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

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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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Photo by bruce mars on Pexels.com

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.

Welcome To Fall

Welcome to fall! I love all the seasons but autumn is particularly exciting.

Schools and the traffic pattern of the next ten months has been established. (Come to think of it, this may not be so exciting.) The hot summer days of sitting in traffic due to construction yield to dull fall days of sitting in traffic due to everyone trying to get somewhere at the same time.

Roadwork on Côte-St-Luc Rd., between Décarie Blvd. and Bonavista Ave. in Montreal, on Monday, June 4, 2018. DAVE SIDAWAY /MONTREAL GAZETTE

While we’re replacing our shorts and tanks with pants and long sleeve shirts, I’m to have enough room in the closet for a couple of new piece. The best fashion always comes out in fall.

Fall Fashion Trends to Shop on Amazon // Notjessfashion.com

At home, we’ve started talking about Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

This week, we made our first hearty meal of the season: stew served with crusty bread. It was delicious. We plan on making tripe and pot roast, apple spice cake and apple pie.

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Image courtesy of OZphotography at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

TV is getting a refresh. I’m excited about a new series called New Amsterdam and the return of Navy SEALs.

I’m fortunate enough to live in a place where the leaves on the trees change colour and provide a spectacular site which allows us to appreciate the cooler weather and single digit temperatures.

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Image courtesy of xedos4 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What are you looking forward to this fall? I love to hear from you. Leave a comment.

Mixing Tourism With Learning in New York City

I spent last week in New York City with my family. We played tourist together for four days. Despite the crazy heat and high humidity, we managed to grab the hop-on hop-off bus to tour Manhattan. Then, we got the bird’s eye view from the Empire State Building.

View from Empire State Building

Restaurants were quite expensive, but we did find a grocery store a few blocks away from our hotel and we’re able to eat more affordably. Thank you Morton Williams Food Market.

Capture

We boarded a ferry and admired the State of Liberty from all sides. Until we approached the island from the boat ourselves, it had never occurred to me what a combination of fear, excitement and relief newcomers must have felt when they first saw her.

Statue Of Liberty

We sweated our way through some of Central Park, visited the impressive Cathedral of St John the Divine and admired the architecture of the buildings facing the Park.

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Of course, we had to grab red velvet and chocolate cake from Magnolia Bakery.

Bakery

And it wasn’t enough to see Times Square during the day time, so we went back in the evening. Interestingly, there’s so much digital advertisement that you can’t tell that it’s night time.

My touring time ended on Thursday night. I’ll have to go back because I didn’t get to see everything I wanted to. Plus, there are still so many libraries and museums to visit.

Friday morning, I joined my fellow writers. Writers tend to write alone. Maybe that’s why most of us are so social. We join associations, attend workshops, network at conferences and support each other online.  And why not? We write to share our knowledge through non-fiction, our experiences through memoir, or our stories through fiction and poetry.  We are people of the world. I love to meet new people, explore new places, and learn new things. Who doesn’t? I’m sure there’s a little bit of a writer in everyone.

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The Writer’s Digest Annual Conference was great. I got to learn craft from Steven James, Jane K. Cleland, Whitney Davis, Jordan Rosenfeld, and Chuck Wendig. I also took some genre workshops and discovered some great speakers like Gabriela Pereira, Kim Van Alkemade, and Rachael Herron. Any writer will tell you that you need to know the business of writing as much as the art of it. So I sat in on lectures by Jennifer S. Wilkov and Carol Van Den Hende. If you think that’s enough, it’s not! I made some new friends: Gail Nastacia, Marti Mattia, Patricia Powell and Silas Archambault. Overall, the conference helped me grow as a writer and charge my writing batteries.

Time to work on novel number three.

Number 3

Is there an event in your field that focuses and energizes you? Tell me about it. I love to hear from you.

Toronto Blue Jays WinterFest

Toronto Blue Jays WinterFest
https://www.mlb.com/bluejays/fans/winter-fest

If you saw my Instagram posts yesterday, you know my daughter and I were having a blast at the Toronto Blue Jays WinterFest. Normally at this time of year, some of our players head on a lucky city in Canada for their Winter Tour. As Canada’s only baseball team, they recognize that their fan base is not just city or province-wide, but nationwide.  It’s great to see that kind of appreciation for fans.

Thanks to my friend Mike, I became a baseball fan and introduced my daughter to it when she was two and half years old. Since then, we look forward to attending games every season. But this is the first year,  we went to WinterFest fun.

There were so many activities we couldn’t do them all in the seven hours we were there.TBJWinterFest activities

We decided to get some proper face paint and tattoos first.

 

We visited Ace and Ace Jr’s nest. I had never noticed it in the outfield before.TBJWinterFest Ace NestThe field was filled with activities like throw and catch, ice skating on wax and ping pong.

TBJWinterFest field

A band played in between QA sessions with the players and staff. TBJWinterFest QA

We got to sit in the SportsNet broadcasting boot where Jamie Campbell  normally sits.TBJWinterFest Sport Desk

Thanks for a great time Toronto Blue Jays!

Who’s your favorite team? What do you get out of being their fan? Leave a comment. I love hearing from you.

New Release For Your Reading Day

Chapters
Google Street View 2014

When I was a university student, I celebrated the end of the semester with a reading day. After my last exam, I would walk to Chapters Bookstore (now a Victoria’s Secret) on the corner of Ste-Catherine and Stanley streets, ride the escalator to the second floor and browse the rows of romance and fiction novels.

It could take time to find the right book. I looked for one which started with a sentence capable of catapulting me from the floor of the bookstore into the story. And, my intuition had to agree to the selection. It sought the book that would captivate, engage and relax. I found many enjoyable books this way and I write hoping readers will find my stories as enjoyable.

Secrets - eBook smallAs I wrote Secrets, the story flowed onto the pages. The characters lived the joys and sorrows while I recorded the events and empathized with them. Even the editing went smoothly. I had a special connection to this story.

Based on comments from beta readers and Kirkus Reviews, I believe you’ll feel this connection when you read it. It’s now available as an e-book on Amazon. To find out more, click the cover.

How do you choose your reading day book? I’d love you hear from you. Leave me a comment.