Thursday, December 7, 2017

A Peek Behind the Curtain: Being a Mentor

This year, I have the honor of participating in Author Mentor Match as a mentor. If you don't know about this program, it pairs aspiring Young Adult and Middle Grade writers who have completed manuscripts with experienced authors for mentorship (www.authormentormatch.com). This was AMM's third round (many writers from past rounds have already signed with agents, and the first AMM mentee book deal was announced last week), and the first time I've ever mentored in a contest or program like this. It's been a GREAT experience (and I'm beyond thrilled with the mentee I chose!). Below, I'll share a bit of a 'peek behind the curtain' that should be relevant to all mentoring contests like this one.


1) Choosing a mentee is really, truly, subjective. Sometimes, an entry's writing can be really polished, the concept interesting, and the characters fully fleshed-out, and a mentor still won't choose you. In many cases, it has absolutely nothing to do with the manuscript itself. When a mentor is wading through a inbox with dozens (sometimes hundreds) of entries, something will catch their eye, and it's impossible to say why. Could be something about the concept that resonates, or the main character's voice, or even something as minor as the setting. It often comes down to a je ne sais quoi, something undefinable, and that's obviously very frustrating for contest entrants. The best advice here is to keep entering contests with your strongest work and hope that it will eventually resonate with someone.

2) Some entries aren't chosen because their manuscripts are already query-ready. I always thought this was an urban legend: Sure, mentors will say this, but is it really true? I'm telling you, based on my own inbox in AMM this year... yes. It's true. I had a few entries where my only feedback was, 'Sorry I didn't pick you, but you don't need a mentor. Go forth and query!' It's maybe not the most helpful feedback, but I hope it was validating for those entrants.

3) A lot of entrants don't follow the rules. This came down to not attaching the right number of pages, forgetting a synopsis, attaching a query instead of pasting it into the email, etc. The biggest issue I found was entrants submitting a manuscript in a certain genre when I'd been clear in my mentor profile that there were genres I did and didn't want. This didn't bother me per se (I'm a contemporary writer, but it's FUN to read the occasional fantasy and sci-fi), but authors shoot themselves in the foot when they do this. I'm simply not the best mentor for fantasy or sci-fi, because it's not what I write, and I don't read much in those genres. You want a mentor who's really familiar with these genres because they'll be best situated to help you revise and query!

4) Giving feedback to all entrants takes a really long time. Before the submission window opened, I vowed to myself that I would give feedback to every author who submitted to me (as long as their entry wasn't chosen by another mentor). But let me tell you, that takes a LONG time. For each entry, I read a query, first 50 pages (sometimes more), and a synopsis, then wrote up 1-4 paragraphs of feedback. On average, it took about an hour per entry (and I'm a really fast reader, so it could have taken someone else quite a bit longer). I'm happy I did this, but it did amount to basically another full-time job over about ten days. So don't get angry if you submit to mentors and don't receive feedback for a long time, or don't ever receive feedback. I didn't realize until I did it myself that it's an extremely long process!

5) Gratitude means a lot to us. On that note, most of the entrants for whom I provided feedback sent back an email thanking me for doing so. That's in no way required, but it's really nice to know the feedback is appreciated. Especially helpful is when the author mentions what part of the feedback they found helpful, and/or what they expect to implement. That helps me hone my feedback-giving skills, which is something I, in turn, appreciate!

Do you have any questions or comments about the mentoring process? Feel free to drop them in the comments and I'll answer them!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Synergize!

Synergize is a fun word to say, and it's also the 6th Habit of Highly Successful Writers!



When you synergize, you bring a team's strengths to the table and achieve more than you could on your own. When we think of writing as a solitary pursuit, we miss out on opportunities to experience synergy in our creative process.

The ending of my (perpetual) WIP has changed at least five times. I have never quite been able to nail it. The last set of notes I got from my agent on this book were all fairly minor, except when we got to the ending. It was still not where it needed to be.

I consulted with a few of my CPs. My husband let me talk through the problems with him. I emailed my agent and got her input on a couple different ideas. Finally, I decided on an ending that worked for me and seemed like it would satisfy readers as well. Then I sat down to write it. It was like I was flying! The words just kept coming. Everything clicked, everything flowed. And I realized I was experiencing synergy in action. I used my team and their strengths and came up with something better than I could on my own.

