Saturday, January 30, 2010

SATURDAY CHECK-IN


Current Project: Open Sky Books
Status: well...

Afternoon, everyone, hope your Saturday is looking good. I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm on pins and needles waiting to hear what Debbie found out at work this week and how she and all the rest of you are doing advancing your goals.

I completed my author's alterations on the last book, the last step for that book, so I am really, truly out of work. meanwhile, I'm writing and rewriting the first chapter of the first book in the new series, doing my best not to try to stuff so much backstory into the first page. Ack! Every time I think I have it, I get restless and realize I'm not even close. But I'll get it, never fear. My dh and I talked about the first book on a drive to Eugene this week -- the man is really getting good at helping form a plot. Things keep up this way, he can be the writer.

So, how are you all doing?

Friday, January 29, 2010

Haiti





I just wanted to mention how proud I am of my mom. She left for Haiti over a week ago with Medical Teams International. She's an emergency room RN who loves to travel to countries in need. Over the past decade she has been to Honduras and South America several times, Afghanistan, Mozambique, Nigeria, and to our own southern states after natural disasters. She's slept on dirt floors, delivered a baby in an African hut, and was hustled out of Afghanistan after killers murdered men in the adjoining village.
I don't know how she does it. Her most recent email said they were traveling to those makeshift displaced persons camps where there is no medical help. Can you imagine the smells? She plans to spend a month on the island. She's probably living on Power Bars and water purification tablets. Here are two blogs I've been following by the doctors from MTI.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

BRANDING YOURSELF AS AN AUTHOR, aka "This Ain't No Butterfly Tattoo"

Posted by: Genene Valleau
Current Project: Promoting A VALENTINE'S ANTHOLOGY

Status: To be released February 14!

I've been taking one of the online classes offered by our chapter on author Branding taught by Jenn Stark. This isn't a class just for those who are already published. It can be a good exercise for a pre-published author who wants to get a head start on developing promotional materials or who wants to focus their pitches to editors and agents.

I wanted to take this class. I needed to do this. Getting a tattoo might have been less painful for me.

Now, why would having a good instructor presenting thoughtful information be so challenging? I think it might have something to do with one of those internal journeys that Alice talked about yesterday. Not only did the instructor want to know the basics of what I write, how many books I've had published, etc. She wanted each of us to dig deeper: Why do I write the kinds of books I do? What words describe these books? Do I want to write these kinds of books? What are my goals as a writer?

Then I had to dig into words that describe me as a person, because creating a brand is more than having a catchy slogan for my books. Once I have a brand, I'm actually supposed to use it to move my writing career forward so it's supposed to be something I'm personally comfortable promoting in a positive way. Crabby procrastinator was not what she had in mind!

I had to think. I had to learn. I had to confront my stalling self and do the homework. (Shhh...I still have one more worksheet to do, but it's optional. :) The result is that I'm still refining my author brand.

The instructor also had us try our hand at slogans. I tried on a lot of them--some with promise, but none that jumped up and said "This is it!" The closest I came was "Forged with drama, tempered with humor, and polished with love."

Another scenario she suggested was to imagine that you were being introduced on a TV show, and what would you want them to say about you? I struggled with this and finally came up with this intro: "Genene Valleau writes stories of people who claw, laugh and fumble their way through heartache to the welcoming light of hope and love." Still needs work, but it's something to edit.

How about you? Can you sum up what you write in ten words or less? Or write a one-sentence introduction for yourself?

Developing my author brand will an ongoing work in progress, but at least I now have tools do that development. Many thanks to Jenn Stark for teaching this class. If you want to know more about her process of developing an author brand, please visit her Website at .

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Journey



I mentioned the other day that I was reading John Steinbeck's Travels With Charley. For those of you who don't know, it's the story of how Steinbeck, who wrote about Americans in America, reached the ripe old age of 58 and realized he'd been trapped in New York for too long, he hadn't seen or interacted with the rest of America in twenty years. So with his Standard black Poodle, Charley, he left on a driving trip that took him a year to cross the country to his home haunting grounds of Salinas, CA and then return, making a loop through the country. It's interesting to note that he wasn't recognized even once in that year. Well, you know, it was pre Internet.

I'm almost finished with the book and it has taken me a long time to read. Months, I think, and it's not a big book, I have just turned into a very slow and sometimes infrequent reader. Or maybe it's the kind of book best read slow, better to absorb the images. I don't know, but when I read the following (near the end of his book), it struck me.

