Crash Without The Burn

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Ever feel like your life is out of control? Of course, you have. We all go through periods, whether it’s an hour, a week, a year, during which, despite our best efforts and intentions, very little goes as planned. The last two weeks have been crazy for me!

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It all started last Monday when I went to the dentist and had a panic attack. The following day I had an intake appointment at the hospital. I was told they couldn’t do anything for me and that I needed to seek assistance in the private sector. People, as a Canadian, who pays for health care through her taxes, I find this unacceptable. I’m not sure there should be any private sector unless it’s for something like a face lift. Vanity is not health care. I had to go back to the dentist on Thursday for my daughter and on Friday for me again. No panic attack on Friday. Cool as a cucumber and, according to the dentist, as pale as a ghost. I didn’t feel pale, but damn was I cold in her chair.

With all that running around, I still managed to revise twelve chapters of my NaNoWriMo WIP and added about 1500 words. By then I was tired, but satisfied. Nursing a sick child all weekend, I turned my sights on Monday which started with another appointment.

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Bright and early Monday morning, I had to write a language test for job opportunity. (I’m happy to report that I did well enough to have been scheduled for a phone interview.) By the time I got home, I was beat. It turned out that I was getting a little sick too. And then it got worse.

I was in bed working on my laptop when Word suddenly started adding all kinds of spaces every time I type a letter. I tried to fix it but couldn’t. I couldn’t even save my document or close Word, so I shut down the laptop. It was only after I tried to restart it in Safe Mode that I realized there was a pile of school books on the remote keyboard that was connected to the laptop. My beloved child hadn’t thought twice about plunking her homework on it. That’s what was creating the extra characters when I typed. I hoped the problem would end once I disconnected the USB, but no such luck. The CHKDSK brought on a Blue Screen Of Death (BSOD) which meant the hard drive was sicker than I was.

Number 3

Before I took the laptop to the private health care system, I tried to fix it myself and spent the majority of Tuesday starting and restarting my computer in various modes hoping for a different result but always ending up with BSOD.  B-sod. It doesn’t sound friendly and it doesn’t sound like rocket science, more like regular physics. But it might as well have been rocket science. So I know that NASA would never launch a rocket with my laptop but I know that I have stored my life on this pink technological clam shell. And if it’s not working, do I really exist? Yes, I do but I don’t pay my bills on time or work on my WIP! Fortunately, Mom knows a geek. He came by and couldn’t do anything but, the following day, he took me to a master geek who could.

My hard drive was, as I had already figured out, very ill. Fortunately, the data could still be extracted, but the future of the hard drive was in God’s hands.

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So, no computer for three days. That’s okay, right? NOT. However, I finished my Christmas shopping, went to an appointment for myself in the private healthcare sector, wrote Christmas cards and thank you notes and sent them out along with gifts. I also did a lot of reading. While I did not waste my time, I’m feeling lost. My routine broken. I rolled with it, but man am I behind. Yesterday, I got my computer back. Data intact. Hard drive, after some time in ICU, pulled through. So I’m catching up first by writing this. But I’m going to have to stop before I post it because, you know it, I have another appointment.

Later my lovelies.

What throws you off your routine? Tell me about the time your computer needed a serious intervention. I love hearing from you. Leave a comment!

P.S.: Don’t forget that if you can become a True Hearts Insider by subscribing to my monthly newsletter, you’ll receive monthly updates, go behind the scenes, and automatically be entered to win prizes exclusive to True Hearts Insiders. Subscribe to my True Hearts Insider Newsletter. Fill out the form at the top of sidebar on this page!

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Incentives For Writers

The Challenge

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Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month

This was my first year attempting NaNoWriMo. I didn’t officially register since I hadn’t decided to participate until November had started. Surrounded and inspired by participants in my online writing group, W.A.N.A. Tribe, I thought I’d give it a try and bumped Word Count up to the top of my priority list.

The Unexpected Challenge

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Everything was going well until the last ten days. I was having a terrible writing day. Zero ideas, zero inspiration. When I had decided to join in the fun, I had an outline and half the story had been plotted. It was easy to write since I always knew what came next. I had done the thinking and the planning ahead of time. But I had stopped to focus on that 50,000 words word count.