Effective writers know when to bring others in to help them, and how to use everyone's strengths to get the best outcome. And when it works, it's glorious!

Friday, December 1, 2017

YA 2018 Releases



I stumbled upon this nifty list of 2018 releases for YA books, compiled by Book Birds, and thought I would share. Lots of great stuff coming out next year, and loooved seeing all those gorgeous covers.

Enjoy!

2018 YA Releases

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Notes from NaNo: Week Five


Since I post here on Thursdays, I decided to use my November (aka NaNovember) posts to give all you NaNo writers some fun plot points, characters, and other to incorporate into your works-in-progress if you get stuck or fall into a writing slump. For Week Five (and the last day of NaNo!), find the ending associated with your horoscope sign* and use it, subvert it, or incorporate it elsewhere into your book!


Aries: Everyone becomes friends and they ride off into the sunset together.

Taurus: Your main character kills your antagonist, but not before your antagonist reveals their plot/intentions.

Gemini: Your main character and their love interest get married.

Cancer: Your main character gets an exciting job offer.

Leo: A cliffhanger. Any cliffhanger.

Virgo: Your antagonist changes their ways and decides to become a better person.

Libra: Your protagonist goes back to their former life, but with different interests/desires.

Scorpio: A major character dies, and it's arguably your protagonist's fault.

Sagittarius: Someone has a baby.

Capricorn: Someone almost dies, but is saved at the last moment.

Aquarius: Your main character decides to be alone for a while.

Pisces: A dragon eats both your protagonist and antagonist.


*Note: I have no training or expertise with astrology. This is purely for fun!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Meet Will Damron in this Debut Author Spotlight

Debut Author Spotlight from @JLenniDorner on @OpAwesome6

The Tercentennial Baron (The Bellirolt Chronicles Book 1)


1- What five words represent your most notable characteristic or values? #In5Words

#In5Words Honor yourself and honor others.

2- Will you continue doing audiobook narration?

Absolutely I will continue doing audiobook narration! That has allowed me the resources to publish my book the way I wanted. I plan to narrate for at least the near future.

3- Did you learn something new about audiobook narration from your new writer point of view? Or have you approached writing differently thanks to your narration skill?

I think I’ve always been best as a narrator when I perform the book as if I wrote it. That sort of ownership is essential when you take on the telling of any story. In terms of writing, I’ve gained a much deeper appreciation for how a book SOUNDS when read aloud. Rhythm, pacing - that all clicks into place. If the book can’t be read aloud easily and fluidly, you need to edit more.

4- Can you share a story from your life that shows who you are as a person and why you are a writer?

A brief tale: I was obsessed with Star Wars as a kid; that was my first introduction to another UNIVERSE that someone else had created. So the first story I ever wrote was a total take-off on Star Wars. I think I even called it “Space Battles.” (I was in 3rd grade; give me a break.) It was literally a Luke vs Darth Vader story with different names, but somehow I knew I wasn’t just doing it for fun. I was starting to explore taking a world I loved and making it my own. I never finished that story, nor any other, until The Tercentennial Baron.

5- What ignited your passion for writing?

Reading other stories I loved AND watching movies. Probably movies even more! Just look at my previous answer. I knew as a young kid I wanted to create other worlds that people would want to be a part of.

6- What made you want to write a historical fantasy?

I love history, and I love fantasy. It really was that simple. I haven’t even read much historical fantasy, but to me history is a kind of fantasy in itself, because it concerns other worlds that have now fallen away - where lives were totally different - and yet parts of them still remain with us today. That, to me, is kind of magical, and the perfect set-up for a mystery.

7- Would you share a picture with us of a view of Scotland?

Glen Coe - one of my favorite parts of Scotland, with some of the most dramatic scenery. My fiancee and I hiked through there and fell in love with it.
Meet Will Damron in this Debut Author Spotlight ~ Glen Coe, Scotland


8- What are some of your short and long term writing goals?

Short term, I want to reach the point where I can make a living solely on my writing. By which I mean, my own original stories - not writing on assignment. Long term, I want to expand my repertoire of written work to many different series, not just the Bellirolt Chronicles. I want to create a variety of different worlds that fans can explore, so many different kinds of readers can enjoy my work.

