Monday, January 30, 2017

What's your Best writing advice?

Ana muses about a day (in the future) when she will be asked for her best writing advice.

What would I say?

Learn the rules (of sentence structure, POV, grammar, etc.) before breaking them.
Feed your muse. Read. Lots.
Love words.
Don't worry about your voice. It will come and it will evolve.

Don't write in secret. Find a critique partner. Join a writing group.

You can't edit a blank page.
Assign a time every day to writing.

What would you say?

Sunday, January 22, 2017

A Peek at "The Cowboy and the Princess"

Debra shares a peek into her WIP.

I have a good half dozen mss in their beginning stages. Some have just a few lines. Some have an entire chapter. This particular one, has about 16,000 words. Originally I'd intended for it to be a novella, but I'm leaning toward making this one a full-length. The opening itself seems more fitting for a full-length, as it does a bit of world building before the hero and heroine meet. With my novellas, they usually have contact by the first or second paragraph. (Although, Cal, our hero, makes an appearance in the very next scene.)

I haven't worked on this story (or any other) in months. But the other day I got a hankering to see what was in the archives, so to speak. I spent an hour or so opening word docs and reading my WIPs. And while it didn't motivate me to sit down and write anything new, it was fun to take a peek, and I feel it did get me one step closer to that moment when the author in me finally steps forward again.

So, for your is the opening to "The Cowboy and the Princess".

Chapter One
"Hot dad alert. Lucky you."
Tessa McCormick applied a thin streak of blue eyeliner to her lower lid before glancing up. "What?"
"There's a really fine dad in your section tonight." Becky waggled her eyebrows.
"So?" Tessa brushed mascara onto her lashes. She blinked at her reflection. Long blonde ringlets draped over her shoulders. A round pendant suspended on a velvet ribbon hung in the lace-trimmed sweetheart neckline of the baby blue gown. When she tilted her head, the faux diamonds in her tiara sparkled in the mirror lights.
"So, you should check him out."
Tessa paused with the small brush in her hand. "Um, why?"
Becky yanked a yellow ball gown over her head. When her face emerged, she rolled her eyes. "Because he's hot."
"But he's a dad."
"You love kids."
"That's not the point. What about the mom? As in his wife?"
Becky waved a hand. "I didn't see anyone sitting with him. I bet he's single." Her rosy lips curled out in a pout. "You always have the luck. First you get to be the Blue Princess, and now you have the hottest dad in the world in your section."
Tessa laughed. "Does it really matter? We're not allowed to fraternize--" She made air quotes with her fingers. "--with customers outside of the restaurant." Her glance swept over Becky. "And besides, you get to be the Yellow Princess."
"Right." Becky fluffed out her brown curls. "'Cause walking around looking like a tub of margarine is what I've always dreamed of. While you on the other hand are a dead ringer for Cin--"
"Don't say it," Tessa admonished with another laugh. She glanced down the row of other girls primping in front of the mirror. All the colors of the rainbow were represented. "You know we're not supposed to be any specific princesses."
"Right." Becky flopped down in a nearby chair. "If I would have known there were so many rules, I never would have taken this gig."
"You're going to wrinkle your gown."
"Well, you'll just have to iron it for me when your fancy gown turns back to rags." She glanced at an imaginary watch. "Midnight is in, what? Another six hours?"
Tessa stuck out her tongue before applying a layer of shiny pink gloss to her lips.
"Now that's not very princess like."
A knock on the door was followed by the stage director's head poking through the open slit. "You're on in five, girls."
The flutter of activity in the dressing room increased as half a dozen princesses did a last minute check of make-up, hair, and gowns.
Tessa brushed a final stroke of peach blush across each cheek, then stood to follow the line of other girls toward the stage.
"Tell me again how you talked me into this," Becky muttered.
"Because it looks good on your resume. When we're big Broadway stars someday, we can look back and think of how far we've come."
"Places, ladies."
Tessa found her mark on the wooden boards of the stage behind the closed curtain. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Letting it out slowly, she visualized the steps of the dance and did a quick run through of the words to her solo in her head.
"Curtain in one. Lights in two."
Tessa opened her eyes and let herself become the Blue Princess as the curtain rose.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Starting a Novel

Paula looks at different ways of starting a novel.   

I’m in the final stages of editing my novel Irish Deceptions, and have already started thinking about my next novel, so I thought I’d pass on some tips I’ve read here and there about different ways to start a novel in order to capture the reader’s attention and interest.

Start with a question – that can only be answered by reading on.

Start by appealing to the reader’s curiosity, something that makes them ask who, what, why, etc.

Start with an image that focuses on one of the five senses.

Start with something unusual (like the clock striking thirteen in Orwell’s ‘1984’?)

Start with an action, preferably something out-of-the ordinary rather than a mundane action.

Can you think of any more ‘start’ ideas?

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!


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.