Good morning!! I hope this post finds you all healthy and happy! I've thought often of my blog and wondered if I should put more time into keeping it up. Sometimes it's almost therapeutic for me because it's as if I'm purging some of my thoughts and anxieties. But it's also a source of stress when I think about maintaining the posts on a regular basis to build a platform, or a foundation of readers. I believe for the time being I'll try to post as often as I can. It's easy to say I'll post three days a week and offer certain themes on particular days...but then I laugh at myself. I can make plans and write things down but it is very rare when the path is straight and narrow...or easy. I usually just roll with the punches. Which is what I've decided to do with my blog.
Some of you may not know much about my journey. I have been writing for about 8 years now, more or less, and I haven't published as of yet. I have several projects in with editors and just waiting for their response. I've placed in several contests with different manuscripts so I'd like to think I might have something worth all those years of torturing my characters. I've let too many things get in the way of my writing and my goal is to focus on my stories full-time.
This month is NaNoWriMo November for some authors. It stands for National Novel Writing Month and is meant to push writers into getting at least 50k words written toward a novel in a month. There are some that have already hit their goal and still going...others like me that are struggling. I've been able to finish two out of five years and I highly doubt I'll make my 50k this year. I've had way too many distractions and not enough will power to push through. I can make excuses all day long but truth be told? I know I could've pushed myself and pounded out 50k words but it would take major revisions to get the manuscript submission ready. I will give credit where it is due though, NaNo is a great motivational tool to get me to focus more on getting the words down on a daily basis. I'll keep going, regardless of whether or not I hit the word goal. I am definitely not one to write fast.
Now is the time for me to get serious. I'm not able to work outside of the home until my health improves so there is no excuse. This week will be full of Thanksgiving prep but we're not having anyone outside of our immediate family over to eat. My goal is to write whenever I have a free moment. The guys will be home most of the week for the holiday and will help with what I need to get done. Hopefully I can carve out time to sit down with the laptop first thing in the morning with a pot of coffee.
Peace and quiet...and coffee. Maybe I'll hit the big time and hire a housekeeper and personal chef. I think I have a better chance of winning the lottery. ;)
Wishing you all good health, happiness, and blessings.
What makes you turn the page of a book? Did the author manage to catch your attention so you had to keep reading to see what happened next? Or did it leave you wondering if you'd wasted your money and should've bought the title with the half nekked cowboy. Well...cowboy for me, maybe you prefer the firefighter or sweet couple holding a baby.
I am in no way an authority qualified in the craft of writing. However, I do love to read and learn about writing. If I can share anything that might help...you betcha. I would love to have an editor critique my blog posts if I could. LOL. So if you have any insight, please by all means--share.
The opening paragraph is our opportunity as authors to grab the attention of the reader. Whether it be an agent or editor, or the all important reader that buys the book. Of course it's important to catch the eye of a person that can get your book to the shelves, but with the availability of self-publishing there are those that bypass the agent/editor route. (Which isn't always a good thing.) But it is vital to reel in the reader so they'll stop thinking about the sink full of dishes needing to be washed, or that the family actually expects to eat dinner on a daily basis. Not that I advocate starving your family because I want you to read my book. But maybe keep sandwich meat, or pre-prepared casseroles, on hand for a quick meal so you don't have to put the book down for long. I personally love my slow-cooker. I've had a few nights where I took a book in the kitchen with me and read while sauce simmered or I was waiting for garlic bread to toast. Usually I can fold clothes or handle other household chores while cooking, but when I get a great book that grabs my attention...I tend to burn the bread. ;)
Is it the emotion that makes you keep going and wanting more? The element of surprise or the burning need to find out who the woman is and why she is rushing to the hospital? It's the beginning of the book and the chance to introduce the main character/s and premise of the story. It could be a killer opening sentence, several sentences, or a full paragraph. Whatever the length, it is one of the most important elements of a book in my opinion. It sets the tone. There have been several books I've read that I doubted would be worth my time to read but I kept pushing through because I hate to waste money. I also like to keep notes as to what it is that turned me off and use it as an example as what not to do.
