Tuesday, January 10, 2017

New Year's Plans

I don’t make resolutions, but I do make plans. Lots of them. And then promptly hate that I have a plan to follow or that I need a plan or that I forgot about my plan and am now behind.

But, for 2017, I am determined not to fall behind, especially writing-wise. And this time, my plan is helping me deal with the angst of waiting. Because I have a few submissions out with editors and agents and I’ve been hearing from them—they want more, they’ll get back to me, etc. Which is great, but makes me want to check my in-box a bazillion times a day.

And if I did that, I’d get nothing else done.

So, like Ana mentioned last week, I’m sticking with my old writing habit of writing 1,000 words a day. They’re not always good words—quite frankly, I can’t wait to get to the editing phase so I can get rid of many of them—and sometimes those words consist of reminders to myself for when I go back and edit. But they’re words taking up a blank page and this past week, I wrote every day that my kids were in school.

I’m working harder on marketing my existing books, and taking advantage of select opportunities that I think will be effective. So I’ve sent marketing materials to Night Owl Reviews, which will be mailing them out to their readers. And I’m hoping to participate in some sort of a review opportunity to try to increase the number of Amazon reviews for my books. I’m sure there will be other things as well.

I hope to have some good news to post in the next month or two. If not, or maybe even in addition, I have a manuscript that I am thinking of self-publishing. It will require a huge learning curve on my part, because I want to do it right and professionally. Luckily, I have several people who have done just that and are willing to help me. So while I’m still in the “wait and see” mode, I’m getting ideas together. Because it’s been a while since I’ve published anything and I need to get something (and not just any old something, but something good) out there so readers don’t completely forget about me.

I’m trying to be more strategic in my social media posting and my blogs. Speaking of blogs, Heroines with Hearts is moving to each of us publishing once a month rather than once a week. So Ana was last week, I’m this week, Paula is next week and Debra is the following one. And then we repeat. And if there’s any writing subject you’re particularly interested in, let us know. We’re always looking for new ideas.

In the meantime, I’m plugging away, and hoping for news to share soon. Hoping your 2017 is off to a great starts and that whether you’ve set yourself a goal, made yourself a resolution, or are just taking things one day at a time, you are successful in whatever you do!


~Jen

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

New Years Resolutions

Ana muses on resolutions.

The News app on my smartphone has presented multiple articles on why people can't, or don't, keep the resolutions they make on New Year's Day. A resolution is "affective forecasting." We feel good in the moment we make the resolution because we predict that we'll feel just as good about it in the future.

But the human mind compartmentalizes the present from the future. We can't lose twenty pounds by simply envisioning our slim self. We have to get up every day and not eat that sweet roll for breakfast. Get on the treadmill. We don't inherently have the resolve to achieve our goals unless we change our habits.

My goal for 2017 is to write every day. (I've given up hope for shedding twenty pounds.) To work on my WIP until I reach the end. I have no idea when that will be. All I can do is get up and write one word after another.

I'm envious of writers who produce multiple books per year. They are like marathon runners to me.
I can't run a marathon yet, but I'm training with daily workouts. Short writing sprints that are becoming easier. That's my resolution.

Gotta go write now.




Thursday, December 29, 2016

Z is for Zoomed

Debra wonders where the year went.

Wasn't it just summer? Or at the very least Halloween? Or by golly just the first day of Christmas vacation. The year 2016 has flown by with amazing quickness. We're literally days away from a new year.

It's always interesting to look back and see what has happened in a year. Good things. Bad things. Ordinary-everyday-things. All those things that make the world go round. Did I accomplish enough? Did I leave time for all of the important things in life? Did I have my priorities in order?

I've never been one for making resolutions, but it's always fun to look ahead to a brand new year and all of the limitless possibilities it holds. To think about how I'll do things differently in the coming year as opposed to how I did them in the previous one.

So here's to 2017 and the great adventure that lies ahead! Cheers.


HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Until next time,

Happy Reading!

Debra
www.debrastjohnromance.com

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Zap - there goes another sentence!

Paula is on a word-cutting marathon.   

I finally reached the end of the first draft of Irish Deceptions two days before Christmas and did a quick word count. Nearly 100K words, about 10K more than I was aiming for, but I wasn’t too worried. I’m very aware that I tend to over-write in a first draft, and that my characters sometimes talk too much!

A preliminary ‘quick’ edit of the whole thing brought the total down by about 800 words, but there was still a long way to go. Time to concentrate on each chapter in turn, and see what could be cut.

My main ‘rule of thumb’ is: how necessary is this speech/description/action? Does it add something to the story and/or to the reader’s understanding of the character? Is it repeating something that has already been said? Does it contain a lot of unnecessary detail?

With this in mind, I was able to either cut some of the dialogue in Chapter 1, or condense it. That’s probably the hardest part of editing, knowing what to cut and what to leave in and I’ll admit I tend to rely on my ‘gut instinct’ rather than on any writing ‘rules’. This brought the total wordage down from 4602 to 4396 – just over 200 words cut, mainly (in this particular chapter) by deleting unnecessary details.

