Starting Over…Again

Slow DancingWell, it’s been a long busy summer and the last challenge about did me in! I jumped in at the very last possible minute, completely unprepared, and scrambled through it, always feeling about 3 steps behind as I limped forward. Never again! While it was great to get into the habit of posting on a regular basis, daily is definitely not workable for me. I have a day job, edits on my first novel to complete and three more stories chomping at their bits.

And, Chuck Wendig hasn’t shared his time-stopping elixir recipe. How else can someone produce as much as he does, post constantly on his own Terrible Minds blog, twitter, and many other social media sites, attend and present at conferences, signings etc., and co-raise a tiny toddler-tornado? I can’t keep up with reading all that he publishes (I think 4 have come out in as many months), let alone write that much.

I’m trying, though.

I am ready to commit to this:
• I will catch up on my book reviews.
• I have two right now for Delilah S. Dawson, another incredible and talented outputter and favorite tweeter with small children. I think Chuck slipped her the Elixir recipe. Or she distracted him with her bludbunnies and stole it.
• I will blog weekly.
• I will Tweet daily. (I tend to be a lurker & retweeter, absorbing all the tweety goodness but don’t feel I have a lot of pertinent stuff to add, being a newbie. I’m getting over that)
• I will finish my last round of edits and submit. For real this time.
• I will continue to tweak and add onto my blog, sharing the links of the things that help, amuse, and/or inspire me.
I hope you’ll bear with me, and prod me with a stick if I’m slacking off.
We’re all in this together, one way or another.

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A to Z Challenge W – Z

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w

rite drunk; edit sober, according to Ernest Hemingway.

writePour a cocktail, some wine or beer, or a cup of tea if that’s your process. Write with your inhibitions relaxed, with abandon, joy, anger, and sorrow close to the top, just a sip away. Immerse yourself in the moment, like no one will ever read it but you.  Dare to take the path untaken, write the worlds unimagined, say the words you wouldn’t dare say. Be free. Be fearless.

Edit thoroughly, mercilessly, brutally. Brew a bucket of double espresso, get out the red pen and saber and slash the bits that are unworthy, darling or not. Writing is the art; editing is the business, uncovering the

xenocryst

the sparkly crystal surprise in the center of the rough bedrock. Some days, it’s just panning for gold, filtering out the silt and mud to find the true nuggets of genius. Your day or moment just might fill your treasure chest. Or just tease you enough to continue. Or it might leave you with little left to work with, or a whole new start.

Y

esterday may have been full of brilliance prose or blank pages. Regardless, you have to move on to the next chapter, paragraph or sentence. The thing that matters is what’s next. The past is only useful if it spurs you forward. Learn from your errors and move forward. No wallowing allowed. Every day is a battle. Writing isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s for the obsessed, the determined. It’s for the possessed who can’t not do it. It’s for the

Z

ealot wordsmith, storyteller, imagineer. We create because we must, no  matter the outcome.

Join us! There’s nothing like it!

A to Z Challenge Day 19: V is for…

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is for…

Voice.

 

Imagination is the voice of the daring. If there is anything Godlike about God it is that. He dared to imagine everything. –Henry Miller

The most important tool we have as a writer is our voice. One hundred people can write on the same topic but what makes the few stand out is voice. It is the one thing that is uniquely ours. You can blindly pick up a book by Hemingway, Shakespeare, Dickens, Austen, Plath, Rowling and you know who wrote it by the voice.  The combination of words and phrases, the cadence of dialogue and description, development of characters and pacing of the tale all help to determine voice.

We get to imagine our stories and worlds and dare to tell their story. We can imitate and study the style of our idols, but the words are stilted and counterfeit. When the words flow with ease, like a conversation with a friend, a story to a child, or a confession to a minister, then they become yours. You have found your voice. Now, it’s time to find someone who’ll listen.

A to Z Challenge Day 18: U is for…

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is for…

Underdogs. Most people like to root for the underdogs.  They are the little people who have had every obstacle thrown in the way, every rug pulled out from underneath, everything that means anything has been stolen or destroyed. In short everything that could go wrong in this life has.

But instead of rolling over to take another hit or surrendering to the dark, they stand up, and against all odds or common sense, they fight.

The opponent may be bigger, richer, meaner, more deadly. He may hold all the cards, have all the resources and armies and minions at his command. The odds/fate/destiny is on his side, but still, the underdogs fight.

Super GirlThey are no longer victims, they’re victors, rebels, heroes. They may not win, but they will go down swinging, never giving up.

And we cheer for them. We are them. We all have moments or chapters, in our lives where we feel like the underdog, like we just can’t win. And we hope we have the courage of the underdog, to fight back and survive, and just maybe even win.

Who’s your favorite underdog?

A to Z Challenge Day 17: T is for

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is for…

Two-fer: Time and Tunes.