The Muse

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As the days went by, it seemed to me like the words flowed less and less until the day nothing flowed. I realized that I only had ten days left when at the end of one day I had written something absurd like 163 words. That’s barely a paragraph! I was so discouraged. I announced to my online writing group that I was giving up on NaNo. There were only a couple of people in the chat room at that time but one of them was Kristen Lamb, W.A.N.A. founder.  She challenged me to write 500 words in 40 minutes. If I met the challenge, she would give me a free class. I won that challenge by writing 518 words. That made me feel so much better about my abilities. I would go to bed that night knowing that I had made a splash in the bucket instead of a drop.

How did I end up writing so much in so little time without a jumping point? Two things:

  1. I’d been offered an incentive – the class with Kristen Lamb
  2. Kristen told me to get out of my own way and just write: follow the muse

I want to elaborate on the latter. Her words really struck me because I was trying so hard to stay within the frame that I’d made it too narrow in my mind. When in fact, any kind of art is always in mutation. Until the paint is dried, until the song is recorded, until the poem is read to an audience, until the clay has hardened, the artist always has the ability to add, remove, or change with their own imagination being the only restriction.

I’ve always scene my outlines as guides through the story. I never felt that I had to write a scene exactly like I had planned it. I always felt like I could add scenes, change the plot direction, do whatever I wanted as long as the story made sense. For whatever reason, I thought I was stuck and I needed someone to point out that I wasn’t actually stuck.

I, more or less, pantsered my way through the second half of the story. I did get lost once as I wrote some scenes out of sequence and had to update my outline but I didn’t let it get me down because I needed to hit that 50,000 words word count. And why? Because there was another incentive.

The Incentive

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While I felt better about myself after completing Kristen’s initial challenge, I doubt I would have hit the NaNoWriMo word count on November 30 without more motivation. I suspect Kristen knew it too. After I wrote the 518 words in 40 minutes, she offered me a second incentive: a free consultation with her on my story if I hit the magic number. I wrote like a maniac for ten days and by 6 pm last Friday, I was done. 50,086 words! I sent her my story and relaxed for the entire weekend. I didn’t want to do, read, hear about writing for 48 hours.

The Result

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It is a first draft and I would say an unfinished first draft. While the beginning, middle and end are all there, I want to add another 10,000 words. I have some ideas for a few more scenes that I didn’t have time to write. This week, I’ve happily been reviewing my work, pleased with its current state and updating my outline. So it’s not finished, but it will be done soon. The incentive this time: being able to hand off a completed novel to an editor so I can get it to my readers early next year.

P.S.

 

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In passing, if you become a True Hearts Insider by subscribing to my monthly newsletter, you’ll receive monthly updates, go behind the scenes, and automatically be entered to win prizes exclusive to True Hearts Insiders (This month: One pair of super cozy faux fur trimmed reading socks). Subscribe to my True Hearts Insider Newsletter. Fill out the form at the top of sidebar on this page!

What incentives have motivated you? Or how do you motivate others? I love hearing from you. Leave a comment.

RHCP Carpool Karaoke

As I mentioned earlier this month, NaNoWriMo has got me busy so I’m keeping my posts short and funny. Hope you have a good time with this one.

My ten year old daughter introduced me to James Corden last week. I’m really behind some of the cultural media evolution. Please forgive me if this is redundant. For those of you who might not have discovered Carpool Karaoke yet, I want to share this episode of Corden and, one of my favorite bands, the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

What did you think? I love hearing from you. Leave a comment.

Challenge: Writing Romance In Fiction

Yesterday, my critique partner and I had a chat about a romantic scene I wrote in Covers, the next book in the True Hearts series, and we concluded that it needs to change.

About My Critique Partner

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First, let me say that I use the term critique partner loosely. She critics my work, I do nothing for her except acknowledge her in my publications. Let me tell you that she deserves more than that because her comments take my work to another level. Having said that, Christmas might be a good time to show more gratitude.

My Comfort Zone

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Secondly, while the scenes in Covers are not the first romantic scenes I have ever written or published, they are the most intense and explicit. I decided to include this type of scene a little more because I’m more comfortable writing it now and the genre, which is New Adult, can totally handle it. Time to stretch that comfort zone.