He writes, " I speculated with a kind of wonder on the strength of the individuality of journeys and stopped on the postulate that people don't take trips -- trips take people." A few sentences later: "Who has not known a journey to be over and dead before the traveler returns? The reverse is also true: many a trip continues long after movement in time and space have ceased."

What struck was not only the truth of this statement concerning actual trips. I, myself, have been on both those types of journeys, the sailboat trip to Mexico that still lives on or the vacation to Florida when I was sick with a sinus infection -- that trip never really started.

But what his words also reminded me of was the journey we take with a book, and that can be both as a writer and as a reader. As a reader, for instance, we all know of books that linger with us a lifetime while others are hard to recall the day after we finish them. Perhaps those were books that were finished before they ran out of words, books that failed to engage us, books that we plowed through out of some kind of feeling of obligation to some unknown discipline.

As a writer, I think this sentiment may be even more true. A story is a journey in every sense. For the characters, for the writer creating their paths, for the reader engaged in learning how it all turns out. Think of Samwise the Hobbit and his speech, I believe at the end of the second LOTR movie, when he asks Mr. Frodo to remember the stories that were the best ones, the ones where everyone had to know how they ended, what happened next. Those were the best stories of all because it all mattered. (I heard btw, that they filmed that scene a year after making the movie because the ending needed something to carry the hobbit's part of the story forward, to give it importance, maybe a summation, even.)

We all know what kind of books we want to write and read. This is hitting home hard right now as I founder around in the plotting of my current work -- I want it to matter. I want the story to pull my characters and pull me and pull my readers. I want more than bullets and chases and yet I want excitement and adventure. I want the journey within my books to continue until the last word on the last page -- and maybe even beyond an hour or two. That's my job and it's a challenging one.

Obviously, Travels With Charley will be the kind of book I think about for a long time. Do you have one like this in your life or any thoughts about the internal journey in your own work?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Need some romance

Current Project: Derby book
Status: In progress

I just realized last night that it's been about a month since I've read a romance novel. Many of you will understand how crazy that is, and may possibly want to have my head examined. I guess it's that I'm spending all of my extra time reading nonfiction for my thesis. My brain is so wiped by the end of each day that I can't get myself to pick up a novel for pleasure.

GASP.

But, when I was pondering this, I also noticed that I have watched a ton of chick flicks lately. I like to have the TV going when I'm doing homework. I swear I've seen "You've Got Mail" three or four times in the past few weeks. I don't dislike chick flicks, but they are rarely my first choice in movie watching. I go toward comedy or horror movies first most of the time. However, I have probably watched at least a dozen chick flicks since I last read a romance novel.

This tells me that I've programmed myself to crazy all that is romance. I need the elements found in a (cheerful) romantic story to maintain my equilibrium. I need to see the conflict, how the characters move past it, the drama that ensues, all leading ot a happily ever after. Yes - it needs a happily ever after. Ones that exclude that element don't do it for me.

I'm hoping to spend some time with a novel this weekend, if I can get a good chunk of my school reading done. But I'm sure there's going to be a few chick flicks between now and then *eyes the Netflix envelopes that came in the mail.*

Have you ever noticed a trend like this? I'm refusing to acknowledge or investigate possible links to my state of my in regards to the topic of, gulp, dating. So, for now, I'm making the connection that I've veered away from a major part of my life so my brain has found another way to get its fix.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

SATURDAY CHECK-IN


Current Project:same old
Status:same old

It's been a slow week for me. Still thinking things through and taking way too much time dithering over the first few pages. I don't know if it's a stalling technique or the way I do things -- seems to me I remember doing this before, so I guess it's part of the process. Since the dh is still hobbling around because of his operation on his foot, and will be for another two weeks, a lot more chores and puppy duties fall my way and they are energy sinks, too. I think of you often, Debbie, with a dh with a knee replacement, and also you, Genene, with fifty dogs instead of one, but I still whine.

AAs to do this week. Maybe reading the last book one more time will spur me on!

Otherwise, for me, it's more of the same this week, with the ever glowing hope it'll all start to click. How about you?

SATURDAY CHECK-IN


Current Project: same old
Status: same old

Just saw that I chose the wrong red sign for this blog and am tempted to keep it. I like the idea of a Saturday Sale. Think of it like a rummage sale. On my table, free for the taking, are the things

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Something's Missing


Current Project: TEMPTED (Eternal Guardians Book #3)
Status: Chapter Four

We’ve all been there. You hear about an awesome new book. It’s getting tons of media blitz. You see it all over the blogosphere, on Facebook, you hear about it on Twitter. You see it displayed prominently at the bookstore, in grocery stores, on the end aisle at Target. You think you’re missing out by NOT reading it, so you pick up a copy. And then you’re left scratching your head.

