Monday, 17 December 2018

Weekly Update: December 9-15

Weekly word count: 4206

Monday and Tuesday were dedicated to being a parent instead of writing.  But I'm pleased with the progress made on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, especially considering that I have an hour less of writing time each day compared to my schedule during Nanowrimo.

I'm hoping that I can make some more good progress next week before the holidays hit.  Once the kids are home, the word counts are going to go down.  But on the plus side, I'm always itching to hit the keyboard by the time they head back to school.

I'm in a much better headspace than I was at this time last year, which I'm grateful for.  Even though there are still plenty of challenges and obstacles, I feel more ready to face them than I did in December of 2017.  

I'd really love to take another five or seven days dedicated to writing Division rather than having to split my attention between my day job, my family responsibilities, and my writing career.  But there are no plans for another writers' retreat and realistically, I need the income from my day job right now.  But it doesn't stop me from wishing and keeping my fingers crossed that 2019 might hold the change that will allow me to move to being a full time writer.

Thursday, 13 December 2018

Heroine Fix: Last Holiday with Georgia Byrd

I'm addicted to strong and intriguing characters.  Heroine Fix is a monthly feature examining female characters that I admire and who influence my own writing.  Warning: this post will contain spoilers.

This month's Heroine Fix is actually more about me than my writing.  Last Holiday is my favourite holiday film and it's all because of Queen Latifah's portrayal of Georgia Byrd.  It's a great character film about a woman who is initially trapped in her life.  Every choice is decided by fear.  She loves to cook and dreams of opening a restaurant, but instead is sticking with her dead-end job selling cookware in a department store.  She has a crush on her co-worker, played by LL Cool J, but is scared to ask him out in case he doesn't feel the same way about her.  She cooks beautiful, delicious meals but doesn't eat them, instead taking pictures and putting them in her "Possibilities" book.  Her life is defined by waiting and hiding in the background, not living.

Then she learns that she has a fatal disease and only has weeks to live.  As expected, she makes some big changes but what I like about this film is that she doesn't immediately throw everything out overnight.  It takes her time to get used to the idea of only having a limited amount of time left and to get used to the idea of acting on what she wants instead of reacting from fear.  It becomes a beautiful unfolding of spirit and self-confidence.  When she decides to book the trip she's always wanted to take, she automatically books it coach and then only upgrades to first class partway through the flight.  The same with her hotel, at first she's booked in a standard room and then upgrades to the Presidental Suite.

I think part of what appeals is that the idea of a consequence-free life is tempting.  Telling off an obnoxious boss or spending thousands of dollars on a luxury vacation or eating a dozen different gourmet dishes in a single meal would be wonderful... if we didn't have deal with the results thereof.  Maybe it strikes a chord with me because I'm a cautious soul at heart and there have been a lot of times that I've told myself "no" on something I want because the consequences outweigh the pleasures of the moment.  But it's so tempting to forget the future and just enjoy the moment.

Some of what Georgia does is predictable.  She withdraws all of her savings, she buys a fancy new couture wardrobe, and she goes base jumping.  She enjoys fancy meals and spa treatments and blunt talk.  

But some of what she does is much more interesting.  She encourages her crappy boss's mistress to stand up to him and reclaim her own life.  She calls out a senator for ditching coming to her church and refuses to cut him any social slack, telling him that he disappointed the people who voted for him.  And she cooks with a celebrity chef, one of her idols, becoming his friend.

She's not selfishly dedicated to her own pleasure.  Even though she would have every right in the world to focus solely on herself, she shows her true heart by helping others to become better versions of themselves and break out of their own self-locked cages of fear.  The story emphasizes this with the counterpoint character, Miss Gunther, the bitter floor valet who snoops through Georgia's things in an effort to expose her.  Miss Gunther tries to make people smaller than they are while Georgia makes them more.

Another reason that I love this movie is the romantic plot.  LL Cool J's character, Sean, loves Georgia long before her transformation into her genuine self.  He's not attracted to her new bold self, he's the one who saw who she really was even when she didn't.  And I'll admit that it's pretty awesome to me to see a plus size romantic lead whose weight is never raised as an issue.  I decided to do the same for my most recent heroine, Martha, where I only mention her size a few times in the book and her hot hero finds her irresistible.

One part of the movie that always sticks with me is Georgia's speech to herself on New Year's Eve: "You have been very lucky.  Maybe we didn't get everything we want, but....  Next time, we'll do things different.  We will laugh more, we'll love more, we'll see the world.  We just won't be so afraid."  And "I wasted too much of my life being quiet."

I say it to myself when I need to remind myself that we aren't guaranteed a "next time" in life.  Refusing an opportunity to laugh and love out of fear isn't being cautious or prudent.  It's robbing ourselves of an opportunity to enjoy our lives.  

So when I'm faced with a situation where the little voice in my head is saying "But what if I look like an idiot?" then I remind myself of Georgia and that confidence is what separates the timid fools from the admired brave.  And that no one ever achieved their dreams by being quiet.  So whether it's dancing until my socks melt, or talking to a stranger or pitching my latest book, I channel my own inner Georgia and seize the day.

