SADDLE UP AND GET GOING! Tips For Wannabe Writers to FINISH That Novel!

 

Starting, and finishing, a novel can be a daunting prospect, but you can do it if you’re willing to be a little disciplined and try a few different ways of doing things. I’ve compiled a few of the tips that have made the biggest difference to me in my journey as a writer. I hope something here will help you! I’ve used the tips below, some from others, and some I’ve discovered myself, to write and publish three full length historical romantic suspense/thriller novels in the past four years. They work for me.

 

 

  • Write…just write.

Get it out of your head and down on paper or on your computer, word processor or whatever you use.

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  • Plan your writing in the best way for you.

It may take some time to figure out what that best way really is. Some people are Planners (plot their novel out ahead of time), some are Pantsers (write by the seat of their pants) and some are a combination of the two, as I am. I write historicals, so I automatically have a timeline to work my story into. Once I plot out my basic story, with a solid framework offered by the real timeline (planning), I let my characters go to work and tell me the story (pantsing).

  • Let go of that ‘internal editor’.

While you write your rough draft, just write whatever comes out. It might be junk, but so what? That’s the beauty of a rough draft: you can edit it later. You can’t edit a blank page, so get on with it and progress your story, instead of getting stuck and giving up somewhere back on Chapter 1 or 2.

(Or NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program, if you’re a junior)

NaNoWriMo is a fun, worldwide, online-linked program where from 1-30 November of every year participants drive towards their goal of writing 50,000 words of their own novel. Yes, 50K words. Why would anyone want to put themselves through that? For me, it’s about getting better at the first and third bullet points, above. You can’t edit a blank page. (yes, I already said that—it’s that important) J

 I wrote a large chunk of the middle of this book in NaNoWrimo. It’s the one I’ve just released!

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  • Find a time to write every day.

Not most days, every day.

Finding a time to write undisturbed is not always possible and you may have to get creative. I like to write in bed, before I get caught up in everything I see needs doing around the place. This required changing my bedtime so I am awake before everyone else starts moving around and needing my attention!

  • Make a Daily Writing Pact.

In his excellent book: On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, Stephen King suggests making an agreement with yourself to write a certain number of words every day, and keeping to it.

No, you don’t get Sundays off.

Or Mondays. This is not a restaurant.

If you want to be an author, act like one, and write.

Even at 500 words per day, in 100 days or just over three months, you will have written 50,000 words.

At 1000 words per day, in the same time period, you’ll have completed the draft of that 100,000 word novel you’ve been dreaming about. For a professional writer, he suggests 2000 words per day.

Do the maths. It works.

  • Write what you know.

It adds insights that others may never have considered, but I think it’s also good to write what you don’t know much about, using it as a stimulus to learn about things that interest you and keep yourself fresh! If you choose to do this, however, find people who do know about those things you’ve just learned, to ensure you get it right! Especially if it’s about horses. Horse owners (including yours truly–yes, we’re snobs) may be intolerant of writers who don’t know their stuff and still write about horses. For me, regardless of the intrinsic value of the rest of the story, if a writer doesn’t get the horse parts right, he or she has has lost my confidence. I simply won’t read the book.

I almost didn’t write this book…it was a request from a few beta readers…I was scared to write this part, maybe because I grew up and lived in several places in this book!  I should have known, it would make it easier! I used to run and ride where this cover pic was taken!

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  • Help: Books for beginning writers or beginning editors (or any writers or editors, for that matter).

If you’re a beginning writer, you might read through some of the books mentioned below before you get started. If you’ve already done that draft, definitely read them before you go on.

  • Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself Into Print by Renni Browne and Dave King.

  • The Novel Writer’s Toolkit by Bob Mayer and Jen Talty

  • The Emotion Thesaurus, by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi

 ~

 

I’ve met many wanna be authors who say: “I started writing a novel once, but never finished it.”

I’ll bet my boots they kept going back to edit. How many of these people do you know?

Ask them.

It doesn’t have to happen to you.

Only you control your writing destiny.

~

Go for it.

 

I’ve just published Book Three in The Long Trails Series, entitled

A Sea of Green Unfolding

~ When you’ve lost everything,
the only way to go is up—
isn’t it? ~

Tragedy strikes in Aleksandra and Xavier’s newly-found paradise on their California Rancho de las Pulgas. Von Tempsky invites them on a journey to a new life in peaceful New Zealand, but change is in the wind. When they reach Aotearoa, they disembark into a turbulent wilderness—where the wars between the European settlers and the local Māori have only just begun.