The hardest part of writing for me is the first paragraph and where to start. I think it's a difficult task for several authors from what I've understood when talking craft. If the pacing is slow and you're trying too hard to cram character backstory in...then it's probable that the reader has already lost interest. But it's a balance to keep from cramming action down their throat and confuse the reader before they even have a chance to get hooked.
I believe that the balance evens out when the author can begin with a dilemma or the hint of what the conflict will be between the main characters. To give the reader a reason to cheer for the hero/heroine and root for a reward. A reason to care. And proofread, proofread, proofread. Especially if self-publishing is the projected path. I can't count how many books recently that I can instantly tell there wasn't an editor involved in the process. It's easier to swallow when the book is priced at $.99, but it kept the author from going into my must-buy list.
So what about you? Will you keep reading and give the author/story a second chance?
We're talking about "firsts" over at my critique group blog, Heart-Shaped Glasses. Author, Lori Sizemore, asked if we'd read any stories that had touched us in memorable ways. I immediately thought of my aunt and a book that spurred my imagination on to spin a story about an ancestor I'd found fascinating. One of these days I'd love to sit down and read through my notes and finish the story. Check out Lori's post if you have time.
Her post made me think about something as an author that I've been asked. How do I come up with my story ideas. Many of my ideas pop up when I'm doing simple household chores, taking a shower, driving and listening to music, conversations I overhear...just about anything can trigger an idea. I can actually picture characters and then I question why? What if? What makes the main characters react...what makes them tick? How can I lead them to the happily-ever-after? My family knows when I go into full writer mode if my eyes glass over and I start frantically searching for paper and pen. I've also been known to leave a blank page open in my Word program so I can open my laptop and jot down an idea.
If you're an author...is there something specific that helps trigger your story ideas? As a reader...is there a particular story that is a shelf keeper? A book you can reread over and over again?
I am so ready for spring to arrive. Today is the first day of May and tornado statistics predict that Oklahomans are more likely to deal with tornadoes in the next two weeks than any other time of the year. But guess what is in the forecast today and tomorrow? Snow. Seriously. It was 86 yesterday, predicted to be 82 today, and the high tomorrow will be 46. I've always heard that if you don't like the weather in Oklahoma...wait a day. True that, I guess. We probably won't see the snow but I guess it's better than being in the 90's already and going into the summer months in a drought. In fact, we've had so much rain that I lost all of my early tomato and pepper plants. My cowboy hasn't even tilled the big garden yet because it's still a little wet around the garden.
What have you guys been up to?! Me...life chaos as usual. Little man is back in school, I'm taking classes online, and we moved. Again. And we're still looking for the right land to buy so I can't even feel settled yet. *sigh* Maybe one of these days. My writing has taken a detour lately. I've tried to open my files and work, and I got in a couple of good word days...but not recently. And I really miss it. I had several story ideas pop up so I at least put them in a file for later brainstorming.
I'm off to work on critiques and maybe my own chapter. I also have 2 final papers to prepare for school, but I wanted to stop by and say hi. I hope you guys are being much more productive than I am. :) My critique group has revamped our blog and I'll leave you guys a link if you have time to drop by and share a cup of Joe with us.
November...I can't believe we're on the downhill slide to the holidays. I love this time of year. The smell of wood burning fireplaces, vivid colors in the turning leaves of fall, college football, the smell of chili in the slow cooker...
But it also marks the national writing movement of NaNoWriMo. For those of you unfamiliar with that term of torture, it's National Novel Writing Month. It's where writers all over the world (I know it says national but I personally know there are international writers involved) gear up to write that best selling novel in just one month. It's a challenge. BIG challenge. One that I'm participating in this year.
Not that I'm particularly active in posting on my blog, but I may be a little distracted with my writing this month. And then both of my boys have birthdays coming up along with Thanksgiving and Christmas. I'll try to post again soon...but if not? You can find me at NaNo and Facebook.