Writers are not the best critics. Probably because we see things through a writer’s perspective. We know about voice and language, point of view, plot and pacing. We also instinctively know when a story is good and when it’s not. So sometimes – knowing all that we know – it’s a surprise to pick up a book and enjoy it. And then realize…something’s still missing.

I started reading a new book last week that I was eagerly anticipating. I enjoyed the plot and characters, the world and conflict. The story itself was good. But I walked away from that book thinking it could have been better. I scratched my head over this for a long time. As a writer, my instinct is to try to figure out what didn’t work so I don’t repeat the mistake. And after thinking about it way more than I should have, I realized the problem I had with this book wasn’t the story, it was that I never felt like I understood the characters to the degree that I rooted for them one way or the other.

That’s a pretty major element in writing. Drawing your reader in so they cheer and root for your characters. So they cry and yell and angst with them, as well. Pulling a reader in so they become part of the story rather than an observer is key, but it isn’t always easy. And if you aren’t doing it, then I guarantee your books will never be considered great reads.

So how do you do it? I’m by no means an expert, but here are tips I’ve picked up over time:

1. You – the writer – put yourself in the scene. A wise writer once told me in order to make a love scene believable and not something that sounds like it was part of a sex-ed manual, you have to put yourself in that room with your characters. You have to become a part of the scene yourself. You can’t sit back and describe what’s happening like you’re making a shopping list. That advice has stuck with me, and it carries over into my other scenes, not just my love scenes.

2. You use deep POV. Sometimes this is tricky – you can walk a fine line between being TOO deep in a character's head and not being deep enough. Too many thoughts and ponderings slow pace, (and make readers roll their eyes at the angst) but not enough leave readers (like me) wishing I understood the characters’ thinking more. A good balance is no more than two short paragraphs (preferably 3-4 sentences) in a character's thoughts before you toss in action or dialogue to balance the scene.

3. You explain the things that need explaining and you ignore everything else. I recently read a paranormal that left me so confused by page 50 I had no idea what was going on. The author didn’t explain the terms and tools and words that were unique to that book’s world enough for me to feel like I was part of the scene. And what she did spend time explaining seemed trivial and not needed. If it doesn't matter to the story, cut it. If it does, you better make sure your reader understands how and why.

4. You write to the middle. I have friends who are professionals who talk over my head. I know writers who do the same. A novel is not the time to prove you have a stellar vocabulary. If your reader needs a dictionary by her side to read your book, then you’re not writing to the middle. You’re writing to the extreme. And trust me, you will lose readers.

5. You think things through or–gasp!—plot, so that YOU know your world well enough to explain it and your characters. This seems like a no-brainer, but when I’m judging contests, the #1 thing that pushes a writer from great to mediocre is when you read something and know the author doesn’t have a handle on their world. Their descriptions aren’t detailed, things don’t seem to make sense, they contradict themselves. Nothing bumps a reader out of a book more than confusion.

How about you? What bumps you out of a book? I’m not talking about the common errors new writers make. I’m talking about the things that keep an already GOOD book from being GREAT.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Winds of Change?

Deborah Wright's ProfileCurrent Project: Argh!!
Status: In a Quandary

Sorry for the late post. I've been having a minor writing crisis (as well as stressing over other things not worth exploring at this juncture).

Sometimes I wonder if my subconscious is trying to tell me something.

Last week I started working on the project I've targeted as wanting to finish this year and (hopefully) submit to the Golden Heart in November. I've been mulling over the story since the end of NaNoWriMo. I like the changes I've made to it and that I'm giving myself room to let things happen--I'm trying not to have such a tight control over the plot as to stifle my urge to actually, you know, write. I'm beginning to wonder, though, if the enforced layoff during December was either too long or too short.


Why? Because when I started writing last night what came out of my fingers was a completely different story--1,350 words worth of another story in about 35 minutes. I thought I was just goofing around, extending a throw-away paragraph I wrote last summer and warming up in preparation for starting in on my planned work. But somewhere in those 1,350 words, an entire world blossomed in my head along with five main characters, all with their own agendas: a heroine bent on getting the only justice available in a broken world; a reluctant hero who keeps getting ripped out of time and across dimensions against his will and who just wants to find a way home permanently; a villain who has the power to remake the world for the better, but who likes it just fine the way it is; and the last TechMage, who just wants to be left alone.

