and in a world of secrets, lies, and cover-ups in this fast-paced romantic suspense series by Cindy Skaggs.

 

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.

Character Driven Stories

The topic came up in our forum recently, and then I was thinking about it as a started reading a new book because there was a certain disconnect as I read through the first chapter.

So, as I thought about it, I noted two things.

One from my reading:

The conflict created unnatural reactions in the characters. When it came right down to it, I disliked the heroine for her bitchiness in the first scene…but mostly, it seemed that her thoughts [as the author tried to ‘show’ the story] and her actions weren’t realistic. She was stuck in a Russian blizzard, needing rescue! Why is she thinking she should try to bring up a past and resolve anything? Why is she thinking at all beyond, ‘Thank God. You rescued me. Please don’t hate me too much to save my life.’ So there were a few other instances where the author was trying to maintain sexual tension by NOT having the couple hook up too soon, and created conflict. But again, it just felt off, especially since the characters were both young, healthy, attractive, sexually active, and ‘hot for each other’. As an author, reading this book, the conflict felt too contrived.

This is where characterization can play a huge part! Because if even one of those characters wasn’t the horny, sex-impulsive type, then…I could have believed they were holding back as a natural occurence!

Two, from my own writing:

Last week I finished revisions on Book Three of my Hawk Elite Security series, and it’s the first full-length novel that has no sex in it. Before I started revisions, this book had the expected 2-3 love scenes. As I went through on the revisions, the sex kept NOT happening. Believe me, I wanted it to happen! I understand the satisfaction of seeing a couple through even this very private part of their relationship. It’s what romance readers are looking for… emotional connections. But no, I had a character. And do you know what my character’s nickname on the teams is?

Fr. John. Because he’s conservative in his dating life, because no one is quite certain if he’s had sex or not… is he a virgin? Does he even date anymore? He hasn’t–in a long time–and that’s what made his story. So, wouldn’t it be odd to have him suddenly be a lady’s man? a Don Juan? I think it would. It wouldn’t be in character.

I had a heroine who was ready to go, and she did her own pondering on why this guy wasn’t going to have sex with her. But even my heroine had been living alone for a few years, sort of in hiding from herself and the world. So, even for her to jump right in would have been a little off-reality.

I write romance, and I know the possibility of disappointing readers with a book that has no sex in it. But, I just couldn’t get beyond my characters. John was raised a certain way. He’s not perfect. He’s NOT a virgin [cuz, hello, college is a bed of sowing wild oats and living a little rebelliously], but he’s celibate, and has been for a few years. Because he knows, he wants the whole thing. All of it, and he isn’t going to settle for less, or cheat the next woman he’s attracted to by leading her on.

If you get a chance to read Strike Zone, please come back and tell me what you think. Part of me loves this story, because the sexual tension is so darn high. Part of me wishes I’d left the sex in there because it’s satisfying…

But in the end, I left the tone of the book up to the characters.

And if you like things a little hotter, stay tuned for book 4, Strike Force. Oh boy. That’s a different story completely!

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.

Writer’s Meh

The other day one of the Passionate Critters said she was having trouble getting motivated to get any writing work done. She knew what she wanted to write, knew she had some edits to do, but her heart wasn’t in it. Other things were just more interesting. Six of us responded that we felt the exact same way, including me. It’s not writer’s block–which I don’t really believe in, anyway–but it is a writer’s meh, which totally exists.

I have two books in various stages of completion, and while I have a third out on submission I should be working on them. One is so close to being done it’s practically taunting me. I was a bit stuck on where I was going with it, but last week I had a brainstorming session with a friend and I realized exactly what I needed to do. But I still haven’t been able to keep my butt in the chair, and some days I can’t even get it there at all.

It’s very easy to blame writer’s meh on lack of time or  life stress–especially during tax season, which is particularly painful when one is self-employed–but that’s really just an excuse. There’s always time to write, even when life is being persnickety.

I think writer’s meh stems from a need to check out for a while. To take stock of where you are as a person, writer, mom, wife, worker, whatever. To clear the brain of cobwebs, I suppose. (I’m thinking a lot about spiders today–I found FOUR in my house this morning. *shudder*) Unfortunately, I’m not entirely sure how to get rid of it. The meh, I mean, not the spiders. I’m pretty clear on how to get rid of those.

Perhaps just a little time is the answer, although a writer friend suggested a meditation exercise that might help. In any case, I think I’m close to getting the cobwebs out, to getting the brain ready to get back to work, and to pushing the writer’s meh away, at least until next time.

How about you? What do you call this weird period of non-productivity? How do you get through and out of it? All of us critters could use your suggestions. 🙂

 

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.

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