Gold Pocket Watch

I have come to the acceptance that there is never enough time to do all that needs to be done. There is never enough tme to do all that needs to be done. There will always be more laundry to wash, groceries to buy, rooms to clean and, most importantly, words to write.

So, I have given myself permission to “pay myself first,” as investors like to say. The number one thing on my To-do list is always “WRITE.” My lunch hours are either to run errands or to write, and writing now comes first. Yes, things are chaotic, but I’m still much happier.

juke boxThe quickest way for me to jump back into a project is with tunes. I create soundtracks for each project, sometimes for each character, and am transported back into the world I’ve created. Music blocks out the real world of clattering dishes and conversations and plunges me into the fantasy.

The project I’m finishing up now is full of Andrea Bocelli and various salsa tunes. My WIP2, set in the west Texas dust and tumbleweeds, is Stevie Ray Vaughn, Los Lonely Boys and Back Door Slam among others. It’s the quickest way for me to jump in, which helps immensely when you have to steal time to live your passion.

What’s on your soundtrack?

A to Z Challenge Day 16: S is for

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is for…

Seduction.

Hey, I write romance.

Someone (yes, a guy) once asked me what the difference between seducing someone and romancing someone was. It made me a little sad.

For me, it’s really quite simple:

When you seduce someone, you want their body.

When you romance someone, you want their heart, their soul, their everything.

While Romance (if the feelings are mutual) will inevitably include seduction, Seduction doesn’t always lead to romance. Think Coyote Ugly.

seductionSeduction is hormones, prolonged glances raking down your body, licking lips begging to be kissed, pooling blood in tingly places, tangled sweaty bodies with no thought to what comes next. It’s a tango, a dance, a dare to surrender. Only now matters.

Romance knows the little things that mean a lot to me; what’s important to me is important to you; showing me that you care what I think and want; making me happy makes you happy. It makes me feel safe while jumping off the edge. It’s cuddling on the couch, touching me when you pass without even thinking, kissing me for no reason, with no warning. It’s breathless, sleepless, comforting, tingly. It’s reciprocal. It’s whole. It’s everything. Including seduction, but with a promise for tomorrow.

What’s the difference between seduction and romance to you?

A to Z Challeng Days 13-15: P, Q, R

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is for….

Planning. As you can see from this challenge, planning has been an epic fail. In my defense, I stumbled upon the challenge 2 days before and signed up 12 hours before it began. If I do the challenge again (and I probably will just to prove to myself that I can do it RIGHT), I’ll prewrite, preplan and auto post as much as possible.

I’m a “pantser” at heart with my writing. I’m trying to break this habit, or at least tweak it so that it serves me better. I like the organics of letting the story and characters write themselves, but I’ve written myself into too many corners. I WIP2 that I’m working on has evolved in fits and starts. I write scenes or chapters, but they aren’t flowing together the way I want. Probably because most of them were written out of order, just a series of smash cuts flashing forward, backwards and sideways. I’m  happy with the individual scenes, but it’s much more difficult to spackle them together when even I’m not sure of the order.

This is not a productive use of my time.  I haven’t been able to murder my darlings yet, but I’m afraid there might have to be a serial killing spree for the greater good.

Are you a planner or pantser, and how is that working for you? I’d love for you to share some of your tips and techniques!

q

 

 

is for…

Queen of Denial.

Boy! This has been a tough challenge! I now know that with the dreaded Day Job plus regular life challenges, daily posting is just not feasible for me. So here it is, Cheat- the Sequel!queen of denial

I had the best of intentions. After the original Cheat, I was going to write two posts a day, banking the extras so I could auto post them on their appropriate days. That obviously didn’t happen. But, that’s still my goal. Both kids are in town this weekend, which rarely happens., so I doubt I’ll get much, if any, writing done. Maybe they’ll leave early enough on Sunday so I can get a jump on next week’s posts—or at least Monday’s…

I guess I’m not quite ready to abdicate my throne…

What are your areas of denial? It’s always comforting to know we’re not alone!

 

 

 

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is for…

Revision.

I have managed to sqeeze in a little work on my primary project—the Revision That Just Won’t End. But I’m really getting anxious to work on WIP2—the pantsing nightmare. I’ve tied my hands, refusing to work on #2 until I finish and send off #1. And #3 is chomping at the bit. I think my muse has ADD.

Here’s another goal for me: If I can’t get this revision done properly this time, I’m going to take a long weekend, lock myself in and do a power editing extravaganza!

Old Manual Typewriter

Dragging this out by squeezing in lunch time and evening edits is just not working. By the time I get to the end, it just seems like it’s time to begin again. I’ve dragged this out for far too long.

What are your favorite (and most productive) techniques for revision?

 

A to Z Challenge (Cheat) Days 10 – 15

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J

is for…

Juggling. Too much to do and too little time to do it. (Hence the massive catch up post today!)

