Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Motivation, Manuscripts & Mustard

So I am known to be a self-driven, motivated writer who pushes very hard to get her books written. And, for the most part, I can juggle multiple projects and manage the household without going bonkers. No wait. I fibbed. I do go nuts every once in a while, but I blame the moon in Venus rising or some other tidal wave pattern for the madness.

Here's the thing. I set high bars for myself. I want to reach the bar and exceed my expectations. No one is harder on me than I am. I am a task master who can't be tamed.

But life happens. Like moving the College Kid to College Town, USA. Or housework (which should be outlawed, but it keeps coming back to claim my time). Then there are friends, phone calls, long chats with the CK, other stuff like that and it's hard to get back on track.

Right now my motivation to finish revising a requested manuscript is super low because I've called it my "throwaway book." I don't know why I did that other than I thought one person would want it and wrote it for that person and poof--she wants to send it somewhere else. And double poof, I'm not sure I want it to go there. And triple poof, I have two other books that people want me to write and I'm under a contract to do so and these books are not anything like this current manuscript.

So how do I move on? I add mustard. Mustard spices up my life and my food and my manuscripts. Where do you put mustard in a manuscript? How does it flavor the words? Will the manuscript finally leave a satisfying taste in my mouth with the addition of mustard?

Heck yah! Here's the ticket. I signed up for an in depth course via Margie Lawson which is about Visceral Emotion and powering up your words. I am using this formally-known-as-a-throwaway manuscript to my in-depth homework. (And it's in-depth--ask my editing partners). And you know what? When I rework the manuscript as part of her homework, my writing starts exciting me again. And best of all, I think that it will energize the new books I have to write. I'm learning and writing and testing my writing muscles because it's a great way to bolster my motivation.

I probably won't finish the book by the end of August (which was my intention), but I will have a solid amount of it completed. And while I'm building my small town USA and beginning the process of writing my series of books I can continue to revise this manuscript now known as a potential-to-be-published story as part of my homework.

It's a win-win.

How do you add mustard to your manuscripts?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Life, the University & Everything Else

A lot has happened since I posted my last blog. Where to start? How to encapsulate it all? Um, I bow to the excellence of bullet points.

*Got a truck on Saturday with the Physicist. We were lucky to get it and to find the place that had the rental truck, but we got it. Strained the strings of our marriage license while hunting for the truck rental place, but we are still married.

*Married for another year. Celebrated anniversary on Saturday. Being lost and arguing about getting directions to the said rental truck place was not part of our anniversary plan.

*Loaded the College Kid's stuff onto the rental truck on Saturday. Again--just so happened to be our anniversary. No special meals. No take out. No presents. No cards. No time. That's real life over at the Glover House. Sometimes just doing tough stuff and getting through it unscathed is cause for celebration.

*On Sunday moved CK down to her new digs in her College Town, USA. Digs are decent. CK decorating with moss and fake tea lights whilst I scrub a nasty and dirty tub. Oh, and I vacuumed. The Physicist hung shelves and made bed frame. Two other CKs assisted in the move. Though it rained horrifically all the way down to College Town, USA, we were spared a massive downpour during the unloading of all the items.

*Took CK and her friends to fun restaurant that night. Fun listening to them talk about how "old" they were as they approach the big 2-0. Me? I'm considering every day that I get up out of bed a bonus day in this ol' life of mine.

*Left CK and drove to Hotlanta where we bought two chairs and two end tables at IKEA. We needed to replace the old furniture we sent to College Town, USA. Then we drove the truck to my CP's house and we've been here for two sleeps. A much needed respite from a busy weekend.

*CK calls on Tuesday, one day before classes begin--a call from the CK is never "good news." "What's wrong?" I asked first off. "I slept in my contacts and they were really dry and when I ripped them out of my eyes, my eyeballs started hurting really bad and I can't see." Me. "Take pain meds, and I'll find an eye dr." Found eye doc through our peeps in Hometown, USA. College Town, USA eye doc diagnoses corneal abrasions, prescribes medication, and follow up appt. in one week. Me? I'm just glad the eyeballs are fixable. Welcome back to Emergency Calls and Freak Outs and Handouts of Cashola.

*The Physicist and the Craftsman bonded over the grill. The CP and I brainstormed and worked on social media platforms. Much was accomplished. Wish we lived closer

*It's Wednesday and we're driving the rental truck home today. 4.5 hours in a yucky, bumpy rental truck with zero real music, uncomfortable seats, wheels that bumpety bump bump so much that your head feels like a rattle snake lives inside it, and we're both tired, sore and grumpy. Will the marital bliss never end?