Here’s this month’s giveaway!

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If you’d like to go into the draw to win a copy of the regular print edition of newly-released A Sea of Green Unfolding (when it’s available, soon!), leave a review of A Sea of Green Unfolding where you purchased your eBook or paperback.

The digital version is available on Amazon right now for just $2.99 USD! It’s also available to you if you’re on Prime or Kindle Unlimited!
Just send me your email address and the site where you left your review and you’ll be in the draw!

Amazon

My email: lizzi@lizzitremayne.com

What reviewers have to say about

A Sea of Green Unfolding

“As usual in this series, the historical research is excellent and extremely detailed, and…well-integrated into the narrative. The description of the environs through which Lizzi Tremayne’s characters travel are particularly good – lush and vibrant. In the New Zealand section of the novel she makes our country sound like paradise. Which it is. There is one more volume to come after this, Tatiana, and I’m looking forward to it.”

   –Deborah Challinor, number one bestselling author and historian

“I was lucky enough to read A Sea Of Green Unfolding prior to release and really enjoyed this beautifully researched and engrossing story.
This is the third book in the Long Trail series and follows on nicely from the other two, though if you’ve picked this one up and are keen to read it first you’ll find it stands alone well. Author Lizzi Tremayne has developed an exciting tale which kept me on the edge of my seat throughout as Aleksandra and Xavier faced one issue after another, first of all at their Californian ranch and later on their journey to a new home in New Zealand.
I loved the way that this story was interwoven with New Zealand’s turbulent mid-19th century history as European settlers and Maori tribes battled over disputed land. I loved the imagery too. Most of all though I loved travelling with Aleksandra through the Waikato countryside in her bid to be reunited with Xavier.
Lizzi Tremayne has stamped her mark as an excellent story teller who does her homework well and puts her knowledge to good use in her writing. I look forward to seeing what she comes up with next.”

   –Shelagh Merlin, NetGalley Reviewer

 

Reviewers are saying of the rest of the series:

The Hills of Gold Unchanging:

“The pace is fast, there’s plenty of action and adventure and a few twists I didn’t see coming. Lizzi Tremayne writes good characters, and that definitely includes the horses. For me, though, it’s the history that’s the star in this story. Good characters plus excellent history equals a great read, which is what this is.”
–Deborah Challinor, number one bestselling author and historian

“…superb storytelling. As Aleksandra and Xavier faced and survived human malevolence, natural disaster and accidents, and their own doubts and insecurities, I kept turning pages to find out what happened next. I love books in which adversity sculptures character and where challenges to relationships bend them to breakpoint and rebuild them stronger. This is one of those books. I can’t wait to read the sequel.”
–Judy Knighton, editor

“There are so many things to like about this story. Lead characters, Aleks and Xavier, are well rounded and strong. Aleks has a stubborn streak and a determination to survive, no matter what. Both inspired me to cheer them on as they faced one problem after another along the way from Utah to California. The plot is well developed, and I particularly liked the attention to historical detail along the way. This is an author who does her homework, and it shows. I was intrigued by this story, and wish I’d read the first in the series before venturing onto this one. Despite that, this story does stand alone well, and is a cracking good yarn.”
  –Shelagh Merlin, NetGalley Reviewer

And about A Long Trail Rolling, Book One:

“vivid, light and fast-paced…it will appeal in particular to anyone interested in American…history, and in general to those looking for a ripping good read. I’m looking forward to reading The Hills of Gold Unchanging, the next volume in the Aleksandra and Xavier saga”
   –Deborah Challinor, number one bestselling author and historian

“The mystery, adventure, and danger of life in Utah in the 1860s is beautifully described…an authentic, emotional story of one woman’s fight for survival in an unforgiving landscape. I couldn’t put Lizzi Tremayne’s book down.”
  Leeanna Morgan, USA Today bestselling author
 
“An impressive debut from a New Zealand (ex-American) author…a romance, a western, and an adventure story, all rolled up into a compelling read…I devoured this one and am hungry for more.”
   –Booksellers NZ

Awards for A Long Trail Rolling

With this debut novel, Lizzi was:

Finalist 2013 RWNZ Great Beginnings;
Winner 2014 RWNZ Pacific Hearts Award
Winner 2015 RWNZ Koru Award for Best First Novel
Third 2015 RWNZ Koru Long Novel
Finalist 2015 Best Indie Book Award
Click here to go to my website to read the rest! 

