August 29, 2011

I'm Still Learning

I'm one of those people who believe there is no one way to write a novel. Some people write by the seat of their pants, some outline and plot in great detail. I do both. For me, it depends on the project.

It's impossible for me to write a novel the same way twice. I've written four complete manuscripts so far and I've changed everything about my craft with each one. The first book I wrote in scenes from the middle out, the second in whole chapters from beginning to end. The third wasn't written in any sort of chronological order whatsoever and the fourth I powered through with 1,000 words a day.

My point is, I still haven't found what works for me when it comes to writing a novel. I'm still learning. Every day I learn something else, but what I have to keep in mind is that one way of doing things is not going to work for every project. My characters are not the same, my plot isn't the same and my skill level grows with each page.

So even when I get frustrated that I can't settle on doing something one way and sticking to it, I think I'm a little grateful. I wouldn't grow as a writer if I wasn't willing to try a little bit of everything.

August 28, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday

Welcome back for Six Sentence Sunday! Be sure to check out other Sixers after reading mine!

Check out my current WIP, BLEED FOR ME. Torrhent and Taigen are on the run and laying low in a hotel in the middle of nowhere. The bullet mentioned is an old wound.

His suspicion had reached an all-time high.

The cold desert air bit into the bullet in his chest, but he pushed himself forward, ignoring the pain. Something had woken him a half hour ago and forced him from the warm embrace of his charge. Now, he knew why.
Slowly, Taigen withdrew the gun from the back of his pants, taking aim.
He had no reason to fire. Yet.

August 26, 2011

Block Yourself

I'm on a deadline, one that I made myself, but still a deadline. I'm determined to finish these major revisions on the WIP by the end of this year. As long as I block out my calender, I think I can do it.

So that's what I did. I blocked out a calender for this novel. I also made one for LET ME OUT that is with the critique group. With these tools, I just might keep myself motivated to finish!

Take a look:

Yellow is Round 1 of revisions (where I'm currently rewriting the entire plotline)
Green is Round 2 of revisions (where I will make sure tension, flow and holes are pulled together)
Pink is when I send it to the critique group

I'm a very visual person when it comes to keeping goals. I love to track and color code.

What helps you keep updated with your goals?

August 22, 2011

Creating My Craft Binder

The craft binder is coming along nicely. But...I ran out of sheet protectors and I have about another 50 pages that will go in there.

Step 1 to Creating My Craft Binder: Find articles and take notes on how to craft a successful novel. I also have notes from previous semesters about studying novels, poetry, and short stories.

Step 2 to Creating My Craft Binder: Organize all the articles and writing notes I've collected over the last four years. Categories include: Characterization, Plotting, Dialogue, Revisions, GMC, etc.

Step 3 to Creating My Craft Binder: Put the articles and notes into sheet protectors.

Step 4 to Creating My Craft Binder: Make a kick-ass cover design!

I've made my binder to keep organized and quick-reference important parts and worksheets for writing my novels. Many people remember these important parts throughout their career, but I have really bad memory and I love filling out worksheets :)

Have you made your craft binder yet?

August 21, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday

From the current WIP I'm revising: BLEED THIS WAY. Check out other Sixers while you're at it!

Torrhent and Taigen are on the run from the FBI and the antagonist's assassins. In Taigen's opinion, the last place they'd look is a cop's house, but he hasn't told Torrhent the entire truth. The two are hiding behind the front door as LAPD shows up to investigate the stolen truck in the driveway.

Reaching behind him, Marcus fumbled for his wallet and flashed his credentials. “I’m Agent Marcus Grant of ATF.”

Torrhent bolted to her feet.

Taigen wrenched around to hold her in place, pushing her back against the wall. He clamped a hand down over her mouth to keep her from screaming, but wasn’t sure he could hold her in place for long. His face was inches away from hers, her breath warm on his hand.

August 17, 2011

Meet My Muse

I've never been able to picture my muse. For the past four years, I didn't even think I had one. I've always used celebrity pictures for inspiration for characters, but I realized one keeps coming back.

