On Writing

Scene Crafting, Allie’s Trick #1

I have a number of “tricks” that I use when crafting a particular scene, whether in the micro or macrocosm of the scene; that is, whether I’m crafting the wording of  a sentence or phrase, or an entire paragraph, or whether I’m trying to decide which event comes first, I try to take myself out of my everyday headspace and free up my creative side to come up with just the right ideas.

So here’s the first trick. Well, it’s not the first but it gets to be #1 because it’s the first one I’m writing about. It’s also more or less the easiest. Some years ago, I discovered that cute mouse trailers were absolutely fascinating, and almost hypnotic… sometimes I could spend long periods of time just doodling away, making designs with my mouse while the trailer trailed along after. So I got a script and some hearts, and made a mouse trailer, and put it on a page with some nicely spaced pretty hearts to have something to actually go around and around with the mouse trailers.

AffirmationsHearts

I put the mouse trailer over some affirmations,  in order to get the benefit of those… because let’s face it… just sitting repeating affirmations is booooooring. Ugh. But, play with the pretty hearts trailer doodling designs and swirling and looping about the pink and purple hearts, or going around and around a particular affirmation, you’re getting the benefit of the affirmations (subliminally?) while your mind is open and receptive because you’re doodling with the trail of hearts.

Here’s the link to Allie’s Affirmations page with the cute hearts trailer, if you want to try it out! I’ll be happy to send you the script if you have a page of your own and want to use it, just shoot me an email or comment below!

Wishes & Dreams

I have an official “blurb”!!!

I’m taking a class, Literary Sales Package with Laurie Sanders, and the first assignment was the query letter, which included a short “blurb” for the second paragraph. I brainstormed and got it written, and Laurie tweaked just a couple of words, and here we go!

Long ago, Julian DiConti was caught in a powerful spell binding him to a Djinn bottle, forced to grant wishes to each owner of his bottle. Three wishes… of the right kind… could free Julian of his bonds, but after six hundred years, he is beginning to wonder if he will be trapped as a Djinn forever. Enter Alessandra Taylor, good Samaritan extraordinaire. She’d gladly free Julian from the spell if she could, but he isn’t allowed to tell her how, and one by one she’s driven to use the precious wishes to help others. But where will that leave Julian, and the growing love between them?

Laurie, by the way, is a FABULOUS instructor, and her blog posts as well are incredibly informative and helpful! She teaches online classes through the Outreach International RWA Chapter (classes are available to nonmembers). I highly recommend them!

Musings

No writers jokes in the ER!

So, in writers groups, we joke a lot about the voices in our heads. At least, we do in the groups I hang out with. Anyway! So a few years back I wound up in the ER with bronchitis/incipient pneumonia. And in the course of the intake, the ER nurse asked me if I heard voices in my head. I responded, “Not in the way you mean.”

Well! She looked at me, and it was that kind of look, without the least bit of humor. I could see an incipient 72-hour psychiatric hold in my immediate future. I rushed to reassure her that I was a writer… I remember scrambling in my purse to find my business card announcing my pseudonym to show her. LOL!!!

She did accept this (thank goodness for the business card!) but I’ll never make that mistake again! It’s not quite as bad as joking at the airport about bombs, but it’s in that general arena of things it’s really not a good idea to do.

 

 

Business & Craft of Writing · On Writing

A rejection letter to cherish

Rejection letters are no fun, even if they’re nice. It’s depressing. But I got one from an agent, querying for my very first book, Truck Stop, back in 2000, that said:

“There’s no question of your ability.  I think you have a very fluid, commercial style which is remarkably polished and self-assured… I think your writing has a lot of commercial potential…”

She hadn’t liked the actual premise itself, which is why she was rejecting it… but then, she said if I hadn’t found an agent by the time I finished my second manuscript, which was well under way, she’d be happy to take a look at that!  Waaaay cool!  I’ was more about celebrating that letter than feeling bad, LOL!  To top that off, some writers whom I’d shown the rejection told me that this particular agency is top-of-the-line and rarely take beginning writers at all, that they frequently turn down *published* writers, so that I should absolutely pat myself on the back because she’d invited me to submit to them again!

Just to put the final cap on this validation (despite the fact that it was a rejection)… another writer reassured me: “Sometimes this takes years of writing to generate a rejection letter of this quality!”