*Keep Calm and Truck On!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Memories, Mayhem & Motivation

It's been a while since I've blogged. Frankly, I've been so busy this summer that my head is about to spin off my neck and what free time I've had has been spent doing the most important thing: writing. I've considered writing about my RWA National Conference experience, but there's no way to truly encapsulate how incredible that experience was for me.

Why? First I got to see so many friends and was inspired to go above and beyond my personal strengths as a writer. Second, I got to see friends who came all the way to see me and meet the writers. They had a blast and I really enjoyed spending time with them. Third, I sat at Lucky Table #55 where Eloisa James sat (and I was unable to speak to her because I was having a serious fan girl heart attack) and she won her first RITA. Fourth, I got to be a Golden Heart date with the awesome writer Gail Hart and we cheered on two RITA winners and two Golden Heart winners. Fifth, I was a Daphne date with Sharon Wray who won a Daphne and achieved highest overall score. Sixth, I was able to share in the best news ever:

My Critique Partner Pam Mantovani sold her first book to Belle Books at the National Conference.

Okay, that meant major screaming, a bit of crying, and lots of wine drinking to celebrate afterward. I cannot tell you how thrilled I was for her. We both sold within six weeks of each other. And we're both in the same boat. This is a dream come true and a great way to start the writing year.

But the writing has taken a serious hit because we've been so busy. The Conference definitely ate up a lot of time. The College Kid has been underfoot and quite frankly, if she's up and wants to spend time with me, I do. The Physicist has also been home more often and that has taken up time and impacted my ability to concentrate. Finally, the mayhem continues because we're gearing up to move the CK back to her college. There's a mattress set, a futon, a bookshelf, and an office chair in my bedroom. Her wing looks like a disaster area and needs serious gutting out. And there's a boatload of stuff stored in my attic and garage that we're moving to down south.

T-5 days till we hit the road. Loading the moving truck up on one day, driving down to the school the next, praying the key works on the condo door (don't ask), and moving her in. The following day we head to Hotlanta where we'll buy two chairs to replace the old love seat she's taking with her as well as to spend time with my CP and the Craftsman.

Then it's turnaround and head home again.

So all this stuff has impacted my motivation. I have to force myself to write a little every day on a story that I've pretty much vacillated between loving, hating, wanting to toss it away, wanting to save it for no other reason than for myself, and then I go through it all over again. Why am I revising this story? I have a request for it. I don't know if it will fly through the backdoor and succeed where others have failed. I don't know if it's going to pass the strict guidelines of this particular publisher's house and I have another set of stories to write that I know have to be written for the contract I signed in May. Still, this story is easier to deal with than writing a series prequel and a sequel, so I persist in writing it.

Bit by bit. There isn't a lot of time. Just a little. But I keep telling myself that if I only get a half an hour logged, it's better than nothing. So blogging? Well that has taken a nosedive, but I've decided to try to get one blog in a week and I'm shooting for a Wednesday Weekly blog.

Let's see if I stay on track.

How do you cope through the busy days of summer when you have projects that must be completed?

Friday, August 2, 2013

Break Out the Bubbly & the Dark Chocolate: Celebrating Dakota Harrison's Debut Novel Exhale

Author Dakota Harrison

Hi Everyone! My dear friend and fellow Southern Magic Chapter mate hooked me up with a brand new author over at Samhain Publishing. Although I haven't met Dakota Harrison in person, we've been corresponding via email for several months. And I'm thrilled to have her on the Veranda as we discuss her debut novel Exhale released July 30, 2013 by Samhain Publishing. It's always fun to learn about how writers became published and what that journey is like for each one of them. So please join me in giving Dakota a warm welcome to the Veranda. 
And nibbling on dark chocolate while we chat about Exhale!