 

I hope you’re having a great start to August!

Good luck in the draw!

Regards from NZ.


Lizzi

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(This is my son Elliot and I in a Combined Driving competition, driving Maya, or Blue Mist Shemaya. The wee lad is much taller than I am, now!)

 

…and now I’ve done this post, I’m off to work on my book for the Christmas Boxed set with Authors of Main Street!!!!

xx

Lizzi

Welcome to Long Island!

I admit I couldn’t come up with a topic for this month’s blog post so I put it out to my Facebook friends/followers and one suggested I write about life on Long Island. See, that’s the first thing you have to know. Unlike people who live in Cincinnati or Wichita or even New York, we live on Long Island.

So, here are a few things I love about my home:

The food. You can’t get better pizza anywhere, and there is literally a pizzeria within walking distance of anywhere you live here. And I’m not talking about Domino’s or Pizza Hut or any of those other franchise chains. We’re all about the small business pizza owner here. I drive 2.5 miles to work every day, on one main road, and I pass three pizzerias on my way! I could probably give up everything else if I moved, but the pizza is a deal-breaker.

Transplanted Long Islanders tell me the must-have egg sandwiches are not available anywhere else. Luckily, I can make my own at home. Start with a seeded roll, layer on grilled ham or turkey or bacon or no meat, if that’s your preference (I usually go with the ham), two eggs prepared anyway you want (over easy, please – with the yolk still drippy), cheese if that’s your thing, and your favorite condiments (most people go with SPK: salt, pepper, ketchup. Ketchup on eggs is sacrilege, in my book.) Like pizza, you can find these delights at any bagel shop or delicatessen on your way to work. The good places will throw in a coffee and small orange juice for a great morning meal!

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And don’t get me started on bagels. (Okay, fine.) Like our pizza, our bagels are the best and readily available. You want flavors? We got ‘em: egg, onion, sesame, everything, cinnamon raisin, French toast, blueberry, strawberry, even rainbow bagels, and the St. Patrick’s Day tradition of green bagels! Grab a dozen and some hand-whipped cream cheese for a feast that can’t be beat.

Location, location, location! If I drive west, I wind up in one of the most exciting cities in the world: New York. I’m an hour’s ride by train or car from Broadway plays, museums, zoos and aquariums, world-class shopping, or sightseeing. Driving east, I hit the Hamptons and Montauk (fun fact: Montauk is the inspiration fo my fictional town of Snug Harbor in my Calendar Girls series) for five-star beaches,DuetinSeptember 500x750 (1)fishing, summer fun, vineyards, microbreweries, farm fresh fruits and veggies, and quiet but lovely off-season getaways. In my own sleepy little town, I’m a five-minute drive from stunning sunsets at our local beach.

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We’re quirky. We have buildings shaped like a giant duck, like castles, and like a pirate ship. We’re the home of the world-famous Grucci Fireworks family and the Amityville Horror House.

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Credit: Shutterstock.com

We’re historical. The first English-speaking settlement in New York was founded in Southold in the 17th century. During the Revolutionary War, our residents were spies who aided Washington’s forces in New York. America’s first poet, Walt Whitman, was a born-and-bred Long Islander. The first golf course was built here. Sorry, Texas, but we had the first cattle ranch. First lighthouse? Montauk Point. The first supermarket was our very own King Kullen. And our ancestors drove to it on the first parkway. We probably suffered through the first traffic jams, too. Charles Lindburgh’s famous transatlantic flight began here. President Theodore Roosevelt had his summer home here, as did the Vanderbilts, the Gettys, and other wealthy families of the late 19th century. In 1965, 7-11 introduced the first coffee-to-go on Long Island (you’re welcome, caffeine-aficionados!). The Apollo lunar module was built here. The science of DNA was started at Cold Spring Harbor Labs. The Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind had its start here (and is still located here. Go to the local mall early on any morning and you can see the trainer volunteers walking new recruits).

Long Island is not, in actuality, an island; it’s a peninsula. Shaped like a fish, it’s 23 miles from north to south at its widest point and 118 miles long. We’re the most populated island in the U.S., and if we were a state, we’d be the 13th largest in the country. It’s not cheap to live here. In fact, we have some of the highest real estate prices, property taxes, and utility bills nationwide. But it’s the place that I (along with about 8 million other people) call home.

