Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Final Chapter

Paula is struggling with her final chapter!  

Usually when I get to the final chapter of a ‘work in progress’, I know where I’m going with it. It may need some thought and ‘sorting out’ to ensure I tie up all the loose ends, but at least I have a rough idea how to do that.

Not so with 'Irish Shadows', my current WIP. There are several fairly complex plot strands running through this story, and I’ve realised I resolved two of them too soon, so first I need to go back and rewrite parts of a couple of chapters. Then I have to decide which other problems/issues need to be brought to a satisfying conclusion – and, of course, how to do that. Last but not least, I need to work out just when the final scene takes place, and how I get all the necessary characters together for this, so that it doesn’t appear too ‘convenient’. Most of my novels have a slight twist at the end, but so far the twist for this story is proving elusive. I've thought of, but then dismissed, several possible twists as being either unrealistic or too contrived.

Fortunately, I have an excellent brainstorming ‘partner’ – not a writer, but a reader who knows what she likes, and also knows what questions to ask me. She’s also happy to listen while I talk through the problems – and sometimes that is the best way to sort them out. I’m hoping that after we have lunch together tomorrow I’ll have a clearer idea of how to deal with my final chapter!

Have you ever had big problems with your final chapter – and, if so, how did you resolve them?

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Waiting For the Next Step

Jennifer is waiting...

I’m running out of patience.

Those who know me would laugh, because really, I am not a patient person. So to say I’m running out is kind of the equivalent of saying an empty glass is running out of wine. But I try, I really do, and occasionally, I’m successful at pretending to be patient.

In this case, I’m ready to jump up and down.

I’ve been waiting for what seems like forever for my galleys so that I can do my last proof of my manuscript and find out my release date. Only then can I start doing serious marketing. I know I’ll get them in the next week or two. But the waiting is killing me, since I turned in my last round of edits in November.

In the meantime, I’ve been drawing people to my Facebookpage and engaging them in order to begin active dialogues about my book when the time is right. I’ve been continuing my Instagram account and running some giveaways on social media and through my newsletter.

I've also been soliciting readers with ARCs for reviews to appear on release day. And I’ve been obsessively checking my email inbox.

I know that one of these days the awaited email will arrive, and at that point I’ll be busier than ever. But in the meantime…

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Helpful Sites for Romance Writers

Ana updates a list of Helpful Sites for Romance Writers.
What would you add?   Synopsis wizard, Royalties calculator, GMC wizard   Links to historical and research links     over 10,000 creative ideas and expert advice on love, dating & romance

Top romantic quote selections     50 most romantic lines from literature via Stylist magazine can be instructive in crafting memorable lines for your own romances.

Writing-world’s romance section includes this guide to choosing names for your romance protagonists.  Reverse dictionary/thesaurus   how to do things like open a champagne bottle with a saber        topical word lists

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Down Time?

What does Debra do in between releases?

It's been a while since I've had a new release. My last release was New Year's Eve at The Corral which made its debut last December. The beginning of this year started out with a fairly major dry spell for me. I was away from writing for a really, really long time. I picked it back up in the summer again and was able to make enough progress to submit a completed story to a new publisher in October. As you know, now I'm in a holding pattern on that one until I hear back...probably in January or February.

In the meantime, I spent the month of November on a new project and won my first NaNoWriMo. At some point I need to finish up that mss and get it polished to send off...somewhere. It will all depend on what happens with the submission I have out there right now. I have to admit, I was a bit burned out after NaNo and haven't really been back at actual writing with any kind of consistent schedule at all. But I'll get back to it. The characters and setting are never far from my mind, I just needed a little break after the intensity of November.

In December I participated in a Facebook release party for a fellow TWRP author. I'd done a very simplified release party for myself once, but had never participated in one for another author with a multitude of 'hosts'. It was quite the adventure! I learned a lot. During the event I noticed that many of the authors have really neat 'promo ads' as I call them. (I'm sure they have an actual name, but that label works for me!) Since I've been trying to be a bit more active on social media, I've noticed a lot of these 'promo ads' as well on both Facebook and Twitter.

So I decided to give it a go. I'm a big fan of Publisher, so I did some copying, pasting, cropping, resizing, and downloading free clip art and graphics, and I've been creating my own promo ads. After creating in Publisher, I save as a jpeg and then I can just insert into posts on Facebook and Twitter as a picture. Here are the ones I've done so far:

This week I'll do one for my NYE story, and then probably put together ones for my other books as well. I also want to do one for my Corral series and one for just the holiday stories. They're pretty quick and easy to do. I don't spend hours and hours on them for sure. A professional graphic artist would probably do a bit better with design and layout, but for me, they work. And they're fun for me to do! I try to do each one a little bit differently, but I'm really digging the cover inside a e-reader device, so I tend to use that a lot. Sometimes I include a blurb or a tag line or a review.

I've joined some book marketing Facebook sites, so last week I was really plugging my Christmas stories. Even though they aren't new releases, it's been fun breathing new life into them with different posts and these 'promo ads'.

So, no, an author doesn't really ever have down time, it's all a matter of figuring out how to drive readers your way, whether your release is brand spanking new, or if you're just revisiting it to attract a new audience. Updating my web-site and taking a look at Instagram are also on my to-do list in the next couple of weeks.

Until next time,

Happy Reading and Happy New Year!


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Instagram for Authors

Jennifer is trying a new social media platform...

In my continuing quest to try new marketing things, and while I wait for my galleys to be sent to me, I decided to try Instagram for my author account.