This story has an almost irresistible immediacy that's pulling at me to keep going. That's why I think the layoff I had from the other story was either too long or too short. Too long, because the story cooled for me. I'm finding it hard to generate the enthusiasm I had at the end of November. Too short, because maybe with more time away, it'll feel fresh and interesting again (hmmm, can something be both too long and too short??).

To make a long story short (too late!), I'm going to trust my gut and keep working on this new story. I figure if I stall out, I can always go back and work on my original story. Maybe even go back and forth until they're both finished. All I know is if I don't keep making some kind of forward progress, I'll find myself stalled out on both of them. I promised myself that I wouldn't let that happen this year.

So, how's it going with you?

Monday, January 18, 2010

My Favorite Topic- Research

Current Project:Spirit of the Lake
Status: Researching and writing

I'm on my usual topic-research. Alice mentioned in the Saturday check-in she was researching Montana for her next books, and I am continually researching history for my books or occupations(if I'm working on a contemporary).

And the how much research/history is too much is always a topic on historical loops. I've skimmed and gleaned info from two books so far for accuracy on Nez Perce birthing and pregnancy. I have one more to go through to make sure I haven't missed anything. How much will go in the book, I don't know at this point, but it is helping me to discover the forward momentum of the story. The heroine from the beginning of the book is pregnant. The birth of this baby is what will bring down the villain at the end. So the book timeline is nine months. Which brings me around to researching the Nez Perce movements in that 9 month time span.

Have you ever had a book where the condition of the heroine was a major factor in the story? Or had a specific timeline that helped move the plot forward?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

SATURDAY CHECK-IN


Current Project: Montana Books
Status: Wow, there's a lot to do!

Hey, everyone, it's a beautiful (okay, dreary) January day outside, perfect for snuggling up to your computer. Come on, you know you want to, your fingers are tingling, right? Okay, so maybe that's from the cold, but I say put it to good use and get those digits moving. That'll warm up your hands, your hands will warm up your arms, your story will warm up your heart or your gut and presto, pretty soon you are glowing inside and out with a feeling of completion and accomplishment. As for your toes? Cozy slippers.

Pep talk delivered.

Today my goal is to come up with a country for my heroine, a Montana ranch for my heroes, and a political situation to keep everyone jumping. I watched Cliffhanger (a movie) last night as it was on TV and it said it was filmed in the Rockies. I learned zip about Montana although it surprised me all those people could tramp around at the top of all those mountains without every really getting wet or falling into snow up to their armpits. Lots of rocks, I guess...

How are you doing on your goals? And if checking in here is one of them, be sure to say hi!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

PROMISES TO OURSELVES


Current Project: Promotion of A VALENTINE'S ANTHOLOGY
Status: Gaining momentum!

I am so impressed by the renewed energy and enthusiasm in our group the past few weeks. A friend of mine asked if I felt like she did that 2010 is going to be the "first of many wonderful years ahead of us?" My answer was a resounding "yes!" I stepped into 2010 feeling a natural flow of harmony with the Universe. Perhaps others are feeling that too. 


For whatever reasons, our group seems to be moving confidently into a wonderful year--some with written goals and and others with simply a dream in their heads.


As we move through the days and weeks and months of 2010, how do we stay motivated to reach these dreams and goals? There are as many different ways as there are writing styles. Here are a few ways I've seen:


--Some people are motivated by external forces. Elisabeth has mentioned there's nothing like a deadline to keep her at the keyboard. 


--Others have a driving internal need to keep these promises to themselves. Paty is one of the most highly self-motivated writers I've seen. She sets goals and then just goes. Life "stuff" may come up, but she seems to deal with it and then refocuses back on her goals until they are reached.


--Bethany sets weekly mini-goals and amazes me at how much she accomplishes, in spite of teaching, a toddler, and a very nauseous and exhausting first trimester of pregnancy.  


--Still others reward themselves for reaching a goal. Our new chapter officers have dangled the carrot of prizes and surprises at the end of the year to all who reach their stated annual goals.  


At the February chapter meeting, Paty and I will co-lead a session on using storybards as a tool to stay focused on your dreams and goals. 


