Writer Wednesday – Writing tools I use

So I’ve prepped a bit for Camp NaNo and getting The Alchemists of Archangel completed.

Some authors Love Scrivener and there are some wonderful features, that can be very helpful when developing characters, plot lines, timelines for series, etc.  I actually debated purchasing it, but have opted to use Google Keep in conjunction with Google Docs and Word.

I find myself looking back at tools I’ve used in the past.    Here are some tools I use during my rough draft phase:

  1. Cherry Adair’s – Plotting with Post its.   I admit I loved this when I learned it, but I still found it daunting.  The Pantser in me fought it, hard.  I still use a form of it today in Google Keep.
  2. My friend Arden uses an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of Character Profiles and Plot devices, Chapters, etc.   It is daunting.  And I admit I never mastered it the way she did.   Bob Mayer uses an Excel Method as well.
  3. Google Keep – So this is where I use a bit of Cherry’s technique and start mixing in my own blend of stuff (research, worldbuilding, character profiles, setting, and plot)
  4. Source Sheet – I keep a word doc of where I find all my research for the novel.  I also include worldbuilding notes in here.  My outline may not survive the process but this almost always does.  I usually turn in a copy with my manuscript when I begin the editing process, to help the copy editors.
  5. Sex in Romance Website – I don’t use this as much as I used to but it is still a great place when you want variety in your manuscript during a love scene.
  6.  Word Counter – I got this idea from Allie Pleiter’s Chunky Writing Method.   She has some freebie’s on her website for this.  Basically, you are counting words whenever you work on your ms.   I made some modifications to mine. 🙂
  7. Pinterest – Before Google Keep I would create character profiles for my stories.  I actually found looking at pictures beneficial to driving my description of clothes and setting.  Once my book is published, I’ll make the pages private.  The Courtesan of Constantinople is the first book I did this with so Y’all will have to wait. 🙂
  8. Pandora – I love listening to music without words when I’m writing.  Usually, I pick a channel based on the mood of the scene.   I’m sure part of this has to due with the fact that I learned to type to music in school.   Nothing like typing words to the William Tell Overture.

And I haven’t even started on the Reference Books I use regularly…

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The Wait is the hardest part

still-waiting-for-responseSo I’ve finally started submitting The Courtesan of Constantinople to Publishers.  I’d spent six months looking for an Agent and didn’t get feedback – positive or negative steering me in a direction that required changes to the manuscript.

I got a lot of letters saying, “I like this and that, but don’t feel I’m right for this project.”  So started to wonder if I missed the boat on Steampunk.   Hard to say.    I did a couple Twitter parties and nothing there either.

While I submitted to Agents 5-10 at a time.  I was doing large batch by January. 🙂   For Publishers, I only do about 3 at a time.   I don’t expect to hear back from any of them until May. Because they are larger houses I may not hear back at all. I think I’ve been spoiled by the almost instant responses of small presses  🙂

In the meantime, I’ll work on Alchemists of Archangel and maybe Ryder Hard if I get blocked, just to keep moving.  Also, I have this book about writing I want to do, so plenty to keep me busy while I hurry up and wait.

Writer Wednesday – Solo Retreat

In the fall I take an annual writing retreat and I find that it replenishes my soul.  This past weekend I treated myself to a Solo Retreat.  I didn’t travel to an exotic location or rent a rustic cabin, or even leave my house.

DH was gone most of the day on Saturday with a flight student, so I had the house to myself.  I set some goals for myself, to do classwork and write. I was taking two classes simultaneously – The Artist’s Way at Writer Zen Garden and Writing and Resistance: Overcoming Our Blocks to Success by MM Pollard at RWA Online.

My Retreat went like this:

  1. Slept in – I’m retreating so working on my own timetable.
  2. Coffee – I’m a bear without my coffee.
  3. Morning Pages – It’s part of the Artist’s Way
  4. Class Work – Basically Log on and do homework. However long that took.
  5. Lunch – On my lunch break I watched the latest YouTube videos by First Draught and Jenna Moreci.   I find this a great way take a break and learn.
  6. Meditate – I used the 12-minute Focus Meditation on Calm.
  7. Write for 60 minutes – I’ve been using the help of the 90-day novel by Alan Watt to help flesh out my current WIP.
  8. Read for 30 minutes- Along with Artist’s Way for class.  I’m reading The Art of Working by Jeff Goins that I checked out from my Library.
  9. Write for 60 minutes
  10. Read for 30 minutes
  11. Repeated Steps 8 and 9 until DH came home and we had dinner.

I accomplished my goal and was able to enjoy my One Day Solo Retreat.

Can you do this?  Sure you can.  It might be easier for me because I live on a farm and don’t have a day job, but this is doable for anyone.

Some recommendations.   Pick some goals.  Are you burned out?  Maybe you need to build more Meditation and Yoga into your retreat than I did.  How about a luxurious bubble-bath or painting your toes, etc.

I often listen to Pandora on the farm.  I choose stations based on mood.  I recommend outdoor time if weather permits.  I avoided the snowy sub-zero temps…hence some meditation planned into my day.

Regarding Food – If you love to cook, incorporate this into your retreat.  Plan a favorite meal to prepare.  If you live in a large city consider delivery so you can enjoy the experience and maybe treat yourself.  I like to cook, but I wanted to keep the time to myself so I picked up some fancier microwavable meals.  I picked up beverages I like, chocolates, and some snacks I love.

If you have other passions like painting, drawing, knitting, scrapbooking, or other creative pursuits into your retreat…especially if you have more than one day.  This is a chance to fill your creative well.  Who knows, maybe while you are coloring in a color book…that writer’s block will finally release.