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Here’s how one of my characters in DUET IN SEPTEMBER, Book I of the Calendar Girls Series describes her hometown:

After dropping Nia off at her store, I considered my options. Going back to bed was out of the question. But if I planned to forgo my usual Saturday morning routine in favor of an early start to the day, I would need coffee. Stat.

As I cruised down Main Street, I sought out a quick spot for a caffeine infusion. My mistake. This was the Saturday of Labor Day weekend, one of the peak times for tourists in Snug Harbor. I passed the block where Mama’s Hen House served breakfast and confirmed my worst fears. Crowds of tourists loitered outside the restaurant on the three park benches, window shopping at the realtor’s next door, or chatting with the others waiting for one of the two dozen tables inside. Their children zipped up and down the sidewalk or slouched beside their parents. Strollers, which were not allowed inside due to the cramped interior, sat parked in rows near the entrance. Strike one.

Two blocks later, the line at the local bakery snaked the length of a football field. Really? These people were willing to wait over an hour for a few Danish? Sorry, I didn’t have the kind of patience needed to infiltrate that mob scene. Strike two.

One last place to check. And I couldn’t even squeeze into the parking lot at our local convenience store, thanks to the multitude of beachgoers buying ice for their coolers, twelve packs of canned soda, a quick breakfast, or all of the above. So much for my getting coffee to go. I’d have to wait until I got home for my morning jolt. Which, when I took my sweatpants and giant t-shirt into account, was probably a very good idea.

I made a beeline for home and soon enough, sat at my kitchen table with a toasted English muffin and my longed-for coffee. Once I finished breakfast and washed my few dishes, I stared at the clock above my sink. Now what? It wasn’t ten o’clock yet, and I had an entire day stretched out in front of me with nothing to do. I couldn’t hit the beach for the same reason I had to come home for breakfast: the plethora of tourists. Ditto for the shops, which would be jam-packed with those seeking that last-minute souvenir of the summer they’d spent in Snug Harbor. I should probably throw some laundry into the washer, but I cringed at the idea of spending my day off doing housework. Besides, it was far too beautiful a day to stay cooped up indoors.

A bike ride might be nice. And…I sneaked a peek at my thighs in my shortie pajama bottoms…beneficial. Yes. A little fresh air and some cardiovascular exercise. This excursion would also serve as my “something different” today. Win/win/win.

I quickly dressed in shorts and a t-shirt, before my lazy side could convince me if God wanted us to exercise, He wouldn’t have invented the Lifetime Channel. In the garage, I found my bike penned in by my artificial Christmas tree, the snow blower, and my ski equipment. Okay, so it’d been a while since I’d opted for two-wheel transport rather than four. When I first came home from Albany, Daddy’s deteriorating health had kept Nia and me running back and forth to the hospital. After his death and the funeral, I’d invested all my time into becoming the new Wainwright at the helm of Wainwright Financial. Such a dismal time…

Enough. I shook off the memories and wrestled the poor bike free. Once I rolled it out, I checked the tires and noticed the front one was flat. I ventured back into the garage for my manual pump and filled the tire with air. Fifteen minutes later, I sailed down my driveway, aimed for the circular road that ran around the marina. A salty breeze kissed my cheeks as I rode leisurely through my neighborhood.

I waved to Mrs. Seifert as I pedaled by where she knelt, weeding the garden of red and white impatiens around her mailbox. “Good morning.”

“Morning, Paige,” she called after me. “Enjoy your ride.”

I would.

Snug Harbor earned its name because the town bordered large water on two sides. On the southern coast, the Atlantic Ocean offered miles of pristine beach with soft white sand, ideal for the tourist trade. The rocky northern coast sat at the edge of the Long Island Sound, creating a perfect waterway for fishermen. Whereas the south end of town prospered due to multi-million dollar properties, five star restaurants, and upscale boutiques, this side—the north crescent—catered to a very different clientele. No-frills motels, bars, delicatessens that opened at four in the morning to serve breakfast for early rising mariners, bait shops, and takeout restaurants ruled here.

The north side also had a wilder beauty than the south, thanks to less development and a more rural flavor. At least, that was my opinion. Buildings were erected farther apart, with lots of open space between. Bulrushes caught the breeze and rustled. Seagulls hovered, squawking as they sought leftover food to scavenge. Across the rocky inlet, the Coast Guard station stood sentry with its lighthouse and flapping flags.