(Keep on reading for more information on next month's Heroine Fix and a special offer on my own books.)

Part of seizing the day is sharing my own work with you.  The first book in my paranormal romantic suspense series, Revelations, is on sale for 99 cents US (1.27 Cdn) on all platforms.

Or you can check out some other posts, like last month's Heroine Fix: Kira Nerys from Deep Space Nine.  Or last week's post on how you can boost your word count.  Or visit my Hidden Diamond page to discover new authors who write paranormal romance, romantic suspense, and strong female characters.  November's feature is a sister ORWAn: Jenn Burke.

Next month, I'll be looking at a heroine who crosses the line between good and bad, playful and dangerous.  The woman who always steals the scene from her caped crusader co-stars: Selena Kyle, Catwoman.  I'll be talking about Batman Returns and The Dark Knight Rises, and maybe even the Halle Berry movie.  Join me on January 10th for your next Heroine Fix.

Monday, 10 December 2018

Weekly Update: December 2-8

Weekly word count: 4258

This week I worked on Third Eye Open and managed to get a first draft finished.  I still need to go through and make sure everything flows smoothly, and do a search and destroy on words that I overuse.  Then I can get it edited and get my cover and all of that.  

Next week, I'll go back to working on Division.  I'm excited to get it finished.

I'm feeling a little worn out with getting things organized for the family holidays but that isn't unexpected.  I've got a week or two to recuperate before the big family events.  I won't be getting much writing done once that happens.

I'm also going to have to accept that I'll probably have lower word counts for the next month or two because I'll be putting in extra hours at my day job.  But that's okay (or so I keep telling myself).  The words will come, even if it takes a little longer.

Thursday, 6 December 2018

Writing More: Not As Impossible As It Seems

Last weekend, ORWA's monthly workshop was a panel of prolific authors sharing their secrets.  Two of them, Eve Langlais and Mandy Rosko have over 300 published titles between them.  Of the other two, Lucy Farago has written 6 books in the last 3 years, and Carey Decevito has written 10 books in the last 5 years.

There was some good advice about how to increase your word counts, with the best piece of advice being to just get started writing.  Don't worry if it's crap.  Don't get hung up on the amount of time or the number of words.  Just sit your butt down in front of a keyboard and start writing.  Keeping doing that and the word totals will continue to rise and eventually, you'll have a book.  Whether plotter or pantser, New York Times Bestseller or new author, independing or traditionally published, we all have to go through the same process of actually sitting down to write.

Ask a dozen authors how to write more and you'll get dozens of different answers.  Sometimes the answers will work for you and sometimes they won't.  If a technique doesn't work, it can be discouraging but the truth is that writing is a skill and like any skill, not everyone learns that skill the same way.

So my first piece of advice is to be gentle with yourself.  There will always be someone who writes more or faster but the only person that you should be in competition with his your past self.  If you want to do more, then aim to do more than you did before.  And if you fail, remember that it is a setback, not a judgment.  And when you do succeed, take the time to appreciate your accomplishments.

The next piece of advice is to experiment.  Try different things, different locations and different times of day.  Try a strict daily writing schedule or writing blitzes.  Keep track of what you write and it may surprise you to find what's most effective.  I've always been a night person but I was surprised to discover that I write best in the late morning and early afternoon.  I do best with writing for an hour or two, then a half hour to an hour break, and then back into it.  I can push myself to write daily but I do better long term if I give myself the weekends off (or at least, the weekend writing different projects).

And the last piece of advice is to remember that writing is a creative skill, and all creativity can be affected by what's going on in your life.  If you're stressed, sick, or overwhelmed, it will change what works for you.  Just because a technique worked in the past doesn't mean it will always work in the future, so you will always be adjusting.  Which circles back to my first point, be gentle with yourself.  

And get yourself in front of a keyboard and write.

Previous post: Hidden Diamond: Paranormal Romance author Jenn Burke and End of Year Lists and her series, The Gryphon King.

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Monday, 3 December 2018

Weekly Update: November 25 to December 1

Weekly word count: 3770

This week I got hit hard by life.  Several big personal things happened.  I'm okay and my family is okay.  We've been dealing with a difficult situation for the last few months and while we've tried to be cooperative and helpful, the other side has not and now we're going to have to stop being nice and start protecting ourselves and engaging professional help.  It's discouraging, but I am stubborn and the people opposing us have severely misunderstood my level of resolve.

I also spent some time helping a friend with her Victim Impact Statement.  Her partner was killed in a hit and run and going over the impact on herself and her children was heart-wrenching.  I'm pleased with the statement, which lays bare the damage that has been done to her family, hopefully in a way that will bring some justice and closure.

Next week, I"m going to concentrate on finishing up Third Eye Open so that it can go for editing and then I can release all three short stories in their final form both individually and as a group.

I've been talking to the folks at Soul Mate Publishing about changing the title of Deadly Potential and it's been a little intimidating to watch the latest scandal over similar titles unfold.  The title I'd like to use is being used by other authors but our books are all very different.  

I'm hoping that next week goes better and maybe life will surprise me by being better than I'm expecting.