9- Who is currently your biggest fan? What does that person love most (or "ship") about your debut novel?

Oh boy… I’m sure it’s a toss-up between my mother, my sisters, and my fiancee. How do you measure such a thing? They each appreciate different things about my work. But I think one thing they can all agree on is they feel very connected to the journeys of the characters in the book. And they can’t wait to read more about them.

10- Have you ever used a sword, perhaps while acting?

I have, indeed. I was trained in 18th-century swordplay while acting at Colonial Williamsburg, and one of my best friends and I did a sword fighting scene there that ran for well over a year. We used the 18-century smallsword, which also makes a brief appearance in my book…

11- What emotions do you hope your book will evoke for the reader, and is there a particular scene you hope will resonate with readers?

There are many scenes I hope will resonate, but I don’t want to give any of them away! As for emotions, I hope readers feel fear for the danger the main characters find themselves in, curiosity to discover the truth, and the chilling sense of awe that comes as that truth is revealed.

12- What most helped you to improve your writing craft?

Learning to pursue revealing the story, not creating the story. I can create lots of things, but only one in a hundred of them will really serve the story and the characters. Once I learned to view the story as something to be discovered, all the pieces of it finally fell into place.

13- What is the most memorable trait or visual oddity of one of your characters?

I would say the Baron’s green eyes. It’s never explained why his eyes have a tendency to glow a vibrant jade green, but they are what has marked him throughout history. And of course, eyes are the windows to the soul, and the Baron has quite a tortured soul.

14- #DiversityBingo2017 What's your favorite book that covers a square on the card?

I am forever a fan of Toni Morrison’s “Song of Solomon”, as it had a tremendous effect on me when I read it in high school. And that certainly fits with Author of Color, Biracial, Black, and Person of Color on the Cover.


15- Which character has your favorite Personality Contradiction?

I can think of many personality contradictions in the Baron’s character, but I think my favorite is in the character of Granny McGugan. She protects the young hero, Percival (her grandson), by being exceptionally manipulative and tyrannical toward him. It’s all based on her deep desire to shield him from harm, but it manifests itself as outright cruelty sometimes.

16- Can you think of any small change in the world you could make to benefit hundreds of other authors or readers potentially?

Honestly, I don’t think I know enough about the business to answer that yet. At the moment, the change I’m focused on making is introducing my book to the world, and I think that every enjoyable story encourages more people to read, to talk about it, and even to add their own contributions. And the more people are contributing, the more involved and connected we all feel.

17- As a reader, what most motivates you to buy a new book to read?

I am most motivated by the description on the back cover, and if a trusted friend or two shares their passion about the book beforehand. If a friend can sell me on it (and I’m pretty skeptical by nature), I will probably check it out.

18- How will you measure your publishing performance?

Number of books sold, and the responsiveness of fans to the books (as in, they share it with others, they say they want to see more, etc.).

19- What was the deciding factor in your publication route?

I had been thinking about self-publishing for a while, as I was submitting the book to agents and editors. When I finally hit my 75th rejection, I decided to stop giving the traditional publishing world a chance, and take on the project as my own business. I was very attracted to the amount of control I could have over the final product compared to what I would be afforded as a debut author with an established publisher.

20- What is one question (or discussion topic) which you would like the readers of this interview to answer or remark on in the comments?

How do you most often discover new books that you HAVEN’T heard about from friends? Examples could be ads (online, in magazines, on billboards…), reviews by a particular blogger, reviews in a particular magazine, recommendations by your favorite authors, etc.

21- Anything else you would care to share about your book and yourself?

I would love to share this one review that AudiobookDJ posted a few weeks ago - it was actually the first review the book received! Based on the overwhelming positive response the print version has received on Amazon, I don’t think this experience is unique to people listening to the audiobook, though you should certainly check that out if you like audio!

Here is the review: http://audiobookdj.squarespace.com/home/2017/10/15/the-tercentennial-baron.html

Meet Will Damron in this Debut Author Spotlight
As for more about me, I am an audiobook narrator with over 200 titles recorded in the last few years, in genres ranging from fantasy to sci-fi, YA, literary, nonfiction, and thrillers. I have won an Audie Award (one of the highest honors in the audiobook business), two Voice Arts Awards, and numerous Earphones Awards. “The Tercentennial Baron” is my debut as an independent author, and it’s a story I’ve worked on since before I became a narrator. If you enjoy fantasy, the supernatural, Scotland and Scottish history, sweeping epics full of mystery, or even just spooky ghost stories, I really believe you’ll love this book.