The one exception to this pristine homage to Mother Nature was Coffield’s Wharf, a miniature version of San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf. Our replica boasted a popular clam bar where tourists and locals could grab fresh-caught seafood and pitchers of frosty beer while dining outdoors at picnic tables. For higher end clientele, there was also one five-star restaurant with spectacular water views. The various outbuildings housed a few souvenir shops, an old-fashioned ice cream parlor, an expensive toy store, and of course, a Coffield’s Bluff wine store that offered free tastings on weekends. When Nia and I were kids, our parents often took us to the wharf in the evenings for ice cream or fried clams, or just to walk over to the docks next door to see the party boats sailing back with the day’s catch. At ten on a Saturday morning, I figured most of the crowds would be elsewhere: the beach, breakfast (obviously), aboard party boats, or wherever else tourists went on beautiful sunny days.

The simple joys of childhood echoed around me as I cycled toward the wharf. I passed the old elementary school Nia and I had attended. Behind the school sat the playground where I’d had my first kiss from a boy. Darren Simmons had been eight and I was seven. His family moved to Texas a few weeks later and for a while, I thought my scandalous behavior was the cause of their abrupt departure from Snug Harbor. When I’d finally confessed my deep dark sin to my mother, she’d laughed and explained Darren’s father had been offered a transfer from his company. The peck on the lips I’d shared with Darren was probably his way of saying goodbye. Of course, only a year later, my mother became the poster child for “scandalous behavior,” but at the time, her comments made perfect sense.

On the next block, I rode past the public library, a frequent hangout in my school years—before the existence of the Internet.

Everywhere I looked along my route sparked a memory to make me smile.

Why hadn’t I done this before now? My legs pumped for an uphill climb, then relaxed my feet on the pedals as I coasted down the other side. I felt exhilarated, powerful, and a little bit sexy. No wonder people raved about the endorphin rush that came from exercising. This was amazing!

A higher hill came into view, and I shifted gears to prepare. I had to pedal a bit harder than I’d anticipated, but I pushed myself, knowing I could coast down the other side. Once I reached the other side. Funny how I never noticed how steep this road was when I drove it every day in my SUV. My thigh muscles ached, and I actually rose off the seat to get more power into my pedaling. Sweat broke out on my forehead. Still, the bike and I climbed. My pace slowed with my exertion, making every motion harder to complete. At last, I crested the hill, but only found a plateau. No downhill break to catch my breath. I had to push on.

A few yards ahead of me, a man walked a large, lean dog near the curb that ran along the shoreline. The man had a great build with broad shoulders packed into a tight t-shirt and long, muscular legs in khaki shorts. Nice buns, I contemplated as I drew closer. A good handful, but no excess.

Beeeeeeep! A car horn blared from behind me, and I swerved to keep the front tire straight. The bike veered onto the road’s shoulder and slid on a patch of sand, nearly upending me.

The expensive convertible roared past me at a speed I surmised was double the town’s limit. The blond driver, her long hair whipping with the wind, flipped me the bird as she sped on down the road.

“Nice,” I shouted after her. “I hope you get arrested!” Where was a cop when I needed one?

“Paige, is that you?”

Oh, good God. Mr. Yummybuns looked at me over his tasty shoulder, and I groaned. Why had I wished for a cop right now?

“Hey, Sam.” I tried to play nonchalant as I braked my bike next to him. “Did you see that moron?”

He shrugged. “Yeah, but I’m off-duty right now. If it makes you feel any better, though, Tonya’s at the top of the next ridge with a radar gun.”

Imagining the blonde’s upcoming surprise, I laughed. “No lie?”

“Nope.” Sam’s grin sparked fireworks in my belly.

In the dim hallway last night, I’d found his smile dazzling, but in the light of day, I could easily understand Nia’s attraction to the rest of him. He looked like a sun-bronzed god, all sinew and golden skin with eyes the color of honey and the lushest lashes I’d ever seen on a man.

If only he were mute…

As if to introduce itself, the fawn-colored dog suddenly lurched forward to sniff at my sneakers.

“Daisy, get down.” Sam yanked on the leash.

“Hi there, sweetheart. Aren’t you a love?” I bent to rub the pooch between its folded ears, then looked up at Sam again. “I didn’t know you had a dog.”

“Daisy won’t hurt you. She’s big but loveable.”

“Daisy?” I quirked my eyebrows. “You named this huge beast Daisy?”

“Not my choice. She’s a rescue from the Greyhound Liberation. Her full name is Daisy Chain of Love.”

