Autumn, my favorite

As the trees start to change and we creep towards Halloween, the question resurfaces, will I partake in the wildness of NaNoWriMo this year? I now know that I don’t need it to get to the end of a story. In fact, my more stable stories are ones that I’ve written at other parts of the year. But I don’t think I could miss out of the fun either.

So while work and home have been busy, I will be striving to write regularly during November this year and riding the current of inspiration that it generates. I’m hoping to draft a full length contemporary romance this time.

Happy Independence Day

Happy Independence Day to everyone!

I’ve spent this weekend reading the last book in Laura Kaye’s Hard Ink series, baking, and fighting with the intro for the Better Latte Than Never sequel. Its tentative title for this week is A Shot in the Dark. Amy and her guy are giving me some trouble and I’m also struggling to maintain focus this weekend. I was hoping to be 5,000 words in by the end of today, but I’m only at 1700. I should get back to writing.

Responses to Wrapped in Verdigris started to come in this weekend too and the overall impression is positive, although there are some gaps I need to fill in and some critical points to clarify. The silver lining in this is that it will give me a way to add extra content which will push this out of novella and into short novel length. That opens up whom I can submit this book & hopefully its series to. Wish me luck with the next round of rewriting (which I’ll start after July 15)!

Book of the Week: Hard to Let Go

The 4th book in Laura Kaye’s Hard Ink series comes out today. I’m very excited because this series has been a lot of fun so far and I can’t wait to see these guys all get their happy ending.

Hard to Let Go - cover

Beckett Murda hates to dwell on the past. But his investigation into the ambush that killed half his Special Forces team and ended his Army career gives him little choice. Just when his team learns how powerful their enemies are, hard-ass Beckett encounters his biggest complication yet—a seductive, feisty Katherine Rixey.

A tough, stubborn prosecutor, Kat visits her brothers’ Hard Ink Tattoo shop following a bad break-up—and finds herself staring down the barrel of a stranger’s gun. Beckett is hard-bodied and sexy as hell, but he’s also the most infuriating man ever. Worse, Kat’s brothers are at war with the criminals her office is investigating. When Kat joins the fight, she lands straight in Beckett’s sights . . . and in his arms. Not to mention their enemies’ crosshairs.

Now Beckett and Kat must set aside their differences to work together, because the only thing sweeter than justice is finding love and never letting go.

Buy at Amazon | B&N | iBooks| Kobo
Hard to Let Go on Goodreads 

And don’t miss the other Hard Ink books, now available:

HARD AS IT GETS
HARD AS YOU CAN
HARD TO HOLD ON TO
HARD TO COME BY
HARD TO BE GOOD

About Laura Kaye:

Laura is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over twenty books in contemporary and paranormal romance and romantic suspense. Growing up, Laura’s large extended family believed in the supernatural, and family lore involving angels, ghosts, and evil-eye curses cemented in Laura a life-long fascination with storytelling and all things paranormal. She lives in Maryland with her husband, two daughters, and cute-but-bad dog, and appreciates her view of the Chesapeake Bay every day.

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Editing Phase 1 Completed

I have finished my editing pass of my current paranormal romance novella and it is now out to beta readers. This is the longest piece I have gotten to this phase so far. At about 42,000 words, Wrapped in Verdigris falls solidly inside novella length. It’s a little too short for some publisher’s paranormal romance submission calls. I’m not sure if I’ll want to add more content and push this over 50k. I’m hoping that the comments from my beta readers will help me decide the next step for this story. I’m also hoping that they love the story as much as I did while writing it. This one was a lot of fun.

In the meantime, I’ve turned back to some shorter pieces that have been teasing my imagination. One story is likely to be a paranormal romance short story around 10 – 15k words. The other is the sequel to Better Latte Than Never. I’m trying to get Amy her happy ending. Although this story may end up longer than Hailey’s. The hero and plot of Latte 2 are giving me some trouble.

I’m continuing to strive for writing or editing daily, and I’m making it to the computer daily most of the time. The trick for me is to do it first thing in the morning before anything else. Otherwise, I never make it around to fitting it into my daily routine. Chores, TV, and reading tend to pull me away unless it’s NaNoWriMo. My writers group has been particularly helpful, as has the Writing Challenge group. The Writing Challenge group promotes writing at least 500 words (or editing for 2 hrs) daily, and will cheer you on over on Twitter (and a few will on FB too). So if you’re looking for some camaraderie, check it out! Unfortunately, I haven’t been tracking my daily progress very closely. I keep meaning to get started.

Once I have Wrapped in Verdigris submitted to publishers, I’m going to need to pick my next big project. I’m going to need to decide between completing Book 2 in the Wrapped series, or shifting to a new series. The options right now for the other series are a contemporary romance series based on characters in the food and alcohol industry, or a paranormal romance series based on a family that owns and runs a curse art museum.

Want to place a vote for which book I start work on next or want help with establishing your writing routine? Find me on Facebook or Twitter.