I would caution against spending the day binging TV shows or even reading for pleasure. Not because these things are bad, but because they distract you from yourself. If you want to watch that movie you’ve never seen, or read a book, do it in the evening or maybe only for a couple of hours.

Ultimately a Solo retreat is what you make it.

Happy Retreating!

 

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Valentines-Day-Books-1I thought I’d share a few of my top Ten favorite Romance Novelists. There is a pattern here.  Most of them write historical and are either on my auto-buy list or I re-read them over and over.   They are however in no particular order.

Johanna Lindsey – I have a few Johanna Lindsey books I read over and over. “Defy Not the Heart”, “say you Love Me” and “Love me Forever”  I had to purchase Nook versions because I’d worn out the covers so bad.

Catherine Coulter – I cut my teeth on Ms. Coulter’s Regencies.  I’m not as much of a fan of her FBI series, because hey I like Historicals.  A few of my favorites are “Sherbrooke Bride” and “Midsummer Magic”.

KY BrideHannah Howell – I binged and have purchased the Entire Murray Clan Series, but my truly favorite Hannah Howell book remain’s “Kentucky Bride”.

 

 

 

Cathy MaxwelCathy Maxwell – Cathy Maxwell makes me cry in the very best way.  She has some stories where such sacrifices are made you can feel it.  Hence the crying.  I don’t have a particular favorite and have read them over and over, all I can say is keep them coming Ms. Maxwell, keep them coming.

 

 

indexTessa Dare – The first book I picked up by Tessa Dare was “When a Scot Ties a Knot”. Loved it, and was then forced to play catch up when it was the 3rd book in her “Castles Ever After Series” which lead me back to her “Spinster Cove Series”.  Ms. Dare has the right amount of heat in her stories that make me search out Mr. Holland.  So he’s a fan as well.  🙂

Maddy Barone – Maddy Barone writes a post-apocalyptic werewolf series, “After the Crash” which I  adore.  A few of my Read over and overs are “Wolf Tracker”, “Wolf’s Oath” and “Wolf’s Vengence”.  Thank god I have digital copies of these.

 

Kristen Callihan – I remember I was traveling for work and I was looking for something to read in my hotel room and purchased “Firelight” for 99cents.  Then began my binging of her “Darkest London” series.

 

Bec McMasterBec McMaster – I was waiting for the next Kristen Callihan book to come out when  I noticed on my Nook, people who bought “Firelight” bought “Kiss of Steel”, so I did and then proceeded to binge read her “Steampunk London” series.

 

 

 

 

 

Deborah Blake – I love the “People who bought” feature on my Nook.  While waiting for the Baba Yaganext Kristen Callihan book or maybe it was the next Bec McMaster Book, I found Deborah Blake’s “Baba Yaga” series.  And subsequently fell in love with her “Broken Riders”

 

 

 

13273736Beverly Jenkins – I picked up Beverly Jenkins up at the Library on Audio Book and listened to “Indigo” on my daily commute.  Now I read her books as they come out. 🙂  It’s funny but I really dug the historical knowledge she put in her books, and found myself telling people, “Did you know the underground railroad did this and this.” Thank you, Ms. Beverly, for reminding me why I fell in love with the Historical Romance Genre.

Happy Valentine’sDay!  I hope you have a wonderful and teriffic day and curl up with a good romance.   I know I will.

Writer Wednesday – Put a Fork in my novel, I’m done.

when-im-done-im-done-and-today-is-the-day-i-have-made-that-decision-bc8b7There comes a time when you have to quit editing and declare a project done.  Move on to the next one.  I’ve reached that point with Courtesan.

I’ve done all I can with the novel.

I’ve layered and cut producing a novel of 54,333 words.

Does it mean there aren’t corrections to make?  Of Course not but I need another set of eyes at this point.  I’ve asked for some BETA help, to get that big picture feel, but I can’t continue edits without wrecking voice.

The good news.  This is ready to get looked at by an agent or editor.  In my opinion, any changes that need to be made will be to satisfy the readership, not me.  And that’s okay, I’m used to working with editors to make appropriate changes.    That’s part of meeting reader expectation.

Now its time to move on to Book 2: The Alchemists of Archangel.

Hopefully, The Courtesan of Constantinople doesn’t sit too long on my virtual shelf, trying to find a home.~Tina

 

 

Writer Wednesday – Editing

book-editingI’m not talking about dotting your i’s and crossing your t’s here, or finding spelling mistakes, although those are important.

I’m talking about looking at your work as a whole and saying to yourself – is this working or why isn’t this working.

I’ve finished up my 2nd round of layering and usually when I do the layering I find other issues.  And I’ve found some frivolous plot lines that need to be dealt with.  I can still use them, but they don’t make sense so I need to dig deeper.

I need to make these plot points stronger to thread through this series on a bigger level.  I have a lot of side notes like “Needs to be more significant” or “what are you trying to say”

This is an interesting process – I have to be objective looking at these items and I’ve been fortunate that I’m usually willing to change plot lines if necessary and I think this is necessary.

I’m off to it.  ~Tina

Writing Wednesday – Goal Setting

Welcome to the new year! I, like many people, have set resolutions for the new year.   In coming up with this year’s goals, I found a theme – Exploration.

Since I lost my day job, I’ve decided to explore my creative side.   There will be some definate focus on writing, but I want to try new things like:

  1. Acting – either in local Theatre or Narration.
  2. Sewing – I love the idea of making clothes
  3. Baking – I’m a passable cook, but haven’t really mastered the baking of breads, pies, cakes, cookies, desserts, etc.

These are just a few things I want to Explore, and I feel they will help me grow as a writer as well as a person.

And of course I have writer and personal goals as well, but I’m still fine tuning those.