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!


Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Ending a Romance Novel

Paula is approaching the end of her 'work in progress; but isn't sure exactly how it is going to end!

When I first start a novel, all I really know is that the hero and heroine will have a 'happy ending'. By the time I am partway through the story, I usually have at least a vague idea about the final scene and how I am going to get there. However, with my current novel (now standing at about 67,000 words), even I don't know how I am going to bring the hero and heroine together or when/where that final scene will happen.   

This made me start thinking about how we end our romance novels. We see lots of advice about the first line, the first paragraph, the first page, the first chapter – providing the hook, drawing in the reader to make them want to read on, etc. But what about the last chapter, paragraph or line a novel?

I’m reminded of the King’s advice to the White Rabbit in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: “Begin at the beginning and go on until you come to the end and then stop.”

Where’s the best place to stop? In a romance, it’s taken for granted that there will be a happy ending. Does that mean a wedding, or at least a proposal? Or does it simply mean that the reader knows these two characters will be happy together and get through what life throws at them from now on?

I’ve read romances where the ending is contrived – some coincidence brings them back together, or one of them is injured and the other rushes to their side in the hospital. I’ve also read romances where the reconciliation comes two (or even more) chapters before the end and the rest is padded out with buying the dress and walking down the aisle. In contrast, I’ve read rushed endings that leave one thinking ‘Oh, is that it? But what about …’

Explanations (and apologies) may be needed at the end of the story, but these don’t have to be dragged out. Nor does the ending have to beat you over the head with sappiness where they repeatedly declare their undying love and drift around on pink clouds of happiness.

I prefer romances to ‘come to the end and then stop’. The couple come back together, sort out whatever the problems have been, and then the story ends, leaving the reader knowing they’ve made an emotional commitment to each other and a willingness to explore a future together.

And what about that last paragraph and final sentence? I think those need as much care and thought as your first sentence and paragraph, in order to ‘round off’ the story in a satisfying way for your characters - and more importantly, for your readers.

Now I just need to work out how to get my novel to ...

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Everything Old Is New Again

Jennifer is editing an old manuscript...

I recently received my rights back from a book on my backlist and I spent a week going through the latest manuscript version and making significant edits. There were several reasons for doing this.

The first was that oh my goodness, it really needed it! As much as I had edited it before, my skills as a writer have improved (thank goodness) and I realized there were a lot of places that either repeated what I was trying to say or said things badly. There was repeated word usage and just all around writing that needed improvement. Unfortunately, that meant I had to delete my very favorite scene in the entire book! While it’s a great scene, it didn’t advance the plot and it repeated something that basically happened earlier in the story. So I copied and pasted it into a document that I’ll keep to drool over and maybe offer a deleted scenes bonus at some point in the future.

The second reason to edit the manuscript was that I am submitting it to a publisher as a sweet contemporary. Sweet means no sex and this publisher is very strict—the sex can’t even take place off the page. This book didn’t have sex in it, but it was clear when it was happening. And there were scenes that led up to the sex that were pretty steamy. So I had to tone things down and make sure there was emotion, just no smexy times!

And the third reason was that for this same publisher, I was about 4,000 words over their highest limit for submissions. So I needed to be ruthless. With all of the other edits I was making, cutting words was easy, and I ended up cutting my word count by about 10,000 words, putting me smack dab in the middle of the desired word-count range.

It was a great exercise. As I’ve said, you can never do too much editing, and I think the story is stronger than it was before. I’ve submitted it to the publisher and am crossing my fingers they like it. If not, I have other plans for it, so it will eventually be back in circulation, but with much better writing!

Monday, November 6, 2017

Building an email list of readers

Ana muses on building an email list of readers.

My next author marketing step is to develop a connection with people who have read and enjoyed Stormy Hawkins. I plan to start an email list. 

This is a scary proposition, and a recent post by Tim Grahl, called 5 Myths About Email Marketing for Authors, addressed my fears directly.

1.     I will not annoy people by inviting them to subscribe to my newsletter. They sign up freely and can unsubscribe easily.
2.     I will find interesting and entertaining things to say. I’m a writer. I can imagine--and will refine-- newsletter content that will appeal to readers of my romances.
3.     Direct mail will be an effective way to let readers know when book 2 is ready.
4.     It will not be overwhelming to send two newsletters a month. One, an author update. The other, some new content.
5.     The technology for maintaining subscriber lists and sending newsletters is out there. 

      As with anything new, it will take time to become comfortable with this process. But it seems like a good plan.