Book(s) of the Week: Shadows and Light

Shadows and Light The Complete Series

This week, I’m recommending Nancy C. Weeks’ romantic suspense series, Shadows and Light: The Complete Series.

In this box set are 5 great books. Great characters, romance, and suspense. The whole set is $.99 for a limited time! Check it out.  http://amzn.to/1Tp0sDH

Meet five Irish brothers, all sworn to protect and serve – and the smart women who help them take down the terrorists gunning for their family. Lock up your heart: when it comes to love, the sexy McNeils know how to walk this beat.

  • In the Shadow of Greed: Brilliant cryptologist Dr. Sarah Tu races against time to block the most dangerous Internet malware ever created – and it’s up to FBI agent Jason McNeil to make sure she stays alive long enough to do it.
  • In the Shadow of Evil: After ten years with Maryland’s Special Crime Unit, very little rattles Jared McNeil. Then his nemesis resurfaces, with his sights set on the woman Jared is honor bound to protect.
  • In the Shadow of Malice: Adam Blake, ex-CIA operative, has gone to great lengths to keep his identity a secret, but his cover’s blown when he ends up on the run with waitress Calista Martin to protect his little girl.
  • In the Shadow of Pride: When Lexie Trevena’s matchmaking friends accidentally place her smack in the path of a terrorist who intends to use her as his pawn, the only person who can help her is Special Agent-in-Charge Luke “Mac” McNeil – the man she holds responsible for her husband’s death.
  • In the Shadow of Vengeance: Elizabeth Merlot can’t afford to let handsome Detective Noah McNeil discover her secret past. But when trouble finds her son, Noah may be the only one who can save their lives.

http://nancycweeks.com/

Book of the Week: Angelborn

This week’s spotlight is on the paranormal romance novella, Angelborn, by L. Penelope. The story is fabulous and the cover is delicious. I highly recommend this read, and she’s working on a sequel to Angelborn now too!

Angelborn coverMaia 

It’s hard to be normal when you see the dead everywhere. So I gave up. I just focus on staying out of their way. But the guy haunting my roommate is different. He’s impossible to ignore, and now other people can see him too.

He says my roommate is the only one who can save him from an eternity of torment. But one night he follows me into my nightmare and rescues me from my demons. Now he’s all I think about. This must be what it’s like to fall… for someone who can never be mine.

Caleb 

A lifetime ago, I found my soulmate in the human world. But being angelborn means I don’t have a soul. When I lost my one true love, I lost my future and my freedom. Now, I have a second chance — she’s been reborn and I must gain her love again or serve out the rest of my eternal sentence alone.

But this time I am a fugitive with powerful angels hunting me, and I’m running out of time. You only get one soulmate, and mine isn’t the broken, scarred girl, who sees what no one else can. She’s a distraction I can scarcely afford — but I’m unable to stay away from her.

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1JuSENC
Goodreads: http://bit.ly/1BRwrBv
L. Penelope’s website: http://lpenelope.com/

Book of the Week: Kissing Mr. Wrong

My friend, Kerri Carpenter, releases Kissing Mr. Wrong today! It’s a contemporary romance from Entangled Lovestruck. Just check out that cover!

Kissing Mr. Wrong cover

When kissing the wrong guy feels so very right…

Three months ago, graphic designer Vanessa Hewitt slept with the ridiculously hot guy she met after nearly falling to her death while stargazing on a bridge. The adrenaline-fueled night of we’ll-never-see-each-other-again sex fulfilled every fantasy, but with her best friend’s wedding on the horizon, Vanessa can’t stop thinking about what would happen if her sexy stranger passed through town again.

Haunted by his time in Afghanistan, soldier John Campbell returns to his hometown just long enough to help plan an engagement party for his sister. When he realizes her best friend is the sweet one-night stand he’s been fantasizing about for months, he’ll do anything to have her again…though getting trapped together in a storeroom wasn’t quite what he had in mind.

Vanessa is in hell. Or is it heaven? Because with every touch, their forbidden connection grows, until kissing Mr. Wrong starts feeling more like kissing Mr. Right…

Get your copy here:  http://amzn.to/1FHKSyX
And check out her other books here: http://kerricarpenter.com/

Book of the Week: One Week in Hawaii

I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing an ARC of One Week in Hawaii for the lovely ladies of One Week in Love. I gave the awesome collection of 4 novellas 5 stars.

Check out my review on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1284130770

1 Week in Hawaii

Sun, sand, and seduction.
This summer, Alexis Anne, Audra North, Julia Kelly, and Alexandra Haughton sweep you away to paradise for One Week in Hawaii.
A wedding planner breaks all the rules to have just one night of pleasure, only to find that a stolen moment might hold the key to forever.
A movie star falls hard for her sexy co-star…who just happens to be her best friend.
A former black sheep risks falling from grace again when she seduces a handsome stranger with a dark history.
An artist has to choose between dating a guy who will please her parents and one who will please…and pleasure…her.
Sex on the beach is so much more than a drink in these four sizzling contemporary novellas by the authors who brought you One Week in Wyoming.