I’m on Instagram personally—I love posting photos of my family or events, and playing with the filters is fun. Because I do post photos of my kids, my account is private—if I don’t know you, and know you well, I don’t allow you to follow me.

But photos are popular everywhere on social media. Posts that include them get a higher reach. Readers like to get a glimpse into authors’ lives. And my publisher said that Instagram is the number one social media platform.

So I created an author account on Instagram—authorjenniferwilck. Not very creative, but there it is. Instead of making the account private, it’s public, so anyone can follow me. I post a photo a day of anything having to do with writing—my books, my blog, my writing space, a book I’m reading. And I hashtag the heck out of everything I post, choosing hashtags that are pertinent and popular.

So far, it’s been fun and seems to be working. In two weeks, I’ve gotten almost 60 followers (weeding out the creepy guys—FYI, if you’re going to use a hashtag with romance, make sure there is a word after romance, like writer or author. Otherwise, you get lots of men who think you’re looking for a date.). They are growing slowly and steadily.

I’m hopeful that this platform will increase my reach and enable me to promote my books to another group of readers. Since I set it up as a business account, I plan to run ads when my book is ready for release.  I’ll let you know how it goes, but in the meantime, feel free to follow me!

Monday, December 4, 2017

Getting to the heart of the story

Ana muses about getting the first chapter right.

I've written three drafts of my WIP's opening chapter, one from each main character's POV. Now I have to decide which works best.

The heroine is Mary Masters, eighteen-year-old daughter of a wealthy investment banker in 1889 St. Louis. Pampered and sheltered by devoted parents, Mary has grown up sweet and idealistic. She believes she's independent and free. She's well-educated in the finer things in life: dancing, the proper way to serve tea, when hat and gloves are required. She's a talented pianist and a generous contributor to charity causes.

Her family expects her to marry a Society man, namely Carville Phillips, whose father is a well-connected St. Louis attorney. He expects his son to graduate from law school and join the firm. Trouble is, Car prefers to carouse all night and sleep all day. (He's the villain.)

The hero is Robert Eagle. Stripped by the government from his Lakota family when he was four, he's survived institutionalized abuse in an Indian Industrial School and clawed his way to a summa cum laude law degree. In school, he and Car became friends and struck a bargain: Robert tutors Car in exchange for a position in Car's father's law firm. Then Car introduces him to Mary.

In the dead of last night, I realized I needed to formalize the theme of the story:  love vs security. Does a young woman of privilege settle for a life of soul-killing comfort, or will she dare to risk everything for a forbidden love?

I think now I know whose POV should rule the opening chapter.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

I Did It!

Debra won her first NaNoWriMo!

Sorry about the late post this week, but I wanted to make sure everything was official before I wrote my blog for this week.

Today I am officially a proud NaNoWriMo winner! I actually wrote over 50,000 words in the month of November! It took a lot of time away from other things, but I did it! My official word count was 50,003. Since I started in the middle of a mss already in progress, the entire project is now up to 62,601 words. I'm not sure if non-writers really understand what an undertaking this is, but I'm going to share my exciting news with them anyway!

Since I've reached the end of this journey, I thought I'd look at some takeaways from the experience.

Let's start with the positives:

*I wrote 50,000 freaking words in one month.
*I sat in my chair and wrote every single day.
*I made a lot of good progress on my WIP.
*I challenged myself and came away a winner.
*I am really, REALLY glad I did it.

On the other side of things:

*I'm not sure I'll do it again. Like I said, it took a lot of my time in a month that is already busy.
*I'm pretty sure my mss is a mess. I don't tend to write in linear fashion in the first place. If I get an idea for a scene, I write it, whether it's at the chronological point I'm at in the story or not. With NaNo I was REALLY all over the place. I was determined to get words down no matter what. Lately I've trained myself to be pretty good at not doing a lot of editing or revising when I sit down to write. However, I usually do some, just to find my place, get the rhythm and feel of the story and characters, and check for major continuity issues. With NaNo, I did next to no looking at anything I'd already written. I just kept going gangbusters each time I sat down. I am sure there is a ton of repetition. I'm not sure my characters' emotions and arcs are done properly in a logical manner that builds throughout the story. And I'm pretty sure I have some major timeline issues. Now, granted, all of this is fixable during the editing process, but I'm just wondering if I've made my life harder than I needed to when it comes to that point. I'm almost scared to do a read-through at this point. The story is not finished. I'm aiming for that 85K mark, but it's definitely on its way to getting there.

And what's my next step?:

Now the BIG question is, do I just keeping going in the haphazard way I have been and do a HUGE revision/edit read-through at the end, or do I stop now, print out what I have, read through, and assess where I'm at? Perhaps just a computer read-through. I definitely know what needs to be added in regards to the story, but it might be in the best interest of saving my sanity later to hit pause and take some time to go through what's there. And I have to say, I'm insanely curious to find out what kind of quality product I've put out since I've been mainly focused on the quantity this month. I was decent at cranking out the words, but it remains to be seen if it's any good or not. Knowing I can write 'quickly' puts me in a good frame of mind for future prospects of meeting deadlines and such. (Fingers are still crossed on that submission I have out there.), but again, if it's all crap, writing quickly might not be the way to go.

AND, if nothing comes of that earlier mentioned submission, I'm kind of wondering what direction I want to go with my writing career, and if that all comes to naught, was this just a giant exercise in futility? I guess only time will tell.

All in all, although it doesn't get me much more than bragging rights, I am proud to say I did this. And NaNo combined with my chapter's 90 day writing challenge (Which I won, by the way!) from August through October, has definitely built an excellent habit of writing or editing each and every day. I am author: Hear me roar!

Until next time,

Happy Reading!