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.

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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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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.

A Lesson From Motherhood

By now, you’ve probably heard that Meghan Markle is pregnant. While I distinctly heard someone in my vicinity exclaim, “Ugh, that woman!”, I smiled at the news. Becoming a mother has been the most amazing thing that has ever happened to me.

Some people look at having children as evidence of their love. Others as an expectation or obligation. Some a curse. Others as a life invent. And some as an opportunity to “make things right” which could mean anything from giving their children what they weren’t given as children, living through their children vicariously, or being the parent their parents weren’t. There are probably other reasons I can’t think of right now.

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There are also as many ways of parenting as there are parents. I decided that what I needed to do as a parent was teach my child to be the best human being she could be. And to do that, I had to set the example. So it follows that I strive to become the best human being that I can be. (I’m aware that this is a lifelong pursuit.) I learned to accept that I am not perfect, to forgive myself for my mistakes, and to love myself in spite of my flaws. I try to remember that when a driver cuts me off, he might be a nice person having a bad day. I know that while I have a right to be angry, I don’t have the right to humiliate someone. Mostly, I’ve learned that we are all human. If I approach each person including myself with compassion and empathy, I become a better person and I make their lives better too.

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Meghan Markle and all the expectant women out there have a lot to look forward to that has nothing to do with baby showers, epidurals, and the eventual pitter patter of tiny feet.

What’s the greatest thing you’ve learned since becoming a parent? I love hearing from you. Leave a comment.

Happy Thanksgiving Canada!

I have so many things to be grateful for this year. It’s hard to believe how long this list is.

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My job was terminated. That doesn’t sound great but it opened up many possibilities. It enabled me to step aside and look at my career. I determined the types of tasks I really like doing, the type of role I like playing, and create a plan for the future. I’m also grateful to my former employer for setting me up with a career services agency so that I could get my resume together, polish my interview skills and network like a pro.

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Without a job in Toronto, I had very little reason to stay there. So I moved back to Montreal where most of my family and friends are. I’m grateful for my friends and family and, especially, my mom for taking my daughter and me in until I find a job.

Writing wise, I’m grateful to be working on my next book, the third novel in The True Hearts Series, which I plan to release by the end of this year. I’m encouraged by the success of the first two in the series. The Indie Editors of Kirkus Reviews magazine featured a review of my first novel Masks in the February 15 2018 issue. And the second book Secrets received an Honorable Mention under General Fiction from the 2017 London Book Festival.

Happy Turkey Day!

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