The Right Fit

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Back to the chat with my critique partner. The tone of the romantic scene was wrong. It suddenly switched like it was written a different author or it was a different story. Not exactly what I wanted to hear, but I was not surprised either. I felt it when I was writing it. So how do I fix it? I’m not sure but I’ve started reading a few articles which might be of interest to you too:

Back To Drafting

 

Now that I’ve done some research, I need to mash up what is comparable to Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Suck My Kiss” with something along the lines of Kings Of Leon’s “Sex On Fire”. A little humor, a little heat, and a whole lot of intimacy. Wish me luck!

What are some romantic movie or novel scenes that you love? What are some songs that  would convey the right mood? I love to hear from you. Leave me a comment.

Cat Herding

 

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Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month

I’m 18,000 words into National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNoWriMo. By the end of the month, I should have the first draft of Covers, a story of love and acceptance, ready for editing. Since this work in progress is my priority right now, I’m going to keep the blog posts short and funny.

Newsletter

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Before we go down the funny road, I want to let you know that I have a new offering: a monthly newsletter containing updates and behind the scenes on Masks, Secrets, Covers or any other work as well as any contests and freebies. To sign up, enter your name and email address in the Subscribe To My Newsletter section in the sidebar on this page.

Cowboys Of A Different Breed

What did you think of the video? I love hearing from you. Leave me a comment.

Happy Halloween

What Halloween costumes would the characters of Secrets wear? Let me show you.

Diana and Ron

The Leprechaun and the Hot Dog

Mathieu

The Bull

bull

Genevieve

The Oven and her Bun

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Arianne

The Faerie

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Hercules and Elli

The Voodoo Dolls

 

Have fun and stay safe everyone.

What’s your favorite Halloween song? What’s your favorite Halloween costume? What’s your favorite Halloween candy? I love to hear from you. Leave comment.

6 Writing Lessons From A Series Reader

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Earlier this month, I read a young adult dystopian series. In the end, I felt cheated and foolish. I kept wondering why an author would want to do that to her readers and I can’t come up with an answer. I don’t think she did it on purpose. However, I did realize there were some lessons for me to learn as a writer.

Make each voice distinct

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The first two novels of the series were told by one first person narrator, but the last book had two first person narrators. I couldn’t tell whose point of view I was reading in the last book because the characters spoke the same way. I need to make sure I discover my characters as deeply as possible so that I can switch back and forth between multiple voices and/or POVs without confusing myself or my readers.

Write characters that are relatable

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The main characters and their friends were easy to understand and care about. That’s why I kept reading. I wanted to see their development. Some of the antagonists were a little more difficult to understand because they lacked background. I struggle with this as a writer. How much do I want readers to understand where the antagonist is coming from? How much do I want them to empathize with him? My way around this is to make sure he acts destructively and hurts the protagonist.

Check the facts

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In the information age, we all know a lot, but we can’t all be experts. So use that search button and double check the facts, especially if the plot hinges on those facts. I don’t want to start ranting about the major science blunders in the series, so I’ll move on to the lesson that can be extrapolated from this lesson.

Build a writing team

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Build a writing team with a critic partner, a developmental editor, a proofreader, and a beta reader! Each of these roles should probably be held by a different person and each person should probably have a different background. So, hopefully, one of them will notice if my plot falls apart because it’s illogical, unsupported, the absolute opposite of reality, etc.

Take worldbuilding seriously

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I majored in Comparative Religions and noticed something interesting about creation stories. They answer the questions of how the world was created, where it was created, who created it, what came before it. They also reveal the view and philosophy that the folks living in a shared religious and cultural tradition believe. Rarely, did they leave me with a question. Approaching worldbuilding as if it were a sacred revelation might be the way to avoid leaving readers with unanswered questions about the setting and the worldview that the characters are operating within.

Each book in a series needs to stand alone

A series can be linked by characters with each book being more like an episode within the series such as Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum Series. Or it can be linked by an overarching plot like Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon Chronicles. The Saxon Chronicles span ten novels, each with a different plot, and the overarching plot begins in the first novel and always becomes a secondary priority until the final novel.

I’m going to keep these things in mind because the last thing I want to do is upset my readers with poorly written novels.

What is your favorite series? What do you like about it most? I love hearing from you. Leave a comment.