NaNo? Anyone? Do you pre-plan? I have to. I'm not a panster. Well...maybe a little. So does that make me a panster plotter? I'm working on my synopsis and outline for a new story I decided to use for National Novel Writing Month. November 1st...it's on like Donkey Kong. It's all about the daily word count. I'll have to handcuff and gag my internal editor. The important key to remember is to get the story out. Put it on paper.
So do you plot or pre-plan your story? Do you make character charts or write out an outline or synopsis to follow as you push through the rough draft? I'm going to plot with this story. I haven't always in the past and I've struggled with them. Hopefully this weekend I can get a corkboard for my notes. Next week I'll blog out writing space and how it affects your writing. But I've got about two weeks before NaNo begins and I need to chart my characters, their goals, motivation, and conflicts. Even though it sounds like a lot of work...I'm excited.
Are you a plotter? Panster? Both?! What seems to work best for you?
Hmmm...I see that I missed Foodie Friday so I'll do a double dip and include a little food in with my Monday musings. Pot roast. One of our favorite go-to meals that is not only easy to make, but a meal I know will be eaten and enjoyed. I usually buy a double pack of Angus beef chuck roast at Sam's Club and slow cook one in the Crockpot and one in the oven. I put a packet of onion mushroom soup mix in each pot and mix it with about a cup of beef broth. I add a small bag of fat baby carrots, mince four cloves of garlic, two medium onions, and chop six stalks of celery and split for each pan/pot. I lightly sprinkle both roasts with Cavender's All Purpose Greek Seasoning because we love the flavor and it has most of the seasonings that I'd use anyways. I add a bay leaf and sprinkle about two teaspoons of Italian seasonings in each pan/pot and cover. I slow cook the one in the oven at 250 degrees for around 5 hours and raise the temp to 400 degrees for an hour until the internal temp is at least 145 degrees as recommended by the USDA. Rare is usually around 130 degrees but my guys prefer their roast medium. And if you slow cook it...it's usually just as tender.
I usually check them both at least once and spoon some of the juice from the pan drippings over the roast for more flavor. When the roast is finished, I'll put the pan drippings in a sauce pan and heat it up until it's barely bubbling. Whisk in about a tablespoon of flour for gravy you can pour over the roast or mashed potatoes. I don't include potatoes in my pans because the guys prefer homemade mashed red potatoes. I'll quarter potatoes and boil with two tablespoons of butter, a dash of salt and pepper and cook until fork soft. Drain and mash, adding a stick of butter, two minced garlic cloves, a half cup of sour cream, a cup of cheddar cheese, and a half cup of chopped velvetta. The guys love fresh baked rolls and I cheat...I thaw Rhodes white or wheat frozen rolls and let them rise. I'll put them on to bake about 15 minutes before we start dishing up dinner. Rarely do I hear a peep from the guys...except when they ask for seconds. LOL. Several people I know have variations of the same recipe...some brown their roasts for a crust. Not me. I tend to find the roast a bit tougher when I do. I occasionally add fresh herbs when available.
*deep sigh* Now that the house is smelling soooo scrumptious, it's time to get to work. NaNo is coming up fast and I'm working to prepare my story. Today I'm going to start working on a basic synopsis or outline. I'd like to flesh out my character charts as well. That usually happens as I squeeze out the rough synopsis. We have about two weeks to get the basics done before it's time to start concentrating on word count. I am determined to have a rough draft completed by the end of November. Hopefully I can have the edits completed by January. My goal is to go through a round of critiques with my crit partners and then send it to a freelance editor by the end of January. I've imposed a personal deadline to have it ready to either submit or self-publish by March 1, 2013. I'm still not sure which I'll focus on yet.
Wife, Mom and romance writer. I love spending time with my beautiful family and cooking out with friends. We have a mini farm going on with horses, chickens, Blue Heelers and Boxers. We're volunteers for the local Red Dirt Boxer Rescue. We foster Boxers until we can find loving furever homes. Please spay and neuter your pets!