I still have that rejection letter, carefully in a box with my letter from the Undiscovered Writer II contest, the first contract with the epublisher, and the first copy of the paperback, plus the long-stemmed white silk rose I got from Desert Rose Chapter of RWA for a first sale 🙂

Business & Craft of Writing · On Writing · Truck Stop

How I came to finish my first novel

Year 2000 was a turning point in my life; that year, I completed not only my first, but also my second-ever novels, both contemporary romances. So this is the Cliff’s Notes version *laughs*

I’d been writing on and off all my life since as early as I can remember (I specifically remember 3rd grade, writing in bed at night under the covers with a flashlight when I was supposed to be sleeping). But I was never “A Writer” (TM), it was just … my stories. That’s what I called them. I wrote bits and pieces as they came to me. One day, on a whim, I joined AOL. I have to admit, I joined it because I watched “You’ve Got Mail” and the computers said “You’ve Got Mail” when they turned them on, and so I joined on a free trial, just for a lark so I could hear my computer tell me I had mail. Yes, I’m that easy 🙂 Anyway! AOL had writers groups, and I found them. REAL writers. People who were writing and/or had written… even *gasps* PUBLISHED writers! I never met a published author in my life. Kinda like happening across the Holy Grail by accident. Anyway, so I got involved in some of the writers groups, and heard for the first time about Romance Writers of America. No kidding? I joined on the spot.  The next thing I started to be made aware of was writing contests run by RWA chapters. Reading the lists of contests in the RWR had me just hot to join a contest and see. I mean, my mom said my stories were good, but she’s my mom, right? I mean, it’s in her job description to think her duckling is a swan and that her daydreamer daughter can be a writer. I mean, she also told me that I was smart, when my dad always told me I was stupid. Hmm, actually she turned out to be right, when she tricked me into taking a test for Mensa when I dind’t have a clue what it was, and then qualified… but eh, that’s another story.

So there was this contest, the Undiscovered Writer II contest by an RWA Chapter, Love Designers Writers’ Club and Rendezvous Magazine. It required a first chapter and a synopsis. I decided to give it a shot… see what kind of feedback I got and if anybody thought I could write at all. I thumbed through my (112 by then) stories, and pretty much at random chose Truck Stop. I didn’t, of course, have the opening scene written, much less a whole chapter, but I had 3 various scenes written, and a rough idea of the main conflict. Fortunately my Muse kicked in, as she sometimes does (unreliably), and I came up with a first chapter, and one with which I was actually pretty pleased. Then I took that very rough idea of the conflict, along with the first chapter and 3 various scenes, and hammered out a 3-page synopsis, and sent it off.

Mind you… I wasn’t entering this contest with any thought, or even hope, of winning. I just wanted to see if the feedback I got back was in anyway validating. The burning question here was, CAN I WRITE?

What I never expected in a million years was that… it would WIN!

Which it did. AND… that the prize for the winning manuscript was to be read by an senior editor at Silhouette. Who already had my name, and I had a PHONE NUMBER (yes, really!) to CALL!!! She’d already read it when I called, and wanted to see more.

MORE?

Um. I explained that the book wasn’t finished (massive understatement there.. I had the first chapter and 3 random scenes). She said send along the first three, and I agreed, no problem. Once I was off the phone… AGGGHHH!!!! I scrambled to get two more chapters written. Plus, my synopsis had taken some heavy criticism from the contest judges, so I got a copy of Writers Market and dove into the section on synopses, and came up with one that seemed much better, to send along with the new chapters.

Then I sat back to relax in total satisfaction that I’d written THREE whole chapters and had a great synopsis, VERY pleased with myself, and waited for my “Thank you so much for submitting but…” letter to arrive.

Only.

It was a “Thank you so much for submitting, please send the full manuscript” letter.

WHAT???!!!!! I hadn’t written any more on it in the intervening month (only one! not 3 or 6 or a year like I’d been warned), and I figured I had plenty of time to write more, since I now had lovely new 3 chapters and a shiny new synopsis to send out to agents/editors, once Silhouette sent their rejection letter. And then *they* would take months to reject it, too (See? I  was totally totally all mentally prepared to take the rejections!). I had lots of time! It never, EVER occurred to me that they’d actually want to see the complete manuscript! I mean… I was a totally newbie! This just didn’t happen. It takes months… years! to get this far!

So I got to writing with a passion. From May 8, 2000, when I received the letter from the Undiscovered Writers II Contest, to October 10, 2000, I wrote, and finished, the whole book. (I also made a major move to another state in the interim, partially accounting for the time factor).

Ultimately, Silhouette did not make an offer on the book, because it didn’t fit into their lines. We discussed it at length, but given the conflict was absolutely crucial to the plot, there was no way to get around that obstacle… or they *would* have!!!! I went on eventually to accept an offer from a small epublishing company in 2001, and when it was published in paperback, I sent a copy to Romantic Times magazine, and it got a four star review in February 2002!

For anyone interested, click here to go to Diary of an Aspiring Novelist to read the complete story. Warning! This is very long, and is probably only of interest to my close family & friends, and other beginning writers 🙂

Wishes & Dreams

A Cat For Troy finaled in On the Far Side!