“Wow.” I slipped my hand under Daisy’s angular jaw, and she snuffled. “I’m impressed.”

“Don’t be,” he replied. “All the racers get goofy names.”

Actually, I was referring to the fact that he had a softness for any living thing. But I wisely bit back the insult. “How long have you had her?” I asked instead.

“Two years.” Daisy licked his hand, and he patted her fondly. “If you’re thinking about a pet, I could probably hook you up with the rescue group. They’re always looking to place retired greyhounds.”

Me with a dog? I shook my head. I couldn’t even keep a houseplant thriving. “I don’t think I’d have the energy for a former racing star.”

“The keyword there is ‘former.’ They’re retired so they actually don’t do much running. And you’ve got a decent-sized yard for a dog to get out his ya-yas. Besides, you look like you could handle anything.” He glanced at my bike, then the road ahead, as if he didn’t want me to see the smirk on his face from his attempt to compliment me.

Yeah, sure. Suddenly he’s worried about hurting my feelings. Get a grip, Paige.

“Where you headed?” he asked, gaze still fixed on the horizon.

“The wharf, then home again.”

He whistled through his teeth. “Oh, right. But you don’t have the energy to keep up with a greyhound. That’s like…what? Eight miles round trip?”

Eight miles?! I swallowed a gasp and forced a casual smile. No way did I want him to know I had no idea how long a trek I’d planned for myself. “Yeah, something like that.”

“You training for some kind of marathon?”

“Sort of,” I lied. “The 10K Twin Fork Ride is next month. I figured I might as well start getting ready.” Wow. Could I get any more ridiculous? No way I had the slightest intention of participating in that torturefest.

“Where’s your water?” He gestured to my bike frame, then looked up at the sun and shielded his eyes with the flat of his hand.

Water? My gaze followed his to the empty wire rack where a water bottle should rest beneath my seat. Oops. I forgot about bringing something to drink on my morning trek. I wasn’t about to let him get the better of me, though.  “I’ll pick up a bottle when I get to the wharf,” I replied with a dismissive air.

His brows rose in twin arcs. “The wharf is still two miles from here. You’ll dehydrate long before you get there.” He jerked his head in the direction of the side street. “Come back to the house with Daisy and me, and I’ll grab you a coupla cold ones to go.”

If this were a movie, the creepy music would start building right now. What should the naïve heroine do? Go home with the monster so as not to hurt his feelings?

Lucky for me, this wasn’t a movie. I had no qualms about turning him down. “No, that’s okay. I’ll be fine.”

“Do I scare you, Paige?”

I snorted to hide my surprise. “Puh-leez.” He thought I was afraid of him? Or was he actually daring me to come to his house?

“Good. Then you’ve got no good reason to decline. And the break will give you time to reapply your sunscreen, too, since it looks like your face is starting to burn.”

“My…” Sunscreen. Of course. Something else I forgot. Jeez, I was a moron. But I’d committed to this stupidity and wouldn’t give Sam Dillon the satisfaction of catching me in my lies.

“Forgot that as well, huh?”

“I didn’t forget,” I retorted. “I just ran out and decided to pick up more when I got my water.”

“Uh-huh.” His knowing grin raised hackles on my nape. Note to self: don’t try to lie to a cop. “Come on. Let’s get you properly outfitted for your ‘training.’”

“It’s really not necessary,” I said lamely.

“Yeah, it is. Your sister would never forgive me if you wound up in the hospital and I could have prevented it.”

Nia. Again. I sighed my defeat and pushed my bike forward. “Then I guess I’ll take you up on your hospitality. Thanks, Sam.”

As I followed him and his dog, I had the uneasy feeling I’d just agreed to visit the devil in his private circle of hell.

 

My Love Affair With Conferences

njrw-pyhiabTomorrow night, I’ll head to New Jersey for NJRWA’s annual Put Your Heart in a Book Conference. For me,this conference is like coming home. After another year of workshops, booksignings, and reader/author get-togethers, my hectic schedule tends to end in October – and usually, at my home chapter, New Jersey. While there, I’ll catch up with friends, host writing sessions in my hotel room (complete with wine), attend workshops, cheer on winners of their annual Golden Leaf (an honor I received last year for REUNION IN OCTOBER) and Put Your Heart in a Book contests, and host my workshop, Sole Deep: Using Actors’ Exercises to Strengthen Characterization and Deepen Point-of-View.

I love conference season.