In the meantime, please share your ways of keeping on track with your goals and pursuing your dreams. How do you keep these promises to yourself?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

MOMENTS


Current Project: Books
Status: changing Wyoming to Montana -- maybe

I am writing today about why we read some books ten times. Why we watch movies more than once. Why we watch TV series shows over and over again. If you do none of these things, I guess this isn't your blog. But if you do these things, you know what I'm talking about.

I figured this out tonight while I was watching a StarTrek TNG rerun and it all came to life when several characters got together to recreate a situation. I suddenly understood that I loved that episode for that one scene, that moment. And then it occurred to me that's how it is with almost everything I reread or re-watch. I'm waiting for a moment. Maybe two or three. It doesn't matter, the end result is I am waiting for something, anticipating, enjoying the build-up.

So, what does this say about me -- or you? In the Star Trek instance, the characters were all together, pooling information, sharing, figuring out what they'd seen and remembered and putting it together to reach a conclusion -- aha. A puzzle. That's the real attraction for me in this situation -- puzzles.

So, extrapolate. I like puzzles. I put them in my books. They are not exactly second nature for me, but I dearly love them.

How about other situations? Why in the world do I re-watch Sweethome Alabama, for instance? What moment is the aha moment for me? It's the beach. It's when she finally figures out what she wants and goes to the beach and stands there in a thunderstorm in her wedding gown to tell him it's him she loves. It's so romantic! Puzzles and romance...

And yet it's not really the beach, it's the culmination of self discovery and a declaration to the heavens above that she knows her path.

And so it goes. And if I understand or strive to understand, what it is I covet about the the fiction moments I love, then isn't that a key for my own work? Something to trigger my own imagination or to alert me to what I need to work on? Or want to include? Can I (or you) interpret the moments we covet, the moments we anticipate and remember forever and yearn to revisit, into our own work?

To the point that when we plot a book, we can recall those situations that attract us and re-create them IN SPIRIT within our own stories. Love a puzzle? Then incorporate puzzles (mysteries, intrigue, unsolved emotional issues). Adore deep, dark secrets? There you go, fit them in. Lust after adventure? Send your characters on a quest. One aspect of romance appeals to you more than any other? Identify it (use the moments you've earmarked from other medias or books you reread multiple times, and figure out what about that moment triggers your emotions. You can trust that if it triggered your emotions, it will trigger the emotions of others as well and, hello, that's what this is all about, eliciting responses.

No, I am not suggesting anyone steal or plagiarize or compromise their own story or vision. I'm suggesting you identify what attracts you and internalize it into your own work.

Have you done this? Does it make sense to you?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

MOMENTS


Current Project: Books
Status: changing Wyoming to Montana -- maybe

I am writing today about why we read books ten times. Why we watch movies more than once. Why we watch TV series shows over and over again. If you do none of these things, I guess this isn't your blog. But if you do these things, you know what I'm talking about.

I figured this out tonight while I was watching a StarTrek TNG rerun and it all came to life when several characters got together to recreate a situation. I suddenly understood that I loved that show for that moment. And then it occurred to me that's how it is with almost everything I reread or re-watch. I'm waiting for a moment. Maybe two or three. It doesn't matter, I'm repeating this situation for this particular moment(s).

So, what does this say about me -- or you? I thought about this one instance tonight. The characters were all together, pooling information, sharing, figuring out what they'd seen and remembered and putting it together to reach a conclusion -- aha. A puzzle. That's the real attraction for me in this situation -- puzzles.

So, extrapolate. I like puzzles. I put them in my books. They are not exactly second nature for me, but I dearly love them.

How about other situations? Why in the world do I re-watch Sweethome Alabama, for instance? What moment is the aha moment for me? It's the beach. It's when she finally figures out what she wants and goes to the beach and stands there in a thunderstorm in her wedding gown to tell him it's him she loves. It's so romantic! Puzzles and romance...

Lord of the Rings? Not the movies, the books? It's the adventure. It's the sense of going...somewhere...traveling...adventure...

And so it goes. And if I understand or strive to understand, what it is I covet about the the fiction moments I love, then isn't that a key for my own work? Something to trigger my own imagination or to alert me to what I need to work on? Or want to include? Can I (or you) interpret the moments we covet, the moments we anticipate and remember forever and yearn to revisit, into our own work?