He's been in my dreams (and day dreams! :) ). He's been a hero in my novels and even a secondary character. I'm always thinking of new ways to bring him back into the story or start a new one with him as the star. Now, I know why.

He's my muse.

He frequently comes in from the heat all grimy and in need of a shower, just having fought his way back into my good graces. He doesn't have a name. He has an amazing accent and a bit of a "I'll-kick-your-ass-if-you-touch-my-woman" attitude. There is nothing that he can't do and nothing that will stop him from getting what he wants.

And he cleans up nicely too.

August 15, 2011

Cut the Fat

I have cut over 90 pages from my current WIP... and I'm only at Chapter 5.

I fear it's only going to get worse.

I have to be honest. At first, I cringed at the thought of rewriting the entire book. I even stopped writing because I am one of those people who has to finish a project I start before moving on. My entire brain shut down, my muse abandoned me and I tried not to think about it. Then I realized, I had to cut all the bad writing in order to bring back my inspiration. I had to cut the fat.

I still cringe when I cut a giant chunk of the book out, but after fixing so many pages, after making my book 10x better, I realize that I have grown as a writer. And that's what counts.

How do you deal with cutting the fat from your manuscript?

August 14, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday

Good morning, peeps! Yes, I know, I am actually on schedule for today's post. I'm trying really hard to keep posting, but some things always get in the way.

This Sunday, I am participating in Six Sentence Sunday! This little snippet is from the book I'm currently rewriting. Revisions are going well now that I've finished the hardest part: the first three chapters. Everything is moving more smoothly and the suspense is killing me!

Enjoy the first six lines of the book and please leave comments if you feel I can improve them in any way :) Thanks!

            Monday’s escape had made headlines.
Torrhent Lynd eyed the convenience store cashier as she moved toward the bathroom, keeping her face averted in case his eyes moved from her picture on the television to her. She pushed her body inside the dark room quickly with her supplies. With only one stall, a sink and a garbage can, the bathroom offered what she needed, but took any remaining dignity she might have had left.

The voice of a female cop filtered through the thin door from the television. Dangerous...armed...FBI.

A murderer.