You can find me on social media on Twitter @jwdamron, Instagram @jwdamron, and Facebook @Damron.Stories. Feel free to check out my website as well - http://www.willdamron.com - though it’s undergoing renovations right now and a brand new one will be going live within a few weeks!


The Tercentennial Baron (The Bellirolt Chronicles Book 1)

Meet Will Damron in this Debut Author Spotlight

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Blast From the Past #4

It's November. It's NaNoWriMo. I'm an ML this year. I got revision notes back from my agent last month that I'm still working on. My husband is completely renovating our living room, right before we have a bunch of family in town for Thanksgiving. Something's gotta give, and this month it's new content for Operation Awesome. So I've picked through some of my old posts and picked out a few to feature this month.

This one is just for fun. It's on using punctuation correctly to convey tone.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Notes from NaNo: Week 4

Since I post here on Thursdays, I decided to use my November (aka NaNovember) posts to give all you NaNo writers some fun plot points, characters, and other to incorporate into your works-in-progress if you get stuck or fall into a writing slump. For Week Four, find the meal associated with your horoscope sign* and incorporate it into your book!


Aries: An all-vegetarian dinner with a bottle of root beer.

Taurus: Cheeseburgers, french fries, and avocado milkshakes.

Gemini: Spaghetti with ketchup instead of marinara sauce.

Cancer: Three bottles of wine.

Leo: Steak, potatoes, and 100-year-old scotch.

Virgo: Fried fish, coleslaw, and champagne.

Libra: Cereal and unpasteurized milk.

Scorpio: Banana bread, chili con carne, and oysters.

Sagittarius: Cans of beer, ice cream, and edible flowers.

Capricorn: Thanksgiving dinner, but with quail instead of turkey.

Aquarius: Hot tea and basil sorbet.

Pisces: Hummus and pita, tomato juice, and Boston Cream Pie.


*Note: I have no training or expertise with astrology. This is purely for fun!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Blast From the Past #3

It's November. It's NaNoWriMo. I'm an ML this year. I got revision notes back from my agent last month that I'm still working on. My husband is completely renovating our living room, right before we have a bunch of family in town for Thanksgiving. Something's gotta give, and this month it's new content for Operation Awesome. So I've picked through some of my old posts and picked out a few to feature this month.

Today I'm revisiting one of my favorite topics: Query letters! This post isn't about how to write query letters, but when to write query letters.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Lockwood & Co. TV Series!



I am so excited to find out that my favorite series, Lockwood & Co., is hopefully going to be turned into a TV series!!! Which always brings about all the questions of how well it will be done. Will they stay true to character descriptions?

Take Lucy, our main character. She's described as a bit thick about the hips, and not exactly pretty. So will a blond, skinny starlet then be cast? I hope not! Lockwood is tall and slim. George is chubby, and really likes cake (me too).

Then there's the world-building, which is fabulous. Will we see that woven into the series? Will there be references to how the Problem (ghosts after dark) has affected the entire country, and to the earliest agents (ghost hunters) that fought them? And the profitable industries that have bloomed because of the Problem (iron & lavender- ghosts can't stand either of them)?

Will we see the different agencies that employ children to fight what adults can't see? Will they be in their snazzy uniforms (I need those snazzy uniforms, I really do).

And how will the ghosts be portrayed? Truly creepy, or cheesy?

So lots of questions!! If you haven't heard of Lockwood & Co., I encourage you to check them out! Right away! Go do it!

(You know how we bookish people are about pushing their favorite books on people...) ;)


Thursday, November 16, 2017

Notes from NaNo: Week 3

Since I post here on Thursdays, I decided to use my November (aka NaNovember) posts to give all you NaNo writers some fun plot points, characters, and other to incorporate into your works-in-progress if you get stuck or fall into a writing slump. For Week Three, find the cliche associated with your horoscope sign*, flip it or subvert it or do something entirely unexpected with it, and go to town!