Grab your copy here: http://amzn.to/1R9Q4xB
Check out their site here: http://oneweekinlove.com/

Facing the Slog of Editing

I’ve fallen off the daily writing activity bandwagon this past week or two, which means that not much of anything is getting finished. I think it can be attributed to a few things. One, I finished my first draft of Wrapped in Verdigris last week. Two, there are big changes going on in the day job department. Three, I need to figure out what my editing process is and how to tease myself into loving it. And four, I stopped logging items in my little Moleskin planner. (Oh and five, my allergies haven’t given me a break until today. Maryland pollen is brutal.)

DailyPlanner

I learned about the power of daily writing first from The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron. Morning Pages are how I got back into writing after a 5 year break after college and the real world squashed my hope that someday I could be a published author. I bought numerous 6x9” spiral Mead notebooks and wrote 3+ pages longhand nearly every day, stream of consciousness stuff or reflective or actual snippets and bits of stories that I was working on.

Then I took a course with Margie Lawson who teaches about the power of setting goals that are actually reachable. You can put more things on your list too, but leave those for doing after you’ve completed that first list. It’s the carrot at the end of your stick.

I do best when I’m tracking to a deadline and have a daily or near-daily goal (5 days a week). Recently, my list has grown longer than I should allow it to be, which means it’s time to step back and reflect and record some data. Have I mentioned here yet how much I love spreadsheets? I love tracking daily word counts. But when it comes to editing, I have so very little data and it’s not nearly as easy to measure progress. I could record how much time I spend on editing each day, but that doesn’t speak to how close I am to being finished. I need a way to measure my progress and a deadline or I will just continue to ignore that this needs to be done.

So I’m going to apply some project management techniques to this. Break it down into smaller pieces, and make my best estimate of how long this will take. I will probably split this up into phases:

  • novel level edits (reviewing the goal/motivation/conflict for the protagonists),
  • scene level edits (making sure each scene does something essential), and
  • line edits (grammar, cutting out weak words, etc.).

Saying that I’m going to give myself a week each for these is giving me heart palpitations, but that is just a starting timeframe. I’ll work with that goal in mind for this week and then reassess on the weekend. I will also continue considering how to track progress within each of these three phases, but that may not be something I can do until I have been through this process once.

Becoming a Plotter

I’ve been writing for fun since I was twelve. I can’t even begin to count the number of stories I have started over the past twenty years. I rarely finished things because I “pantsed” these stories, starting with a small element of inspiration and going until it wouldn’t go anymore, which usually happened before I’d reach the end.

I had a problem with finishing stories. I would write myself into a corner or grow bored with the plot because I didn’t have enough conflict or goals.

I started reading writing reference books on plot and improving fiction and I took a few classes from my local RWA chapter and SavvyAuthors.com. No longer am I afraid that plotting will remove the magical inspiration of my muse. I find myself adapting and tweaking these plot lines a lot, but now I’m getting to The End a lot more often. All thanks to these books.

Don’t fear plotting. It can be your friend too!

Here are some of my favorite resources for learning how to plot or improve a story’s plot. I feel like they make the process approachable and not like some scary thing that only MFA’s can learn.

My Favorite Books on Plotting or Novel Writing:

The Writer’s Compass, by Nancy Ellen Dodd
This is great for understanding the overall story arc and for an approach that is perhaps more visual in its approach than some of these other books. I would say this book was my plotting foundation book.
Writing Love, by Alexandra Sokoloff
Sokoloff recommends reviewing movies with similar elements to the story you’re trying to tell, because you can get through movies in a short sitting and it’s easier to capture the essence of the plot. I could go all research paper on you and quote parts of this text, but it’s still a fabulous review of plotting.
This book is fabulous. Without clear goal, motivation and conflict, I find it’s impossible to plot out a story’s action or turning points.
This book is fabulous, although I wouldn’t recommend reading and applying it to a work-in-progress. Write your first draft, then return to this, or read it before starting your first draft. He has some great ways to tighten up your conflicts and really tug on your readers’ heartstrings. For example, making  your protagonist’s external and internal goals mutually exclusive. Boy does that make protagonists hurt!
I primarily use the workbook, but the book is an important read too: Writing the Breakout Novel.
This book is a fast read and marvelously simple in offering an approach to get you from idea to completed draft. This book really opened up my eyes on how the book writing workflow should go.

Other Resources:

Michael Hauge’s structure is very helpful. I think Alexandra Sokoloff might reference it in Writing Love.
Stephanie Draven’s Plotting with Scrivener class is fabulous, and pulls in a bunch of elements from different sources. (I learned about Sokoloff and Hauge from her.) If you have a chance to take this class, I highly recommend it. She’s publishing a book based on these lessons later this summer. Pre-order your copy here: http://amzn.to/1ezar9P! (http://www.stephaniedray.com/)
Writer Unboxed site (http://writerunboxed.com/) provides daily articles about writing and the industry. You can set it up to email you daily with their posts. Donald Maass is one of the contributors to this site.

 

Want to discuss any of this? Strike up a conversation with me on Twitter or Facebook.