To the point that when we plot a book, we can recall those situations that attract us and re-create them IN SPIRIT within our own stories. Love a puzzle? Then incorporate puzzles (mysteries, intrigue, unsolved emotional issues). Adore deep, dark secrets? There you go, fit them in. Lust after adventure? Send your characters on a quest. One aspect of romance appeals to you more than any other? Identify it (use the Momentsyou've earmarked from other medias or books you reread multiple times, and figure out what about that moment triggers your emotions. You can trust if it triggered your emotions, it triggers other people's emotions as well and hello, that's what this is all about, eliciting responses.

No, I am not suggesting anyone steal or plagiarize or compromise their own story or vision. I'm suggesting you identify what attracts you and internalize it into your own work.

Have you done this? Does it make sense to you?



Moments

Current Project: Montana - Wyoming Project
Status: Obviously, up in the air



Kindle Quandary



Current Project: Romantic Suspense
Status: Still out of sync from holidays





My mother gave me a Kindle for Christmas. I gave it back.

I felt horrible when I did it, but I'd felt worse knowing she'd spent a lot of money on something I'd never use. And yes, it was returnable.

Am I the only person who doesn't want one? I held the white plastic rectangle in my hands for a while, asking myself if this was how I wanted to read books, and the answer was a definite NO. I love my books. I love to see the unique covers stacked on my shelves. I run my finger along the spines, pausing on some, skipping others, remembering the story and how it made me feel. I don't think it'd be the same on a kindle. Somehow the above picture doesn't hold the same appeal as reading a thick paperback on the beach. (Must be an Oregon beach. Looks cold.)
I've read blogs and reviews by people who are wild about the technology, but it simply never appealed to me. I do like the idea of downloading a book the minute I hear about it and have that urge to read it. I've downloaded a few books to my computer, but doesn't have the same feel as curling up with a print novel. I know the Kindle has been wonderful for some. A lot of agents and editors use it for their work. Easier to pack around than five fulls.

Some claim this is the future for all books, and we'll eventually move away from paper completely. In Rachelle Gardner's blog yesterday, she mentions technologies for interactive books and magazines such as embedded links, video pop-ups, and choose-your-own ending. I like the idea of the first two technologies for non-fiction, but I don't believe they'll be popular for adult fiction, although my kids would love it in their books.
To me, a print novel is completely interactive inside my brain. I create my own images of characters and locations; I insert myself in the roles and talk with the heroes. I curl back the pages and dog ear the corners. I occasionally place a sticky note when an author has amazed me with their writing. I've embrace a lot of new technologies, but the electronic readers simply don't resonate with me.
Anyone have a e-reader? Do you love it? Who wants to buy one?





Monday, January 11, 2010

Goals, goals and more goals


Current Project: Derby book
Status: Ch-ch-chuggin' along

Yes, this is another post on goals. I know several of us have done that lately, but this time of year it's hard to avoid. Don't you think? I know it will help me increase my motivation by posting my goals to the world. Hello-ello-ello-ello. The world of the internet is so vast!

My GREAT BIG GOAL OF 2010 (yes, it deserves all caps because this is going to be a good year, folks), is divided into four connected parts.

1) Finish the roller derby book by the end of July, well, preferably middle of July. I'll be heading to Scotland (still can't believe it!!!!) at the end of the month, until a few weeks into August. That will give me about a month to think about the book, take a break from it, and return home to edit the heck out of it.

2) Edit the book in September to get it in tip-top shape. I tend to not do a lot of editing as I go, so a whole month sounds reasonable to me. But if I'm ahead of the game, I may edit chunks of the book as I go, maybe a few chapters or something. Also during September, I need to revisit my agent wish list. Things have changed in the past couple of years since I was seriously doing agent research.

3) Send out queries in October to agents and editors who will accept them. If nothing else, I'll *finally* get PRO status.

4) Sign up for the Golden Heart contest in November. I think I'll be out of town for the Golden Rose and won't have the MS polished by then, bummed to miss out on the feedback opportunity. But I think it's time I give the Golden Heart a go.

I guess I'll add a fifth part of the goal - continue blogging on my personal blog throughout the year so when I begin querying, I will have re-established my Web presence. That's the bear about the name change, I already had a fairly established Web presence for an unpub as Lisa Pulliam - had talked to a lot of people anyway. Sort of starting fresh, but that's a good thing. :)

Out of all the goals people have been sharing on here, and sharing on the loop - I'd love to hear which goal you think is going to be most difficult for you. Clearly, for me it's finishing the book because I obviously struggle with that :)

Saturday, January 09, 2010

SATURDAY CHECK-IN


Current Project: Three book series set in Wyoming
Status: plotting

After reading a couple of times this week that people intend to use the Saturday check-in to help keep themselves on track, I felt doubly ashamed I forgot to do it last week. But as they say, "I'm baaacckk---"

At this point, I'm cautiously optimistic about the books swirling around in my brain. While it seems I've been gone from writing a long time, it's actually less that seven weeks -- still seems forever. It's good to be inching my way back.