Aries: A prince saves a princess from a dragon.

Taurus: Your main character is 'the chosen one.'

Gemini: Your antagonist is a mustache-twirling, cardboard villain.

Cancer: Your main character is lamenting 'the one who got away.'

Leo: One of your female characters is different from 'all the other girls.'

Virgo: Your book starts with your main character waking up.

Libra: Your main character described themselves while looking in a mirror.

Scorpio: Your main character succeeds at everything they try.

Sagittarius: Every person your main character encounters falls in love with them.

Capricorn: Your main characters has at least one absent or neglectful parent.

Aquarius: Your main character has a dream with clear symbols that guide them through the rest of the plot.

Pisces: Your main character has no flaws and makes no mistakes.


*Note: I have no training or expertise with astrology. This is purely for fun!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Blast From the Past #2

It's November. It's NaNoWriMo. I'm an ML this year. I got revision notes back from my agent last month that I'm still working on. My husband is completely renovating our living room, right before we have a bunch of family in town for Thanksgiving. Something's gotta give, and this month it's new content for Operation Awesome. So I've picked through some of my old posts and picked out a few to feature this month.

If you are stuck while doing NaNo (or just stuck at all, whatever), get the brain juices flowing by doing personality tests for your characters.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Flash Fiction Contest #37



Today is National Vanilla Cupcake Day! Are you planning on indulging in a vanilla cupcake? ;) (I actually had donuts for breakfast, so I think I've had my quota of sweets today...)

Submit your flash fiction piece about a vanilla cupcake in 150 words or less for a chance to win! Rules found here.


Thursday, November 9, 2017

Notes from NaNo: Week Two

Since I post here on Thursdays, I decided to use my November (aka NaNovember) posts to give all you NaNo writers some fun plot points, characters, and other to incorporate into your works-in-progress if you get stuck or fall into a writing slump. For Week Two, find the new character associated with your horoscope sign* and go to town!


Aries: A young child with a too-large backpack.

Taurus: An elderly couple who finish each others' sentences.

Gemini: A woman who's the president of her company.

Cancer: A middle-aged man with an unusual hobby.

Leo: A teenage boy with a talent he's often mocked for.

Virgo: A dog who has a favorite person.

Libra: A cat who's traveled the world.

Scorpio: A teenage girl who's planning to run away from home.

Sagittarius: A baby who learns to talk way too early.

Capricorn: A hamster that gets lost in the house.

Aquarius: A cranky old man with a secret.

Pisces: A four-year-old girl who changes the world.


*Note: I have no training or expertise with astrology. This is purely for fun!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Meet Karen Osman in this Debut Author Spotlight

Debut Author Spotlight from @JLenniDorner on @OpAwesome6

The Good Mother


1- Have you ever had a penpal?

I had so many pen pals growing up - it was an amazing way to experience the world before social media. I had penfriends in Canada, Germany, Ghana, France, and loved receiving their letters every month.

2- What five words represent your most notable characteristic or values? #In5Words

Hard-working, focused, determined, empathetic, and slightly obsessive!

3- Living in Dubai, have you been at the top (level 148) of the Burj Khalifa?

I have! My husband took me there and it was an incredible sight from the top.

4- Can you share a story from your life that shows who you are as a person and why you are a writer?

It doesn’t explain why I’m a writer but feedback is so important to me. I had one reader message me to say that she hadn't read for so long as she was so busy working and looking after her children. She told me that she enjoyed The Good Mother so much that she's now determined to get back into reading again and making a little time for herself again. It’s stories like this, that make all the hard work worthwhile.

5- What ignited your passion for writing?

I'd love to be able to tell you the answer to that - there's never been one moment or incident. Since I was a child, I have always written; diaries, stories, letters....it's more of a need. It doesn't quite make sense to me either!

6- Do you ever get recognized/identified in public as being on the "Ahlan’s Hot 100 People" 2017 edition?

No, however, that was a great moment and the photo shoot was a lot of fun. To be recognised as contributing to the UAE's cultural landscape was a great honour.

7- Would you share a picture with us of your book surrounded by luxury?
Meet Karen Osman in this Debut Author Spotlight

8- What are some of your short and long term writing goals?