I feel like the guy at the circus who balances the spinning plates on the tall, skinny rods. More plates are added, spinning and wobbling and whirling about. You have to give each plate repeated, constant attention, to keep them spinning. There’s always someone adding to the forest of spinning, needy responsibilities until they all come crashing down. That’s my week. It’s not atypical, but I’ve been particularly exhausted lately and just crashed and burned.

Leading me to:

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is for…

Klutz. I come from a long line of well-meaning, good-humored (thankfully) klutzes. We are not a graceful people. I have come to accept that the harder I try to do something impressive, like cook a fancy meal, something is going to land on the floor. Or an entire chapter will go missing from one of the backups, or for no apparent reason, I’ll trip and stumble IN MY TENNIS SHOES in front of the cute guy in the store. Luckily, I’ve learned to…

L

is for…

Laugh at myself! If I got upset every time things didn’t go my way, I’d be highly medicated puddle cowering in the dark corner of my closet. I found an older backup of the WIP and found a workable version of MIA chapter (minus the many edits that I agonized over). The dogs had a particularly yummy snack. The cute guy pretended he didn’t see. (‘Would’ve been nicer if he’d offered a hand and helped me pick up the stuff I dropped, but…he obviously wasn’t my Prince Charming, or even remotely human. Seriously, who doesn’t help someone pick up their scattered dignity when it falls at their feet!)

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is for…

Moving on! I’ve mopped and cleaned the floor (Yummy snacks didn’t agree with happy puppies. Thank goodness for mini carpet cleaners!)I’ve jumped back into WIP with little residual scaring and minimal loss time.

And who has time for romance when you’re trying to write the next Great American Novel (or controversial sensation. Hey, I’ve got bills to pay! I’ll take what I can get!) while working the Life Sucking Day Job, trying to spring clean, get back in shape, clean up the diet…

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is for…

New Beginnings! Every day is an opportunity for a new beginning to your story. Forget the failings or disappointments of yesterday, the words that didn’t get written, the green juice you didn’t drink, the donut you ate and turn the page. It’s a do-over, if you want, or a just-forget-it-ever-happened-because-I-am-the-ultimate-queen-of-denial fresh new direction.

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is for…

Ostentatious. I’ve always tried to live by the wise words, if you’re going to mess up, mess up big. And loud. And with sparkles and confetti and a marching band to egg you on! Then, take your licks, face up to the consequences and use it for fodder in your next book, art piece, memoir, or starring walk-on role in Joss Whedon’s next brilliant feature. No experience is wasted, even if it’s just to make sure you never, ever repeat it. But don’t shy away from things that scare you, or make you uncomfortable. Be happy! Be fabulous! Be daring!

Be Fearless

Time to take my own advice…

I may have “cheated” with this catch up post, but you know what? I didn’t give up. And that’s what matters to me.

“Never give up! Never surrender!” (from Galaxy Quest)

How are your challenges going?

A to Z Challenge Day 9: I is for…

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is for Imagination.

Writing is one of the few vocations that encourages us to actually plunge into a fantasy world of our own creation and live there, creating its every inhabitant and vista

Most Day Jobs (at least most that I have had and still have) tend to suck the creativity and creationism out of its employees. We have a tiny little corner of someone else’s world to maintain and keep functioning while drowning under the fluorescent lights that make us feel as green as the wilting plant gasping in the corner.

But when I leave, I get to submerge myself in a world of sunshine and thunderstorms, with beautiful heroines and heart-melting heroes, curious characters and terrifying villains. You get to kill off those that displease, sacrifice darlings for the greater good, embark on quests, adventures and new frontiers. You can create the world you want, or want to destroy, and ride off into the sunset on a unicorn, or starship, merman…wait…that’s a different kind of story.

And we can do it anywhere we please, as long as there’s a power source for our laptop or a enough light for our notebook.imagination

It truly is a wonderful life, if we create it that way.

What’s the dream world you’re working on right now? I’d love to visit, if you’ll let me.

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A to Z Challenge Day 8: H is for…

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is for…  HUGS!

The writing life lends itself to isolation. It’s not generally a team sport. Long hours alone with nothing but your thoughts, characters, and computer (or notebook), only to emerge depleted and exhausted can leave you feeling needy for human contact.

While social networking can make you feel less like you’re on this journey alone, there’s nothing like a good old-fashioned hug to lift your spirits and reconnect you to the real world. It’s even been said that hugs, among other things, can help you live to be 100 or more, and maybe even enjoy it!

So give a hug and get a hug! Hug your kid, a dog or cat, your significant other, your mom and dad, a friend, a stranger, your neighbor,  your barista, your bartender, someone elderly, someone who looks like they need it. Hug another living creature.

Best of all, HUG A WRITER!Couple Walking Under Umbrella

My arms are always open!

 

What do you think? Do hugs make a difference for you? Are you willing to make a difference for someone else?