Put a hundred (or more) creative minds in a hotel, and you can’t help but absorb a ton of energy. I often wind up carrying my laptop or a notebook to restaurants, lobbies, and empty ballrooms so I can jot down the ideas zipping through my brain at any given moment.

There are so many friends I only get to see at conferences, writers and readers alike. We catch up on books, other friends, our lives. We hug a lot, laugh too loudly, drink a little too much, eat a lot of chocolate, and squeeze every minute we can together because we know it will have to last us another year.

We connect with writing professionals. Agents, editors, cover artists, and marketers will all be around to offer services and contracts to authors. In fact, NJRWA will host their first Trade Expo at this event, where the professionals can meet one-on-one with authors seeking their type of service.

And the workshops! No matter where you are in your writing career, an author can always glean a new bit of information at one of the many workshops provided at a conference. Conferences are exciting, rejuvenating, exhausting, and I love every one of them.

Once I come home from New Jersey, conference season for 2016 is ended. What’s a writer to do? Start planning next year’s conference schedule, of course! Keep your eyes open; I could be coming to a city near you.

 

 

Questions That Keep Me Up at Night

file000988905509Lots of people have insomnia every once in a while. Stress about work, family, health, etc. will keep you awake, pondering in the dark. Me? I have one of those minds that refuses to turn off when the lights go out. But I’m not worried about work, family or health. My head is filled with questions about my current work in progress, questions like these:

1. Have I used that name for a character in a different book? It seems familiar. 

2. How could I only write one paragraph today? At this pace, I’ll never hit The End.

3. Should I even keep this chapter? Or is it as bad as I’m afraid it is?

4. Is it any wonder all the “great” writers drank or did drugs? 

5. If I quit this insanity tomorrow, how soon would I miss it? 

6. What if I changed the dog to a cat? Or a lizard? Would that be funnier?

7. Crap. Did I commit to participate in a book event on a family holiday? (For the record, yes. A local author library signing. On Greek Easter. Gonna have to cancel one of them.)

8. Wouldn’t it be great if I could just lock myself in a hotel room for a month until I finished this book?

9. Maybe I should change my title?

10. Okay, I left my characters here doing this. What happens next?

These days, I’m working on two books at once, and one of those books has two story lines. That’s a lot to keep track of, and a lot to keep me up at night!

11. Do you think it will be worth it?

When I finally type The End on these two books, I’ll sleep well. For about three days. Then, that pesky muse of mine will start enticing me with a new story idea, and the cycle will begin all over again.

What Most Folks Don’t Know About Me

Grandma & Maya - Thanksgiving 2015I’m going to follow  Gina Ardito’s good example and introduce myself. I’ve spent much of the past thirty years being fairly visible in the writing world. I loved it while I did it. Traveling to conferences and writers’gatherings. Giving talks and workshops. Wearing my tailored black suit.

Now I’m going to tell you something most folks don’t know about me because it happened very recently. I’ve settled down and I intend to stay settled down. As I said – I enjoyed the crowded itinerary while I lived it. Now I don’t care if I ever pack a suitcase and catch a train or plane again. With a few exceptions.

Trips to visit family – especially when my grandchildren are involved. That’s me and granddaughter Maya in the photo. Also occasional getaways with my husband Jonathan. Such as to southwest Colorado and Monument Valley in Utah this coming spring. Plus a jaunt every now and then to hang out with a faraway friend so we can stay up talking and laughing together until the wee hours.

The only business traveling I plan to do is to the infrequent conference where I’ll be there as simply and purely and wonderfully a writer. No podiums to stand behind. No stacks of workshop handouts to lug around. No tailored black suit. Instead I’ll collect other presenters’ handouts and stay up talking and laughing with author friends until the wee hours.

In between these once-in-a-while travels I mostly occupy the pleasant nest that is my home. In particular my nest within that nest – the room where I write. The walls are covered with family photos on one side and my grandchildren’s artwork on the other side and memorabilia of my writing career in between.

There are bookcases and file boxes and a daybed couch I prefer to the desk for just about everything. Whether it be making up stories or struggling with marketing or indulging in a daydream. I walk in here with my mug of coffee in the morning and exhale fully because I’m fully at home.

My mug was given to me by my grandkids and it says this. “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined.” Finally I’m truly doing exactly that.

Alice Orr – http://www.aliceorrbooks.com.