August 13, 2011

Like A Virgin

“If you wish to be a writer, write!” - Epictetus
So you want to write a novel. It’s always been a goal of yours and you have an amazing idea that readers will eat up. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done as thousands of writers have learned, but you have to begin somewhere. Before you write that first line though, ask yourself:
Why? What is your reason for wanting to write your book? Motivation is central for every writer to discover for themselves. Why are you writing? If it’s to be published, you’ve chosen the wrong career. Writing for the market (the trends) is going to end in disappointment. Trends come and go and readers are looking for the next best thing. By the time you finish your novel, the market may have moved on and you will be left with a novel that agents have seen enough of. Write for you. Your passion will be noticed, and respected, if you write a story you are in love with.
Do you have the time to invest hundreds of hours on one project? Oh yes, my friend. HUNDREDS of hours will be spent, not only to write that first draft, but to revise it as many times as you need to before submitting the manuscript. It will be hard. It will be time consuming and take more patience than you have at the moment. If you are serious about writing and have children, school, work or other obligations, you’ll want to make a writing schedule. Even fifteen minutes a day is progress and sometimes you will even need to force yourself to do it. It won’t be easy. You will get frustrated and you’ll need to power through.
Can you accept that writing might not pay your bills? Chances are you aren’t Stephen King. You’re not Nora Roberts and your novel won’t be a New York Times Bestseller right out of the gate. The truth is, most writers have a day job and advances aren’t as large as they used to be. The industry is changing. It’s going digital, but it’s also impossible to know whether books will be digital or some print will be left in the next decade. Costs are down and profits are up concerning digital books (e-books). Royalties are rising for authors, however, advances are shrinking or not being offered at all. In an industry, and an economy, that’s always changing, have a backup plan. This is not to discourage you, in fact, it’s to motivate you to push harder. If you want writing to be your life, make it so. Go back to school for your English degree, attend conferences, join a writers group, check out freelance work. While you’re waiting for those royalties, invest in your education and keep your day job.
Are you ready to be a professional? Just as with every industry, publishing is a business. So treat it as such. Maria Conner once advised in the Romance Writers Report, “Become a professional writer: meet deadlines, educate yourself about the market, network, refine and apply your skills, complete and market projects.” You may not be published, but getting into the swing of things is going to help you in the long run. Build healthy habits such as setting a writing schedule, meeting deadlines, getting dressed to write even if it’s in your own home and researching. Treat your writing as a job.
Do you know where to start? You might think this is the easiest part of writing your novel. You already know what your characters look like and maybe a basic (or detailed) plotline, but there are a couple more items to consider.
First, you need to ask yourself if you are going to have a prologue. Now days, prologues aren’t that popular. They usually consist of backstory, which is a giant NO-NO to start your book. If you find yourself writing nothing but memories, set up or flashbacks in a prologue or first chapter, cut them out and put them someplace else if they are that important to the plot.
Second, what is your first suspenseful scene? Make that your beginning. Sometimes it won’t happen until 50 pages in, but you want to drop your main character (MC) in the middle of the action to reach out and grab your reader (or agent) so they will never want to stop reading. You will want to do this for every novel you write. It does not have to be a shoot-em-up scene, but your MC will be involved and the stakes will be crystal clear to keep your reader interested.
Are you willing to learn? I learn something new about my style of writing and my craft every day. I am not right all of the time and my willingness to try new things has made me a better writer and taken me one step closer to being published.
You must admit to yourself that you are going to make mistakes. How else will you learn to be a better writer without making a few? The best and fastest way to make your writing better is to submit your manuscript and query letter through critique groups. BETA readers are great to start with, but in order to make your novel shine, group input is crucial. However, you MUST remember not to take their suggestions personal because that’s exactly what a critique group does: they give suggestions.
Do you have tough skin? I’m sorry, but nobody thinks you’re serious about writing. You can tell family and friends how much it means to you, that you must write because you can’t not write, but they won’t care. They will view it as a hobby that you’ll give up soon or a phase. These realizations are going to hurt, but that’s when you need to suck it up and make new friends. Writer friends. Writer friends think you’re serious and they’ll give you support every step of the way. Find a local writers group or friends on the blogosphere. They will be more than willing to encourage you to keep going and to lift you over the next hurdle.
The next hurdle being the agent. Agents are a wonderful guide through the publishing world. That is their job. They help you negotiate contracts, they pitch your book to editors and publishers and they give advice. Sure you can do it alone with some publishers, but you probably don’t know much about contracts or haven’t made the effort to study the industry.
You need an agent, but what you need tough skin for is rejection.
It will happen many, many times and with every book you pitch. It’s just a fact. However, you must realize, and this took me a while to learn, that at rejection is not personal. It’s just good business. It may seem as a personal attack, but it really isn’t! This person/agent has never met you before, they haven’t read your book and they have another thousand query letters to slosh through. You are just a letter that didn’t keep them interested. It hurts, I know. I’ve cried many times throughout the process, but if you are not willing to go through rejection, you are not ready to be a writer. What you must do, especially after rejection twenty, is to dedicate yourself more. Revise the query letter, send it out to other writers for critiquing and submit. Rinse and repeat again, and again, and again until there is an agent out there who can support you. The worst that can happen is an agent or publisher saying, “No”. Resilience is one of the most important traits of a writer. In her novel, The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood wrote, “Nolite te bastardes carborundorum.” Don’t let the bastards grind you down.
Thousands of individuals such as yourself have dreamed of writing a novel, leaving a legacy and a mark on the world. You can educate yourself, research the market, dress as a professional and attend conferences, but the best way to ensure your success is to write your book. What are you waiting for?

August 7, 2011

Where I Go to Get Inspired

I've been on vacation to celebrate the end of this semester. Woot! I actually have time (until the end of August that is) to work on revisions. And I plan to work hard, but I had to restart my brain. Here's where I've been...

And my favorite picture this's of me.

My brain was so fried from school, work and revisions that the peace and quiet of Bryce Canyon was almost prescribed. I didn't think about work, school (I still had a final paper due) or even bills while I was there. It was truly a place to be inspired and to reboot.

Where do you go to reboot?