The meeting I missed this week had to do with goal setting and people have been coming forward with theirs. I'll do mine here and invite anyone who wants to to either state or restate theirs to do so now. That way they'd all be in one spot and maybe they'd encourage each other!!!

Mine: Finish and submit a proposal by the first of March. This means a fully realized backstory to act as an umbrella for all three books, a fleshed out first book with three chapters and a synopsis as well as a partial short synopsis for each of the two subsequent books. I've spoken with my editor and if it all comes together, that would mean I would write the first book by summer, the second book in the fall and the third book in the winter. That's the plan. All I have to do now is think Wyoming...

Your turn.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Fear


Current Project: TEMPTED Proposal, book 3, Eternal Guardians
Status: Chapter two

And here I thought I was doing so good at all my blogging responsibilities. Ack! I blame my lateness today on release/promo brain.

I'm rather tapped out on blog topics. Two plus weeks of blogging will do that for you, but one thing I've discovered with the release of this recent book - STOLEN SEDUCTION - is that no matter what stage you're at in your writing career, every writer is plagued with fear of one kind or another.

I'm always afraid when I blog that I won't have anything of interest to say. That readers will get offended, that my voice won't resonate the way it does in my books. When a book releases, I'm sure it's going to flop, that readers will hate it, that it will be the last of my career. And when I start a book (as I'm doing now) I'm always convinced it is the crappies thing I've ever written and the stupiest idea on the planet.

But you know what? 9 times out of 10 I'm wrong. Readers respond to my blogs. Whether that's because they like what they read or want a prize or enjoy my books, I don't know, but they respond. When a book releases I get a flood of emails from readers telling me how much they're enjoying my series and how fast they flew through my story. And when writing a book, I always, always hate it at one time or another. At some point I just need to get over that and realize, yeah, that's my pattern. Deal with it and move on.

Fear is a wicked thing, isn't it? It sits there on your shoulder, watching every word you type. It whispers in your ear (mine likes the phrase, "you suck!"), it calls to you in the middle of the night. And I'm fairly certain it plants itself at the post office so you have an excuse NOT to mail that proposal to your dream agent or editor.

How do you get past it? You face it, head on. Acknowledge it, yell at it, give it a name (dumbass works for me), but then ignore it. Ignoring it is the key. It's the only way you're going to ever put enough distance between your fears and your goals so you can finally move forward.

Fear, ironically, is a lot like my children. If I stopped and hovered every time they called, "Mom!" I'd never get anything done.

Ha!

I never thought of it that way. Fear = Gremlins. Go figure.

Okay, it's a new year, a new month and the Portland RCRW girls are doing the Sven's 70 Days of Sweat. Who's in it with me? 1000K words per day for 70 days. That's it. Anyone game? Kick that fear to the curb and join me.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Imagine a life without books . . .

Current Project:NMMNG
Status: Finding my mojo

Last night was my first night of teaching for the winter term, and I'm still recovering. The first day is always exhausting and exhilarating. Somehow, I have to find a way to make 20 odd strangers feel excited about the prospect of writing something each week for the next 10 weeks and striving to do their best. I also have to make them feel comfortable with each other and excited about what we will be reading. It's a tall order. I always open with the eons-old "go around in a circle and tell me your goals" routine. I hate this necessity, so I try to change up how we break the ice each term with silly questions in addition to the name/major/goal questions. I like asking what the last thing was that they wrote or read, and it is always amazing to me how many just don't read. Not don't read fiction, or don't read print books, but just don't read period.

One of my returning students reported that the last thing he read was the last homework assignment for me in November. I know he's an avid sports buff, so I pressed him a little more than I would a newbie. No sports page? No Sports Illustrated? "Nope. It's all on TV." He's a tremendously bright guy, so the lack of reading just baffles me. Another student is a huge music and gaming buff, but he reports that "so much online doesn't need reading anymore." It's enough to make me want to stick my head in the sand and chant "plenty of YA readers, plenty of YA readers, plenty of YA readers . . . "

However, one student reported that she is not usually a reader at all and last read a book in high school, but then a few months ago, she was home with a new baby, and someone gave her copies of the Twilight books. She was hooked and read all four and sounded genuinely excited about the novel we're reading this term. Just like that, non-reader to reader--thank you, Twilight franchise. I can guarantee that she has a better chance of getting a good grade in my class just by having read more than most of the other students in the last year. The more students read, the better they tend to write.