A Wrong Way Home – Book 1 of my Riverton Road Romantic Suspense series – is a FREE eBook at Amazon and other online retailers. All of my books are available at my Amazon Author Page http://www.amazon.com/Alice-Orr/e/B000APC22E/.

Writing For Love by Joan Reeves

Do you write for love? Not love of publication, love of fame, or love AoMSX 800x500of royalties, but love of writing itself. Choosing one word over another. Putting words together in a certain way that it perfectly expresses the vision in your brain.

Years ago I heard a University of Houston Literature professor, who was a published poet, say that only poets write for the love of writing. His reasoning was that poets never make any money from writing so they do it strictly because they love stringing words together.

I disagreed with him then, and I disagree now because I know many writers who have written hundreds of thousands of words and have never been published yet they still keep writing. They submitted to publishers countless times and were rejected each time — not because their writing isn’t worthy of publication.

Reasoned Rejection? Hmmm

What many people in the general public don’t realize is that authors get rejected all the time. Rejection is no stranger to authors who are already published and writers who aren’t published but who are well-versed in the necessary skills to write a publishable book.

Writers don’t get published because of myriad reasons, and most of those reasons are subjective. Perhaps the publisher just bought a manuscript with that premise or that same setting. Maybe the editor doesn’t think the marketing hook is high concept enough or the editor’s personal opinion is that no one could ever be caught in the situation that’s in the opening scene of the book.

Maybe the publisher has an author who already writes that type of book, and they don’t see a need for another author writing it. Maybe the industry is downsizing because of the rise of indie publishing. Maybe the editor disdains women like the heroine of your book. Or, maybe the hero’s name is Brian, and the editor just split from her significant other who is also named Brian. The “maybe’s” go on forever.

Sometimes, good writing just never lands on the right editor or agent’s desk. By right, I mean the person who “gets” the story. Do writers give up? Some do. Some don’t. In the beginning, writers who have just begun to fight are motivated. They outline another book and start writing. Why? Because they can’t not write. They love writing.

Writing For Love Makes One Persist

All those writers who were summarily rejected are now free to embrace indie publishing and the technology of ebook readers that allow their work to find an audience. All those authors who wrote, and kept writing, for the love of writing, and who once buried rejected manuscripts in the bottom of a file drawer now have a chance to place their work – their words – in front of readers.

The smart indie authors have their manuscripts edited, proofread, and adorned with professional cover art and then published as ebooks, print books, audio books, or all three!

Readers find the books they want to read without big publicity machines to guide them, and they can get them at a bargain too. Most indie ebooks are priced less than five dollars making them an impulse buy for most readers. Who bats an eye at paying $3.99 for an ebook when a Venti Cappuccino costs more than that, as does a snack at a food court. A movie ticket costs much more than that. Plus, you can re-read the ebook as many times as you wish.

Post Script

An ebook is a great value and a lot of entertainment for such a small investment. Try one today. I’d love it if you’d try one of mine, or grab the Christmas on Main Street Box Set coming to a cyber bookstore near you very soon.

(If you like Romance and Sex — and Romance and Humor — in your novels, try a book by Joan Reeves. Joan’s books are available at most ebook sellers, with audio editions available at Audible and iTunes. Look for print editions in late 2013. Joan publishes Writing Hacks, a free subscription newsletter for writers, and Wordplay, a free subscription newsletter for readers. Visit SlingWords, Joan’s Blog, or her Website. Follow Joan on Twitter: @JoanReeves)

Summer Slump

What a summer it’s panning out to be. I’m going to tell you all a secret, I’ve been in a real slump. I sit in front of my computer and spend a lot of time TRYING to write. When you have to try there is little chance it’s going to be your best work. I think I’ve spent more time, editing old work, than creating new work!

It’s a painful way to spend gorgeous summer days. I had to really take stock of choices I made and decide what’s important. And I realize how happy writing makes me, how happy I was when I worked less, lived somewhere more simple and could afford to work at my craft, rather than work at working at my craft!

So, I’ve spent my summer very frustrated. And it all boils down to what makes a quality life? I’ve decided that for me there has been a shift in proprieties and in my idea of success. Success used to be getting that office with a door, the bigger and better title on a business card.

Now, success is spending as much time with my son, as he grows faster than a weed. Today, success is living a simpler life so I can focus on my dream. So, I’ve decided to reboot and move my life to a small town, where I can write more, work a day job less and be home when my son gets off the school bus! SUCCESS

Watch out world, the next novel is gonna be a doozy! 🙂

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