I currently have a three-book deal with Head of Zeus and currently working on my second book. I have a goal to have a first rough draft written before Christmas and ready to send to my editor early 2018.

9- Who is currently your biggest fan? What does that person love most (or "ship") about your debut novel?

That person is my husband. When I asked him this question, he replied: "Knowing the circumstances in which you wrote it." He is referring to the fact that I was pregnant with my second son and very tired looking after my toddler!

10- What emotions do you hope your book will evoke for the reader, and is there a particular scene you hope will resonate with readers?

The theme of motherhood is present throughout the book and I'm sure some of the scenes will resonate with mothers everywhere. But for me, books have always provided an escape - a chance to relax from work or obligations and I hope The Good Mother does this as well.

11- In your opinion, is it better for the average person with a small budget to engage in experiential travel or transformational travel, and why?

Any type of travel in my opinion is worth doing – you can always discover something new about yourself.

12- What most helped you to improve your writing craft?

My editor, Sarah Ritherdon – she’s fantastic and I really admire how she can take a manuscript and improve it.

13- Did you have other titles in mind for the book before it went to publication?

Yes, the original submission for The Good Mother was called Dear Michael.

14- What is the most memorable trait or visual oddity of one of your characters?

The colour red is mentioned a few times in The Good Mother for different characters and is a symbol of danger.

15- #DiversityBingo2017 What's your favorite book that covers a square on the card?

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts


16- Which character has your favorite Personality Contradiction?

All three characters – Catherine, Alison, and Kate have personality contradictions and it’s difficult to choose one. Probably Kate though – she loves her children and wants to be a good mother but feels frustrated at the same time.

17- Can you think of any small change in the world you could make to benefit hundreds of other authors or readers potentially?

It’s not a small change but using libraries regularly and supporting book shops is my way.

18- As a reader, what most motivates you to buy a new book to read?

It depends on the situation but usually the description on the back of the book is the deciding factor for me.

19- How will you measure your publishing performance?

As a debut novelist, I have had tremendous support from my agent and publishing house, not just writing the book but also promoting it. I will measure commercial success mainly by book sales and feedback in the market.

20- What was the deciding factor in your publication route?

This was mainly taken out of my hands as I won the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature Montegrappa Writing Award. As part of that prize, I had the support of an agent who helped me go down the traditional route of publishing as opposed to self-publishing.

21- What is one question (or discussion topic) which you would like the readers of this interview to answer or remark on in the comments?

Can you think of any small change in the world you could make to benefit hundreds of other authors or readers potentially?

22- Anything else you would care to share about your book and yourself?

http://www.karenosman.com
https://www.karenosman.com/bio
Buy The Book

Meet Karen Osman in this Debut Author Spotlight
Hello@karenosman.com
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The Good Mother

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Blast From the Past #1

It's November. It's NaNoWriMo. I'm an ML this year. I got revision notes back from my agent last month that I'm still working on. My husband is completely renovating our living room, right before we have a bunch of family in town for Thanksgiving. Something's gotta give, and this month it's new content for Operation Awesome. So I've picked through some of my old posts and picked out a few to feature this month.

Today, I invite you to read one of my first posts for OA, which was on beta readers.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Notes from NaNo: Week One

Since I post here on Thursdays, I decided to use my November (aka NaNovember) posts to give all you NaNo writers some fun plot points, characters, and other to incorporate into your works-in-progress if you get stuck or fall into a writing slump. For Week One, find the plot idea associated with your horoscope sign* and go to town!


Aries: A tall, dark, and handsome stranger arrives in town. When he removes his hat and coat, your main character realizes he's a [fill in the blank].

Taurus: Your main character cannot live without [fill in the blank]... until they have to.

Gemini: Your main character gets into a friendly, yet competitive, game of [fill in the blank] with your antagonist.

Cancer: No one understands your main character better than [fill in the blank], so when that person goes missing, your main character has to take action.

Leo: A fair/carnival/circus comes to town. Your main character goes, accompanied by [fill in the blank].

Virgo: Your antagonist always wanted to [fill in the blank], but couldn't make it happen. This explains a lot about their motivations.

Libra: Your main character looks up [fill in the blank] in the dictionary, and it guides their actions through the next several scenes.