Hi Christine! Thanks so much for having me here today.
 I'm so glad you could join me. Tell me, what what is your favorite genre to write?
My favorite genres are Contemporary and SciFi/Fantasy Romance. I would also love to attempt writing a literary novel one day, I just need to find the right story to tell. My problem is that I love my happy endings!
 I am a big fan of Happily-Ever-Afters myself. When you write your happy endings are you a plotter or do you follow the muse?
I'm most certainly a pantser, but I am learning (due to much prodding from more organized writer friends) how to incorporate some plotting.
 Plotting always seems to elude me. I try, but still the characters take me down interesting paths. I usually unwind with a glass of wine (or bubbly) after a writing day. How do you relax after a writing day?
I tend to write late at night. I have a young family and a busy home business so it seems to bet the only time I get that’s uninterrupted. So, I usually live on tea – most varying flavors – my favorite is Earl Grey, and Lemon when I don’t want caffeine. I also love a long bath with a good book. *vbg* Movies are a huge thing for me, too. I'm very visual, so a good movie really inspires and relaxes me.
 Oh, I love Earl Grey tea. One of my favorites.What do you read when you're sipping tea or soaking in the tub? What are your favorite genres? Who are your favorite authors?
I actually try to read across genres. I’ll try anything if it catches my interest, from romance, to hard scifi, to science texts, to manga, and everything in between.
 That's a wide variety! What is your current project?
I'm working on the sequel to ‘Exhale’. It’s nearly done, and the hero is a character introduced in the final chapter of ‘Exhale’ – Taka’s cousin, Shin. It’s set in Tokyo, and he’s a little more raunchy than I'm used to!
 Oh, that sounds deliciously spicy. Can't wait to see that cover! Any new releases? 
Yes! I have another contemporary romance coming out at the end of October, again with Samhain Publishing, about a woman running away from her past and the repercussions of the bad choices she made, running so far she changes continents.
 I love those kind of stories. Keep me posted about when it releases!! And it sounds so interesting. Where do you get your ideas for your stories?
So many places! Overhearing a line of a conversation; a line in a song; characters in a movie that spark the ‘what if’ bug. I daydream a lot. I believe this is a huge part of my mental plotting technique. At least that way, if a plot line doesn’t work, I don’t have to delete anything!
 I consider daydreaming a form of writing. Now tell me, how long were you trying to get published before you got the “call?”
I was writing seriously for almost five years before I got that amazing email. I was so shocked I sent it to someone else to make sure I was reading what I thought I saw! The enthusiasm my editor showed for my characters was quite humbling.
 Ah, I can relate to the Amazing Email, too. A fabulous feeling to finally see that dream come to life. What advice would you give aspiring writers who are still trying to get published?
The biggest thing I would say is don’t give up, and write, write, WRITE! Even if you think what you’ve written is terrible, or the worst thing ever written in the history of man – Don’t. Stop. Entering contests took my writing to new levels, ones that enabled me to get my work in front of the right person at the right time. It took a while, from entering and doing poorly; to entering and finaling; from finaling to placing; then I finally started winning. And it was an important part of learning. All that feedback, all those well-meaning comments that sometimes completely missed the point of the story, but more often than not, they hit the mark 100%. Also, get yourself a group of peers – critique partners and the such – or even someone who you see as a mentor type person. Someone who may be slightly ahead of where you are yourself, or someone much further along. Then main thing is if you connect on a personal level as well as a professional one, you’ll have yourself the start of a support network, and likely the start of some wonderful friendships.
I'm a firm believer in the power of contests. And in surrounding yourself with a great group of peers who share your passion for writing. What is the most difficult part about writing for you?
BOS – Bum-on-seat! I have procrastination down to a fine art. I work fanatically with a strict or tight deadline. Give me time/leniency/open-ended options, and I crumble. I need that rigid timetable to keep me productive. Give myself a timetable I hear you say? Nope! Doesn’t work. My subconscious works ways around it and ‘tweaks’ the timeframe. The first 20,000 words also are hard for me. Once I get past that magic number, I seem to fall into my rhythm.
BOS is a great way of putting it. I call it BICHOK. Butt in chair, hands on keys. :-) Either way, regardless of what side of the earth we live, we have to sit down and work on the writing. Great advice! And it looks like all the BOS has worked for you Dakota. Y'all, check out the amazing, super sexy cover of her new book Exhale and read the blurb. This one is a story that sounds like one I need to add to my TBR pile :-)

Gorgeous Cover!!
Release date ~ July 30, 2013
Samhain Publishing

Takeshi is finishing up a brutal double shift in the ER when a familiar—and bloody—face erases all thought of heading home. The broken body of the woman fighting for her life belongs to Gabby, his best friend’s mother. A woman he's loved since he turned nineteen, when he foolishly declared his love for her.

 She’s not dying today. Not on his watch. And not with a promise left unfulfilled.

Gabby has never forgotten the taste of the kiss Taka gave her under the mistletoe all those years ago. Or the silly promise that surely by now he’s forgotten. She’s wrong. Taka remembers. And she melts as he uses every trick in his highly trained surgeon’s hands to heal her—and rekindle the heat between them.

But there’s a secret lurking in Gabby’s past. And when it follows her all the way to Seattle, it threatens to drag the one man she loves into the nightmare she thought she’d left behind.

You can find Dakota Harrison here and because she's down under she'll be answering all comments in her Time Zone. How cool is that I have an Australian debut author on my blog? Pretty swanking cool!