I try to pick fail-safe books for my students--ones that I think the majority of them will love. I try to pick books that are quick reads that hook them and make them want to keep reading. I save the dense, literary tomes for upper level courses and go straight for award-winning popular fiction that combines great writing with an exciting story. In other words, I have them reading the sort of books that most of us want to write, in a variety of different genres.

I think because we are all readers and we are surrounded by other readers, sometimes it is easy to lose sight of the vast non-reading population. But how many of them, like my student above, are simply waiting for the right book? My hope springs eternal each term that somehow, someway, I can get the right book to the right student at the right time.

~~~

Your turn: Pretend your non-reader best friend/husband/parent/child is stuck in bed and the TV is broken. Heck, pretend there is a power outage. What book would you bring to him or her? Beyond Harry Potter and Twilight, what books have you seen make readers out of die-hard non-readers? Have you ever given the right book at the right time to someone who isn't usually a reader? Do tell.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

(Re-)Gaining Momentum

Deborah Wright's ProfileCurrent Project: Post NaNo Project
Status: Revving Up!

New Year. New or re-newed writing goals. This is the time of year I try to step outside myself and look at my writing habits and ask, "How's that working for you?"

Things couldn't have been crazier for me in the last few weeks. Most of my time has been consumed by my husband's recovery from knee replacement surgery. It isn't that he's helpless, just that at the moment all of the household chores, including everything he usually does (and that's a lot) fall to me while he's recuperating. Add to that, my job is counting down to the final, final decision (will the new company want me to stay on after the buyout?). Suddenly all my good intentions to keep the momentum from NaNoWriMo going have fallen by the wayside.


It's time to rev up my writing engine, so to speak. This is the year I plan to kick my writing up to the next level and complete at least one book (more than one, if possible). That won't happen, though, if I don't start writing daily. One thing participating in NaNoWriMo taught me is that I have to write daily--or close to it--or I lose all my momentum. I'm simply not tempermentally suited to be a "weekend writer."

I've already publicly stated my goals in my personal blog. Still, I think I'll restate them here as well.

Writing Goals for 2010

1. Write Every Day
2. Update my weekly progress on the Saturday Check-in on this blog
3. Blog about my progress and my trials and tribulations on my personal blog at least 3 to 4 times per week.
4. Reassess my goals on a monthly basis

These may get adjusted after our Chapter meeting this week on goal setting. If so, I'll update them in my next blog post here.

So, how are you doing?

Monday, January 04, 2010

Rambling about Writing


Current Project:Spirit of the Lake
Status: Page 104
It's the beginning of the year, the holidays are over, and I've been wracking my brain for a blog topic. Every time I hit on one I have a deja vu moment of a comment someone made on a past blog along that topic.

~Sigh~ I could talk about resolutions, but I'm not a resolution person. I write like I live- day to day with a big picture plan that I'm headed toward. Which makes some people dizzy and others nod their head. I'm not a list maker except for groceries and where I need to go in town. On the same token, I'm always early and always have projects done on time.

I believe in putting out 110% at whatever I'm doing whether it's cleaning a toilet or writing a story. However, I'm not a detail person. But if someone points out something I'm amiss about, I'll work twice as hard to fix it.

Something I've noticed, there are certain times of the month, whether they are moon driven or my own cycle driven, I'm not sure. But there are times when the words and ideas flow and I can't believe the words are mine. And then there are the down days when I force every sentence and word or worse can't figure out where the story is going.

Many blame it on a muse, but I'm a firm believer it is your own scrambled inner workings that have a hand in the problem.

This weekend was wonderful, my dh and I had a date night, he left me to doodle on the computer during the day, and I found the words flowing from my fingertips and glowing. Now the week before the holidays when everything was finished and all I had to do was write and wait to travel to our daughter's, I had to dig deep and force the ideas and words. I was not rushed or harried, yet the flow wasn't there.

I've discovered even though you may write every day that doesn't mean every day will be an easy writing day. All the factors and some that are not even of your control can seep in causing havoc with what you thought would be a good writing day.

Have you noticed a cycle in your writing? Are there certain events that make you more creative and others that stifle your creativity?