A Cat For Troy synopsis400

So here we are, Monday morning. I’d been up writing on Wishes in a Bottle until 2:30, and had just hit the 90,000 word mark. So I rolled out of bed around about 9 and got the dishes done from last night (I’d been writing, so I’d just grabbed some leftovers and microwaved them) and made another pitcher of iced tea, logged into SecondLife and checked on my horses, then settled in to write. About 10 minutes later the phone rings. I was already deep into the scene I was writing, so I didn’t quite catch the beginning of what was being said. The phrase “RWA” caught my attention though and dragged me out of my scene. I remember thinking, oh my gosh, it must be the Saguaro chapter (which I’d just signed up for last night late) calling to welcome me! Unusual, but nice. Then.. Wait… what??? A Cat For Troy… did WHAT??!! WHOA, wait back up! OMG!!! It’s a contest coordinator, from FF&P (Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal) Chapter of RWA, calling to tell me A Cat for Troy had FINALED in the 2017 On the Far Side Contest!!! *hyperventilate* *scream* *laugh* *hyperventilate more*

Aside from the amazement and excitement factor, there’s another level to this: HOPE! Because the final round judges include an editor from a reputable publishing house (Theresa Cole, Entangled Publishing)… so just finaling is HUGE!

I’m so excited I haven’t been able to come back down to earth to get back to writing, LOL! It’s even MORE crucial now that I finish Wishes in a Bottle, because it’s the first book in the Wishes & Dreams 3-book series, of which A Cat For Troy is the third book. Since it’s a series, the first book has to be finished before a publisher or agent will even consider looking at any of it. The second book, A Gift of Jacinth, is already finished. So when I have Wishes in a Bottle finished (and it’s currently at 90,000 words with a target of 100,000), I’ll have the first two books in the series finished, and A Cat for Troy is at about 46,000 words.

Here’s the section of my website for the Wishes & Dreams series. It’s still under construction, as I have to add the  synopses, but you’ll get the general idea 🙂

Business & Craft of Writing

Business Plan? Who, ME?!

I signed up for a class that has brought up the subject of business plans. I strongly recommend this article they sent us to: http://jamigold.com/2014/08/introducing-the-business-plan-for-writers-worksheet/ plus you’ll want to read https://janefriedman.com/business-plans-for-writers/

My first thought to all this was: “business plan? whaaa…?” I have ONE epub book out. That’s it. Also, to me, business plans dealt with…you know… numbers and flow charts and such. *shudders* But then I opened the plan and read the fine print, and I could *feel* my brain kicking into gear! Even my Muse poked her head up and said “oh really?”

When reading through the article on introducing the business plan for writers, this pretty much jumped off the page and smacked me in the face:
* What path will take us toward our success goal? Are we on that path already? If not, what do we need to do to get on that path?
* Are we spending time on activities that impede our goals? Are adjustments needed to refocus on activities that match our goals?

um… well. *blushes* My bad. I do have the time to write, but I allow myself to get distracted. No excuses. So I have to really face that, and accept that challenge head-on. I DO want to write, I do want to be published. It’s my #1 priority in life (after breathing). So if it’s not getting done, that’s on me. The buck stops here, and all that.

There are, however, some valid issues that arise from time to time, that interfere with writing. So… (this first lesson really got the brain working, I must say)

1. Pain. I have spinal stenosis and a knee that’s bone-on-bone. Acute pain is a frequent issue. I always have a certain amount of low-level chronic pain; mostly I ignore that, but if it ratchets up, it can and does interfere with the writing process…. even more if I have to take pain meds, which make me sleepy/groggy at worst and loopy at best. During those times, however, I *can* edit. Doesn’t matter if I can’t focus for long periods of times, I can work on a paragraph at a time.

2. When the scene is there in my head, but the words to write it just won’t come. This is a Serious Nasty trick my Muse likes to play on me. I do have a a work-around on this one, the problem is, I dont DO it. It’s like having a headache but you don’t go take aspirin until it’s too late, right? I’ve found that dictating the scene while it’s in my head, is amazing. It comes out stream-of-conscious just as I see/hear/feel/experience it in the moment, and I dont’ have to worry about struggling for how to get exactly the right wording down. By capturing it in-the-moment in voice, then when I go back and transcribe it, I can take my time with the wording, while the recording keeps the in-the-moment feel of the scene that it had when I recorded it.

The problem with these solutions above? It doesn’t WORK if I don’t DO it!!!!!! The problem with these solutions above? It doesn’t WORK if I don’t DO it!! So.. starting now, I’m taking this on!

For the business plan itself, I found it was very helpful to actually get down in black and white, things I already knew and had swirling around in my mind. Which wasn’t more than just the basics, and in no particular order. So I downloaded the form from the article, and got those thoughts all sorted and organized 🙂 It’s not much, admittedly. But it’s a starting point.