Scorpio: Your main character finds an abandoned animal at the side of the road. So your main character [fill in the blank].

Sagittarius: One of your characters slips and falls. Your main character reacts by [fill in the blank].

Capricorn: Your antagonist has a soft spot. It's [fill in the blank].

Aquarius: Someone deeply insults your main character, saying [fill in the blank].

Pisces: Your main character falls ill. Their symptoms include [fill in the blank].

*Note: I have no training or expertise with astrology. This is purely for fun!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

One Last Word of NaNo Encouragement

Today is Halloween, or as I like to call it, NaNoWriMo Eve. I hope you've read Jaime's NaNo Prep posts this month; they are full of great tips for getting ready for a month of writing until your brain oozes out your ears. Kidding! (The ooze comes out your nose.)

A question I've posed to the WriMos in my home region is, "What's going to stop you?" In other words, what do you think your biggest roadblock to finishing NaNoWriMo with 50K words will be? Name it, face it, and if you can, make a plan to overcome it.

I know you can do it. Write on, WriMos!

Friday, October 27, 2017

Writing Slump Woes

I've been in such a writing slump lately. And it's not that I didn't want to write, it's just I'd been so busy with another creative endeavor, that when I did get two seconds to myself, I was too drained to find even one more drop of creative juice within me.

I decorated a wedding reception last weekend, so the month before that involved endless trips to various stores, buying supplies--and returning supplies, when the first idea I had for a theme just didn't pan out.

And before I was asked to decorate the reception, I had just started to pull apart my living room, so that I could paint it. Now that I'm done with the reception, I'm hoping that I can knock out the painting this weekend, and get everything back to normal, so that I can sit down and refocus on my story. Last night, I did manage to take one word--ONE WORD!--and move it to a different place in the same sentence. Now that's some forward momentum, lol!

Here's a pic from the photo booth that I did for the wedding, with my little guy posing. He kept telling me he was going to "kiss me and marry me". Sorry, kid, your dad got there first! ;)


Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Preparing for NaNoWriMo: One Final Trick

November is National Novel Writing Month, otherwise known as NaNoWriMo. It's an entire month dedicated to writing, or, more specifically, to amassing fifty thousand words on an original novel. Last year, over 400,000 writers from around the world participated. The NaNo website helps you track your word count, provides regional support and chat boards, and allows you to "win" when you hit your 50,000-word goal. Every November, bookstores, coffee shops, and 24-hour diners fill up with writers - you can practically feel the creativity in the air! NaNo provides a great community, and it's a great motivation for starting or continuing a novel project. 2017 will be my seventh year tackling NaNo, and I can't wait to get started!



That said, there are a few ways to set yourself up in advance for NaNo success. We'll explore these each Thursday in October, so you'll be ready to hit the ground running on November 1st!

Writing every day for a month (or for long stretches of time over several days during the month) can be really tough. A lot of writers drop out of NaNo part-way through - the time commitment is nothing to sneeze at. And it can also feel disheartening when a project you started on November 1st begins getting bogged down around the middle. You might encounter writer's block, or just feel like your time could be better spent doing something else. You might open that Word doc, or your notebook, and get queasy at the idea of spending an hour or more working on your book.

But before you close that document or notebook, I want to give you one tip to help you keep writing when you really, really don't want to. It's a very simple tip, but it nearly always works.

End your day's writing in the middle of a sentence.

That's it. It doesn't even have to be an exciting, eventful sentence, though that never hurts. But it's so much easier to start writing each day when you know all you *have* to do is finish that darn sentence from the day before. Chances are, you'll do that, and then you'll keep going. Let's try it:

1) Katya couldn't believe her ears: had Emilio really professed his love for her? That's a complete thought. Where do you go from there? When you pick up the book the next day, you have to stay within the confines of Emilio's confession, whether you want to or not.

2) Katya couldn't believe That's an incomplete sentence and it can go a lot of different places. Maybe she couldn't believe her luck, or what had just happened, or in some aspect of her religion, or a million other things. The point is, when you're greeted with this sentence fragment on a new writing day, you have to get your creativity flowing right away to figure out what Katya couldn't believe. It's not hard to finish a sentence. And once you do, then you're already writing! You might as well keep going, right?

What do you do on days when you really just don't feel like writing?