The next step was what I call ‘tidying’ up – looking more at the ‘technicalities’ and dealing with unwieldy sentences, both in narrative and dialogue, by careful rephrasing. I also look carefully at dialogue, and try to lose some of the unnecessary words there like ‘Well’ and ‘Okay’. Doing this helps me to tighten up my writing, and I managed to lose another 150 words.

The third stage is to putting the chapter through Autocrit. One useful facility is the analysis of sentence length, and I check out any sentences longer than 30 words to see if I can split them or shorten them. Autocrit also highlights over-used and redundant words, ‘ly’ and ‘ing’ words, and unnecessary filler words like ‘then’ and ‘just’.

Last but not least, I read the chapter aloud, which is the best way of spotting ‘clunky’ sentences or dialogue that doesn’t sound right.

So yes, I’m been zapping a lot of words and sentences, and doing a lot of rewriting, with the result that after 6 or 7 hours work, I reduced the first chapter from 4602 words to 4108. Now I have to do the same with the next 24 chapters!


Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Z Is For Zip Line

Jennifer talks about challenging herself…

Over the summer, my husband, one of my daughters and I went on an obstacle course and zip line. I have never been so scared in my life. Even though I was attached to a harness, I was convinced I was going to die pretty much the entire time. Although my husband and daughter cheered me on, and were proud that I completed it, I vowed never to go on it again.

At the end of the obstacle course, there was a zip line. I’ve got to admit, it was pretty lame. It was short and boring, but after what I’d just been through, it was perfect. I actually enjoyed that part and it was a relief after the struggle I’d just been through.

My husband and daughter are already making plans to do the obstacle course again. I, most definitely, am not. However, as 2016 ends and I start to look ahead to 2017, the obstacle course and zip line pose a good analogy for my writing life.

2016 was a struggle for many reasons, but writing-wise, there were many ups and downs. Granted, it wasn’t as awful as the obstacle course, but there were many times when I was ready to give up. And then I simplified, readjusted my focus, got rid of some stressful activities that were hampering my ability to write. It wasn’t as easy to do as the zip line, and in fact, I’m still working on it, but compared to earlier in the year, it’s significantly easier.

Looking ahead to 2017, I hope for the zip line—smooth, easy and fun. But I’ve made it through the obstacle course, and while I never want to go through that again, I recognize it’s not impossible and there is, eventually, an end.


Wishing everyone a 2017 filled with love, laughter, health and zip lines!

Monday, December 26, 2016

ZZZZZZZ

Ana's muses on 4 am inspiration.

Lately, as I write scenes, I seem to push ahead of my main characters. I reveal too much too fast, (I think) because having plotted, I know where they are going.

I stopped last night when my hero blurted out an apology to the heroine in a hospital stairwell. His confession reverberated off the smooth stone walls. It was dramatic. But I sensed it was too soon and stopped writing. Uncertain, I decided to sleep on it.

Here's what I think this morning: They are still getting to know each other. Circling warily.

She's camped out in the ICU as her father recovers from trauma surgery. She wants him to recover fully, but knows when he does, he'll be whisked back to prison. She'll go back to regular visitations, only seeing him for an hour every two weeks.

The hero has been ordered to assess how soon her father can be transferred back to prison. But he's secretly stalling. He owes the heroine an apology, and letting her spend more time with her father is how he's decided to ease his conscience. He can't tell her what he's doing.

I shouldn't rush their growing attraction.
Thank you, 4 am inspiration.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Y is for Year in Review

Debra reflects on her writing year.

In many ways, 2016 has been a successful writing year for me.

*I released four (out of the five) novellas in my Holidays at The Corral series. And although none flew off the shelves, it was nice having a release every few months or so.

*In the spring, I participated in the BadRedHead Media 30-Day Book Marketing Challenge which had me create a Twitter account (Which I need to be better at using.) and to rethink how I use my Facebook page (I still need to work on that.) among other things.


*Valentine's Day at The Corral took third place in the IDA short contemporary category.


*This Feels Like Home was part of Amazon's July romance sale, which increased sales on that title greatly. (Still not enough by any stretch of the imagine to consider it to be 'making a living' with my writing, but it was nice to see bigger numbers in sales, at least for that title.)


*A Christmas to Remember was offered for free this past weekend as part of The Wild Rose Press's tenth anniversary celebration. (Always good for publicity.)








*And just this week I launched my crazy #sellathousand challenge for New Year's Eve at The Corral.
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*As always, I've enjoyed blogging here at HWH to share tidbits, insights, posts, encouragement, and excitement with my fellow bloggers. I am most grateful to have you all in my life.

When I look at that list, I feel pretty good. :)

However, the latter part of the year, as I've mentioned before, has been a bit frustrating in the 'getting something written' area of life, but I have high hopes that will turn around soon. It's been really nice this week delving back into 'writing life' as I've worked on getting my challenge ready. And while it hasn't (yet) nudged me enough to sit down and work on a WIP, like I said, in this season of hope and miracles, anything is possible!

As we head into the last week of the year (WHERE did the time go?!) I look forward to ushering out the old and welcoming the new with a bright new outlook.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!

Debra
www.debrastjohnromance.com